Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Appliances are a Girl's Best Friend

Belated Merry Christmas from S.Wells!

Our family just got back from a snowy trip to Mansfield for dinner and a little shopping.  BW came home early this afternoon from working in Louisiana over Christmas, and it was lovely to be able to get out of the house with him and the kids for dinner at Cheddar's.  I am so grateful that our children are capable of being civilized creatures at restaurants - it is a minor miracle that "dinner out with kids" is actually enjoyable, given that they are 5, 4, and 7 months (going on 24 pounds...).  It is not always so, but tonight, they were goofy little saints.

After dinner, we wandered around Menard's and exhibited impressive amounts of self-control, only buying a laminate remnant for our bathroom floor, appropriate accessories to make the magic happen, and an air filter for the furnace. 

Come on, people, three cheers!  We were looking at carpeting and wood flooring and almost committed the crime of impulse buying, diving headfirst into the bottomless pit of home remodeling.  We're really good at spending money, so if you have any money that you need to spend, just let us know.  We'll take care of it. 

So, leaving the store with only $42 worth of merchandise to complete a desperately needed smelly olive green bathroom carpet replacement is a serious victory.  P.S. I really like adjectives and adverbs.  Really.

I was feeling pretty good about myself after the Menard's victory.  The kids were continuing with their above-average behavior and only climbing on some of the boxes of laminate flooring and rolls of remnant carpeting, so I thought I'd take a chance on Kohl's while we were out.  I had Kohl's cash to burn and a couple items to return, plus some money from my in-laws, and believe it or not, Kohl's was having a sale!  Surprise, surprise!

Well, the witching hour hit and my well-mannered children turned into giggling hyenas while I waited in the service line, but we managed to push on and spend my Kohl's cash, 20% off, in-store credit, and Christmas money on a fine looking Dyson vacuum cleaner. Let me tell you right now, Marilyn Monroe got it wrong.  It's appliances, not diamonds, that are a girl's best friend.

If you haven't been in our kitchen lately, you'll note the new stainless-steel refrigerator and dishwasher that were early Christmas presents to ourselves (Home Depot was also having a sale!).  The refrigerator comes complete with an in-the-door ice and water dispenser, cool blue lighting, a thermostat that actually works, and a choir of angels that sings every time I open the door.  On the other hand, the new dishwasher doesn't wake the neighbors when it washes the dishes.  And it actually washes the dishes, unlike our previous "dishwasher". 

I never dreamed that kitchen appliances and vacuum cleaners could bring such joy and lightness of spirit, but it's true: I am a happier human being because of Dyson, LG, and General Electric.  I smile every time I open the refrigerator door, every time the dishwasher runs and I actually forget that it's running!  And if it weren't for my sleeping children, I would be happily dancing around the living room and up the stairs, vacuuming with glee.  Merry, merry Christmas to me!

Minor asterisk: While I love my new appliances, I certainly do not shun jeweled, chocolate-covered, musical, floral, sparkly, or perfumed gifts.  Just in case there was any confusion about my enthusiasm for appliances.  I am an equal-opportunity gift-receiver.  :)

AND, I need to share my happy news that an essay of mine, "Those Summers, These Days", was recently published online by Ascent Magazine!  You can read it by visiting: http://readthebestwriting.com/?p=1097

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Swimming in Troubled Waters: Writing about Faith

I started another essay a month or so ago that is about (or will be about) swimming, obedience, and faith.  It starts with Elvis jumping into the pool at swimming lessons after his floatation device was off and nearly drowning.  I want to return to working on the thing but I just haven't had the time to do it, and to be honest, I'm a little intimidated by the project.

After reading lots of Christian nonfiction and Christian self-help-ish kind of books, I have this mental block about faith writing.  I'm so afraid that I'm going to come across cliche and shallow in my attempts to write about faith that so far, I've avoided it in any in-depth way, outside of peripheral references to church.  I'd rather not write about God at all than to do so in a way that would be off-putting to readers.

I don't have as difficult a time with poetry because I can write about God or my relationship with God in metaphor.  I can talk about God without talking about God.  I can meditate on the things of this world and the things of Christ without using Christianese to do it, without using direct references to scripture except maybe in an epigraph.  When I begin to try to write about my faith in essays, I fall right into devotional and didactic language, reference Bible verses and start writing as if my audience has been regularly attending church for the last decade. 

I don't want to write to a strictly Christian audience.  I like y'all, but I want to write something with  universal truth, something that is good and true and real and beautiful, well-written, layered, accessible, and moving, something that doesn't rely on the premonition that the person reading already buys into my ideologies.  I don't want to write persuasive arguments to convince someone to follow Jesus.  I want to write about events in life that have caused me to see God in the every day, to see how he intersects, overlaps, and infiltrates every area, the spiritual colliding with the physical and emotional world in such a way as to be inseparable, and how that has changed me and the way I relate to the world.  No big thing.

The added challenge is that in order to write convincingly and authentically about faith, I need more time.  Honestly, it is easy for me to sit down, blather on this blog about some spiritual flicker that caught my eye during the day, pull out a corresponding Bible verse, and call it a night.  I can do that with relative ease -- and I'm grateful for that gift.  But to develop something with greater substance and length takes time and extra meditation.  I need to write and write and write, and then read and edit and revise and write some more and think while I'm not able to write and then write again.  Yeah, that's just about the way it goes, so you can see the barrier.

There's no doubt that I love the life that Brandon and I have made, with our three children, our careers, our home, our church, our hobbies, etc., which makes it very hard to choose into writing time at this stage of life.  Something's gotta give, after all, so what's it going to be?

I keep reminding myself that Christmas break is just a few days away, and then maybe, maybe I'll be able to sit down and do the work that good writing requires.

With regard to the topics-- faith and swimming and obedience, and why not throw in some fear-- I think I just need to do it, without inhibitions, and fish out the cliches and didactic language later.  I just need to employ the same skills I use when I write about other topics and hope that it holds water.  Literally and figuratively.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Message for Christmas from Last Year

I thought it would be fun to look back on a couple of posts from earlier years, and my post from Christmas last year was a nice reminder about this season.  So here's a link to last year's meditation on the season...


No Writing November?

It has been one very busy month, which is my lame excuse for not blogging.  My self-imposed once-a-week blogging rule broke to pieces all over the internet.  A whole month.  No writing.  Gah.

BUT, all is not lost.  I ran a half-marathon last Saturday with my mom. (Me! Non-athletic, uncoordinated, Walker's World me!)  We ran it in about 2 hours and 24 minutes.  And we finished!  Hurray! 

Aaaannd, this weekend, we celebrated Mom and Dad's 30th wedding anniversary with a really nice dinner at Punderson Manor, followed by a surprise party back at their house. 

So that's what I've been up to... just a bunch of living.  I'll get back to writing again someday.