Keep Running Maggie McRooney, a new fun read!

What a fun, sweet, well written young adult book. I have enjoyed some good chuckles!! Maggie is SUCH a believable character. And here is an added plus for me: when I was a kid my dad had a pink- wait for it- cadillac. I know. I know. Did I get grief for that Cadillac at school as my house was also an unfortunate pink stucco. Uggo.
Anyway doesn’t Maggie’s grandma show up in a pink buick?? Trust me, I can picture that car! Congratulations Edna Waidell Cravitz!! I am so proud if your accomplishment!!!

It’s That Feeling You Had But Every Day

I generally don’t admit to shopping in Walmart, but I was on a hunt for some recently elusive items only Walmart seems to have. As I scanned the shelves in the paper goods aisle, a fellow shopper took my cart and started to walk away.  I heard a woman say, with a certain urgency,

“That’s not our cart, that’s not our cart.”

The urgency in her voice caught my attention, and I turned and saw my cart leaving the aisle assisted by a young boy.

“You can take my groceries, but you’ll have to pay for them,” I said.

Then it occurred to me the child was black, and what I said could sound accusatory because he might not know that my middle name is ‘defuse the situation with cheer.’

 It was two days after George Floyd was killed.

His father graciously apologized, bowed his head, and raised his hands as we do sometimes as we apologize. And he apologized again. And again. I glanced around and realized this was family: husband, wife, and a couple of children. The children watched. Being a teacher, I always notice an audience of children and check for attentiveness. The oldest was wide-eyed, intensely watching his dad.


“No problem,” I said, “I’ve done it myself. I walked off with a woman’s cart once and her handbag was in it! I had it quite a few aisles before I heard an announcement over the PA asking for the cart to be returned. I was so embarrassed, and that woman was really irritated with me.”

The wife chuckled a bit and we went on our way, but as I turned down the next aisle it struck me hard how different the outcome might have been for that boy if HE had mistakenly walked off with the woman’s cart, handbag and all.

When I first heard the term white privilege, I was offended and countered that I was not racist. It took months for me to realize the term isn’t related to white supremacy and I suspect many white people might think they are being accused of being a white supremacist when they hear the term white privilege.  I do not condone white supremacy, but I do unwittingly experience white privilege.

When I don’t hear from my son for a day or two, I pray he is not sick or had a car accident, but when my black friend doesn’t hear from her son, she prays he wasn’t arrested or worse. That’s white privilege. I don’t automatically think my son was arrested and abused or killed in the process.

When a black man of my acquaintance drives home from work he is careful to take the long way home to avoid a neighborhood where a man of color would ‘stand out.’ I am NEVER afraid I would arouse suspicion by my presence. That’s not something I asked for, it’s just something that comes to me by virtue of my birth in a world where people of color continue to dig out of mistreatment.

 I am not racist, but I know now that is not enough.

I need to be Anti-racist: aware of veiled racist statements people make and pointing them out, examining my own knee jerk thoughts and bringing them captive. I dare say we are not even aware of some of the things we think or act on without thinking. We all have assumptions we carry with us that we view the world through.

 Some are seem truly innocent but are wrong.

Some are hurtful.

Some are truly vile.

We all have assumptions we carry with us that we view the world through.

As I left work one St Patrick’s day, a colleague said with all sincerity that she assumed I would come to work the next day with a hangover or not at all. With my heart pounding, my heart breaking, I explained that not all Irish are drunks, that in fact I am a ‘tea-totaler’ and that the real story of Patrick and the hard times the Irish lived through has been clouded by plastic hats and green beer.

When I told my friend, who is black, about that incident and my angst, she said simply, “Yep. I have that feeling you had, but every day.”

 We all need to remember that scriptural warning that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure—and ask God to root out thoughts that have grown deeply, to help each other by pointing them out, and admitting there is a better way of thinking. Some of our neighbors are still waiting to be loved as we love ourselves.

A Sweet Aroma

As I planted my freshly purchased annuals I wondered which flower was giving off such a sweet aroma.

I sniffed each one just before I dropped them into their new mud homes, but I never found that lovely spring messenger.

My work finally done, my grass-stained knees creaking, I gathered my shovels and wandered over to a bed I had not tended. I wanted to at least peak at it, my project for another day.

Tucked in among the Hostas, that plant that can overpower a garden, were some tenacious Lillies of the Valley.

Sweetly peeking out from among the Hostas, they stood unassuming and small, but sent out a fragrance as a message of their presence.

I want to have a fragrance not my own that sends out a message of hope and peace, even if I am nestled in among giants who have none.

Giants who can overwhelm. Like the lilies I want to be unassuming and make no excuse except that the hope is not my doing, and that anyone can have that same hope.

I pushed the Hosta leaves aside, cupped the little flowers in my hands and breathed in deeply, in no rush to leave them.

Yes. I want to be like them: with a fragrance of hope that draws people closer and makes them want to tarry.

Solo Recital

image_57827617765469

 

It’s a horrible picture, I know, but I have a reason.

