Monday, February 23, 2009

A Mother's Reach

One summer I learned the extent of my mother's reach: It spanned exactly one continent, one ocean, and one channel, traversing halfway up the UK to a little farming community so small even the buses don't travel there.

I was a student at the time. I had just completed a summer at Cambridge and was traveling blissfully on a Britrail Pass before returning home. Some friends had arranged a weekend stay at a farmhouse in the Lake District and invited me to join them. We took the train as far as it would go, then took the bus as far as it would go, and eventually ended up having to hitchhike the rest of the way. It was the perfect adventure for a handful of college students.

We spent the weekend racing down to Lake Windermere to pick raspberries, traversing wandering footpaths to nineteenth-century authors' estates, reading aloud from said authors' books, waking up to a rooster crow at the crack of dawn, and eating farm-fresh bacon that was thicker than a slice of ham. We were in heaven! On Sunday morning it was time for us all to part ways. My friend Janet and I were the last to leave, choosing to squeeze every joyous moment out of our wonderful farmhouse junket before returning to London.

The little farmhouse was in such a remote location it took us nearly two hours to thumb a ride into the next town. We didn't think much of it as we sat on the fence post in the morning sun, chewing on long blades of grass. Eventually two very nice guys in a BMW stopped and offered us a ride into Grasmere, and we were on our way.

I didn't think much of it until I got home, three weeks later. Once we got my bags unloaded and all the sweaters and souvenirs distributed (the dollar was at an all-time high), my mom pulled me aside and asked intently, "Where were you on the morning of August 7th? It would have been Sunday about 10 am, your time." I rolled the dates over in my head. "Oh," I said nonchalantly, almost boasting, "We were hitchhiking in Ambleside." (I'm sure my younger siblings would have been duly impressed.)

Then she took hold of my arm and looked me right in the eye. "Don't you ever, EVER do that again" she said emphatically. "Why?" I asked. She told me that on August 7 she woke up in the wee hours of the morning (it's a seven hour time difference) with the strongest impression that I was not safe. With a sense of urgency, she climbed out of bed and knelt down, praying for my safety. She prayed and prayed, imploring for a sense of peace, and not until a whisper of the spirit told her all was well did she climb back in bed. We did the math and discovered that her spiritual alarm went off right after we'd started hitchhiking, and that she crawled back into bed, with an assurance that I was safe, at precisely the time the guys in the BMW dropped us off in Grasmere. A little shiver ran up my spine.

I was amazed. Stunned that I could have placed myself in so much danger, without any sense of risk or harm. Blown away by the range and power of my mother's reach. And humbled that she would spend hours in the middle of the night, on her knees, for me.

This whole story came back to me today, in vivid detail. I thought about my mom's uncanny sense that all was not well, and hope that my own intuition can be that well polished. That my reach can be that extensive, and my grasp that potent. Like the way the moon's gravity gently governs the ocean's tides, from lightyears away. I hope that when our children, and especially our oldest, are in any sort of danger...physical, emotional, or alarm will sound inside me. I want the kind of arms that can reach clear across the world -- folded. The kind of arms that can reach Him. Because His reach is infinite, responding with safety and comfort and peace. I learned that summer about the power of prayer, and about the scope of a mother's reach. And the lesson came back to me today. Just when I needed it most.

Look for this – and other entries on the subject of Mom – at Scribbit's Writeaway Contest for April, here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This is supposed to be my 100th post.
I had big plans for this milestone: a video, a few giveaways, including some of my artwork, and links to some of my most faithful and influential readers: the ones who came first and stayed, the ones who encourage and inspire, the ones with whom I've now formed a deep connection.

But for some reason I can't do it.
I wake up every morning with my head in a fog. My legs can propel me toward the office.
My fingers can make their way across the keyboard. But my brain refuses to engage. And my heart's not in it. My heart is with a son who is right here, but lost. With a daughter who is aching to understand and feels like her world is falling apart. With a husband whose work day seems interminable, whose heart seems impermeable, whose pressures seem insurmountable, and whose goodness is great. With a smallish child who has no idea how tenuous his world is right now, but must keenly sense that all is not right. My heart feels like putty, and wishes it were some kind of amazing superglue.

For some reason, today, I'm coming up empty.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

8 Random Things...and One Very Genuine Thank You

I almost didn’t do this meme. It came at a time when I was largely preoccupied with our oldest son and couldn’t bring myself to think about, let alone write about, anything “random”. But after a day or two I actually found it to be a welcome distraction. I was tagged by a wonderful blog friend, Jessica, whose blog was mysteriously removed the next day. [Cue Twilight Zone soundtrack.] So I’m not linking to her because it will take you to a black hole. Or some other void. But not her wonderful blog. Until they find it again. (p.s. After I wrote this, I saw she's back up, so you can now find her here.)

Before I begin, I need to send you my warmest and most sincere thanks for all the hopeful, insightful comments on Monday’s post. I honestly felt carried by all of your prayers. Such power. Thank you. (Which sounds very thin and weak compared to how I actually feel. But they are all the words I have.)

And now on to shallower things...but things that kept me going nonetheless...

