Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Fortunate Friday

carry out or dine in?

Wasn’t planning to post today. This is too good not to share.

Rode my bike to run errands this morning. Stopped by a favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch.

This week has been stressful. Changes are afoot. Biking and solitary dining on Chinese food were in order.

Must say I don’t believe in luck. There are no coincidences. Yes, I remember the episode with the four-leaf clover. But who put it there in the first place?

Nothing, no matter how good or bad, is outside God’s control and knowledge. God loves us and is always working around us to redeem us. He holds our very lives in His hands.

There are days I struggle with this. I don’t understand. It is beyond me. How could God be in control? What is He doing?

Then I catch a glimpse of His care. He reminds me of His goodness in simple ways I can understand. No big production. No thunderbolts. Just small, quiet moments to comprehend the incomprehensible.

At the end of my meal, the token fortune cookie appeared on the table with the bill. Look what was inside.

in the palm of my hand

Something wonderful is about to happen to you.

Many things already have.

Look around. Be open to see the good in your life. And remember who put it there.

The LORD gives strength to his people;
the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 NIV

Aaron Shust sings My Hope is in You. Lord, may it be so for me too. Amen.

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Pumpkin Power

Nothing says fall like pumpkins. Bought our first two of the season Saturday.

Here’s what things looked like by Tuesday…

Tuesday

And Wednesday…

Wednesday

And this morning…

Thursday (poor pumpkin!)

My boys have claimed the pumpkin as a science experiment. Their theory is Fred and Ethel, the culprits who live in a nearby tree, will gnaw through until they strike gold and feast on the delectable pumpkin seeds.

guilty Fred

My theory is Fred and Ethel will hollow out the pumpkin and live in it for the winter. A gorgeous patio gourd.

safe inside

I mentioned we bought two pumpkins. At the first nibble of trouble, my son took the “baby” pumpkin inside. It sits high on the fireplace mantle.

neighbor's pumpkins

Next door, the interior designer neighbor has a wonderful display of pumpkins. Pristine and untouched by tiny rodent teeth.

calling in reinforcements

Maybe it’s true there’s strength in numbers. Maybe all we need is more pumpkins. Lots and lots of pumpkins.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest;
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. Psalm 65:11 NLT

What would squirrels sound like if they made music? Oh, Don’t Let’s Start

Warning: Listen at your own risk. Silly songs by They Might Be Giants have a way of sticking in your head.

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Dead Man Walking

June 12, 2011

The man reading with my son in this picture is my Uncle Abe. He should be dead.

But he isn’t. This picture was taken in June. Abe’s still very much alive and well.

In late 2007, Abe began having chronic, acute digestive issues. After lots of tests, waiting and misdiagnosis, the real diagnosis fell like a ton of bricks.

Abe had a cancerous tumor on his right kidney. It could kill him. However, it was not responsible for his digestive issues.

So after a CAT scan and more waiting, the second diagnosis fell. Abe also had a cancerous tumor on his pancreas.

Anatomy is not my forte, nor is math my uncle would tell you. But I know you need your kidneys and pancreas to live. And I know my show biz obits. Pancreatic cancer killed Patrick Swayze in 2009 after a 20-month battle.

Uncle Abe was a dead man.

My experience with cancer and close relatives equals an immediate death sentence. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I could hardly speak to Abe on the phone without crying. I knew I would never see him on earth again alive. That was 2008.

This is 2011.

Abe has always had a special something. He lives out loud. Gives generously. Exudes resilience. Manages to be both realistic and positive.

But that doesn’t buy a ticket to a cure. Or even a remission. Plenty of people who die of cancer have those strengths and more.

I don’t know why he survived and others don’t. I don’t know how he survived.

At 68 years of age, the man underwent a major surgery called the Whipple Procedure. And removal of his right kidney. And chemo. And radiation. For two cancers that should have killed him.

Yet today he is well. Thinner than he used to be, but just as sharp, sassy and humorous as ever.

Unashamed, he openly shares his experience. Credits God with sustaining him, providing the doctors and treatments, and letting him live. His Creator simply did not allow him to die yet.

A snapshot of Uncle Abe wouldn’t be complete without mentioning music. Abe is a masterful pianist and singer.

resilience

He’s directed or accompanied music in churches and choirs for most of his life. He sings and plays at nearly all our family reunions, weddings and funerals, including my mother’s funeral when she died of cancer in 1996.

Upon release from his treatment, Abe picked up right where he left off, playing and singing. He accepted a part-time job as music director for a small church. We attended that church with him and my aunt the weekend we visited them.

Abe sang with abandon. Gleefully he called my husband the tenor to join him. He worshipped with vulnerability, as one who was dead but is now alive.

When I spoke to him last week about this post, he was preparing to sing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in German with a collegiate choir. He’s 72, but I’m sure he’ll fit right in. Abe still has his edge, now tempered by fire.

On my bed I remember You;
I think of You through the watches of the night.
Because You are my help,
I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
I cling to You;
Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:6-8 NIV

Great is Thy Faithfulness is a cherished hymn. Sara Groves sings a beautiful interpretation in He’s Always Been Faithful.

