Joys of a Second Childhood

I now know why grandchildren come into our lives when they do. Or puppies, small furry kittens, hedgehogs named Tulip, ponies named Strawberry and May, or any number of little people or animals that burst upon our lives with their boundless energy. Oh, sure, along with all that cuteness comes a pile of taking care of, feeding, cleaning up after, and watching over. Yet the fun and fabulous part of all, is the boundless play.

It is so easy in our grownup seriousness and juggling of responsibilities to lose that playful part of ourselves. Especially in a world bent on destruction. Or at least one that would rather focus primarily on the hard things of life, with little thought or recognition of those things that bring joy. I must admit to being one of those who naturally focuses on a project ‘til its completion, hard to let it go in the process, to interrupt the flow. This becomes more than difficult when a “project” or responsibility is a living thing, one with a mind of its own! So enters the gift of play, the release valve in an over-pressurized world.

I remember the first day I let loose and danced around with some of our young grands. Our daughter was astounded. It had been so long since those days when she and I played. How had I let those times slip away? Yes, I did give her up to playing with her half-siblings who came to live permanently with us, after the death of their mother. Soon after came the birth of their brother, to round out our clan of two boys and two girls. Somewhere in there, in all the busyness and responsibilities, I must have lost my play. And as I look back I am regretful for that.

Play brings permission to forget oneself and just enjoy. In-joy. Let joy come into oneself. How often we think it, or watch it, but forget to actually do it. Children, puppies, kittens, ponies, tiny hedgehogs, so many blessings of God’s incredible creation invite us into that experience. As I grow older and the busyness of adult life falls away I find myself longing for that playfulness, that innocence of childhood. The unburdened living in the moment, without all the extra baggage. I deeply respect my cousin who did play extensively with her young children throughout their growing. She and her husband still do. Where did we lose our play?

My hope is that in becoming more childlike as I age, and continuing to regain a sense of the playful me, that the joy in me will leak out, overflow into a dark and hurting world, bringing lightness not only to me, but to those around me, too. That I will float in the river that brings life and nourishment to all it touches, and in-joy the journey on the way. Fun!

Healing My Vision

In an online conference recently we were blessed to listen to a woman of ministry ask a prayer of healing over nearly 650 listeners. Through the responding chat it was evident many had received immediate physical healing. While waiting for reports to be collected, one lady testified of relief from swollen, painful joints: she now had full range of motion in her previously very restricted shoulder; and was able to easily stand and straighten her knees, one previously swollen, now noticeably smaller in size. Though at the time of the speaker’s original prayer I had not lifted up concern of the macular degeneration in my left eye, and cataracts in both, the thought occurred a short while later. And each day since I have wondered, “LORD, will You heal my eyes, too?”

Another woman of ministry for whom I carry much admiration and respect is Jennifer Rothschild. Blind with retinitis pigmentosa since the age of fifteen, she is a vibrant wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many with a robust speaking, conference, podcast, music and writing ministry. She’s fun, funny and upbeat. While laughing she says it’s just part of her nature, her maiden name being Jolly. She has prayed for healing of her blindness; yet her physical eyes still do not see. Her husband’s arm helps to guide her as she walks with a signature white cane. She counts steps to help orient herself in her home; and has the gadgets that enable a blind person to live more independently. She does her own hair, applies her own makeup, manages her household. And though she is living life fully and abundantly, she admits she is challenged at times. She has asked God to heal her, a woman who is His faithful, joy-filled servant; and still He has not.

Wrestling with this issue of prayers that seem to go unanswered, new clarity dawned in my mind as I slowly awakened this morning, checking one eye then the other to see if my vision had cleared. Checking to see if God had done His job. (What? Where did THAT thought come from?) No, checking to see if He had chosen to bless me in that physical way, yet. As I lay there remembering the many affirmations of His love for me, and thinking of Jennifer’s book “Walking By Faith: Lessons Learned in the Dark”, my vision became crystal clear. I could see with joy, with a wide grin plastered across my face and soul, into bright eons ahead. And, like Jennifer, one who knows God has purpose in His timing and reason, I could see.

The glimpse was so lovely I jumped up to write about it, not waiting to hold still a little longer to keep looking, to sink into it farther, to let it imprint more deeply in my brain. I saw brightness and light, joyfulness, delight, like a roadway going forward ever on, without sides or barriers, yet with definition, the brightest light at the far end of the road. All was filled and formed with light, nothing else was needed at this point. The light was, and is enough. The purity of the vision, the clarity so brilliant as it burst into me, was like an invitation, a breakthrough. Clarity, light, freedom from whatever darkness I have been in. The kind of vision I have been seeking all my life. More and more clarity. Was it physically visual or all in my mind? I’m not sure.

Walking into the Kingdom of God where no darkness of any kind resides, comes through the door of Jesus Christ. It is true! He has lived, died, rose again and continues to overcome, push back, slay the darkness. In John 8:12 Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” I accepted His invitation to walk through that door in 1970. The journey has been one of continual learning, and growing to trust Christ with every aspect of my life. Like layers of an onion, there is always more to peel away as He and I go deeper into the core of me. As the light of life shines to clarify my vision of who I am and how to walk this road, there is always something more to learn in navigating relationships, embracing my imperfections and failings, addressing the awful grip sin had on me, receiving forgiveness, healing from dashed expectations and pain, wrestling with the unexpected and with disappointments, figuring out how to move forward, learning how to really live out “new life” in Him.

A huge factor in recent months has been recognizing how many lies I have been hearing and believing from voices in the world, lies that attack my value and worth as God sees me, lies in my mind to keep me from believing. Lies like the original one hissed by the father of lies in the Garden of Eden: “Has God indeed said . . .? You will not surely die” (see Genesis 3). As I grow closer to the person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, I am learning how to banish those lies, and to live joy even when life seems to be crumbling all around me, my loved ones, or the world. How to keep on keeping on in those hard places that just do not seem to change, despite prayers and my efforts to fix the things. Like Jennifer, I know this earthly life truly is but a blink in eternity.