I am time challenged. I live in utter oblivion to the clock and the passage of time. This allows me to work on my paintings and projects for hours on end, and makes simple things like getting the children off to school on time a near impossibility. It takes Herculean strength and superhuman determination for me to get to one event on time. Which is an exhausting way to live, day in and day out. My only comfort is a knowledge that there is no time as we know it in the eternities. So when (if?) I get to heaven, I’ll fit right in. And the rest of you will be nervously checking your non-existent watches. :)

I think pantyhose and high heels were created by evil misogynists in a subtle effort to torture women. I think Spandex and Lycra were invented as kindly compensations for such cruelty.

I am a true moderate. Which means that my liberal artist/activist friends probably think I’m too conservative, while my church and neighborhood friends likely view me as a liberal. I, of course, am mostly right. :) And will doggedly continue to challenge both sides.

I am not interested in being blog famous...or any other kind of famous, for that matter. I am mostly interested (in any arena) in sharing insights, building relationships, and striving for excellence in my little corner of the universe.

Fresh cilantro is a food of the Gods. The purpose of its existence here on earth is to sprinkle on ordinary earth food to give us an inkling of what heaven tastes like. Ditto fresh basil and fresh rosemary. In that order.

I am a closet nerd. Or maybe an all-out public one. I love word games like Boggle and Scrabble. And I win. To the point that no one will play with me any more. So I play online, late at night, when the house is quiet.

I am so tired I fell asleep at a stop light today. All the way to sleep. Like I woke up and all the cars ahead of me were long gone. Scary!

Jeff’s web series is also airing on YouTube now. I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time loading the one from the other link. So try the YouTube version. It loads a lot faster and plays a lot cleaner. And then of course vote that you "digg it" or leave a comment, or...

And thank you again for all the comments, emails, and prayers the past few days. They mean the world to me...and then some. Please continue.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


He was two-and-a-half. We were shopping the sale racks at the Gap, the three of us. That's all we were back then: Dad, Mom, and Little Boy. We took turns trying on clothes, trying clothes on the toddler, and chasing the toddler. He climbed in the rounders and hid. Crawled under the dressing-room door to ditch me while I had too few clothes on to chase him. Sauntered up to strangers and said, "Hi!", melting them with his million-dollar smile. We took him by the hand, pulled him closer. Joked about getting a leash. Then suddenly, laughing, he ran right out of the store into the main corridor of the Beverly Center and disappeared in a sea of strangers.

Hearts pounding, we looked down the crowded walkways and saw throngs of shoppers, but no little blonde boys. Or maybe lots of little blonde boys, but none of them ours. A sense of panic and dread came over me as we searched store after store, trying not to call his name too loudly as we somewhat frantically searched for our lost child.

And we eventually found him. His only captor was the animated feature playing on an in-store video feed. He was inside the Disney Store. Of course!

This time it's different. I'm not shopping for clothes, although I may be a little distracted as I try on an ever-changing assortment of roles. But I feel a familiar sense of panic and dread I haven't encountered in years. A heaviness weighs on me 24/7. I didn't cry my eyes out at the mall. But I am now. Several times a day. The Boy, now about six feet tall, once again happily, carelessly ditches, hides, approaches strangers he thinks are his friends. I do everything I can to pull him closer, and he usually responds with warmth and affection. Yet sometimes I still wish for that proverbial leash. Because this time I fear we won't be able to find him and reach him so quickly, or in so safe a place. Even though right now he's fast asleep in his own bed downstairs, I'm pretty sure our son is...lost.

This is the boy I wrote about here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. If you can find it in your heart, please pray for him. And for me. For all of us.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stage Dive...or NOT.

Over the weekend, our oldest son went to see a rock band called Rev Theory. This is his description of what happened at the concert (in his very own teenspeak):

During the first song that Rev Theory played, a real cool bro thought that it would be totally phresh to jump onto the stage, do a rockin’ dance move, and jump into the audience (stage dive). Unfortunately for him, there weren’t enough people to really catch him. Actually, when he was mid-flight, too late to change anything, everyone just moved out of the way. The guy probably weighed 200+ lbs, so smart decision. He ended up landing right on the floor, instead of on the (adoring?) crowd (the first song they played was ‘Falling Down’, which I thought was pleasantly ironic). No one even attempted to catch that guy. Crowd surf fail.

So, in the style of Curious George... oh, what happened!

First this....

And then this.... (sans the water)


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Proof That He's Not Cheating On Me When He Doesn't Come Home At Night (Coming Soon To A Website Near You....)

My husband, the filmmaker / creative genius, is doing something very fun and cutting-edge. (To those of you who know him, this comes as no surprise.)

He and his New Media class have created a web series made up of several short webisodes (3- to 4- minute episodes -- short enough to be downloaded to your phone) about a BYU student and a conspiracy he finds himself entangled in.). It's a psychological thriller with participatory elements. The characters blog, and live events are staged on campus, including conspiracy-theory lectures, treasure hunts, etc.

The first three episodes air this week. Tonight (Tuesday) at 9, Wednesday at 9, and Thursday at 9. After that they'll continue to air one episode a week, every Thursday night. To jump in at the very beginning, click on this link and visit their site today.

Here's a trailer to whet your appetite:

The Book of Jer3miah Trailer from The Book of Jer3miah on Vimeo.