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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer Does Come






Hi. My name is TaunaLen, and I am a book-addict.

(Hi TaunaLen.)

Thomas Carlyle once said “Long stormy spring-time, wet contentious April, winter chilling the very lap of May; but at length the season of summer does come.”

Yes, Mr. Carlyle, summer does come. And with it, for me, comes the end of the Spring Reading Thing Challenge 2007. Back in March, I revealed my book addiction, and shared with you, my TBR pile:




Now that Spring is over, and Summer has come, it’s time for true confessions. Here’s how I fared with my stack of books:

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss – FINISHED THIS BOOK, and posted a review here. (One down, many to go!)


Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – FINISHED and LOVED this book. This one was a new author, and I loved her. She knows me, rather, she knows exactly how I feel about books. Woven throughout this story are the philosophies of a book loving father and the more I read, the more my soul sang about pages, and endpapers, and covers. This book and this author are keepers. I have Cornelia’s next two books waiting in line.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg – FINISHED. And it was okay. I am a Fannie Flagg fan, but this one was a bit of a let-down.


The Princess Bride by William Goldman –- FINISHED. And I loved it! Almost as good as the movie – INCONCEIVEABLE as that may be. I reviewed this one alongside Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man here.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler – FINISHED. And reviewed here.

Emma by Jane Austen – FINISHED. I enjoyed this book, really! I still prefer Pride and Prejudice, but this one is a keeper. I did not, however, post a review. I know; I dropped the ball on this one. Sorry!


Believing God by Beth Moore – Well – here’s where the truth comes out. I had a delay in starting the Book Club Connection Group with my church…so this book has been put back on the shelf, until the fall. I know I could have read it anyway, but I decided to wait, until I could share it with others.
The Art of Standing Still by Penny Culliford – OK, more truth… I had serious intentions to read this one. But then Deena over at the Bookshelf reviewed it and I don’t even think it got any bookmarks. I moved it to the bottom of my list, and it sits there still. I will probably read it someday. If I ever get through the multiplied stacks of books I’ve ordered but haven’t yet read. Oh well.

Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado –- I am about 1/4 of the way through this one. It’s good so far…but I did not finish it in time for the challenge.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – This one is still a favorite from my high school years, though I didn’t even make it to the first page for this challenge. I will read it, maybe this summer!


Six out of ten… that’s still a passing grade, isn’t it? Funny, I was never satisfied with a D in school. Katrina posted some ‘end of the challenge’ questions. I guess all three of my regular readers are dying to know the answers, so I’ll do my best:

What was the best book you read this spring?

Hands down, it was the children’s book: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I truly enjoyed Princess Bride – but Inkheart gets my top vote, and her next two top my future reading pile!

What book could you have done without?


That would have to be Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man. I wish I’d moved it farther down in the pile, and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, instead.


Did you try out a new author this spring? If so, which one, and will you be reading that author again?


Yes, Cornelia Funke, and Yes, very soon.


If there were books you didn't finish, tell us why. Did you run out of time? Realize those books weren't worth it?


I guess I would say that I ran out of time. Really, that’s the simplest answer.


Did you come across a book or two on other participants' lists that you're planning to add to your own to-be-read pile? Which ones?


Well, to tell you the truth, I had ten books in my TBR pile when I started this challenge. I found some really great books that I wouldn’t let myself read until I was finished with this endeavor. --- I did break down and read Gregory Maguire’s Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. It was classic Maguire, and a very satisfying read. --- So, I started with ten books, read six, and now have twenty-five books in my TBR pile. Some, like The City of Ember and Water for Elephants came from another challenge participant’s recommendation, and others just appeared there on my stack in the night while I was asleep….honest.


I wouldn’t lie to you.


Personally, I blame the book fairy.



In case you’re interested, here’s my list, now. To be read in any order, at whatever time I so choose….

