Cataclysm

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My daughter, mesmerized by a novel that kept her under its spell late into the night resisted all forces outside her blanket the next morning.

Unsuccessful in several attempts to awaken that sweet thing from her literary comatose state, my six-year-old son pushed aside his breakfast, turned to me in Hulk stance and said, “I got this, Mommy.”

A few screams peeled from Chloe’s room, then rounded into snort-induced giggles.

I sprang.

Noah, several pounds & inches smaller than Big Sis had pulled Chloe from her bed, and was dragging her across the room when I arrived. Unsure of when to stop dragging, Noah finally released Chloe when the wall and the shoe pile stopped him from going further. Explosions of laughter began our morning.

It was as if God had dipped his finger into multi-colored glitter and blew it across the room, “surprise.”morning-photo

Chloe rarely smiles on awakening; I can only determine that the pure shock of morning-person colliding with night-owl produced a phenomenon in such rare contrast that only joy could survive the moment.

I knew then that it would be a good day.

On a different note: Along with my writer’s group (a project of the real Cataclysm Missions) I’m accepting true stories for a Christian Anthology. Click here for details.

A Bouquet For You

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The day after Thanksgiving, two tired men dropped five large bags of flowers behind my desk at work.

“We didn’t have many takers for these,” they said, departing for their flower shop as quickly as they had come.

The sight of those bags, those colorful blooms, illuminated the eyes of many. “Flowers for the taking,” I called over the radio, and to people passing by.rose

A retiree held up a wilted bouquet, and ran her fingers over the petals. “They’re on their last leg, just like me. I’ll take these.”

One ninety-something resident said she was the only one around who never received flowers from a loved one. She took two bouquets, smiling thanks-crinkles next to the shines of her eyes.

A few co-workers gathered some flowers for ailing aunts and wives…most took a bouquet for the chance to look at something lovely for a day or two.

One generous act blossomed into many, providing me with a little magic to work in that day. Giving is a great place to find God if He seems far away this Monday.

From the Chair

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I often think of my Grandpa when I sit in his chair we inherited. Dilapidated-looking as it is, it still rocks; the cushions are still soft and its kind like he was. If he could hear the creaks it makes now, he would probably grin and make a good joke about it. He might even pull out his harmonica and play us a tune while rocking and creaking in his chair. Life was simple and good with Grandpa.

Like Martin Crane, another connoisseur of old chairs, I love meaningful things; not necessarily new things, or things with fancy titles, but good things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h30gtsx9Z_0 No, I don’t mind an ugly chair.

A news anchor or two recently commented on how small town people are

Note the halos

Note the halos

generally uneducated and uninformed about the ways of the world…you know how some journalists speak in various shades of yellow…and when they start using words like folksy,  I usually tune them out. I just wonder if they had sat in my small town Grandpa’s chair for a while, looked at all the small town houses (and big city bridges) he designed over the years and considered the foxholes he spent time in– if they would have learned something about small town people with old chairs. Not everyone can get comfortable in furniture marred with duct tape and cracks —old surfaces are a distraction to some who have trouble seeing their worth.

Maybe those journalists don’t know how many old chair owners listened to their statements and wondered if the education that put them in their anchor’s chair was a lot like how many products are made today—built to break?

I’m all for education of all kinds: formal, self-education—many of us are a combination of the two. But there’s no replacing wisdom.

The Healing Room

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I’ve been debating about writing this here, as our true story is not finished, but I don’t believe we have to know everything to share the hope we’ve been given.

You may know our son, Noah, has been diagnosed with Indeterminate Colitis, an autoimmune disease that may or may not be Crohn’s Disease. The mystery of this disease, and all the terrible things it can lead to has wrapped our hearts in a vice; squeezing ever so tight with worry. Impossible to predict, impossible to know if he’ll have it another year or forever. The financial strain is enough to make us wonder if we’ll make it another year without ruin, but God has proved Himself faithful in the areas of finance: a generous family member or friend, a random check in the mail, a surprise discount from the hospital.

My husband heard about this place called The Healing Room. Believers from local churches join together inside a medical clinic one evening a week to pray for those in need of miracles.

We read of Jesus healing those who believe in Him. We grow up being told this…we may even know someone who has miraculously recovered from an illness, but two thousand years of Jesus making footprints in the sands of this Earth is a long way from our cynical culture today. And even though some of us know him and know He can, we wonder if He will. Why some, but not all? Will we be like Paul, forever inflicted with a thorn in the flesh to remind us of where to fix our eyes?

