Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

it has many uses

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A typical school morning at the Jones’ house: the kids are eating breakfast, I’m fixing lunches, Bryan notices Will’s wild hair and begins spraying it. We keep a bottle filled with water for just that purpose.

Elizabeth says: “Dad, why are you spraying Will’s hair with Windex?”

Good question.

Like I said – typical. Except for a little extra shine on top…


Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

October 25, 2007 at 10:04 am

a note about my mental state

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Well, at least my mental state as it relates to the internet situation in my house. I don’t want to overwhelm you or anything. So, just to clarify:

Some of you might take the fact that I posted yesterday (for the first time in a month) as a sign that our current cable internet issues are behind us. A logical thought, given that we live in a world where things like this generally happen quickly, as long as you are willing to stay in your house for the better part of the day awaiting the magical visit of your handy cable repairman. Sadly, though, this is not the case. The five little green lights are still not blinking. One, on the end, stares at me forlornly, like it’s giving me a tiny green evil eye. For a month. Nothing. Has. Changed.

Although I do have this exciting news to report: we have been moved up to a 7 day ticket!

Which means what, exactly? Well, I don’t really know. But since that news broke last Friday, we’re hoping that it means we will be fixed by the end of this week. Keep your fingers crossed!

Now, I’m sure you have questions. I will try to anticipate and answer them here.

  1. Why haven’t you dumped them? What are you waiting for? Are you just that lazy/willing to be taken advantage of? Technically, that’s three questions, but I’m feeling generous. We have not dumped our cable people yet because we have always been happy with them up until now. Their service people came out promptly to our house, but apparently the problem resides elsewhere (we’ll come back to this in question #3). Also, our decision is possibly affected by the fact that for the last couple of years we’ve somehow been granted access to a few more tv channels than we’re actually paying for, per se. Let’s just say we really don’t want anything to interfere with Season 4 of Project Runway. Perhaps this month long break from our home internet is really some kind of cosmic payback. And yes, we are pretty darn lazy.
  2. So why/how are you blogging now, when you’ve let it go for that long? Well, like I said, laziness is a factor. But things are getting desperate, people. Rumors of kidnapping and boycotting abound. Others around me feel compelled to share stories of their own cable mishaps. I can’t take it anymore. So, on Tuesday morning, I skipped my wonderful free yoga class, came to work instead, and blogged. And didn’t count it as work. I think the fact that I gave up both free stretching and getting paid says everything you need to know about my current mentality. And surely the world is a better place for me sharing that mentality with you.
  3. Do you really think I could possibly have any more questions about your internet? Well, I do think it’s polite to at least pretend to show some interest. But in lieu of further questions, I will just offer you some free advice. Whenever the cable guy comes to your house and apologizes, be afraid. When he says the problem is not at your house, and then begins to utter random phrases like “down the line,” “maintenance department,” “we really have no control,” and “I’ve turned in a ticket,” be very afraid. Because you don’t know what those words mean right now, but I do. It means you will have no internet for a very, very long time.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

October 10, 2007 at 6:07 pm

unreasonable and indispensable

with 6 comments

She sat across the table from me not that long ago. We were talking about something that had just happened – she was talking, really – I was listening, trying to make sense of my thoughts.

She was frustrated. I was too, and tired. Tired of facing the questions that creep around inside, the ones that pop up and hit you when you’re least expecting it. The ones that twist and nag and say things like it doesn’t really matter, anyway and who do you think you are and just go home and go to bed.

Maybe that last one is just me. My thought process often presents this one as a reasonable and well-thought out alternative to living life in the real world…

So I sat and listened. The things she said were true, even though we don’t want them to be, wish that they weren’t. The world around us is a hard place. People don’t change easily, or often. I know all this. And I don’t think that answers are easy – at least they never have come easily for me – and so I don’t give them easily. I was not a lot of help in this conversation, I’m pretty sure.

I mostly watched. And while part of my brain spun with the enormity of the problems we all face, another part just looked. Listened. Tried to find the clue.

I think that day I found it. I don’t know why, when I miss it so many other times.

As I sat across from her, the silver necklace she wore winked in the sunlight. I glanced at it, knowing already what it was – she wears it every day. But I saw, again, the word inscribed there – so tiny that you can’t see it unless you are close enough to it already.

The word she wears, on a thin silver chain around her neck, is hope.

