Monthly Archives: July 2008

“One father is more than a hundred Schoolemasters”*

(*Quote by George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640)

So I innocently happened upon this essay at a wonderful web site I like to frequent and I was in no way prepared for my reaction. Without warning, all of the anger, frustration, and disappointment that I keep locked up tight and buried deep within my heart came rushing out like a flood.

Every word of this piece just tore at my mother’s heart. And now that Only Son is in trouble—and serious trouble this time; not the piddly curfew violations of summers past for which a slap on the wrist wasn’t even proffered—the justice-seeking mama bear in me wants someone else to have to pay for it, as well. As irrational as it may be, there is still a tiny part of me that insists on believing that if his father hadn’t died so suddenly five years ago then maybe my son wouldn’t be making bad choices. Or that if he’d only had the chance to say goodbye to his dad before he died, maybe he wouldn’t be making bad choices. Or that if the stepmother had actually held a funeral, and my son had been able to see his father’s body, it might have given him some closure—and he wouldn’t be making bad choices.

But the biggie—the thing that has been a stumbling block for me these five long years and that fills me with fury (and I don’t even know if I can call it righteous anger because I don’t know that it IS righteous), an anger with such ferocity that it scares me, especially because rage isn’t an emotion I ever allow myself—is that what I prayed for the hardest never happened. The men I prayed for God to send to fill in the gap that the kids’ dad’s death had left never did materialize. The men I had blithely assumed would feel called to step up to the plate and do something—ANYTHING—to take on a fatherly kind of role for my son just Never. Showed. Up.

I kept waiting and waiting, thinking “any minute now.” And it just didn’t happen.

So here we are, all these years and trials and tragedies and multiple losses later, and I am standing by as my worst fears are being realized. Only Son has gotten himself in trouble, and there’s no man who’s going to show up to help him through it. Once again, he’s stuck with me. Just me. And the above essay spells it out in perfect clarity. In black and white block letters eighty-five feet tall: Boys need their fathers. Their father. A father.

I’m very scared for my boy. The pain and sadness and hurt for what he’s lost and can never retrieve are overpowering me in a way that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I felt powerless to stop it, so I just let it have its way. Tears are healing. Tears are good. I wonder how many tears my son will have to shed before he himself is healed.

Genuine outrage is not just a permissible reaction to the hard-pressed Christian; God himself feels it, and so should the Christian in the presence of pain, cruelty, violence, and injustice. God, who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is neither impersonal nor beyond good and evil. By the absolute immutability of His character, He is implacably opposed to evil and outraged by it. ~ Os Guinness


Letter to a young idealist

I received an email this morning from a young friend (wise beyond her years) who was lamenting the current economic, as well as political, climate. She wrote:

This is my thought for the day:

I NEVER, in a hundred million years, thought I would
be unusual for liking capitalism.

Based on that alone, I am completely terrified for the

Luckily, though, I trust in God, not in any economic

Here is what I wrote in response:

You are absolutely right.
And you’re not unusual in being for capitalism. It’s just that right now, with the economy in the condition it’s in, all the doom mongers are at the forefront.
There are MANY pro-capitalism journals and blogs out there that are much more optimistic in tone.
I like Glenn Beck a lot. Just for one.
There are many others. You’ve just gotta hang out at those places more than you do at the Woe Is Us prognosticators’ places. 
Oh yeah. And keep your eyes on God. But you already know that part.
That reminds me of something I read yesterday (don’t remember where; dang, I wish I’d saved it) that went something like: “Don’t fix your eyes on every passing train; keep your eyes fixed on the stars.”  For me, “the stars” represent God and His Kingdom; that which is permanent and eternal.
Now I am going to have to go and try to track down the originator of the quote so I can copy it word for word and give him credit! (You know me…’s all about giving credit where credit is due, eh?)

“This blessed plot, this earth, this realm…”

“…this England.”

My good friend Mike, who lives in Lancashire, UK, recently returned from his holiday in Devon, the charming and picturesque county in the southwest of England. He just sent me some photos from his trip, and gave me permission to post a few here. The little harbor of Clovelly looks like something out of a picture book. These photos made me sigh, with both envy and longing, for a little set of isles I’ve yearned to visit since I was a wee girl; a place on which I’ve never set foot but somehow feels like Home.

 Clovelly Harbour

View of the harbour from the main street

Mike and his son Ben

“I wish I’d written that” redux

Life is chock full of conversations and events which, whether circumstantially or by design, are certain to intersect eventually. A few days ago, Only Son spent at least twenty minutes coaxing me into allowing him to get another tattoo. (Yes, “another,” as in “he already has one and now he wants another.”) The conversation only ended when I hung up on him. So this morning the argument was reprised, but his request was amended to a petition to have his current tattoo (an homage to his dear friend Brandon who committed suicide last summer) re-inked, as it was already starting to fade. I could only muster up the energy to look at him and sigh, which he now comprehends to mean “I don’t feel like discussing this at the moment,” and we left it at that. For the time being.

What are the chances that I would turn to today’s edition of The Washington Post, only to find this most excellent essay on the topic of….tattoos! It was just one more in a long series of “Why didn’t I write this first?” moments.

As always, I look to published authors for comfort:

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
~Barbara Kingsolver

House lust

A couple of things I read today reference a condition that I have more than a passing acquaintance with: the upper-middle-class American obsession with houses. Perhaps this affliction isn’t confined only to the segment of society once referred to as “Yuppies.” In the past dozen or so years the proliferation of DIY television programs, “dream house” reality shows, and plethora of shelter magazines have introduced consumers of all income brackets to architectural, interior design, and product ideas that were once only the province of professionals.

My friend Debbie and I have often discussed the phenomenon of home improvement junkies, and have marvelled at the vast amounts of money and energy people are more than willing to expend in achieving their dream homes. Jennifer Moses dissects this topic as well, and wonders—as did Debbie and I—if this all-consuming drive for Martha Stewart kitchens and Sissinghurst curb appeal is just another way of masking insecurities and avoiding Real Life.

Summer camp

So I was trolling around and came across this little gem. It’s a really good piece. (For the record, I hated—I repeat, HATED—-summer camp. With a passion.)

Darling Daughter #1, however, loves camping. It really agrees with her:


                               Wellsville Summer 2007


Oh yeah…did I mention how much I hated summer camp????????

A quote to ponder

“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time. This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.” ~ Philip Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield


Lisa and I, c. 1976

Lisa and I, c. 1976

                   Scrubbing Grandma’s carpet