Mairsy Dotes

"No faith is as solid as a wounded faith."

A Mighty Fortress October 30, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 7:28 pm

Happy Reformation Sunday, everyone!

Ye gads. Today is the day that always makes me glad that Lutheran blood flows through my veins. For you uninitiated (and there’s a lot of you) today commemorates the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church and kicked off the Protestant Reformation–so all of you Protestants ought to be excited about today, too.

There’s just something about it. In church circles, we talk about “C&Es”–people who only come to church on Christmas and Easter. I think if I wasn’t a regular church goer, I’d be a “R&GF”–Reformation and Good Friday. Those are two services that I absolutely live for.

And today so totally didn’t let me down. We sang all the hymns that left a satisfying fullness deep in my belly—songs that made me feel like I’d actually sung something, rather than just blathered endless (and eventually meaningless) praise choruses. We sang hymns that reminded me (once again) of how much I am loved, and again I found myself snerking my way though ‘Jesus Loves Me’–but only because I’d already ALSO snerked my way through “A Mighty Fortress” and “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent”.

I realized as I sat in the crowded, scarlett-bedecked sanctuary and listened to the brass quintet blast out hymn after hymn with the fabulously huge pipe organ offering accompaniment just how fucking wounded I’ve been left by life in the ministry. In the years that I have been functioning in pastoral ministry, either as a seminarian, intern or pastor, I have seen some absolutely hellish things. I’ve had to do some incredibly difficult things. I’ve locked horns with churchly powers that be. On December 26, 2000 I was called to the hospital to sit with a family who was waiting to hear if their son and brother would survive blowing his own face off in front of his wife. Later that same day, I held that man’s college-age daughter in the glow of the lights of the Christmas tree while she screamed, “Why Daddy? Why? Please come back to me Daddy!”. I watched as a man crawled on top of his dead wife’s body and screamed for an hour and a half before he exhausted himself enough that they could pull him off her. I watched as a man burned to death in his own home, and held his wife while she sat in their lawn and watched her husband and everything they owned go up in flames. I have sat with a mother who accidentally killed her own infant son.

In the midst of all that, dealing with everything else a pastor has to do–putting up with people complaining that I didn’t come visit them when they had a hang-nail; telling me that I’d be a really great pastor if I just didn’t preach so long; telling me that it was MY fault that THEIR high school-aged children wouldn’t get out of bed to come to church on Sunday mornings.

I’ve been beaten to a spiritual pulp by my life in professional ministry. I’ve spoken the words of the gospel so many times to so many people…but almost nobody was speaking them back to me. I absolved people of their sins, but no one absolved me of mine. I held people while they cried, but no one ever thought about whether I cried or not, or if there was anyone to hold me when I did.

I say this not as a “pity me” sort of a thing. Sadly, I don’t think my experience of ministry was all that different from what a lot of pastors go through. I truly believe that if you are a good pastor, you walk through hell and back again with people, however many times they need you to, no matter how many other people you’re making the same trip with. I wouldn’t want to pastor any other way. But it does take a lot out of you.

A few weeks ago, on PBS, they were showing a documentary about Mt. St. Helens. Because you can see Mt. St. Helens from my grandparents yard, I’ve always felt an afinity for this mountain. Like it’s mine or something, I don’t know. But they were talking about the incredible ways life managed to survive the erruption…how deep underneath all the piles of ash and mud and sterility, life began to thrum again. And how plant life came back decades before they expected it to. And how now it’s a thriving natural area.

Sitting in church today, emotional (again) over the songs and the promises they evoked, sererpitously drying my tears on my sleeve and hoping my sniffing isn’t too disruptive I realized that: yeah, I’m pretty wounded. But there’s more to it than that. If I was just wounded, I wouldn’t weep. I wouldn’t find myself waking up to go to the extra early service just so I could have the sacrament every week. If I was just wounded, I wouldn’t give a fuck. What makes me weep every week is the stirring of life under the cynical, wounded crust that I’ve had to develop just to keep myself intact. There are tender green shoots of hope, poking up through the black. I weep because for nearly the last decade, I’ve somehow believed that most of the time: God’s promises were not for me. Everyone else: absolutely. But somehow, I kept exempting myself from them.

All of the things I’ve had to see and do and say. All the battles I’ve had to fight. All the confrontations I’ve had to make. All the pain and suffering I’ve went through. All of it left me feeling completely abandoned by God. Because He wouldn’t take someone He professes to love and put them through that shit.

But He didn’t put me through it. He walked me through it. And I’m starting to get that. I’m starting to feel that. The way Linnea will panic in the dark, convinced she’s alone until she hears me say, “It’s OK Baby, Mama’s here, go back to sleep.” is exactly what I’ve been doing for so many years–panicking, crying for my Papa. Only I was too scared/angry/stressed/whatever to hear anything back.

I grew up with the voice of God in my bones. It was my compass. My comfort. My protection. And then, when I went to work for the church, I couldn’t hear it anymore.

Now, I’m starting to hear it again.