So I blinked, then blinked again, one eye, then the other. Yes, that shadow in my central vision still floated there, sometimes more, sometimes less. Yes, the blurriness of cataracts appeared to remain. Yet my vision is changing. I am seeing more clearly. The light of life is shining brightly in me, a beacon, a lighthouse through all the tumults of this worldly walk. I am seeing a brilliant path ahead. Thank You, LORD, for the vision You give! For all the light I need to walk with You through every step of this journey home! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Mind-Body Do-Si-Do

“No!” screamed my mind, “I don’t want to go out to pull weeds!” “But, why?” asked my body. “I’m in sore-full need of exercise, and weeds only get worse if not tended to.”“Because,” lamented mind, “I want to think, mull, turn over and inspect all that stuff in my head. It is so interesting, bewildering, and mysterious. I just can’t let it go!”“It’s ok,” crooned body. “Come on, let’s go. You need a little breeze to blow the cobwebs out and let some light in. It truly will do wonders for you. Remember? We’ve done this before. We won’t leave anything important behind.”

Mind really had not much choice, divided as it was. One part insisting to stay in the cave, the other ready for an adventure out the door. Was it a left brain, right brain kind of thing? Or just that daily tug-o-war decision-making over what one wants to do versus what one should do? Oh, the dilemmas of such a mind. So many choices, like spilled water running in all directions at once. No wonder ‘focus’ was such a big word of the day. Without it the mind would go nowhere, just drain into the ground, sucked up by wanton earthly things.

“Ok,” mind agreed bravely. “Let’s get this thing done!” Off they went, mind and body on the same page, though admittedly mind was still complaining some, trying to convince body to turn around. “Nope!” body admonished. “Keep going!”

Body had spoken before to mind many times. The aches of sitting too long said, “Time to move!” Muscles tight demanded, “Stretch me!” Overtired, body insisted, “Enough already! Go to bed!” And so the conversation went day by day. Today, finally outside in the sun, body was happy for a change of scenery. No matter the task at hand, being bent over to pull weeds still allowed the sun to shine in, eyes to see wonders of God’s creation, hands to stroke the soft fur of the neighbor’s cat, and mind to think fresh new thoughts. It really was a win win situation, mind beginning to agree this was a good idea after all. So on went the weed pulling.

After a good long while of accomplishing much, for when mind started a project it did not want to quit til finished, body began to exclaim, “Ok, now, I think we’re done!” “Oh, no,” said mind. “We still have those two little flower beds to do.” “But I hurt!” exclaimed body as it slowly straightened to a standing position. “It won’t take long. There’s just a little more to do!” mind admonished. “Remember, you’re the one who wanted to come out here. Let’s get it done!”

“Oh,” groaned body to itself. “What have I gotten us into? Will I ever recover from this relentless mind? Once it sets its ‘focus’ I’m the one who’s done, it seems!” On it went, mind admonishing, body bending and pulling, eyes seeing just one more weed to pull. It was exasperating, yet body submitted to mind’s will to “get ‘er done.” By the time body finally convinced mind, “Enough already!” mind was ready to be finished, too, wisely knowing if it wanted to ever get back to its snug cozy cave, body would have to carry it in. Yes, certainly, both had won the dance.

Walking A New Path

A ray of light begins to dawn
Peeking faintly o’re the rise
Harbinger of things to come

Mist wafts gently past my face
Gauzy offerings to the day
Beseeching light break forth

Perplexed, on point there I stand
Walk in wonder swirling round
Await the light to fully shine

Stillness reigns the hallowed hour
Bidding shadows fall away
Come, I pray, illumine me


She stood at the crosswalk, a dog near her feet barking at something unseen. The traffic roared by, and with the change of lights, slowly came to a stop. She could cross now, but for some reason was hesitant to step off the curb and cross to the other side. It was as though the crossing would require her to leave behind everything that she had known here on this side of the street. Things she was loathe to give up or forget. She was not quite ready, yet.

And so she stood, frozen in place. Afraid, perhaps, to move forward. The light changed again, the traffic moved on, and still she stood, frozen.

Why now does the story of Lot’s wife come to mind? Fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his family were told to not look back at the horrible scene. The instruction was explicit. Do not look back. And yet, Lot’s wife did look back, and instantly became frozen in that spot, a pillar of salt. Her life ended there. Why did she stop from fleeing from destruction towards new life? What captured her that she became a lesson for all who vacillate, procrastinate fleeing the destructive things of this world? Why did she hesitate?

I wonder what went through her mind when Lot’s wife looked back. I do know that with faith I must look forward, fleeing destruction. It is when I look back that I, too, become frozen. In Luke 17:20-37 Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God that is within us, not one that comes with observation. And of that day when the Son of Man, Jesus returns finally to a new earth, the old earth passing away. He admonishes us to, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)

I pray that I will not hesitate in that day, not look back to collect my life of this earth, but leave behind all that should be destroyed, that is not needed nor fit for God’s kingdom. Perhaps that girl at the curb is considering those things as well. Only when the light shines her direction, and the dangers stop, does she confidently step off the curb, and walk through parted waters to the other side, safe all the way. Even the dog at her feet has quieted, knowing all is finally well.

When one has the Holy Spirit dwelling within, a grand and marvelous thing occurs. We are given all the sufficiency we need for a life of godliness, pleasing to our LORD, for He Himself is our sufficiency. Like the girl on the curb, this is a lesson of learning to be meditated on, allowing one’s mind to be renewed with God’s way of thinking. In this world our sufficiency is touted to be found in our efforts, accomplishments, comparisons to others as we race to bigger and better, more excellent things. To be recognized, praised and lauded for who we are, our wisdom, our abilities, our delightful personalities, all that makes one look good in this life. And yet, eventually, if one is truly honest with oneself, these things become empty, hollow shadows of the true, deep desires of one’s heart. That God-shaped vacuum that can only be filled and satisfied with God Himself.

It is hard living in a broken world when the promise and walking toward fulfillment is always just another step ahead. To be patient with the process of refinement that comes with endurance, trials, sorrows, the challenges one must face each day. To find peace in the process when one sees their own conflict within. Yet, with the sufficiency of Christ we can rejoice in the hope of things to come! And even now, to hesitate not for the God things that are greater than the things of this world!

