Saturday, June 26, 2010

Somebody's Getting Married

I awoke at dawn, nervous as a bride... wait a second! But what do you do at 6 a.m. on your wedding day, when most everything is done and you don't have to be anywhere until 11? I went for a swim. The sky was turning from grey to blue, birds and bees hummed and flirted amongst the blackberries and rose bushes, and the dog woke up and came to sit by the pool and watch me as I floated leisurely in the summer-warmed water. Gradually my eyes began to open a little more, and the first rays of sun glinted off the ring on my finger. Tomorrow I'll have a husband, I'll be a wife. Today I'm a bride. I realized I was smiling, my shoulders were relaxing.

Now I'm thinking of the bouquet of roses and peonies in the refrigerator next to the milk and eggs. I'm thinking of a man across town waking up and putting on a suit and tie. I'm thinking of all the dear friends I'll see this afternoon, who have come from near and far to wish me well. I'm awake, alive, and happy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Message

Today in church the lesson was on Christ's atonement, so much of the lesson focused on repentance and grace. As we discussed these themes, I remembered these posters I'd seen in Harlem. Put up by a local businessman, no doubt, as a way to try and change the drug-riddled and gang-ridden poor community, yet I wonder if anyone heeds them and decides to repent, or if anyone passing by truly understands their meaning. As I see people around me going through hard times caused by sins and mistakes, some the same mistakes I made myself at one point in my life, I find myself wishing I could just lift those people up out of their problems and cause them to see once and for all the way to happiness and peace. I have all but walked around with a huge poster that says "Repent!" I've tried to be a listening ear, a good example, a giver of advice, a comfort dispenser (to quote Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale) and a sister. With all my heart I long for them to understand, and sometimes in my dark moments I fantasize about kidnapping them and forcibly shielding them from the influences of the world. But just telling them or wanting it for them is not enough, and there is only so much I can do. They have to choose and do it for themselves, just as I learned from my mistakes and chose a better way. Then, by the healing and empowering grace of Christ's atonement, their desire and efforts can be strengthened and they can change, learn, grow, improve, and be sanctified.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weathering the Storm

Deep inside the brambly marriage of a rosebush and a climbing trumpet vine in the backyard is a nest, where a tiny new-hatched cardinal baby waits next to an unhatched speckled egg, it's mouth wide open and ready for its mother and father to deposit food. When the parent birds come, the baby makes no sounds, but the proud cardinal parents chirp and sing and squeak as they patrol the backyard, hunt for bugs, and care for their baby. Since it hatched, there have been two huge lighting storms, with torrential rains, and I often think about the baby bird and wonder if it's able to curl up into a tight ball and withstand the rain, or if it's mother is standing over it, protecting it from the tempest. Meanwhile, there have been four human babies running around the yard, squealing and squalling, laughing and jumping, swimming and sunning, having a grand adventure during the week they've been here at their grandparents' house. My sister and her brood have come to roost with us here for a week and a half while they transition from Idaho to Raleigh. They're moving back East, to be close to the family, to start fresh, to try new opportunities. And I've been so glad to spend time with my two nieces and two nephews. There has been no time to blog, of course. Anyone who spends all day playing with four kids, or has planned a wedding must know that.

I'm grateful to my mom who insisted that I get my own bedroom in the house even though everyone else has to share and squish and sleep on floors. There are some perqs to being the bride-to-be, apparently. So I have had a place to escape to when the family drama gets too hot, or the kids too demanding, or I just want to talk on the phone to C in a quiet place. In fact, the past few days I have felt like I am in the eye of a turbulent storm. People all around me clash and have differences and not everyone in my family gets along with each other, and there have been (minor) setbacks with wedding plans and things like that, but at the center of it all I am still just floating along in my bubble, able to brush aside things that might have once felled me, but which now seem so insignificant in comparison to the joy and love I feel toward my fiance, and the excitement of being married to him. If the entire world fell apart and my whole entire wedding went haywire, as long as we could be together none of the chaos would matter to me. It sounds so cheesy to write it out like that, but it's true.

Yesterday was a hard day. I can't really talk about it because it involves deeply personal issues within my family. Suffice it to say that it was a long and exhausting day both emotionally and mentally, but at the end of it was the dinner where my parents were going to meet C's parents for the first time. I knew that C would be waiting for me at the restaurant, and that when he embraced me, the world's cares would slough away, and all would we well with the world. He was, and they did, and it is. The world is inherently riddled with day to day problems as well as huge catastrophes every once in a while, but when I close my eyes and lean my head on C's strong shoulder and he whispers "Everything is going to be all right," then I can't help but believe him.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


A gem of a church in East Harlem!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Three Good Things About the A-Team Movie

The good news about the A-Team movie is that I now have the theme song stuck in my head. That's a good thing because for the past month I've had "It's A Jolly Holiday" from Mary Poppins stuck in my head and that was driving me absolutely crazy. The other good news about the A-Team movie is that I actually liked it. I mean, it's not a great movie, but it was very entertaining. I used to love watching the old TV show with my brother and as we drove to the theater to see the movie today, opening day, we wondered if this new iteration would let us down. It didn't. And the other good thing about it was the inclusion of Jon Hamm! I have missed Mad Men so much, and am trying to survive the last few weeks before it starts up again so to see Hamm, aka Don Draper, was a treat.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've been delinquent from my blog because there are so many other fun things to do besides sit inside the house and write. And yet, I want to remember these wonderful days and capture them somehow before they slip away. So what have I been so busy doing?

