Thursday, March 8, 2018


My daughter Ivy is a ballerina who dances at a fairly high level.  She is currently teaching at the studio she grew up with, and she is honored to dance the featured role in many local productions.  She has not chosen to pursue ballet professionally, but she is all too familiar with the pressure ballerinas face to be thin. 

So far, only one dancer from her studio has become anorexic.  Thankfully, she seems to be doing well at this point, but one of the first things she did as she and her family began to do battle with this monster was to quit ballet.  Hours every week in a leotard in front of a mirror were not helping the cause.

Next week, this gal we will call Macie, is coming to speak to the young dancers at the studio about her experience with anorexia and what she learned about the issue of body image.  The tricky part of it is that the studio director, although she has the best heart in the world, operates under an opposing set of pressures, so to speak.  The sweetness of her heart and intentions is reflected in the fact that she is the one who invited Macie to come speak in the first place.  But honestly, she would like most of her dancers to lose weight.  I suspect she secretly believes just a touch of anorexia would do them good. 

For many years, she wanted Ivy to lose weight.  A happily trim teenager by everyday standards, Ivy was a little too fleshy by ballet standards.  Ivy has been deeply scarred by this pressure.  She has been cut to the quick by various conversations with this director over the years.  In the director’s defense, to call her remarks cruel is laughable compared to what she endured from her director growing up.  Ballet can be a cruel, cruel world indeed.

However, whereas Macie responded to this pressure by not eating, as many ballerinas do, Ivy had the opposite reaction.  The pressure certainly created in her an unhealthy fixation with food, but ultimately caused her to gain, not lose weight.  More tears.  More consternation.  Deep wounds.

Right now, however, Ivy is lovely by anyone’s standards.  She is at a healthy weight for a young woman (at the low end of her healthy BMI range), and even thin enough for a ballerina.  What happened? 

Josiah happened.  Josiah, her boyfriend, also a dancer.  He came along at the height of all this trouble and began telling her she was beautiful.  She was beautiful.  He thought she was beautiful.  Stop worrying.  Stop thinking about that.  You’re beautiful.  I think you’re beautiful.  You look perfect.  You’re beautiful. 

And the next day: You’re beautiful.  I think you’re beautiful.  You’re perfect.  You’re beautiful. 

They have been dating three and a half years now.  And she still knows, Josiah thinks she is beautiful. 

Ivy lost interest in what the ballet world thought of her.  She only cared about what Josiah thought, and he thought she was beautiful. 

So, what do you think happened then?  With the reassurance that she was beautiful, do you think she let her appearance go?  Do you think she gained weight and began dressing sloppily?  Stopped wearing makeup?

No.  She didn’t.  She enjoyed dressing beautifully all the more for him.  She enjoyed putting on her makeup for him.  And she was careful about what she ate.  Whatever her body was doing before with weight seemed to correct itself naturally, and she is currently a full ten pounds lighter than what she was during those years. 

She still bears some scars.  She doesn’t like eating in front of other people, especially anything unhealthy.  I see her looking around to see who is looking when she pours cereal for herself in the morning or puts food on her plate at dinner.  I am careful to avert my eyes.  It breaks my heart.  But she is getting past it, all because the young man she loves calls her beautiful.

Jesus calls us beautiful.  He calls you beautiful.  As we draw near to Him in repentance and obedience, we enter a joyful union with Him that God Himself likens to the wedding of two young lovers.  This is what we were created for.  This is what the depths of our hearts long for.  Do you believe it?  Can you believe it?  Most of us do not have Josiahs, but we do have Jesus. 

Like a lily among thorns
    is my darling among the young women.   Song of Solomon 2:2

Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.             Song of Solomon 2:13

How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!                 Song of Solomon 4:1

You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
    there is no flaw in you.           Song of Solomon 4:7

Ballerinas suffer with a damaged body image.  Most of us instead suffer a with damaged soul image.  How would our souls be healed if we basked in this truth day after day?  

If day after day after day,
as we drew near to the Lover of our souls,
as we bared our hearts in confession and repentance,
as we knew His forgiveness and grace,
as we sought His direction and will,
and we saw in His eyes
that we
            to Him
                                    are beautiful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Father of Crush

Yesterday I wrote about getting my son Reed ready for Colorado -- my wonderfully laid-back, relaxed Reed who reminds me of Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo.  I told you how he really is his father's son.

