Monday, July 30

Blazing Ranges and Clingy Rear Bumpers

The rear bumper just fell off of the ample backside of our van.

Not a big deal. It's urgent fwip fwip fwip fwip alerted me to the fact that it was being dragged down the road behind us at 100km/hr. well in advance of me exposing anyone else to danger.

"Why?" you ask. "Why was your bumper dragging along behind you instead of riding securely on it's bumper-sturdy screws?" I am so glad you asked. Settle in, dear friends, for I have a tale to tell...

It all began on a typically non-threatening day in June, just one short month ago. The day, so sunny and full of promise, skipped along uneventfully. Until around 4:15 pm. At which time I received a call from a very nice constable who mentioned that I might want to hurry my way home from wherever I was as my house was on fire. Literally. With smoke and flames and everything.

Hurry on home I did. I hurried right home to find that the kids were safe, the dogs were fine, and dozens of people had rushed to our aid: neighbors, police officers, and fire fighters alike. Some smoke damage, a melted pot, a warped oven, and a slightly toasted kitchen were all we had to show for the adventure.
Note to self: Do not leave ground beef "simmering" on the stove unattended. For an hour and a half. At a high temperature. Particularly if you plan to be across town for any length of time.

I spent a few days washing smoke-saturated laundry. On day three, I made my way outside to hang out with the neighbor gals while I awaited the final load's rinse cycle. Dozens of piles of linens and clothing clean at last! My visit with the girls was leisurely, but eventually I made my way back into the house. I made my way in just in time to witness the flood waters ~ mucky, soapy, creeping flood waters ~ slither their way from the main floor laundry room out into the living room...and down into the basement.

The basement with the newly constructed drywall ceiling.

The basement (with the newly constructed drywall ceiling) required immediate attention. I slopped my way into the laundry room, turned off the machine, re-routed the drain hose back into the drain pipe in the wall, tossed a few bath towels (all freshly washed, smoke-free, and folded) into the spreading puddle, and headed for the basement. Cordless drill in hand, I hollered for help from my unsuspecting sons. "Get down here, NOW!" I shrilled. Together we removed our carefully mounted ceiling, artfully dodging the cascade of water that was happily settling into the dust encrusted joints.

As the drama-dust settled over the next few days, I noticed something peculiar: our houseplants were dieing. Now, I am not a domestic genius and no one will ever accuse me of having a Martha Stewart flare, but I do alright in the houseplant department. I water them occasionally, I ignore them mostly; every spring I re-pot them in the hopes that their roots will stretch and dive and glory in their new-found freedom. Every spring they thank me by sprouting new leaves and deepening their color.

Not this year, apparently. Almost half of them, on the heels of fires and floods, curled their little leaves into tight little fists, or simply shed them in heaps at their feet, and perished.

Whatever green the plants have been losing, the boys seem to be absorbing. One or all of them have been sick for a month ~ everything from allergies to strep to tummy flu's to incessant, drive-you-around-the-sanity-bend, coughs.

All attention getting, strange-that-it's-all-happening-this-month events. And then came the situation with the bumper...

Until last Thursday, I had never been in a vehicle accident. I've spun 'round on icy roads or driven over concrete parking barriers (Pesky little things! Don't they know I have no spacial awareness and that I'm likely to careen right over them?!), but I've never been in an honest-to-goodness accident.

That day, too, the sun shone with it's deceptive allure. I settled my still-sick kids in front of the television, promising I was only running out for "half an hour, maybe 45 minutes" to water Gramma's flower garden. They'll be fine, I reassured myself, I'll just be gone a little while. They hacked, sneezed, and barfed their goodbye's and I struck out for the quickest route to Gramma's house.

Little did I know that a wolf awaited me en route!

As I careened my way down the city's main highway, I became suddenly aware of the insistent beeeep beeeep-ing of the small car behind me. Before I had time to check my mirror's to see what the worry was, I felt our van rumble (shriek, launch, grate) over something large and metallic. The van to my left and I both pulled to the roadside. His van was clearly missing it's wheelchair accessibility ramp. Our van looked like it had just been attacked by a big, nasty, robotic bear.

The ramp (which was later picked up by two very well-intentioned, if bossy, tow truck drivers) missed our gas tank. It missed the brake line. It even missed the tire itself. But it did a tidy number on the wheel well and the rear bumper.

Which is why the bumper was white knuckling it down yet another quick-paced road this afternoon.

It's been an eventful month. Evidence of the fire and flood are all but repaired. I've managed to talk most of our plants into stepping away from the ledge (Life really is worth living, I tell them passionately!). The doc says the kids are on their way to good health. And the thousands of dollars worth of damage to our vehicle will soon be repaired.

