Tater Tots on Tuesday

Anyone who’s lived in the Midwest knows how brutal the winters can be. Dad’s doctor started recommending he spend the cold months in Tucson with my sister. This is the second winter he’s gone and the trip was hard on him.

There are other things to consider besides cold weather and I was relieved when I heard he’d be coming home a week early. Two weeks ago, when I found out that he was in the hospital after his legs had given way and he’d fallen, I was afraid he wouldn’t make it home. I picked him up at Mitchell Field last Friday and the first thing he told me was how pleased he was with the airport wheelchair service. He thought he’d be able to travel anywhere in the world.

It’s good to have him back in his condo—just three blocks from my office and three miles from where my husband and I live. And it was special to be together again this past Sunday with Dad.

Today, when I was making his lunch, he was crushing his pills and said, “There will be no pills in heaven!”

“Or grief or anger,” I added as I put extra butter on the bread for his sandwich. He’s down to 130 pounds.

“I really don’t have any anger,” he said after a  moment’s thought. “When the Lord is ready to take me, I am ready to go.”

“What about patience?” I asked and he smiled. “You might want to focus on that or you’ll have to stick around until you get it right.” I smiled.

“You know, I’ve lost twenty pounds since my surgery in 2007.”

“You’ve also lost four inches of height, Dad.  You don’t need the weight.”

“Oh, right. I forgot about that. You always make me feel better.”

(No, Dad, you always make me feel better.)

I had called him on my way to work after a meeting this morning. He told me his congestion was back and had let his doctor know but they hadn’t yet called him back. “Are you taking your Mucinex?” I asked him.

“No, I stopped that.”

“Why?”

“Because I had put myself on it and then I took myself off it.”

“Well, put yourself back on it.”

“Can I talk to my doctor first?”

“Sure, if they call you back. If they don’t, take it.” He chuckled.

“Well…I left it in Tucson.

“I’ll pick some up.” Walgreen’s didn’t have any on the shelf so I went to CVS and picked up two bottles. I was leaving the store when I saw his text asking me if I could pick up his Warfarin prescription and turned around to head back to the pharmacy.

I get immense joy out of solving the little challenges my Dad faces these days. There is always an answer if you take the time to look—even if it might be that you’ve only found some distraction from the fact that you are facing your parent’s mortality. As with my mom, I try not to think about losing him.  He is full of life, in spite of the fact that he weighs 130 pounds, has no appetite, hobbles and coughs. He’s a fighter, a soldier, and carries around a copy of “Onward Christian Soldier” with him in his briefcase.

I love him.

Tonight after work I went by and made a Tater Tot casserole like my mom used to make for our family because he likes it. I made enough for our family because that’s the way Mom made it though it was just the two of us. I lit candles and he said the prayer. When we had finished and the dishes were done, the leftovers put away, he worked his way over to his chir with his new walking stick, slowly lowered himself into it and told me to sit down. “I have something serious to say to you.” I took a seat on the couch beside him. “I know I am getting weaker and won’t be able to stay here in the condo much longer.”

“Oh, I’ve thought about that, Dad. I think we can find someone to come in and help out a little more. They could prepare all your meals and just watch over things.”

“Well, I hadn’t thought of that.”

“One day at a time, Dad.”

“Okay. You always make me feel better.”

No, Dad, you always make me feel better.

My Baby’s Getting Married

We turned into a long drive with pasture on either side of us. A horse stood with her foul in the distance on one side of the road. A mother protecting her child, I thought to myself as the gravel spit out from under the back tires. Lush green grass and trees spread all around us.

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We passed a stately old farmhouse before veering right to be met by a romping Golden Retriever. Jackson, my son’s dog. Charlie’s home is on a horse farm in the rolling foothills of the Virginia Mountains.

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The front door was open giving it the feel of freedom. He walked through it then. I smiled. Thirty-one years ago he was born five pounds, six ounces. He stood there—six feet, three inches, about 195 pounds—and would be married in three days.

The breeze blew through the soft white curtains in the kitchen.

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The table was set with a small potted rose in the center—simplicity—a flower that would continue to bloom for as long as it was cared for. Like a marriage.

Charlie was making dinner. He walked out the back door to cut some fresh herbs from the pots that sat on the deck. Nothing artificial. Like him.

His artwork hung on the walls around us and this meal was being approached just like his art—a careful blend and balance of mediums, textures and colors. This was an artist’s home.

