When a Writer Gets a Cortisone Shot

You may have noticed that things have been quiet around here. This is due, in part, to several rounds of sickness that have descended on our home. The first was manageable enough–a head cold that we passed around for several days–but this week, I unexpectedly came down with a severe case of strep throat. (The verdict is still out on the possibility of mono.) Either way, the doctor decided to treat it aggressively once it failed to respond to the first round of antibiotics. I am now awake at 4:21 AM after having received my very first dose of steroids. I believe I will never do this again. Still, several good things have happened as a result. My pain level dropped within hours, I gained a new empathy for those who take steroids on a regular basis, and I wrote a poem.

The follow is dedicated to all us who never saw it coming.

When a Writer Gets a Cortisone Shot

Today I went to see my doctor
Who shot me full of cortisone;
Now I’m fast awake remembering
All the words I’ve ever known.
I climbed into my bed tonight
Desperate for some rest,
But spent the next three hours
Finding words that work together best.
I wonder if this is how it must have been
For Dickinson & Eliot & Poe;
I used to think them rested geniuses
But clearly that’s not so:
They simply could not help themselves
From thinking all they had to think.
Their last and only consolation
A pile of paper, pen, and bottled ink.
I’m sure I used to envy them,
Before the cortisone;
Now, I’d rather fall sleep than
Remember all the words I’ve ever known.

 

Seriously, friends, I had no idea. The internet tells me these side effects could last a full 48 hours. Who knows? Perhaps tomorrow night I’ll write a novel.

 

Made for Life

I attended a funeral of a local pastor yesterday and saw a legacy of 88 years lived well–a life full of family, friends, and praise. But grief was also there, tears absorbed into crumpled tissues, weary bodies leaning on loved ones, and faces blank with helplessness.

And this, I think, is exactly as it should be.

Today we like to call funerals “celebrations of life” or “home goings” and while this is partly true, for me, funerals must always be painful. If they are not, we miss the point. Instead we must be free to weep and rage and question the unfairness of it all. After all, we were not made for death; we were made for life.

A wonderful thing happens when we allow ourselves to embrace loss–something that cannot happen through anything else. When loss overwhelms us, the One who conquers death becomes beautiful to us. When our hearts break and our souls shatter at saying goodbye, suddenly, we understand the joy of the Resurrection. And we long for it in a way we could not if we denied our grief.

I was thinking of all this when I saw this video of Kara Tippetts. Kara is a 38-year-old mother who is dying of cancer. And while she is dying well, she is dying. She feels the grief of it. She longs to stay while her Father is calling her to leave. But it is through this very longing she is able to testify to something greater–the beauty of life and the beauty of the Lifegiver.

Prepping for Easter (+Promo Code for “The Messiah Mystery”)

Last week, my friend Erin Staza and I were discussing the growing interest in Lent among Christians who don’t subscribe to the liturgical calendar. I told her that while I didn’t grow up in a tradition that celebrated Lent, this didn’t mean that we didn’t prepare for Easter in our own way–usually it involved 6-8 weeks of cantata practice and scouring the stores for the perfect Easter dress. Once my husband and I had children, we realized that we needed to cultivate our own family traditions. Each year, it seems, we end up trying something a little different; but each year, something always sticks and slowly our traditions are taking shape.

This year, our family has been given chance to work through a resource from Family Life called The Messiah Mystery. TMM is a family Bible study designed to be used once a week for the six Wednesdays prior to Easter. (Those of you who celebrate the liturgical calendar will recognize that this schedule coincides with the season of Lent; for those of you who don’t, think of it simply as running start to prep your family for the Easter season.)

My kids have been enjoying the interactive approach–notebooks, a magnifying glass to reveal clues, and lots of questions to stimulate discussion. But what I appreciate about TMM is that it takes children through the Old Testament to prepare them to understand the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Christians, it’s too easy for us to engage the Gospels and the New Testament to the exclusion of the Old. It’s too easy for us to see Christ as exclusively our Savior and to miss the fact that His life, death, and resurrection are moored in God’s revelation of Himself to the nation of Israel.

As Laura Winner, a Christian convert from Orthodox Judaism, writes,

How does one read Hebrew scripture as a Christian? How does one read the entire Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, as a coherent, God-made literary work, believing that that tents and speeches and promises and camels of the earlier books foreshadow events and proclamations in the Gospels, without turning the Hebrew Scriptures into noting but a prelude to Jesus?… It would be, it seems to me, almost impossible for a Christian to read the binding of Isaac and not understand that story as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It would be impossible for a Christian to read the story of Passover in Exodus and not think ahead to Calvary… But it would [also] be too easy for Christians… to spin the story where not only is the Jewish text empty but the covenant God made with the Jews is empty too.

Winner ultimately argues that we must read the Old Testament as both fulfillment and foreshadowing–God kept his promises to Israel as well as His promises to us. But this means that our children must know the God of the Old Testament and that starts by exposing them to the promises that He made to and through the nation of Israel.

Even though we’re already two weeks into Lent, you might find The Messiah Mystery a good tool for your family too. The readings are short enough to use one per day over the course of Holy Week and may actually work together better in such short succession. If you’re interested in trying TMM this Easter season or buying it for next, Family Life is currently extending a 50% off promo code. Just enter the code: MYSTERY at checkout.

Persuasion Podcast

So here’s a bit of news. Erin Straza and I will be hosting a new weekly podcast on the Christ and Pop Culture Podcast Network called Persuasion. In some ways, this is a departure for me–moving beyond the written word–but in another, it feels very natural. When I mentioned the opportunity to my husband, he asked, “So basically, they just want you to give your opinion about cultural and theological issues?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Oh, you’ll nail that. That’s what you do all the time around here anyway.”

The larger goal of Persuasion is to offer feminine insight on issues of culture, theology, and everyday minutia–without reducing it to a podcast about “women’s issues.” This is easier said than done, but it’s something that Erin and I believe is worth pursuing.

The full name, Persuasion: Fine Ladies, Rational Minds, and the Best Kind of Company, comes from two Jane Austen quotes:

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.

and

“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
‘”You are mistaken,” said he gently, “that is not good company, that is the best.”

We’re still getting our feet under us, but here’s a clip from the first episode in which Erin and I talk about how it easy it is to define ourselves based on other peoples’ lives. Erin works full-time and does not have children while I am a SAHM. We explore the temptation of each of us to define our work in terms of the marketplace and/or domesticity. What are the dangers when we try to live our lives by comparing ourselves to others? How can we avoid it?

 

 

The full podcast, including a discussion of what exactly we hope to accomplish on Persuasion and an interview with JR Vassar about his new book, Glory Hunger, is available here and on iTunes.