Maybe our faith is too full of questions and not enough belief. But how do we help our six-year-old understand the complexities? I prayed about this, worried that if we took Noah for prayer and he wasn’t healed that he would lose his faith.

John and I explained to him about healing…that miracles do happen, but sometimes God lets people stay sick. They become God’s heroes.

Noah was unsure, nervous about doing something so foreign. He said he’d think about it. I asked God for confirmation that we were doing the right thing, and if so, would he encourage Noah?

Over the next week as I drove my kids to school, a few people called in to our local radio station to report miraculous healings. I leaned in. Is that you, God?

Shortly after, we visited with our neighbors during their fall yard sale. Noah loves looking for new treasures and was delighted to join me. A beautiful, state of the art electric wheelchair was displayed in their driveway. Something compelled me to ask why they were selling such a nice piece of equipment—people don’t buy those for temporary problems–and they both walked very well. So I asked.

“He had MS, but doesn’t anymore. He was healed,” said Mrs. Neighbor.

“What happened?” I asked, Noah at my side listening.

“Prayer, I guess.”

I turned to Noah, repeated what she said, like he didn’t hear it the first time.

“I’ll do it.” He smiled. Wide.

Later, when the kids were at school, I dropped to my knees and requested a special favor from God. I believe those signs were from You. Thank you. If you 100_4125don’t heal him, please give him a “God moment” so he doesn’t lose his faith.

When the sun had left the city in darkness a few Thursday nights later, Noah and I walked into The Healing Room. I could feel the prayer as soon as we entered; I felt embraced by it the whole time we were there. We filled out some paperwork about us and our specific prayer request: Healing from the colitis, healing from the pain.

Before they brought us into the room, they prayed. Over us, over the problem, over any special word from God.

Noah and I stood against a wall underneath a sign reminding us that miracles come from God, not from the people praying. His light-up shoes blinked off as he stopped; my breath came quick as they anointed us both with oil. As soon as the Prayer Man touched Noah’s right wrist, Noah’s right shoe lit up—his foot hadn’t budged. Noah beamed.

When we prayed, they repeated 1 Peter 2:24 where Jesus says, “…By His stripes you are healed.” As soon as they said the words, a picture of Jesus on the cross, taking the wounds of the world upon Himself filled my mind’s eye. Wearing a crown of blood, his head fell forward and tipped toward me—and then, gone. That was enough for me–no matter what happened, God is good. God is Love.

They prayed over Noah for a second time, then invited us to come back again. Some battles take more prayer than others, they said.

His pain was less that night. By the next day, it was completely gone. A few symptoms remain, but we came away with three things. One shoe light (Noah’s God moment), partial healing (no more pain), and a few scriptures impressed upon the prayer warriors, one of them being…And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus Philippians 4:19.

That leaves us at the unfinished part of our story. We will go back on another Thursday night in the hopes that Noah’s healing will be complete. Will the other shoe light for my boy, giving us another miracle, or will he be one of God’s heroes?

The Healing Room is nationwide, my friends. I suspect some of you may need to go. Please check out this link to find one closest to you. http://healingrooms.com/

Tomorrow Eve

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Despite the constant palette of fads that brush their way into our culture, I always love a nice coat of Cherry Crush on my toes. It’s fun when a new shade tantalizes us and we dip our feet in together to celebrate whatever new brand the piper brings to town, but we tend to smudge each others’ toes, working our way back to our favorite places in the composition, however ordinary they might look. I’m a hue, my neighbor is a shade but thankfully, there’s the holy One one that supports the corners of us, offering us a better way to join together. We may paint some fences along our edges to slow our bleed of colors, but that piper likes to come in with his battle sword, and make us forget our vital corners. His true intentions may be cleverly polished like some kind of bling, but if we’re careful not to foul our colors with it, and keep that holy One as our cornerstone, we can make this place one beautiful work of art.

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BOooOo To Me

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When I got off work, midnight reigned and I was exhausted. It was one of those nights where the darkness infused the city so deeply it nearly swallowed my headlights. A few streetlights did just enough to throw around strangely angled shadows of giant oaks and retirement homes. Even the coyotes lost their howls to something in the darkness, their voice clipped and desperate.

A small creature stepped onto the road in front of me. A raccoon? Javelina? Normally, Ifull-moon-1668805_1920 can tell by the crest of the back, but for some reason, it hid beneath my beams and the shadow of the brick office standing near the road. Nice of the little fellow to use the crosswalk.

