Lee Hull Moses

writing, etc.

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Tomorrow Is Another One

We’ve been reading One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish a lot lately. I mean, every-night-a-couple-of-times a lot. To keep myself sane, I like to see how fast I can read it without tripping over the words, or read it in a British accent. Sometimes I try to make up a tune and sing it, but Jonathan usually puts a stop to that pretty quickly: “No singing, Mom. Just read.” (When Harper was this age, I used to read some of her storybooks as if they were beat poetry. She never really caught on.)This morning, I found Jonathan in bed looking at a different book but muttering him to himself, “If you like to go bump bump, just jump on the hump of the Wump of Gump.”

One Fish Two Fish is full of wonderfully Seussean nonsense, but my favorite is the last page. Not the “It is time for sleep” part (though I’m all in favor of sleep, for anybody in this house) but this:

Today is gone. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Every day,
from here to there,
funny things are everywhere.
I’m always reminded of a prayer from the New Zealand prayer book, which was given to me by a friend and which I turn to often. It’s an evening prayer, used for bedtime or the close of day. I love these words:
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done, what has not been done has not been done.
Let it be.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
Aren’t those two different ways of saying the same thing?
Funny things are everywhere, and God’s faithfulness is new every morning.

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But for the Grace

doctors-waiting-room-444_thumbOn a recent weekend visit to my parents, I find myself spending all of Friday evening at an urgent care center, waiting for a doctor to examine my daughter, who seems to have an infection that needs to be treated before we can get back home to our pediatrician Monday morning. It is not how I planned to spend the evening. We planned to check out the new pizza place in the neighborhood, then go home and let Grandma and Papa put the kids to bed early and take advantage of my parents’ fancy on-demand TV.

But instead, we have sent the guys out for pizza on their own, and my mother and I play charades and twenty questions with my daughter in the waiting room while we wait, and wait, and wait, for it to be our turn.

…read the rest at Practicing Families.




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On Loving Words

I read Anne Lamott’s memoir Traveling Mercies in the waning days of 2001, in my first year of divinity school, in the months after the planes hit the towers, as my grandmother was dying. That book taught me something real about grief, that life could be both hard and good and funny, that church is good, and that faith doesn’t have to have answers.ffw-logo-shadow

They were words that found me at just the right time.

It was something, then, to be in the audience Friday night as Anne Lamott offered the evening keynote at the Festival of Faith and Writing. As wise and witty as ever, she managed to wave the story of the tragic death of a friend in with the fact that she had accidentally packed pants that don’t fit so wasn’t wearing the pants that she intended to wear. “You can’t even see my pants!” she said, from behind the podium, and then went back to telling us how she had spent her birthday sitting in the funeral home next to the open casket of the young man who had died. Life, she said, is about showing up. 

Hearing Anne Lamott in person was a highlight of the Festival, but it certainly wasn’t the only one. The Festival of Faith and Writing truly is a festival, a feast – think of a really long buffet table, with more options offered than could ever be consumed. Some will be better than others, some won’t be what you expect, but everything will at least give you something to talk about afterwards.

I learned about Afghan folk poetry from Eliza Griswold, an international investigative journalist whose childhood as the daughter of an Episcopal bishop still informs her work. I learned about the genre of Amish fiction (did you know this was a thing? Apparently it’s huge!) and the concept of narrative scholarship from Valerie Weaver-Zercher. I watched as Bromleigh McCleneghan, Ben Dueholm, and Amy Frykholm talked wisely about how to write faithfully about sex. I heard from poets Scott Cairns and Luci Shaw, memoirists Jeanne Murray Walker and Leslie Leyland Fields, and watched a delightful interview with Rachel Held Evans.

And sprinkled in and around were lots of conversations with friends new and old, all lovers of words, whose lives have been shaped – as mine has – by words that found us at just the right time.

On Friday morning, I attended a panel discussion with a number of editors and agents representing traditional publishing houses. They talked about the realities of publishing in a world where people are buying fewer books and where self-publishing is a real possibility. It’s easy to get a little doom-and-gloom about it all, but one editor said that she thinks the industry will keep changing, and we’ll all just keep changing with it. After all, she said, there will always be people like us who love words.

May it be so.

 




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A completely random collection of inconsequential thoughts on a Friday afternoon

This post is brought to you in conjunction with Harper, who is sitting next to me, reading a book about birds and other animals. She would like us to know that the Amazon rain forest is almost twice the size of India.

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Are we in trouble when this kid is a teenager, or what?

This morning, I spoke at a breakfast meeting of the Children’s Ministry Network at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly. The highlight of the event was a young mom who came up to me to tell me she has a 9-week-old baby, and that our book came along at just the right time.

(Did you know that jaguars are nocturnal? True story.)