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
Whispers of Moonlight by Lori Wick
Where the Wild Rose Blooms by Lori Wick
The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
Burning Bright by Tracey Chavalier
Miriam’s Healing by Cynthia Davis
City of Ember by Geanne DuPrau
Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado
The Postcard and The Crossroad (2 in 1) by Beverly Lewis
The Revelation by Beverly Lewis
The Preacher’s Daughter by Beverly Lewis
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A Far Country by Daniel Mason
The Dawn Stag by Jules Watson
The Art of Standing Still by Penny Culliford
Will Your Prodigal Come Home by Jeff Lucas
The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman
A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
The Butterfly House by Marcia Preston


What did you learn -- about anything -- through this challenge? Maybe you learned something about yourself or your reading style, maybe you learned not to pick so many nonfiction books for a challenge, maybe you learned something from a book you read. Whatever it is, share!


I learned that I prefer to read according to my mood, and not a to-do list. I found myself many times looking at the leftovers in my challenge stack, and then gazing longingly at the new books I’d just ordered from Amazon, and being disappointed that I couldn’t dig into that forbidden pile until I finished this one. I ended up breaking my own rules, and sadly, some of the books on my challenge pile were neglected because of it. But, the books I did read, challenge designated, or not, were very grateful to have been chosen! But, discipline is good for me. So, I will be doing future challenges. In the interest of discipline, you understand.

What was the best part of the Spring Reading Thing?

The best part is always the reading, the stories, the characters, the escape into the pages of a book. Then there are the previews. Reading the reviews other challenge participants shared certainly helped me decide which books to add to my next book order.

Would you be interested in participating in another reading challenge this fall?


I am so THERE – and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of books to challenge me!


Any other thoughts, impressions, or comments.


Thank you, Katrina and everyone who participated – for feeding my addiction. For more great challenge wrap-ups, check in over at Callapidder Days, and, as always let Mr. Linky be your tour guide!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pieces

I watch her closely as she sleeps, this young woman napping on my bed. Her breathing is steady, and the way her hair falls across her cheek... who is this person, this stranger, who seems so familiar? Her voice on the phone brings back memories from my childhood. The way her smile lights her face – I’ve seen her before, in another place and time. Somehow this woman has carved out a place in my life, and my home, and the little girl who used to live here has gone.

I watch him closely as he stands there talking, excited about the song lyrics on his new CD. His hands remind me of something. Someone. I note his shoulders and the way his eyes crinkle when he laughs. There’s a man living in my house – a stranger, who took up residence shortly after the little boy left in the night. His laugh is deep and familiar.

I hear her steps on the hardwood floor as she sleepily trudges down the hall. They echo in my heart and transport me back in time. The lilt of her voice, even the breaths between phrases and the excited way she talks. I remember. Her hands, her fingers, long and slender, they remind me. She too, has snuck in -- taking the place of that little princess I used to tuck into bed so many nights ago.

My children, with so little of the child left in them, are a photo album before my unsuspecting gaze -- a long lost recording of voices I thought were part of previous generations. Every day, in them I am reminded of my grandmother’s eyes, my sister’s laugh, my brother’s stance, my grandfather’s chin and my mother’s hands.

How wonderful is it that though those little ones have all but disappeared in the passage of time, today, in each one, I get to see the pieces of those who came before. These precious babes who have lived in my heart since the day they were conceived, and will only live in my home for a few more short days. They are becoming -- changing before my eyes.

They will journey into tomorrow, and one day, as they gaze upon a new generation of children, they will see these same pieces – the smiles, the eyes, the fingers and shoulders – being carried forward down the road of our family. And, like me, they will remember.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jotham



My little boy became a man today.

The first time I saw you, you were tiny – I know, it only lasted a few days, but believe me, tiny is the word for it. Blue eyes and red hair that later became blonde. A boy. I was so relieved and happy.

I know you’ve heard the story before, but I’m surprised you didn’t decide to become a pilot, or an acrobat – considering the fact that you were flying and tumbling through the air just days before you were born. That car wreck resulted in a few ugly bumps and bruises for me, and your three-week-early arrival. I was so glad to see you there, and I counted all your fingers and toes at least ten times that first couple of days.

I still can’t believe that it’s been eighteen years since I first laid eyes on you.

When you were still very small, you thought books were for singing. You would stand with us in your grandpa’s little church and hold the song book open – singing with all your might. When we’d go home, you’d drag out your sister’s story books and carry them through the house. When I tried to get you to sit for a story, you’d open the book and sing, instead. Happily, you figured out that books are so much more.