Facing The Flood

As the need for acceptance 
Rises from the deep
Raging waters cascade down
Carve gorges in the steep
Exo- and endo-skeletons of my soul

When the sense of rejection meanders
Close to my watching mind
As runlets fill dried gorges
And trickle steadily down
I anticipate the flood

This time I’m more prepared though
Many floods have passed this way
Have swept away my confidence
Held identity in its sway
But I am stronger now

The strength of my Redeemer
Inside of me He walks
Shows me signs to watch for
How to navigate the rocks
And to understand the waters

I pray about what’s causing
The rise of fear in me
Face in truth the telling
Open eyes to see
What it is that’s frightening

So as I face the questions
The quandaries in my mind
I’m watchful for the currents
The paths of rising tides
To move out of their way

And with the One who saves me
Examine rifts within
Build bridges over caverns
Make secure the way again
So I can walk on

I can choose the path to follow
Rise above impending floods
Find the way through any waters
Walk on with Hope above
Any presenting situation

When past the dangerous places
Breathe again the calmer air
With praise and much thanksgiving
To the One who led me there
Who gives me safe passage

And with joy again infilling
I treasure time we spent
Assessing, fixing, building
Repairing what was rent
Shoring up and healing my brokenness within

From A Mountain View

The undulating valley floor lay before us, stretching for miles ahead. We gazed from above, as we sat on a rock outcropping catching our breath from the hard climb up. As clouds moved across the sky, the light playing across the land brought sharp focus to the ravines and hillocks that lay hidden at first glance. This was cattle country, fences bounding vast upper mountain meadows and pastureland, old homestead buildings dotting the landscape. Water was aplenty, the river having been dammed years before, a great reservoir laying in the low areas, the watery grave of older homesteads and pioneer towns. Today cabins and fancy mountain lake homes could be found nestled in the yellow pine forests that marched down the mountainsides to the lake, thirsty for drink. Fishing and boating were popular with those who visited the lake, but from our vista view we saw bigger things, the majesty that surrounded the valley below.

It had been an arduous climb, my life long companion, my husband, knowledgeable in the ways of rock climbing and outdoor survival. We had both been through our own challenging climbs before we met, and our journey together brought new wonders and demands to navigate. Sitting on this outcrop now gave pause to the long journey of marriage, parenting, and careers, time to step aside from our microscopic, tunneled views of everyday life to see the bigger picture. To see us as part of a grander, more marvelous reality than before. Perhaps that is why God brought us together. To help us help each other balance, walk through the inner and outer treks we would encounter. To dive deep within ourselves to explore new understanding, mine for true lasting treasure placed there by the same Creator who created the vast mountain vistas, to learn to renew our minds by the truth of who God says He is and who we are in Him. It is quite like mountain climbing. One suddenly turns a forested corner, and there it is laying before you! Understanding, as clear and beautiful as the most resplendent places on earth. Or perhaps even more so, for the price that was paid for a gift of unmerited favor.

Catching our breath we relished this time to pause, to gaze, to be thankful for this beautiful place to rest and reflect. Like ants scurrying nonstop, their whole hill alive with frenzied motion, life had a way of pulling us this way and that, scrambling our thoughts with so many demands one was hard pressed to know what to do, except explode! Or implode. No wonder emotions, like a pressure cooker gone awry, could overpower and blast one into behaviors uncontrolled. Or if turned inward would erode and carve deep wounds like torrents of rushing water sculpting sandstone canyons. Yes, my mind still needs renewal every day, for I have known the highs and lows of emotional tides. Some might enjoy the adventure of such rides, perhaps in a seaworthy sailboat, but inside one’s mind I prefer the thrills of smooth sailing and revelation of new glorious vistas. Pausing on this high mountain perch, a special place that my husband has visited many times before, reminds me of the importance of going to high mountains, for rest, reflection, renewal. To a place where one can breathe rarified air, see past the clouds or pollution, gaze far into panoramas that go on and on and on, never ending vistas that inspire, refill one’s soul. And to remember again the indescribable grandeur and glory of Him who has gifted us His renewal, inside and out. To sit there with Him, and be thankful. And then walk with Him into the valley below.

Heart Talk

Trudging on the road of life 
Occasion brings gifts of surprise
A person with a heart that can
Truly listen, understand

How oft when words are flung out loud
Meaning’s lost in vocal air
Translation haps before the thought
Has fully landed on listener’s ear

To listen well one must set aside
Opinions, preplanned thoughts, retorts
To hear the heartbeat of the talk
To catch the meaning e’re it’s lost

LORD, give me ears to truly hear
What’s being said when someone speaks
Make a way for truth to shine
Bring solace to our hearts and minds

And as we unpack burdens long
Held tightly, stuffed down deep inside
A lightness, spirit freedom comes
Joy begins to magnify

Give us courage, LORD, to share
To rid ourselves of grievous woes
With wisdom bring those hearts who care
To speak new life, new hope to bear

Note: References about listening are from Madeleine L’Engle, Trailing Clouds of Glory, pg. 47:
“We have become over casual in our rituals of greeting and leavetaking, blessing and even reviling. We focus on our own gesture, rather than the need, intent, response of the other . . .
The scribes and Pharisees tended to look at people and see where they ought to be. Jesus looked at people and saw where they were.”

Behind The Ugly

It’s sad the walls and fortresses
One builds around one’s self
To hide, protect, justify
To keep the peace, so not
To have to open doors
That have been firmly closed
Content without relationship
Than trekking brambled shores
Losing precious fellowship
That still could be restored
If one would take courage

What makes those hurtful attitudes
That somehow seem to say
I know better than you do
Pushes folks away
Then at attempts to reconcile
Forgiveness is not given
Labeled forever ugly
Again, again, again
Though in the first offense
The truth there may have been

Perhaps behind the ugly
Is a shield from being hurt
An effort to defend oneself
From wounds or even worse
The pain of deep rejection
And the conflict of disdain
Perhaps behind the ugly
One battles not again
Just repels the lot
Stays in control
Maybe even wins

Fear or Faith?

Recently in an online video a speaker commented on making choices through fear or faith. It caught my attention for it succinctly stated the reality of how we live most of our lives. It seems many of those deep-seated angsts from childhood center around the nauseating fear of rejection, ridicule, or humiliation. Interesting that such challenges to our core being that arise when we are so very young may last a lifetime. When I think of the decision-making process that rolls in my head I wonder, what is fueling that engine? Fear or faith?

It really matters not so much what the fear or the faith is, it seems the age old dichotomy between the two is the point. The world system, the cultural voices that dominate our community and social systems, our media and information sources tout a fear-based agenda it seems. Or messages that instill, promote fear in the masses, rather than inspiring us to have hope and rise to greater heights. Faith on the other hand must be carefully considered. For the object of one’s faith is best chosen with care.

“Faith” according to Webster is essentially loyalty, belief, trust. Throughout my life when challenged with many fearsome situations, the choices in how to to respond were always the same: in fear, or in faith. Fear and trembling were not foreign concepts. Fear sneaks in, just like it did in that garden where it all began. Fear of lack was born there. Fear that what Adam and Eve had been given was not enough.

