This post brought to you by the letter I and the number 1 on account of it being shallow and about me. I wish I would post about mental illness or the slave trade in Ethiopia or how hard it is to be a mother. And I haven’t read The Inferno, but I’m pretty sure my boy’s bathroom is one of Dante’s levels of hell so I should post about that and how hard it is to keep a house clean when it’s inhabited by people other than me. Or the arguments the boys have a million times a day lately that go something like, but are not limited to, this:
grant “Peter, you’re a baby.”
peter “Maaaah ahhhhhm! Grant called me a baby.”
grant “I only meant that he has baby hair and chubby hands. That’s all.”
And since this blog is about me, you know, being real, then you should know the whole dirty goings on of my mind so you can judge for yourself. I can’t find my favorite magazine. Anywhere. And it’s time that the new issue arrive on the newstands. So, if anyone knows what happened to Living Etc.. magazine would you please let me know? Because I took a rare night to myself last night to get my toes painted (I swear she used a cheese grater to slough the rough skin off my heels. Swear it.) and get my brows and lip waxed, then stopped at Furriest Foods for a box of Crispix and the August issue of the world’s greatest magazine, Living Etc… and it wasn’t there. Schuler’s doesn’t even have it and I’ve only ever been able to find it in those two places. I have few guilty pleasures besides dry cereal and chocolate, but british home dec magazines are a biggie for me and after finding only Wine Spectator magazine at my salon (who is the kill-joy who ordered that for the waiting room?!?), I was really looking forward to the monster bed with my pretty pink toes and the ceiling fan wafting the sweet smells of crisp paper dotted with photos of bespoke cabinets and the latest colors.
So now on top of having Wondertime replaced by it’s sleazy younger cousin, Family Fun (think Tiffanys vs Claire’s Boutique) and Domino going out of print, I’m left with only Time, but just the Awesome column by Joel Stein, and Coastal Living every other month. And I’m jonesing for some good eye candy. So if anyone can find Living Etc… you’ll be my new bestie and I may even invite you over to lay on the monster bed with pretty toes and eat dry cereal while we gawk like schoolgirls. Unless you’re a stranger. Or a man. Then you can just let me know where you found it and I’ll thank you nicely and we’ll forget this ever happened.
Kingdom stuff tomorrow. I promise. But I did warn you.
You can philosophize all you want about whether the egg came first or the chicken, but if you’ve ever raised chicks you already know the answer: the chicken. After umpteen (sixteen) weeks of feeding the Kevins and cleaning up after the Kevins and waiting for a return on our investment, we have our first egg. Found it tonight and broke into spontaneous dancing and caterwauling. It’s only one and it’s really small, but it’s here. Our egg.
If the point is to be real than I have to share this happening with you. A dear friend and I (you know who you are) were hanging out last week, watching our kids running around and catching up when she noticed my stack of library books. Among them: two smut novels. For those of you who are new to my scene, I cut my reading teeth on romance novels in high school and college and only began reading worthwhile literature after meeting Jesus in the bathtub 10 years ago or so. I can argue that I read them mostly for the history, which is true, but rings as false as reading Playboy for the articles, so I’ll spare you the excuses. Anyway, this friend (you know who you are) and I trade books back and forth, devoured These Is My Words and it’s sequels together and in general, spend a fair amount of time talking about worlds we’re discovering in books. So when she caught me with the romance novels I stammered and turned red and I think I may even have tried to change the subject. She was having none of it.
I think she may have looked me straight in the eye. I couldn’t tell cause I was looking at my feet. I think she said something to the effect of, “Megan, wether you have to go in a back room of the video store for it, or order it on your computer, or read it in a book, it’s still porn. Just because it’s porn with a story doesn’t change what it is.”
She nailed me. Then just as quickly moved on in her graceful, wonderful way and let me chew on that for a bit. And so I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and she’s right. There is a certain movie store (you know who you are) in Ada where I refuse to go because they have the back adult-only room and, aside from being terrified that one of my kids will unwittingly go in there and I’ll have to retrieve them and I’ll emerge from said room just as the principle from our school is walking in the front door to pick up some nice family movie with his kids or something, I also just don’t want anything to do with a business that promotes something that sucks the soul out of people and drives them deep into a dark world of addiction and escapism. So I take advantage of the time I spend waiting in the checkout lane by turning over the trashy magazines so my boys aren’t bombarded by the filth on the covers. I recycle any underwear catalogs I get before even looking at them because I don’t want to provide temptation for my husband (well, that and because I’m still wearing nursing bras so what’s the point, really?). And yet, I’ve failed to protect myself.