I remember the day I walked by the door of your bedroom, and heard you reading the short sentences. I wish I knew what book that was. We worked so hard with you, and one day – that day, everything just seemed to click. You were reading, and you haven’t stopped since. Today you count books as treasures, and you understand the impact word can have on your world. You can use them as tools to relate and persuade. You have learned my lessons well.

You were a talkative little boy – you asked questions everywhere we went. I hope I never forget the day we got our first puppy. You were about three years old. We grabbed the leash, put on three sets of little shoes, and your dad, your sisters, you and I took off around the block. Sarah and Jericho skipped along and picked flowers and explored the yards along our street. You ran alongside your dad and I -- asking questions.

“We take Pepper for a walk?” “That Pepper’s leash?” “We gonna stop yet?” “Daddy go with us?” “We come back?” “That’s the sidewalk?” “Pepper gonna live in our house?” “We stay out of the street?” “I hold leash?” “Hold your hand?” “That a car down there?” “Pepper likes me?”

At the tender age of nine, you knew God wanted to use you. You worked hard, and raised an incredible amount of money for your first missions trip to Ireland. I still remember how it felt to let go of you after one last hug, and watch you board that plane. Then, we could still accompany you to the gate, and then watch the plane taxi, and take off – disappearing into the clouds. Your dad held me close as we watched until we couldn’t see even the smallest black speck, and then I cried. Eleven days later, you stepped off that plane a very different little boy. Older, wiser, more compassionate – and I grabbed you up in a fierce hug, and sat down right there on the floor to hold you on my lap for a while. I wish I’d known then how quickly you’d outgrow my lap – I’d have held you a little longer.

You still come in from work every afternoon, and come find me for a hug. That’s almost as good as holding you on my lap, and I wouldn’t trade those squeezes for anything in the world.

Within the past couple of years, I’ve watched you as you’ve begun to choose your path. I rejoiced with you when you got the call that you’d been accepted for the Teen Mania internship. That purpose and direction has helped you focus, and strengthen your resolve. In a year, you’ll have graduated, and in a little more than that, you will be leaving home. I am confident that you will find your way, and face each choice with faith and strength.

When I held you in my arms on that day eighteen years ago, I had no idea what a strong, gentle, funny and compassionate man you would become. Now I look at you, and I can see those qualities shining through. You have learned to serve others, and to work hard. You are touched by the pain of humanity, and your friends seek you out for caring advice, and encouragement about the love and faithfulness of God.

You are soft hearted under that tough exterior, son. That is as it should be. As you grow in strength and determination, remember to be gentle with yourself. Accept the grace Christ bled to offer you. It speaks so loudly of His great love.
If I’ve taught you anything, I hope it’s that you are most effective when others see how much mercy you need, and that God gives you more than enough because of His great love for you. Be a mercy billboard, my son. That is where your greatness lies.

And as you ready yourself, your maps and papers, your plans and charts, and set your compass heading for the future God has promised you, never forget where you came from. In time, you will use that same compass to find your way home, if only for a while. I will be waiting here for you – to hug you, and hold you, and shortly push you out again into tomorrow – where your greatness calls you forward and you witness God at work on every hand. It’s what you’ve been preparing for since that morning, eighteen years ago. Soon you’ll be on your way:

The days pass with their own rhythm
Flowing relentlessly toward the sea
You look the same today as you did the day before
Through the mist of ocean spray
But I know better
The surf pounds against the shore
Calling out your name
And you are ready to set sail
Time sets its own course
Yesterday is a closed harbor
Tomorrow is the only port of call
So do not linger here on the shore with me
It’s time to take to the water
Do not worry
Your compass will bring you home
When the winds change
I’ll be waiting for you here on the sand

Happy birthday, Jotham.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Diaphanous

Definitions of transparent on the Web:


crystalline: transmitting light; able to be seen through with clarity; "the cold crystalline water of melted snow"; "crystal clear skies"; "could see the sand on the bottom of the limpid pool"; "lucid air"; "a pellucid brook"; "transparent crystal"
diaphanous: so thin as to transmit light; "a hat with a diaphanous veil"; "filmy wings of a moth"; "gauzy clouds of dandelion down"; "gossamer cobwebs"; "sheer silk stockings"; "transparent chiffon"; "vaporous silks"
guileless: free of deceit easily understood or seen through (because of a lack of subtlety); "a transparent explanation"; "a transparent lie"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn


I have a confession to make:


For months I have found myself longing to be real – to shrug off the church costume, the ‘ministry’ garb, and the ‘everything is fine, praise the Lord’, positive confession disguise.