“Not enough!” Such a loud shout in today’s world . . . or a whisper. Like a barnacle welded on the thing it refuses to let go, it’s tendrils sunk deep into the fabric of our psyche. It taunts and shames, incites doubt, breeds fear til we are left grasping for something or someone to believe in. We are, after all, creatures meant to walk in faith, in relationship with a good God who has only our best in mind. Are we willing to search out that relationship? To spend time finding the goodness of the God who created us, or in fear will we run to more tangible sources that seem to have the answers we want? We do all walk in faith . . . in something.

Over the years of seeking to find that good God that the historical Jesus Christ told so many about, I have found the something/Someone to believe in who has proven to be trustworthy and true. He has never lied to me, put me out or down, humiliated me (I’ve done that on my own!), or used me in any nefarious way. He has given me hope, renewal, value, worth, forgiveness, confidence, family, friends, and even dwells in me through His Holy Spirit. I am never alone. Sure, I might have questions, my own random fears that arise, loneliness when I am focused on what I might not have rather than what I do have – Him. Yet in all these normal human experiences I have Someone I can run to immediately anytime, any place for solace, answers, direction. This is the Person I choose to believe and trust with my faith; faith being “walking to the end of all the light we have, yet still going on” (I remember a preacher making a statement like that about fifty years ago). The richness of God’s provision is astounding, and I shall never be able to understand it all with my finite mind. Yet this I know, He is real, He is Love, and He died and rose again (a historical fact) to tell me so.

Fear or faith? I have found God of the Bible (not “religion”, but God Himself) to be the place of faith I can securely go to in my fear. His voice and counsel will never lead me astray, and His peace that passes all understanding envelopes me in a chaotic world. I need but “Be still and know that (He is) God.” (See Psalms 46:10a, NKJV.) And to learn of Him and His wisdom so I may face my fears with hope, assurance, and faith (see Romans 10:17).

Death By Ricotta

Her mind was twirling, the day beginning to spin before she had had her morning meal. Usually a cup of chocolate bone broth, and a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese with her meds, took care to keep her stomach comfy. Thoughts pinged: “This house is a mess, I really need to get this taken care of before someone comes over. Dust the black TV base – it’s the worst! Move the piles of mail that are still waiting to be put in the recycle bin – I must look through each piece first. Disheveled! I must do something about this! And that Zoom meeting at 1:00 – am I ready for that? All the other gals are so gifted – I think I know what to share, but . . . ?” And on her thoughts ran, along with her feet to dust off the TV base and move the piles.

Mixing her powdered bone broth with the boiling water from the teakettle, she mused again, “This is how I feel – all mixed up!” In her hurry she began gulping down the ricotta. Oh, she loved the creamy taste, and the fact it was a no muss, no fuss fast breakfast. While her mind swirled as she gulped away, a thought dawned above her chaos: “This is what happens when you overeat. You are swirling in your head instead of paying attention and experiencing what is going in your mouth!” At that very same moment a near choking sensation arose in her throat. “Of, gag!” she thought with alarm. “Am I really going to choke on this ricotta? Have I just packed my throat full so quickly that I haven’t really swallowed? Can I swallow now? Can I swallow now? Can I swallow now?”

Happily, swallow she did. It caused her pause, slowed her frenzy down. Taking her hot drink to her office she settled in her quiet chair to really begin her morning. To ask the LORD into her day, to consciously praise and wait on Him. And to write what ever came to mind. “Well, that was close! Thank you I am still breathing, LORD! ‘Death By Ricotta’ has a catchy sound to it. If I were a mystery writer that could be interesting. Hmmm. . . “

Marinating in The Balm of Gilead

Whenever I hear “the balm of Gilead” I recall fond memories as a choir girl singing that old old spiritual. Little did I fully understand the meaning of the word Gilead, and what the balm of it was all about. Yet I knew there was something surely special about that balm for people to sing such a soulful song.

Was it a bit like the “Nestea Plunge”? For those of you not old enough to remember, imagine yourself standing on the edge of a large pool, wide goofy smile on your face, and free-falling backwards into cool, refreshing iced tea! Yes, it was a great TV ad, and very memorable to watch, for it still comes to mind at the most random times. Something told me, though, that the balm of Gilead was much more soothing than refreshing iced tea. Something that quenched much deeper, that addressed needs far beyond one’s physical thirsts.

Historical Gilead was located in a mountainous region of modern Northwest Jordan, east of the Jordan River and north of the Dead Sea. In ancient times the resins of specific flowering trees or shrubs were harvested to make rare perfumes and special ointments that were widely known for their healing properties. Yet even in Old Testament times, the precious balm made in Gilead could not heal the underlying cause of sickness in God’s people. They struggled, like a delirious patient unwilling to accept curative medicine, rebelliously turned against God’s ways, unwilling to yield to His solution, receive His prescription for wellness. So on humanity went, living in sickness and futility, becoming more and more gravely ill, until the Great Physician declared, “Enough!” Holy intervention was needed.

The spiritual reservoir of one’s life, oft overlooked as we scurry through our days, is where the true Balm of Gilead needs to be applied. This is where one in reality may marinate in the healing Balm. Marinating is to enhance flavor, tenderize. It’s purpose is to penetrate deep within to cause positive change. It is into one’s spiritual reservoir where all our soul-sickness dwells, that the Balm of Gilead does its work. One may be aware of the hurts of pain, pride, shame, lies, abuse, torturous thoughts or actions, ridicule, humiliation, embarrassment, fears, wrongdoings, and sins of all kinds that plague us as they rise into our conscious minds. Such thoughts taunt us, remind us of our depravity. No matter how hard we try, we are unable to save and heal ourselves, no more than could those people of long ago. No matter our heart-felt efforts, still we fall short.

But for God. In His infinite mercy and grace He has provided a solution for our terminal condition. This is what He has shown me: The Balm of Gilead – God Himself through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ whose Holy Spirit actually lives within each believer- is offered freely to all who would accept. Only this Balm will heal all our diseases, all our hurts, heal our souls. And in His presence we are invited to marinate, every moment, every day of our lives here on earth and then on into life everlasting. He has come offering Himself. He has come with life poured out. He has come with healing assured. He is the Source of life and love Himself. Indeed, the Balm to heal our sin-sick souls.

I bid you to sing that timeless spiritual, and invite the Balm of Gilead to marinate deeply in your soul. (The chorus below is in bold type. The final verse is of the updated version.) May His healing Balm bring you peace.

There is a balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead,
To heal the sin-sick soul.
Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.


If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.


