Friday, February 22, 2013

I. Will. Not. Throw. Up.

You know that storm band trudging across the country?  I flew to Florida yesterday, and our flight managed to ride that puppy from Little Rock to Atlanta.

As the turbulent air bounced and dropped us along, my lunch decided it wasn't having a good time and wanted to evacuate.  I took all the normal steps to stop its progress.
I stopped reading my novel.
No improvement.
I initiated deep breathing.
Still it fought me.
When I got all cotton-mouthed and hot all over, I knew I was losing. I took off my sweatshirt, and stole the A/C novel from my sleeping neighbor in my direction. Yeah, that was bad, but I figured she'd rather that than sit next to a used barf bag.
Between spasmodic prayers for the taming of my stomach, I located said bag just in case.
The end of my no-throwing-up-on-planes-ever streak was nigh upon me, when I felt a tap on my arm.  A soldier one row back asked if I was scared. I explained I was more sick than scared. He told me to take deep breaths and not read (check, check) and I turned back to my prayers.

Not a minute later, he's crouched in the aisle, seatbelt sign notwithstanding, offering me two little waters and a heavy duty plastic bag that he got from the flight attendant.  With tiny sips, and more urgent prayer, I made it all the way to landing with the contents of my stomach intact, for which I, and everyone around me, was grateful.

So, I'm thankful for helpful soldiers who don't mind breaking the seatbelt rule, for water, and that I didn't break my vomit-free streak. I'm grateful for the upchuck reflex, I suppose, since some things need to be rejected, but I'm also grateful that my personal reflex usually hesitant.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013


I'm reading two historical novels right now, which is pretty uncommon. Both refer at some point to the limitations of hygiene ( or ablutions as they so elegantly say) in the good ol' days. Showers were at best a few times a week. At best. Hair washing?

Let's just say it's a good thing those smell receptors in your nose get plugged pretty quick and quit assimilating new odors, or the human race would have died out long ago.

I've never used hair washing as an excuse to get out of a social occasion, but it is an event of sorts. It takes time and effort and means I can't hit snooze in the morning because I have to do it and don't want to be late. I'm sitting here right now thinking how I wish there were a magical way to make it be clean without any effort. There isn't.

But, in light of my reading material and the associated phantom scents, I'm really grateful fro the modern conveniences of plumbing, hot water, soap and shampoo that smells like flowers, hair dryers, and flat irons. Praise Jesus for flat irons.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cal and the Rolly Bag

I like being new places. It's the getting there I could do without. Especially these days, when taking a flight means wedging as much as you can into a tiny suitcase and choosing between a sample-size conditioner and a hand lotion, since your quart-size baggie is already filling up with a mini-toothpaste, mini-contact solution, and other mini necessities.

you leave approximately two days early to get to the airport since the search line can get long, then silently curse that you forgot and wore shoes with laces, a belt, and earrings. You remove said offensive articles and dump them in bins with your baggie, coat, laptop, and anything from your pockets. you make the moose hands for three seconds, then stand there and try to believe what they say about the image not actually showing your naked body until someone says you can go, then make eye contact with no one as you put all your clothes and accessories back on.

At the gate, you hope the gate agent doesn't insist you shove your carry-on in their little size checking frame, which more accurately represents an ice cube than an overhead bin, and then stand in line. If you're a Southwester, like me, and everyone else checked in two days and twenty-minutes early so you're the third to last person to board, like me, things get dicey at this point. You don your backpack, throw a coat over your arm, and juggle a coffee in one hand so you can manage your rolly bag with the other.

You follow the butt in front of you down the gateway praying that, although you're resigned to a middle seat, you'll at least  be able to find one with some overhead bin space. After all, what does it matter if your bag will fit if there's no room? There's nooks and crannies here and there, but none that look big enough for a rolly bag.

It doesn't bode well when the flight attendant tells you all the seats in the back of the plane are full. When you ask about room in the bins and she tells you, "You better find some," well, lets just say she wasn't showing her Southwest spirit.