Don’t get me wrong – I BELIEVE God’s word. It is my lifeline, and I cling to it desperately. I BELIEVE that God keeps His word, and that He “watches over His word to perform it.” I believe that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the (SPOKEN) word of God”. I BELIEVE that there is a supernatural, holy power in the Word of God because that WORD became flesh and dwelt AMONG us as my beloved Lord Jesus Christ.

Speaking God’s word in my life – the day to day moments and realities of my life – invites the very presence and power of that Word -- the Son of God, my Savior – to take control, to intervene, to keep His promise and express His love in and through me. THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE SO DEEPLY THAT I WOULD DIE BEFORE I DENIED IT.

But.

There is a trend in the body of Christ – I think it’s been around a long, long time– a trend to hide the “real life” from others: from other people, from other Christians. To put on the “I am standing on my faith, speaking the Word, and I refuse to show any weakness” coat, and “never let them see me sweat.”

While the truth is that real life – in all its frustration and grime – is something we all face, day in and day out – often moment by moment.


Behind the closed doors of so many people– believers or not – hides a mother whose heart is breaking over the promiscuity and addiction of her daughter…or a son whose addiction to internet pornography is commanding every free moment of his days and nights…or a spouse who is so far in debt and so chained to the lifestyle his family has grown accustomed to that he can’t see a way out and would end his life, except for the shame of someone knowing the truth of the mess he’s made... a mother who copes with life only if she can keep the prescription refills coming... an empty, marriage filled with resentment... alcoholism... perversion... addiction to food... to possessions... to gambling... to self-mutilation... abuse... rage... depression.


Maybe it’s not that bad in your home. If it’s not, you are blessed, and should be thankful. But I can almost guarantee that you know someone who is facing a similar reality.

Though there are those who know, I won’t tell all of you which of these I am facing – but I will tell you that I am.

Me. A lifetime believer. In ministry. Preaching. Teaching. Serving. Worshipping. Leading. Faith-filled. Raising my children to transform the world with the Gospel of Christ.


This is who I am.

And at least one of the above descriptions fits me – my family – my home. And it hurts. Sometimes I feel like it will never stop hurting. I cry out to God for the one(s) I love to be hounded by His love – chased down and redeemed. Rescued from his and/or her personal choices and brought back to the fold, to His embrace. And I cling desperately to my belief that He not only hears me, but that His love demands that He was already on His way after them before I called out His name.


And, you know what? He hears my cry. He answers me. He holds me while I weep, He reminds me of His promise, He even works miracles in MY home.


Oh, hallelujah!


He is real, and His love is beyond what I can explain or imagine. HE IS REAL. My relationship with Him is real. The church where we now worship Him and serve people is REAL. What a relief it is to peel off the layers and stand before Him and others covered only by His love.

Transparent.

Did you see the common thread in the definitions above?

Transmitting light.

Transmitting LIGHT.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. ~ John 1:1-5


Oh, Father, let me be so transparent that others only see YOU.

I want people to see that I need Him so desperately. Without Him, I am a tangled, twisted mess. I want people to see my wounds, and scars, and know that theirs can be doctored, tended and healed by His loving hands.

How can people be attracted to the Jesus in me, when it seems like I have it all together? No cracks. Nothing but blessing and abundance. What in me will resonate in them if it’s not my wounds being healed by One who loves me so extravagantly, while still wiping the mud off of my face, and washing the blood from my hands?

If He wants me. loves me, can rescue me... satisfy me... fill me and use me – there is nothing impossible for another who will but trust Him.

I am determined to be transparent.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Word Play

I did it! I bought a few MagPo sets, and stuck them to my refrigerator…




and the world around our house may never be the same. I wrote last week about playing with the online version of Magnetic Poetry when I have writer’s block. I used the words to spark ideas and then crafted a poem out of the inspiration they provided.

Having the magnetic words on the fridge, a few steps from my computer is a wonderful distraction for the kids and I. Several times a day, I find myself or one of them standing in front of the refrigerator, arranging and rearranging words into beautiful, or funny, or dark, moody lines of poetry.