Don't ever feel discouraged,
‘Cause Jesus is your friend,
And if you lack for knowledge,
He'll not refuse to lend.

(See: and Wikipedia )

The Balm of Gilead

She had stood tall, proclaimed her thoughts, and found herself cast out into a wilderness place. She had been brave voicing her opinions to her father, the unchallenged patriarch of the family. Her opinion defied his, valid though it was. Now here she was, in a valley of dry bones. Bones not literally that she could see, but a representation of how she felt. Void of water, void of life, void of the love of her father. She had never in all her years experienced such a thing. It was horrible; it was desolate. It was like a living death. She had an inkling that perhaps she knew a hint of what Jesus might have felt when, crucified, He cried, “My Father! Why hast Thou forsaken me?”

In her mind’s eye a vision arose, brief but poignantly clear. The desolation, the isolation; she felt bereft. A valley, arid and dead, parched with heat where nothing grew. Yet she held to her decision. She must. Did she have the right to her own opinion? Yes; yes, she did. And as an adult, married woman, it was high time she exercised her right.

The days wore on and the woman walked on, one foot in the busyness of her growing family’s life, and the other in the grief of separation from her father. She knew not if he would ever speak to her again. Yet to stand her ground she felt hesitant to approach him. It was a quandary for her, especially as both their personalities were strong and very much alike. What was a daughter to do? She prayed continually, sought her husband’s counsel, and after nearly two weeks, that of a counselor at their church. “Write your father a letter,” she was told. “Affirm to him how much you love him, and that you hope your relationship can be restored. Ask him to contact you by a certain date, and if he chooses not to, that you will know he has rejected you.”

With no little anxiety the woman penned and mailed that letter. Her heart ached with sadness, and hope, as she waited restlessly for his response. Then suddenly the very next day the phone rang. “Oh, my daughter! I love you so!” Oh, such words! A balm to her ears, to her heart, to her soul. Like the precious healing ointment of old, the balm of Gilead, the true healing balm that only comes from the love of the Heavenly Father had been poured over her through her earthly father, filling and nourishing those dry, barren places, filling the wastelands of her heart, and anointing joy to her spirit once again. She felt whole suddenly. For through her suffering she had learned this truth: we are created to live in the grace and blessings of the Father, the Source of all life, in Him, the very Balm of Gilead. Indeed, to marinate to the depths of our spirit and soul in His love. For without Him we cannot be whole.

On Point

She whirled around and around, ever faster and faster it seemed. Mesmerized by the grace of her movement one could not help but wonder how she could stay upright. Dizziness surely would be her prize, a sense of disorientation like children spinning, wobbling, staggering with laughter. And still she whirled on, missing not a step as the music soared.

“All right, I’m coming!” yelled Mica. Dragging backpack behind him, his bare feet testament he was still not ready to go, heralded another delay in getting out the door. It was kind of like herding cats, catching tadpoles by hand, scurrying after anything that was just out of reach. This scenario played out every single day, just one of many plates Allison juggled to keep life moving forward and balanced. More than once her limits were tested, still she kept her focus. She had to make this work. She could not lose this boy again.

Mica safely deposited at preschool, Allison hurried on to the dance studio. Living life on her own since the loss of their parents, she was determined she would raise her young brother. He would not be sent to live with strangers, and certainly not their distant cousin Felix and his shrewy wife. Sure, they were related, but something about the couple always gave Allison the creeps. “Nope, he’s not going there. Ever!” On she plodded, renewed in her resolve. She and Mica were a team. Brother and sister bound together by blood, and grief.

Allison had just finished college when their parents died. A car wreck on I-90. During early winter. A huge pile-up of semi’s, and vehicles of all sizes, drivers hurrying to somewhere. A freak ice storm had glazed the road and suddenly chaos claimed the lives of many. Allison and Mica were home waiting their parent’s return when the awful news came. And since then their worlds had been spinning.

Convincing the courts she could indeed care for her brother had been a hard won battle. Mica had been swept away by CPS until she could prove her ability to provide for him. It had taken months to work through the legal labyrinth of details. But, thankfully, with their parent’s forethought of wise investments, and a mortgage-free home, there was a financial cushion to start from. Her job with the studio provided just enough income to meet their needs, and finally Allison had been declared Mica’s legal guardian. Yet, she felt Big Brother was always watching, ready to snatch him away again if she did not stay on point.

On point. An exquisite place to be as a dancer. Only a few inches connecting one’s body to the earth, allowing whirling and spinning as a perfectly balanced top. It is glorious, that feeling of freedom. One could take flight. Allison had been practicing this maneuver of dance most of her life. She had learned early in her career the secret all ballerinas knew. How to stay upright, and secure in your position in space, while whiling around and around. A point of focus was paramount, With each revolution her eyes returning to a fixed position, a grounded spot, a point of reference. Without it the spinning dancer would lose their way, unraveling like a ball of yarn. Allison had an anchor sure, deep within her, and a point of focus that never wavered. And though she was spinning, or life was spinning around her, she knew she was steady, on point.

While life is spinning in my world I remember the need for a steady, focal point. Even the earth, spinning on its axis, has the sun as the focal point around which it travels. It is a built-in reality of our existence, so large and so small we might not realize it. Still it is there, and we are certainly aware of it when suddenly thrown off balance! I believe in my whirling dance I have found my secure point of reference. I hope you, too, have found yours!

Impatient’s Folly

“Hurry! Time’s awaistin’! Just get ’er done!” Ever had the dogs of impatience nipping at your heels, or worse yet, screaming in your head? Sure there are times when expedience is paramount, even life-saving. Yet much of life does not require such a high adrenaline response. Or the demand to chugga-chugga-chugga to produce-produce-produce when there’s really no gas in one’s tank.

That old phrase, “I want patience – NOW!” resonates deeply within us when we run up against the wall that won’t move, the solution that just won’t come, and the ongoing waiting-waiting-waiting, forever it seems. Should I be surprised that the birth of a dream, or of any endeavor, might take awhile? Most births in the natural world take time: humans – about 9 months (274 days); African elephants – 600-750 days; mice – 20-23 days. If you are a Virginia opossum you might win the shortest mammalian gestation time of 12-13 days, only to take second place to the striped-face dunnart (an Australian marsupial mouse) delivering at 11 days. And in each of these created beings, can hurrying or impatience speed up the process of gestation? (No!) Of course even these may need defer to others with shorter gestation times in the various phylum of creation, all only to bow to the Creator who created man in less than a day, and the whole of the universe in 6 days! Imagine!