There is a scary battle going on for the purity of our minds and our marriages and our children. Our men are fighting it constantly and if you think yours isn’t have another think, please. He is. They all are. We all are. Satan is so pleased by the crap we read and watch and the jokes we tell and the million other ways we compromise our minds and hearts and in doing so invite the influence of the world to affect our judgement. The church is just starting to get a whiff of how deep this problem runs. Estimates are that %100 of men struggle with pornography, so let’s just do ourselves a favor and stop thinking it’s the weirdo from down the street and realize that it’s our husbands and our sons and ourselves. And if we don’t put a stake in the ground and pitch all the magazines and catalogs and books that romanticize illicit sex to the other side of the line, we’re doing the kingdom of Jesus a grave disservice.
So today I’m doing that. I’m taking the hardcover romance novels I’ve been hanging on to for ages just because I’m too cheap to throw away a hardcover and I’m pitching them. Pitching them all. And I’m ready to link arms with anyone willing to stand at the line and protect our men by watching very carefully what comes into our homes. And the song that keeps running through my head just now as I’m praying for a verse about purity is this:
You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ has risen
Jesus you are Lord of all.
It’s called Stronger and Hillside does a fantastic version that you have to download from itunes so that you can play it over and over and remind yourself that the Christ of the Universe for some crazy reason thought you were worth dying for and as the recipient of such a gift, you’d better start living like it. Me too. Me more than anyone.
So in the war of porn versus chocolate, chocolate wins on account of anti-oxidants and yum. But Jesus is the best escape. So I’m going there.
The Norwegians have been home for six days now and we couldn’t be happier. My sister and brother in law live on a magical island off the coast of Norway in a magical house at the foot of a magical mountain my sister has climbed 67 times since Easter (it’s easy to keep track of this when you have a magical little box on top of the magical mountain in which is kept a magical notebook and a perfectly ordinary pen so that you can log your visits to the top). They are only here for two weeks, so we’re sucking the marrow out of their visit. In this brief lull while the kids are outside catching ants for Peter’s ant farm, I’m remembering the million and four things we’ve done lately. We’ve…
Or you can go to Walmart and buy new hair clippies and wear them all at the same time. With a dress that is buttoned inside out and shows your princess panties when you run. You can do that on Sugar Island.
And you can walk to the store and buy a makeup cell phone for your souvenir and spend a lovely afternoon helping your mother remember why she stopped wearing makeup after the blue eyeshadow incident of 1988.
All in the same day.
If you’re Grant, all the fresh air and lack of sleep make your lips even curlier. And you can sit around with crap on your face and make Grandpa proud by being the best eight year old catcher ever and building great fires with birch bark and a lighter and doing other dangerous stuff you can only do if you visit Sugar Island.
The one thing you can’t do if you visit Sugar Island anymore is take the boat to Richard’s Landing to the only decent restaurant around. You can look at Canada off in the distance. See it? But you can’t go there because you’re not allowed unless you pay a lot of money and jump through a lot of hoops and if you have four kids that will seem like too much trouble despite the lure of good food, so you’ll just make spaghetti and stay in America.
And you get to ride in front of all your neighbors who, on the mainland are serious people, but on the island are not.
Then you can eat a potluck dinner with three hundred strangers who quickly become like family. Afterward, if you’re on Sugar Island you can lay a blanket down and watch the best firework show in tarnation, thanks to Grandpa. He and his minions set off hundreds of them with names like “Imminent Danger” and “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “American Intensity”.
The next morning, your brother in law Al, will have a hole in his leg from firework shrapnel and the beach will look like this:
While you’re taking pictures of said beach, neighbors will roll up on their four wheeler and tell you to come to breakfast cause Tam’s making pampcakes and she has lots. And you’ll pile into the bed of the pickup in your pjs and with really bad breath and head over, wiping the fur off your teeth with the cuff of your sweatshirt and while you’re doing that you’ll thank God for the millionth time that no one cares what you look like on Sugar Island.
The neighbors cottage, aside from being just about the most charming place around, once belonged to Jimmy Hoffa. While you are eating your pampcakes with whipped cream and fourth of july sprinkles and made-to-order eggies, you can look up and still see the cigar smoke stains on the mahogany ceiling above where Hoffa’s bar used to sit.
