life

Happy Birthday Dear Void.

Every January 18, as soon as I wake up, I’m immediately aware that it’s my dad’s birthday.  My bleary, sleep-encrusted eyes glance at his joyful face, smiling at me from the photo atop my chest of drawers.

“I miss you,” I say, sometimes as a whisper aloud, sometimes as just a thought in my head,  “Happy Birthday.”

At some point in the day every January 26, usually when I’m writing a check or have some other cause to glance at the date, I remember that it is Dan R’s birthday.

I have only seen Dan a handful of times in the last 30 years – at a couple of high school reunions, at his dad’s funeral, during an overnight visit to his home in upstate New York on my way home from a biking vacation in Vermont…

But I’ve remembered his birthday every year since we met on the Bob-lo boat in 9th grade.

I remembered it even before facebook started reminding me.  I sometimes interact with his wife on facebook, but I have absolutely no interaction with him except to write, “Happy Birthday old friend,” (double entendre) on his wall every January 26.

Every February 2 I wish my childhood friend, Patty Holden, a happy birthday.  “Happy Birthday Patty,” I say into the void.  Haven’t seen her in at least 28 years but I remember her day without fail.

This morning, as I was doing the dishes I should have done last night, I thought of the guy I dated in college.  I think of him every July 31.

I understand why I always remember my dad, who’s been celebrating his birthdays in heaven these last 20 years, but I wonder why it is that I remember the other three.

Of course I always remember the birthdays of my sisters and my mom, and I think of my daughter and the hub all day long on their birthdays.

And I occasionally remember the birthdays of other old friends and boyfriends whom I haven’t seen in many years, but why is it that I remember those three every year without fail?

Anyway, Happy Birthday Ron Sobel.

 

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life, Light

My Heart Melts Like Butter

“Nobody’s ideals form them like their loves form them.” – Ann Voskamp

I paused on page 117 of The Broken Way, the morning sun streaming through my bedroom window and across my bed, putting a spotlight on my slumbering, gently snoring beagle.

I thought of an old friend, who turned down open-hearted friendship in favor of fellowship with close-minded ideals.

I felt something stir.

Hope.

Longing.

Love.

Maybe Love would one day draw him.

Maybe, in the end, Love would form.

I read on to a new chapter.  Mean girls and devouring women.

Unexpected tears rolled.

Not sobs, not even a cry, just a few stray tears churned up by a benign sorrow.

p. 189: “I’ve made wide berths around women for years and skirted the communion of community because who knew when smiles could turn into fangs if you turned your back?”

You and me both, Ann.

I closed the book and put in a load of laundry. Socks and underwear.

I love any piece of writing that churns a memory, an emotion, a “me, too.” I love writing that keeps me pondering long after I’ve put it down.

I’ve had far more male friends than female friends in my life.

I thought about my friendships in general, about how I was able to keep my heart wide open, how I was able to turn the other cheek and expect good things as a non-Christian child, yet watched my heart increasingly close as a Christian adult.

We Christians often think that our children’s hearts are in danger of being corrupted, wooed, enticed away from God by the world, but I think it’s much more likely that they will be pushed, shoved away from Him by members of His church.

Waiting for the dryer to dry I jot down that thought.

I love writing that inspires a thought, even a post.

It’s what God called “worthwhile, not worthless words.”

It’s what I hope to someday write.

Good job, Ann.

#churn

 

 

 

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life

Rejoice with those who wear jeans.

“I hope I’m not dressed too casually,” I remarked, as I pulled my black, three-tiered Minnetonkas up over my black skinny jeans.

I was heading to my daughter’s alma mater to speak.

“It is Friday, though,” I reasoned, “and the students probably have a jeans day today, what with basketball and all.”

“What with basketball and all” = the boys bball team won the state semi-final game last night and they’ll be back at the Breslin Center in East Lansing in the morning for the final.

So the kids would most likely have a jeans day.

“Yeah,” my daughter said, “they probably do have a jeans day.”

Nowadays the students at that school wear uniforms, but my daughter was a student there before uniforms, back when they had to follow a very strict dress code.

Back then jeans days were granted on select Fridays and they were a huge, happy deal.

“I remember earning a special jeans day once,” she mused. “I think I got to wear them on a Wednesday.

It was a glorious morning, as all jeans day mornings were, dressing without the pressure of the code and looking cute for a change.

So I went to school in my jeans and a t-shirt while everyone else didn’t.

And that’s the moment I discovered that happiness is only real when it’s shared.

“That’s such a touching little story,” I said, as I clasped my necklace, “I think I’ll jot it down.”

I love my girl’s heart.  I love that she couldn’t enjoy the privilege of jeans while her friends suffered in khakis and collared shirts.

Not everyone is like that.

Go Eagles!

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life

Hospitality

I received a distress call right through my computer, just as I sat down tonight to write a brilliant post.

A sobbing friend didn’t feel safe in her home and her husband took away her car keys. So I drove over and loaded her, her dog and a few quickly packed items into my car.

She has just gone to bed – traumatized and exhausted.

I’m in bed now, too.

Would love it if you would say a prayer for her.

Hope all is well with you.

 

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life

It’s the Little Things

The wind has died down, the sun has finally come out and the hub has gone fishing.  But before he left he read to me.  From the Bible.

“Read some of Jesus’ words,” I said.  “I’ve heard enough from Paul.  Not that he didn’t have some good things to say, but he’s not God.”

You all know how I feel about that.

Anyway, with me still on crutches, that was our church today.

