Monday, August 31, 2009

Our Adventures

No, we didn't do anything terribly exciting today.
Slept in and sipped coffee, or in the Mr.'s case tea, and took our time getting moving. Did all the laundry and ran a vacuum before leaving the house.
We went to Garden Ridge and picked up a few little things, nothing too grand. Tried to buy an ottoman but they didn't have the color we wanted. We repurposed a few household items by giving them a fresh coat of paint and brought a pretty painting for the family room wall. Kathy saved me a Hudson's menu before they sold out to Marshall Field's to remember the days when we used to lunch there; finally framed and hung it.
We went to a local coney joint for lunch. Made rice-sghetti for dinner with salad fixin's from the garden and that was pretty much the day. But it was a lovely day despite the lack of bells and whistles. I'm going to go clean the kitchen and then take a shower. Tomorrow morning we're both back to work and the regular daily stuff but that's ok.
I think I'll call this one a perfect Monday.

Small grace: Holding hands.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ricky, I'm home!

This is one of those sweet moments where I feel completely peaceful and happy. I worked the weekend and went off the clock fifteen minutes ago, at 8:00p.m. Yay! The Mr. and I have been working on our Ricardo room pretty much constantly for two weeks and it's more or less done, just a few little details to tend to. Now we can sit back and enjoy how fabulous it looks!
Add to that the fact that Dean has a vacation day tomorrow and I am off, no major house chores demanding our attention means a really truly day off day off. I am going to wake up to my wonderful home and what is sure to be a cool morning in Connecticut, Michigan. Best of all, we'll wake up together and have a whole day to ourselves. A movie? Stay home and relax? Who knows? I just know that on Monday there is no alarm clock, no kissing good-bye for the next twelve hours and a cup of coffee waiting for me and my favorite guy. I'm thinking of it as a twenty four hour date.
The memories (and aggravation) of working the weekend are already getting fuzzier. My real life is back in focus.
Believe it or not, I can't wait for Monday!

Danny: His arm has not been amputated, the doctors continue to attempt other means to fight the infection. None of the skin grafts (live or cadaver) have been successful. Today he is scheduled for surgery and we will hear this evening what the update is. His prognosis has not changed.

Small grace: Windows. Seriously!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Psalm 105:3-5
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
1. Woke up with a sinus headache.
2. Working.
3. The Mr. is gonna put the finishing touches on the Ricardo Room.
4. I think Fall is here.
5. Mr. having a Fantasy Football draft here tomorrow.
6. Facebook says I'm a doormat. Who knew?
7. Read "The Almost Moon" by Seibold. Excellent although disturbing, like everything she writes.
8. Need to get to the hairdresser.
10. Happy Saturday!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Late Summer

Fifty nine degrees this morning as I sip my coffee! It rained overnight, such a pretty sound. The mornings are cooler and the days are edging away from eighties as we speak. The air tastes different, does that make sense?
I remember very clearly in March thinking that winter would be the end of me! In April I started to think I might survive. In May I anxiously awaited t-shirt wearing, no socks warmth. I'm not exactly tired of summer but when I awaken to the obviously late season morning, I love the way the crisp air feels when I inhale.
Today I am thanking God for the gift of enjoyment. I'm grateful for the ability to notice the wonderful things He surrounds me with and that even when all of life is not framed in perfection, beautiful details are visible to my naked eye. When I sat down in my quiet Ricardo Room, it was almost too cool with the windows open. That made the steamy cup of coffee in my hands even nicer by contrast.
And the Holy Spirit said, "Enjoy this."
Whatever your day looks like, relax your brow and look a little deeper until you find something lovely. And enjoy it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