Well, this morning my husband, Tom -- the Father of Crush --  was off to Mexico for a few days.  He travels quite a bit, so this is all old-hat.  His flight was supposed to leave at 8:41 a.m., and we live about 40 minutes from the airport.  We got into bed last night, and I asked him what time he was getting up.

"My alarm is set of 6:00," he said.

"Really?!  What time do you plan to leave?"

"I think I'll leave at 7:00.  That should be plenty of time."

Um, no.  For an international flight?  Not plenty of time.

"Is it a direct flight to Mexico, Tom?  Or is it domestic for the first leg?"

"No, it's direct," he replied, not catching my meaning.

"Tom, I don't think you're allowing enough time," I suggested.

"No, I think it'll be okay.  It takes 35 minutes to get to the airport, 10 minutes for the shuttle [from off-site parking], I'm already checked in, I have TSA pre-check, so I should get through security quickly.  And I'm all packed.  I'll be fine."

Well, after years of travel, he is a good packer: unlike his son, he always remembers underwear and long pants.  But still, I was dubious.  I pointed out that his plan did not allow for any unexpected occurrence, like an accident creating traffic on the way, or the shuttle being delayed, or who knows what else.  But, the Father of Crush would not be ruffled. 

So, just before 7:00 this morning, he headed out the door.  I asked him if he remembered everything.


"You have your phone?"


"Your charger?"

"Yep, and my passport.  I'm good."

And he was off.

About 20 minutes later, I went upstairs to our bathroom.  What was sitting right on the counter, but his phone.  AAArrrrgh!  What to do?  What to do?

So, I used his phone to call the co-worker that he was traveling with.  "Ed!  Do you think I should try to run this to the airport for him?"

Ed pointed out he may be en route back home to get it, which would really create a problem.  On the other hand, he may not be...  He really hadn't allowed enough time for that.  And if he had realized his mistake right away, it seemed like he should already be back.

So, I arranged things with Ed.  When Ed found Tom at the airport, he would tell him that I would be waiting for him right outside the terminal with it.  He would have to leave the secured area and then go back through security again, but it seemed like the best plan.  *IF* I didn't pass him on the road.

Heading out of our town, I saw a white Dodge pickup truck, which is his car, driving in the opposite direction.  Did the driver of that truck seem a little frantic?  He was changing lanes -- was it to gain an advantage in speed?  I could turn around on the chance that it was indeed Tom heading back.  On the other hand, what if it wasn't?

I thought about it for a minute and called Ivy, still asleep and probably none too happy to be involved in this circus.  She said, "Dad just walked in."  It was him I had seen, and now I was well on my way to the airport with his phone.  Double-argh!

So, he took Ivy's phone with him so we could communicate and got back on the road.  We arranged an exit where I could pull over right on the exit ramp, we could do the phone hand-off, and he could jump right back onto the expressway.

We met, did the exchange, and as he pulled away I called to him, "Tom, forget the off-site parking!  Just do short-term!"  It would cost more, but it would be better than missing his flight.

At 8:15, I get a call from him.  He was mad.  He had tried short-term parking, and it was full.  He drove to long-term, and it was also full.  Now, after wasting 15 precious minutes, he was heading back to the off-site parking anyway.  "I knew I should have just listened to my gut and gone with the off-site parking in the first place!" he barked.

The implication was clear, and I didn't appreciate it.  He was going to miss his flight, and it was all my fault.  Next time I will limit my heroics to making sure he has underwear.

The end of the story is that, miracle of miracles, he made the flight.  He was even upgraded to first class. 

"I wasn't worried," he said.  He is the Father of Crush.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Cowabunga, Dude!

For You formed my inward parts;You wove me in my mother’s womb.I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Wonderful are Your works,And my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14  NASB

Reed.  My precious, wonderful, creative, kindhearted son Reed.  He and Dom are off to Colorado for a week of skiing.

Remember Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo?  That's my Reed, except he isn't really a surfer.  He just has that cowabunga, hang loose, no stress attitude.  The same hang loose attitude that allows him to walk into the house from the car -- through the snow and over the ice -- in bare feet.

Past experience told me that his version of packing would be to bring his dirty laundry home.  Not an unreasonable line of thinking.  After all, it should include all his favorite things to wear.  He surprised me this time though in having only two small loads of laundry.  He said his clean clothes were in a suitcase in his car.  I was definitely impressed.  Even surfer dudes grow up, eh?