Well, first of all, my mom needed to paint my sister's bedroom, and it was a mammoth chore. I won't say she's a hoarder, but my sister has a LOT of stuff, and we had to organize it all as we painted each wall of her enormous room, with odd walls. I even had to crawl up into a little niche by the ceiling and paint in there while lying on my back like Michelangelo, which is the only comparison I'll make to him because I had a very hard time just covering the wall with two coats of "toasted scone" let alone painting elaborate frescoes with an array of hand-mixed paints.

Then, C said he was going to come over one day after work, and two hours later he showed up with a badminton set! We set it up in the front yard and have been playing it ever since. Well, we played until the birdies all fell apart. They just don't make 'em like they used to. But as soon as we get some more shuttlecocks, we'll be back at it. Meanwhile, my arms need a rest from all the painting and swatting. He also brought over a volleyball, which made me scowl. It just figures that I'm marrying someone who's favorite sport is my absolute least favorite one. I hate volleyball, but he used to play on a volleyball team that traveled around competing. He's determined to make me like it, and I'm equally determined not to. Well, maybe not so much determined as just completely doubtful.

After our round of badminton last night we jumped in the swimming pool, which is where I've been spending a lot of time, too. It's just so wonderful to be floating around in cool water on a hot summer day. There's no where else I'd rather be. And I'm actually getting a little tan, too. There's a lot to see in the backyard while swimming and sunning. The black raspberry bushes are full of delicious ripe berries, the blackberries will be next, and there is a cardinal's nest in a rosebush, with two speckled eggs in it. At night the fireflies come out and compete with the stars, and an owl can be heard in the woods just beyond the backyard fence.

As a reward for getting the room painted, my mom drove E and I to the beach on Saturday. It takes just over 2 hours from our house, but it's completely worth the trip. Just as you arrive in Wilmington, there is the Krispy Kreme donut factory with hot fresh donuts coming down the conveyer belt and under a waterfall of icing, straight into my mouth. Er, um, what I mean is it's a tradition to stop there and get a donut on the way to the beach. The beach was sunny, hot, and sticky. We had a hard time keeping our beach umbrella in the sand with all the wind, but finally E buried it deep enough that it stayed put and we were free to run around and frolic in the surf. The water felt amazing, though the waves dunked me a few times. We watched surfers, kids, diving birds, and all sorts of people, as we sunned, swam, snacked, and snoozed. Then, when the sun got low in the sky and we ran out of quarters for the parking meter, we headed home.

Back at home, I started making a quilt for my new nephew, who was just born a few months ago. He'll be here tomorrow with my sister and her family, who are coming for a visit, so I'm going to try and finish the little quilt today. I've also got wedding tablecloths to sew, and a few other wedding thing to work on. It's all coming along, but getting me a little stressed, just because I don't want to forget anything, and I want it all to be fun and interesting for my guests, and have it be beautiful too. Weddings are hard work! Luckily I'll never have to do it again. Now, I should probably get busy...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Church of the Meek

I really thought I'd already posted this Harlem church on my blog, because I used to pass it so often, but I've searched back and don't see it. So here it is, the Church of the Week, the Church of the Meek, on a stormy day in Harlem. Sometimes I miss those old neighborhoods a lot.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


E took the screen off the big dormer window in the upstairs room of the house this afternoon and scared out a spider that landed on my mom, who was down on the floor looking at paint samples, deciding what the new color of the walls should be. Just as she began favoring Burnt Mocha over Rustic Nutberry, E started screaming and pointing and my mom jumped across the room. It was the fastest either one of them moved all day, so fast I didn't even get a glimpse of the spider before it died on the pine-green carpet, which I think looks best with Almond Taupe.

Anyway, today was one of those days when there seemed to be a spell cast over the house. As my dreams gave way to the birdsong outside my window, I wanted to wake up but my eyes never seemed to quite open all the way. After breakfast I crawled upstairs and got back into bed. Later, E and I went to the mall to look at dresses (for her) and swimsuits (for me) and for once I walked at her pace instead of mine (always a league ahead and urging her to hurry up.) No, today we both dragged our feet around the Streets at Southpoint, which was a good idea because otherwise I would have stayed in bed all day probably, doing nothing much. After the second store I made a beeline to the food court and ordered a big Diet Coke, which I think helped. At least, by the time we made it to Urban Outfitters, my eyes were open enough to see that all clothing made for young people these days is for hoochies.

I did find a swimsuit, but E didn't find a dress. We both found sunglasses, and I don't care if aviators are out of style, they look good on me. But I'm not used to wearing sunglasses and I forgot to put them on later as I lay by the pool, soaking up the last few rays of the sun before it slipped behind a big ol' rain-cloud. Kiana came over and sniffed at me and then walked away. I felt glued to the warm concrete, and closed my eyes, bidding sleep, but sleep wouldn't come. Later I found Kiana in the corner of the yard, standing with her silvery back hunched like she does these old days, under the branches of the black raspberry bushes. The berries are ripe when they come right off the stem with ease, and I enjoyed a few. Guess the birds haven't discovered them yet, so don't breathe a word. I gave Kiana one, and she ate it, but she's a good dog and didn't eat any berries off the vine. No, she ran over to the fence where the cats were watching us, and started barking at them. Why do dogs love to bother cats?

The cats just wanted food, and after that it must have been my supper time too, because mom had T-bones and baked potatoes dished out for us all. It was a holiday, after all. Full-bellied and still sleepy, I retired to the front porch where I rocked on the swing and talked on the phone to my sweetheart while twilight came up the driveway and fireflies lit up the grass. Maybe tomorrow I'll be more awake, but being sleepy all day today wasn't so bad, I guess.