Dissipate

Dissipate.

As many of you know, I had a procedure called a vitrectomy two weeks ago today. As part of that process, the doctor inserted an air bubble into my eye that helps to hold everything inside my eyeball into place while it heals. There are other things the bubble does too. It makes it not possible to see at first, and then later as it gradually dissipates over time, it makes it just… less difficult to not see. What I mean to say is, as the bubble shrinks, I can begin to see around it, depending on where I look. And depending on the light, because the edge of the bubble throws off some reflection, or refraction or something really irritating into the part of my vision that is actually clear. My depth perception has been gone. I have bumped into furniture in the home I have lived in for almost 30 years. Also, I got this cool neon green wrist band I cannot take off that says I cannot get on a plane or have nitrous oxide.

The bubble was supposed to last 10 days, but it is going strong here on day 14. Every day, I spend some time scrutinizing the bubble to try and discern if it is any smaller. Every morning when I get up and open my eyes, I hope that sucker is gone. Today though, is another day waiting for the bubble to dissipate.

And it strikes me that I have spent a good part of this last year waiting for other things to dissipate.

If you are reading this blog from somewhere on the planet, you know that hasn’t so much happened just yet.

It seems like this process of dissipation can take a very long time. But, sometimes, it can happen really fast.

Let me explain.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that in the last few months I have fallen into a not so nice habit in my prayer life in which I bring forth complaints to the Lord about certain people who are bugging the crap out of me.

The general theme of these prayers is something like: “God, please help _____ not to be such an a$$hole. Amen.”

Of course, I pretty up the language because I am speaking to the Lord- but He knows my heart and what I am really saying.

Well.

Has the Lord every interrupted you during a prayer? Sometimes when I have a long list of ask fors, I hear His voice in my head telling me something about how I am praying and what I am asking for. So, as I have been praying for these people in a way that I don’t think is too pleasing to God, He has been answering me with a message I will paraphrase in the following prayer scenario:

Me: Dear Lord, Please be with JoeBob and help him to have empathy and to…

God: Are you saying JoeBob is an a$$hole again?

Me: Well…Lord…you see… it is just that he is so..

God: Sherry, I made you and I love you. I gave my only son for you!

Me: Yes, I know. Thank you! It is the best gift ever. But I was just wanting to talk to you about JoeBob…

God: I made him too.

Me: oh.

God: I love him too. You are complaining to me about someone I gave my only son for.

Me: Um. Maybe… I am the one who needs help?

God: continue…

End scene.

Okay. I am not being facetious. Or maybe I am a little, but my meaning here is completely serious. Also I hold a strong belief, as I have previously shared, that the Lord of the universe has a wonderful sense of humor. He is also, among other things, a very effective dissipater. Because, you better believe the thought of Jesus hanging on the cross for the person who is annoying the fire out of me is incredibly powerful at immediately making my petty feelings dissipate.

Unlike my bubble. We still have some time together apparently.

I am trying to be patient.

Pray for me if you will. I am in need of dissipation. Not only for the bubble.

Happy Thursday Y’all! Love you. Thanks for reading.

Procedure

Yesterday.

Yesterday I had a chance to practice responding to challenges. And it wasn’t very pretty. I had missed a call Friday from the surgery center where I am going to get my next ‘procedure’ (that is a fancy older person’s word for surgery.) I called them back when they opened at 6 am yesterday. The very happy person on the other end of the line informed me that I had met my deductible (yeah… my cataract adventure racked up $8,000 out of pocket, up front. Breathe. I know) so good news! She only needed to collect 30% from me today, a mere $2112 and did I have any questions.

I sure did. But, not for her.

Well, because I had to use a mish mash of payment methods, by some miracle (really) I had $2200 available on care credit. (I am never going to be able to retire y’all.) Then she told me chirpily, “You have really bad insurance! (her words, not mine) But by the time you finish paying the other $4000 to the surgeon and anesthesiologist, you will be at your max out of pocket!!” I think I croaked out a thank you and hung up.

Then I got on a group chat with my best buddies. This is the place everything gets spilled, soothed, bitched about and prayed over. I cried. I whined. I panicked. In short I had myself a little pandemic style freak out. Then I felt better. I got myself to my vaccine appointment and finished the work day. Late in the afternoon, I decided I should be proactive so I called my doctor’s office and asked to speak to the billing department. I told them I could not afford anymore $2000 surprises and I needed to know exactly what I was going to owe and when. She told me the anesthesiologist would bill me in 30 days. Okay. I can deal with that later. For the doc, my 30% would be… $348!