has pneumonia plus has developed a local infection in his right arm. The doctor describes the bones of his forearm as "charred" and today they will decide whether to amputate. The cadaver grafts as well as live grafts they have attempted have all failed. He is being intermittently weaned from the ventilator and was able to breathe independently for two hours yesterday but remains comatose. The medical team have advised the family to make final arrangements.
Our dinner went really well and it was wonderful to spend a few hours together. Your prayers have been shared with everyone and are much appreciated. Will keep you updated.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Dean's has one sister and four half siblings. His two oldest sisters, from his dad's first marriage, are coming over for dinner this evening. One lives in Alabama, the other in North Carolina and they are here to be with Danny. This is sadly one of those situations where family number one and family number two never blended. Dean has few memories of these two brothers and two sisters. Before the last few months there has not been any contact to speak of. But now with their father's illness and the injuries of their brother, these adult siblings are trying to figure out how to be a family even if it is forty something years after the fact.
I'm getting ready to make pilaf, salad and dump cake. When the Mr. gets home he'll throw some flat-iron steaks on the grill. Hopefully they won't judge the Ricardo room too harshly as all of the painting isn't done and a few of the cabinets still lack doors. I think they'll overlook it. After waiting for all of these years to reach out there are more important things to worry about. I'm glad they are coming over. In a few years the parents who made the decisions that shaped the lives of little boys and girls will be gone and grown up men and women will be left to decide if there is a family underneath all of the disappointment. I believe that God has plans for the Smith kids, all six of them. That might just be part of the beauty that will arise from the ashes of a declining dad, an injured brother and a second brother who is in desperate need of a liver transplant.
I am thanking God for the opportunity to watch those who remain finally hold hands and stand together as siblings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A friend at work recently asked for my assistance in planning a dinner party. She was hosting four couples plus herself and her husband. She asked for my input because one of her guests has Celiac Disease. Her goal was to create an entirely gluten-free menu that was also delicious so that the guest in question would not be limited to a few special items and also, so that there would not be undo attention to her condition. How very thoughtful. Needless to say, she came to the right person! We put together a wonderful menu without any restricted dishes and her party was a great success. Of course, her attention to this special consideration did not go unnoticed and was hugely appreciated.
I have read in more than one book regarding Celiac Disease, that the person with the condition has every right to expect to be accommodated when invited for a meal. You know what, call me ungracious but I completely agree. There are few things that make me angrier than arriving with Jay to a gathering to have the host announce with a smile..."I didn't know how to make gluten-free food so there probably isn't anything you can eat!" Believe it or not, this happens with some regularity. So Jay sits at the side with a cup of pop, starved and pretends he isn't hungry or offended. Well, I am offended. I'll even bring a dish along or make some easy suggestions if you need a hand. The books advise after experiencing some such situation more than a few times in which the individual hasn't even attempted to be sensitive to the Celiac patient's needs, to politely inform the person that you will not attend any future functions as they do not accommodate the required dietary considerations. I agree with that stand.
Dean's folks are fancy hosts. They always set the table with table cloth and linen napkins. Never will you be served cans of pop! Iced tea in a glass pitcher on the table. Food is always transferred from cookware to formal serving dishes. Of course, all of this is in a setting of pots, pans and dirty dishes piled high around you in the kitchen where the meal was just prepared!
I'm a hostess who takes some aspects of the job seriously and others not so much. I always have Cremora for my mom and artificial sweeteners for diabetics. A pot of coffee is always brewed for guests that I know enjoy it and offered to those about whom I am not certain. If I know someone has special dietary needs, I check with them for their preferences and do my best (including internet research) to accommodate them. I never want to be a host who requires my guest to choose between the food I serve and their health. If someone is trying to loose weight, I include low calorie options without making an announcement like, "All the fatsos need to eat from this dip bowl, it's low fat you see! Only 10 calories per table spoon. Hey, you have 2 tablespoons there! Slow down Skippy!" And yes, such has been my experience as well. Oh, and diet as well as regular beverages are always stocked.
I believe that a clean house reflects my respect for my guests so if I'm planning an occasion a good scrubbing is part of the prep work. If we are planning a meal, I schedule it at the beginning of the allotted time in case people are not intending to settle in for a long visit. I try to include in my invitations time to arrive and when we'll start dinner. On the guest side, I take arriving at the appointed time seriously and if I'm late; don't hold dinner for me.
As for the finer details, I'm pretty casual. We are too large of a family to have sit down meals at the holidays so in general it's buffet style. I am not opposed to offering drinks and then encouraging my guests to help themselves to the fridge. With the increasing number of people increases the probability of paper plates and cups. Then again, the food dictates the need for "real" plates sometimes.
I may cook everything or order pizza. More than likely I'll shoot out an e mail and we'll all pitch in dishes.
So what kind of host are you? Sit down meals with candles and china? Pizza on napkins? How do you deal with special diets? Would you ever ask a guest to contribute to the meal? Do you feel that people with particular preferences should bring their own food?
If you're inviting us over, please let me know if I need to bring something for Jay!

Small grace: I made soup!

Danny: Has pneumonia, doctors are predicting a 20% chance of survival.


Today I knew when the alarm clock sounded that I would not get everything done. It isn't that I couldn't get everything done. In fact, leaving work yesterday not having gotten everything done I knew good and well I could simply turn around, walk back inside and get everything done. But I didn't. Instead I drove home and ate a Popsicle in the Ricardo Room. I did finish my Popsicle. And that wasn't even on the list.
I also know that I will get things done in an order that only makes sense to me. Were I to be interrogated by the time management police, they would be very irritated with my decisions about what gets pushed aside. For instance, I am going to make soup at some point this week. Veal, tomato broth, fresh basil, brown rice soup. Soup is high on my list. There is also a distinct possibility of grilled Colby Jack cheese sandwiches to go with, fresh tomatoes will go nicely. Lemonade as well.
Some of the paperwork on my desk will be done, this is for certain. In fact, let's say all. All of it will be done by Sunday. I'm working this weekend so I feel confidant that two days without meetings will make this a reasonable task.
On the probable list is finishing some painting in the kitchen and hanging valances on the back door and back window. Ooh, I need to clean out the fridge too. That goes in the "we'll see" column.
The reason that I will absolutely not get everything done is that things without list reservations keep showing up forcing me to shuffle my list. For instance, the bird feeders must be filled today. I had not scheduled that in but there it is. And I realized as I watched my coffee brew that I must choose the arrangement of wall hangings in the Ricardo Room. This is no small task and the only responsible way to go about it is to sit down on the sofa and contemplate the walls for no less than thirty minutes. Wouldn't want my wall hangings to appear uninspired. And I just the other day invented a new arrangement for the throw pillows on my bed. Now I must pause in the hallway several times a day to admire the bed.
Of course, with the Ricardo Room re-do and the C.S. Lewis Room rearrangement, one must spend adequate time in the C.S. Lewis Room enjoying its new vibe. The C.S. Lewis room is understandably perfect for reading and one must never read less than an entire chapter. Unless one is some kind of oaf, which I am not.
I noticed yesterday at work that my nails are the perfect length and shape for a French manicure. There is a slight possibility of multi-tasking ie manicure whilst bird watching but really, wouldn't that interfere with responsible bird watching? You see the dilemma. There are ethics to be considered.
You can clearly see why I cannot possibly get everything done. When it comes down to a French manicure vs. soup making; what is a girl to do?
As the old saying goes...soup will out.

