The Birds

The trees aim for the birds.
A cotton song sticks in my throat,
Warming me.
What a village of busted knee caps we live in.
I have not walked anywhere for days.
Over the hillocks and bluffs the sight of men marches
Naturally,
With no bodies to slow anything down.
What is there to see but birds
Skimming skeins of skyline,
Evading the green fanged death in the trees?

Female

A blue tunnel rimmed with rainbow spangled stars
Leads to a woman in a black field harvesting high heels.
She is old as winter,
Her hair violet,
Her eyes ultramarine stars flashing.
She is no one’s neighbor,
Born beneath a pile of cast stones.
Somewhere in the looming black wheat
Beneath the onyx ether
Girl children are born in red satin receiving blankets.

My Shadow’s Nation

An ocean flutters from a flagpole,
A 3×5 slate blue ocean with dolphins leaping in and out.
This is the emblem
Of the country of my shadow.
My shadow is a princess.
She warbles,
Her tax code a filing system
Of feathers.
Beneath her flag I am wet.
My vision bordered by swaths of salt.
Here in Kansas oceans are special occasions,
And many rally around her flag,
Though they cannot swim.

Church Pews, Birthing Chair, Secret Compartments

Today we went furniture shopping and we did something a little bit wild. We bought two church pews. They are white and wooden and one is longer than the other. We are going to use them in the formal living room to be our seating there. I love the idea. It will be beautiful to have a little slice of the church in my very own home. Now I just have to find beautiful pillows for them. We found them at an eclectic furniture store called Platte furniture. There was a lot of really nice stuff in there, some old some new. There’s a grandmother clock that Craig is really interested in and the employees are going to see if they can get it to chime correctly again and if they can we will probably buy it. Craig really likes clocks. Angelica fell in love with a birthing chair. It’s this old, little wooden chair with handles on it and babies have been born on it. Personally the fact that people have given birth on it put me off a little bit (a lot of bare butt and vagina have probably been on that chair, along with all the products of birth) but Angelica loved it and Craig liked it too so that’s going to be a little extra piece for our formal living room.

Then we went to another store and we found a bedroom suite that we loved. It doesn’t come with a dresser and the reason is that there’s a bunch of drawers built into the sides of it and built-in underneath the bed. It also has a mirror and built-in lighting so that one partner can stay up reading while the other one sleeps. It has secret compartments. Seriously. You have to feel around and find them. It has outlets for charging phones built-in, and it has a tray on each side that you can slide out to have a place to put your drink at night. Admittedly the finish is not my favorite. Nice but not my favorite. But the functionality was unparalleled by anything else that we saw. I prefer other finishes but I absolutely love bed sets that have a lot of compartments and shelving and places for books and drawers and that sort of thing. Throw in a light for reading and I’m all set! So we bought it. The bed is being delivered on Thursday and the church pews and birthing chair are being delivered on Saturday.

Ekphrastic of a Life

A nuclear image of a girl constructed from trees
Blows apart a novel, a life, clairvoyant cinematography.
She sips from a waterfall,
Collects scraps of rain in her hair.
She rebels against rebels from every state of matter that matters
(Doesn’t all matter matter? A speck of glitter can cleave an eye).
With her breath fleeing north and her pheromones slipping south,
Nothing will ever be hot again.

Practical Example of Submission

My husband is the head of our household and our spiritual leader. I submit to his leadership. But what does that mean on a practical daily basis? Well, today for instance, I asked online for church recommendations and someone recommended a church that interested me that had a service this evening. I wanted to go so I immediately asked my husband. He looked up the church and decided he did not want to go. The church is calvinist and he doesn’t believe in Calvinism and the church is perhaps more charismatic than what he is comfortable with. My husband prefers to keep us at Methodist churches.

I was sad. I was disappointed. But I obeyed. I wanted to go to church tonight. We have not been to church in quite a while and we don’t even have a church to go to out here. And I like Saturday night churches because I have a hard time waking up on Sunday mornings and if I force myself to wake up I sometimes have panic attacks at church from being surrounded by so many people when I’m tired. So a Saturday night service would have been really nice. And my beliefs don’t perfectly align with my husband so I agreed with some of what this church had to say. I might have liked it.

But at the end of the day I am not the spiritual leader of the household and it is not my decision to make. If my husband feels that churches like that are not appropriate for our family then I will not go. But I don’t always feel like I get the sort of spiritual sustenance and conservative, upright teaching that I am seeking from the kinds of churches that my husband chooses, so while he’s at work during the week I will try to find Bible studies or something where I can find what I’m looking for. But ultimately I have to trust that God is speaking in the ear of my husband and that what he is deciding for our family is what’s best. I may not always agree with him theologically, but I must remember that in the garden it was Eve who was deceived and not Adam. I may not always be right. And what kind of example would it set for our daughter if I went to church against her father’s wishes?

Still I am lonely tonight. I wish I’d had Church Fellowship. I wish there was somewhere I could get plugged in and really feel at home.