And then, everything changed. I turned to the two guys framing the middle seat to my right and asked if I could sit there. Guy one, who we will call Cal since I never did get his name, asked if I wanted him to hold my coffee. I think a bit of desperation may have escaped when I thanked him. He took my coat too, and I flopped my backpack on the seat and then tried to figure out how to wiggle the rolly bags and carry-ons overhead so I could fit mine in.

Then Cal says, "Do you want me to help you?"

I'm not a feminist in the sense that I see offers of assistance as an assault on the equality of women. I'm just not used to a lot of people offering to help, and don't expect it.  So it took me a second to realize instead of being demure and saying, "Oh, I couldn't trouble you," to say thanks and hand off my bag.

He handed me my coffee, told me to sit, then magically rearranged the overhead bags so my rolly bag fit. Then he found one of those nooks that was big enough for my coat, and I had just about crammed my backpack under the seat in front of me, when he said he thought he could fit that too. The Hallelujah chorus played in Dolby digital surround sound in my head.

Cal sat down and asked if I was going or coming, and for the entire flight to Dallas Love Field, I talked to a bottled water salesman from Minnesota about travel, family, career paths, church, writing, friends, and golf.

If he hadn't been there, I would have made it. I may have splashed my coffee and had to gate-check my rolly bag under then snarky gaze of Southwest's only grouchy flight attendant, but I would have survived.

But he was. A guy just being nice who made my day. I definitely said a little thank-you prayer for the encounter.

Today I'm thankful for Cal, and yes, for air travel (grumble), and to be home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Tidy is not my middle name. Neither is Good Packer, or even Moderate Folder.  Thus, even my fresh clean clothes have more wrinkles than a Red Hat meeting.  At home I pull out my iron and its board, set up, erase the wrinkles, and then debate whether or not to put them away when I know I'm going to haul them out again the next morning.  I usually do.

I just left Dallas and am on my way to Kansas City, and there's always that moment of held breath when you open the hotel closet to see if they have an ironing board. These days they usually do, but the  momentary question made me realize how thankful I am for irons. I can push the wrinkles right out of my morning. Even though it only works on clothes, the effect goes deeper. There's something about being crisp that feels like a fresh start.

But this morning a smooth, crisp shirt just wasn't doing the trick. It was a wrinkly morning inside my head. I tried at first to cajole myself out of it, to manage it, and then I finally remembered. I can't make the wrinkles go away no matter how hard I tug on them. But Jesus can. I stopped the fretting, read one of the cheerful psalms, and then told Big G just how I was feeling, what was going on in my head, had tied me in knots and wouldn't smooth out. Just the telling helped. And it opened my heart to Him again, and as faithful as he is, he ironed my morning.

It made me pause for a moment to enjoy, and wonder how I forget to ask him about stuff like this more often.

So, today I'm thankful for irons, boards, and Jesus. That his hands are big and strong and gentle enough to tug wrinkles out even of the delicate fabrics of life. And that he is willing to.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I heart flannel

I love spring. I love the feel of warm sun on bare skin, and the cool splash of the ocean right before you start to sweat.

But, since it's February and it's in the fifties, I am thankful for flannel PJ pants. I got these cute blue plaid ones for Christmas, and after a long work day it is so nice to sit cross-legged and toasty and watch brain candy.

And, right after I typed that my brain candy was preempted by the State of the Union, which I should probably be grateful for, but instead, it makes me really appreciate Hulu.

But, with my cozy pants, Lief the Apple, and reruns, it'll be a good night yet!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Composer

There are certain transcendent places in the human experience that words cannot go. As much as I love words, it's true.  It's why movies have scores, why brides have processionals. Words can come close, wrap around that sense, paint an image of it, even evoke degrees of the same emotion. But alone, they are just not there.

Which is why I'm thankful that God is not only a poet, but a composer. Because those same words, when entwined with a melody, become greater than the tangible and draw us outside of the explainable realm. Some melodies are so potent they don't even need words to call a soul from its confines. I love those ones.

I bought Josh Groban's CD yesterday. He has the kind of voice that makes the angels hush each other to better listen when he sings. There are some songs where I listen, and I just want to yell, "Yes! That's it! Exactly!" But I don't because I want to hear more of the song. He's not the only one, there are other singers whose work rings deeply true, but he's an old favorite.

