Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas at the Post Office

It’s not what you think.  It is not about the long line (it was a long line but an employee was offering Hershey’s chocolates to sweeten the minutes); it is not about the half-hearted attempts to visually represent Christmas without really representing Christmas (the employees tried).  This is about a serendipitous happening, a joyous, whacky, and meaningful interchange between four strangers who a half hour later had become fast friends.

Carrie is a grad student from Pittsburgh.  Carol, Mary Ann, and I are grandmothers. We four stood in line today, eyeing the clock.  I don’t know how the conversation started; I entered midstream. Apparently Carol had asked if Carrie had found a church, which I think took courage in this wide-open, largely non-churched town.  Then Carol looked at me and said, “Don’t you go to First Pres?”  From there we whipped into frenzy of church suggestions for Carrie.  Mary Ann was best at this, for she, like Carrie, is a Catholic.  Much laughter, happy voices sharing; did the rest of the post office crowd hear, or care?

Still in the line, we barely knew when we moved up.  Never have I enjoyed waiting so much. 

Now the conversation shifted to the movie “A Christmas Story,” featuring a boy’s deep desire for a red air rifle.  How crazy was this?  I was the only one of the four who hadn’t seen it, and I began to think my boys with their long-ago BB gun fixation should see it, and my husband as well, for he keeps one of those rifles by the back door to discourage raccoons, foxes…(don’t share this in our animal-glorifying town).  Carol whipped the DVD out of her purse for she had bought it this very morning, before her daughter reported they already had it.  “Do you want it?,” she asked me, half joking.

Carrie, the grad student, has to be both the most polite and real young woman I’ve met in a long time.  She hid her shock at being almost swallowed by three gray-haired women, willingly shared our conversation.  Was she simply caught?  No, I don’t think so.

I now have three new friends. We are four who love Jesus, as Carol so succinctly expressed.  Will we meet at the post office again?  Heaven, perhaps?

A half hour packed with laughter and love, with a movie purchase for a bonus.  I’m going to watch it with my grandchildren.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chaos, Cookies and Comfort

I admit I'm rather hum-buggy this time of year, when my heart should
be filled with joy and peace. Company, shopping, wrapping,
decorating, cooking, cleaning,baking and on and on! It seems never to
end! So much chaos in mind, body and spirit, this time of advent
sometimes gets lost. So I was thinking. What if I try to pray songs
every day, as the old hymns are often prayers in themselves. Here's
my prayer: O Lord of the Universe, with whom we can have an actual
relationship because of your grace and mercy, we sing to you this
prayer. What a friend we have in Jesus! You bear our sin and grief
when we carry everything to you in prayer. Great is your faithfulness
and how we have needed all your hand provides. We need you every
hour, most gracious Lord. Our desire is for a closer walk with you,
so have your own way in our lives. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
and drive the dark of doubt away! Bring us comfort and joy as we seek
to bring comfort and joy to others in your name. Our faith looks up
to you and we surrender all we have and are. In Your name we pray,

Blessed Christmas to you all.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Signings

How shamelessly we tell you of our book signing this Saturday,
November 16th at Flatiron Coffee, 2721 Arapahoe in Boulder,
1:00-3:00. Will we have the honor of meeting you there? You know
what they say...books don't scratch, bite, twist your arm or kick.
And neither do we.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Angels Are for Real

They walked in, big and burly some of them, some skinny and young, flesh and blood angels from heaven via Michigan and California and Maine and Thornton.  We expected two, or four; and got nine orange-shirted smiling, willing-handed beings. 

They said, “What first?  Where do you want this?”

That was our introduction to Samaritan’s Purse.  Franklin Graham would have been proud.

They emptied the whole flooded-now-dry downstairs, the downstairs of concrete, black glue-residued floor, dirtied baseboards.  They picked up beds, chairs, file cabinets.  They picked up unglamorous boxes overflowing with hockey sticks, Christmas paper, skateboards.  They hauled out piano music, guitar, old typewriter, tambourine. They mounded everything under tarps, under the carport.

They brought in a spray gun, aimed it at all the edges, said you’ll never have mold again.  We didn’t have it already, but who is to say no?

They said they’d come back Thursday to put it all back.  Then we stood with them in a hand-holding circle while they prayed.  They handed us a Billy Graham Training Center NKJ Bible that they all signed.  They said they loved the scones I’d baked.  I cut them in half when I saw we had a veritable army descending upon us.

I liked these angels I could see.  Angels with voices and hugs (forgot to mention those).  I wish now that I could see my own guardian angel (I’m told I do have one).  I wish I could see angels protecting children, angels whispering in people’s ears, angels averting accidents.  I’m quite sure my angel theology is somewhat hole-y. but you get the idea.  I keep reminding myself that what I can see will pass away; what I can’t see is the True Reality, the great I AM.  Some day. Closer all the time.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Give Me a Break!

