Albuquerque Bus Terminal

Published March 8, 2014 by mssprinkle

Let me start by clarifying right up front that I am in no need of rescue. I always have the fifth graders start phone calls to their parents that way, “I am not sick, or hurt, or in very much trouble, but I need you to please help me remember to bring my library books tomorrow.”
I am sitting in the bus depot/train station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on a Saturday afternoon, waiting to catch the Railrunner train to Santa Fe. We thought this would be fun. After catching a 6 AM flight, six hours later I am hanging out here watching the security guard deal with a sick, drunk guy. Watching a girl who looks about 20 deal with a half dozen fussy preschoolers who are all calling her Mama. Watching a couple of people move from group to group trying to resell candy bars for a dollar. Watching a person surreptitiously try to change clothes inside a coat. Watching the world go by.
My travels today will end at the #1 rated hotel in Santa Fe, where I have an appointment for a massage and a nice dinner to get my super-relaxing spring break vacation started. I am grateful that my path lead through this place. I think this has been a lovely, gentle reminder that I am blessed. Undeservedly blessed.
I attended Ash Wednesday services earlier this week and asked God to give me hope. Here I am.
Hearing the compassion in the security guard’s voice as he helps gather up the sick guy’s belongings. Watching the patience of the young mother doling out candy to her babies. Sharing some smiles with these people in my path. I hope the folks at the fancy place in Santa Fe are as nice as the people at the bus station.


The New Barbie: Meet the Doll with an Average Woman’s Proportions

Published March 6, 2014 by mssprinkle

I wish I had a whole bunch of little girls in my life to give this doll!


While we might admire Barbie’s career aspirations, the dolls famously unrealistic body proportions (which would force a real woman to walk on all fours… with half a liver) leave a lot to be desired. So artist Nickolay Lamm gained a lot of attention last summer when he showed the world what Barbie would look like if she had the CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body.

“A lot of people asked where they could buy normal Barbie,” Lamm told TIME. “But no one could buy it because it didn’t exist.”

So rather than just waiting for some other toy company to bring a Barbie with realistic proportions to life, he decided to do it himself. Wednesday, Lamm launched his own Kickstarter of sorts to raise $95,000 to begin production on a doll that has a real woman’s proportions. The line is called Lammily and its tagline is:…

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Thank You, Daddy

Published February 25, 2014 by mssprinkle

I turned 12 only a few months after moving from a big town to a little one, after my parents finally got divorced, after it was becoming far too obvious that something was simply wrong with my mother.  

Memory is very kind.  Looking back on that twelfth birthday, I know there was ice cream involved and my mother flaked out, again.  I don’t remember the guest list or exactly why some of the other possible adults didn’t figure more significantly into the memory-worthy frames (Grandmother?  Aunts? It’s hard to think they weren’t around – they usually were — oh wait.  Perhaps they were and they were dealing with MOTHER directly…).

Somehow it fell to Daddy.  And I was deeply involved in h-a-t-i-n-g my daddy at this time.  But 38 years later when I look back on that birthday I see a tall, skinny, awkward engineer with ice cream on his tie, trying to be friendly to middle school girls he’s never met, and making my party possible.

How did he even get there so fast?  How did he know I needed him?  Why wasn’t my venomous blame enough to keep him away?

Just so you are reassured, dear reader, I have indeed thanked him.  I have asked him those questions.  He laughed, and cried a little, and he didn’t really have any answers for me.  He teased me about the over-the-top parties I have thrown for my own children, and gave me a gruff little hug and ambled out into the garage.


Walking on the Moon, Hopping up the Curb

Published February 23, 2014 by mssprinkle

I was born with my knees put together wrong.

Every once in a while I hear myself telling somebody that, for whatever reason, and I feel like I have a 50-years-in-ten-seconds flashback of all the ways my life has been different because of this simple fact.

I was born with my knees put together wrong.

There are no pictures from my babyhood with the braces on my legs, but people in my family have talked about them.  Others have denied them.  I don’t recall.  I remember a lot of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t, and I am grateful to cousins and friends who sneaked behind the back of the elementary school to try to help me do a cartwheel -“How can you not know how?” – and then ran like crazy to get the grown-ups when my knee (predictably) dislocated in the process.

I had my first knee surgery in seventh grade, and it seems like I had a cast or a brace on one leg or the other for the next 5 years.  My parents and grandparents were run ragged driving me 200 miles back and forth to the medical school and trying to keep me from doing things I should have known I couldn’t do.  Like march in a parade.   Man, I wanted to march in a parade.  I loved band.  And you didn’t have to know a drill, it was just a straight line.  My friends thought it was a great idea – “How can you now know how?” – I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when he spotted me in that band.  Cracked my cast, had to be taken back to Lubbock for a replacement, but I MARCHED IN A PARADE!

I was very firmly told that every step I took was a step I would not have later in my life.  They had done what they could for me.

That was very hard to comprehend.  In Heaven I will be able to march in parades, I will probably even be a twirler.  I will be able to wear whatever shoes I want, whenever I want, and I will learn to dance.

Fast forward.  College.  Babies.  I sat at the bottom of the trail and watched my family explore in the National Parks and enjoyed passing out Popsicles after sports practice.  Life was pretty good, but eventually I hurt myself in a way that required more medical intervention on the knees.