From the moment my husband and I laid eyes on our sons after that house fire, until the moment I drove home after that crazily freak accident we have not stopped saying Thank you, Lord. Thank you for safety. Thank you for fantastically good outcomes to could-have-been-worse situations. Thank you for insurance! Thank you for the many, many people in our lives who care enough to offer support, even help, in strange times.

After that encounter on the highway last week, I've also added a prayer for ongoing protection from the enemy of God, the enemy of all of us who love God; he'd like to see us destroyed, ruined, worn-down, distracted. I'm reminded that there are unseen forces at work ~ for us, and against us.

I should probably go haul the bumper out of the backseat of the van now. Time for some duct tape and twine and another encounter with the good folks at the insurance company!

If you make the Most High your dwelling ~ even the Lord, who is my refuge ~

then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.

For He wil command His angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone...

"Because he loves me," says the Lord,

"I will rescue him; I will protect him,

for he acknowledges my name."

~Psalm 91~

Wednesday, July 25

The Secret of God

I (believe) in love not because it (is) an alternative to hate.
Love has no alternatives.

Love is all there is.

Love is the only truth of God that matters.
Love is the occupation of God, His sole employment.

There is no use asking if the human race matters.
To choose to love is to take up the occupation of God.

To love like God is to take prejudices and hatreds and hold them in your hands and confess that they are of no consequence.
Only love counts.

Every other emotion is too small to matter.

Love lives.
Now and

No other emotion is granted pulse or breath in the courts of God.
All other attitudes are dying or already dead.

Life is love.

Death is the illusion.
It is a trick played by demons in shadows.
Death is the farce of hate, a shabby play set in a dingy theater.

(Understand) the greatest secret of God:
You cannot serve people nor save them without loving them.

You cannot practice your animosities while you are trying to save the dying.
You must presume that the dying are worth saving because they are human and in need.

~ Calvin Miller, The Book of Seven Truths ~

Sunday, July 8


encourage one another
~ 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews ~

I'm late. My son is in the bronze medal game and I'm missing it. I'm rushing toward the bleachers to watch the last half of the match when I hear his name. People are shouting, some screaming, "CORY! Get the ball to Cory!"

The small stand of seats is filled with cheering parents and siblings. I move away from the crowd and lean up against the cool chain-link fence bordering the pitch. My son has his stick on the ball and is driving toward the net, four of his opponents pursuing him ~ hard. A rumble rises from the crowd of observers, "Run, Cory! Hit it! Keep going!"

Men I have never seen before are belting out my kids' name at the top of their lungs. They're begging the coach to leave him on the field. They're pleading with him to get that ball between the posts. Cory snags the ball from the other team. He pushes toward the net. The goalie is quick and agile; he stops my son cold, time and again. Three fantastic shots on net, three stellar saves. Then, nimbly weaving through a crowd of challengers, Cory winds up for the hit of the game: the ball is in. It's a goal! My son's team wins the bronze!

Parents and kids alike go nuts with excitement. Dads, one after the other, approach my kid with head rubs and pats on the back, "Nice job, Cory!" "Good shot, kid!" They acknowledge him by name. They're proud of what he did for their team and grateful that their own sons and daughters have experienced victory, too.

We find our way toward each other eventually, he and I. I cup his sweaty, heat-mottled chin in my hand and we talk about how hard he had to work for that goal. I'm proud of him. I tell him so.

As a parent, my insides have gone to mush. Why? Because I'm proud of my kid? Because he won a game? I suppose so. More because his name was on the lips of his fellows ~~ for fifteen minutes one Saturday morning he was the focal point of the shouted encouragement of the crowd.

If I, as a very human mommy, feel awed and joyful when my son is encouraged, I wonder what the Maker of the world experiences when we, as His adopted, cheer each other on?

Does His heartbeat pick up when He hears us spurring each other on in our day-to-day? Do His insides go all wobbly when there's a crowd of us just pulling for the one who's laying it all on the line, hands and feet hard put to the task at hand, pressing toward the goal? Does His chest swell with pride at the thundering sound of His people reminding each other that this faith we are pursuing, while challenging, even difficult, is eternal?

Is there someone in your world that needs encouragement today? Not Internet-feel-good-warm-fuzzy messages, but your heart-felt support. The kind of cheer that only you can raise for that one?

Do you need encouragement today? Drop a line, if you do. There are friends in the bleachers, watching you make your way through the crowd, driving that ball toward the goal. We'll shout your name ~ loud ~ over and over again until that ball hits its' mark. Because you, child of God, are so important to our team.

encourage one another

~ 1 Thess., Hebrews ~

Thursday, July 5

A Reason For Toilet Scrubbing...With Finesse

If a man is called to be a street sweeper,
he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
or Beethoven composed music,
or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
He should sweep streets so well
that all the hosts of heaven and earth
will pause to say,
here lived a great street sweeper
who did his job well.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
~ Colossians 3 ~