Sunday, July 01, 2012

new season. new blog.

If you are looking for me you can find me here:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This Is Who We Are Now

The days after Christmas are always strange. The tussle to get here begins with the whirlwind of writing and finals--which truly deserves a blog post all its own; the transition from writing and studying endlessly to a complete halt and switch is somewhat dizzying. My wakefulness has competing subjects: "Oh no--did I add Hecuba's quote when I wrote about her broken mama's heart in Hector's death scene?" And, "Does my dad really need a trunk golf organizer?" And worse: "Did I give him one of those last year?"

In the midst of all this there are the holiday fundraisers, at which I am expected to wear shoes that hurt my feet and threaten my balance--which does little for a woman's confidence--and remember the names of people and what they have given, and perhaps most importantly: remember not to say any bad words or use inappropriate phrases I have picked up working in the very ghetto for which we are raising the money.

Then there is the gathering of gifts and the accompanying lists: all the excitement and brouhaha of the Dakota House Christmas celebration--the ridiculous notion that we, somehow, can make up for all the horrors of these kids' lives by making this one night magical and handing them just the right gift. Th
e stampede through our home of excited and overwhelmed children and later the rush of ripping paper--Emily and I looking at one another and then back to the faces of the kids,wondering, 'Are they happy with this? Do they feel loved?'

And finally the anticipation of family, and returning children, all centered around the constant struggle to remember that this is about Jesus, who came to save us all.

There are moments of peace and joy, even in this vortex of glitter and lists and unholy traffic.

One glorious hour I am in the kitchen wit
h my husband, and we are making arancini--Italian rice balls that I am determined to make into a new Christmas tradition--in honor of my Grams and Grampo, who both left us recently, still funny and cuddly and remarkable in their nineties. We listen to my own special treat: Tinsel Tales on NPR. My hands mix the arborio rice and eggs, and it is wonderfully tactile; my hands are coated in the sticky scent of my heritage. I season the arancini with the coveted spice from my Uncle Joe, also gone now but with a rich aroma left behind him.

Days before, my daughter Emily and I are in the Dakota House living room. Every surface is covered with shoe boxes an
d toys and wrapping paper. Each box is examined, and considered for the child who will receive it. We exchange, and add, and take away, according to what we know about each of these children we love. And on the night when they open those same boxes, it has, somehow--by God's wondrous presence--actually become magical.

There are other moments. Sitting in
my sister's living room, with all of the family who could get there--some are missing because they live far away or their lives won't allow the trip. My parents have been loving and generous, as usual, and we have all brought gifts. We are huddled up next to one another, facing a screen in which just one brief portion of a film is played. It is The Nativity Story, and before our eyes the Christ child is born. A thrill of hope--the weary world rejoices. And so do we.

We gather again on Christmas night, three of my four children make it after all the obligations that are forced upon children of divorce. Aimee comes early and we have treasured time with her; Aimee's excitement for our family time brings an electric energy into our home.

Finally Nate and Emily arrive and we settle.
Only my oldest daughter Sarah is missing. She is with her husband in the bay area--they are working hard to build their new life and their jobs demand a toll for their rewards. We are all in our comfy clothes; the room is soft and cushioned and light comes from the fire and the Christmas tree. We hand one another gifts we have chosen with care, with deep knowledge of one another. There is wrestling, and laughing; it is sometimes irreverent. It is us. And I breathe it in. Soon it will be over and we will stand under an awning in streaming rain to wave goodbye to my son Nate as the train pulls away.

This is who we are now. I no longer tuck my kids in and pull their favorite toy from their hands. They are all grown. And when they leave our house, our home is quiet again. My husband and I read by th
e fire, talk in the kitchen, and walk on our street. In a few weeks I will step into my classrooms and meet my professors who will teach me the wonders of writing; I will take up books by Tolkien and journey to Mordor with Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins. My husband will work to provide for us all, and lend his hands to a gardening group. I will love on the kids God brings to Dakota House and watch as He brings adventure to my life. My kids will have their own journeys, and I will love them fiercely and pray for them daily.

It is a good life, and I scarcely deserve the joys it contains.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

seriously, people. really?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


classmate: "People are so stupid. That class is boring and stupid."

me: "I like it, actually."

classmate: "It bores me."

me: "Oh. Yes, well, some classes are like that."

classmate: "All of my classes are like that. Boring. But especially that one. Hemingway. Lost generation and all that. Who cares?"

me: "That's an extremely ironic statement."

classmate: "I'm 25. I've seen a lot. I just don't get that excited about learning. You?

me: "Me? I'm quite old."

classmate: "You like to learn, though."

me: "I do. I really do."

classmate: "Why? Oh. Never mind. I'm turning here. I have class right there."

me: "What are you learning in there?"

classmate: "Oh. I dunno. Wonders of the world, I guess. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. It's boring."

me: "Oh. Ok. Well, I'll see you Wednesday."

classmate: "I suppose you will."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

your story

Donald Miller has a new book. It's called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I finished it a week or so ago but it is still inside my head, swirling around and stirring things up.

