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I don’t really understand why my husband and son can’t remember which herb in the garden is which. Chives do not resemble sage.  Oregano and peppermint may look similar but the smell of each is revealing. But I have learned that I better check which one they’ve handed me.  Of course, I didn’t remember that until after the tarragon went into the fritata.  Fortunately, it was a really good mistake.

Not all mistakes have such delicious results but that’s okay.  I’m a firm believer that without mistakes and accidental discoveries, we stagnate.  Me?  I’m not in much danger of stagnating because each and every day is a series of oops, rats, not what I meant to happen.

Frankly, it isn’t hard to imagine myself bumbling my way across the wilderness although I would like to think that it wouldn’t take me quite 40 years.  But who knows?  It could take longer.


Are Saints saved because they are saints?  Do sinners come to God despite their flaws?  Or is this story for all of us fragile, fallible human beings?

When we fuss and go on about how hard it is to draw people into our churches, I struggle to keep my mouth shut.  Truthfully, that’s an ongoing day-to-day struggle.  I was born opinionated.

But it is easy for me to see why people don’t feel welcome inside.  Too often, the Christians they knowingly encounter are wearing t-shirt, driving bumper stickers, and carrying signs that condemn.  For whatever reason, many of us feel we are God’s mouth piece and, as such, we need to be telling people that they are bad, Bad, BAD.

Sugar, I’ve got some news for you.  People sin.  People outside churches sin.  People inside churches sin.  People are clueless.  It’s amazing that we manage as well as we do.

And, on our good days, we Christians get this.  We see God’s child in those around us.  We hold out a hand in help or in greeting.  We smile.  We encourage and love.  Because we are all sinner and Grace?  That’s for everyone.


Mother’s Day started with a power outage this morning around 9 AM.

Hm. Looked at my phone. Only half charged.

Can’t use the internet.

I’ll read my books on Kindle. But… no service. My books are in the cloud.

Well. I’ll go start my coffee.

But. No water.

Hm. Oh wait! I saved my coffee from last night. It’s in the fridge! Yay.

But. No microwave.

Getting chilly in here. Let me turn up the heat.

But. No heat.

So I went back to bed to bundle up. Just then, I heard a car pulling into my neighbor’s driveway, music blaring. Man, that’s loud. What an idiot. Had to catch myself there. No need to be unkind.

It reminded me of the time my father was teaching me to drive. “Watch the idiot,” he said, as another driver encroached on my lane. I had to laugh at the memory. He was always glad to see me when I would visit the house. And my mother would greet me by saying, “You’re the greatest!”

It’s fitting that this happened on Mother’s Day, as we all have a mother (here or in Heaven) and we often take for granted how much she means to us.

In today’s climate, just reminding yourself not to be unkind is an act of kindness. Usually, people aren’t blasting their music to annoy you, but to enjoy their own life. The power goes out sometimes. It’s nothing personal.

This was a gift to me today. A reminder to appreciate the power, all the way up to the power source.

Do something today to show appreciation for all that God provides.

Or at least, don’t be an idiot.🙂You’re lucky, and you know it. This is a good day to remind yourself of the blessings you take for granted.

For me, yesterday was Mother’s Day.  As we’ve done the last several years, our family has gone to the latest Marvel Avengers movie.  It’s a Mother’s Day/husband’s birthday tradition.

The funny thing is that I have friends who are “insulted for me.”  Apparently, I’m supposed to get brunch (too early) and flowers.  Do none of these people have cats?  In a cat household flowers are an attractive nuisance to be barfed up on the rug.

But they can have flowers.  And brunch.  And pedicures if that’s their thing.

Still other mom’s I know prefer to ignore Mother’s Day.  Some have lost their own Mother’s or a child.  Others have never had children.

It all makes the truth of Mother’s Day tricky.  It’s hard to give everyone what they need/want/crave.

In light of that, let’s try to be aware of each other today.  If someone is bubbling over with giddy happiness, you can probably safely wish her Happy Mother’s Day.  If someone looks like she’d rather you kept it to yourself, keep it.  Not sure?  My favorite fall back is to wish someone a truly blessed day.  It works for men and women and people of all faiths.

So, in parting, may each and every one of your feel blessed today and every day.



As much as I love music, I just backed out of a choir performance.  The governing body of the Presbyterian Church is meeting in St. Louis in 5 weeks.  They asked for volunteers for a big choir.  We had to promise to learn all the music and make a regional and a dress rehearsal. Oh, and we aren’t going to tell you how much music or when these rehearsals are.

The last of the music arrived yesterday. Ten pieces.  Ten.  There is no way we can learn it without sacrificing the music for our own services unless we schedule another rehearsal every week.  The regional rehearsal is the same day as our family reunion.  If I go to the rehearsal, I’ll miss a day of family time with my father-in-law and the cousins and all their stories.

This choir gig was looking like something else altogether.  But I had said I was going to do it.

