How To Make Curtains and Still Keep Your Religion


Do you have times in your life when you bite off more than you can chew?  I do.  In fact, I am the Queen of biting off more than I can chew.  I don’t know why I do it, I just do it.  It’s not that I think I can do anything, rather it’s more along the lines of I’ve got to try.  My friend Sue believes that I am brave enough to try anything.  Wrong.  My friend Mary believes I can do just about anything.  Wrong.  My friend Barbara has known me since I was eighteen years old and she knows I am a gifted in the art of fake-it-till-you-make-it.  Sometimes I bite off a mouthful because I don’t think I can afford to pay someone else to do whatever it is I want done.  I’m, kind of cheap that way.  My husband would tell you I do it because I don’t think anyone else could do it the way I want it done.  Tsk tsk.  I thought he knew me better than that.  There are very few things I do that can’t be done better by Anyone else.  I understand me better than anyone else does and that makes explaining what I want (and how I want it) a lot easier when no one else is involved.

With that said, perhaps it would be better if I could step out in faith and pay someone to bring my projects to life instead of struggling to do it myself.  For example, the curtains I just made for my living room and dining room.  I put that project off for over a year before I got the nerve to start.  I just couldn’t cut the fabric, a beautiful piece, by the way, that I purchased at a phenomenal price.  Picture this, gorgeous up-graded burlap style with a French postage print.  It was originally $38/yard.  Omygoodness.  I could never pay that!  So I waited and waited and waited till it went on sale for 50% off.  Then I went to the fabric store on ‘Old-Lady-Day’ and saved another 15% on my dream fabric.  (Senior citizen discounts are the bomb!)   Just think – 65% off!  How cool is that?  It is so beautiful that I couldn’t bear to touch it for fear that I would ruin it.

I think this is THE most beautiful fabric.

I think this is THE most beautiful fabric.

Fast forward a little over a year.  I’d put it off long enough so I began to plan how I would manage to bring my project to fruition.  I searched online and found some room darkening fabric curtain panels at such a low price, taking them apart so that I could use them in my own curtain project wasn’t a problem.  I’m not ‘shamed to say I’m cheap!  Even if they aren’t exactly the right color…The back won’t show, right?

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Now do you see why it might be a good idea for me to actually pay someone else to do the work for me??  I’ll cut to the chase and tell you exactly how it went.  I cut the fabric into four nice 90 inch pieces.  I took apart the room darkening panels.  then I got in the floor with one of the expensive fabric panels and covered it with one of the el cheapo fabric panels.  I cut them to the same size, pinned them together and sewed up the top and both sides.   I then ironed the seams flat and clipped on the rings that would suspend them from the new curtain rods (which I bought at Kohl’s online using my ebates account at a 6% rebate!  I’m so cheap.)   I learned a good lesson when it comes to ironing.  If the iron is too hot, it will melt your room darkening fabric.

As my beloved late mama used to say - "Sheee-it".  She was a great seamstress but mama was no saint!

As my beloved late mama used to say – “Sheee-it”. She was a great seamstress but mama was no saint!

Here is where the comedy begins.  The new curtain rods, oh Sweet Jesus, why do things have to be so complicated?  Let us just say that after a long effort and several practice runs, I managed to get the brackets up.  It was touch and go there for a while.   I took them down, made some adjustments, put them back up.  To say nothing of me on a ladder – not good.   It seemed to be a never ending series of errors.  But I got it done.  Yep.  May not be perfect, but it’s done.   Except that I ran out of that really expensive, gorgeous, high-end burlap fabric with the French post script on it.  Yeah.  I did.  Each window needs at least another panel.  *sigh.

Not too bad,  if I say so myself.

Not too bad, if I say so myself.

But the curtains are up and of course, my good God didn’t let me get very far in the process without a lesson or two thrown in.  He is so good that way.  Don’t you love it?  As I was taking apart and sewing together, I was reminded of Job, a book in the Old Testament.  The devil was on the hunt looking for someone he could bring down.  He badgered God and hounded Him, taunting Him that he could turn a believer into his own disciple.   Poor Job, he was really in for it.  He went through so many devastating trials, any ordinary man would have keeled over under lesser circumstances. Scripture tells he was a faithful man but he was human as well. He had his doubts from time to time. He was shaken to his core. Over and over, his friends tried to convince him that God had forgotten him, sacrificed him, turned him over to die. But Job was wise in not listening to them. He knew that God would not forsake him. And God proved that He is faithful, even when we have our trials and tribulations. Even when we have to start over. Even when we make mistakes, become discouraged, feel like giving up, when nothing fits, the seams aren’t equal, we can’t seem to measure up.  Even when we think we have bitten off more than we can chew.

The lesson is to prevail, to keep doing what you have to to get the end result you want. And beyond that, the lesson is to trust, to believe, and to have faith. God is a good God. We human beings have trashed the world He has given us. We and our ancestors have poisoned, plundered, and murdered the paradise He put together with His spoken word. Yet, He still loves us. Every one of us is beloved to him.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. He absolutely loves you, purely and faithfully.

How do we repay him? Do we do as Job’s friends suggested and turn our back on our Maker when the going gets rough? Or do we offer ourselves, time and talent to the One who promises unending love, security, and peace? Do we work for Him and with Him? Or do we run into the world, away from our troubles and refusing to help anyone else in dire circumstances? You know, trouble will follow you. Running away won’t change a thing. Ask Job, he knows.

As I was studying for this post, I came across several scriptures that relate to God’s love for us.  If you are led to, read the book of Job.  The ending is worth it!  Then do yourself a favor and read Psalm 139.  Awesome.  That kind of reading will make a believer out of you!  If you don’t know already, you will see that God has it all worked out for you.