This new knee doc looked at my x-rays and laughs, “It’s the Nightmare Knees!”  Turns out he went to that same medical school and remembers not “me,” but my knees, from class.

It seems he had a few new tricks up his sleeve.  I wound up with a couple of new, tiny scars, and whole new plan.   That old slogan changed to “Every step you take now give you two steps later on!”  Wow!


All those years of saying I wanted to, but I couldn’t.   I thought I was brave to even try.  “Poor dear,” had to suddenly get up and do something.

I’m not Wonder Woman.  I found out getting sweaty is not that great.  But I can put one foot in front of the other and walk just about anyplace I want to, and for quite a long way on a good day.  In my forties I have done things I never dreamed I could do in my twenties.  How many people get to say that?  Maybe lots, but it feels downright miraculous to me.

One day I was standing with a bunch of my students after school, waiting for them to be picked up, when one of them suddenly hopped up the curb.  Two feet flat hopped.  I was impressed.  They all started doing it.  I couldn’t even imagine which muscles to move to do so.  Bless them if, just like my friends and cousins forty years earlier, they didn’t decide to teach me.  “How can you not know how?”

I did not get hurt.


You Can Get There From Here

Published February 14, 2014 by mssprinkle

I live in a town that is jokingly rumored to have been laid out by drunk Indians.

<quick glance around for the politically correct police> GASP Now, I want to say right quick that I am very respectful of Native American culture, and I have a lot of compassion for folks dealing with drinking problems… that’s not really what this post is about, and it IS something Waco people joke about, but not in a mean or hurtful way… sheesh – I know the expression came from back in the day when it wasn’t such a big deal to say stuff like that…)

The truth is there’s no direct way to get anywhere here.  Kind of like there was no clear, concise way to say what I wanted to say in that paragraph right there.  You know what I meant, I know what I meant, there’s just no easy way to actually SAY what I meant without making it worse.

In Waco, you may know exactly where you want to go and not be really certain of the best way to get there.  The former pastor of my church seriously believed that to get ANYWHERE in this town, you simply had to go down Valley Mills Drive.  We have more than 250,000 people!  We are not a two-red-lights kind of place.  Valley Mills is a lovely, big street, but its not really on the way to EVERYWHERE.

My but there are a lot of things in our society that suffer from the same concept – if you want to get ANYWHERE in this life, you simply have to _______________ (fill in the blank here:  maintain this BMI, attain this level of education, make this amount of money, drink this!).  And you know what, nobody is going to try to discourage most folks from a little exercise or going to college.  The problem is when it begins to seem like that’s the ONLY way to get where you want to go.  Chubby girls are worthwhile human beings most of the time.  “Middle” income people wake up happy pretty often.  There are several grocery stores in Waco that aren’t on Valley Mills Drive!  Wow!

Another feature of my fair city is what we call the “spiral.”  We don’t have a loop, we have a spiral, and you kind of have to know how to do it if you want to drive around the outer edges here.  You will not wind up back where you started unless you make a couple of turns and cross back over the river.

Once again, I draw an analogy to life planning.  Your path from where you are to where you want to be may not be a nice, neat little circle.  It may very well be that you have to make a couple of turns and cross the river.  You may have really expected the road you were on to come out at a certain place – marriage, family, job – and there’s a train crossing in front of you with a sign that says “No Outlet” just beyond that.  It’s okay.  Make a turn, look for a landmark, and keep going.

I’ve been reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World.  She talks about the potential for finding spiritual practice in a bit of wandering around.  I think she would like Waco.  There are lots of ways to get anyplace in this town.  Maybe not always one BEST way, and you may find yourself off the path you planned, but there are lots and lots of hidden good surprises (We have the best small zoo in the country!  Who knew?!?).  You may run across a few of the odd surprises (don’t act like your town doesn’t have one of those odd old gentlemen who wave to everybody while they just walk all over town smiling and making folks uncomfortable.  You’ve got something like that and you know it).

You can think about the path your life is taking.  Where do you want to go?  You can get there from here.

Mirror, Mirror

Published January 25, 2014 by mssprinkle

“Who is that girl I see,

staring straight back at me?”

Yep, I know the words to almost every Disney song.  Not only do I know the words, but they leap unbidden into my mind at the most surprising moments, providing a soundtrack I am embarrassed to share with most of my adult friends.

That snippet is from Mulan.  Anybody else been taking the rampant quizzes on facebook lately?  One of my buddies got Mulan as her “What Disney Princess Are You?” result, and said she didn’t even know Mulan.  Not only do I know who Mulan is, I know her songs and I sing them to myself.  Mulan is strong and brave and resourceful and fierce and wonderful.  I would LOVE to get Mulan.

I got Ariel.  Don’t get me wrong, Ariel has good songs, too.  She’s charming and vivacious but she isn’t the one I wanted.  I like her, but I don’t admire her like I admire Mulan.  I am not really a person who puts excessive stock in facebook quizzes (I hope), but I would like to think that I am more like the characters I admire. Ariel has such bad judgement! 

Unfortunately I know that real life isn’t much like a Disney movie.  And I know that I am not brave.  But I do spend a few minutes looking in the mirror each morning, admiring myself and feeling grateful for my grandmother who taught me to smile and primp and give myself that vital pep talk each day.  Putting on make-up is a way to celebrate myself.  I am pretty, and I have always been pretty.  It’s nice to be pretty, princess. It’s better to be nice.  It would be even better to be brave.