As a matter of fact, Jess… October 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 6:44 pm

{EDITED 11/16/05: Pictures of my daughter have been removed from this site due to uncomfortable comments I’ve received from an anonymous poster. ~beege}

…there IS a picture! 😉

She does this weird head tip thing though…whenever you say, “Can you smile for Mama?” her head tips to one side or the other. Sometimes accompanied by a smile. Sometimes not. But always: head is tipped.

I also love her little shoes–I want a pair for me. And I love how the hearts on her shoes echo the hearts on her tights. Actually: there’s nothing about this little outfit that I don’t love.

Ah, yes…the comfort food. It’s kicking my butt today, I gottatellya. Too much fat and too much richness. I’ve got what Cotton Hill refers to as “hot poops”. And frankly, what’s comforting about hot poops? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And if that’s more information than you were looking for coming here today: I’m sorry. But it’s sort of distracting.

In other news, we bought Linnea a “How-we-ween puhkin” the other day. She adores it. Damned near had a meltdown when we told her she couldn’t sleep with it. At any rate, she carries the poor thing around with her everywhere she goes. And here: it functions as an attractive and festive footrest. Linnea Stewart. Yes, indeed. (Notice, if you will. the obligatory head tip.)

This picture was taken just this afternoon, at lunch. Linnea likes to take all the peanut butter (“peenee budah”) off her bread and just lick it off her finger instead. There’s just something about this picture that gets me right where I live. It’s so totally what being a mom is all about right now. And: kudos to M who did her hair this morning.


Comfort food, and large barnyard birds… October 26, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 5:30 pm

I’m going the comfort food route for dinner tonight. I’m making what I’ve always called “Lazy Day Casserole”–it’s the casserole with hamburger, cream of mushroom soup and tater tots on top. I always add frozen veggies to the mix. This casserole is a staple at Lutheran potlucks, and cooking it always reminds me of eating at my grandmother’s table (the one who passed the recipe to my mom who passed it to me); at my mother’s table where she would repeatedly tell me, “It’s hamburger and tatertots! There’s nothing in here that you don’t like to eat!” (something that I now find myself telling Linnea as she balks at eating anything but the most familiar presentations of her favorite foods); it reminds me of post-service potlucks in church basements, surrounded by the buzz of conversation and the warm scent of coffee and the way the red jello would sort of melt into the hot foods that were on my plate and somehow (I think it was an act of God) it all still tasted good; it reminds me of being bundled up against the chill of fall and winter, of homelights shining into the gathering darkness. Lights that promise company and fellowship and safety because they shine from home.

You know: comfort food, with all that term implies. I normally try to eat pretty healthy, but every so often I find I need that dip into warm, potato-y, cheesy, fatty, carb-y comfort food goodness.

I worked my first shift at my new job last night and I had a freaking BALL. I’m so glad I took this job. I’ve got my eye on a pastor’s position that will open up in the first of the year, and if that doesn’t pan out, I can see myself being well contented working for this company. If I don’t work in a church for a few years: that’s OK. But enjoying this job will give me the luxury of being able to be selective about what churches I interview with, and perhaps take a call from, because I won’t be desperate for a job–any job. The ladies I work with are hugely fun, the manager is great, and true to her promise: she’s showing me the managerial ropes already. Clearly, the idea is not to leave me languishing in P/T salesgirlland for long. Especially since I got my schedule and it’s just under 40 hours for the week. Sweet! Today, I didn’t work, and as I went through my day found myself wondering what was going on at the store…if they were laughing and having fun, and realized that I wished I was working today, too. That’s NEVER a bad thing when it comes to a job, I don’t think.

This evening, M came home from class around 5PM. Linnea was sitting at the table, eating her supper (macaroni and shredded wheat, a current fave). He came into the kitchen and gave me a nice big hug hello. Linnea shouted from her seat, “Big cock!” Neither M nor I like or encourage the use of “c words” for male and female genetalia. I think they are revolting, and can count the time I’ve said either on two hands (heh, one for each word). So to hear such a statement issuing from the mouth of our daughter was a shock to say the least…and funny as hell. M turned to me and said, “What did she say?” I said, “You’re laughing too. What do you think she said?” He said, “I know what it SOUNDED like…” and now Linnea (having gotten a reaction) starts shouting, “Daddy! Big cock Mama!” Right about the point I’m wondering if she learned this at daycare (because I know for SURE she didn’t learn it here) we realize that what she is in fact saying is, “Big Hug!” But “big hug” spoken around a mouthful of macaroni and frosted shredded wheat comes out sounding distinctly more pornographic.

Today she is wearing a red courduroy jumper, with striped multi-colored tights, her hair is done up in pigtails on the side of her head. She looks so adorable, I just want to eat her with a spoon. I include this description for Jess, because I think for some reason that she will like it. 🙂


I don’t freaking believe it… October 24, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 1:55 pm

We’re missing ANOTHER couch pillow.

Different from the first one that went missing. And it’s not in the same place where I found the other one.

What the….?????