I love it!

They build their masterpiece, and leave it there for posterity’s sake, signing it with a colored dry-erase marker. When I get up the next morning I rearrange all the words, and erase the signatures for a fresh start.

Even the one student who hates to read gets in on the play. He asked me yesterday if I could bring him home a nice journal, because he’s been writing in an old spiral notebook, and wants to upgrade. Because my calling in life – or one of them anyway – is to raise literary wonders who write and write and write like breathing, my heart honestly went pitter-patter at his request.



Along with the boxes of MagPo kits I ordered a tiny little jar of words called “Writer’s Remedy”. It sits on my desk next to my brand new monitor, just in case I get stuck. The other night, after accepting delivery of the wonderful box of MagPo goodness from the UPS man, in a moment of delirium I slipped this little bottle of words into my purse. Love of My Life and I were headed out the door to have some appetizers at Applebee’s and wait for Wonder Daughter No. 1 to get off of work -- fairly frequent occurrence, around here.

So, we went in and claimed our usual table, and ordered drinks and munchies. Then I broke out the words. While we nibbled happily on our food, I spread them out across the table and constructed poems to my heart’s content. It was like a vocabulary reunion!

So, I share with you today with a sampling of the work I did there, on that high-round Applebee’s table, with my treasure trove of tiny magnetic words. I hope you enjoy!

the rhythm of old pages
dances through my memory
words spark inspiration
as i drown in the story


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

the ghost of real life
is whispering her curse
between sleep and conscious thought
speaking your fear
to a cold translucent night


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

who will write a line
about perfect beauty
beneath that blue green soup
and so give a tree his voice?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I leave you with a directive – whether you have a jar of magnetic words or not --


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Girl's Night Out

I’m a bit of a home-body. I don’t have lots of girlfriends living nearby. So, a girl’s night out has long been one of those distant dreams. Until last weekend.

It happened on the spur of the moment, I ran into a friend who had no plans for the evening. She’s one of those gorgeous girls, from the inside out, who can make me laugh and gets my passions. She’s a young college student, busy and always on the go. I rarely get to spend time with her, so we decided to make an evening of it.

We started with a beauty date at the mall. I love a good wash and trim – it’s like massage therapy with your clothes on! We gave each other style tips and complimented each other profusely, just like gal pals should. We left the salon feeling sassy and beautiful.

Next we went across the street to Barnes & Noble for coffee and cheesecake in the Starbucks. As we chatted over one plate with two forks I asked her two questions:

“If you could read only one more book before you died – what book would it be?”

“If you were stranded on a deserted island, and only had one book (in addition to your Bible) what book would you want it to be?”

You know, we found these two questions terribly hard to answer! We did decide that the one book we should read before we died would have to be a classic. But in considering the only book we would choose to own if we were stranded on that island we agreed that our minds just couldn’t grasp the thought of such severe limitations in light of the mind-boggling world of literature we both love.

We finished our cheesecake, and headed over to browse the shelves, searching for that one must-read book. We discussed our favorites, and the lives of the characters hidden in the pages – and had a thoroughly wonderful time. Our search for a specific edition of her favorite book led us from Barnes & Noble to Borders, where we arrived just in time for the “We’re closing the store in fifteen minutes” announcement. Her search for this one book wasn’t rewarded there, but we did purchase a book each before we left. I chose one of Gregory McGuire’s titles, “Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister”, and she chose “The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe.” It was like Christmas – leafing through the pristine pages and smelling the paper. Words and phrases danced before our eyes like sugarplum fairies!

I had about thirty minutes before I needed to pick my husband up from work, so we made our way to his workplace and parked under a bright streetlight in the parking lot. We rolled down the windows and enjoyed the cool night air as she slipped off her shoes, stuck her bare feet out the window, and read aloud to me from Poe. First, it was “The Tell-tale Heart”, followed by “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade.”

She confided in me that she had hoped to spend the evening with some of her college buddies, as this was the last night of her break between her spring and summer semesters. But she was so glad we’d connected with each other instead. Shortly after, my husband joined us in the car, and we headed back to my house. She hugged me quickly and said, “Thanks Mom, I had fun!” before she disappeared into her bedroom with the cell phone in her hand.