On a recent walk I heard a bird singing with abandon and I spotted him in a high branch. He sang and sang and appeared to be looking at me. Slowing down and moving closer, I was careful not to make a sound.

I aimed my camera and tried to find him in the stinking lens. He kept singing. The moment was just for him and me. Me at one with nature. Me, a bird whisperer. His concert was for me alone as he patiently waited for me to goof clumsily with the phone to get the shot. Lovely and tranquil.

“DID YOU GET A SHOT OF HIM,” a dog walker asked as she stood next to me. Where she came from I do not know, but I startled, nearly dropped my phone, and I am pretty sure the bird fell out of the tree from the shock of the human, booming voice.

“WHY ARE THE MALES THE BEAUTIFUL ONES,” she thought aloud loudly, then moved on.

The moment was over. The concert unceremoniously ended without an encore.

I usually look for a lesson in these moments, but the best I can come up with is to always be aware of your surroundings, because if she had been a mugger I would have been minus a phone with a lousy lens.

Still I am grateful to that little honey of a bird for his performance for me and it makes me wonder what other treasures I miss in my day because I am moving too fast to notice. There might be concerts all around. I might try to be more attentive for them tomorrow.

Love that is not Reckless

When I think of God’s overwhelming, never ending love I can’t add the adjective ‘reckless.‘

I just can’t.

Have you ever been in a car when the driver was driving recklessly? I have. There was no love motivating that thoughtless endangerment of lives.

Is God, as reckless is defined, without thinking or caring about the consequences?

Never.

He is always thinking, ALWAYS caring about circumstances.

Did He sing over me before I spoke a word?

Did He breath life into me?

Does He chase me, fight for me, pay the cost for me?

Yes

Is there a wall He won’t scale, a mountain He won’t climb? A debt He won’t pay?

No

God cares and watches and thinks and counts the cost of His Son’s sacrifice.

Does that sound reckless?

The verse of a very presently popular song tells me He is reckless. Although it fits well into the cadence of the song, I can’t utter the words, but these I can:

Oh the Overwhelming, sacrificial, endless love of God.

The thoughtful sacrifice of Jesus is redemptive, not a reckless one.

One word change and I can get behind it. Reckless? Not God

Oh You Lovely Stalwart Stem!

Summer heat stifled you
But in these warm-waning days

You still reach to the sunny-less sky
To bloom

In the growing dark

Smaller than your summer show
Yet more delightful to see
In a winter-soon garden bed

Oh to be like you
Reaching up
Beyond the Sonless world
Reaching ever toward Him

To bloom
Even in the thickening dark
Even as the world grows ever more

Wearying-cold

Blooming

Because of Him
Seeking, trusting, and blooming
In a winter-swept and Sonless world.

Sanity is Slipping Away

A friend of mine with several young ones under 5 years of age shared with me her desperate need for sleep.

I understand this, I really do. I understood first hand, as a mother of a newborn, why sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture. If I had been entrusted with the combination to the lock to a nuclear bomb silo, I am certain I would have called a communist leader and offered it to him, if only he could have arranged for a sleep long enough for REM sleep to kick in.

I recall how hard it was to make a simple decision. Baby is sleeping.

  • Should I shower?
  • Nap?
  • Make out a grocery list
    • Should I use crayon or pen to make out the list?
  • Should I call my husband and ask him to pick up dinner on the way home?
  • Should I tell him to get pizza or Chinese take out?
  • Should I call and ask him to help me make this decision even though earlier I called to ask to ask him what I should eat for breakfast? Or was that yesterday?
  • Is that the phone ringing or is the that the microwave or is the baby awake and crying?
  • What am I doing wrong?

Oh, I can answer that one…..nothing. I am doing nothing wrong.

That little body in the crib has been carried in a safe, warm, wet, dark place for months, and now is adjusting to life outside the womb.

So be ok with letting the laundry pile up and the groceries sitting on the floor until tomorrow, as long as you toss the perishables into the fridge-grocery bag and all.

Love your hair in a messy bun day after day.

Turn off the phone, catch a drooling nap on the couch, and whatever else you do, do not make major decisions when you are sleep deprived. Those will wait.

Best of all, remind yourself of the good news you already know: God knows your need and He will provide for you, just as He perfectly provided the parents for the tyke, who even now, is stirring in his crib, beginning to wonder where you are.

You read that correctly.

God perfectly provided your children with the parents they need for His plans for them.

God provided you.

Let the dust pile up, let the laundry mound grow, let the sink fill up with dishes. That’s not really part of God’s plan right now.

At the moment, that little soul is helpless and needs someone to take care of every need he or she has.

And God choose you for that; Sleepy, hair asunder, hormones surging and ebbing in an attempt to reach balance, just a little hungry, just a little lonely, and perhaps a lot insecure. God knows what He is doing.

 

 Unmerciful Hats

IMG-5018 Why do hats make me look like a blithering idiot? I have a string of photos of myself in which I didn’t have the common sense to remove my hat before someone snapped the picture. The look on my face in every single one one implies that I will have to look at the tag around my neck to recall my name. Assuming I can read.
Some women look so darn cute in a hat. In fact some women make baseball caps look classy. Life’s not fair. I don one and 50 percent of my IQ drools down the front of my shirt.
Then there is the problem of hat-hair. You may think you have experienced the heartache of hat-hair but you haven’t truly plumbed the depths of pain unless you have curly hair. Curls and hats do not mix.