So, yesterday, just an hour or so before they were supposed to leave for the airport he brought in the suitcase of clean clothes and unzipped it on the living room floor.  Honestly, it looked like he had taken a snow shovel to the floor of his bedroom and dumped all the clothes into the suitcase.  Either that, or he had been sleeping with the clothes for about a month.  There was a bed sheet in the mix.  I expressed my surprise and said, "Buddy, I think these all needed to be washed."

He said, "No, Mom, I'm fairly certain most of these are all clean."  And he proceeded to pick each item up one by one and smell it.  Including the underwear.

"Oh, buddy!  That's gross!"

He laughed.  "Only if you think about it, Mom."

So he picked out a few things that did need a wash and left the rest, confident that he had everything he needed for the trip.  I rushed dirty items into the washer and came back to fold and organize what was left in the suitcase.

He had a tall stack of hoodies and a tall stack of t-shirts.  Two pairs of underwear.  About 25 socks, of which there were maybe three matching pairs, and no long pants at all.  No jeans, no sweat pants, no lounge/pajama pants.

"Huh!" he said, mystified.  "I guess I didn't do such a great job of packing."  He was clearly puzzled as to how this strange imbalance could have occurred.  Unrattled, however, he went on playing with the cat.

I, on the other hand, was slightly rattled.  It was too late to run to Target to buy more underwear, so I ran up to his room to search out stray pairs left from his previous visits home or even his high school days.  I found a few, plus the dirty pair from the previous day left on the floor.  I ran them down to the washing machine, hoping they could catch at least the last few minutes of the wash cycle.  I rummaged through his dad's closet shelves looking for a pair of sweat pants that wouldn't fall off him.  Thankfully, he had worn a good pair of jeans home, so at least he had those.

Meanwhile, he had roused himself to search out a pair of ski pants to wear.  He concluded that he must have left his own pair at school, because they were nowhere to be found around the house.  He settled on a pair of women's pants he found that fit (amazingly, because he is a long-legged 6'1"), but they were only a shell, without insulation.  So, I was off again to search out some long underwear he could wear underneath.

I cannot tell you how much I love this kid.  My heart swells when I think of him.  But here's the thing:  it swells all the more with joy and love for him as I write this, recounting his foibles.  His weaknesses are very much a part of the glory that is Reed.  Somehow, mysteriously, his weaknesses are fundamentally, inextricably woven into his strengths, which are marvelous.

In many ways, Reed is a natural, easy-going version of his dad, except that Tom beats himself up over these sorts of things.  Tom fights it.  I tell him, "Tom, this is why God gave you me.  I am here to take care of everything you forget."  And I firmly believe that to be true.

I am delighted that Reed doesn't seem to beat himself up over the trivialities of life that escape him, like matching socks or the need for underwear.  My prayer for him is that God will give him a sweet Christian girl to marry who will understand and appreciate him -- and be willing to pack long pants for him -- without belittling him for not managing it himself. 

 Reed helps me to remember too how God's heart swells in the face of my weaknesses.  Sin, rebellion -- that's one thing.  But how often do I beat myself up for parts of myself that God created for His glory? How easily I gloss over my sin, excusing it shamefully, but spend time instead berating myself for parts of me that are intrinsic to the very person God created me to be for His glory?  I wish I were more charismatic.  I wish I could decorate.  I wish I were musical.  I wish I were funnier.  I wish I could dance.

No!  Let's stop this nonsense!  God made All Bark to be just what He intended All Bark to be.  All Bark is as perfect and precious in His eyes as Reed is in mine.  And just as I am happy to help Reed out in the bits of life he doesn't handle so well, so God generously helps me out in the bits I don't handle so well. 

Cowabunga, dude!  Let's play with the cat.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Divorce and the Supercilious

I read yesterday about a young woman in Christendom who got divorced.  Nothing especially interesting or novel in that, except that this woman has just a little bit of a "name" out there in the Christian world.  Just a little -- and it's possible that her work will eventually cause her to become more well-known than she is now.

I stumbled upon this piece of personal information about her quite accidentally.  I know almost nothing more about the situation.  I do not know who initiated the divorce, nor do I know the first thing about the circumstances surrounding it.  Neither, I might add, does anyone else online.

