"Graceland" is the name of my favorite song and album. It's by Paul Simon, but more importantly, it's what "home" sounds and feels like to me. We always listened to this album as we traveled from my home in Tennessee to my parents' childhood homes in Florida. But today, it's also a pretty good snapshot of my theology. Somewhere I really believe that the Christian journey is all about a wild trip to Grace-land. As I see it, Grace-land is the place where God is waiting to meet even us–with all the baggage and brokeness that we tote with us. Grace-land is the place where we will be received with open arms, even though our attempts at “getting it right” have been miserable failures at best. But, I think, every step we take is a step on the journey to Graceland.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How Pinterest in Ruining My Life--This time in pictures

I'm not going to lie.  After I posted earlier about my new pinterest addiction, I started plotting about how to do some of the things that dreams (or at least my pinterest boards) are made of.  The first thing that I just had to have--no really, I HAD to, was the curtain light.  Which would've been great, had it come with any instructions.  As soon as my mother-in-law, who's conveniently an engineer, got into town, I showed her my vision. Tired though she was, she said "let me think about it." And by time I saw her the next day, she was ready to tackle my project.  It was up by that night.

Then, of course, I needed a "J" for my house.  After all, who doesn't love a monogrammed bit of holiday bling? Here's the result of that:

Really, this pinterest thing is dangerous.  Look out wallet.  Look out husband.  A newly minted DIY-er is on the lose!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sing Loud... It's a Big World!

That's what one of my favorite bumper stickers says. (For you Presbyterian Folks, you probably recognize that it's a David Lamotte thing.)  I love it so much perhaps because I love to sing so much--nevermind that I really really can't sing.  But perhaps I love it more because I know that the world is full of people who could probably use a song in their hearts more than anything else.

Every year, I look forward to going to Dicken's Day--an event put on by our town on Black Friday. Folks dress up as Dickens-era people, vendors come, shops stay open late, and there are horse drawn buggy rides through town.  But forget all that.  The best part is the parade at sunset.  Thousands of candle-bearing people slowly process toward the markethouse singing Christmas carols.  I look forward to it all year long, because it's one of the few chances I get to really sing--the one time for me to blend in, singing as loudly as I want, because I know that there are so many people and my voice won't be heard.

But this year, while everything was completely festive, there was a major hole in my celebration.  There was no singing.  Just a bunch of silly-looking, candle-bearing people slowly walking and looking confused. Clearly, everyone missed the singing as much as I did. A few people tried to get it started, but it never caught on.  And the comment I heard most from other Dicken's Day goers? "It was great, but what happened to the singing?"

I was suprised that it meant so much to people.  After all, surely many of them get to sing...? But maybe not.  Church seems to be about the most likely venue for people to sing, and with fewer and few people going to church, maybe there are fewer and fewer places where it is acceptable to sing.  And somehow, that outlet is something that people recognize is missing.

Why could it be so important? Because singing seems to transport us to another time, when even if it wasn't, life felt simpler.  Because maybe people realize that it's fun to be part of a community that is all doing the same thing at the same time--that contrary to what our world tells us, "we" is a lot happier than "me."

Or maybe it's because that's what we were made to do--a wild voice within each of us that is clammoring to be set free.  Because each of us, together with buzzing bugs and singing birds was meant to be a part of a terrific symphony.

From Dicken's Day 2010.  When there was singing.  And fireworks.
So, sing loud.  After all, it's a big world.  And for the love of everything pure and holy, don't let a city who just doesn't know any better throw a bah-humbug on your parade.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What really matters

I like to set a beautiful, Southern-Living worthy table for big days.  I like to cook meals that look (and taste...mais oui!) like they might have come out of Gournet magazine.  I like my house to look just right (though it rarely does...shhh...don't tell!)  I like to really decorate for Christmas, as I pretend at least to myself, that the glitz matters--if only for a few weeks. These things make me happy.

But truth be told, they don't matter.

In my busy madness, I've tried to practice wide-eyed looking around.  And I've been well rewarded with the sightings of things that matter considerably more than my fine china dinner or the number of Christmas lights that now adorn my house.

So here's what matters:
Squeezing one more person around the table, even if I had to get creative to do it.  A new friend with no other place to be made our feast all the merrier.

Watching my husband smile his proud husband smile--because for all the hard work that he complained about, the day was one he loved.

Making one thing that someone has been looking forward to all year.

Waking up and realizing that I have so much to be thankful for, itty bitty things and ginormous things, that shape my world in unimaginable ways.

Saying thank-you to people who have really made a difference.

Watching a child, who doesn't know that much about church, feel excited to be a part of a community of faith.  Watching a church, who hasn't had any kids in sometime, grin with sheer delight as a child lit the candles for the first time in years.