Jonathan turned 21 months yesterday, and, as is probably to be expected, is alternately hilarious and infuriating. This morning, he made up a little game where he pretended to be stuck in a chair, and then he’d triumphantly climb out of the chair and say, “Got it!” He repeated this a dozen times. That was delightful. Not so delightful was how mad he got at me last night when his feet didn’t fit into the shoes he wore a year ago.

(“Is that more than two sentences, Mom? Are you using periods?”)

He has also developed a little habit of pointing to any bald man and saying, “Daddy!” I assume (because anything else would be weird), that he means, Hey, that man has hair like my dad!”

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Helping harvest lettuce.

Speaking of bald men, the other morning I was out for a run, and about three blocks from home, I saw a man running toward me that I was absolutely sure was Rob. Same running outfit, same build, no hair… We’ve been alternating mornings, and I was positive that we’d agreed I was going running this morning, but maybe we’d gotten our signals crossed – last I’d seen Rob, he was heading upstairs to the shower, or so I thought. But then, there he was, out running too, leaving our children vulnerable and home alone. I picked up my pace, waiting for him to notice me and have a similar moment of panic, but he didn’t react at all. Turns out, it was somebody else. Rob was home, the kids were safe, all was well. Whew.

(“Do you have one more thing to do? Or is that your last thing?”)

Tomorrow morning, we are both going running together, thanks to some generous friends who agreed to hang out with the kids while we run in a 10K race. When I signed up for this back in early May, I forgot how hot it can be in Greensboro in late June. Six miles in 80+ degrees? Ugh. But I think we’ll make it.

And finally, there are more than 200 kinds of owls in the world. Living with a five-year-old is very educational.




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The Bunns

We have two new neighbors. They live in our backyard, they come and go as they please, they’re very quiet, and they have long ears that pop upright whenever they hear us coming. So far, they’ve stayed out of the lettuce in our garden..

IMG_5055We look for them every morning out the den window, and when we see them, Jonathan, who doesn’t do anything subtly, screams, “HI BUNN!” I can’t decide what’s more adorable: his exuberance or their little white tails.




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Any May a Beautiful Change: 2013

Last May, a year ago, my good friend Katherine hosted a blog carnival and invited her readers to write about a “beautiful change.” I wrote about the first week I spent at the Collegeville Institue, which was the week I met Katherine (in the oddest cab ride ever), and the week when Hopes and Fears was born. Those were good, beautiful changes.

But when Katherine suggested a reprise of Any May a Beautiful Change, I had to think for awhile. We haven’t had many big changes around here recently. No new houses, jobs, kids.  (We did buy a van, but I’m in a little bit of denial about that, so we’ll just ignore that one.) Things are pretty stable. Not boring, by any means; we are running, all the time, trying to keep us with school and dinner and travel and work and church and the grass that grows faster than we can keep up with. But that’s just the pace of our lives right now, with two children who never stop moving and two jobs we (most of the time) love. Our lives are full… but not all that different than they were a year ago. I’m sure there are changes coming, probably something I’m not even expecting, but for the time being and for the foreseeable future, here we are.

We have a bunch of church members graduating from college this year, and I’ve been talking to some of their parents about how hard it is, sometimes, for them to imagine life after college. Some are heading to grad school, for more of the same in a way, but others are launching out into full-time, regular jobs. It’s scary, I think, when everything up to that point has been done in four-year increments, to face the reality of a situation with defined end point. No graduation day. No specific time when you know you’ll move on to something else.

I’m a ways out from those days, now, and I wish there was some way to reassure those anxious graduates that it’s okay to just live for awhile. Without being part of a program that shoves you out into the next thing.

Sometimes the most beautiful change is no particular change at all.

(If you haven’t read Any Day a Beautiful Change yet, I highly recommend it. If you want a little taste of how beautifully Katherine writes, read this post on her blog today.)

 

 




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Checking In

Seeing as how several liturgical seasons have now passed since my last post (December! Remember December?), this seems as good a time as any to check in here. I actually wrote a post, several weeks ago now, and spent the better part of an evening revamping the blog template, adjusting colors and styles. I went to bed thinking it was all done, but the next day, my post was nowhere to be found and the changes were unsaved. I didn’t have the heart to try again. {Edited to add: Well, it seems those changes I made do show up. Sometimes. Apparently depending on something outside my control. Oh, Technology. If the love of my life weren’t so enamored with you, I might be done with you completely.}

My children continue to grow, make messes, and say wise and wonderful things. I’ve been writing some, here and there. I had a short little piece up at the Christian Century blog yesterday, and I’ve created an author page at www.leehullmoses.com. It’s mostly so I have a place to keep track of links and such, but I’ve also listed a few upcoming book-related events.