Small grace: Cool mornings.

Monday, August 24, 2009


has developed pneumonia. I believe that God is using this time of stillness in his body to minister to his spirit. I am thanking God for this tragedy that the Holy Spirit is redeeming.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On My Plate

Lately I feel like one of those circus types, spinning plates. It's with no small measure of thankfulness that I report that most of these plates are piled high with wonderful things. We're in the last leg of our interior re-do of our new old house; wrapping up the summer season out door tasks and looking forward to moving life indoors. Not buying flowers and gardening supplies, instead looking at paint and draperies. Tending to the garden and happily bringing in tomatoes and basil and parsley. Watching buds miraculously turn into green peppers and cucumbers.
With the wisdom of getting older, we are buying less new stuff and finding ways to reclaim old furniture and cabinets for a second or third or fourth life and realizing that the mellow warmth far exceeds the shiny new stuff that used to claim my attention.
Of course, there is my brother-in-law, Danny. He is constantly on our minds and has reminded me what praying without ceasing feels like. Tears and fear have turned to peace and confidence; always the result when ceaseless prayer takes its place.
The in laws are preparing to move for once and all. We will travel to Alabama the last Friday in October, pack them up on Saturday and drive home on Sunday. Moving in to the apartment we reserved for them a few days ago on Monday, November 1 (or is it the second?) Dean's cousin, Paul, will ride down with us to drive the U Haul back to Michigan so that we can both ride with the folks in our vehicle. The goodness of people never ceases to amaze me, a twelve hour drive alone in a U Haul to make our trip easier. Dean's mom feels she cannot part with her "stuff" so we will move it all here and the Mr. has informed her that when the small retirement apartment is full, that's it! In the meantime, we have repurposed our furniture and space and created a spot in the C.S. Lewis room for her piano. The piano that Dean learned to play on, sat next to his mom and sang hymns and has been central to their lives for forty years will find a new home in our lives. She was at loose ends knowing there was hardly room to bring it but not wanting to leave it behind. I think she's happy that her piano will not be lost. Although I can't compete with the Southern Gospel stylings of Marthena, I will one day surely be plunking out Silent Night with a grandbaby on my lap.
Just a little more dressing of the kitchen and family room and our re-do will be complete. In a few weeks with a few more dollars saved we'll change out the counter top. Labor Day will be sure to host a family barbecue, already being discussed in fact. Tom's birthday is on the calendar (Trish's Tomer), Mac's a few weeks later. Our anniversary trip to Marshall might be rescheduled to accommodate the Alabama convoy. The weather will turn by degrees until the garden finally falls asleep and the lawn furniture is put into the garage. Grape lights on the deck will be dimmed and candles will be lit in the family room to glow against the dark windows.
Life and schedules will change as we settle in to caring for Dean's parents while maintaining their independence, what will that look like?
I can already imagine my Christmas tree in the family room that holds few echoes of my grandparents, those only in my memories. Will we attend the funeral of Dean's brother before then? Will we skip our Marshall trip altogether? Will it be harder, happier or both to care for the Smiths than we imagine?
I don't know. But the seasons are unfolding as ever. I do know a few months I will put my Grandma Trent's Christmas tree in my Grandma Gerhardstein's living room. I'll sit down at my Mother-In-Law's piano and plunk out Silent Night. The way I see it, you can only have a lot of plates to keep spinning if you have a lot of plates in the first place. Even if there are cracks, chips and mismatches; the Lord makes all things beautiful.

Danny: Thank you all for your ongoing prayers on Danny's behalf. I can truly say that I feel the battle in heavenly places and that I am confident in victory. There is no change in his condition right now. He remains unconscious and heavily sedated. The doctors are grafting cadaver skin in the attempt to control fluid loss.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Psalm 4:8
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Saturday Day

1. Continuing to pray for Danny.
2. Rainy & cool. Feels like Up North.
3. Coffee.
4. Family room is almost done! Welcome to Connecticut!
5. Background colors of my blog match my re-do.
6. The Mr. is installing the floor. Come on by and help, it'll be fun!
7. My house is slightly better organized then yesterday.
8. Doing laundry in the basement since upstairs is under construction.
9. Song I currently can't get enough of... "Yahweh" by The Hoppers.
10. This is the day that the Lord has made. I want to live to make his efforts worth while.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Dean just spoke briefly with his sister. Danny remains unconscious and because of the extent of his injuries there is really nothing that can be done in terms of grafting. It seems that barring a miracle he will not survive.
I don't know the state of Danny's relationship with the Lord, but as you take him before the throne please pray that he will be reconciled to Christ. If his healing comes in the form of heaven, we will rejoice.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

That's Me In The Corner

I think maybe I need to change my religion.
I suspect I am worn out with the whole thing at the moment. I'm not looking for a different doctrine or savior but a different expression. Actually, I'm looking for a peace-be-still kind of religion.
There is a Lutheran church a few blocks from my home, a big old stone building with bells I can hear from my back yard. I have no idea what goes on inside of this church but I find myself imagining hymns and sermons with thees and thous. If you'll please forgive me, I am longing for worship without projection screens. I feel hungry for an experience that is so low-key you have to be invested at the heart level to enter in because there's nothing to woo you. It's all a matter of choosing to worship as opposed to being caught up in it. I wouldn't mind an old lady on the organ and a gentleman at the pulpit leading the congregation in ancient songs without benefit of band or back-up.
I have a craving for something solemn and rich. For the King James Bible. For a place where there is no organized community so much as just rightness that compels outreach. I yearn for a sermon that no one would find on the Internet and that isn't inspired by the latest shining book in the window of your local Christian bookstore.
I don't want religion to out shout the world. I want it to quiet me and envelop me.
I want it to be entirely different from everything else I see and hear and touch.
Where do I find that?