In mythology there must be a legend about gods and curls. Flathedius, the god of the bald was envious of Curlius, the god of curls and challenged him to a battle. Curlius won of course but Flathedius has never forgotten and takes every opportunity to mash ringlets into a matted mess.

Simple solution: dump the hats. But there is this little detail that seems to have come along with my curls: skin that fries to a bright crimson just crossing the street.
So I live in that constant tension: wear the hat and end the day with hair that looks like it had a close encounter with a steam roller at the top and shooting out at right angles from my head(think Bozo) and looking as intelligent as that iconic clown or forgo the hat and look windblown and barbecued. The struggle is real.

Deer Flies Go to Concerts Too Don’t They?

I wanted a deer fly to bite her.

Now you know what a no good dirty rotten sinner I am. She was sitting in front of me at the Marlboro music festival and I was sitting next to a cute lady from the “Greatest Generation” who was sporting a darling page boy hair cut. The lady in front of me was sporting an attitude.

She turned to the lady during the intermission and told her to stop crinkling her program. “You are so rude,”she told the ‘page boy’d-anyone-would-want-as-a-grandma’ next to me.

My sweet aisle mate lowered her head and put the program down in her lap. What Grace under fire. I wanted to shout, “She is not shredding the NY times, for pity’s sake!” But instead, the thought of those summer flies that bite viciously- and help me understand why deer are so skittish-came to mind.

I know it was wrong, but the thought grew and I began glancing hopefully around the concert barn after intermission. I did not wish her harm so much as I wished she would have to react to the bite and live out being truly “rude” during a concert.

I managed to calm down and even apologized to God for such thoughts. I thanked him for Grace, sitting next to me, who sat stone still for the rest of the concert and modeled for me such gracious acquiescence.

The concert ended and Grace stood to applaud the very deserving young genius musicians. Ms. Attitude stood and left, never putting her hands together even once for the musicians. The picture of one large ugly deer fly, right on the nape of her neck came back to my mind again. There goes the halo slipping again.

Never Shop When Hangry

🍕Never shop when you are cantankerously irritated by humans.

Alarmingly hungry and cantankerously irritated, I popped into the grocery store on a mission: grab a sandwich, a container of soup, split it with hubby and call it dinner.

No line at the deli. Ah, the stars were aligning for me because if I had to stand in line, I was going to have to grab a fork and consume a ‘grab and go’ container of potato salad while I waited.

“Can I help you,” drawled the woman behind the counter.

‘She talks too slowly,’ I groaned inwardly.
This will take too long. I grabbed a fork and eyed the salads.

I also spotted the Stromboli, my real target. Even hunger, however, could not make that sausage appealing. Lumps of pale gray globs oozed, and I thought for a moment possibly crept out of the crust.

The voice inside my head said, “Pepperoni Stromboli, please.”
But what came out of my mouth was,
“Sausage and pepper Stromboli please.”

I had no idea what I was saying. My hunger was taking on a life of its own.

She dutifully, slowly, slipped a spatula under the oozy sandwich.

So I corrected her of course.
More loudly.

“I said the pepperoni Stromboli, please,” elongating the long e in please just a bit.

Well the IN-HEAD voice said that, but apparently what came out was,

“No, I said sausage and pepper.”

She paused and looked at me.

‘Oh, please,’ I thought, why are you stopping!?

I cracked open a ‘grab and go.’ Again she reached for the sausage.  I suspected her hearing was poor, so I carefully, this time, repeated my order in my best diction.

My in-head voice said carefully, “NOO. Pehhpperrroooni, pleeese.”
Yes, by the way, my in-head voice always says please.

Again she suspended all motion, stared, then proceeded to grab the gross excuse for a sandwich for a third time.

My disdain for mankind was fever pitch now. This woman was not deaf at all. Her level of intelligence was unquestionably wrong for this simple job. Where do they find them I wondered?

I tried a fourth time, my diction garbled now by the half-chewed potato chunks.
“Mam, I really don’t want the sausage. I want-”
She interrupted and quietly said, “You keep saying sausage.”

“I am SOO Sorry!” I said quickly.” I want the pepperoni! Oh my gosh, I am sorry.”
This was definitely my in-head voice and out-of-my-mouth voice talking in unison now. Slowly, slooooowly, she packed the pepperoni parcel, while I contentedly licked the salad container.

I let my stupidity sink in. God, help me, I thought. I am the idiot. I knew there was one close by. I just knew it. I just did not realize it was me. By the time I rounded the next aisle, I could not contain my giggles which grew harder the more I stifled them. As I left the store I was laughing out loud.

I was also alone and I would counsel against walking alone and laughing. It makes people wonder.

I arrived hungry, ended up humbled, and left hysterical.

Take the warning: never shop when you are hungry or cantankerous. If I heed my own warning I may never be able to shop again.