You'll never believe what I saw the other day. A man on his roof
putting Christmas lights on his house! Come to think of it, I've seen
Christmas lights on trees around town since last Christmas, just
hanging around waiting for the holiday to come again. It's only
October, people! The leaves are barely turning in the city, although
in the mountains the colors are beginning to fade and some are
completely gone. Yes, there was a skiff of snow this morning on the
patio, a portent of things to come. But advertisements already about
Christmas sales? Stores opening on Thanksgiving? I think there
should be a law (hearthisCongressohIforgotyoucan'thearanything) that
first we let the kids enjoy Halloween. Then we let the rest of us
really give thanks at Thanksgiving before the word Christmas is
allowed to be uttered. Then in December, perhaps if we could only
reflect more on the abundant meaning instead of the abundant giving,
it wouldn't seem like the hassle it's become. Who will be able to
shop this year anyway with thousands out of work, floods and mudslides
devastating parts of Colorado, early blizzards in South Dakota, and
hardships everywhere in the world? I'm just pondering and venting.
Give me a break!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five days after the Boulder storm

September 17. 2013

It is thundering, the sky is gray, raindrops have experimented on my back steps.  An ordinary occurrence, you say.  Well, that might be unless you were here last week when all the giant sky hoses had their taps on until the spigots were turned off after twenty-three, yes, twenty-three inches dumped, lambasted, and pelted us from Wednesday night until Sunday afternoon, with a deceptively dry interval on Saturday.  Like many others we had water in our finished basement.  Buckets and ditches and sandbags and more ditches and pieces of plywood couldn’t keep water from the foundation, water from the window wells, and finally our hands went up in surrender.

A tropical storm they say.  I’m thinking it was a perfect storm, like the one in the north Atlantic years ago.  Maybe I can write the book Perfect Storm Number Two and give you vignettes of the Lyons people, the Jamestown people, the Estes Park people, the eastern Colorado farmer people, the Longmont people, the Boulder people, the basement flooded people, the cars in the dirt people, the cars in the water people, and of course the guilty people (those who escaped all disaster and keep saying they feel guilty).  Or all the vignettes of neighbors digging ditches for neighbors, or carrying carpet out of basements, or bringing them soup.  Our own neighbor, Bill, walked over when things were at their worst and gave us an hour of swift, efficient labor, our son and grandson did their part, and the next day Bill appeared again to help us throw carpet out of the back of our van (onto a new geographical feature called Carpet Mesa).  Many hands made light work.

As a representative of the basement people I would like to report an amazing circumstance for many of us. No wailing.  Just a smile and a nod, the universal question, “Are you okay?”  We’re going on.  I stood in awe of the sunrise this morning.  I thought yesterday’s sun a new miracle. I admit to a few panicky moments, but only moments. My furniture moving muscles are getting stronger by the day, and I’m hearing from friends across the country, rejoicing in the sound of their caring voices or their words on email.

As I wrote the preceding paragraphs the thunder cracked a few more times, and whoops, now I hear a few more drips. Another perfect storm?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


The re-entry of a space shuttle is not to be entered into lightly. It is then most vulnerable to damage from atmospheric friction. Vital parts can fall off, the trajectory can be too steep, the re-entry point can be missed. It is even possible that the shuttle will be reduced to flying cinders.  At best the shuttle is scathed with scars, paint wears off, and pretty soon it looks like an old woman needing a facelift.

I am afraid that my vacation re-entry from family farm harvest is just like a space shuttle’s.  My psyche has been through that process almost every year since I was a little shaver (twenty-two), because my family has regularly immersed itself into farm life every summer from two to four weeks.

I used to enthusiastically jump back into real life, getting boys ready for school, easing into my own part time job, weeding the summer’s detritus, restocking the pantry. But gradually, under the radar, that ability to sail my way through the change in life style has gone, strayed, lost, ‘tis feared. (Do you know “The Three Little Kittens”?)

This summer I fell to the bottom of the pit. Most decidedly I did not want to come back; neither did I want to stay on vacation. I decided I actually wanted a purgatory of sorts, a respite care center without the care, an out-of-time cabin in the woods. But what I wanted and what I got were two different things.

I got a fifteen-item list (I counted), a pile of phone calls and emails (though I had never been without my iPad and cell phone while away). Then there were two big decisions about my fall commitments to make, tomatoes and summer squash to somehow preserve, groceries to buy, appointments to manage, and most of all, my inner self to scrabble together. 

It was not pleasant. My husband would agree most emphatically, if I allowed him space to comment. And this morning, to crown it all, my ten-sentence devotion told me to wait on the Lord BEFORE I do anything.  I would do less but it would turn out to be more. Too late: I had already charged into my list and then fussed and fumed inside because my husband took MY praying space, fussed and fumed because….

No one needs to listen and wait on the Lord more than me. He promises to hang on, so I must too, by His grace.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Face in the Mirror

I was shopping at a thrift store recently in Ridgeway, CO. It was a
Saturday morning and the store was full of bargain shoppers hunting
for that perfect treasure. Here I am at almost 70 trying to clear my
house of unused and unwanted 'things', but I can't seem to stop
looking for that perfect something. It's just the thrill of the hunt,
I guess. A rare signed book or a painting lost for centuries or a
Tiffany lamp worth thousands could be mine! This day I had seen women
looking through baskets of fabric and I wanted to dig there, too,
perhaps to unearth a special fall color for a leaf quilt I have in
mind. But there were so many eager ladies pawing the material, I
couldn't get to it! I walked on down the aisle hoping to return when
I glanced to my left and smiled at an elderly woman walking away. It
took me aback as I recognized that woman was me! I was stunned and
dazed and felt perhaps I was losing my mind. I told my sister-in-law
what had happened, and although she looked carefully at me to see if I
was having a stroke, she laughed and assured me I was fine.