Update: No changes with Dean's brother at last check-in yesterday. He is in the burn center at University of Michigan Hospital. Please continue to pray for him. Thanks.

Small grace: Hearing old gospel songs that are long past cool.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Please Pray

Dean's oldest brother, Danny, was seriously injured in an explosion at work yesterday. He was life-flighted to University of Michigan Hospital and is comatose with burns over 75% of his body, 55% of which are third degree. The out of state siblings are flying in tomorrow.
With Dean's dad's Alzheimer's, it's hard to know the correct course of action but we will tell his mom and ask her to pray for Danny on dad's behalf. We don't think his dad should be told what's happened.
Please pray with us.
Update: The doctors have informed the family that if Danny survives until noon today that will be the point when they will start looking at a possibility of survival. Danny is Dean's half brother from his dad's first marriage and there has never been a close relationship although recently Dean and his half sister Diane have reconnected because of their dad's illness. Dean's dad has been told but is very confused and thinks it is Dean who is injured. I'll keep you updated as I hear information. Thanks for your offers of help, at the moment I think prayer is all that we need. We're both off work so we'll be in touch. Love you guys...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home is...

A place to store your stuff? A roof to block the rain? What is the function of your home? Mine is my retreat. It's the battery charger to my soul. My haven. I hear people talk about their need to exercise, have a night out or get a facial and I don't need any of that. I need my home. I'm not good at public life, I'm just not. I know that people might consider this a weakness and that may be true but I have come to think of it as just my personality. You don't like roller coasters and I don't like being around other people. It's not social anxiety at all. It's just that some things we do fill us up and invigorate us and other things seem to take something away. I need a steady dose of home time to fill back up what seems to sort of leak out and frankly, I can literally run out of people skills. After work and time with loved ones and social obligations, which are all good things, I run dry. Nothing left to say. No small talk. Don't really want to share my latest idea or project. I realize this reads as anger sometimes and that isn't it. No, I'm not sick either. I'm just like a wind-up toy that has wound down and now I need to be still and quiet. I need it.
I wish there was a way I could convince people that I don't want fixing. I'm not broken. At the end of a long week the last thing I want is a loud get-together with others even if the others are some of my very favorite others. Talking through my day only adds to my tiredness. In fact, sometimes I just can't do it.
I need to be at home to recharge. I need my home to be quiet and restful and peaceful. On my days off I renew myself with laundry and housework and putting myself back together. I know it's weird and I won't be offended if you think so too. But it's me and I've come to not just tolerate me but to kind of like me. I like myself enough to give myself the space I need to breathe. So I'm taking a few days off to do just that. No, I'm not depressed or sick or insane or becoming a recluse (although don't think I wouldn't like to become a recluse! Lucky recluses!) I'm going to help the Mr. finish the kitchen and family room. Going to sit outside and maybe read in my hammock. I'm not going to the movies or shopping or getting together with friends. There is a possibility I am not even going to blog. And a probability that my cell phone will be off. So if you're looking for me and can't find me, I'm at home being utterly enveloped by my blessings and the joy of this place that fills all my empty places.
Tonight the Mr. and daboyz went to a ball game and I am home alone. I can already feel the quiet filling up my loud spaces. I'm on call over night and working tomorrow and then I'm off for a few days. I'm not sure how much you'll hear from me but let me assure you that I'm utterly happy here in my quiet home. If you'd be excited for someone on a dream vacation, you can be just as excited for me.
There's no place like home.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Being A Girl

Been super busy at work and at home lately. I'm all off my groove everywhere! I'd LOOOVVVE a day or two or ten to just be still. I need one of them sabbaticals where you don't talk. So that being said, I've nothing of interest to share so here is a funny but true story for your edification...

When I was expecting Jay there was a woman at our church also expecting her first child. Being mutually pregnant, we had occasion to chat on a regular basis and share the fascinating updates of growing a human being. One day she told me the story of learning what it would mean to "become a woman." You remember those special sessions in fifth or sixth grade when the boys went in one room and the girls in the other to learn about the beauty of puberty? Both this woman and I had been raised in strict Pentecostal homes and were equally naive about the ways of such things. She, however, out-naived even me. I was simply appalled at these legends of menstruation. She decided to leap into action!
Now knowing that this horrible and unthinkable curse was due to descend at any moment, my friend was determined not to be caught unaware. So she went into her mother's bathroom to find a feminine napkin as her plan was to wear it around the clock in preparation for her visitor.
And wear it she did.
Right over her belly button.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—
Mark 13:35