Thanks to Tim Robbins, writer/director of Dead Man Walking, for inspiring this post’s title.

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Dogspeak

ready for my closeup

Gracious gifts. We all receive them. Much more than we deserve.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was and still is my dog Ella. Nearly 10 years ago, she was a birthday gift.

She was too young to live with us until after my actual birthday. So on my actual birthday in December 2001, I received two little stainless steel bowls. One for her food and one for her water. Sheer giddiness.

Mary, my dear friend of more than 20 years, believes Ella appears in my blog more than my son.

Jealousy may motivate Mary’s thinking. I’ve never mentioned her by name in a post until this one.

Just teasing about the jealousy part. You know I love you, Mary. Tried and true friendship is another one of those gracious gifts. Now back to Ella.

Today Ella the best birthday gift becomes Ella the first guest blogger here on everyday epistle. She weighs in with this short reflection about chewies.

Hello. I’m Ella the cairn terrier. I live with my best friend Aimee who writes this blog. I can read and type.

Chewies are my favorite thing to chew. If one is good, better are two. Rawhide, rawhide, rawhide three. Four, five, six, seven, eight chewies for me.

Proof that too much of a good thing is simply more.

Until next time, chew on this…

me & mary

From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. John 1:16 NLT

Better link to a song for good measure. Ah, Mary by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. She’s the beat of my heart, she’s the shot of a gun…

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Nevermind

what nevermind means to me

“Mom, I’m ready to checkout.”

“Huh?” I was engrossed in the August issue of Spin.

“Come on, Mom. Let’s go!”

We bypassed self-checkout and waited in line at the front desk. A strategic move on my part to garner a few more minutes.

“Do I have to give it back?”

The librarian shrugged. There’s always next week.

But the next week it was missing. The week after that too. Quite sure someone pilfered it. Slipped it into a briefcase or trench coat. Snuck it by the sensors.

I inquired at the front desk. They have no way of tracking periodicals. Oh, well. Nevermind.

Then this week, it miraculously reappeared in its rightful place between Southwest Art and The Sporting News. I snagged it and held it close. Snapped iPhone photos on silent mode so my clicking would go undetected.

August 2011. Spin. Special Issue. The 20th Anniversary of the Album That Changed Everything. What Nevermind Means Now.

august 2011 spin

There on the cover was poor Kurt Cobain in cutoff jeans and no shirt. Suspended underwater. Scruffy beard. Floating mane. Devoid of air.

“Most drummers write beats,” said Thursday’s vocalist Geoff Rickly in Spin. “Dave Grohl wrote riffs.”

Nevermind was the first entire album of my generation that didn’t feel like it was on loan from the generation just before us,” said Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake.

“Even on the first listen, the song (Smells Like Teen Spirit) carried with it a strange nostalgia,” said Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Long Goodbye. “What made Nevermind iconic had a lot to do with Cobain’s own self-consciousness.”

Musician Jack Davey explained it logically as teenagers rebelling against his laundry list of oppressions from the 80s.

In an article by Ed Masley from The Arizona Republic online, managing editor of MTV Hive Jessica Robertson attributed it to obliteration of the nuclear family. Kids being isolated without ways to connect.

“Nirvana came on their TV and there was this anthem for them. This entire movement was spawned in that one moment, because suddenly people had a home and a community,” said Robertson.

So what does Nevermind mean to you, if anything?

I was 20 years old and in college when the album was released on September 24, 1991. Rumor was a boy named Knox (what a cool name) introduced Nevermind to the frat house where my sorority sisters and I congregated. I’d never heard anything like it.

One morning after class, I meandered through frat court on my way back to my sorority house. It was autumn in Chapel Hill—sunny, quiet, magical.

Then as if on cue, Smells Like Teen Spirit blasted out from said frat house, filling the space and time.

Nevermind is a contradiction. An angry, painful, determined, come-close-as-I-push-you-away, I-have-a-chip-on-my shoulder-yeah-you-put-it-there, let’s-celebrate-for-tomorrow-we-die rallying cry.

I was born in 1970. Smack dab in the epicenter of Gen X. The 13th generation as theorized by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss. The unlucky. The unwanted. The Johnny-come-lately middle child after the Baby Boomers but before the Millennials. For many of us, life is a contradiction.

“Fortunately, Gen Xers are not starry-eyed idealists, but rather steely-eyed realists,” writes Lisa Chamberlain in her book Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction.

Early April, 1994. The news came on my car radio. I pulled to a stop at the top of a highway off-ramp in the middle of the night. Cobain had suicided.

“So that’s it?” I thought. “That’s how this ends?”

“I think it (Nevermind) has a lasting impact still of excitement and mystery,” said Meat Puppet’s Curt Kirkwood in The Arizona Republic article. “For something so accessible, it’s almost impenetrable.”

And that’s how it remains.

come as you are

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:19-23 NIV

Come As You Are unplugged.

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It’s Community Time

the enforcer

My friend at Life is a Bowl of Kibble nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award this week. I’m honored and I’m game.

