CARPE-ING THIS DIEM, OH YEAH!

Beautiful day to bike.

Beautiful day to bike.

 

By Lisa Huddleston

Today has been one of those unexpected but oh-so-welcome gifts of a spring-like day in the fall. Thanks to the government shut down which canceled the conference in Memphis that Chuck was scheduled to attend this week, he was home to enjoy today, and we both had the blessed opportunity to take a wonderful bike ride in the countryside where we live. Beautiful, beautiful day–and I just want to say, “Thanks!”

Cows heading to the creek.

Cows heading to the creek.

Some noteworthy diem blessings I carpe-ed? Dark brown wooly worms crossing the roads. Cows traveling narrow paths down to drink from the creek. Gold and red maples blazing with glory. Warm winds bringing storms for tomorrow but not for today–and blowing in our faces both ways. Making it one more time up the steepest hill on Cedar Grove Road. Stopping in at King’s Store in Possum Town to pick up the Tennessean and look for an article about our youngest son even though we couldn’t find it. Open windows letting in both breezes and lady bugs. Knitting all afternoon and hearing Chuck drive the tractor in and out of the woods digging dirt to line the new railroad ties on the driveway. And expecting our daughter and her dog for dinner later tonight.

Simply blessed. And grateful. Baruch haShem.

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REHASHING, REWORKING, AND REMAKING

Change looming.

Change looming.

By Lisa Huddleston

I want to apologize to those of you who are subscribers. I published a post yesterday before it was ready, and as it turns out, it will never be ready, because I decided to move it to the trash once I realized there was no way to rehash that same old song in a fresh new way. I could delete it on my blog, but I couldn’t retrieve it from your in boxes. Sorry.

However, the hours I spent writing and rewriting and rewriting what Anne Lamott would call  “shitty first, second, and third drafts”* were not in vain. This morning I feel refreshed and ready to move on to something new. Well, those hours plus a journey Chuck and I took with our daughter and son-in-law on Saturday afternoon. Both events have conspired to stir my thoughts and pull on the creative fiber in my heart. (Your time spent reading my crap? In vain. Sorry.)

You already know about the writing (still sorry), but I haven’t told you about the trip. It was a studio tour called “Off the Beaten Path” that featured 14 studios and over 30 artists’ works in fiber, glass, clay, wood, metal, and paper. This tour is held every fall on the last full weekend of October, but it was my first time to attend. It was great! I was inspired by the variety of the works and the artists themselves. Even the differences in the physical studios were a delight: from rustic, off-the-grid workshops to functional, garage-styled sheds, each one hummed with creative electricity.  And this morning the inspiration lingers.

A few minutes ago I ordered a floor stand for the rigid heddle loom I recently bought–along with a book designed to teach a variety of weaving patterns. I also plan to return to the first studio we visited on Saturday. The proprietor was a woman close to my age who had been a potter but is now leaning into weaving and fiber arts. I loved that she was excited about her work and unafraid to change directions. Her ceramic works were on sale in the middle of the room with her looms surrounding them. Simple and easy transition–moving out the old to make room for the new. She invited me to come to a yarn group that meets there, and I can’t wait to go back.

I’m not saying that I’m going to switch gears completely, but it may be time to change my focus, too. I can envision a studio in my basement with looms surrounding the wood stove we have down there. I can see empty space without all the junk we’ve squirreled away with new dry wall in place and a mural on at least one of those fresh canvasses. It’s already coming to life and I can’t wait to see it develop–Chuck has caught the vision, too, and he can do anything once he puts his mind to it.

Yes, I feel it–that familiar tingle of excitement. Time for a change, again. Less head time and more hand work. Just maybe. I mean, really, what have I got to lose? Just more shitty writing. (So so sorry.)

*“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” 
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

MAKING ROOM FOR TODAY

A spacious place.

A spacious place.

By Lisa Huddleston

In my last post I confidently wrote about “finding my fit” in a religious community. Today I am laughing at my assertions that one can really do that, and I find myself eating at least a few of my words for this Monday’s breakfast. The quandary I face is that we live in a part of the country that we truly love. It is beautiful, peaceful, rural, and a place of history for my family and friends. We have spent many years making this home a comfortable nest where our children can one day bring their children, and everyone has a seat around the table. Three of our four parents also live here on this farm, and we are blessed by a warm generational sandwich that would not be as easy to enjoy in another location. But it is not really a perfect fit.