It was the best girls’ night out I’ve spent in ages!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Story to Tell

Chilihead over at Don’t Try This At Home! came up with a great carnival idea. I learned about it from Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer, and decided to jump in. Here are some details:

Tell Your Blogging Story

• How did you start blogging?
• Did you intend to be a blog w/a following? If so, how did you go about it?
• What do you hope to achieve or accomplish with your blog? Have you been successful? If not, do you have a plan to achieve those goals?
• Has the focus of your blog changed since you started blogging? How?
• What do you know now that you wish you'd known when you started?
• Do you make money with your blog?
• Does your immediate or extended family know about your blog? If so, do they read it? If not, why?
• What two pieces of advice would you give to a new blogger?


If you want to find out more, or read more blogging stories, click on over to Chilihead’s place and check out Mr. Linky!


My Story

If I could tell only one person my blogging story, and have them truly understand it, it would be my grandmother, Mimi. She was always my biggest fan, and interested in what I was excited and passionate about. Time and disease have stolen her memory, and she really doesn’t recognize us anymore. I would give almost anything to have a real conversation with her again. If I could, this is what it might be like:

Mimi, come sit and have some coffee with me. Is it hot enough for you? I know you like your coffee with a good scald on it. It’s been a long time, and we have a lot to catch up on.

Me? Well you know the kids are busy with their jobs and school work, and I don’t spend all my time grading papers any more. So I had to find something to fill the time. I’ve been writing a lot lately, and I actually have friends on the internet who read what I share with them. We connect with each other with our computers, sort of like the telephone, but with written words and pictures -- It’s called a blog.

I’m really not sure why they call it that, Mimi, but it’s like a journal, online. People can read it and then leave comments for me. Yes, it’s a bit complicated, but you’d love it, Mimi. You really would.

I first started blogging a couple of years ago, when the kids introduced me to xanga.com. It’s a community of bloggers. They were meeting other teenagers online and I wanted to be able to keep tabs on them. Yes, Mimi, it’s a dangerous world out there. That’s why I read their blogs and comments. I want to know what’s going on with them.

I didn’t really think anyone would be interested in reading my blog, but, you know, Mimi, after a few weeks, I started making friends with some really good writers from all over the world. People like Maddie, Tony, Steve and Bea. They are great. They’ve prayed with me when things were tough, laughed and cried, and shared their friendship with me. They leave comments on my site when I’ve not written in a while – to check up on me and make sure I’m still around. I’ve even made some new friends, lately, like Deena and Kathleen. I enjoy reading what they write, as well.

Yes Ma’am. They are good people.

Well, yes, that’s a really big part of why I blog, but a few months ago, I decided it was time to really get serious about my writing, and the impact it could have on people. I’ve been struck lately, with the realization that everyone has a story. Everyone. And my story, the one I’m writing every day with my life, is very much a part of a bigger story, written by women, who came before me. People like Mom, and my aunts, my sister, even my own daughters – and you, Mimi.

I know that a big part of my story is your story. Since your storytelling days are past you, I want to make sure your story gets told to others. I want people to know you, and me, and our story. So, now I write about what life is like in my home – why I love the things I do, and what things I am passing along to my children, because of you and others in our family. I want to share your legacy and my legacy with my children, and with others who can read and remember their own stories.

Yes, Mimi, there are other stories to tell – Grandpa’s stories, the stories of my fathers, uncles and cousins. I tell those too. But I wanted you to know that you are my inspiration. I write, because I’ve read your story, and it’s all there in my memory. I don’t ever want to lose it.

Yes, sometimes I’ll send one of my entries to Mom, and she reads it aloud to Grandpa. Or my sister will call me with tears in her voice, because I shared a story about what it was like when we were kids. They don’t read every day, but they do once in a while, and they seem to think I’m getting it right.

Maybe someday I’ll have enough stories to write a book. Wouldn’t that be amazing, Mimi? But right now, even though there’s no money in it, I love to pour my words out onto the blog-page, and remember. And when someone comments that my story has touched their heart, or helped them remember, the feeling is amazing. That’s why I keep writing.

No, Mimi, not everyone uses their blog like I do. Many of my blogging friends post recipes, videos and photographs. They share jokes and even complain about their lives. I think that’s what makes a blog so powerful. You can share whatever you want, and if people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. I wish I’d known when I started how this community would impact me. I’d have made friends quicker, and commented more. Isn’t it amazing, Mimi, how we all just want to be known and appreciated?