This pesky fact has not deterred a certain handful of people from posting their opinions, however.  A small storm of Christians have graced the cyber-world with their not-so grace-filled assessments of this woman as a result of this divorce.  It is very disheartening.  What exactly are they suggesting?  That she is not worthy of our respect because her personal life hit a bump in the road? That her work, therefore, is discredited? 

That anyone would think such a thing is disappointing.  That they would go so far as to put their superciliousness into words and publish it online is abominable.  There is no excuse.  My heart breaks for this young woman having to read such ugly words about herself, written by people who know nothing of her, her situation, or God's work in her life.

It's the sad, old adage: Only Christians shoot their own.

But I bet I can guess at their emotional motivations.  And if I'm being unfair to them, well, maybe they deserve it.

My guess is that they themselves are in pain in their own lives. They haven't made the mark on the world that they had hoped to make in their younger years.  They see her using her goodly intelligence and hard work to move the needle forward, so to speak, while they sit in their dusty corners of the world fruitlessly spinning in circles.

In other words -- they're jealous.  And superciliousness is a handy consolation prize.

So, to the small group of highhanded folk who sought to defame this woman and her ministry, to make a public circus of something that was undoubtedly very painful for her --  for shame.  Let us all see your words and posts for the spitefulness they are.

"Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand."  Romans 14:4

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

An Evangelical Goes to Mass

Below is a deviation from this blog's normal fodder.  To begin with, it is long.  I didn't actually write it to be a blog post in the first place, although it is very meaningful to me.  I wrote it hoping to sell it to a magazine somewhere in Christendom -- no luck there yet.  No matter though.  My dear little blog will gobble it up appreciatively!

But if you're not in the mood for a long read, I suggest you skip this!


No, I hadn’t been to church that Sunday, nor the previous Sunday.  Nor did I intend to go the next week.  I felt sheepish in explaining to my friends and family where I’d been or what I’d been thinking.  In truth, I wasn’t entirely sure myself.  After decades of unwavering allegiance to my evangelical church, I had veered from the trusted path, and all I could point to was a weird exhaustion, a bone-weariness that had infused my soul.

I was not questioning God or my conservative, biblical convictions.  I was proud of my church’s involvement in the community and the many godly believers who worshipped there.  I loved and trusted my pastor, his knowledge of the Bible, his leadership and his teachings.  And, be assured, I was not burned-out in the typical sense of having overextended myself in service.  How was it, then, that I found myself dreading the prospect of attending the Sunday services?  Exactly what elements of standard evangelical fare so enervated me?

To begin with, we evangelicals are very social in our worship; we fellowship with each other.  Friendly hellos before the service, coffee and donuts after, kiosks advertising Bible studies and opportunities for service, all work to create a warm and friendly ambiance.  And yet, on a Sunday morning this persistent extroversion can turn my focus from worship to conversation.

For many, the music of the evangelical service effects the transition from the chit chat and the workaday world to one of worship.  Sadly, I live in a state of musical deficiency that makes popular Christian music difficult for me to appreciate, let alone sing.  On a good week, I spend the worship portion of the service scolding myself into disciplining my mind to offer up the words of the song in prayer and praise; on a bad week, my mind latches onto more mundane matters, like why the drummer is behind Plexiglas and how difficult it must be to clap while holding a microphone.

Notwithstanding my own deficits, however, in many of today’s churches the worship at its core is a performance, much like a weekly concert.  And as much as the musicians on a Sunday morning would demur, a performance demands some appreciation for the talent and hard work of the performers.  They are performing, after all.  They are on stage with elaborate backdrops, sophisticated lighting, and at my church, sometimes even dancers.  We have come a long way from the little old lady behind an organ.

For many, this high-energy show draws their hearts into deeper communion with God.  As deep calls to deep, they bond emotionally with the music and are carried into a joyful fellowship with the Creator.  For me, however, that same music unsettles my spirit and turns my focus away from God to the musicians themselves and the performance.

On the other hand, the best part of the Sunday service for me is the teaching.  The head pastor himself is the primary reason we attend the church we do.  He is wise, learned, humble, and a great teacher.  I never leave his teaching without a fresh insight into the Word and a renewed commitment to obedience and love for the Lord. 

But appreciating a teaching is not the same as worship.  I longed to worship.  Corporately.  I was longing to forget myself and other people – the fellowship, the musicians, even the teacher.  I was longing to go to church with others, to be there with others, but still be focused on God.  I wanted to tell God how much I love and adore Him with other people who are telling Him the same thing, but to not have to focus on those other people.  Only focus on Him.