And I thought of how like that word her necklace is. How tiny. How dear. How much I need it to blink in the sun, how much I need to keep it close.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

October 9, 2007 at 9:24 am

sunday morning

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what’s shaping your life?
what’s shaping mine?

i could look around the room and try to recite
all the unwritten rules that guide our lives

don’t oversleep
go to church
comb your hair
press your shirt
marry the right one
don’t go into debt
keep everybody clean and fed
live on a nice suburban street
it never hurts to keep things neat
so tidy up your little life
keep all that messiness inside
yourself – we don’t really want to know
how you struggle with all those things

like staying with your husband
reaching for a drink
looking at that picture
lying through your teeth

no, all that’s better off ignored

and while we’re ignoring, might as well
ignore some other things too

those messy ones outside our walls
we pretend they don’t exist at all
those ones with addictions and wrecks of lives
unpaid bills and nothing to drive
they live in apartments, trailers, on the street
children with not enough food to eat
dirty clothes, torn up shoes
if only they looked more like me, or you
it’s really their fault
the choices they’ve made

we say to ourselves
in a thousand different ways

now there’s a situation where you turn the other cheek
look the other way
walk right past the weak

because these rules we live by don’t include the messy parts
the parts that look like failing
and we’re not about to start with anything that doesn’t fit or meet the status quo
we’ve shaped ourselves
and shaped our lives
to fit the world we know

and as long as we’re surrounded by good Christians in their pews
basketball for Jesus
the Fox nightly news
as long as we can sit within this bubble we’ve created
and not look in
and not look out
well then, looks like we’ve made it

but –

there still is one more question that should be pulling at our souls

when did Jesus ever say that all of this would make us whole?

if we’re going to live by rules, shouldn’t the rules be set by him?

he says – repent
and – you must be born again

surely you’ve heard that one before
oh, but wait, there’s more

come to me
believe in me
love me
listen to me
abide in me
take up your cross and follow me

these are all too familiar to me
they bounce off the surface and skip away
maybe i’ll change another day

we think we’re doing what’s good and right
what Jesus said to do
but are we?

my life will never change
just stay the same

until I listen, until I choose

to worship God in spirit and truth
rejoice and leap for joy when hated
always pray
do not be anxious
about anything – any thing at all
love my neighbor who doesn’t mow
love my God with all my soul
love even my enemies
hold on to mercy instead of anger
cherish the truth – say yes or no and mean it
do not store your treasure here
but humble yourself through sacrifice
let your light shine for all to see
do this in remembrance of me

these things these things he said to us
and though i’ve heard them all before
it needs to make a difference now
there could be so much more

so i ask
what’s shaping my life?
what’s shaping yours?

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

September 10, 2007 at 9:44 pm

i do, i do

with 3 comments

We just got home from a wedding.

It was so many things that a wedding should be; intimate, with a bride and groom who have seen enough of life to know – well, as much as anyone can – what they are getting into. We stood in a circle around this pair and witnessed this ritual, this ceremony, this covenant, come into being. There is so much fuss, and pomp, and stuff that goes into weddings; this was almost an anti-wedding, it was so simple. They promised themselves, one to another, and the simple beauty of those promises made me cry. That in this world people are still brave enough to make those promises, and that the rest of us are standing around, cheering them on, is a thing of beauty.

We stood in this circle outdoors, on a stone terrace in a park I have never known was there, even though I’ve lived my whole life here. The cicadas sang as the sun went down and the lights of the city came on down the hill below us.

Amid that lovely imagery, did you get the point? We were outside. In August. In Arkansas. It’s been 100 or above every day this week.

It was hot. So very hot.

Thankfully, our time there was beautiful and short. Another friend led the ceremony, a friend I’ve known since the sixth grade (what can I say? It’s a small town and I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s not outside my frame of reference that one of my best friends in sixth grade is now a pastor at my church) and he did such a great job of being simple and true and succinct. Listening to him tonight, I marveled at the person he has become. It was a long way from foursquare.

Then we trouped back to our cars and drove a few blocks to a fabulous old house for the reception. Great food – smoked salmon, pork, roasted vegetables, cheese and bread and fruit and almonds – and music and dancing and laughter. And the people – it’s always fun to go to weddings and play the “who am I going to see here that I had no idea would be here, or who I haven’t seen in a really long time, or that I can’t figure out how I know…” game. Well, I guess sometimes that’s fun – sometimes it can be disastrous. No disaster tonight though, just running into the guy we bought our first house from, about 10 years ago.

For sure, our favorite part of the reception was when Bryan found the air conditioning vent in a corner. A group of us stood huddled around it, basically jostling for the closest position to the cold air. Oh, we held our plates, laughed, ate – but don’t be fooled – it was a competition.

Because we were still so hot.

You just can’t get away from it right now. Every time I step outside, I feel like I’m about to burst into flame. Like I’m melting. You just want to lay around. In some ice water.