Impatience, like a whirly-gig, spins and spins. Sometimes it throws me out of kilter, churning up emotions that needed not be ruffled. It certainly does not further my hopes; it just gives me a headache, or ekes out in irksome ways. It might turn me onto a path of unforeseen consequences that I will regret. In all, no matter what, there seems to be a lesson waiting, if I would slow down to grasp it.

Happily, no matter how unwise I have been in my choices, there is still hope. Like a silly top spinning til it drops, I can rest in my paused position. And learn. See the reality of where I’ve landed; honestly embrace who I am and what my choices have birthed; and cling to hope as I lean into the truths of lessons awaiting me.

“You really screwed up this time! There’s no going back now! You’ve really let us down!” Our minds, invaded by whispers of the enemy of our souls, will pick away at our embarrassment and humiliation, whenever we think we have failed. It’s like double-speak. We were supposed to hurry it up, and now we’ve screwed up? No wonder God wants us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a, NKJV). To take the time to slow down and listen to Him. To learn the sound of His voice so we are not confused when a plethora of other voices shout directions. It is here in God’s peace that we may overcome impatient’s folly, or any other reason we find for the mess we’re in. Standing before Him, whether for admonition or solace, the love of a good God never fails to comfort us.

Divide and Conquer

The day promised to be warm. Still May, temperatures crept up only to plummet again without warning. Not unusual for Idaho, but much different than those very predictable four seasons I remember as a child. One thing certainly has not changed. The tenacity of grass invading the flower borders. “Be sure every white root is pulled out of the ground,” Mother instructed me long ago. “It will grow new grass if left there.” I hear her voice every time I go out to pull new weeds. They reproduce faster than rabbits; I wish I could chase them away as quickly!

It was cool yet this morning, in the mid-fifties. There were a few hours til the sun would invade my shaded place and heat me as well as the air. Grateful for that presumed “gleaning gene,” the one that gives the ability to work bent in half at the waist, I began, nearly standing on my head to pull the offending blades. Encircling the ornamental cherry tree in our yard, a lovely grouping of violas have overwintered two seasons and are thriving. Nice large clumps still beg for more plants to join their colorful parade, violas and pansies lifelong favorites for both my husband and me. And as I dug and hacked away at the clay soil, a bit of weedy inspiration popped into my mind: divide and conquer. Such a simple and time worn concept, yet interesting to see played out in the garden.

It was a battle. Invading grass versus violas. Five of the six clumps of violas were full and standing strong. The sixth, while healthy and robust, had obviously been fighting a battle against invading grasses into it’s core. No wonder it was a smaller clump and misshapen. The grasses had snuck their tendrils into the whole of the clump and set up camp. It was a chore rooting the offenders out without harming the viola. A delicate surgical procedure of divide and conquer, a counterattack to the kind the grasses had launched.

It was not long after standing upside down performing this act of mercy that my back demanded a different approach. Out came the collapsible garden stool, a green one, like the kind you see old folks using. One position cushions the legs for kneeling; flipped over it becomes a handy stool. With relief, and zero embarrassment, I sat on the stool and worked on. My disclaimer as the stool wobbled under me: “If this stool bucks me off, it’s because the ground is uneven” . . . I wondered then who or what was conquering whom in this “divide and conquer” scenario! Still in the end, about two hours later, I had won! I could still stand up and walk, the viola had been freed, and the flower bed looked grand!

Slowly I am becoming smarter. After the next visit to the market a squirt bottle, a jug of vinegar, liquid Dawn dish soap, and salt stand at the ready for my DIY weed/grass killer. I found the recipe online, my secret weapon to keep winning this game! My back already is thanking me!

Flawed Paintings

The spot was dark, bleeding over and around the other brilliant colors in the painting. Somehow the flaw had overcome the lighter shades, and ran like rivulets throughout the work. It was heart-wrenching for the painter to watch his ideal marred. The consequences were dire, yet even so he could not bear to throw this work away. There was still beauty and story to be found in it.

The overall damage was irreparable it seemed. All of his works were to be reviewed, including this one. Would he be judged for the flaw, or the incredible beauty still within this masterpiece, and in his other works? Only time would tell, for there seemed to be raging in the art world a thunderous tug-of-war for who would control the standards and values that would determine how all art would be taught, judged, displayed, allowed. It was a tense time. Still the artist held true to his values, and with honesty revealed his reflection and understanding of beauty as he saw it. Flaws and all.

It was an interesting fight really. One fought with a double-edged sword, or perhaps a double standard, for those who would judge him were themselves imperfect artists as well. And some not artists at all! But ones who focused on specific types of flaws that deemed another an enemy of sorts, the very root of all that was wrong in the world. It mattered not that people in their own camp had painted, or experienced, the exact same types of imperfections, yet his flaws were somehow more offensive. It seemed odd to him, and sad, as relationships were divided because of it. Focusing on flaws tended to narrow one’s vision, and dull one’s eyes to the great beauty and glorious good still being created in the world. It was a conundrum. Yes, a sad one at that.

Still the artist painted on. There was a spirit that drove him to find beauty and hope in the mundane, to bring it to life for others to see, in those hidden things that surrounded them, wonders so easily missed as they rushed on by. It brought him great joy, even in his own imperfection. He endeavored to improve, to learn from his mistakes, to rectify misrepresentations if his rendering did not give right tribute to his subject. He did his best, learned to live with his limitations, and to grow beyond them. He hoped the world would cast not away the foundational values of art, but would hold tightly to learning how to blend colors, correct and forgive one another’s failings and those unexpected flaws that randomly appeared, and encourage dialogue among all. It was a place to practice love in an oft unloving world. With a courage from beyond himself, he displayed his works; and walked away, to paint again.

After A Rain

Oh, the smell of rain washed air 
Cleansing waters everywhere
Earth proudly wearing finery
Birds chorusing in harmony

Just stepping on the garden path
Brings solace to my weariness
I think I’ve been inside too long
I need to hear God’s nature song

Sunlight shines on raindrops clear
Kissing flowers, leaves, all near
Drinking heaven’s cheer to fill
Bursting glories blooming still

Pulling weeds, yes, has its place
To urge me from my quiet nest
To work outside and dwell awhile
In God’s majestic nature smile

Love Hovers Still

Even when rejected 
Love is hovering still
Reaching, caring, giving
Wounded hearts to fill

It matters not the offense
Love still avails there
Like misty clouds surrounding
Diaphanous - like air

Love waits in hidden places
To shine and spread His light
Consolation, uplift
Hope in darkest night

Fear not the invitation
Of Love to join you in
The trials of woe you’re walking
As challenges begin

For Love’s the best companion
He’s been through every way
He knows all complications
And by your side He’ll stay

Take His hand in your hand
His nail prints are the proof
That Love will guide you always
In righteousness and truth

Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli

After forty-plus years I have finally figured it out. Sit down, please! This might be the revelation of forever – or not. But it does seem to apply to my husband and me, and the vast differences in our personalities. As much as we try, he forever is a Brussel sprout, and I am a broccoli.