Mr. Hoffa was supposed to be on the island when he disappeared, so this place and the woods surrounding it have been combed many times over looking for his body. It hasn’t been found. But if you’re on Sugar Island on the day after the fourth of July, you can eat at Maple Lodge (www.maplelodge.blogspot.com.) in your pjs and listen to the lore and wish your dad who loves history was there too.
Afterward, you might lay in the hammock and rock with your babies and whisper a breath prayer for this place and these people and this gift.
Then you might walk down the dock and see where past visitors have signed their names and left a quote in the dock boards.
Even Great Grandma DeWitt.
And lots of other people.
If you visit Sugar Island, you can spend really good time with your in-laws and remember why you loved them in the first place, beyond giving birth to your favorite person in the world, I mean. It’s because your mother in law is the most unassuming, down-to-earth creature and she makes you feel very comfortable in your own skin. It’s because when your in-laws get the chance to just sit and watch your kids play in the water and make believe with their cousins, their eyes sparkle and you know they are in love. It’s because your mother in law says stuff like, “cucumbers are dumb” and you realize it’s true, you just would never have thought of saying it out loud and certainly not when you are trying to get your child to eat his vegetables. But grandmothers can do that. They are allowed.
They are also allowed (but just barely) to take your kids to the Walmart in the Soo and buy them a new polyester basketball outfit so you can stop washing the orange one they got last time and just throw it away. They are allowed to echo the kids asking for “just a little longer?” as bedtime nears and to be the last face you see in the rear view mirror as you head back home.
If you ever go to Sugar Island, be sure to go over the fourth of July because we’ll be there. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Three days into my summer reading list and I’m tossing one out. Sorry, Anne Enright if you’re reading this, but your book is filled with crap and I’m ditching it. I’m sure you’re very talented, but the weird and frequent sexual references and disjointed sentence fragments giving laborious birth to equally disjointed paragraphs left me feeling neurotic and sucking my thumb after only one chapter. So I’m editing you off my list. Please write if you have something for a less psychotic audience and I’ll see if I can recommend it to my readers in good conscience. Lucky for you, my public consists of three people all in my immediate family and under strict obligation to “check the blog”, so I’m trusting your book and my recommendation of it didn’t scar too many people. Better luck next time, Anne.
And while we’re talking about inappropriate content, let me just say this: every day, every minute, we draw a line in the sand and declare that because we are who we are, we won’t cross it. For us, Scoobydoo and swears and Diary of a Wimpy Kid and anything having to do with witches (Harry Potter exempting) are on the other side of the line. “Crap” is supposed to be there too, but it often slips back across unnoticed. If I had my druthers, Caillou would be there cause he drives me nuts and so would perler beads and toilet brushes, but they probably aren’t. As followers of Jesus, there are additional things on the other side of the line. Things like taking God’s name in vain and ignoring the homeless are there. And other things like just checking in on Sundays and calling it good enough or refusing to invest ourselves in others.
We’ve tried to ally ourselves with friends and a church and school who will stand on our side of the line because that’s what we think we’re called to do: stand. Link arms and stand. Because there is so much wavering and blurring of the line in this culture and if we can do one service for our kids it’s to make that line we are unwilling to cross so distinct that they’ll know where it is. And they’ll toe it. Might even cross it once in a while; we all do. But when they’re ready to come back across (and I pray they do. pray for it so hard) I’ll be there clapping my hands and calling them home to supper. And I’ll do that for any of you or your children who fall across the line because that’s what brothers and sisters do. Link arms, stand at the line and teach our children about it, extend grace when they step across and enfold when they come running back. Because I’ve been there on the other side of the line. Spent lots of time there before I found Jesus and it’s a scary and dark place and not somewhere I want anyone to be. And it’s a place that beckons me still at times, so I know it’s lure but I’m happy here. So happy here that I count it my privilege to stand and clap my hands so that anyone lost has somewhere to go. Someone to come back to. We are called to be a city on a hill with a light that shines like a beacon so that lost ships can find their way home. And find there also grace and forgiveness and safety and a warm blanket. It’s what God extends a million times a day when I stick my big toe across the line in thought or deed and when I fall flat on my face on the other side every once in a while and far more often than I ought. After all, the Bible says tells us that “to whom much grace is extended, much will be expected”, which only means that I have bucketfuls and bucketfuls yet to hand out.
All this to say that I’m sorry to have recommended a book, despite my disclaimer, that I’m now tossing to the other side of the line (there are lots of Danielle Steels and Judith McNaughts there to keep it company), but the line is the line and I’m trying to stay on my side.
Sit. Megan. Sit. Stay. Good Girl.