In an artful effort to sidestep the problem, I embarked on a new project: I decided to spend a number of weeks visiting some of the historic cathedrals in the Detroit area.  I would indulge in an interesting and cultural experience; I would broaden my horizons with the unexplored grandeur and history right in my own backyard.

As it worked out, I ended up returning week after week to the first cathedral I visited.  I had become captivated with something completely different than the beauty of the building: I had become captivated with the Catholic mass itself.

After much internet research, the cathedral I visited was The Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church, in downtown Detroit.  The wilting paint and crumbling spires of the old cathedral suggested a faded glory.  The massive wooden doors were an impressive curiosity.  But as I walked through them, I entered another world.

A cool stillness embraced me.  A reverence imbued into the very air summoned me to silence, both in voice and in spirit.  Two angels in billowing robes stood at the entrance to the nave blowing soundless trumpets in welcome as I beheld the Gothic beauty before me.  Enormous stained-glass windows bedecked the walls.  Intricate patterns of rib vaulting emblazoned with gold leaf soared overhead creating a heavenly canopy.  Majestic columns lined the nave in military precision like soldiers in the throne room of a king, directing my vision to the crowning climax of all this glory, the elaborate altar.  As I slipped into a pew, something that had been knotted in the depths of my being began to loosen, and then strangely, almost tremble in quiet contentment.

I had seen beautiful cathedrals before, and the experience always left me with a dull ache, like a little girl peering through a shop window at a toy she couldn’t have: so pretty, so close, but not hers. That day, however, I had not come as a tourist, but as a participant.  That day, I possessed it.


In truth, I was a pretender.  I was a child sneaking into the dinner table of another family, not quite knowing the etiquette and hoping not to be noticed.  I bungled through the mass, taking my cues from other parishioners for when to stand, when to kneel, where to turn in the missal to find the right words to say, never quite getting the timing of the sign of the cross (although I did know enough not to take communion without being Catholic).   Regardless of these difficulties, however, I realized I had found what I was looking for.  This is what I had been longing for but not finding in my own evangelical service.

I longed to stand with others and recite the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth…”  I longed to sing songs without clapping my hands or swaying to the music – hymns and chants with little popular appeal, simple songs of adoration.  I longed to hear the Word read with no embellishment:  Psalms, the Gospel, the Old Testament, an Epistle.  I longed to worship God in ritualized simplicity, without emotionalism, to allow His Word and His Spirit to wash over me.  I wanted to participate in telling God how much I loved Him, not by struggling to sing songs that I had no hope of making resemble music, but by reciting words of worship and love to God with other believers. “Thanks be to God.”  “The Word of the Lord.”  An Alleluia chant.
All this I found when I visited the Catholic cathedral, and more.

I loved the formality surrounding the Gospel reading.  The priest went to a special, elevated place in the nave, up a handful of steps that spiraled around a column to a lighted platform, the altar boy following him swinging incense.  I loved that we sang as the priest made his way to the platform, and I loved that we stood during the reading -- all in honor of the extra-special nature of the life of Christ.

I loved the priestly garb, which seemed to deemphasize the priest himself.  His robes, like a uniform, spoke to his function, not his personhood.  His choice of style was not there to give me any clues about him as a personality.  In this role, indeed, he wasn’t a personality at all.  The congregation was not there because of his magnetism or charm.  He was not the main event or the center of attention. He was only a facilitator of this communal celebration, almost invisible.  I was there to worship God, not to judge the performance of the speaker or my connection with him.

I loved the ritual and the constancy of the mass.  Week after week, each element of the mass happened in exactly the same order with no fanfare.  Far from becoming boring or mechanical, I found this regularity to be liberating.  There were no surprises to engage my mind, to invite my curiosity, or to pique my interest.  I was free to focus on the reason I had come in the first place – to engage in adoration and celebration of God.  Rather than being required to focus on the act of worship, I was free to focus on the object of worship.

All this to say, the Catholic mass filled a hole in this evangelical heart.  It satisfied a hunger for worship that I had not found anywhere else.