As a newly crowned VB, I have four primary responsibilities to fulfill.

I. Thank the person who nominated you:

Thank you, Life is a Bowl of Kibble. LiaBoK and her Litter Mates leave me cackling with posts like A Sticky Situation. Check it out or I’ll sick my terrier on you. All 16.4 pounds of her.

II. Share seven random facts about yourself:

  1. Part of my skull is missing due to an injury sustained in a car accident when I was 15. I literally have a hole in my head.
  2. My word for pizza crusts is shells, effectively grouping them with pasta. It’s a family thing.
  3. I quickly memorize song lyrics, a characteristic my son also exhibits. Makes my husband’s head spin. His revenge is that he can actually sing.
  4. When as a child I got a bike instead of a horse, I named it Cindy. Of course you already knew that.
  5. I don’t drink coffee, but I like the way it smells.
  6. The Collapse Free app is my obsession. Ridiculous, I know. Currently, I occupy five of the 10 spots on the high scores list.
  7. I take my grits with a touch of sugar, she admits as all the good Southerners groan.

at the Ryman

III. Pass this award on to five (or six) new blogging friends:

The operative word here is new. I chose to interpret this as folks I didn’t about know before blogging, haven’t linked to previously, and haven’t yet added to my blogroll (aka the social network, see right sidebar). No hurt feelings, I hope. New or old, one is silver, the other gold.

  1. Nothing to Read Here is a writer’s blog about writing. The author, taureanw, endeared me with posts questioning what it’s like to write, what he fears, and what success is.
  2. Southern Belle View is a composite blog written by four belles who also happen to be published authors. I found it when Corey of I Like My Bike fame introduced me via Facebook to one of the belles, Beth Webb Hart. SBV feels like home and is a pleasure to read.
  3. And Cuisine for All is a cooking blog. The finest ingredient is the author Chef Nusy. Following the bloodless revolution, she immigrated from Hungary and now proudly lives, cooks, dreams, and blogs in America.
  4. Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff is a must-read if you are of the Christian persuasion. From sitting in the pew beside people with nice singing voices to composing posts in his head during the sermon to imagining worship eagles that gently pluck crying children out of the service, JA tells it like it is.
  5. A Peaceful Heart is a photography blog I discovered when it was Freshly Pressed. Miki the photographer is from the U.K. and her pictures are simply to die for. Elegant, crisp, exquisite, visual joy.
  6. My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours is my guilty pleasure. Myra and I are the same age. That would appear to be all we have in common on the outside. But oh, how I find myself relating to her. She taps humor and emotion and writes it well. Very well.

IV. Contact and congratulate the awarded bloggers: Check.

Hope you get some kicks from these new clicks and enjoy them as much as I do.

It wouldn’t be an everyday epistle ending without a verse and a song. Didn’t think I’d forget, did you?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

Bonus random fact: I missed my calling to be in a band. If I were in a band, I would very much like my band’s name to be as cool as Dragonette, here with Martin Solveig singing Hello (not the Lionel Richie version).

join or die

join or die

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Falling In

fish on a bicycle

Try as you may, sometimes, some days you can’t help but fall in.

Last week, my son and I walked to one of our favorite parks. The one with the big pond and the statue of the fish on the bicycle. Gloria Steinem and Irina Dunn, eat your hearts out.

My child played on the slides and climbed trees while I checked the iPhone. Then from across the way I heard him cry.

“Momma!” he said. “I fell in the water!”

He’d bounced up and out of the pond by the time I reached him. He was soaked from the chest down with muddy smudges of pond slime on his cheeks.

We’d been to this park and this pond 657 times before. This was a first.

“Oh, honey!” I said.

“I’m sorry, Momma,” he said, near tears. “I didn’t mean to fall in.”

“No, honey,” I said. “Don’t apologize. It was an accident. Momma’s not mad at you. I’m just sorry this happened to you.”

“I was reaching in and my foot slipped,” he said.

“You okay?” I said.

soaked

“Yes,” he said. “But my shoes are wet.”

We giggled. Removed his shoes. Called my husband to come with the truck. Sat on the bench. Help was on the way.

As we waited, my little boy crafted the tale of falling in.

“I have to tell Ms. Donaldson I fell in the pond!” he said. “I fell down into the dirty water! My feet touched the bottom!”

“Not many people get to do that,” I said.

“Because there’s no swimming allowed!” he said.

The longer we waited, the more animated the telling became. Then he began to shiver with cold from his damp clothes.

Evening was fast approaching. We couldn’t walk home with him in bare feet. So we waited and shivered and told tales together.

The truck arrived with a warm cab and blanket. The shivering stopped and the stories wound down.

Falling in can be a harrowing thing. But recovering to be safe and warm and at peace again can make it all worthwhile.

no swimming

I called out Your name, O God,
called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, “Don’t shut Your ears!
Get me out of here! Save me!”
You came close when I called out.
You said, “It’s going to be all right.” Lamentations 3:55-57 The Message

Mama said there’ll be days like this. There’ll be days like this Mama said.

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