Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm a Land Lover

And I don’t mean that I hate the sea, though boats and my stomach aren’t the best of friends. I love the land, in particular, the place where I was born and raised. My life is inextricably wrapped up in the folds of those blue hills, and I have to return periodically, to see them, to inhale the mountain air, to listen to the music that has been shaped by them, and to remember who I am. More than anything, those mountains are where I meet God. Some people find His majesty and splendor in the Rockies or the Grand Canyon or the vast blue of the Pacific. But the gentle, elderly slops of the Blue Ridge are the place where God is most real to me. They are the place where His creative splendor and His compassionate Father’s heart meet and hold me. As Rich Mullins said, “I saw the mountains waking with the innocence of children. And, my soul, it’s still there with them, wrapped in the songs they brought…” The Blue Ridge Mountains are my soul's home, and I am sure that they, made new and perfect, are the place I will call home when my wanderings are done and I take my place in the New Creation.

This love of a particular land and place affects so many aspects of my life: my recent passion to preserve the mountains from the dreadful effects of mountaintop removal mining, my fledgling efforts to buy local produce and meat that is raised with respect for the land, my love of bluegrass music, the magazines and the books I read. While I am sure you will hear more about these interests as this blog continues, I will begin with some book recommendations for you.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

I loved this book! I was afraid it would make me feel guilty because I wasn’t doing enough to buy locally, grow organically, and live responsibly with the land. But I was wrong. I have always loved Barbara Kingsolver’s fiction, and this book, written along with her husband and daughter, proved that her nonfiction is just as engaging. I could write so much about the book, but I will let you discover it for yourselves. It chronicles the family’s attempt to live one year off of what they could buy and grow locally. It doesn’t hurt that they live on a farm in the Blue Ridge! Kingsolver approaches the subject with a very down-to-earth (no pun intended) perspective, and I came away inspired to try a few new things without feeling preached at or condemned for the choices I may or may not make. While you’re at it, pick up some of her fiction. Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible are my favorites.

All the Places to Love by Patricia McLachlan

The boys and I picked this up on a recent trip to the library. It is a beautiful children’s book about our tie to a place and the multi-generational farm life that we have nearly lost. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the story is sweet. I think we will buy this one.

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

I love all of Rylant’s children’s books, but this is my favorite. It’s a beautiful portrayal of Appalachian life before development took over many of the mountain communities: old-fashioned coal mining, soup beans and cornbread, snakes, country stores, bare feet and swimming holes. Its all there, including outhouses, which I know by experience still exist in Appalachia!

When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

My New Look

It's probably too early in this blog's life to go for a new look, but we can just call the early version the beta version. Didn't my husband do a nice job? Be sure to scroll to the bottom to get the most important part of the meal! It's still under construction, but at least I have something a bit more interesting than the template for you to look at. Still looking for a good quote or tagline...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Mischievously Philosophic and the Serenely Wild

Thanks to Em the Luddite for the perfect suggestions for code names for my kids. Calvin and Hobbes it is! Calvin, "the mischievously philosophic," for my three-year-old, and Hobbes, "the serenely wild," for my 18-month-old. The descriptions couldn't fit more perfectly.

Now for that tag line...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You Don’t Always Get What You Pray For

My oldest loves the movie Cars. I mean he really loves it. I used to. Now that I have watched it approximately 267 times, I still manage to laugh at some parts, which means it must be pretty good. In a moment of insanity, I made the mistake of buying him the soundtrack. After we had listened to it constantly for two weeks straight, I imposed one of those arbitrary mom rules that seem so unfair: we can only listen to the Cars music on Fridays. Now almost every morning brings the question, “Is it Cars day, Mommy?” This actually has been a good way of teaching him the virtue of waiting. It’s sort of our mini advent, except that we are waiting for the coming of Lightning McQueen instead of Christ. Minor difference.

The same child also loves performing. He has a little guitar that he has owned for almost a year now, and he loves to give performances, especially copying the worship leader at our church. I was working in the kitchen yesterday when he came running into the living room playing his guitar and singing. Or so I thought.

Me: “Are you making up a song?”
Him: “No, I’m just playing my instrument and praying like they do sometimes.”
Me: “Oh, okay. Well, praying is a good thing to do.” (Go back to my dinner prep.)
Him: (in a sing-song voice) “Dear God, please let it be Cars day. Friday is such a good day.”