Woa! By the time it had gone three quarters of the way across the street, it grew arms and legs. With a stooped back, it looked less like an old man and more like a teen although we were in the midst of an aged community.

I widened my eyes, thinking I was so tired, I was seeing things. It probably didn’t help that I had just read chapters of Hollow City, and When Godly People do Ungodly Things.

Is this an illustration of the power of the written word or of the ever increasing spiritual warfare morphing into a beast right before me?

Maybe both, or my Dr. was wrong and I do need more caffeine.

Either way, it will go into my ever increasing collection of unexplained stories. Happy Halloween to you.

Back Porch Sittin’

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While on break from writing chapter 15 a few days ago, Bella and I reclined on the patio. Just me, my dog and the intoxicating autumn sun. The day was mellow-warm, and a cool breeze lulled my overstimulated mind.

Spider webs cascaded through every corner of the yard, in between patio chairs; woven above the long pipes of the wind chimes. I belsafrowned—I had killed two spiders in my kids shower last night. It is October, the month of scary creatures. Instantly, I think of the two dominating the news right now, then push that thought away.

The breeze carried a thread of silk into the sky, all silvery and graceful. I admired their constructors’ perseverance—they build and rebuild webs until their time to weave is done. Despite us two-legged creatures who plough through their homes and take out their family members “just in case” they find their ways into our shoes or beds to bite us, they never stop construction. Underneath our chairs, from pillar to pillar where we walk through each day, from neighbor’s yard to neighbor’s yard, building bridges between us all whether we like their methods or not.

Metaphors reign all over my backyard—such is the curse of a writer’s imagination. I see them everywhere—in chapter 15, the news. It’s all one giant web, concealing who the good guys really are.

What I most want to do is to drown out the noise and just enjoy the autumn sun. How about you? Do you need to rest? Why don’t you join me on my virtual patio, and we’ll build a bridge or two? Turn off the debates, take off your shoes and sit awhile. Want to see the Darwin’s Bark spider in action? Have a seat and enjoy this miracle.

Ode to Dogs

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When my dog catches a spook in her step, from a state-away earthquake or
an approaching storm, I wonder at her ability to sense
things I cannot. Dogs are extraordinary in so many ways—our most loyal friends, playmates for our children and guardians of our households.
Our Bella is certainly no saint when she tries to make a meal from a rat-sized
chihuahua. But if she’s sensitive enough to react to the tiniest fluctuation in the atmosphere,dog-moon
and her hackles raise when she detects a malevolent influence lurking inside an innocent looking human,
Perhaps it’s because she and other dogs can detect the realm beyond us where good and
evil fight for our loyalty.
Maybe that’s why God gifted us with dogs…they stand by our sides, watching for the
hidden things we cannot see.

Generation Hearing Aid

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“Why do young women like their hair sloppy these days? Women of my age keep their hair combed and styled to look decent,” said the man standing next to his wife donning a beehive from the south side of Hades.

I knew better than to be insulted by his comment. His wife and I were from different eras with different ideas of beauty, but we got along just fine. It was him that couldn’t make peace with Generations Whatever. This happened over a decade ago, before I became a parent without the time to care about my hair or anyone else’s.

old-an

But the comment that really ruffled my sloppy-young hair was when he made fun of my size. “Women of my generation were soft, and had more curves. Girls of today are just skin and bones,” said the man when my 120 pound frame helped a caregiver lift his 200+ sack of curves from the floor. Did I tell him that I worked muscle onto my skin and bones every day before work so I could lift him and a few others off the floor each time they fell?

No. Even as a young spawn from Generation Whatever, I knew his sass was due to his loss of dignity. The next day, he came to my desk and told me he used to be a cop. He was the one who came to the rescue. He told me about the 100 lb. bags of Whatever he could lift above his head. I heard the frustration coming through his insults, and understood.

He just wanted someone to hear him—the real him that was a hero and not chained inside his worn-out body. I think each generation mourns the differences of the ones that follow, focusing on the changes in attitudes, fashion, and music. But if my crabby friend had stopped talking long enough to pay attention, he would have realized that I didn’t care a flying beehive what year he came from, or what he looked like as an old man—I heard him. I saw him.

And despite being the one of the worst listeners I’ve ever known, the man inside the skin taught me how to hear people.

I wish the Millennials great hair and good ears.