Emotion is a strange thing. It can be winged and beautiful, the stuff that makes up our memories, or it can be a shroud. Either way, it is too big for a mere body, and when I get that sense that my chest might explode for trying to contain it, music is the key that unlocks it and sets me free.

And God knew that. He knew that a life that was fully describable would be dull. An existence we comprehend completely would play flat. It is the mystery, the intangible powerful elements, that reflect Him. That reveal His beauty, a glimpse of His vastness, and His ability to read the emotions themselves imprinted on our hearts, without words. He made song, he set it free, he whispered in the ears of composers the blend of simple notes that would reach inside a soul, he crafted voices rich and true enough to bear the melody.

Thank you Lord, for your vastness, your intimacy. That you see hearts and souls and the beauty that defies our human words. Thank you for song. And, of course, for words. All my love!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wedge Shmedge

It's a taffy week. Sweet, sure, but the minutes stick and stretch, and last much longer than you expect. Today I toured a college campus. As much as the idea of going back to school appeals sometimes, this was a professional endeavor. I wore my cute wedges that are really comfortable for a few hours. But my tour lasted more than a few hours. So by the time Dante the Dark Gray Impala and I came home, I was doing the arthritic hobble and cursing wedges everywhere.

What's the best cure for screaming feet? Yes, probably a foot massage.  But what's the second best thing? The sweet tang of a cold Riesling from a fancy glass. It doesn't take the pain away, but it makes you not care as much. And as I have a confirmed $10 pallet, it's not a bad deal.

So, today I'm grateful for white wine, the fine people in California who made it, and for fancy glasses. I'm grateful that, while designing the world, God thought up the process of fermentation, and then way back when nudged someone to leave their grape juice sitting out a bit too long and still try to drink it. I'm grateful for bare feet too.

Monday, February 4, 2013


You've probably heard people say, "Good is the enemy of great."

I usually want to smack those people. It sounds so unappreciative. And it sounds so true.

God and I have hiked together for almost 25 years.  That alone is a testament to his goodness, patience, and love, especially since it includes my teens.  We can turn around and look at the vista we've come through. Those craggy teen years marked with the occasional spire. Long slow rises, a drop here and there, hills, dells, torrents of rain, seasons of meadow and flowers. We've trekked from Chile to Africa, to Cambodia, to St. Pete's in Rome. From Yakima to Atlanta to Little Rock. It's been quite a trip thus far, rarely expected and yet always getting better, though almost never easier.

We're at one of those places right now where things are good. We've hit a plateau and have rested in its shade. And now he's nudging me in the side, pointing out a twisty path to our right that, honestly, I'd rather not take. I mean, we're good, right?

Right. We're good. But I want more than that for you. So much more! I am great and I will not settle for anything less for my children. For you.

But surely there's a better way to where we're going. I can't see where that path heads, but from here it resembles a goat trail. It might not even lead up. What if it makes a big loop around the mountain and we find ourselves right back here again, only sweatier?

We won't.

But...I'm scared. I could fall.

I'll be with you. Even if you were to slip, I would catch you. I will not let you fall.

Yeah, but...I'm still scared.

I know. Trust me. I will be with you. I really will.

It doesn't look fun.

You've said that a lot on this trip. Have I ever taken you anywhere that didn't end up showing you a better view of my glory? Is there any steps I haven't made worth it?

No. Not one. But...okay. I'm still scared, though.

That's okay. Tell me every time you are, and we'll work through it. You're not doing this alone. You are too precious to me for me to ever let go of you, even for a moment, even when you take your eyes off me and stumble. I love you dearly and am with you always and forever, and when we're together, you won't face anything we can't overcome.

I know. (Sigh). Really, I do.

Come on then. It'll be great.

I'm going to hold your hand, then. Really tight. So tight your fingers might go white.

I actually like that.

Alright, then. Thank you. I love you, too.

Matt. 28:20; Psalm 37:23-24; John 16:33; Romans 8:28, 37; Psalm 27:13-14; Psalm 23