Fortunately, I sit next to the men.  Specifically, I sit next to my son.  Yesterday, his engineering class had to present their hovercrafts before the class. It had been a crazy amount of work but the four students who gathered on my back patio had a blast, building, waiting for glue to dry and presenting the hover craft. My son was the pilot and he stepped out in front of the group wearing a pirate hat.  His motto has always been have fun or why bother.

When the choir director held out this second packet of music I made eye contact with my son.  One arched eyebrow was all the question I needed.  Does this still sound like fun?

The crazy part is I almost didn’t let myself back out.  I had made a commitment.  But so had more people than they need.

So given the fact that I have way too much on my plate, I turned my music.  Honestly?  I felt a weight lift.

Purpose and joy.  I need to remember that.  Maybe I need to go find that pirate hat?




What is the difference between poem and prayer? The older I get, the more I think there is none. I was raised on both: My mother, a devout Catholic, read poetry to us kids from the time we were tiny. And I mean real poems — Wordsworth, Poe, Coleridge, Whitman. By the time I could read, these poems were as familiar and dear to me as any fairy tale or nursery rhyme.

When I started writing poetry (at age 6), it didn’t occur to me my own poems could be prayers, mostly because I wrote about nonspiritual stuff — my toys, Christmas, flights of fancy. It was only when I got a gig writing nondenominational prayers that I realized: If the intention is there, poem is prayer.

Word is word, whether
molded by mouth or hammered,
hewn, by hand. And all words rise,
sure as heat, the heavens
being the only landing strip
for such strange dirigibles.
Voices are louder, quicker
to pierce Paradise, but clumsy, too,
all diphthong and sibilant s’s.
Written, words fly graceful as doves,
land, preening, offer themselves
as white sacrifices. The God of Words
collects them, views their pulsing hearts
thanks them and sends them home.

Maybe it’s because Michelle Obama is a mom but she always gives the best advice.  Way back when my 6’1″ kiddo was a toddler, I read a really great piece of parenting advice.  Don’t tell your toddler not to do something.  Instead tell him what to do.  One is holding him down.  The other is, God willing, lifting him up.

When he got involved in swimming, I watched him work with a variety of coaches.  The best gave them positive tips.  “You’ll be faster if you remember to…”  “You won’t have to work quite as hard if you hold your hand like this.”  The funny thing?  The best coaches were usually parents. When the boys worked with one of these parent coaches, they excelled.

Of course, there were those other coaches.  “That’s all wrong.  Don’t do it like that.” Do I have to explain how little progress was made with the downer coaches?

When we encounter people, we have a choice.  Do we hold them down?  Or do we hold them up to God’s light?

Up or down?  The choice is ours.



Why can’t something just be easy?  Just once.  That’s all I’m asking.

I say this at least once a week.  And yet.

And yet I know that most things worth the effort take effort.  Truly amazing things, like roses, take both effort and planning.

This spring, we’ve added two butterfly bushes to replace two that didn’t make it through one of the coldest winters we’ve had in years.  We’re also attempting morning glories.  Why butterfly bushes and morning glories?  For the humming birds and butterflies.  Taking care of God’s earth is a priority.

So what are you planting?




There are so many things to love about this quote.  It isn’t about making things better, although that too is amazing.  It is about making things less difficult. And I think I love it because so many people want to make things more difficult.

That is so not what the world needs.  There are already enough lines, enough forms, enough signatures required.  Enough people who will only help if their agenda is served, their demands met.

The  next time that you are tempted to tell someone that you need X before Y can happen, take a deep breath.  Then take another.  Do you really need X?  Do you really?

Every now and again, I find myself making something so complicated that it would take the entire book of Leviticus to explain.  Fortunately, my husband is an excellent touch stone.  “I think this is a little more difficult than it needs to be.”

Sit back.  Take a breath.  And try to see through all the coulds and shoulds to the needs.



There is power in the ability to bring people together. I was lucky enough to get to see this at work yesterday.

This weekend was my city’s annual spring festival.  There a huge carnival and an equally huge parade.  I feel confident saying that.  I think we had position #86.  Cars with queen candidates.  Floats.  Shriners.  Marching bands.  Horses.

I’ve never ridden a float before and I honestly dreaded the thought.  Five hours in direct sun when you are cave fish white is not a recipe for a good time.

But I really had fun.  I was with a girlfriend who towed me along to meet the driver of the 1958 Edsel.  He bought the car new off the show room floor.  We met emergency responders and their dalmatian.  And that was before the parade started.

During the parade we met the marching band from one of the high schools.  They were right behind us.  We serenaded residents of a nursing home to wild cheers. My friend had several discussions with people about her guitar. I saw scout families and swim families and tons of super friendly people I didn’t even know.

It is so easy to think negative thoughts huddled up in front of a screen that is full of bad news.  But in the spring sunshine, I got to see the people who live around me.  Like Miss Ruth would tell you, I have a lot to be thankful for.




Have a Mary Little Christmas

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