I must admit, it was eye-opening to leave my native evangelical soil and venture into the foreign land of the Catholic mass.  I do not presume to bridge the 500-year gap between Catholicism and Protestantism with my humble experience, nor would I attempt to scale the mountain of doctrinal differences that stand between them.  But I did learn to love and appreciate what we have in common.  I also learned that my naive perspective on Catholicism had been clouded by more prejudice than I would like to admit. I was amazed as I sat through the mass week after week that I did not hear anything that offended my tender evangelical sensibilities.  The Word of God, the glory of God, and the saving power of Jesus Christ were wholly celebrated and acclaimed, very much like in my own church.

I am sorry I felt sheepish in telling my family and friends that I was attending a Catholic church.  Both the Protestant and the Catholic styles of worship have their own wonder and glory. They each make their own peculiar offering in service to the Kingdom.  In this secular, post-Christian age, we are all family, pulling together in a tug-of-war for the hearts of our generation.  If one man finds Jesus through Catholicism and another finds Him through a nondenominational megachurch, they have both come to the same place through different doors.  Jesus is the only way to the Father, but certainly, there is more than one way to Jesus.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Refrigerator Trouble

So, I would like to share an amazing God moment.

We have been in the middle of a kitchen remodel.  The construction crew got through their part of it in record time.  We lived out of the living/dining room and did dishes in the upstairs bath tub for about six weeks, and in that time they -- presto-change-o -- converted our gutted kitchen-dining area into a thing of beauty.

The rest is on us now:  the painting, moldings, carpet, rehanging of doors.  They did the hard part; we do the easy part.  That's the idea of it anyway. Somehow it doesn't work that way in our family.

Several weeks after we had moved into our new kitchen, the old refrigerator still waited patiently in the living/dining room.

The week before Easter, Ivy and I wrestled it out of the living room into the family room so we could extend the table for Easter dinner.  We attempted to shove it into the garage, only to learn the hard way that it was wider in every dimension than the various interior doorways it would have to navigate in order to get there.  It would have fit through the front door, but that would have meant our being responsible, in full view of the neighbors, for its descent down one step onto the front porch, and then down another step onto the sidewalk.  If we had been able to get it anywhere near the interior door to the garage, we would still have had to grapple with a couple steps.  But the outer garage door would have been closed, keeping the indignity of the maneuver private.  Because believe me, if we could have gotten it there, getting it down those steps would have been undignified.   

So into the family room it went.  And there it has stayed since Easter.

Mind you, the refrigerator is not responsible for our decorating stagnation.  Pure indecision on every front has assaulted us when it comes to not only paint color, but also who to hire to do the finishing work.  Besides being indecisive by nature, I am also aesthetically insecure.  Every time I choose a color, someone comes along with an opposing opinion and completely derails my resolve.  On top of that, we're in a quandary over which friend or family member to give the work to.

The other morning the weight of this renovation paralysis woke me from a sound sleep at approximately 4:52 a.m.  My Bible study gals were coming over the next night, and I was determined that if nothing more could be done, at the very least, I was getting that refrigerator out of the family room.

Having already learned I couldn't get it through the interior door into the garage, I was left with contemplating other creative means to get it either into the basement or through the front door.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  I had hours before the sun rose to focus my prodigious creative powers on the problem.

After some consideration, I decided that sliding it down the basement steps on its side sounded like a promising prospect.  I would flatten one of the large moving boxes from the garage to put under the fridge for a toboggan-like effect.  Just to be sure I wasn't being reckless, I googled, "Does it hurt a refrigerator to be moved on its side."

Turns out the answer to that is, "Quite possibly.  In fact, probably.  But not necessarily," which was good enough for me.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I got out of bed and did some measuring though, only to learn that, again, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), it was too wide in every dimension to fit through the basement door too.

On to the next idea -- a more conventional approach this time. I decided I would go to Home Depot and rent something called an "appliance dolly."  Who knew such things existed?!?  But it sounded promising.  I would rent one that day and bulldoze that refrigerator through the front door on those rented wheels even if I ended up widening the front door in the process. 

But first things first.  A quiet time.  I sat in front of my computer to pray (I pray best with my fingers).  I prayed from the heart.  Whine.  Whine, whine, whine.  I found a hundred things to whine to God about, and I hadn't even gotten to the part about the marooned refrigerator.  But finally I did.  I typed (and this is cut-n-pasted directly from my quiet time journal),

"But especially, Father, I’m upset that I can’t make any progress.  I can’t get the refriger..."

 The word was not even off my fingers when my cell phone went "ding!"  A text message from my friend.  Her text read, "Are you up?  Can you talk?" 