For many years we have struggled with loving our life in the country and longing for the diversity of the city–a situation that I fear would simply be reversed were we to physically move. So instead of tearing ourselves out of our nest, we have tried to live with our feet in two worlds. This effort has been easier for my husband, because he happens to work in the same world in which we are now worshiping; but, for me, this straddling has been a difficult proposition. I miss having a strong sense of religious community around me. I miss plugging in during the week in Bible studies and service. I miss Wednesday night suppers and choir rehearsals even while I love and need the stimulation of a verse-by-verse study on Sunday mornings and deeply considered discussion in Thursday night home group meetings. It is a hard thing for me as for the gazillionth time I find myself pondering what the church is and should be (a community in which to worship, to be fed, to feed others, and so on)–a question I fear I will never adequately be able to answer for myself.

Room at the table.

Room at the table.

And so, for now, my fit is less “off the rack” and more “custom made.” One foot in the homeplace I love, and one in the spacious, some ways less, some ways more, comfortable place of the nondenominational church we have been driving so far to be a part of for more than two years. I know this will not always be a situation that will work, and I struggle with the lack of permanence I feel. But at 52, I have learned that no season lasts forever, and I am striving to exist in the present day more and letting tomorrow worry about itself. For now, there is enough room in my life for both worlds–just as there is enough room around my dining room table for both new and old friends, my growing family, and the changes the future will bring.

FINDING MY FIT BEFORE I HAVE A FIT

Friends?

Friends?

by Lisa Huddleston

This is one of those times when I am reminded of what I strongly dislike about social media–and the on-line religious community. I have stumbled upon a Twitter debate that stirs my emotions like a huge, boiling cauldron of angst. My stomach is full of acid even as I write, and I am reminded once again of my need to lead a quiet life or explode.

The debate? That between Rachel Held Evans and various complementarians from various religious backgrounds. Ugh. The first conversation I stepped into was between Evans and Owen Strachan, a professor at Boyce College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Strachan had written a very negative review of Evans’ year old book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and he and Evans were having a “discussion” via tweets (which thankfully Evans requested be moved to someplace more appropriate since I couldn’t keep myself from reading it.) I was interested, because I had just read Evans’ book and found it neither mocking nor preachy. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

In my opinion, Strachan was arrogant, condescending, and willfully (or perhaps not) misunderstanding of the premise of Evans’ book. It was difficult for me to stay out of the debate–I wrote and deleted many Tweets as I followed their interchange. Thankfully, Evans did not need my help to defend herself. She wrote an excellent response on her blog, http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/real-complementarian, and asked for real discussion with those who call themselves “complementarians.” (Complementarians generally–and VERY simplistically defined here by me–believe that men and women have different roles determined by their gender alone. These roles are complementary, biblically-based, and therefore, they believe, God-ordained.)

Today I read a heartfelt (although, I believe, misguided) response by a Catholic woman who takes the debate back to the Reformation and rejoices that she is a Catholic who can leave these decisions to the leaders of her church (all men). Although much sweeter and less condescending than the Baptist brother, this interpretation just added further juice to my boiling stomach. And I guess this is my gastric solution–to write it out on my blog (which is read by very few) and then to let the Big Girls and Boys work it out between themselves.

Ok, my two cents for what it’s worth which is probably much less than two cents: I believe in equality between men and women, that mutual submission really means mutual, and that when the Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” that’s just what it means. Now I know that there are many other verses that can be pulled out of context (as I just did above) to support many other opinions, and I am not writing here to debate them. I have read The Baptist Faith and Message, Mary Kassian, and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I tried my best to agree and to fit into the places outlined for me by my church–but I just did not. And I think perhaps that may be why there are so many churches from which to choose. Unless we are very limited in our mobility, we can look for a place in which we can worship without the rolling acid rising in our throats. For that I am very thankful.