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As he stood on releve′ to reach for some spices, my mind flashed back to all the dance classes he had waited for me to finish.

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All the stage wings he had hung out in with stage managers. So much hadn’t gone according to plan. I didn’t give my child the life I had hoped I would. Can a mother’s love make up for all her mistakes?

Jackson led me out the door as Todd and Charlie talked. This was a setting not unlike the places Charlie had lived as a little boy. His father loved the Blueridge Mountains and took me there not long after we were married. That’s where Charlie was born.

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Jackson led me down the road, past the farmhouse that was semi abandoned now, and over to the horse and her foal. She let me feed her grass and pet her little one.

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Jackson did a couple laps around the farmhouse before we worked our way back.

“Did you see the flowers, Mom?” Charlie asked as I walked up the steps of the deck. White and purple irises had suddenly popped up days earlier. I had painted irises when I was pregnant with him. He had sat in a stroller beside me at a street fair as his father sold hotdogs with my paintings on display around us. We had made our grocery money that day.

“Yes, they’re beautiful,” was all I could manage to say as his bride to be drove up. White irises for Lauren I thought.

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The dusk light gave the setting a hue of lavender light. Lauren walked around the corner with a glass of wine and we clinked our glasses. “You have given me the best gift, loving my son,” I said hugging her. I gave her a kiss on the side of her head.

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“I’m marrying my best friend,” she responded with her smile.

“I married mine too,” I said.

We joined Todd and Charlie in the back yard. Todd was throwing the basketball for Jackson.

“So when are you going to have a baby?!” Todd chortled.

“Ha!” Charlie and Lauren both laughed. “We think it will be great when the time is right.”

“When the time is right?” I asked. “That doesn’t usually happen.”

“You didn’t want to have a baby when you had me, did you Mom?”

“Oh, I couldn’t wait to have a baby!” (Your dad and I had been hired by Steamboat Springs Repertory in Colorado. We had spent years in NYC and the mountain air did something to me. Suddenly I found myself picking up magazines with pictures of babies on the cover. All I could think about was having a baby. Towards the end of the season I was stopping at Wendy’s for Frosties on my way to and from rehearsal. I thought my costumes were tight because of the ice cream…you are right though, we hadn’t planned you. Get my point? Oh beloved child of mine.)

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My sketch of Charlie

We ate our salads on the deck as a light rain fell—the tomatoes tasting earthy and rich against the spicy Thai peanut dressing—then sat down at the table. Charlie presented plates of Mahi-Mahi—marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper—served with roasted asparagus and rice, slow simmered in a mushroom broth with herbs.

“Why can’t you make asparagus like this?” Todd asked. “I would eat it.”

My son is a chef.

The next day, Lauren drove to DC to pick up a friend. We took Charlie for a beard trim. We ate a late lunch—Charlie and I splitting guacamole and chips, crab cake bruschetta and a roasted veggie sandwich. Afterwards, we drove back to the farm and walked together to see more of the farm’s horses.

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We were in the car ready to leave for the night. “I miss Charlie,” I said before Todd had even started the engine.

“Well, go say good night again.”

My chest was tight, my throat thick, my eyes burned back tears as I jumped out of the car. “Charlie?” He met me at the walk.

“Mom?”

“I love you, sweetie. I’m so proud of you.” I held him in my arms then, all six feet, three inches of him and kissed the side of his head. I couldn’t let go of him as I thought how he had received the gift of my prayers—a wife to love and be loved by.

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Setting the Stage

A sliver of morning light appeared above the roof of the house across the street. I leaned forward in my chair, separated the filmy white curtains and squinting against the brilliance, watched the sun come up. I finished the last of my coffee, closed the books in my lap, stood up and stretched.

High above in the heavens, I wondered if the sun, in all its glory, is but a speck of glitter to God.

Absorbed in my thoughts, I had to dress quickly for work. Fortunately, jeans are fine for my job. I grabbed a black jacket, pulled on some boots, then adjusted the shoulder strap of my briefcase and hopped on my bike.

But as I passed the bluff overlooking the lake, I had to stop. I laid my bike on the curb and walked over to look more closely. Something was missing. A hazy white sheet, cascading like a curtain, appeared to have been thrown down from above, concealing the horizon. There was no visible division between water and sky.

What divides us from heaven, I wondered. What if it’s right here, separated only by a veil we can’t see beyond with our human eyes?