And then the hub hightailed it to the lake, leaving me here on the sofa, with a beagle snoring gently beside me, continuing worship by recalling some of the things for which I was grateful this week.

On Tuesday my cleaning lady came.  (Don’t judge me, she only comes EVERY OTHER week.)  She is a huge Slurpee fan and she often tells me about her latest favorite flavor.  This time it was Vernors.  I am not a Slurpee fan – brain freeze – but, what proper Detroit girl doesn’t love Vernors?

As she was leaving, she mentioned that she might stop for a Vernors Slurpee on her way home.

“Hey,” I said, “why don’t you stop at the 7-11 here, near me?  That way, if they have Vernors today, you can text me and  I’ll have the hub stop and get me one on his way home.”

Her eyes brightened and her mouth formed a smile.  She was clearly pleased and heartily agreed to do so.

About ten minutes later the garage door opened.

What’s the hub doing home so soon?

It wasn’t the hub, it was Becky.  Bearing a gift.

Yes, that's a Christmas coaster in June.

Yes, that’s a Christmas coaster in June.

Thanks God, for the little kindnesses that make life wonderful.

P.S.  My brain only froze once.  So that was good.   Momentarily very painful, but good.

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life

Ewe

Mentally ill people deserve to have friends,
to not be lonely,
to be heard.
God wants them loved
and cared for.
A mentally ill blogger I follow
rejoices when he finally makes a friend,
and I rejoice with him.
And then sooner or later
he alienates him
or her
and he laments.
Posted laments
for all to hear.
And I am sad for him
and I sigh.
Why is friendship with the mentally ill so challenging
and tiring
and sometimes mean?
Why does he shove his friends’ hearts
into meat grinders
leaving himself
alone

again

and

again

and

again.

There is no ewe in friendship.

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life

A Healing Presence

John described Dallas as the personification of a soul sustained in grace.

It was very early on a Saturday morning when my friend pulled up, his bike perched atop his car.  It was early, but I was awake and excited.  We hoisted my bike up next to his, fastened it down and ventured forth.  The long car ride gave us plenty of time to talk.  Mostly it gave my friend  time to talk – about his rather odd and soul-damaging parents.

We were the first to arrive at the campground on the northern border of Vermont.  We weren’t positive we were in the right place, but we pitched our tents and called it a night.  The others arrived as we slept.  All strangers, all eager to embark on a six day bike ride ride that would slice through Vermont from top to bottom.

The course was difficult and the week was hot – with temperatures in the 100’s.  After riding alongside Lake Champlain for most of the morning on the first day, our route finally intersected it at a nice grassy park.  The others rested under shade trees, but I rode my bike right to the end of the dock and jumped in.  So what if I would be riding wet.  Figured I’d be my own swamp cooler.  It was HOT.  My friend eventually joined me – after first removing his shirt, because men can do that, even in the midst of strangers.

A sudden and severe thunderstorm on day three – one that had our bikes hydroplaning the last two miles to that night’s campground, was both scary and welcome.  Should we take shelter in the forest or just go for it?  We went for it.  The rain felt good but it brought no lasting relief.  The air was just as hot, heavy and steamy after the storm as before.

Day four involved a climb of 3,400 feet – 1,500 to 1,600 up Brandon Gap alone.  Brandon Gap was steep at the very top.  Very, very steep.  So steep that my pedaling ground to a halt.  My friend advised me to walk my heavy, not-state-of-the-art bike the last little bit.  No way.  I was determined to earn my guzzle of Gatorade at the top.  But it was too steep for me to get going from a halt.  So he got off his bike and gave me a running start.  Thanks to him, I arrived at the summit to the cheers of the others.

Scan

Our bikes enjoying a well-earned rest.

Day five may have been the hottest of the week, and I have never handled extreme heat or extreme cold well.  The last five or so miles of that day’s ride were through shadeless fields.  Our destination was in sight but the heat had taken its toll and I was feeling very weak and nauseated.  “Just a bit further,” I told myself as I tried to keep my bike from toppling over.  I was too weak to talk, but my friend saw my pale face.  As soon as we arrived at the campground he ushered me to a shade tree next to a river where he wetted his bandana and put it on my head.  I sat there sipping from my newly refilled water bottle.  A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Intertwined with the physical challenges was a lot of laughter, quiet early morning devotions, heartwarming conversations with new friends, a carton or two of Ben & Jerry’s with many spoons passed and shared at country store rest stops and pleasant evenings with my friend visiting my tent to read to me.  He liked to read aloud, and l liked to listen to the sound of the words through his English accent.

It was a feel-good vacation.  My first bike trip.

Shortly after the trip ended, one of the couples – two very experienced riders – sent us all a chart of the daily and total elevation gains – the miles we had ridden each day, the feet of climb and the climb/mile. Handwritten at the bottom of my chart was a personal note:

Congratulations on biking every mile of such a difficult course.  We hope your success will be an encouragement for you to attempt another adventure in the future.  Your pleasant disposition despite the conditions (heat and hills) was very inspirational.

You may think that the need for a push and the heat-stroke would have knocked me off my friend’s biking buddy list.  But not so.  The following summer he invited me to join him on a tandem mountain bike trip through the Canadian Rockies.

And a few days after we returned from Vermont he called to say he wanted to pitch his tent in the grassy yard just outside my condo.  Because being near me was somehow soothing.

Which brings me back to the third full sentence on the 82nd page of the Soul Keeping Study Guide:

“John described Dallas as the personification of a soul sustained in grace.”

The page went on to say that a soul sustained in grace is a healing presence.

And that reminded me of Vermont.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.”

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