Have you ever had such an experience? Have you felt silly for talking
to yourself or not being able to do a simple task? Such as leave a
comment on a blog? It does seem impossible. Copy letters and numbers
to prove you're real? Preposterous! We've found a simple solution:
sign your first name to your comment, then submit it under the
Anonymous choice and...poof! You've done it! Have you read the book
yet? We know you're real. Let us know you're real, too!

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Perfect Day

Perhaps if I write words on paper, the perfect visual images in my brain will disappear, and that would be a great loss.  But if I use another of my six or seven senses (paper-speech) I think the day beyond description will live better in my heart.  Words are so inadequate; they are like the canned whipped cream that wafts away before your very eyes before you can enjoy even half of it.  But some words are better than no words.  The poor monkeys, who only differ from us by a chromosome, have no words.  Children don’t remember before they have a good collection of words.  Monkeys are truly to be pitied.

You now see that I am skirting around my perfect day. Ryan announced he and son Ben would come on Saturday to install a better handlebar on Richard’s new bike,  already given to him by our three boys (boys, though the oldest is in his mid-forties).  It was a retirement present; a hint, a kind suggestion.  Let us watch to see if that ”r” word gets implemented.  On Saturdays it does.  “I will work no more on Saturdays,” is Richard’s working statement.

Ryan also said, “We’ll help you with some projects.”

I thought they'd be here mid-morning.  Not so; that's when the phone call first came.

“We’re leaving here in a few minutes.  Oh, we have a stop to make in south Denver.”

That means they won't get here until after lunchtime.  Oh well.  I had better enjoy even a few hours.  Ryan also said they’d be going to the airport to pick up a friend’s daughter late.  Late to me means 7 PM. 

We eat sandwiches and chips and cherries and brownies and talk up a storm.  Ben is 14,  5’10” at this moment.  Look at him tomorrow and he’ll have added an inch or so.  Ben also has a low-low bass voice, pretty common for new thick vocal cords.  Will it be a singing voice?  We all hope so, but there’s no evidence now.  He does play a good Bach piano prelude and is rather a good violin player.  We shouldn’t lose heart:  Ryan didn’t explore his voice until college days.  Now he sings in a semi-professional classical choir.  I’ll keep hoping.

“Oh, we don’t pick Morgan up until 11 PM, so we’ll be here for dinner and awhile afterwards.”

Oh Joy.  O Celebration.

Richard says, “Oh, I’ll get my long job list out.”

Much laughter, and let the jobs begin.  Rug shampooing the whole downstairs, mowing and weed-whacking the lawn, installation and experimenting with the new bike handlebars.  I decide to enlist Ben in chopping off encroaching branches on the blue spruces.  They hang over the driveway, keeping the sun from melting off the ice in the winter.  I hold the ladder, Ben chops.  Soon there is overseeing by Ryan and Richard, and the result is perfect, the squirrels’ and sparrows’ nests intact, though threatened.

Everybody is having a good time, at a fast pace.  I don’t know what Richard does, but he is nearly always visible.  I am machine quilting and watching Jane Eyre on Netflix streaming, but that is a token industry.  I’m soaking in my son’s presence, my grandson’s burgeoning personality, and over all God’s magnificent umbrella of love and beauty and joy. 

We fix dinner:  corn on the cob and burritos (is it just chance that I have a huge supply of burrito mix already cooked and waiting) and mangoes and for dessert, that frothy-sweet gem, a root beer float. 

Rarely do we have time for a game.  Richard and I used to play Eurorail with diligence and vengeance but his Macbook and my iPad have taken precedence.  We are fairly halfway down the slippery slope, it seems.  But not tonight.  We unearth Phase 10, a contract rummy look-alike, and laugh our way through eight out of ten rounds, groaning when we are skipped, celebrating when we win a round.

We are talking about Ben’s AP classes, honors classes.  Lang Arts, Lit, Chemistry, Pre-Calc.

“Me and my friend are going to get together tomorrow.” 

I raise my eyebrows, and blurt out, “My friend and I.  If you’re in AP English, you’ll have to work on that, don’t ya think?”

“Don’t YOU think, Grandma?”

Oh how we laugh. 

Now it is 10 PM, Richard and I are yawning.  We want this to go on forever, but it’s a good thing they are leaving soon. 

I think that last statement a telling one.  An oxymoron allowed grandparents.

Have I destroyed the charm, the joy of the day?  Partly perhaps because it is impossible for me to write as I want since I am limited by my word bank and my perceptions.  None of us have the whole picture.  That should not stop me from taking a partial one.