Just then, a string of shimmering light appeared on the water. Like glitter. I stood still, thinking of the words from my devotion that morning …. I am with you, I am with you, I am always with you…..
October 30, 2013

I came across this journal entry as I was preparing to write my next story, The Seven Days of Heaven. The day, October 30, was the day proceeding those seven days in Mom’s life in 2011.

Mom and I, as well as all the women in our family, had been reading the same devotion that year—Jesus Calling. It was a gift given to Mom by my sister-in-law, Georgine, after my brother Ed died. Reading it together, connected our hearts.

I didn’t realize at the time, that the book’s entry for October 30 referenced the first scripture Mom had ever memorized. I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:14). It was the scripture her pastor, Reverend Bernwirth, had read to her on the Sunday she had been baptized.

As a brave ten-year-old, when the pastor had asked the congregation if there was anyone who wanted to come forward to be baptized that Sunday, without any cajoling from her Uncle Willard who she sat beside, she rose, and walked down to the water. She would step into it—wearing her best dress—and in front of all those present, surrender her heart to Jesus.

A lot happened on that Sunday before the seven days. I’ve already written about some of it in my post entitled Morning Buns. If you haven’t read it, you might want to as background for my post on Sunday, April 20, The Seven Days of Heaven.

Oh….and just one last thing for today, I can’t help but share what I read from that same little book this morning afterI finished writing……

If I pulled back the curtain to allow you to view heavenly realms, you would understand much more. However, I have designed you to live by faith, not by sight. I lovingly shield you from knowing the future or seeing into the spirit world. Acknowledge My sovereignty by giving thanks in all circumstances. April 16 entry from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Dolores Rahn in her Sunday best

Dolores Rahn circa 1940

Diary of an ADD Shopper

Marriage is an endless stream of compromises—for those of us into conscious coupling, as opposed to those of us who are married and unconscious. Does that make any sense?

Todd and I went shopping for tiles on Saturday afternoon.

You need to understand, my Uncle Gordy tiled our bathrooms over forty years ago. Each tile had been so carefully laid it was a big deal for me to consider having them replaced.

Todd was set on a bathroom upgrade.

We have two bathrooms side by side. It was originally one large bath that Dad converted to suit a family of six when he renovated the house in 1970. The boys and the girls we called them. Todd and I bought the house from my parents when they downsized to a condo in 2004. It’s been a project for Todd to keep up, but I think it’s worth it.

He wanted me to go tile shopping at Menard’s. I wasn’t too excited about that but when he proposed lunch at Colectivo beforehand, and a stop at Banana Republic afterwards, I was up for it.

The parking lot was packed with cars and people—Menard’s is a happening place on Saturdays. And friendly. We were greeted with smiles and welcomes as we entered the monster of a store. I noticed Chocolate Fudge Trail Mix on display and picked it up thinking it would make shopping more fun but remembered we had just had lunch and put it back.

We were headed towards the shower heads aisle when I stopped and admired an array of Swiffles. Don’t ask me why. I never dust. I decided I really wanted a Swiffle ceiling duster with an extended arm to use on the third floor which, as noted above, I have never dusted. Not in the ten years we have owned our house. “You’re an ADD shopper,” Todd said and pulled me along.

Once we picked out the shower head and were finally advancing towards the tile department, I happened upon a lovely display of really large packages of Bounty paper towels. I decided we needed one. “Look! A bounty of Bounty!” I said as I heaved one from the top. It filled our entire cart, leaving no room for the upcoming tiles, but that hadn’t dawned on me yet. Todd kept walking.

I had a white bathroom in mind—white tiles, white towels, white candles. Todd was set on a matte finished light tan which he said better matched the rest of the house.

“That’s too light,” he kept telling me as I pointed to the tiles I liked.

“Oh, look here!” I got excited. “I’ve always wanted a bathroom like this.” Black and white glossy squares.

“We’ll need to get a new house for those.”

“It can be my own little corner. Who’s going to care?”

“The next buyer maybe?” Todd is always practical.

He wanted the new tiles to match up with the ones he had put into the ‘boys’ bathroom last year. He had picked them out and hauled all five hundred pounds of boxes up the stairs himself. Once they were laid there was no turning back but neither one of us was sure about them. Too dark, we thought. Fortunately they lightened up after the grout was added.