If you could just learn to use a computer, Mimi, I think you’d love the blog community. I know I’d enjoy reading what you decided to share. Since you can’t, I guess I’ll just keep writing in your honor. Would that be okay?

You’re probably getting tired, would you like to lie down and take a little nap? I’ll take care of your coffee cup, Mimi. You just make yourself comfortable. I’m really glad we got the chance to catch up. Thank you, I hoped you’d be proud of me.

I love you too.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Jericho



I remember the day they placed you in my arms. My last little baby bundle. I didn’t know I had enough room or love in my heart for you, but there it was, bursting out, anyway.

From the time you could crawl, you had to fight for attention, for your rights, for floor space. Your brother was only 11 months older than you, and the struggle was endless. Some days I think it still is. And although you’ve had your battle scars, including a twisted ankle before your first birthday – thanks to his SITTING on you rather roughly, you learned to hold your own, and even gain ground.

You were always the one who wasn’t content to sit in the same room, on the same couch with me. You would grab my face and pull it to yourself, making sure I was watching you, actively involved in YOU. You still have my full attention.

When you were a little older, we were always the last ones to leave the church, because you had to hug everyone goodbye – Every. Last. Person. in the building. It’s a good thing we were attending a small church at the time. You just knew that everyone was captivated by what you had to say – what else was more important than listening to you? Bold and fearless, I still admire those traits in you.

In seventeen years, you’ve taught me so much. I guess it all started with the Barney song. You can make friends in half a second, you don’t hold back, and your friends learn quickly what loyalty means. You can calm and cajole any child, and before you know it, they’re smiling, laughing, and behaving as they should. You remind me of the pied piper, with all the neighborhood kids following you around – (in a good way, of course) – we can’t leave the house without your pre-school fan club shouting your name like paparazzi and rushing over for one more squeeze.

You believe in yourself – in your own unique weirdness – and even celebrate it. You still demand attention and people love you for it. You don’t give half of yourself to anything – except maybe cleaning your room.

And you have a way with words.

I watch you with your notebooks, and paper scraps, and I remember what it was like to have a flood of words flowing from my pencil at your age– poems spill from you like rain from a downspout. You get words. You wield them with precision and grace. I am amazed – and so happy that you understand this passion in me.

Somewhere along the way, you learned to dream big – and I can see you going after those dreams in your own indomitable way. You, my beautiful baby, are a force to be reckoned with. It’s such a good thing that you learned how to love – fiercely and without conditions – it softens you just enough to make you irresistible. Someday, that boy will come along and find himself captivated by YOU. I hope he will know what he’s in for!

I am so proud to be your mom, and happy to say I’d choose you as a friend. You amaze me. I hope you have a perfect day, and never forget what a gift you were to me, that morning seventeen years ago. I will always remember.

Happy Birthday, Jericho.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Alphabet Sea

I like to play with words.

Literally.

I used to have the colorful alphabet magnets on my fridge when the kids were little. I’d stop for a second or two and rearrange them into words that tickled my ears with their music. I suppose it would look funny to have alphabet magnets of pink, red, blue and yellow on my fridge now, with the youngest family member turning seventeen tomorrow.

But I think I found a substitute – a grown up version of magnets with which I can amuse myself. And, in fact, I don’t need a fridge to enjoy them. I can play with them online, to my heart’s content.

Magnetic poetry isn’t a new thing. These kits have been around for several years, and come in many varieties. We used to have a standard set, and the box would call to me.

I’d run my fingers through the words in the tray, like Captain Jack Sparrow with a chest full of Aztec gold. Oh the wealth of words, the things I could say, the power of phrases turned, just so.

So, I’d begin. Sifting through these amazing little magnets, I’d choose words that spoke to me, that inspired me to create a masterpiece. Word by word, line by line, stanza by stanza, I would construct a poem that would pierce the hearts of every man. Until, I’d discover that there was no magnet for the word “ebullient” – and somehow “cheerful” and “happy” just wouldn’t do. How could I go on? Limited, as I was, by the pile of words before me, when the one I wanted wasn’t there.

