Powered by Blogger.
Musings from a quirky brain...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life Through a Viewfinder

I love order. When I was a child, my parents entertained often. My mother would remind me to clean my room and I would even tidy my drawers just in case a party guest chose to inspect them.

My bookshelves are categorized, and the fiction books are by author. In my kitchen, items are stored with like items, and all labels face front, of course. Not all my life is so neat and tidy. Having children entails a certain amount of dirt and chaos. But if I had my druthers, my house would be clean, organized, and serene all the time.

My love of order applies to numbers, too. Many years ago, my phone number was 665-3298. I loved it. Each number was one digit less than the one before it (except two and nine, of course, but three squared is nine), and all of them are on the same side of the keypad. I had a post office box once that was 842, and my zip code ended in 8642. Everyone with a number fixation is nodding. You understand.

So imagine my thrill when I realized it was November 11, 2011. In just a few minutes it would be 11:11:11am. Many times I have wanted to observe the clock ticking over some satisfying string of numbers. An example would be 11:12:13 on August 9, 2010, or 08:08:08 on August 8, 2008. But inexplicably, I had missed all the ideal time/date sequences of the last eight years.

I pulled out my digital camera and waited, with the clock on my computer maximized. I wasn't going to miss this one. The seconds ticked down as I watched through the viewfinder of my camera, and—click! I got it! I looked at my computer to enjoy the moment, and . . . wait. . . it was already 11:11:15. I had missed it after all!

No, as you can see, I got the picture. But I missed experiencing the moment. I captured it on film, so to speak, so that I could go back and relive it. But I hadn’t lived the moment in the first place because I was recording it for posterity instead. Somehow, the thrill was gone.

My son graduated magna cum laude from one of the top universities for his major. I was so proud of him. I walked most of the way around the stadium to find the best place to savor the moment as I watched him receive his diploma . . . through the viewfinder of my camera. I felt let down, as if I had actually missed this important milestone in his life instead of witnessing it.

Why did it become more important to me to capture the present in a static medium for the future than to live fully in the moment? What is truly more important—the perfect picture, with me necessarily distanced from emotion by the camera, or the imperfect yet emotionally-evocative memory?

I love taking pictures, don’t get me wrong. And I love seeing the astounding once-in-a-lifetime photos where serendipity and camera dance together. But I am so very glad that I did not have a camera in my hands when my son kissed his brand-new bride at the altar. Do I remember it perfectly? No. But I remember how I felt as I lived perfectly and altogether present in that moment.

A child delights in life, both the extraordinary and the mundane. I remember walking on the hard crust of the record snowfall that turned our yard to fairyland. I remember sitting on my swing eating watermelon and spitting the seeds. I remember touching the Liberty Bell. I remember the magic of pulling peanuts from the ground. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa. I remember sailing into the New York harbor past the Statue of Liberty after years overseas. I remember flying a kite so high it was a tiny red dot in the bright blue sky. I remember climbing trees until the branches were so thin they bent under my weight.

My prayer is that I have learned my lesson, that I will live my life with the eyes, enthusiasm, and engagement of a child, not just observe it through a viewfinder. It’s a choice, I know. I want to grow into the best things about childhood until I make that choice every day. Every moment.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Wearing White

I lifted a forkful of pasta liberally coated with aromatic marinara sauce, bits of Italian sausage, and a slice of mushroom. Suddenly I felt the telltale miniscule drop in weight that meant a smidgen of food had fallen from my fork somewhere in the region below my chin as I conveyed it from my plate to my mouth. I looked down at the front of my shirt with trepidation.  As I feared, a red spot had bloomed on the expanse of white. Why does this always happen? It seems like any white shirt I wear is a magnet for whatever I happen to be eating, or whatever sticky, crumbly, or oily surface I go near. 

I cannot keep a white shirt clean. This is a real annoyance to me as I love to wear white.  Wearing white reminds me of the purity of a mantle of new-fallen snow under the light of a full moon. The pristine surface bears no footprints or animal tracks that mar its tender breast.  There is not a sound in the universe, and God is nearer than the next frosty breath. Okay, so wearing a white shirt doesn’t really remind me of all this. I was carried away by the melodramatic lyricism of my own prose. See previous blog post on pride.

White does make me think of light.  White light is comprised of every color under the sun.  If you shine white light at a prism, all the colors of the rainbow shoot out.  White light is complete, whole. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

As I contemplated the spot of spaghetti sauce on my chest, a spiritual analogy occurred to me. After wearing a white shirt several times, there are often shadows of stains that did not completely come out in the wash.  And even the bleach that is supposed to remove the spots has a tendency to yellow the shirt.  The shirt gradually goes from being the first thing I pull out of the closet to the last.  It becomes a filthy rag that I do not want to wear, just like our own righteousness.

Bleach only leaches the color out, it doesn’t clean. If you have accidentally dripped bleach on a colored garment, or leaned against the tub while using cleanser, only to discover a pale band across your shirt later, you know this.  But Jesus cleans like the stain never was. There are no phantom spots left. 

We can wear white whenever we want—all we have to do is repent and confess our sins, and God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Not like a white shirt that we have to buy new, and we know that in time will have to be replaced. With Jesus, our repentance renews His life within us. It doesn’t just leach out the color, like bleach, like the sacrifices in the Old Testament that had to be repeated over and over again, like washing a white shirt and never being able to really get the spots out completely.