I am sure there is a lesson here to be applied to my prayer life. Wanting to listen to that soundtrack was the most pressing issue on my son’s little heart. He knows nothing of the conflict in Darfur, the protests in Burma, or the many other injustices in the world. He will one day, but for now he is just learning to pray. And that is something. His prayers are spontaneous, from his heart, honest. I too often think that the work of prayer has to involve sitting down with a list to knock out all of those injustices. That sort of intercessory prayer is important, but it can’t happen unless I am cultivating an attitude of prayer and bringing myself honestly before God. If I am learning to pray as things come up throughout the day, with spontaneity and a guitar, then I am bringing my heart before God. I may not get what I ask for, but as I learn to listen in prayer, He may just teach me to ask for what I need.

My Children and a Blog Tagline

I’m sorry I am posting so much up front, but I need some help with these blog logistics. Since I am keeping things anonymous, I am not planning to use my children’s names. My husband thought Thing One and Thing Two would be perfectly fine code names for the boys, but I can just see the therapy sessions in their futures! So if any of you who know my boys have suggestions for good blog names for them, let me know. Until then, I guess Thing One and Thing Two will have to do.

I need help in one more area. My dear husband in creating a beautiful blog design for me, and I need some sort of subtitle/tag line for my header. Come on, my creative friends out there!

Super Mommy from Blogland

You can probably tell by my blog introduction that I have been dwelling too much on my failures lately. My dear friend (who sells amazing baby slings, by the way) wrote an excellent post on the subject of improving herself, of trying to live up to an ideal that is floating around in her head of what kind of mother, wife, thinker, Christian she should be. While I am always happy to extend grace to others in this area, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself. The thoughts have been paralyzing me these past few days, making me unable to do anything well. I am usually pretty good at avoiding mommy guilt. I actually hate how it keeps moms from really supporting each other. But this week has been different.

Unfortunately, all of the wonderful mommy blogs I read haven’t helped the situation. It’s not that any one blog makes me feel like a failure, but when I read too many at once, they all meld into one. I think every mom out there homesteads, bakes bread, runs a business from home, homeschools, writes novels, volunteers in her church, sews her own clothes, and repairs her own car, all while carrying a newborn in a sling and a toddler on her back. I know we women are good a multitasking, but no one is the Super Mommy from Blogland who has somehow come to life in my mind.

In fact, I think that the mommy blog phenomenon has actually helped us in many ways. Instead of looking around at all the other moms and feeling guilty about how bad we are at this parenting thing, we get a glimpse into each other’s lives. We learn that we all have weaknesses. We learn that there are many ways to be a good mommy. We share our tricks of the trade. We are fighting mommy guilt one blog post at a time, all while painting our house, baking a dozen pies, teaching our kindergartner piano, nursing a newborn and cooking our husband’s favorite meal!

We're not the Incredibles, but...

...I am keeping this blog anonymous. For those of you who know me, the reason is pretty obvious. (If you don't know me, you can make up your own mysterious reason.) If you choose to visit and to comment, please be sure not to use proper names of people or places and try to avoid any obvious biographical information that could help readers discover my secret identity. I hope that this anonymity will free me up to talk about subjects that I may otherwise have to avoid. Thanks in advance for helping to keep this less-than-Superwoman's secret identity safe.

I Took the Plunge

Yep. I have finally decided to keep a blog. The paper journal, old-fashioned letter writing, bibliophile me is rebelling, but I am doing it. Why not? I read blogs all the time, my husband has one, I often find myself stopping in the middle of a moment and saying "that would make a great blog post," and I've even had friends encourage me to start one.

So why have I been so resistant? I could say it is because I don't want to be tempted to portray myself as better than I am. I could say it is because I think there are more valuable ways to spend my time. But those of you who know me know the real reason. As I told my husband, "Everyone is doing it, and that's enough to make me not want to do it."

His answer? "Everyone eats three meals a day, too."

Thus the name of my blog. This is my little attempt at three square meals. The problem is, of course, that I am an imperfect human being, struggling through this life and trying to live up to ideals that I never quite reach. "Two Square Meals" is an attempt to keep myself honest, a chance to process my life, failures and all, as I seek to be a better wife, mother, thinker, doer, and lover of the One who will one day make me perfect.

I love to read and have benefited from the blogs of so many moms who seem to have a handle on things much more than I do. I want to be them, but I am not. I do not bake my own bread (yet), my kids get to watch TV, I sometimes yell, I often don't appreciate my husband, I interrupt, and I don't always floss. But I am confident of this (to paraphrase good old Paul), that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.