Wow! I mean...that is still a hunk of cash, but much better than the amount the girl at the surgery center told me. So, I felt a little bit of relief.

Then, last night I got online to see if any of my poor, gasping for life credit cards had $350 credit left (I am being really vulnerable sharing this situation, y'all.) I almost didn’t check one of them, because I knew I had maxed it out with the cataract surgery. But, I looked.

The last surgeon’s office had issued me two credits for overpayment.

$278 and $48. I was only about $30 bucks short. Wow.

Ready? It gets better.

I looked down at my desk where there was some cash that my daughter had handed me earlier for Z’s daycare, and recalled her saying, “I got paid early. Here’s the extra $30 I owe you.”

There it was. Right in front of me.

As I read over this, I feel, amazed and then I don’t know why. I can’t count the number of times God has worked in my life in some way like this. I prayed a prayer of thanks and I said I was sorry I was worried and had so little faith. And then I realized, God made us and He understands our earthly minds. And just like Z is delighted and surprised when I do some small thing for her- and she runs and jumps in my arms saying, “Rainbow pancakes!?!? How?? You are the best Mia ever!!” That God our father may just appreciate that reaction from us too.

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Okay, okay, I’m crying. But not from worry or fear.

Happy Tuesday.
Don’t forget to pray.
It’s just procedure.

Step Ball Change

Step ball change.

In dancing there is a move called the step ball change. Simply described, you step out with one foot, then transfer your weight to the ball of the other foot briefly and then change back to the original foot. When I was a kid, my mom and Teris Brantley’s mom enrolled us in ballet, tap and jazz classes at the Hugh Smith Recreation center which we attended while they made fabulous ceramic items in a class of their own. Some of their creations included 3-D recreations of Pinky and Blue Boy, a gorgeous complete chess set, and some really colorful ashtrays.

It was the 70s.

Anyway, Terri and I would be in our class learning to plie, heel toe, or step ball change under the watchful eyes of our teachers who, to my recollection, took their jobs very seriously.

My fourth kid is learning to drive at this moment and I was reminded recently how important it is as we operate a vehicle to keep an eye on the near, middle and far distance.

In dance, and in driving, and in life, there are many different things to be attended to.

Today, as has often happened in our history, people are calling for change. And my newsfeed is full of near distance remarks (we have to fix this now) and far distance remarks (God is in control no matter what) and everything in between. All have some validity to the person sharing them, but none are complete on their own.

In light of that, I am thinking this morning specifically about the step ball change. You see, when you are making that dance step, where you end up, depends very much on how you execute it. There are many ways to do it. You can take a tiny step, a side step, a forward step…you get where I am going. But if all you ever do is a step ball change, it doesn’t really matter where you are looking- you are going to end up pretty much close to where you started.

Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? No, not at all. It looks cool and it is fun. Fun is important. All I am saying is, don’t depend on just a step ball change to get you across the room in a timely manner, and don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t. The world is and always will be imperfect. People will always let us down. We let ourselves down. Do your best anyway and put your trust in God. Try as much as you can not to run around waving your hands over your head and screaming in panic. It isn’t a good look. (Also, a fur hat with horns is not really a good look, but that clearly doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen sometimes.)

Sometimes we focus on the near distance and we need to be reminded to take a longer view. Sometimes, we can ignore what is happening right around us. To me, it is easier to navigate this wonderful mess called life if you have dear friends who will kindly and gently remind you to keep putting things in perspective and focusing on what must be done today. I am fortunate, I will say blessed, to have friends like this, and I hope that I am able to help others do that sometimes as well.

Today, may we find our focus, be kind and stay warm. Take care of yourself and each other. Jesus loves you and so do I. Happy Saturday.

Hand Soap and Other Items of Wonder and Amazement

This morning I was rushing around getting ready to go to my office. I got a new work computer and it needed an update so my mic would work. I needed to be in my office before 8:00 so I would have time to download the new update and then zoom with my director about a project. While I was doing that, I kept noting other things I needed to do. I tend to do that to myself. You know- Pile on. When I am already busy, I notice the air return vent that really needs dusting, and try to plan dinner and remember to reschedule my dentist appointment. Things like that. It’s great for making yourself feel overwhelmed.

Anyway, today, I was noticing all kinds of things I needed to buy. I needed a new notebook specifically for my dissertation notes so I can keep them separate from my other notes. I needed pens, because mine keep getting used up and swiped. I was down to two acceptable ink pens and that is too low. Makes me a little uneasy. At any moment I could run out of ink and not be able to capture the next amazing thought that flits through my brain.

Haha.

Anyway.

Passing my Christmas Tree, I remembered I was going to get an ornament to symbolize 2020 and I kept forgetting. Probably that was not going to happen.

I noticed the hand soap in the kitchen was out, there was nothing at all sweet in the house and I just kinda needed a hug or some kind angel to take care of all these needs for me because, I cannot.

I finished getting ready for work and got to my office. I got the download, or upload… how do you know? Well, I got it started and then looked over my notes for the meeting. I had not been in my office in a couple of days because I was on some campuses and because we are sharing office space right now- rotating shifts so we can maintain social distance. While I was gone, there had been all sorts of gifts dropped off on my desk. I have mentioned before that I work with a wonderful family of friends. There was wrap and tissue and cute little gift bags. I packed them all up and headed to my car. On the way out, I met another friend who handed me one more gift.

What I am going to tell you next is 100% true.
To use a somewhat rude, but completely southern phrase: I shit you not.

This was the first time I have seen my team in person since March. Even though half our faces were covered and we were 6 feet apart, it was so good to see them! As we left, my friend C suggested a ‘Covid Hug’ elbow rub and it was perfect. Just warmed my heart. Connection is so important.

In my car I opened the last box my friend T had handed me. Inside was a perfectly beautiful blue notebook (with a surprise inside the notebook, but that part I will not give away just in case someone else received this as well) and a set of 20 pens JUST LIKE THE ONES I HAVE ON MY DESK AT HOME in all different colors.

I had some school visits to make and so I hurried to get those done before early dismissal. (Did I mention it is Christmas Break!?!? We made it!!!) And went home to get lunch and get ready for the next zoom. Walking in the door I wished I had stopped for something sweet for an after lunch treat, but oh well. I had a sandwich and decided to open the other gifts.

From R, HAND SOAP!! In a cute bag adorned with a Christmas ornament of a reindeer wearing a face mask.

From H, Candy popcorn and… wait for it… AN ANGEL. (And another lovely gift as well.)

Y’all.

How. In. The. Blessed. World.

Everything… every single thing… that went through my head as a need this morning was already waiting for me today plus more!

Notebook
Hug
Pens
Hand soap
Angel
Something sweet
2020 ornament…

I can’t explain it and I suppose that isn’t necessary. What I can tell you is I felt loved, blessed, and amazed at what had happened.

And that is another gift as well. One that I needed most of all.

Thank you to each one of you who grace my life. The end of this day turned out to be very difficult and sad for me and as I sat down to reflect, I turned my thoughts to the morning and reminded myself that everything I need is already waiting for me. It truly is. And that is true for you as well.

Happy Thursday. Peace to you and yours.

The Last Time I Saw Amy

The last time I saw my friend Amy, I knew I was going to say goodbye to her. She was on hospice and her family graciously was able to provide a brief opportunity for us to go and speak to Amy at the end of her life.

I will never forget when I walked into the room, she smiled her great smile and introduced me to the family sitting with her. “This is Sherry,” she said, “She’s a teacher- one of us, and a writer and she throws great parties.”

We talked for a few minutes and I hugged her goodbye. I asked her to say hello to my dad and she said, “We will wait for you.”

It was sad, but it was beautiful and to the point. Like Amy. She lived a great big life full of passion and she left a real legacy behind when she died

Today I woke up reflecting on how Amy introduced me; teacher, writer, throws great parties.

I will take it.

That is how Amy and I connected. It isn’t all I am, but it is the relevant parts to our relationship.

Whenever I have a space in time when I post a lot of my projects, how I spend my time, I usually get a few messages asking me how I do everything. But, friends, I do not do everything.

I have spent those sacred, exhausting years with three young children- two under two for a time- when my life was changing diapers, making PBJ and mac and cheese and scraping just the stickiest messes off the floor while ignoring the overflowing laundry baskets and dust. SO much dust. And the sleep deprivation…

I asked my 27 year old son this week- “Did you know that when y’all were little and we would all play hide and seek I would just go from bed to bed in the house and hide under the covers so I could take a cat nap while y’all searched for me?” He did not know. Parenting level 3000.

If you had known me at that time in my life, you would have a totally different perspective than if you have just met me, and I believe that is how most people are. Seasons of life change and we shift. To use a 2020 word, we pivot.

And from this perspective at 57, I can tell you that no phase of life has been “better.” Those days of slogging through the messiest part of parenthood, not knowing what day it was were their own kind of beautiful.

Getting divorced after 20 years of marriage? Gut-wrenching, but also a time of great personal growth for me in many areas.

Collecting a bunch of rejection letters for my first book. Waiting 20 years to get my master’s degree and another 18 years to start on my doctorate because of self-doubt. Regret that I didn’t get my Ham Radio license while my dad was alive. A heartbreaking miscarriage. Shame at how many times I have butted heads with my mom and other family members because being right was more important to my stubborn self than being kind was. These things are not necessarily post-worthy- but they are part of my story and I am grateful for all of them in some way.

If you ever feel tempted to compare how you are doing life with how someone else (me or anyone else) is doing life- especially the part of their life they choose to share on social media, remember, your story, and the way you use your gifts is uniquely you and it is beautiful.

And also everyone is a mess sometimes.

It’s just how it is.

But, Amy didn’t mention any of that. She could have just as truthfully introduced me by my faults, but she didn’t.

I don’t know what my point is today. I guess it is just this:

There is a sacred holiness, I believe, in all acts that are done in kindness and in service to others and in participating in what you have to offer back to the world and your fellow man.

There are many ways to live a beautiful life.

Happy Sunday.
Peace.
Enjoy your life.

ZOWIE!!

When I was a kid, from the age of about 7 to 10 for the most part, I had this recurring dream that I adored. I was riding in the Batmobile with Batman and Robin and we were being chased by the Joker. For context, I was born in 1963, so when I say Batman, I mean Adam West. Burt Ward was Robin and the Joker was Cesar Romero. To this day, although I am a fan of some of the other portrayals, this version remains the best Batman there ever was or will be.

Fight me on this. (POW! BAM!)

I mean. We had Burgess Meredith for the Penguin and Eartha Kitt for Catwoman (Season three anyway. Thanks Wikipedia…)

So anyway, in this dream, I was never scared. There was no concern that the Joker was actually ever going to catch us. WE were in the BATMOBILE. But there was fast driving, and screeching turns and the wind in our hair. It was so much fun! And it was in amazing, bright, technicolor with sound effects. (ZAP! WHAMM!).

I had the dream often and then gradually less and less. I remember I had it one time as a young teen and it was like a visit from an old friend. I am sure it is still in my brain somewhere, but I have not had that dream for a long, long, time.

In one way, it spilled over into real life. My mom would take my sister and me (my brother was not yet born) and our neighbors Emma, Terri and her brother Doug, and we would all pack up and go off to Fort Worth down I-30, which was the Turnpike at that time, so we had to stop and pay the toll, and we would go to lunch, or to feed the ducks, or something Fort Worth had that Arlington didn’t have in the 70s. Me, Susan, Terri and Doug would pile into the backseat of whichever car we were in that day. We didn’t mess with seat belts back then y’all. It’s just how it was. Now Susan and Terri might remember this differently, but what I am about to share with you comes from the depths of my memory as I recall it.

Going down the highway together in the backseat, we had so dang much fun. We would all get on our knees and look out the back window and try to get truck drivers to honk at us (they would) or count cars, or whatever game we devised. I remember we had this game that I recall as being basically “Get up here good guy, stay back there bad guy.” In this game, we would profile a vehicle based on if we liked it or not. All four of us usually agreed immediately by some weird kid magic, and then collectively we would scream at the cars (whose occupants could in no way hear us) stay back STAY BACK!! Or, Come On, COME ON!!! I am pretty sure we thought that by yelling and motioning like small maniacs we could control the traffic on the turnpike. When the cars did as we commanded, we celebrated.

In my mind in some way that makes sense to a child, this game was connected to my Batman dream and I loved it.

It was FUN.

I have wondered as an adult about that dream and the meaning behind it. Aside from a few tragic events, my childhood was filled with love, care and a lot of fun. I still have fun as a grown-up, but the quality has changed right, as it does.

Well, a couple of years ago, I began to have another recurring dream- only the second time this has ever happened to me. In this dream, I am riding a train that looks kind of like one of those trams you catch at Disneyworld. It is open on the sides and you stand or sit in a way that would be very dangerous for a non dream train. The train is always the same, but it is in different parts of the world. Once I was riding it in France with my husband. That time it was night. Other times it is daytime and I am riding with another family member or friend in an undefined place. What always stays the same is that we have to run to catch the train, that I am with someone I love, and that it is understood we are going somewhere fun. Even if I don’t know the destination, I know it is something really great.

I had the train dream last night. I was with my friends Jane, Courtney and Kathy and we ran to jump on board. We were talking and laughing and having a great time and then- we GOT TO WHERE WE WERE GOING!

That never happened before.

We were at a little market and we shopped. We bought pizza and my friend Jane found these cool carved wooden trays. She asked, “How many should I buy?” and I said, “What are you going to use them for?” and Jane said, “I don’t know, but my dad had some like this and I just want them.” It was totally a conversation we would have in real life. It was just this wonderful sense of belonging and community, and of course fun.

Well, I keep thinking about that dream, both of them- the Batmobile and the train- today. I think maybe they speak to the importance of having fun in our lives, on the journey. Even when something bad is chasing you, even when you are not driving, and you don’t know where you are going. Even if you have to, I don’t know, wear a face mask on the journey because there’s a pesky pandemic to deal with, even then, it is important to have fun.

And not to worry about where we are going to end up. That is taken care of friends. (Holy eternity, Batman!)

That is all I really have.

Life isn’t always fun. It can be difficult, scary and challenging at times. My world of education is really challenging always, but right now educators are working harder than ever. There is uncertainty and stress. And I am thinking that at times like this, that while we are going to continue to work hard to meet the challenges before us, we need to remember to pause and also have some fun. Even if sometimes it feels like the wheels have come off the Batmobile. It is going to be okay. I know it.

ZOWIE!!

Happy Friday.
Peace.

The Gift of Uncertainty

In 1927 a German physicist named Werner Heisenberg came up with this theory that it is not possible to measure both the position and velocity of an object exactly at the same time. I came across this in my coursework this week and naturally I understood it immediately. I don’t really have time to explain all the specifics just now, but look, it’s physics okay. Just trust me.

So anyway, what really spoke to me about this theory is what Heisenberg named it. It is called The Uncertainty Principle.

How great is that?

It makes sense really that you can’t measure both things- location and velocity- at once. It seems possible, like if we are looking at a car driving down the street, to say both where it is and how fast it is going, but that is only because as far as the relative speed of all things in the universe, the car is going rather slowly.
The name is what caught my attention though. Because mostly I think I live by the uncertainty principle -in a metaphorical way of course.

Take today. Work for the week was wrapping up and I had sent my son to the store and was hanging out with Z for a bit. She had this latex glove that the dentist gave her and she swiped it across her face. I took it away, but almost immediately she started having an allergic reaction. Her eyes swelled. Her ears. She broke out in hives. We rushed to the doc…

She is fine, but it just shows how uncertain life is. You think you know how something is going to go and then, you don’t.

And it made me think- the world feels so uncertain right now.

One of the things contributing to that feeling is the systemic racism that Black people are dealing with, still in 2020.

Now, I don’t want to make this about me, because it isn’t, but this is my blog, so I am sharing a perspective I am working through. I am committed to learning about and exploring hidden bias and being an anti-racist. I am. But, I also have guilt because I am living this chaotic, busy life where I work, and write, and then am pursuing my doctorate, and you know, trying to keep some laundry done and food in the house and then sometimes rushing to the doctor because the grand swipes a glove across her beautiful, precious little face and has to go to urgent care.

I feel like I am not doing enough.

I am absolutely outraged at the treatment of my Black friends. I am angry about the news stories. About Breonna. George. All of them, precious people, gone. And I feel I am not doing enough… saying enough …protesting enough.

So, here’s what I did; I talked to God about it. And He reminded me of the gift of uncertainty.

You see, I think, being uncertain makes you aware in a way you are not when you think you know what is going to happen.

I think, being an anti-racist isn’t always something you do, it is something you become. It is a way to be. And even when, maybe especially when, things are uncertain, you stay aware and you speak up when you see racism. You respond to it. Call it out. Proclaim that it is not okay. And you can’t always plan that. You don’t always expect it.

It is uncertain.

And it is an opportunity. It is a gift, this chance to speak up on behalf of your fellow man.

Tonight I am embracing the gift of uncertainty, and thanking God for his goodness.

Happy Friday.

Wear your mask dadgummit.

Life is a Fitted Sheet

Life is a fitted sheet.

This morning I got up and put the coffee on. There was a basket of laundry waiting to be folded so I did that while I waited for caffeine. In the basket was a king sized fitted sheet.


Which I folded.
Before coffee.

Now, I don’t know if you have seen all the how to videos online about how to fold a fitted sheet, but I don’t need those because my mom taught me how to do it. The thing is, it isn’t that hard. You start with the more difficult part- the corners- and fold them together and then at the end of the process, you tuck that corner part in as you finish folding so those edges (that are pretty smooth, but not really smooth because of the elastic and gathers) are in the middle of the rest of the sheet so that part doesn’t show.

Fitted sheets are so great when you are using them right? They stay on the mattress and you don’t have to worry too much about them. They do their job and help make sleep pleasant.

It is just when you try to fit them into a certain expected shape that there is some disappointment.

If that isn’t life well I don’t know what is.

Life is great when we are living it, but when we try to cram it into a set of expectations, we get disappointment, ugliness and tears. We forget that the messiness and chaos is a beautiful part of the journey.

We compare ourselves to others.

And by the way, if you are comparing yourself to me unfavorably because I successfully folded a fitted sheet at 6 am BEFORE coffee, know this: I also just had cold, leftover pasta from a pink, plastic unicorn bowl for breakfast, and I forgot to grab a fork so I ate it with my fingers. It was ziti so… as far as pasta goes, it’s a pretty good finger food, but still…

Also I shared with my dog because his food bowl is empty again and I didn’t want to get up immediately and fill it and he was giving me that look.

Life is full of successes and failures.

Yesterday a colleague and I were working out details for a task that had several steps. We were clarifying the process and when I thought I had it, I sent out a group email to about a thousand people (10. It was 10 people but you know, it seemed like a thousand) and then I realized there was another step that needed to be done. So I had to email all thousand folks back and explain why the link I sent them didn’t work and that they would get the correct one shortly and then I needed to go find the right links for each person and send those out. It was a 15 minute fix, but I was a little irritated with myself for not catching it. (Because I like people to always think I am a person with perfectly folded sheets right?) So while I was doing that, my colleague called to tell me this information. She realized my missed step and was kind enough to let me know. I just told her I had already messed that up and was fixing it and we had a laugh together.

(I might have put it a bit more colorfully than that on the phone. I can't really remember...)

Anyway.

Even if you know how to fold a fitted sheet, sometimes it turns out better than other times. And no matter how well you do, you still tuck in the messy part. AND even if you don’t fold it AT ALL it will still serve its purpose just fine.

So might as well laugh.

Relax.

Breathe.

Get yourself some breakfast.

...Probably not leftover pasta in a pink plastic unicorn bowl, but whatever.

And coffee.

Time for more of that.

Happy Saturday.

Spread love not germs.

Duck.

Please note: This is a blog about ducks. It is not a typo for a bad word. It is actually about ducks.

Well.

Kinda.

Last year I was at the great State Fair of Texas with my son and as we were walking through one of the buildings there was a booth with Jacuzzis set up. In one of them there was a giant, and I mean GI-ANT, rubber duck. This thing was maybe three feet tall. We stopped to take a picture and the salesman approached us and asked, “Would you rather be attacked by one giant duck, or an army of little tiny ducks?”

It’s an interesting way to start a sales pitch. I’ll give him that.

Anyway.

My son opted for the little ducks, but I immediately chose one giant duck as my opponent.

Then both of them looked at me like I was crazy and the salesman, with an incredulous tone, said, “WHY??!!”

So, I said, “I have four kids.”

He still didn’t get it. So, I explained some more.

You see, with one big duck, you can keep and eye on it. You only gotta keep track of the one, and maybe he can’t move that fast either. But with a whole buncha little ducks, they are coming at ya from all sides. They can zip around and make it hard to get a bead on. Like when my kids were little, and they were all going different directions and needed things all at once. It was hard to keep up!

Nope. Give me one big duck.

What I didn’t tell the salesman that day was that I had some actual experience with nearly being pecked TO DEATH by a herd of ducks.

Flock.

Whatever.

See when I was a kid in Fort Worth, we would go down near the old Montgomery Ward Building and feed the ducks. Sometimes our friends Teris and Doug went. Mom would take bread and dole it out to us to toss little pieces to the ducks. Well this one time, Mom handed me the bag of bread for some reason and the ducks like, came for me. They surrounded me and grabbed at the bag of bread as I stood there frozen until my mom grabbed it and threw it away. It was traumatic.

I mean.

I didn’t ACTUALLY nearly die.

In fact, I wasn’t hurt at all… but the feeling I had when all those ducks surrounded me and just closed in was very unsettling.

There was a LOT of quacking okay?

So yeah. One duck please.

But that is not the year we are having is it? If there is one thing this year reminds me of it’s a herd of bread-crazed ducks that Just. Keep. Coming. Am I right?

And what are we to do with that?

I mean. Here’s the thing: this is what we have. We are going through a lot, I get it. I’m not trying to pretend things are not challenging, but I do believe life is good and it is a great gift. There are lessons, and blessings everywhere you look. My daughter married her wonderful husband this year. My friend had a precious baby boy and other friends became grandparents. We have learned how to do things in different ways. For some, faith has been dusted off and nurtured until it grew larger than before. Others have stood at the front of the danger to help their fellow man.

Yes. We have seen a lot of ugliness too. I am reminded at these times that this world is not my home. I have always just been passing through. I will not pretend to tell you I understand why all these things are happening this year, but I will tell you without a doubt that God is good all the time.

And all the time, God is good. (Too many church camps as a kid not to finish it…)

Here is what I’ve got- when my grandfather died many years ago, after his funeral I was having a moment- one of those just crushing times when all the waves come at you- and my uncle came up and hugged me and he said- I will never forget- “It is not okay right now, but it will be.”

Friends, it will be okay. Hang in there. Trust. Pray. And maybe, just maybe, sometimes…

duck.

Happy Thursday.

Happy Bday Z.

Chairs

Last year my best friend Kathy was undergoing chemotherapy for Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer. I have written about her battle and her courage before. I had the privilege to sit with her during some of her treatments. Sometimes there were not many patients and I would sit beside her in one of the infusion chairs. They are pretty comfy, as they should be. They recline and lean back. They have a little tray table and they are, you know, like a nice leather chair. So, if there was space, I would sit in one next to her or across from her and we would talk.

If the cancer center was busy though, sometimes all of those comfortable chairs were filled with patients. On those days, one of the nurses would bring over a guest chair for me to use. These were not as comfortable. In fact, they were downright uncomfortable to me. My back would usually hurt after sitting in one of those chairs, especially if it was one of K’s long treatment days when we were there for several hours.

Here’s the thing: I never told K that those chairs were uncomfortable.

And why do you think I never mentioned it?

Right.

Of course, you know why.

I didn’t mention it because in comparison to my friend’s battle with CANCER, it didn’t matter!

I mean, sure, I felt it. It was real to me. I would come home and take some Advil and maybe lie down for a bit. Maybe take a hot shower, whatever. I didn’t have to ignore it to myself-- but it wasn’t something I wanted to put on her.

Now that she has kicked cancer’s butt, and some time has passed, and because we are really close friends, I felt I was able to mention it without making her feel bad. If we were not very good friends, I probably never would have mentioned it. And, well, I probably would not have been there in the first place, but anyway.

This week has been uncomfortable for me a few times connected to the current racial tensions in our country.

And, I am not going to talk about it beyond that because… chairs, right?

For me, all this is, is an uncomfortable chair. Compared to what my Black friends have shared that they are dealing with, it is not worth mentioning.

So, I will just leave you with this thought: Am I sorry I sat in those uncomfortable chairs in the infusion room? No. Not one bit. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat (though I pray I never have to.)

And, actually, one more thing.

I have to say that some of the first voices I heard among my friends speaking out about the wrongness of what is happening to Black people right now, were the voices of my friends who are gay. In reflecting on that, I figure they have an idea about what it feels like to be marginalized. I have witnessed this past week how they have used their voices to speak up in love for their fellow human beings.

Like Jesus did.

May we all do our best to show love to each other.

Because after all, Love is Love is Love.

Love to you all.