A nice young salesman named Marcus helped us figure out quantity as we settled on a tile color. Todd quickly stuffed my Bounty into one of the shelves. I told Marcus I thought Menard’s must be a nice place to work as I retrieved it. He agreed, and shared that he was in his final semester of studying Architectural Technology at MATC. Todd was busy loading boxes into our cart as I stood there with the Bounty. Marcus said he’d get us a flat.

With the Swiffle and Bounty on top of the tiles, we made our way to checkout where I discovered a rack full of dark chocolate covered berries. I couldn’t decide between pomegranate or blueberry so I got both. I opened the blueberries while Todd started checking us out.

This is when he discovered we were two boxes short and left me there with a stern looking man in line behind. I introduced myself to Melba, our cashier, and started handing her our items, bar code up, to speed things along. When Todd hadn’t returned, I paid for two extra boxes of tiles. Melba circled the rebate number on our receipt and directed me to the customer service counter to fill out our 11% mail-in rebate.

It’s good to have a bag of chocolate along for distraction when you’re waiting around with a 6′ x 4′ flat and cart in tow at a crowded Menard’s.

Todd finally appeared, telling me they were out of our tiles. Then just as fast as he had reappeared he disappeared again. “Maybe they have some in the back,” I heard him call back to me.

We should have gone with the black and white squares.

I noticed Melba smiling at me as I tried to stay out of everyone’s way. I smiled back. Todd arrived with the two boxes when Melba was in the middle of a big order. I watched her make sure the cashier next to her knew we had already paid for them.

I was a little nostalgic about leaving Menard’s as I pulled the flat to the car. Goodbye Melba, I thought. Good luck with your new career Marcus.

As I write this story, the Swiffle lays in the hall resting on the floor waiting for someone to put it away.

I’m thinking about opening it up and clicking the extended arm into place after I straighten out my closet this morning. But the sun is out. I might go for a run first….

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Afraid of Balloons

Some people wait for years to replace a beloved pet. Not us.

When we had to put down Pisgah—my fifteen year old Cocker Spaniel—I couldn’t go back  home without her there to greet us. She had been through my first marriage with me. After my divorce, she was with my son Charlie when I couldn’t be.

20131216_211037_resizedShe was my jogging buddy—always beside me, leash-less. When her years began to add up and she started to lag behind, her long silky ears flopped all the more from the extra effort. She began to surrender on her squirrel chases. She became deaf and found her way by scent.

In spite of it all, as she aged, people would still ask if she was a puppy.

20131216_211355_resizedAfter a bath one night, she shivered and was short of breath. I thought it was from the cold but it didn’t stop. We soon discovered that her heart was enlarged. It couldn’t contain all her love.

20131216_211054_resizedTodd stood by my side as I held her in my arms and she looked up at me. The vet gave her the shot that put her into a sweet, deep sleep.

It was too hard to walk back into our house after that so we went for lattes. We came up with the idea to take a drive to the pet store where my brother had found a puppy.

We walked in and I immediately noticed a teddy bear. He sat up with a stick-straight dancer spine and looked me square in the eyes. Hopeful anticipation…..Please love me ma’am (get me out of here!). I asked to hold him and the salesperson took him from his cage and set him down in an observation pen.

20131216_211644_resizedI watched him play, rubbed his belly, let him lick the tears that were still fresh in my eyes, and tried to stop him from gnawing on my fingers with his sharp teeth.

20131216_211454_resizedBy the time Todd found out we couldn’t afford him, it was too late. Without any research, we made an impulse buy and busted our budget. We were so sad and Sam was such fun. We returned home with a big pen and all the dog accouterments—poorer but puppy rich.

20131216_210942_resizedI sobbed through that evening, playing Puccini in Pisgah’s honor while Sam scooted around.

20131216_210735_resizedHe chewed the legs of all our furniture but was particular about the shoes he ate. They had to be new and bone colored. He destroyed our rugs and carpeting and ate anything—including a lighter. He was a butane hose for days and had to spend them all in his pen.

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Frozen in snow after playing with his best friend Cookie Dermond

Garbage cans scare him. He is a sniffer not a jogger and can easily spend thirty minutes on one block. He was hard to train and still jumps up on guests. He snarls at some dogs but only after I have assured the owner he is friendly.

He got his certificate from obedience school because the trainer was relieved to be done with him. “This is how you walk a dog,” he would say taking Sam by the leash and proceed across the room. “Heal! Heal!! HEAL SAM!!”  Sam does not heal.