Ask yourself this question: "If my life were a book, and I picked it up to read it, would I want to finish it? Or would I put it down because it is too boring, meaningless, trivial? Would I like the main character (me) and root for for her?

From chapter 12:

If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.


If the character doesn't change, the story hasn't happened yet.

Just thinking about wounds, and healing, and transformation. And thanking Jesus for His place in all of that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

meth and milk.

Mark Arax, a former Los Angeles Times reporter and author of the book West of the West was born in and lives in Fresno, the grandson of an Armenian fruit picker.

"We're living in a region that produces the finest fruits and vegetables in the world, and yet the children of this valley rarely taste those fruits and vegetables," he says.

Alongside the most intensive farm belt the world has ever known, he says, is this stunning poverty. Some neighborhoods in Fresno have the most concentrated poverty of any city in the country, and all the pathology that goes along with it: the drugs and the gangs.

"We produce more meth and more milk than any region in the country," he says.


Listen to the story here on NPR.


read about it here.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

a definite lose-lose situation

Monday I took my seat belt off to give a dollar to a guy on the corner of 41N and Shaw, who was holding a sign that said HARD WORKER. He refused to take my dollar. He actually shook his head at me and walked away. I had this feeling I had insulted him somehow.

Before my back wheels hit Shaw a motorcycle cop had his lights whirling on me. He cited me for driving without my seat belt.

Yeah. A definite lose-lose. The guy on the corner lost out on one dollar, and I will likely lose out on 100 times that.

But here is the issue...

At first, I thought to myself, "Well I guess that guy really does want to work. He doesn't want me to hand him money at all."

Further reflection (and some snickering from acquaintances) has led me to believe that the gentleman on the corner saw that cop way before I did. And that he knows a lot more than I do as well. panhandling illegal? I've heard conflicting stories. Some involving $90 fines. What is YOUR understanding of the issue?

Friday, March 20, 2009

in an instant

This morning on the way to school I passed a traffic accident. An old boat of a car was halfway up the little hill that runs alongside the freeway. Two other cars were mangled and tangled up a few feet away. It had just happened. The police had just arrived.

As I passed the wreck on my right, to my left a van came up beside me. The lone woman driving it sullenly made the sign of the cross as she passed.

Due to my own issues surrounding my Catholic upbringing I have not only abandoned the gesture but have come to view it with slight disdain.

And yet…the graceful sweep of the woman’s hand across her heart… an instant response...invoking the care of her Savior for a stranger…

I drove on, noting the sprinklers in the morning sun and my own omission. Several miles later I had still not uttered a prayer of my own.

It is astounding how swiftly God can check my heart. In an instant. In the time it takes for one car to pass another.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

quote for the day

"I didn't come in here all ginned up to spend $8 million."

--President Obama

I found an interesting short recap of the press conference here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

photo for the day

Footprints in Tongren, Quinghai (China) believed by Tibetan monks to have been left by a monk who prayed in this spot for decades.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

overheard in the women's locker room

girl getting dressed: "So yeah I taught my mom how to text."

girl combing her hair: "Why?"

girl getting dressed: "I dunno. Thought it would make my life easier, I guess. But now... she's like, all thinking she's cool and shit. And she sends me these texts that say, like, 'Hi! What's up?' Jesus."

girl combing her hair: "Oh no."

girl getting dressed: "Um, yeah. It's hella annoying."

girl combing her hair: "Tell her to stop."

girl getting dressed: "Well I would but she pays for my phone and shit."

girl combing her hair: "Gawd. That bites."

girl getting dressed: "It hella sucks."

Thursday, January 22, 2009


So we have started 'church' at Dakota House.

My hope is to have very unchurchy church, where real prayer happens, and people are just themselves... and God is very big and makes subsequent and meaningful appearances in the homes of the neighborhood folk who are brave enough to walk through the door.

Last time we met, I was thoroughly astounded.

In the middle of Brad's talk--we take turns leading--a young woman we know and love burst through the door. Her eyes searched the room for someone she knew, and they fell on me. She ran to me and buried her face in my chest and cried that her brothers might be going to jail.