Chasing Accolades

All my life I have been ambitious. My ambitions have changed a few times, but I always have them. Being a wife and mother was always on my list of goals, but I have always avoided the thought that motherhood might be my only job. How we define ourselves as women has changed over the past 40 years, and now many women don’t derive enough satisfaction from their own lives. They need careers and ministries and awards and promotions to feel full, to feel satisfied.

I have given up my goals of becoming a professor and of being the worship arts leader at a church, but I still have dreams. I long to get a second chapbook published, as well as a full length book of poetry. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with dreams and ambitions. But my fulfillment and satisfaction should come from my God-ordained roles as wife and mother. I am reading a book called Girl Defined. For the most part it is written for younger women, a book I will save for my daughter. But in it the authors do pose some interesting questions that have given me much to ponder.

Why do I feel so strong a need to get published, and how will I feel if I don’t get published? If my poetry is good it is good whether anyone publishes it or not. If my poetry is bad it is bad whether anyone publishes it or not. And there have been many good poets that went unpublished and there have been many bad poets published.  Most importantly, I can enjoy writing poetry whether anyone publishes me or not.

Poetry is an act of  communication, so it is natural to want readers. But I have my blog for that, and I value each and every visitor and comment.

But underneath a healthy desire for communication with other people, is a culturally instilled sense of inferiority. In our culture it is not enough to be a wife and mother. Rather than being purely motivated to share my art as an act of sharing beauty with the world, I am also motivated by competitiveness, and a deep-seated need for worldly approval. In someone who is not a Christian, such an attitude can lead to messed up priorities and low self esteem. Ditto for Christians, but it is also completely unacceptable. Our highest calling (with the exception of childless women or women gifted with singleness) is as wives and mothers. Being a wife is enough. Being a mother is enough.

It is fine for women to have ambitions. It is okay to have hopes and dreams outside family life. But family life should always come first, and any ambitions should be held up to careful scrutiny. Does this goal glorify God? Am I striving for this to share beauty or wisdom or knowledge with the world, or to exalt myself? Accolades are not bad, but should never be the goal.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that it’s okay to have dreams for the future as long as those dreams for the future don’t arise from dissatisfaction with the present. In all things we are supposed to give thanks to God. My problem is that I am chasing satisfaction where I should not be. I should be wholly grateful for my life at home with my family. I should not let the world’s definition of success define me.

Men Have Authority

Men have a unique responsibility to lead their families and those around them.  In the Garden of Eden God made man first, and it was to man that he gave the task of naming the animals. To name something is to have a sort of authority over it. God did not give this task to Eve. He gave it to Adam before Eve was in created. And when Eve was created he was created to be a partner suitable for Adam. Adam was not created for Eve. Eve was created for Adam.

I have recently ordered several books on biblical gender roles and biblical femininity. As a wife who tries to submit to her husband these are topics that are of interest to me. Currently I’m reading through an 8-week study, although I’m reading it all at once, called True Woman 101 Divine Design. It goes over different Bible verses about creation and submission and marriage and spiritual leadership. I’m in an interesting section right now that talks about the biblical roles of men. Men were assigned to work the Earth. Women were not given that assignment. We were not tasked with working. We were tasked with having children, and then later verses of the Bible keeping our homes.

The authors pose the following question. What does God’s design for men reveal about His heart for women? I think it reveals a lot of love for women. God loves women. He made us creatures of beauty and rather than put the burden of authority and Leadership on our heads he gave it to men. That’s not to say that he loves men any less but rather that he created them differently. They are designed to be our leaders and our protectors and we are designed to submit and to be protected.

I am reminded that the relationship between man and wife is supposed to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church and between God and Jesus. Although we are one flesh with our husbands, wives are supposed to submit just as the church should submit to Christ and just as Christ submits to God. That does not make Jesus lesser then God. That does not make the church, his bride, any less loved or holy.  That certainly does not make wives worth less than their husbands. But our God is a god of order and this is the natural Order of Things. There is a hierarchy. And God has instituted the hierarchy since the dawn of creation. He had it in His plans even before then.

Sometimes I find a lot of Beauty in my role as a wife and mother. I certainly see a lot of Beauty in submission. Other times I chafe a little bit. There are some dreams that I used to have that now I cannot fulfill because to do so would be to break up my family or to short change them or misuse family funds. I am not my family’s provider, and so my career ambitions and educational desires come second. Of course I don’t want to be a man and so I don’t want the job of being the provider, but this does mean that being a professor is never going to happen for me and that going to Seminary and becoming a creative worship Arts director is never going to happen for me. I don’t have the geographic mobility and my place is at home. So I should find my joy there.

I hope my scattered thoughts make some sense, and I hope that you’ll join me over the next several weeks as I write about gender, submission, femininity, homemaking, and living a life that is pleasing to God while still trying to find good creative and intellectual Outlets. I am not June Cleaver. I hate cooking, I don’t know how to sew, and I have help with the housework. I love reading and writing and debates. I adore art. But none the less I know I am supposed to be a keeper at home first, and subject to my husband.