And I am not opposed to the discussions I have mentioned above. These are topics that must be openly debated because separate but equal is still unequal, and I believe that human rights matter. But they do not have to be debated by everyone and in a social media forum. I realize my limitations and my inability to handle the anger and conflict. I will do best by focusing on the gospel of Jesus and allowing others to work out some of the more painful details. For me, I am thankful that God has set my feet in a more spacious place, one that does not pinch so hard, and I gladly bow out. Also I genuinely love and respect people in a variety of different camps on this topic–in fact, as they say, “Some of my best friends are complementarians”! I do not have to agree with them on everything nor do they have to agree with me. (Good thing, right?) But we do have to try to be kind to one another–love matters more.

So, nothing new in this post, but at least I’ve relieved some of the building pressure I’ve felt to have my say in print. And don’t worry–since I have no clear “platform” and my blog is small potatoes–very few will be offended by my words. Whew!

Blessings to you, friends. Enjoy this beautiful fall day and be glad in it. I plan to!

HAPPY ‘I LOVE YARN DAY!’

Road trip!

Road trip!

By Lisa Huddleston

It is only 6:30 a.m. and my dear friend Lisa and I have already planned an adventure for the day. We are taking a mini-yarn run eastward. She has already explored most if not all of the yarn shops to our west toward, in, and around Nashville–so eastward it is.

Why the abrupt spontaneity? No, neither of us has had a mental breakdown, although those who know our usually stodgy selves best may disagree. Not at all–it’s “I Love Yarn Day!” and we just feel like celebrating color and texture and the promise of creativity. Yay!

YARN!

YARN!

If you read yesterday’s post, you know my daughter is already calling me “bipolar” so I need to be careful before she sends me off to the funny farm–but this random day may be just what the doctor ordered. After all, who can knock a good celebration of life?

One more thought before I guzzle down my coffee, jump in the shower, dress and head east. Tomorrow is the Ride for Refuge and sweet Chuck and I have captained a team for The Village Chapel. We only have one more day to meet our goal to help finance the efforts of End Slavery Tennessee.

Join The Village Chapel team in the Ride for Refuge.

Join The Village Chapel team in the Ride for Refuge.

If you feel even an inkling of a desire to help, please go to this link http://my.e2rm.com/teamPage.aspx?teamID=473038&langPref=en-CA and give to help those dear people help others.  Thanks in advance! Hope to see our $$ grow all the way to our goal of $1000 (we really don’t have far to go!)

Blessings on your day. Hope it’s an adventure. And Happy I Love Yarn Day to you all!

FLOUNDERING

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By Lisa Huddleston

The least bit of change in my routine can really throw me. For two weeks I have been fighting bursitis (can you say, “OLD?”) so I have been out of my regular exercise pattern, and now it is Fall Break–no volunteering at the Adult Learning Center. I’m sad to say I’m floundering. What a great word–yes, I’m flopping like a big, flat fish gasping on the shore! Flop flop gasp gasp. Who will rescue me from this body of death? How can I kick myself in the pants and get moving?

But there are times when you can’t help slowing down a little. I didn’t ask for bursitis, but I sure am not doing much to fight against it other than complaining a lot and taking way too much ibuprofen. I really could be taking advantage of my extra hours by washing my filthy windows or even vacuuming the rugs. But what have I been doing? Reading, knitting coffee cup cozies (really cute!), and generally wasting time. (Have I mentioned my shoulder is also hurting?) I can feel the pounds packing on my “muffin top cozy” just in time for a long winter’s nap. Flop flop.

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Even my reading hasn’t done me much good although the books themselves have been wonderful (Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson and A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans.) Both caused my natural melancholy to well up over years I may or may not have wasted in misguided although well-meaning directions. Gasp gasp.

Thank goodness for afternoon plans with some new and old friends and a home group gathering tonight–ironically to finish a discussion of Timothy Keller’s book, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. Hilarious! Not the book but … yeah.

Oh my, just maybe my daughter was right when she compared me this morning to another writer I’ve enjoyed but with whom she is not relating as well. When I said I didn’t remember anything about her (this author) being bipolar, Sarah said, “No, but she did mention having a lot of mood swings and crying about being a writer.”

Well. Flop flop gasp gasp.