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Best Things About My Job

1. My new green office

2. Wearing scrubs (yes Sta', I do!)

3. My work husband

4. Our prayer team

5. The commitment to a just culture

6. Helping people beyond helping

7. Laughter

8. The maintenance guys who tell me how gorgeous I am

9. Nicknames-Captain, Que Sera Sera, Smith, The Brain (as in Pinky And), and the ever popular NURSE!

10. Having the opportunity to work

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Saving Grace

BEST BUY messed up. One of their ads listed a 52 inch flat screen television on sale for $9.99. Clearly a great deal. And if it's too good to be true...well it was. As soon as the error was discovered it was corrected with a four digit price tag. Of course, the hubbub now is, shouldn't they have to honor that deal even if it was in error? The answer is no. Their website has a disclaimer specifying their right to change prices without notice. So you can turn back around and head home with your $10 bill and dreams of a large screen television.
Watching this on the morning news, I was thinking of how much we tend to enjoy the mistakes of other people. And if there is a gain for me resulting from a mistake by you, all the better. We seem to circle like vultures sometimes waiting for someone else's error to benefit us. Cashier didn't ring up the sale price? I want the item free! My steak was too rare? I'd like to speak to the manager! Wow. How unlike the Christian who accepted the death of the Lord in exchange for their own lives should such an attitude be. I am of a mind that every tiny opportunity to extend grace over the error of others is a moment of holiness. Being that I experience few moments of holiness in my daily behavior I am grateful for the chance to emulate the tiniest nuance of Jesus.
Last night in a restaurant I picked up my glass of iced tea to take a sip and noticed a bug floating on top. I asked the waitress for a fresh glass of tea and she politely obliged and confirmed my initial thought, "Oh gross!" She didn't offer me a free iced tea, a coupon for a free appetizer, nothing. Just a fresh bug-free glass of iced tea. I was fine with that. I was not interested in launching into some foolishness about how could such a thing happen? Didn't she even look as she was filling the glass? There should not be bugs in a restaurant! This place must be filthy, if there's a bug in my tea what does the kitchen look like? I've heard such statements. I've heard them from the mouths of those aforementioned Christians who apparently find no parallel between politely accepting a fresh glass of iced tea and the death of Christ for their own. Grace. Simply. The act of not demanding the mistake-maker; the sinner or the Best Buy guy; to pay for the mistake.
Maybe it seems like comparing salvation to a mispriced television is silly. I think the television is sadder. Christ got no benefit from the cross except the joy of our forgiveness. The benefit we seek is entirely selfish. A sort of hand-rubbing glee at the thought of gain not earned.
If you're still not convinced, that's OK. Just consider the possibility of the one who has erred being given momentary grace with kindness and not condescension. Might the recipient gain a tiny glimpse of Jesus as we step just a little closer to grace?
Maybe not.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Thanks everyone for your support and prayers. I'm sure there will be much about having the folks here that is unexpected but all in all, I know we are making the right decision.
Had a good day at work today. There is a new manager working with me in adult services and I'm really enjoying working with her. She's a good fit with the leadership team and it's making my life loads easier. The only problem is that her name is Natosha which was my nickname (as in Boris and Natasha being that a certain individual believed I was spying and reporting back to our boss. He, of course, being Boris.) I'm finally back to managing just one unit and with the changes in administration I was offered the unit I had always preferred, chronically and pervasively mentally ill adults. The unit I was previously supervising was geriatric and major depression. So I'm happily back amongst the schizophrenic population...right where I belong! My office was moved for the third time but I really like this spot best so far plus my maintenance guys painted it a loverly green just for me. And moving always forces one to get organized so that's a good thing. Tomorrow I'm going in a little later and working over into afternoons to spend some time with the staff on that shift. Once the weekend schedule gets straightened out I might actually stop being utterly exhausted all the time!
Well I just took a drink of Canada Dry and managed to miss my mouth completely. How does that happen? Anyhoo, gonna go change out of my scrubs and run some errands. Hope you're having a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I have been on my own blog about half a dozen times since I got home from work feeling like I wanted to post something and having nothing to say. But here I am again and I think on this seventh try I know what I need to say. I need you to pray with me for Dean's mom & dad's move to Michigan.
Our relationship with them was strained in the early years of our marriage and then distant after they moved south. Now in these last several months their needs and our relationship is changing quickly. Where once we were at arm's length and spoke rarely we are now getting several phone calls a week. And in between, we are calling them. Where once they would visit Michigan without telling us they were here, Dean's mom is asking to speak with me about her health and their plans. Dean's dad is deteriorating quickly. He wandered away from the house while she napped and drove to town. He doesn't recognize their home. He is focused on fear of being put "in a home." This would be difficult enough under the best circumstances but Dean's mom isn't well either.
So they've garage saled many of their excess belongings and in the last week of October we will drive to Alabama to bring them home. They'll move into a senior citizen's apartment complex. There are many things that will arise that we aren't prepared for I am sure. In the meantime there are specific needs. Even if you'd just choose one from the list and intercede for God's grace it would be so appreciated.

1. That their home in Alabama would sell before the move.
2. That Dean's dad's Alzheimer's would level out.
3. That Dean's mom's health would stabilize.
4. That I would have wisdom as I try to find them health care.
5. That we would find a wonderful physician to care properly for them.
6. That any fear, depression or anxiety either of them are experiencing would be healed.
7. That we would care for them in love and they would receive it as love.
8. That we would be wise, strong and gracious.
9. That the Lord would send his Holy Spirit to dwell in their new home, that they would feel his presence when they step through the door.
10. That God will be glorified.