Our book been well-received, I’m grateful to say. It’ll never be on the New York Times list, I imagine, but it’s rewarding to hear that it’s being used in churches and parent groups in a variety of places, and read by people who didn’t receive a copy from my mother or my mother-in-law.

Writing is a funny thing, I’m realizing again for the umpteenth time. I’m constantly amazed at how sometimes full paragraphs form themselves in my head and deposit themselves perfectly on the blank page, or how other times, I think I’ve got a great idea but I can’t unlock it from that place in my brain where ideas live in some intangible form. I love that moment when you realize that what you’re writing is actually about something else entirely. (I didn’t understand that this blog post was about writing until just now.)

I read Stephen King’s sort-of memoir On Writing recently, and loved every bit of it. I wish I had it in front of me so I could quote it directly, but he talks about moving from a big writing desk in the middle of the room to a smaller desk in the corner, and turning his office into a family room, where he played with his kids and spent time with his wife. “Life is not a support-system for art,” he says. “It’s the other way around.” (Thanks, Google, for the quote.)

I guess that’s what I think of when I realize how long it’s been since my lost post. So I don’t write down every good story. Or post every cute picture. Or reflect deeply on the news of the day. Sometimes, I don’t write. Sometimes I can’t not write.

All of which is to say that I’m still here. I’m not abandoning this poor, neglected blog which really has been life-giving to me. But I’m writing from my desk in the corner for awhile, and if the rest of my life gets in the way, so be it.




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Things that made me happy today

Sunshine. Sweet, sweet sunshine. I walked outside for a block on my way to lunch downtown, and felt better than I have for weeks.

The realization that Rob and I will get to see all four of our parents in the next two weeks, for a variety of reasons. We have very good parents.

Hosting some people from church for dinner at our house. The first time we looked at this house, I knew it would be perfect for entertaining, and since our social life basically revolves around church meetings and meals, this is what we do. I like knowing that every once in a while, all this abundance – more space than we need, more dishes than we can use – serves a greater purpose.

A sermon that practically wrote itself.

Jonathan’s grin. Also, the way he has morphed the sign for “more” into a sign for “please.” He manages to ask very politely for things he wants, without using any words.

Learning that the University of North Carolina at Greensboro has a Quidditch team, and being invited to come watch their tournament.

Watching Harper play by herself in her room, building a bed for her toys and creating some kind of color-coded book. Her creativity has exploded lately, and it’s delightful to watch. For years, I have wished that she would play on her own, and it makes me glad to watch her discover that there’s fun to be had with her own imagination. It’s a life-skill, I think, being able to entertain oneself.

The knowledge that there’s nothing else that really has to get done before I can go to bed.



  • Quidditch, eh! I’d imagine it’s hard to run with a broom between your legs. Nothing that REALLY has to get done REALLY means you are a wise woman.

  • Quidditch, eh? It must be hard to run with a broom between your legs. I hope you took pictures. You’ve reached the wise woman stage: Nothing really needs to be done before bed.


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Proof that kids don’t need toys

Harper in a box
January 2009; 17 months
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Jonathan in a box
December 2012; 14 months

 




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Hope

Harper and I have been working on a small Christmas craft, to give to teachers and grandparents (Sorry, Grandparents, to ruin the surprise). I do this sort of thing approximately once a year, so don’t get any ideas about what a crafty mom I am, but we had fun.

I wasn’t sure what we were going to make when we started out, but we ended up with a wall-hanging of sorts, which has four cards strung together, each with a word painted on it: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love — the words that help us mark time through Advent. We were making several of these, so there were piles of each word stacked around us as we assembled them yesterday afternoon. But when we had strung most of them together, we realized we were didn’t have enough: we had peace, love, and joy, but we were missing two “hope” cards.

“Mama!” Harper said when she realized, “There’s no more hope!”

Isn’t that the truth, I thought, thinking about Newtwon, and climate change, and the fact that there aren’t enough shelters in Guilford county to house all the homeless families. But she didn’t need to be burdened with all that, so we decided that it would be just fine if the last two crafts just said Peace, Joy, Love.

We finished it up and I took the finished projects into the kitchen while she cleaned up the living room floor. I heard her excited feet running toward me before I saw what she had in her hands: the missing cards.

“Look, Mom! Hope!”

They were there all along; we just hadn’t looked hard enough.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. I have repeated that to myself over and over and over in the last three days.

The darkness did not overcome it.



  • Children are wonderful for insights into the Holy…When you were small, about three, and watching TV a series of commercials came on and at each one you said, “I want that”. I was concerned the Business of Christmas had captured you at such a young age. But then you said, “I want that” when the ad was for a denture cleaner. I decided your affirmation was just an empty ritual and the possibility of deeper meaning would come in time. It has. Thank you.


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