Case Study in Controlled Violence

summer2010 059

This old post came up in a recent conversation (Thank you, Calah!). Thought I'd give it another run.  I have no idea how to make children behave, and when I read theories and hear stories of children forever changed into angels by a sharp word here, or a meaningful hug there, I instantly bristle. It defies thousands of years of lived experience for a child to be made perfect by a smart parent. It’s only happened once that I know of, and both the child and his parent were Go … [Read more...]

Somebody’s Got To Do It


OK kids, time to clean the kitchen. You have ten minutes to wipe down the counters, load the dishes and sweep the floor, and then you can watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Oldest: I'll put away condiments.Girl: I'll wipe the table.Fourth child: My job is sweeping.Second child: My job is staring death in the face.Everybody: Lucky!  … [Read more...]

People Before Things in Life and in Death


I live about 45 minutes outside of Indianapolis, so when I go into town for a meeting on Thursday mornings, I'm always tempted to go shopping afterwards. There's a Trader Joe's and a TJ Maxx right around the corner from where we hold our meeting, and I imagine, over the years, I've saved thousands of dollars by repeating the mantra to myself "people before things" and heading to my Mimi's house instead.There, I'd sit on the couch and flip through the knee high stacks of catalogs that Mimi … [Read more...]

Happy Fruits of the Papal Synod To Me!


My birthday was this weekend. I'd been plucking at the petals of it, questioning whether I wanted to be alone or not to be alone, feeling selfish for wanting it, and stupid for doubting its possible benefits, and finally decided that it's just not a moral issue whether or not I spend a day alone. My husband was home from work to manage the kids, I don't care much for cake, and I knew there weren't any parties coming my way.So that's what I got for my birthday-- a day. I thought I might spend … [Read more...]

The Disembodied Life: When Spiritual Rewards Become a Vice.

I had a writing deadline today, and every time I sat down to write, the words I needed were not there. Thousands of other words were there, and they were fun to explore, so I started thinking that this deadlined writing job was maybe not for me. Maybe I should just clear my slate of any obligatory writing, so that I can do only the fun stuff.It's not as if the little freelance jobs are supporting our family, or propping up my spiritual life, or... I don't really know what they do, actually. … [Read more...]

Trusting Other People’s Journey (And Our Own)


I don't know why it's so hard to accept God's mercy. I don't know why we cling tighter to our sin. It's so much harder to keep God out of our lives, than it is to let Him in. (Rhyme!)We have to keep distracting ourselves, finding fault in others, rationalizing mystery, talking ourselves down from wonder, calling connections coincidences, expunging the meaning from everything we encounter. It's so much work to be unimpressed by everything.I imagine someone saying to me, "I'm going to put … [Read more...]

Love Miser: Withholding Love Always Backfires


It's been a big birthday weekend. None of our kids had birthdays, but there were three different parties, four different children who hoped to receive our gifts this weekend, and I think I did better than I usually do at fulfilling their expectations.I tend towards miserliness when it comes to kids' birthdays, always doing the run through Goodwill first, just to see if there's something unusual, or large, or unopened that might work, and there never really is, so I'm not sure why I keep … [Read more...]