Brussel sprouts remind me of compact cabbages. Layers upon layers of overlapping leaves creating a concentric ball, evenly or somewhat oddly shaped. All, however, share that distinctive Brussel sprout characteristic of being strongly and firmly formed. Impenetrable almost. A stalwart vegetable overall. And for many, an acquired taste. Even when slathered with butter.

Broccoli, on the other hand, is a bit more frothy. Spaces for air to flow around and between its stalks could lend it an “airhead” label, but that isn’t quite right. Broccoli is still compact, like a thousand tiny green pin heads bursting into clusters of nosegays. Place those on sturdy stalks and you have a green bouquet for a walk down the veggie aisle.

Oh, yum!” exclaimed three of our grandchildren. “Broccoli is so good with BUTTER on it!” “Yes. Yes, it is,” I would heartily agree. “And so are Brussel sprouts,” my husband would add. This silly conversation really was going no where, except around and around for fun, the children dramatically imparting this culinary news to us. Broccoli was definitely the veggie of choice this day, by majority tastebuds. But still Brussel sprouts were worth considering.

I am continually amazed at the myriad variations of this incredible creation we find ourselves in. It matters not one’s preferences, there is something beautifully intriguing to be found in, well, everything! Slowing down some (or a lot) in my “more mature” years (what does “old” mean anyway?) has afforded these fun times of contemplation on the sense of things. Each new day is bursting with possibilities! It’s like a treasure chest at our fingertips, waiting to be opened if we could but see. What hidden surprises will you find today? Anything in those normal or unusual occurrences of your day? And where do they lead you? Hopefully into a greater, richer life towards the everlasting kind. The kind that nourishes your soul and spirit like good veggies do the body.

Never Too Old

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

Genesis 17:17 (NKJV) reveals a delightful, and unbelievable scene. Old people astonished with the thought of bearing a child! Could it be? Can it be that though their parts were withered and past their prime that a child could yet be born from them? And even more poignantly, that this child would be born from a barren womb to a couple whose longing for a child had yet to be fulfilled? They were old! How could it be? And yet, but God . . .

While building this blog site I feel much like Sarah. Though a few years from ninety I am definitely a senior citizen. And for a long while have dreamed of somehow sharing thoughts with the world. It makes me laugh with joy to think in my old age such a thing could be accomplished! And to realize what form it should take. All I know is that it is a longed for kind of baby that seems now to be becoming real. Certainly challenged in the doing, I am barren when it comes to such things. I have not built a site before, truly do not know how to navigate and manipulate through all the computer stuff to make it happen, and am mighty grateful for the tech support folks at WordPress who help me along. This has taken me to a place way beyond myself for the bearing of the fruit. And so, like a long awaited pregnancy, the journey begins.

So many times in my life, like on a precipice waiting to fly, I am stuck in my nest, have not wings, or my confidence and strength is lacking. The wind is blowing, the lift to carry me is there, whenever I am fully formed and ready. But what about my track record, past failed attempts, all the negative reasons or fearsome excuses to not believe in astounding possibilities? Do I dare think positively? Thankfully Sarah and Abraham did try, laughing even at the wonder of the possibility. And in their glee one sees a beautiful testament to belief. Trusting God to fulfill what He says will happen, even when all evidence screams otherwise. So they tried. And with the son who was born, Isaac, God made an everlasting covenant that continues beyond today. Through that lineage came our LORD Jesus, the fulfilling of the old covenant and the glorious Life of the new.

From old people! God’s plan for us is never used up, worn out, or finished! It is truly amazing the endless possibilities that may be worked through us. If only we would try. If only we would believe beyond ourselves.

LORD, may I hear Your voice, listen to You that I might know and believe Your promises and plans for me. And laugh with You for the sheer joy of it!

Proud Flesh

“Proud flesh,” is a term frequently associated with equine wounds, especially those occurring in joint areas, or other places where lots of movement interferes with complete healing. Granulation tissue, usually growing from the outside inward, overgrows its edges leaving a wound not fully healed, and prone to easy reinjury. I wonder at the proud flesh that may be lingering deep inside of me, places that I cannot see, yet that are poorly healed, easily reopened, hopefully not abcessing. Sure, these things are more easily addressed in one’s physical body, but what of one’s soul and spirit? Am I paying attention to wounds unhealed?

“Clang! Clang!” goes the trolley, as the masses rush in, grab hold, and stand like sardines stacked just so. In each breathing, rushing soul lies woundedness that is pushed deep into the recesses of hope-to-forget. All have learned early on that production is what is expected. For that you are paid; then you can eat; then you can afford shelter, clothing, transportation, meet your needs. Like automatons we rise, go, do, repeat, day in and day out, repeat, repeat, repeat. And yet, there is that something deep inside that just won’t go away. Proud flesh keeps growing. Our woundedness remains. And each time similar hurts poke at that spot, the wound is lanced again.

My father was a surgeon. He knew the intricacies of the physical body, fascinated with the incredible workings of all the systems together. He could go deep within a person’s frame to find, cut out, repair, and set towards restoration those wounding things that ail us. Still the healing went beyond his hands. Each person healed in their body’s miraculous way, and, in most, satisfactorily. Still some required additional help when their wounds refused to heal. The physician was needed again.

I think of God in this way when I consider those areas of proud flesh, unhealed emotional or spiritual wounds in me, especially those that have dogged me for years. He is my Physician who knows exactly where I need healing. Still, I must participate and yield to Him if I desire to become fully well. Otherwise, my poorly healed wounds remains just that – partially healed, but reopening again and again, seeping hurt into my being. Consider Psalms 51:6 (NKJV):

Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

The more I submit to learning who God is, grow in relationship with Him, and yield to His ways, the more that proud flesh in me is healed. Isn’t it interesting that it is called “proud” flesh? For inevitably my problem is my pride. Am I willing to face the truth of what is really there? The parts that reveal where I have been wrong? Even way down deep in me a festering hurt may not be healed because I have refused to humble myself to forgive or seek forgiveness, to admit I do not have all the answers, to be willing to listen to God’s wisdom rather than the “wisdom” of a broken, hurting world. I know when the time is taken to think on these things with my Great Physician, much healing and relief can be achieved. It is worth the process, for His truth always sets me free! For some reason when the words “proud flesh” pop into my mind . . . methinks surgery is about to begin.

