My dog knew something was about to happen. And when I say my dog, I mean Bella, and dog spelled backwards.

I had just begun to rise out of a long season of burnout. I’m not going to list the reasons, I’ll just put out a sentence most or all of you will relate to: I’m a grown up.

On the way to one of my daughter’s cross country meets last fall, I had shed enough stress to let some creativity back in; through the hairpin curves and mountain climbing in my rattly Xterra I got an idea so exciting I started tailgating the blue-hair driving in front of me. I felt guilty as she eventually pulled over to let me pass—tailgating is rude, I know—but I was thrilled to be settled onto the wings of my muse again. I needed to fly.

Come November, I was coming along on this new book, polishing the rusty fingers and creative flow, when my dog began to act strange.

My ultra-sensitive boxador has this code for earthquake. She can sense them from a state away. Bella gets fidgety, impossibly restless. If I’m not fixing it, she’ll go outside to our back patio and focus her bark-growl straight through the house to whatever threat she imagines is lurking in front of our house.

There were a few earthquakes, you know, across the world, so her radar was either ramped up to impossible or she was bothered by something else.

Bella moved out of our daughter’s room where she usually slept and started sleeping in the center of the house.

By January, she was mostly back to normal as she always gets once a storm or natural disaster gets underway. The only difference is that she insisted on keeping watch from the living room, where she can keep an eye everything.

Now that we’re in quarantine, Bella is exceedingly happy. Not only has lizard season begun, but her family is home a lot more. More play, more snuggles, more people to go on walks with.

It took me a while to gather my thoughts after the COVID-19 crisis arrived. From re-calibrating at my day job, to my own health issue right before quarantine to becoming a homeschool mom while trying to balance my novel-writing and…..you know. Being a grown up.

It the beginning, there were the haters spreading their angry at a 9.9 magnitude. It was ugly and so was social media.

But then, from across the world, Italy started singing from their balconies. Locked inside their worst crisis, they reached inside and gave forth their best.

As the hoarders cleared shelf after shelf here in America I started watching Bella more closely since I couldn’t go anywhere except when necessary. She has the gift of being exceedingly happy with so very little. Lizards, a nice breeze, her family, walks. Forwards and backwards, her kind is the very definition of love. I don’t believe this is coincidence. Now is the time for all of us to think about these things.

DoG spelled backwards is giving us a rest, my friends. He’s allowing this to happen for reasons I won’t pretend to know, but one thing I know He’s doing is reaching inside those of us sensing the change within the change, and pulling out our best.

He knew this was coming, and will remain present with every one of us throughout this whole storm. Right where he can see all of us.

It’s onward with the book for me, although I have to think about the new world it will be published in. How will things change? Will my characters still shake hands, or touch their faces? Will medical facilities wear masks all the time, forevermore?

Will I ever see my sweet Doctor’s face again?

Like Bella, I’m going to have to foresee the change so my book will be relevant when I release it.

I could say we’ve been given the opportunity to thoroughly, quietly (as much as mom’s lives with kids can be), intuitively consider how we’ll forever go about our lives. But doG spelled backwards hasn’t given us the choice this time.

I’ll promise to release the beautiful if you do.

A pocket full of grace

100_2670Sometimes we don’t make it to the remote in time to silence the tragedies, giving a moment for the world’s monsters to prey on little ears. Boston, Texas, car accidents, poisoned envelopes. Days like these burrow into our skin, Sending pricks and stings to frame our attitude.

Noah mows down the landscaping with little feet like a fierce motor, collecting rocks to fill his pockets and dirt to fill every crevice he can find. It’s his frosting in a world waiting to be dressed with his experiments.
A fierce wind exposed his mischievous nature – rocks were propelled into the neighbor’s yard.

“Don’t ever throw things over the fence – you might hurt someone!”

His head sank while his upper lip resumed its pout position. “Kay, Mommy.”

Pockets get an inspection before going into the washer. Take out the rocks, wash away the dirt, and invest in prayer. Lord, let him hear you above the wind.

Ghosts of terror fill the living room again as we sit inside. The glow from the TV paints us in its fear-song.

Some people cry out, “Where is God in all of this?” Others can’t find Him in a world full of hurt and ugliness so they turn their back on His existence.
Can a world that has rejected God learn recognize His voice again?

Most of the time He can be heard in moments of grace.

“Mommy, There’s something in my pocket for you.” Noah shows me his little smile after the news blasts its latest fear alert and I’m wondering what kind of trick he’s playing on me. I switch to a cartoon and reach into his cargo pocket only to grasp nothing.
“What is it, Noah? I can’t find it.”
He smiles again and tells me in his sugary sweet voice, “It’s a kiss.”
And Mommy melts.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13
God is in the compassion of rescuers, volunteers, and all those who bring forth goodness in the midst of evil.
He is the root of love, although you have to stop and let that sink in past the smoke and debris, deep inside to where he knit His signature into your DNA and realize that evil is not sovereign.
And it will never be as powerful as a pocket full of grace.

How do you recognize God’s voice? Does He speak to you through other people or in unusual ways? I love hearing from you!