These are the things that matter.  These are the things for which I am deeply thankful.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dirty Thirty?

Despite my best efforts to keep it from happening, despite the number of times I have said that I was turning 25 (which I guess I've done at least five times now. The plan was to stay 25 until I hit 80), the card that my grandmother sent me is alerting me to the fact that I'm turning thirty.

And I'm strangely ok with the fact.  (Really strangely ok.  I thought I was going to be ten shades of ill about the whole thing. I really planned to ignore my birthday.) But here's the truth:  I know a lot more than I did when I was 25.  I'm a lot more interesting that I was when I was 25.  I'm a lot less in-over-my-head than I was at 25 (when I was engaged and finishing seminary.)  Yeah, I have the gray hairs to show for it (which are well hidden, thankyouverymuch), and yeah, I'm a...uhem... few pounds heavier than I was then, but it's not a bad gig.  I think I'm just now starting to turn into the person I've always wanted to be, which might be the best gift of all.

So maybe this year, I'll actually be thirty instead of turning twenty-five...again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Pinterest in Ruining My Life (or at least my productivity and wallet)...

letter wreath.
I try really hard not to go to the "Christmas Dark Side" very much.  I try to think about the nonconsumer things that mean so much to me, like linking arms with my Dad as we sing Silent Night together as we finish leading the Christmas Eve service at my church.  Like knowing that Mom will be wide awake by about three or four on Christmas morning because thats just how we are.  Like waiting to give my doggie her Christmas bone, which is maybe my favorite tradition ever.  (Seriously, It's about as big as my leg...she works on it all year long.  This year I'll take pictures.) Like knowing that my husband can recite every line of "A Christmas Story" which will air approximately 56 times on TBS. (I'm kidding about the 56 part...it just feels that way!)

But I can't lie.  I love decorating for Christmas.  Every year, I tell myself I'm going to keep it simple,  but I rarely seem to mean it.  However, my need to decorate is made ten times worse by the newest interest craze: pinterest.  It's basically a cross between facebook and other social networks and a pinboard.  Not only can I pin and organize anything I see on the internet, but I can see what all my friends are pinning and organizing.  Suddenly, the possibilities are endless.  Now I think I need to make a monogram holly "wreath" or a fabulous light display like what you see.   And gosh, while I'm at it, I might as well make the house smell like christmas, so I can use this DIY potpourri recipe, right?

Strings of mini lights attached to a rod behind sheer fabric. Make no mistake.  I don't really have time for all this.  But a girl can dream, right?  Pinterest is ruining how I do things.  You should join the craze too. (There's a link at the side of my blog to follow all the ridiculous things I pin.  I'd love to follow your ridiculous pins too ;-p)

Pinned Image

Friday, November 4, 2011

Remembering a Saint (by channeling my inner domestic goddess...)

I was lucky to have three living grandparents for a good chunk of my life.  I'm lucky enough to still have a grandmother (Grandmommy to the family), who loves all of us grandkids more than anyone could imagine.

But there are days when I really miss my Nana, who died when I was in middle school.  I hear that I'm a lot like her as she always wanted her table set just so, as she dirtied every pot in the house to make dinner on any given night.  Yup, that's me.  But there are lots of ways that I'm not nearly as much like her as I would like to be.  Her house was always spotless (at least as far as I knew.)  Her freshly ironed sheets always smelled faintly of roses.  Come to think of it, her whole house smelled like roses because she grew them in her yard, and like to keep fresh ones around.  She always had little candy dishes around that made you feel as if you were the most cherished of people.  And until her later years, I'm not sure I ever saw her without pearls and a set of spectator pumps.  (Which I guess is why I love spectator pumps so much now.)  In short, before I ever realized it, she was what became my definition of elegant.

I would love to become the hostess she was, the housekeeper that I believe she must have been.  I too would love for people to think of me as elegant-- but maybe that's what I want to be when I grow up. I don't know if it's the life Nana would have chosen for herself, or if she just did what all the women of the time did.  Either way, she's a role model in my eyes.

 Today, I think Nana must be smiling.  I've baked two pies and have rolls rising, and before the day is through, I'll make two more pies and a stew for dinner.  I thought I was doing all of this because it was my job, because I was trying to be effecient and get ahead of the game.  But the farther I got in the process, the more I realized it wasn't work.  It's been a holy sort of day where the person my Nana was is shining even through me-- domestic goddess though I'm not.

Tuesday was All Saints Day, and I'm still celebrating.  I'm still remembering a lady who would laugh if she heard me call her a saint.  And I'm thankful for a woman who still challenges me to be the woman I want to be.