So in this world I will continue dripping spaghetti sauce and other things on my white shirts and will continue having to buy new ones. Every time I do, though, I hope that it reminds me that this world is not our home and that blinding, fresh white is our legacy in Christ. Because He is the propitiation for our sins, once and for all, and we are clothed in His righteousness.

Scripture references: Isaiah 64:6, I John 1:5, 9; I John 2:1-2 


Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a Pride Thing

It’s been a long, long time since I wrote anything on my blog. But since BlogSpot blogs and Google e-mail addresses are like death and taxes (“in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except…”) they never go away.

My start didn’t fizzle due to a lack of inspiration. The past year-and-a-half has been interesting and challenging, and indeed, I have half a page of blog entry ideas. Health issues have taken center stage in a way, true enough, but that actually has provided some of my inspiration. Homeschooling is the mix of excitement and frustration, energy and enervation that it has been for us for the last two decades. Family, friends, church, neighbors… no excuse not to write there.

One reason I chose not to write on my blog was something I struggle with so very often. It’s the good, better, best argument. Is this the best thing that I can spend my time on right now? Will this help me or someone else grow spiritually? Will it build relationships or something else of lasting value? Do I care whether it’s the best thing? Or would I rather do something better, like exercise? Plan meals for the next week? Read an engrossing book? Or something good like clean out my inbox? Organize my recipes? Do the laundry? Or do I want to play a mindless computer game like Bejeweled Blitz (a current addiction) and simply waste my time?

But as much as I would like to say that the business of life kept me from writing, I cannot. No… I have a confession. I did not want to spend my precious time that I could be using to play Bejeweled Blitz (heavy sarcasm, please understand) writing something that it is likely that no one would read.

So… It’s a pride thing. I did not want to drop my pearls of wisdom someplace where no one would read them. I preferred to make my humorous, cogent, encouraging, challenging, satirical, uplifting, educational, all or none of the above remarks on Facebook or a forum where I knew that they would be seen and perhaps commented upon.

It seems that every time I begin to pride myself on being humble, God shows me how very far I have to go in order to be truly humble. I anticipate a fight with this until my dying day. But it is a good fight, a worthy fight. One of the best fights. And I will continue to fight.

And one of the ways I will continue to fight is, God helping me, writing in my blog. Telling, in whatever words available to me what God has done. Delighting in Him, and hopefully portraying my delight to others. For when we delight in God, He is the best glorified.

It is what it is. And I trust that whoever needs to read it will.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why I Named My Blog "Misspelling My Own Name"

I suppose you are wondering about the title of my new blog. Well, the most prosaic and mundane explanation is that I almost always misspell my name when I type it and have to go back and correct it. I misspelled it when I signed up for this blog, and it saved the blog from being named something enormously creative like “Marliss’ blog.” I thought about how I almost always misspell my name, and how that would be a good name for a blog. Sort of like Dave Barry and his good names for a rock band.

And I signed up for this blog almost by accident. I actually wanted to do a WordPress blog, but I noticed that Blogger is a Google application, so I signed up. Brand loyalty is my middle name (sometimes to my detriment) so even though Google occasionally acts like a naughty child, here I am. We’ll see if I stay here.

But the real reason I named my blog this is because it is a good description of my life. When I was born, I had severe jaundice, erythroblastosis, and pyloric stenosis. Having pyloric stenosis is so unusual for a girl that 12 years later, when we were back in the area and visited my old pediatrician, he said that he would have recognized me by my scar. Weeks in the hospital, a blood transfusion, and an operation cured all problems. So it was all okay in the end.

I am left-handed in a right-handed world. This means that when I measure something with a 12” ruler that I subtract the length of it from 12. It means that I hold scissors upside-down, and that in a classroom I usually write my notes with my left arm suspended in the air over a right-handed desk, dragging my hand through what I just wrote.

But it’s all okay in the end. When I learned to write, I had a wonderful kindergarten teacher who taught me to hold the pencil correctly so that I do not write upside down. They say, those anonymous experts we all like to quote, that people who were shamed into changing their handedness (because after all, there is something innately wrong with being left-handed) have a harder time adjusting to the world, not just physically but psychologically. The only time I was made to feel different was my mother seating me on the left end of the table so that my elbow didn’t collide with the elbow of the right-handed person beside me as we ate. And more and more, the world is making accommodation for the 15% of the population which is left-handed.

I was born into the family of an Air Force officer, and I had a wonderful childhood. Unfortunately, though my mother was a Christian, I didn’t learn the things that I needed to learn. I was given the responsibility very early of making my own decisions as to what I read, what I watched, and what I did, including what, if any, religion I would follow. It was not instilled in me that good character means knowing the right thing to do, and doing it even when no one is looking. In my early adult years I led a selfish, promiscuous, drugged lifestyle. At age 26 I had no degree, no job, no place to live, a failed marriage, and a five-year-old daughter to support.

But it’s all okay in the end. My parents took in my daughter and me, and I went back to college to get my degree. That’s where I met the man who became my husband, and he introduced me to the Love of my life, the One who had loved me, watched over me, and preserved me as His own before I grew to love Him and call Him Savior and Lord.

So that’s why calling my blog “Misspelling My Own Name” is so appropriate. I may misspell my name the first time I write it, I may make all sorts of mistakes, I may be clumsy, I may stick my foot in my mouth, I may even die an average of nine years early because I am left-handed, but it’s all okay in the end. I correct the spelling, I laugh at my mistakes and deal with their consequences, repent and ask forgiveness for my offenses, and I look forward to going home to be with my sweet Savior. And it’s all okay—and better than okay—in the end.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP