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.

Triage

Triage.

It is a medical term that means the assigning degrees of urgency to injuries or sickness. It is typically done in an emergency room or other medical setting to decide the order of treatment for patients. So, if you go into the hospital and you have a broken toe, you are going to wait until the person having a heart attack is taken care of.

Everyone who is sick matters. But we have to take care of the seriously ill first.

Prayer.

This is a thing you do if you are a praying person. You do it for everyone you know and don’t know. You pray about all kinds of things. You pray for your friends. You pray all the time. But if you have a friend who is struggling with something big- a deep sadness or a cancer for example, you find yourself interceding for them at an increased rate of frequency and intensity. Urgency causes things to rise to the top of the prayer list.

Everyone needs prayer. But the people hurting the most, get prayed over first.

Sometimes we have to take our turn.

That’s all. It doesn’t mean no one cares about a broken toe or a bad day that could use a prayer.

Okay that’s not all. I only shared two examples and we all know things like this come in threes.

So here we go:

Black Lives Matter.

This is a movement that some people have a hard time with because all lives matter. They really do. I believe all lives matter. But, saying that black lives matter doesn’t negate the other statement. You can believe both things. And I do not mean to come off here as an expert. I have much to learn. I am learning about privilege. I am learning new terms like BIPOC. I am learning how to go about educating myself... (not leaning on my Black friends who are hurting. Imagine- if you had suffered some tragedy- maybe a miscarriage, and the response from your friends was either nothing- a loud and lonely silence from people you believed cared for you, or something like- hey, so I have never had a miscarriage. Tell me what it’s like so I can understand.” No. We wouldn’t do that!)

The reason we need to understand that Black lives matter (those are just words- try to get past them if they make you feel excluded as a White person- think about the concept) is because Black lives right now are in more danger. They are in need of immediate care.

We all are. But this is a priority. In other words-

Everyone’s life matters, but Black lives are in peril right now and need immediate attention.

White friends, we have a part in this like it or not. Saying we "don't see color" (I've said it before- I know better now) ignores a part of our Black friends' lives. Why in the world would we not see color? Color is beautiful! And yes, I know when people say that, they mean well. Sometimes words hurt even when we don't mean for them to. So when we know better, we do better.

Does me blogging and posting about it matter? Yes. Not enough. I am committed to doing more. But I do think it makes a difference and here is why:

In 2016 there was a mass shooting at a nightclub in Florida. Pulse, the club, was a place where most of the clients were gay. At that time, heartbroken about the loss of life (yes- people were dying in other places and other ways, but this was at the top of the prayer list) I posted a message about how I loved and cared for my friends who are gay, how I was sorry for the pain (that I felt too- but not in the same way) and how I stand with them and their rights to BE WHO THEY ARE.

It is crazy a person needs permission to be who they are…who God made them to be…

Anyway.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I put that post out there and felt that it certainly was not ‘enough’ but I could not be silent. A few hours went by. Then I got a text from a dear friend who is gay. She told me something like (I will paraphrase- she can correct my memory if she wants) “I was scrolling FB just feeling gutted and there was nothing posted. Yours was the first post I came to addressing the pain I was feeling and I just lost it. I just wanted to thank you for not staying silent.”

So, I will post for what it is worth, but also continue to search for more that I can do. And I know I am not alone; many people feel the way I do. Chances are good if you are reading this, that you are one of those people. And you are not alone if you are hurting in any way. I care, but there is someone who can help with the pain so much better than I can, and I would love to introduce you if you do not know my friend Jesus.

And now that is all.

Happy Monday. Love each other.

Wellabye

Wellabye

The Bible says the meek shall inherit the earth.
I once read a theory that said that meek meant small.

The small shall inherit the earth.

Viruses are small.
We got plenty of that really affecting the earth right now.

Here’s the thing:

I have learned that in a pandemic I stress myself out sometimes.

Okay. I do it not in a pandemic too.

Today for instance I have two essays due and I woke up thinking about them.
Before I even got out of bed, I had this list of things to do in my head:

Proof and upload essays
Check Discussion Boards and respond
Read and edit one of my current projects
Work on a Canvas course for my day job
Write a chapter or two in my newest book
Cook some fresh veggies for my family
Try that new recipe I have been thinking about
Get my closet organized
Figure out what is wrong with the sound on my computer
And. So. On.

I do this almost every morning.

Yesterday, last week, this whole season of being home and completing things is, difficult right? I am not saying it is wrong to be home, or that it is the same as being, oh say a healthcare worker (and by the way THANK YOU HEALTHCARE WORKERS!!) right now, but it is not easy.

When I have seventeen interruptions to my to do list before 7:00 am I get crabby. It feels like I am never going to accomplish what I need to do.

So, let me tell you a story about something seemingly unrelated for a minute.

Last night I put Z down to sleep, tucked her in, hugs and kisses. The whole routine. And I came back out to my computer to get some stuff done. A few minutes later Z was calling for me from the other room. I sighed and pushed back my chair and went in. She is a master at finding things she needs to do instead of sleep, so I was prepared for a battle.

Instead this happened:

Z: You forgot to sing me a wellabye.
Me: A wellabye?
Z: Yes. I can’t POSSIBLY go to sleep without a wellabye
(She can be a little dramatic…)
Me: Do you mean a lullabye?
Z: No. A wellabye please.
So, I did. I went over and cuddled and sang her a little made up song that was soft and soothing.
Z: What was that song?
Me: Just a wellabye I made up for you.
Z: Okay. I love you.

So. That was sweet. And you know what? It was one of the best moments of my day and it was not on the list when I woke up yesterday.

I had no idea I was going to make up a wellabye.
Or learn a new made up word, i.e. wellabye.
I had not thought of it at all and it was one of the sweetest blessings the day brought.

Today, I still got up making the ‘list’ in my head.

You see, being ‘productive’ is a type of coping mechanism for me. It makes me feel like I have some sort of control over the events of my life, which of course is mostly illusion.

Crossing items off of a list gives me a feeling of satisfaction. I don’t feel like I am wasting time. And… I don’t think about how I feel too much. Sometimes being productive is a way to avoid things I cannot or do not want to deal with. So, if someone else’s productivity stresses you out, maybe consider that and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

And it isn’t all bad. I do get some things done.

But, today, again, I am not getting the things done.

I am blogging and having a conversation with Z who is really irritated with me that I will not tie myself into a bow.

Like, physically in a bow. Not metaphorically.

I do not know where this came from.

She does not care that I am unable to tie myself in a bow.

In her mind I have betrayed her in some way because on this rainy Saturday morning in May 2020, I refuse to tie myself into a bow for her.

Maybe meek does not mean small like a virus, but small like a three-year-old.

Well whatever. I’m sure God in his Heaven has a plan. He just hasn’t shared it with me. I imagine my daily lists must make him smile and then he sends in Z to confound my plans.

But, then He also sends me a wellabye moment now and then.

It all works out.

Happy Saturday All.

May you stay warm, dry, and safe and do what you really need to do, and not what you think you need to do.

Wellabye.

Wash Your Hands, Say Your Prayers

When I was a classroom teacher, my favorite, favorite thing to teach was writing. My students chose their own topics to write about and we had one to one writer conferences, which were just these great conversations about their writing pieces and where they were going with it next.

Every student had different topics, different skills as a writer, and they were all working through the process of writing… through the stages of planning, drafting, editing and revising and then publishing, at different rates. Some of them had longer pieces. Some wanted to publish more pieces. Sometimes a writer would struggle with what to write about. Sometimes the writing would flow. Some writers would get right down to the business of planning and drafting, and others had to marinate with their thoughts a bit first. But, every writer in the class was working through the process at their own pace.

Sort of like life right now.

People are approaching this current situation we are all dealing with in different ways, and not everyone has entered into it at the same time, with the same thoughts and feelings, or the same levels of understanding or experience. Not everyone has the same resources. We don’t all process problems the same.

Some people are scared, and when you act out of fear, you know, maybe you buy a little more toilet paper than you actually need. It just happens. We want to care for those we love and when you feel powerless, sometimes small acts like stocking up can help you feel like you are doing something positive.

If you think about it, all these qualities-- being different, processing problems in our own way, and wanting to care for others, are part of what makes us human and interesting and creative and unique and beautiful.

We are right now smack in the middle of a pandemic, and there seems to be a lot of judging going on. Now, please understand, I am not talking about people buying up things we all need and trying to make money selling them. I am talking about people who are dealing with a crisis (whether you think it is or not, it is real to the person who feels that way). When people are working through a crisis my friends, well, they do the very best they can. Some people feel panic. And if we are not in that space, then I firmly believe that our job is to extend GRACE and help people know it will be okay.

I have posts from friends on my timeline who have- well these friends have radically different viewpoints about the virus. There is some panic I would say. And here’s the thing, it DOES NOT HELP for me to tell that person not to panic. It does not help to tell a person who is afraid that they are silly for feeling afraid. It just doesn’t help in general to tell human beings HOW TO FEEL. We are not wired that way.

Ever been spittin’ mad and your spouse tells you “just calm down?”

Yeah.

It doesn’t work. A different part of the brain is in control during panic.

Sometimes the best we can do for someone is share our calm.

Maybe we will even take turns panicking at some point and then we will need someone to tell us it is okay. I do completely believe that God’s got this. But I also think we are supposed to participate in this as best we can, you know proactively.

I remember an old joke about a person trapped on their roof during a flood. They prayed out to God to save them and soon a boat came by and offered to rescue them. The person replied, “No thanks. God is going to save me.” Later a helicopter arrived. The person waved them off, confident that God would save them. When the water was about to cover the house, someone in a canoe paddled up and the person still refused to get in the boat, saying God was going to save them. As the flood waters began to rise even more, the person finally cried out in despair, “God! I prayed to you! Why didn’t you save me!?” And from the Heavens God answered, “I TRIED! I sent you a boat, a helicopter AND a canoe! What more do you want?”

Maybe what we need to do right now, is try to be a canoe for our fellow humans. The ones who we think aren’t aware or concerned enough, the ones who we think are being greedy, the ones who we think are being dramatic, the ones who tell us that we are wrong and hurt our feelings. Yes. Even those people. Because I know this for sure: we are all messing up somehow. I know this because none of us are perfect. Not one of us. I’m sure not. Hell, I haven’t even drawn my eyebrows on for a week, so don’t get to thinking I think I have it all figured out.

I guess all I am saying is, we are all writing our own stories and doing the best we can. Let’s help each other.

And if you have fallen in and are panicking, maybe just get in the canoe when it comes by, because it WILL come by. But before you get out of the water, you know, go ahead and wash your hands.

May you find peace, laughter and beauty in these moments. Even in these moments.
Happy Sunday.

Counting Breaths

Counting Breaths.

Okay.

I can do this.

It hurts but I can do it.

The thing is, last year at about this time I was counting my dad’s breaths. He was taking 26 rapid breaths with a pause in between. Every time he got to that pause, I thought that was it. And then he would start breathing again. I didn’t know it at the time, but this type of breathing is something called Cheyne-Stokes breathing. Dad started it as soon as the ventilator was removed. At some point I realized I was counting. (Teachers take data I guess.)

It had been a full week of hoping, praying, holding his hand.

And if I am honest, me being kind of a brat some of the time.

I was mad y’all.

I was mad at my sister, because I was going to have to come home and she was going to stay.

I was mad at my step-mom for something dumb. I can’t even remember.

I was mad at the hospital staff because I could hear Dad’s stomach growling and they were not going to feed him.

And I was mad at God.

I was really mad at God.

At one point I ran into the chapel there at the hospital- a place I had come to know well- and yelled at Him. Why did it have to be this way? This torture of 26 breaths and a 7 second pause over and over?

Why?

I realized two things. One, the devil is always looking for an opportunity to drive us away from God. To sow discontent and bad feelings. I let myself get angry at two people who loved Dad as much as me. And I let myself get mad at God who loves Dad even more than I do.

And Two- I realized God doesn’t get too worked up if we get mad at Him. As my cousin David told me with a shrug when I guiltily told him what I had done, “He can take it."

Actually, there are three things: I realized. I realized that people can find forgiveness when you wouldn’t expect it. You can be given grace. And that is a beautiful thing.

I remember confessing to my sister at one point that I was jealous of her, and she replied deadpan “I know. It’s not the first time.”

Ha!

And I remember then being so grateful for laughter through tears.

At the last minute, I decided to stay at the hospital (that last night before I had to come home) with my sister, and then my brother decided to join us and the four of us, me Susan, Steven and Barb, stayed there with Dad until the early hours of the morning when he left us. We all stood at his bed when he went to heaven. We prayed. We cried. Then we sat with him and told stories until they came to take his body away and then we just…got in our cars and drove home.

It was surreal really.

And in a bit, I will go to sleep and when I wake up, a year will have passed. A whole year.

How is that possible?

I got my ham radio license. Started working on my doctorate. Kelly got married. Zoe got taller. I did my income taxes. All these things happened and we just. Kept living.

It’s weird.

But it is also the way Dad would want it.

I’m so thankful I know where Dad is and I have an assurance of seeing him again. I miss him every day. There are more tears than usual tonight but that is okay. Grief really is the price we pay for love.

It hurts a lot, but it is so worth it.

Love you Dad. I’ll see you again.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Thursday.

Peace and Love to you.

Topiaries

Often when I write a blog after having a break from blogging, inspiration strikes again quickly. Such is the case today so I’m back!

I needed to come back to talk about topiaries.

That’s right.

Topiaries.

You know those little decorative shaped trees or shrubs?

You can go google it if you want. That’s the cool thing about the written word- it just sits there and waits for you, not even making noise while you go look something up, or… refill your glass, you know- whatevs.

Anyway, perhaps you are aware that these topiaries come in small, artificial versions that can look cute on a table, maybe for entertaining, maybe with a ribbon garland strung between two of them, or perhaps with twinkle lights on them for the holidays.

It is possible I have run across a pic or two of cute topiaries while I accidentally was on Pinterest.

For whatever reason, I have wanted, and I mean WANTED some topiaries for a good while.

I have spent way too much time thinking about topiaries and looking at topiaries in stores and even doing some online topiary browsing.

By the way, just this moment I have realized that topiaries seems to be one of those words that just gets funnier the more you use it. Am I right!?

So anyway, I have been wanting some, but I just never would spend any money on them. They seemed frivolous. I almost bought a pair for about $15 a few months ago, but I couldn’t even make myself spend that small amount on something so unnecessary.

I really wanted topiaries in my life, but I did not need them.

And before I go any farther at all, I need to be very clear on something here: at NO POINT did I ever pray to God in Heaven for topiaries, okay?

I believe in prayer and I believe God hears us and cares about even small things- but I was never moved to ask the Creator of the Universe to give me small ornamental shrubs. No judgement if you are, I just wasn’t.

Alright so today I was delivering some forms to some of the schools I support and one of the elementary schools takes me through a pretty little neighborhood on the way. I dropped off the papers and headed back out of the neighborhood and out of the corner of my eye I saw a trash bag sitting on a curb with two big grapevine balls sticking out of it. I slowed to a stop. Could it be?!?! Was someone actually THROWING AWAY TOPIARIES???

I put the car in reverse thinking that probably that wasn’t what it was. Probably I just had topiaries on the brain.

I reversed back to the bag.

IT WAS TOPIARIES! To be specific, it was two of the prettiest grapevine topiaries in perfect terra cotta pots, SITTING THERE IN THE TRASH obviously waiting-
For. Me.

Well, I hopped out of the car and rescued those suckers from the trash truck. They need a little moss stuck back in the pots, but they are so great! And, honestly, they are way better than anything I was considering buying.

I brought them home and put them on the back porch and there they sit. My topiaries. I HAVE TOPIARIES! I am a topiary OWNER!!

It’s funny. I have chuckled at it all day.

But, also…

I do think God had a hand in those being there though. I really do.

Why? Because, the God of the Universe knows our hearts. And He is our FRIEND and like a friend will sometimes cheer you up with an unexpected, unrequested, unneeded nice thing, like a coffee, or some pretty flowers, God also cares about us even when we do not ask for things. He cares for us like a friend, but, you know, better, because, GOD.

I know God always cares and I know He is always there. That doesn’t mean I never feel sad. Sometimes I can really use a little pick-me-up and today was one of those days. I was okay, you know, just thinking a lot about my dad and then all the stuff I need to get done and I was driving around alone in my car most of the day and I was SIGHING a LOT and then, BAM.

Topiaries.

I choose to believe that’s God.
And that’s pretty cool.
Happy Friday Friends.
Peace and Love.
And Topiaries.