So, I’d pare down my project -- change and rebuild, as my limited budget of words demanded -- knowing all the while that I could build a masterpiece, if only there were words enough.

It’s a very disciplined process to write something great with limited word resources. I suppose I should do it more often. But usually I go to the magnetic poetry kits for inspiration. I sift through the words and pick out the ones that begin to paint a picture for me.

Words like deep, rhythm, ocean, stream and liquid. Yesterday, change, sail, remember and time. Piling words on the virtual magnetic board, I feel a surge rise inside myself, and suddenly, the words are spilling onto a page, and painting a scene, a feeling, a moment before me.



The days pass with their own rhythm
Flowing relentlessly toward the sea
You look the same today as you did the day before
Through the mist of ocean spray
But I know better
The surf pounds against the shore
Calling out your name
And you are ready to set sail
Time sets its own course
Yesterday is a closed harbor
Tomorrow is the only port of call
So do not linger here on the shore with me
It’s time to take to the water
Do not worry
Your compass will bring you home
When the winds change
I’ll be waiting for you here on the sand



I wonder what happened to that standard magnetic poetry kit I used to have. I miss it. I may have to buy another one, (or four) and stick them all to my fridge. With such abundance at my fingertips, I’ll feel rich, powerful, and passionate.

I love to play with words.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

True Love - A Drama in Three Parts

There’s an older couple that lives across the street from us. They are rather quiet and keep to themselves. From our picture window in the library, our homeschool headquarters, we most often see him when he is out in his driveway, washing and waxing and polishing his beautiful white classic car. (If I were a guy, I could tell you the make, model, engine size, and such, but it just looks like a white car to me.) He lovingly tends to that car at least once a week, and seems to enjoy every moment.

The way he treats that car is a beautiful thing to behold.

But far more moving is what we see every weekday afternoon at 5:05 pm.

Rain, snow or sunshine, at 5:05 pm, this sweet man gets into his car, and starts the engine. He puts it in gear, maneuvers it slowly into the street and waits.

In what amounts to about a minute, we see his beautiful wife coming up the road in her new red car. She slows, waves, and then turns into the driveway and parks her car carefully in the garage. As the door closes, her prince pulls back into the driveway, and meets her at the porch. They enter the house together.

What a simple drama of love we see acted out before our eyes each afternoon! It prompted me to consider -- In what ways do I regularly act out my love for those dear to me – and in what ways do they regularly act out their love for me?

I hope that my eyes are opened today, to read these messages of devotion, left for me by those I love – and I pray that my heart is awakened to the possibilities before me, as I look for ways to write messages of endearment on their hearts, as well.

The Truth About the Body and the Blood - Correction

Well, I did say that I'm not completely familiar with this type of thing. Confirmtion -- First Communion -- I just don't know. I am pretty sure my mom said Confirmation. But she is as unfamiliar with these things as I am. So, I admit that I should have gone to the expert to complete my research. Thankfully, the expert came to me, and being the sweet woman that she is, suggested that I had things a little mixed up. So, it seems that this was not a Confirmation story, but a First Communion story. I can't be entirely sure, even now, but I hate to offend all my wonderful catholic friends out there in the www........ so -- I stand corrected and just as confused as ever!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Truth About the Body and the Blood

A few nights ago, on the telephone, Mom and I were sharing all the latest funny stories about family members. Just silly little things that make you giggle, and love them all the more. She shared a tale of her cousin’s granddaughter, Andrea, who was recently confirmed.

I’m not completely familiar with this practice, but as I understand it, Andrea was required to attend several classes in preparation for her confirmation. After one such class, grandma came to pick Andrea up and drive her home. She asked, as many adults do, what Andrea was learning in class. Andrea replied in all seriousness that you weren’t supposed to “gulp the blood”, because there are lots of other kids waiting to drink it, and you shouldn’t be greedy. “Oh, and the body tastes gross.”

Grandma, of course, maintained her dignity and her straight face in light of such earnestness – and the moment passed.

Forward to the big day. Andrea looks beautiful in her white dress, and all goes according to plan. Later, when she gets a moment to chat, grandma asks Andrea, “Did you gulp the blood?” In a sober voice, Andrea turns to her grandma and replies, “No. I didn’t drink any. Somebody spit the body in it.”

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