20131216_211813_resizedHe is strong-willed but sweet and confused about being a dog. He sits on the stairs like a person—upright on the step. He has made our furniture his own and when Todd gets up in the morning, Sam immediately jumps up beside me and lays his head on Todd’s pillow.

20131216_211743_resizedWe work all day so we got a kitten to keep him company and named her Rose.

20131216_211621_resizedHer alley cat mom weaned her too early so the former owner’s dog had become her surrogate mother. When Rose met Sam she attached her mouth to a nipple. He stared at us, What the heck? but they became best pals.

20131216_211539_resizedI eventually got Sam to walk to the lakefront and home again without a leash. I would carry Rose along in a papoose. The three of us would do the full two and a half mile circle together…until the day Sam saw a parachute.

He stopped, turned and took off across the beach, running past honking, screeching cars. He was covered with the lake’s algae and tends to look rabid when wet. No one could catch him. He disappeared into the ravines. I called for hours. I was almost home when I noticed him sauntering along a couple blocks ahead of me.

I keep Sam on a leash now most of the time and have never been successful with getting him to walk leisurely on the lakefront. He’s always looking for that parachute.

So, when we brought balloons home from an event last night, Sam escaped up the stairs and hid in the bedroom.

He just has a thing about floating aberrations.

BalloonsI sometimes wonder what would have happened to Sam if we hadn’t been so impulsive that day at the pet store. It doesn’t matter….Sam has Pisgah to thank for that….and I’m sure he will one day.

20131216_210826_resizedHe’s just not ready yet to join her.

2011 Oct 18 Camera Download 001

Valentine’s Day

Every year, my husband and I agree that we don’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day because we don’t need a designated day to say our love is special. Some years we agree not to get each other a card. On others, we agree to get one. One year, Todd gave me an Elvis Presley heart-shaped tin with chocolate hearts inside from CVS. That was special.

If I’m really honest, the past couple years I’ve been leaning more towards making the day special. I’ll pick up something nice for dinner and just look forward to not doing anything special together because every day is special…..well, until it’s not…

This year, we had tickets to the Ballet and we were going to go out for dinner beforehand. That’s special. But then Todd got sick—he never gets sick—and he wasn’t up to it. I could have gone alone but it was Valentine’s Day—I thought we should be together. We could watch Sleepless in Seattle and drink some Champagne. But we’re not big Champagne drinkers and we’ve seen Sleepless in Seattle an embarrassing number of times. I always think I’ve had enough of it but every time it starts, I’m hooked. “Just Sam.” Annie says to Sam as you watch the electricity between them on the top of the Empire State Building in the final scene. That’s my favorite line.

Todd did tell me to go ahead and go to the Ballet, and I considered it, but then I slipped down the stairs this morning with my arms full of work stuff and a coffee cup in my hand. My heel got caught in my pants leg and I road the stairs like a pro. I didn’t even break the cup. I did sprain my ankle. So staying home tonight sounded good.

I picked up some baked fish, potato pancakes and Caesar salads—my version of a fish fry—and some chocolate ganache cake with a heart on top, on my way home from work.

Valentine's Day

I drove up our driveway and then, just before I got out of my car I got a text with a video of my grandnephew saying “Happy Balentines Dayeee! I yee-uv you!” While licking a heart shaped sucker.

I walked in the door and Todd said, “Oh, you probably got the Eddie video too.”

“Yeah! Isn’t it cute?”

“No…I don’t think it’s cute. Of course it’s cute!” He said in his Toddesque way.

I snap. “Why can’t you just be nice? I don’t need flowers. I don’t need jewelry. I don’t need chocolate. I just need you to say, ‘Yeah, really cute! Happy Valentines Day, baby. I love you!”

“You’re limping.”

“Of course I’m limping. I sprained my ankle!”

“Oooo…I can tell you’re hurting. You didn’t tell me. Are you okay/”

“No! I’m not okay. I slammed my butt on the steps, I banged my elbow, I bent my thumb, and my neck and back are killing me.”

“You’re hurt so that’s making you grouchy.”

“No, you’re making me grouchy! Why do you always have to be so dark?” I say as I’m suddenly the dark one and he starts putting groceries away.

Our dog Sam who has come into the kitchen to greet me, escapes upstairs. He hates it when he thinks we’re upset.

“I don’t think I’m always so dark.”

“I got us a special dinner! I got us chocolate cake! It’s VALENTINE’S Day!”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“I am not overreacting.” I put our special Valentine’s day dinner on the stove, grab my briefcase and head up the stairs that I had fallen down ten hours earlier.