Monday, August 10, 2009

The Sink

The family room & kitchen has been in progress for a few days now. You know how that works; every room in the house looks like a tornado hit from the displaced stuff. The C.S. Lewis room is full of family room stuff on every surface including a few extra chairs pushed out of the way of Mr. Painter.
The kitchen table was pushed against the cabinets to make more floor space for ladders, tool boxes and such. Ugh. My bedroom seems to be the only refuge! I'm not really complaining. It's exciting to see the work we're doing turning out even better than I'd hoped. Jay came in yesterday and said, "Well, you are finally living in Lucy Ricardo's Connecticut house I see." Yes, I am!
Sunday night I was about to hop in the shower when I decided to clean the bathroom. That usual Friday chore had been bumped down the list in lieu of multiple trips to Lowe's & Home Depot, painting the walls, etc. So not wanting to awaken to a bathroom in need of a scrub-down I got it done. Then I figured, may as well put the kitchen in order. Scrubbed out the sink, wiped down the counters. Went through throwing away all the odds and ends of paper and scraps left by the re-do. So it's all kind of sort of put back together; not really but almost.
As I was scrubbing out my kitchen sink, I thought of Dean's grandmother. A few months ago when the folks were here we visited her 89 year old self, still living in her own home and doing just fine thank you very much. She was fussing around the kitchen after we'd had pizza for dinner scrubbing out her sink and then drying it. She didn't want anyone to help her because, you see, she just got that stainless steel sink last year and she wants to take good care of it! After scrubbing and drying; buffing and polishing the kitchen sink she finally sat down with us to chat. She turned to me and said in her loud, hearing-impaired Missouri drawl; "Sara, now don't you like to take care of your sink? It just makes you feel so good to walk past and see your kitchen sink all shining and pretty."
That touched my heart. The pleasure in a kitchen sink shining and pretty. I don't know that I've ever thought of my sink; bathroom, kitchen or utility; as pretty. But she was right. It was pretty. As her children and grandchildren giggled at her she said, "I don't care, I'm just so proud of that sink."
I figure, if I can take pleasure in a shining and pretty kitchen sink, I'll have my priorities straight. So tonight scrubbing my sink out before heading to the shower instead of feeling tired and cranky I enjoyed every moment.
And you know what? It looked mighty pretty when I was done.

Small grace: Spinach & feta cheese egg white omlette for breakfast.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


I accidentally volunteered to do something nice at work. Then when I realized I could've done less, I was disappointed that I had gone the extra mile. How do you like that?

We work every third weekend rotations. My partner, Carol, worked two weeks ago and last weekend it was the third partner's weekend. Only he, Ron, had to have surgery unexpectedly and couldn't work. So I piped up in our meeting and said I'd cover the house last weekend. What I was thinking was that Carol had worked the weekend prior so it was obviously my turn. Then I glanced at the schedule a few days later and saw that I am on this weekend. So I worked one; off one; on last week and on this week. I should have only volunteered to cover one of the days last weekend. That would have been fair, like splitting the difference. But no. I shot off my mouth automatically and took on more than I had to.

If that wasn't stupid enough, we had to do some training with the nurses this past week. Three classes a day for two days. 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. And guess which idiot again raised her hand?

Let's review, work one weekend, off one, on two and working 12 hours each Wednesday and Thursday. Cue the violins.

Why do I do things like that? It certainly isn't from some hidden well-spring of generosity. I seem to just pony up and then realize afterward I am doing more than I have to. My boss has even talked to me about it and the Medical Director put me on a one month "no volunteering" grounding. My boss has asked me very nicely why it is I think I do this to myself. Why do I think I have to do it all? Well, first off, I don't think I do it all. I think we all work hard and I won't do less than my share.

My theory is that I have this automatic reflex that comes not from the me who watches weekends disappear with a whiny butt pout but the me that has put on Christ. I often want some kind burning bush to show me exactly why my actions were right. I'd really enjoy some extra giant blessing as a result of working extra hard. You know, in some cosmic justice I happen to not be at work the day it all goes haywire because I am finally getting a day off. Then I'd see, "Hey! That's why God had me working two weekends, so I wouldn't be there when the sewers backed up!"

But no. I don't seem to get two stone tablets rolling down a mountain with my instructions for life. I just say, "Sure, no problem" and wonder what just happened later.

I think that this might be faith in the grown-up world. Just acting on instinct without the need for immediate gratification. An opportunity to be a good servant minus the kindergartner's, "Why???" Why? Because a servant is what I am. Maybe I am learning to be a doer of the word? To do so without forethought...that is Christ in me.

Small grace: No power outage.
Cheryl, 60,000 homes without power this morning after overnight storms. We are thankful!

August 9, 2009

Psalm 72:6,7

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
Small grace: The hot water tank croaked...right after my shower. And before the Mr.'s.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Small Graces Not Posted

1. The sound of wind chimes
2. My Lucy in Connecticut family room
3. My unearthed patio that has become my daily after work unwind spot
4. The top of Jay's head seen through the windows when he comes for dinner each evening
5. Moving my hutch into the kitchen and it looks fabulous
6. The glow of my amber kitchen lights against my new gingery painted walls
7. Mac's cut foot not being as bad as it looked
8. My new partner at work
9. My new office freshly painted
10. Wearing scrubs

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday Book Review


This week I'm doing a simultaneous read of two books by the same author that take place during the same time period; same town. The two stories intersect only in that the main characters are lifelong best friends, each playing a minor role in the book of the other. The first is "Gilead" and the second" Home" both by Marilynne Robinson. I am further into Gilead and doing more reading in that book having started it first. Both main characters are ministers of the old fashioned variety. They are moral men, admitting to their own shortcomings and guided entirely by the King James Bible. I love the almost-lost man of God who lives simply and in pursuit of understanding of God without interest in the bells and whistles of religion. Their perspective is largely inward believing that their Christ-likeness is what will win the world and draw men to God. I am loving these books. Gilead is without chapters being written as a letter in the final weeks of life to a young son who will not know his father into adulthood.

One the list for the week; "Dancing in the Lowcountry" by James Villas, "A Bit On The Side" by William Trevor, "The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold.

157 pages into to "Gilead" I know it is a book I will consider a favorite for a long time and already I recommend you read. Might be worth a purchase!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Where Shame Settles

I didn't grow up into the adult dreamed of by the little girl me. That adult, planned on in whispered sessions when spending the night with Kathy, would be a homemaker and mom of 2-3 kids. I saw an old farm house (naturally) surrounded by a few acres of gentle fields. Old comfortable furniture and soft couches; fireplace glowing when snow covered the meadows. I envisioned myself in jeans and aprons and the smell of strong coffee brewing with morning light in the background. This person was not poor or fat or insecure. This person was not in fear of her husband leaving her or overwhelmed by tiredness and trying to be a good mom.
All of which I grew up to be. Some parts of life that were difficult I know were my lot in God's plan and others were the consequence of my own behavior. Much of what I lived with was a matter of inch by inch compromise, a settling for a life less than what I wished it to be. My yard was ugly and unkempt because the Mr. hated yard work. That was the explanation. The truth was that it was ugly and unkempt because I settled for that. I didn't work in the yard nor did I find a way to talk to Dean to effectively take better care. I didn't teach my two little boys to work in the yard with me. I settled. I didn't cook or eat the way I wanted to. I was drawn into laziness and poor money management, for unhealthy and fattening. I turned my back on the plan for delicious and wholesome dinners with my family. I settled.
I could go on and on about housekeeping, laundry and impulsive spending. It was all a slippery slope of an undisciplined life. And a little leaven does leaven the whole loaf (1 Corinthians 5: 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?). As I settled for one little easier moment after another those moments began to shape my very life and the happy and productive woman I planned to be was soon unhappy, unproductive, settled and ashamed. I heard once that in your twenties you haven't got a clue, in your thirties you've figured it out and decide to work on your life and in your forties you begin to appreciate what life can be. That would be me in a nutshell, emphasis on the nut.
I was not raised to be uneducated, untidy or compromising. But I settled for it because being all of those things is luxuriantly lovely for a minute. No harm. Why do people work so hard? No, I never really believed it. That was the rationalization that came after the compromise, not the reason for it. Here is the reason, my flesh is undisciplined and my heart is finicky . (Jeremiah 17:9 “ The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?)
My gramma removed most of the screens from the windows of this house. Last summer we never got around to putting them in so we could only open a few of the windows. With the slightest warmth we'd end up turning on the air conditioning, which I don't like. This year Dean & Mac went through the house and installed all of the screens. Seven more windows were thrown open. There was a time that those screens would've never gone in. It would always be too much work, we'd be too busy or too tired. We'd say we liked the ultra cold of the air conditioner anyway. We'd settle for stale winter air year 'round.
I no longer settle. The sweet summer breezes blowing throw these rooms is too wonderful to trade for a moment of settling.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Learning To Fish

Give a man a fish...

I was blessed to have grandparents who doted on their grandchildren. They wanted to guide and to help us but sometimes their best intentions had a negative impact. I'll take the responsibility and lay the blame on my personality but my need to please coupled with their need to control (because that is what often comes of helping) seemed to launch me into life with very little idea of myself as an independent person. I looked continually for their approval and learned early in life that this would be easiest achieved by doing things their way. So I chose my clothing and my wedding plans and many other details with the thought of pleasing other people.

The problem is that I accomplished very little under my own steam and never learned to be daring enough to be whatever me I was gifted to be. My successes I felt owed to the generations before me and my failures were my own. No one ever taught me this, it was just the way I was. I am trying to learn now, since I am the older generation, what kind of help and expectations are for the sake of my kids and which are for my own satisfaction. I cannot dream their dreams and God does not reveal his plans for them to me. I don't want to make life easy in return for their "obedience." They shouldn't live to please me but to learn to hear the Holy Spirit to find out how to please him. And this, will please me.

I don't want to withdraw my help when I disagree with their path.

I want to give them the opportunity to meet themselves everyday and to find themselves joyously surprised at what God has birthed within them. They owe me nothing because all I can do for them is really just standing between them and heaven, handing the blessings that were never mine in the first place to the next recipient.

And I own nothing of their accomplishments. Like earthly blessings, I only held them for a moment before placing them into a world that so needs these men with God's anointing on their heads.

For today, I celebrate their victories and stand with them in their defeats. I know the only truth is that all is the Lords and for his pleasure.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Smith & Gardens

We are starting the final interior redo of our new old house. It comes with the biggest budget so it'll be incremental and take anywhere from three months to fifteen years to complete. It is...the kitchen & family room. The two are more like one largish room so they go hand in hand. Pictured here is the kitchen as it looks now, this photo from Christmas cookie baking with Lexi, Beanie, Mac & me. The dark cabinets will be given a face lift in antique cream with the addition of a substantial crown moulding. A creamy laminate floating floor will cover the blue and white linoleum. The beige ceramic back splash will remain but a new counter top is on the way. The goal is light and bright to wash away the dark paneling and blue carpeting. Our own stainless appliances from the old house are already here, thank the Lord! One less major expense! Home decorating is one of my favorite things that also happens to be an anxiety inducer as I watch money go floating out of the bank! Everything costs at least 50% more than I think it should and it just rankles me. I'm sure you've seen the commercial with the couple pricing flooring? They look at the price tag and keep repeating, "Really?" That's exactly how I feel! So I wander around behind the Mr. who has no problem spending all of our money saying things like, "I'm willing to pay $20 a foot for granite counter tops and that's it!" "I would pay $30 for that ceiling fan, any more and I don't want it!" Oh, it's lots of fun. Actually it is fun and the most satisfying way to spend money, far more so than clothes or jewelry and I am so not about expensive restaurants. Vacations for me are usually something to get home from. And this will be the first time since we married in 1986 that we will have a home completely redone just how we want it! I'm beyond grateful and excited to see the finished product. I'll post some pictures, I promise. I currently have a bunch of pictures on my cell phone that I don't know how to get to my computer, a digital camera that doesn't work and a second digital camera that was my mom's that I don't know how to hook up. And a camcorder/still camera. It seems I should be able to produce a few pictures! Or maybe I'll google a fabulous kitchen from the internet and just post that. How are you gonna know? You guys live in Greenland or something like that. Hush up mom, Margie, Sta', Trish, Loueeth, Kell, Becky, Amber, KayMac. Buncha tattle tales.

Small grace: Reading my new library books enjoying the warm breeze and wind chimes on my deck. Mmmmmm.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


When my kids were little, I learned a lesson from Trish that I've never forgotten. She told me how her mother-in-law, my Great Aunt Elizabeth (gramma's sister), talked to her about prayer in the life of a mother. That when your children are small, you must learn to pray while doing other things. And so Trish told me how she prayed while doing dishes, sang worship as she rocked her babies and kept it in her heart to care for her girls in an attitude of prayerfulness always because not often can the mom of little ones close herself into a room for uninterrupted time with the Lord.

Then Trish told me how Aunt Elizabeth spoke of growing older and no longer having her own five little boys at home in need of her. How she naturally began to fill those moments and then hours of that time in prayer she hadn't been able to afford for so many years. And so that time once given to the physical care and attention of her young family was now given in equal measure to their spiritual needs. I remember thinking then, with two little boys of my own, that someday I'd be this wise woman who held her children before the Lord on bended knee in quiet rooms. I looked forward to that time when I would have the luxury of praying without the sound of crashing and crying in the background!

I am thankful for that conversation that seemed to happen in passing twenty or so years ago. It comes back to me often now, that promise to myself and to God that I would no longer pray only while doing something else but that I would take the time once given to baths and bottles and use it for intercession and praise. I am not always so focused as to use this time wisely as life and the way it has changed has not really given me back time in equal measure. No longer are there many women whose children are grown and yet who remain homemakers. The time of baths and bottles seems to have been seamlessly replaced with work during the day and chores in the evening left undone during the previous eight hours. My dream of putting aside an hour each morning in the quiet of my home to be with the Lord didn't happen quite the way I imagined it for my Aunt Elizabeth.

How important it is to not put old-fashioned prayer on the list of out-dated and antiquated notions. I drive around town and see signs for this church or that church offering scripture, hope and inspirational ideas. I see news stories about people gathering to clean up a park or donate school supplies. My own church had a baptism service yesterday with a picnic as 80 people made a public declaration of their faith. All good things. But I hope that this has not done for others which it has sometimes done for me. Pushed private prayer quietly into the background of public faith. All of these moments of outreach, love in flesh leave eternal footprints, I know. And yet none will resound with the echoes of a person behind a closed door daring to boldly go before the face of God to plead on behalf of her children, her husband, her nation. The son who attends a mission trip with his youth group because he is inspired to reach out with the love of Christ is beautiful. But the child who lives daily with an almost physical need to touch Christ himself will be the one whose impact is unlimited by moments in time.

Every organized moment in the name of Jesus is only a shadow of the effect of quiet and personal prayer that invites the Holy Spirit to dwell among men.

Thank you Trish for sharing Aunt Elizabeth's lessons all of those years ago. And now, the lesson is is shared again.

Small grace: A brand new bag of Gold Toe socks!

August 2, 2009

Job 17:9

The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


1. I always dirt devil the hair in the bathroom before I start scrubbing. Bathroom hair: gross.
2. I change bed linens every Thursday or Friday.
3. I do all the laundry every Saturday morning.
4. I dust and vaccum weekly.
5. I only mop the kitchen floor when it's about a month over due.
6. I clean my kitchen every night.
7. I use Clorox Wipes every day in the bathroom.
8. I love Scrubbing Bubbles toilet cleaning wands!
9. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are really magic.
10. I hate dirty dishes in the sink.
Small grace: Up early to watch the sunrise.