Hello?  It was 7:32 a.m.!  Not only that, I was crabby.  I was really, really crabby. And who the heck calls a friend at 7:30 in the morning???? But I thought to myself, Well, I'm going to have to talk to her eventually; it may as well be now.  So I called her.  

Never one for 'hellos,' she greeted me with HI, FRIEND!!! ARE YOU HAPPY?  (My friend is a morning person.

I responded truthfully.  "No, I'm not.  I'm crabby."  And I told her my refrigerator trouble.

She said, "No, no, no!  You're not going to go rent a dolly!  Herb [her husband] has a dolly and he does that kind of thing all the time.  As soon as he gets up, we're coming over and Herb will move the refrigerator for you."

Wow.  I was blown away.  Father, I thought, You are amazing!  I hadn't even asked You yet for help.  At the rate I was going, I may not have even been wise enough to ask for help at all.  I was just fixing to go on whining for a good while, but there You were, answering before the word was even off my lips -- or in this case, my fingers.

So Herb and my friend appeared at my door around 10:30.  Herb moved our defunct oven from the garage to the curb for trash pick-up, which was another less pressing problem I had.  And then he tackled the monster refrigerator.  He got it onto the dolly and began to maneuver it through the foyer, guiding it somewhat blindly, working to avoid damaging any walls and corners.  I was in the foyer propping open the storm door.  The refrigerator blocked my view of the garage door, but suddenly I heard a man's voice calling, "Oliver!" Someone who knew our dog, Oliver, had come into the house through the garage door.  My friend introduced herself to him, but I could not for the life of me imagine who it could be.  

Turns out it was Mike, the carpenter who had spent weeks at our house installing our new kitchen cabinets and doing some finishing work.  He had been working down the street at our neighbor's house for the past few weeks, and chose this moment to walk on down to say hello again to our dog, with whom he had developed a close friendship. 

He chose this moment.  Out of all the weeks he had been just down the street, he chose this moment to come on by.  The very moment Herb was about to realize that he needed another man to help him navigate this refrigerator through the front door and down the steps.  The very moment that refrigerator would have crashed to the ground unless Mike had been there to help catch it.

Does God care about the mundane difficulties of my life?  What do you think?  

What a faithful and powerful and kind God we serve!

Although it does make me wonder if my toboggan idea had God a little alarmed too.

Lily (or, Reed, continued)

Last week I was privileged to spend time in Philadelphia with my sister's family, which meant I got to see my niece and her new baby, Lily.  Lily is 17 months old now, cute as a button, with a happy disposition.  But they have become a little concerned about the fact that she isn't talking at all yet.  She "coos" in the sweetest, soft way, but no words.  My niece, Lizzy, has had her hearing tested more than once, and she has failed the hearing test twice.  Although it raises an eyebrow, somehow even that isn't definitive -- maybe her hearing will turn out to be okay after all.  So they will continue to keep an eye on things.

What strikes me about the situation however is not Lily, as much as she, in all her adorability, commands center stage.  It's Lizzy.

Lizzy loves that baby.  I mean, Lizzy LOOOOOVVVVVEEEESSSSSS that baby.   Lizzy's reaction to learning that Lily may have some form of physical defect?  Unruffled. Which  surprised even her, I think, judging by the fact that she mentioned it.

But I get it.  I totally get it.  I think that baby's arms and legs could all fall off, and ... while that might rattle her slightly ... it would in no way affect the unwavering, almost insane devotion her heart feels for that chubby little blob of cooing, drooling, gurgling, toddling humanity.

This dovetails on my (lack of) exchange with Reed.  Answer me or don't answer me, kid (see previous post). Nothing can diminish my love for you.  Nothing can derail my conviction of your worth.  Not even you can change how I feel about you.  You cannot dampen my celebration of your life.  You're SOL, kid.  I love you, and you're not getting out of it.

But here's the thing:  I DID NOT INVENT PARENTHOOD!

I did not create these feelings in myself.  My love for my children exists only as a picture of GOD'S love for HIS children.  I am convinced that my love for my children is downright tepid compared to God's love for His children.  And my love for my children is ferocious.  Ferocious.

And that is all I have to say on the topic.  It speaks for itself.  We do not live as if we have a Father who loves us with that kind of ferocity, do we?  No.  We don't.

Let's do.