“I’ve Been Punky’d!”

“Are you kidding me?” What’s a grandmother to do, but laugh and keep on? There is no other way to deal with some things, especially those surprises that keep poking at one’s patience. It had been a busy week already and I certainly was not expecting this. In my own home no less!

It started several days ago, the details complicated like a mass of threads that were, thankfully, untangling one thread at a time. In the midst of all the other chaos, our daughter’s washing machine quietly rebelled, flashing codes that it was plugged, refusing in repeated attempts to unlock its door so we could get the wet things out. No big deal it would seem. Except for the mountains of (three kids’) laundry waiting to be washed. It was a small thing I could do – bring the laundry home and do it for them. Easy. No problem. Then I saw it. With the last load being tossed in the washer, there it lay in the bottom of the tall basket. I’d been Punky’d.

A number of months ago our daughter brought home an adorable wee pup the family named Pumpkin, Punky for short. Not long later another adorable pup was adopted, Leon, and so the dynamics of a household with three school-age children and two cats revved up a couple notches more. The pups were darling, yet a handful. And house training became an ongoing battle. As the dogs grew the issue grew with them, though one pup finally figured out what going outside was all about. While Leon was off to a trainer for awhile, the female dog, though better, had her intermittent issues. I often wondered when Punky would get it together. Maybe now was her turn. Off to the trainer she went yesterday. Please, may potty training finally be mastered!

The children piled all their dirty clothes into two tall baskets. I noticed a definite doggy smell on some of the boys clothes, so double wash pods, with presoak and double rinse set, were tossed in for each load. It was only when I hit the bottom of basket “number two” did I find my prize . . . a neatly formed three inch, mostly dry, doggy-doo not quite smiling at me. Really? After muttering a bit while flushing it immediately down the loo, I could only laugh and conclude, “I’ve been Punky’d!” What else can a grandmother do but wryly tell the story to her husband and daughter, toss the laundry bag liner in the washer, and share the news with you! Just more dew, or this time Punky-doo, under the arbor!

Popcorn Writing

Pop! Pop! Pop! The ideas randomly burst upon my mind exploding with intrigue and delicious aroma! There is momentum in them, enough to get me out of bed to write when tradition says I should be falling asleep. But how can I suppress the opportunity to indulge myself in this treat? When an idea pops forth, I must grab it, pay attention and see where it leads. It is fun! It is entertaining! It is a grand brain game to keep my little grey cells exercising! Inevitably for me it is a lesson. And, like butter poured over, the writing of those unbidden thoughts are a balm to my soul; an outpouring that ends up filling me up.

As random thoughts pop you can find me furiously typing away on the small screen of my phone. Less cumbersome than lugging a laptop or iPad around, I am at the ready when inspiration strikes. Like opening a thousand favorite books in no particular order, and at different speeds, writing in this “style” (coined by my writing friend) is an adventure. I know not where the words will go, but must trust the flow and see. Without an agenda when the writing begins, or not much of one, all kinds of possibilities surface. Whether it is story in prose or poem, the process is the same. The words seem to take on a life of their own. I’m just here to scribe them down, try to ensure the meaning of what I write is evident when I read it out loud to myself; and hopefully it makes sense to others, too.

May I suggest you try it sometime? Any random word or phrase that pops into your mind, write it down. Then take the time to see where thinking about it takes you. Perhaps it will be like journaling. Maybe you will be moved to look up the meaning of words, or use a thesaurus to find just the right intent for your expression. You might meet some issues inside yourself that need tending. No matter what, it has been my experience that good will come as you honestly consider this experience.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Happy writing!

A Chicken Noodle Dilemma

Our grandson was heaped in a lump, stuck because he was convinced his drawing of a chicken looked “like a noodle!” We had been laboring a while on a story he was writing for a third grade assignment, that he was to read on a Zoom class meeting. His task – to write about a coyote. His story line was adorable (of course!) and yet he ran into a wall criticizing himself to the point of inaction. Oh, how easily I could relate, the fear of being embarrassed and ridiculed hovering over my shoulder most of my life. I could understand his dilemma, yet he was the one who had to trudge through it. In a short conversation we talked about the boy who learned from his wise elder to tackle his put-off project “bird by bird.” Lamenting that his report about several birds was due the next day, he was encouraged to go one step at a time, write one page at a time, draw one picture at a time, finish one report at a time (reference: Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.)

It took no effort on my part to praise our grandson for what he had done. It was impressive, and I loved watching the way his mind worked. He has been gifted with a brilliant imagination and sense of humor, but also a large dose of perfectionism, which unravels to underlying fear. It was interesting to see this play out as he wrestled with conquering this task.

Our grandson had completed several pages of the booklet, two to three sentences per page. The title, cover, and end pages were finished, but for the coloring. He had three more pages to compose, and then finish illustrating the entire booklet, “bird by bird,” or should I say, “coyote by chicken”?

Stuck on this chicken-looking-like-a-noodle dilemma took a funny twist long into the conversation. His worry about his classmates laughing at his drawing suddenly was solved: chicken’s name became (drumroll, please) “Noodle”! Puzzle pieces started to fall into place as our grandson’s mind clicked into humor gear: A coyote chases a chicken named Noodle who runs across the road; Coyote pauses as a car approaches, losing sight of the chicken as he stares at humans staring at him. (Earlier in the story line it was inferred that this was Coyote’s first encounter with humans, thus the stare-down.) Clearly though, the chicken had stolen the show, and our hearts. It was too good to not go with the flow: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” our grandson quoted with glee, and off his mind went again, adding an epilogue of sorts to his end page.

Now that he knew he could laugh with his classmates and not be laughed at, our grandson understood that the laughter would be from enjoyment of a fun and funny story, not laughter at him as a person. And if anyone wondered still why the chicken crossed the road, if not for the very obvious reason a coyote was chasing it, or the standard, “to get to the other side,” it is this: So he would not become Chicken Noodle soup! Oh, how very very delicious!

My addendum: Coyote’s name is Mac (really). The Chicken’s name is Noodle. And it’s all kind of Cheesy . . . YUM!

writing, chickens, kids, zerotohero