Many thanks

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 10:31 am

To the love of my life, who showed me how to do links. ——->

I’ve been blogging for nine months, and could NOT figure it out. He looked over my shoulder, said, “Do this.” I did it, and voila! Links.

So if you don’t want me to link to you from this blog, let me know. I tried to only do links to people who I’ve linked to within the bodies of entries, or who I knew could care less if I linked to them or not.

On the sleep deprivation front: We’re making progress. Linnea is taking more consistent naps, and she’s going to bed at her early bedtime once more. We’d taken away her morning nap and moved her bedtime to 8PM (rather than 7PM) because we didn’t like getting up at the azz crack of dawn every day. But we didn’t really put anywhere for Linnea to get more sleep. Once again, Dr. Richard Ferber came to our rescue. I know that people rip on his methods, but the people who have complained about him to me are the ones who totally don’t understand his method. I can tell by what they tell me about it that they’ve never even looked into it. Would he work for everyone? No. But he works for us, and given the fact that I have had THREE good nights of sleep in a row: I’d freaking kiss him if we walked into the apartment right now.

The seminary Board of Directors is taking a tour of our apartment this afternoon, in order to witness the ‘reality of life in student housing’. They’re coming to tour the apartments that flooded a couple of weeks ago, and the Dean of Students wanted them to see a furnished and comfortable one, too. The Housing office called me and asked if I’d be willing to let the Board stroll through. I thought it was sort of cool–we must have made this place fairly nice if they want the Board to see it (floods, fleas, and smoking pots of beans notwithstanding). Which means I’m trying to farm Linnea out for the day so that I can clean and get it to STAY clean until 4 this afternoon.

Any takers? 😉


Target Practice October 22, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 5:50 pm

Linnea loves Target.

This morning, we had to go to Target in a pretty bad way. We were out of toilet paper, kitty litter, and diapers…none of these are things you can put off purchasing, and there’s not really much you can do to fake your way through a shortage of any of them.

During a breakfast of pancakes and sausage, we asked Linnea if she wanted to go shopping. She replied in the negative. I asked if she wanted to go to Target. The following is a rough transcript of her response.

L: Tahget? Shopping a’ Tahget? Tahget! Tahget! Yet’s go Tahget!

For the next 20 minutes (roughly the time it took us to get her dressed) we had to listen to her chant, “Yet’s go Tahget! Yet’s go Tahget! Yet’s go Tahget!” I was giggling in ill-concealed triumph, having managed to pass on the “Target Adoration Gene” to my small offspring.

It’s a new Target. It just opened a couple of weeks ago. A SUPER Target. And it’s very nice. Linnea likes it. It has big, red, concrete balls at the front of the store, which always causes Linnea to shout, “It’s a ball! Kick it!”

We do our shopping, with Linnea singing, “Tahget, Tahget, Tahget, Tahget, Tahget…” in the cart. We buy all the items we need for all the bodily functions that take place in our apartment. We also buy things that we didn’t need (like the cutest little black cat knit hat for Linnea). We pay. We leave. As we’re pulling out of the parking lot, Linnea says, “Bye-bye Tahget! Miss you! Bye-byeeeeee! Bye-bye! ‘Ove You!” She doesn’t speak to her grandparents with such longing and affection. Hell, she doesn’t speak to her freaking parents with such longing and affection.

I SWEAR to God that I didn’t teach her that. I swear. Because honestly: it creeped me out a little. Such blind devotion and adoration to a corporation who (even though it is wonderful beyond compare) is probably seeking to control our souls.

But at least Linnea’s not as bad as this. At least, not yet.


An Ode to Poppy October 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — beege @ 4:09 pm

Well, not an ode. I’m really not much of a poet.

To the left there is a picture of my friend, Poppy. Poppy rocks for any number of reasons. She’s brash. She’s freaking hilarious. She always wants to be in charge. 😉 She’s a great cook. She’s like my motherhood touchstone. Her daughter, Clara Jane is two weeks younger than Linnea. The number of times Poppy has saved my psychological bacon by simply saying, “Yep. Clara Jane is doing the SAME THING.” are too many to count, but always deeply appreciated.

Not only did Poppy selflessly give up the guestroom at Cyn’s house last weekend because my child won’t sleep in a pack ‘n play, not only did she keep us entertained with stories, not only did she make the best lasagna I’ve had since M’s…she made me a U2 spiritual mix CD. Months ago, we’d gotten into a conversation about how I like to look for the sacred within the secular–particularly in music, since so much of Christian music just sucks ass. She said U2 did that a lot, and then last weekend: she handed me a mix CD. Which rocks. I listen to it whenever I don’t have to listen to Laurie Berkner or Dan Zanes (who I am familiar with also because of Poppy, and because of Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes I can listen to kid’s music without wanting to crash my car into a light pole. Is there no end to this woman’s generosity?!).

It’s her birthday this weekend. A big shindig is planned. I wish I could be there, but I’m not sure Linnea is up for another roadtrip. As it is, I’ll just have to content myself with dedicating a blog entry to her.

Happy Birthday, my friend. I hope it doesn’t suck. 😉