Valentine’s Day….who came up with it? It sets you up for expectations even if you don’t want it to. Well….maybe it’s time to just give in and call it a special day. Whoever gets enough celebrating? So, why not? Bring on the chocolate and send me some flowers. Let’s take the day to celebrate our love!

Now all I have to do is go say I’m sorry for snapping. I hurt, so I’m grouchy.

Happy Valentine’s Day baby….365 days from now we’ll really do it right! Or…maybe not…

What’s Up With the Bologna?

“I’ll get dressed and take you out, Sam,” Todd says to our dog as he runs up the steps and trips, causing a loud thud. I jump.

Are you okay…? I think but don’t ask. It’s early morning, I’m not really awake yet and Todd is a teaser. He might have planned the clumsy act to draw attention to the fact that I’m sitting on my butt while he’s preparing to walk the dog outside in the frigid air. I never know when he’s serious, even after seventeen years of being together. He enjoys crying wolf. “Do you need a hand…?” I think back to the time I had yelled down the same steps several years ago when I heard a crash in the kitchen.

“Yeah…..” he had groaned dramatically.

I ignored what I thought was his well-rehearsed moaning, “Really…?” and played along.

“Really, I need….” He repeated. “I need help. I really need you, Baby.” Oh riiiight.

When I got to the kitchen I saw that he was clutching his wrist and he was on his knees under the gas jet.

“I think I might need stitches,” he said as he worked to regain his balance and remove his wrist from the pointy spoke after trying to clean the cedar siding of a wall with a bucket of Murphy Soap and sponge. “It’s deep.” Don’t stand on a bar stool with no traction.

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Crooked gas jet since the slip

He almost severed his tendon. We went to ER that day and he went roller blading the next. So, ever since those two layers of umpteen stitches, I  jump up and run. Except this morning—I can see out of the corner of my eye that he’s okay and I push the guilt I feel for not walking the dog myself out of my mind. It doesn’t leave completely but it shifts.

Morning is the time I sit in my chair, watch the sun come up over the neighbor’s roof and turn my thoughts to what’s unseen, if that makes sense. My faith. I read, I ponder, I pray. I start every day with a devotion and several chapters of the Bible. I’d say it’s my coffee to get me going but I need that too.

This morning as I read, the message is clear. It appears three different times in three different places: It’s simple — what we think influences how we live. Then I’m distracted again as Todd starts making the bed. I could get up and help but I read on. I jot down the words …*think love, and love surrounds you and those you think about. Think ill-will and thoughts of ill-will surround you and those you think about. Is it that simple?

“Did you notice that the bologna is all cut up in little pieces?” Todd asks. “I tried to take a slice out for Sam and it fell all apart. I couldn’t even get one to his mouth. It landed on his bandana and got stuck there. He wasn’t too happy about that.”

I listen to him talk about the bologna but stay with my thoughts. I think how easy it is to be discontent in life—to be critical of yourself and others, to make judgments. I spend so much time worrying about what I do, what I say, what I think. Low self-esteem, I suppose you’d call it. It’s just another form of self centeredness. Why is it that I can see the good in others but not in myself?

“I did it,” I answer. “I cut up the slices. Use a spoon. Take a scoop, put it in Sam’s bowl and mix it in with his food. That way he doesn’t snort it down in one gulp.” Bologna is Sam’s treat after his walk. He has wheat allergies. Is there wheat in bologna? I wonder.

“Oh, I see. You don’t want to get your hands slimy.”

“Well, yeah, it’s pretty gross to touch so since he should only have half a slice, I went ahead and cut them. Then I thought, why not quarter them…before I knew it, I had made bologna bits.” Todd’s standing there looking at me. “Use a spoon,” I say and return to my reading. I run through an inventory of the people in my life. I wrap them in thoughts of love so it will surround them. Is it really that simple? Yes, I hear the voice inside me say.

Sam enters the room and lies down by my chair. He simply loves me. Why can’t we always love each other like that? He starts scratching, poor guy. We’re probably giving him wheat and didn’t know it. What if we all became allergic to thoughts of ill-will and started scratching incessantly when we thought them? That would help us ponder what’s good, what’s noble and just, lovely and pure—like I read in Philippians 4 this morning—instead of ill-will.

I close my books and rise from my chair to face the day. Think love, and love surrounds you and those you think about. It’s that simple.

20131210_075822_resized*from God Calling