Earlier this week, when I was making plans to go to this wedding, I thought to myself, “Why does anybody get married in August?”

And then I remembered that my anniversary is next week.


Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

August 12, 2007 at 12:20 am

new every morning

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There are things that are true whether I like it or not. When I’m grumpy, or sad (like during this week…ok, well maybe this whole month), I don’t like to be reminded of these things. That’s easy for you to say, I think.

Sometimes I remember to ask for help, a la Anne Lamott. Help, I say to God. I definitely need some help with this. Sometimes I feel the need to add an exclamation point to my request.

I come back later and say – anytime now would be great.

It’s not always quick. It’s almost certainly not going to be what I want to hear. So, I ignore it. I’m sure you weren’t talking to me, I say. And then (also, straight from Annie) God starts acting like a jack in the box, popping up all over the place with the same message.

This time the message was, in it’s various forms, count your blessings. Remember what you’re grateful for. And, in possibly it’s strangest interpretation, look for Easter eggs in your life.

Easter eggs? It’s August in Arkansas. Candy, chocolate, or a hard-boiled version of the real thing would die a quick and painful death this time of year. As, it would seem, any attempt at the metaphorical equivalent. Good thoughts, helpful thoughts, are dashed against the brick wall of my cynicism before they even have a chance to hatch, to look out at the day.

But you have to keep trying, it’s either that or roll over and succumb. Sometimes you can feel the choice that clearly, can’t you? Like, I could choose to go over the edge right now – and maybe I’ll come back later, maybe I won’t. And I’ve seen what happens too many times – nothing good comes from going over, at least in my experience.

So, here’s some things that are true – even though I might think very sarcastic things back at you if you said them to me at another time.

  1. Getting up early on Saturday morning and going to the River Market is worth it. Even though I’m not all about the food, like some folks, it restores my faith in the general goodness of people, and helps me see the natural beauty of where I get to live and the abundance this place can provide. I know I am helping the person I’m handing the money to – supporting their life, really, and enabling them to do what they love to do for a while longer. There are artists, craftsmen, growers, with beautiful food and flowers and jewelry and art. The whole place buzzes. One man was so excited about his arugula that he gave me two new ways to eat it. Another woman told me what to do if my shiitake mushrooms dry out. They are just so excited to share.
  2. Cleaning my house can make me feel better. I know, roll your eyes, but it’s true – and I am messy to the core. But seeing that I can do something to even change my immediate surroundings and make them better begins to make me feel like anything is possible.
  3. Getting yourself a little treat is a great thing. Cold iced whipped coffee on my way home this morning made me feel like I was special. And we are. We all are. Each of us in our own amazing, spectacular way. I could write a whole ‘nother post about all of the incredible people I know…hey, now there’s an idea…
  4. Doing helps more than thinking. When I’m cranky, it doesn’t help to sit and think through it – and try to will myself into a place of feeling better. The action is, so often, what changes the emotion. It’s crazy because it’s so hard to do anything when you feel that way.

I hate it that so much of life is hard, and that I can so easily get stuck in all of it. But I love that God and the people all around me are just as stubborn as I am, that they will keep on until finally they grab me by the shoulders and turn me around so that I can see this world in a different way.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

August 4, 2007 at 11:14 am

shout out

with 8 comments

So, this morning one of my friends, a terribly gifted drummer and wonderfully supportive fellow artist, tells me he thinks maybe I was a little hard on this guy. And pretty much, he’s probably right, because mostly what I wanted was to write something and be hard on someone…and what I really needed to write instead, was this.

I am losing a friend.

Two, actually. They’re married, and have three wonderful girls and a backyard with chickens. I love them both. She asks lots of questions and listens intently and does my hair better than anyone ever has.

And he – well he works in the office next door to mine.

He’s who I yell at through the wall, and show t-shirt designs to, and ask “So what do you think about this?” Together with the infamous Donna Hall, we dream, plan, create, cringe, take risks. Stare at the blank whiteboard until we’re ready to beat our heads against the wall. Celebrate when things go really well. Laugh really hard when they fall apart. I know his stories; he knows my pet peeves.

I’ve known him since he was in high school, since he interned for my husband, since I was pregnant with my first child. I have a picture of him holding her – all those tattoos next to new baby skin – and they’re wearing matching snuggy hats. Him just because, and her because he bought her one to match the one he wore.

And because I know, and have known, these things…I know that Josh and Natalie are going for good reasons, into places that will be good for them, places they will serve and love and give just like they have here.

And that’s exactly why I will miss them so much when they’re gone.

Written by Sarabeth :: the dramatic

July 9, 2007 at 12:13 am

Posted in church, loss, relationships