Now, we know her brothers. They are probably our two most consistent Dakota House kids. We LOVE these boys. There was a crazy incident that was basically about flared emotions and a paranoid parent... an all too familiar story line.

Emily and I left the service and went across the street, retrieving babies we were implored to take for fear of C.P.S. intervention.

We return to the church service and--as I am too revved up to just sit and listen--request prayers for our boys. And singing. For us.

In a little while, here comes our boys--not hauled off to juvenile hall--looking scared and schooled.

And soon thereafter, a parade of uncles, and aunties, and cousins....and more babies. Our living room is suddenly filled with neighborhood people who have never been to Dakota House. And they want prayer. Because they have a court date, or can't pay rent, or want to stop using.

Most of them approach individuals and ask for prayer. But one woman boldly addresses the small crowd and tearfully tells us that she wants her 7 month old baby back.

And so we pray. We put her baby in God's hands and ask Him to deliver the child back to her mama.

Two days later I am at Dakota House and I hear the news. The baby is returned. After months of no hope, this mother is holding her child once again.

This is what that mother says: "It is a miracle! God is so powerful. When do we get to have church again?!"


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

have it your way

thanks becky. i owe you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

my view on the matter

I'm imagining we are all weary--no matter who we voted for--of hearing condemnation or bewilderment directed towards Christians who support Obama.

Well. I'm weary of it, anyway.

In my opinion, Obama's alleged position on abortion is--in light of the tragedy of abortion--a good one.

Here is a link where you may read about it yourself, and also follow related links to help increase your understanding, if need be:

2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College on Apr 13th.

You can also read about the Prevention First Act bill which Obama supports.

From what I have read and comprehend, Obama sees abortion as a problem and a tragedy that cannot be solved by a law, as something that needs to be addressed on a deeper level. He proposes we put our energy there.

I agree with this approach. I work in an impoverished neighborhood, and see in the eyes of the young girls I love that a law will not move them. There are always ways around laws. What will bring about change is what has always done it, and Jesus gave us the best example. It is through relationship, and truth, meeting needs, and reaching people where they are.

As I see it, if the church spent more time doing this, and less time judging and proclaiming, we would see real change.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

blue like jazz the movie

The latest estimate for its release is 2010.

The shooting begins this summer in--where else? Portland.

The official site is here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

these people are amazing

and I get to be their mom.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

i just have to say this

There was over 73 million dollars spent by both sides combined to argue the prop 8 issue.

I can't stop thinking about how much food that would buy.

And if you know anyone who came to Jesus because of hatred and judgment, please tell me.

Because I haven't exactly seen it work that way.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the acceptance speech

The Acceptance Speech of Barack Obama, President Elect of the United States of America:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America. It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.
Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.
I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.
… the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady…

… Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia…

… I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us…… to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe…the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod…… who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics…
… you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy…


… who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, 'We are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.'

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can. At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can. When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



voting day. it's here.

This morning I woke up with a jolt. 'It's here. Finally,' I thought.

And then, "Oh no.'

Because for the first time in a long time, I care.

I am old enough to remember when both Kennedys were shot, and how heartbreaking it was. I also remember when Watergate happened. I distinctly recall the feelings of disillusionment and betrayal. 'What? Our president is a LIAR?'

This was before I became aware of all that Kennedy-Marilyn Monroe nonsense... before Watergate, and Monica Lewinsky...back in the day when we thought our president was someone to be respected.

When Watergate happened I was 16 years old. Very naive. And though I did not like Nixon, I still thought that THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES would be an honorable person.

Well that was a long time ago. Since then I have pretty much adopted the stance that politics and politicians are not to be trusted. 'poli'= 'many' and 'tics' = 'blood-sucking parasites'.

And it has been a long time since I have looked at a candidate and thought he was someone who could lead our country.

My hope is in Jesus... but hey--it would be sort of cool to have a president who gives us new hope for our country, and has a relationship with Jesus and proclaims it. Wouldn't it?

Our theology insinuated, that shortly after original sin, once Adam and Eve at the apple, they registered as Democrats and went on with their lives, trying to create large governments that would enable lazy people through expensive social programs. --Donald Miller

So, to appease myself, I started off today by reading this article, in which Donald Miller explains why he is voting for Obama. I suggest you skip the rest of what I have to say and read the Don. It is a brilliant piece.

Tonight Brad and I will cast our votes and then head to this pub where we like to go after voting. I like to go there because after I have voted I want to be around other people, in a general but non-invasive sort of camaraderie.

Plus--there will be TV there, as opposed to at our house where there isn't and I would crouch over my laptop obsessing on satisfactory at all.

Today I am praying for our country. And for myself, actually. Because hope deferred doth make the heart sick.