“For I know well the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, as to give you a future of hope. When you call me, and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me, yes when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me …” Jeremiah 29: 11-14.

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I was surprised to realize that I haven’t posted anything since November.   Wow it was a busy year end!  We had our annual Grandchildren’s Christmas party on Dec. 27th and man, was that a blast!  I’m thinkin’ one of God’s plans for me was to be somebody’s grandmother.  That’s a good thing because it has always been my favorite dream.  Back to the year end –  we had a beautiful celebration on Christmas eve with some dear friends; dinner and exchange of gifts preceded by a rosary.  It was a holy and heartfelt celebration.  Santa wasn’t invited but the Holy Spirit was!   Although I missed my grown children and all my other relatives spread across these United States, this Christmas season was spectacular in the area of spirituality.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  The Hubs, our home, our Lord.  We have blessings that are never ending.   I found out I have a brain tumor.  It is not cancer and I won’t need surgery unless it begins to grow.   Take that you old devil ~ I’m standing with Job and giving thanks and praise to the One who sustains and heals!

Now to make another couple of curtains…

Don’t forget to pray for peace y’all.

Got My Sunday Preachin’ On!


I was inspired by a blogger by the name of Andrew Hines. I’ve included the link here: http://www.andrew-hines.com/2013/10/06/more-than-average/ This young man is a fresh new voice with a beautifully developing spirituality and I think he will definitely go far. I hope you take a look at his blog to see what I mean. I’m pretty sure you’re going to like his point of view. ANYWAY… his post for today is great food for thought, but if you know me, you know that I can’t leave well enough alone, especially when the subject is anything Divine. I had to offer my opinion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how I roll.

I LOVE that Andrew’s point of view today is to be more than average, and change your circumstances to fit your dream, and God wants you to be happy. Wise, wise words, don’t you think? This is the comment I left on his page:

“Andrew, I like your post but please allow me to add my two cents. John 10:10 “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Jesus said that. He also said “It’s easier for a camel to get through an eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven.” Seems to be a contradiction here, right? No. first of all, if you do your research, you will find that Jesus wasn’t saying that all rich people are not welcome in heaven. If you note, he was referring to those rich Pharisees (and others) that give a lot of lip service to doing good things and focus on material things as valuable, serving their pride and status before anything else at all.
That’s not what Jesus meant. He really does want us to have ‘life more abundantly’ but not to the extent that all we are is a materialistic people making our worth nothing more than the amount of electronics we have, how many awards we have, how big our bank account is. An abundant life is much more than that. To love one another, to serve one another, to be His hands and feet on earth are far more rewarding than anything material.
At the same time, He blesses us with the desires of our hearts. There is not one thing wrong with being rich. There is a lot wrong with using wealth only in a self serving way.
I love what you said about bettering ourselves and changing our circumstances to fit our dreams, not the other way around. Self-improvement, working hard to succeed, being grateful for your blessings, becoming a better person – If that brings out the joy in you, imagine how proud our Heavenly Father is of you! Love is a mighty thing.”

I felt pretty good about what I said and that I had taken the chance on that platform to say it. Then I thought I might sound a little bit holier-than-thou and that’s not the impression I wanted to give. I hope you forgive me if that is what you thought. But God has a way of working things out and I shouldn’t be surprised when he does. I received a lovely email from a priest I know with this quote from Pope Francis’ Angelus address given today:
Pope Francis and Doves

“Do not be ashamed to bear witness to our Lord, nor to me, in prison for him; but with the power of God, suffer with me for the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8). But this is meant for everyone: each one of us, in his everyday life, can bear witness to Christ, with the power of God, the power of faith, the small faith that we have, which, nevertheless, is strong! With this strength bear witness to Jesus Christ, be Christians with your life, with our witness!”

Wow. Of course, I can not add anything to the wise words of our Pope, except for this observation that may relate to the subject of Andrew Hines’ post and my reply to it. In the scripture from 2 Timothy, Paul says he is in prison for Him. He willingly faces the consequences of the decision he made in life to declare the good news of our Lord. He becomes a prisoner for what he believes in (notice I didn’t say by what he believes in).

In the same way, we too make a decision to face consequences for what we believe in – materialistically and spiritually. To become a slave to a materialistic life cannot bring joy, not everlasting joy, not joy that counts. But to use the gift of our free will to become the best we can be in all areas of our lives is a testament to the love and generosity of our Father. He is a good God and we are His beloved.

I’m probably going to get some flack from non-believers and haters who ask “where is God during wars, starvation of children, birth defects, etc?” That’s ok. Exercising free will is still a gift whether you believe it or not. And I am not so learned or knowledgeable to spar with them. Simply put, I don’t know the answer to that except to say that maybe, just maybe, He wants US to act, to prove our integrity, to be His hands and feet on this earth. Maybe He expects us to feed the hungry, give to the poor, ease despair, do what we can in His name. 2 Timothy 1:9 makes more sense of it: “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to His own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,”

Can I get an AMEN?

Can I get a comment?

And don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. Believe me, the whole world needs your prayers.

What have I been doing, you ask?


There is more to me than meets the eye… not saying that’s always a good thing…but it has it’s advantages. I’ve shared some of my work outside of writing at the end of this post. I love my life.

voices
Bwahahahah!

I have renewed enthusiasm concerning my novel, Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club. One lesson I learned early on about self-publishing is that it’s hard to get the book out there, especially if you cannot afford a marketing package. So you can imagine how excited I was to get a phone call from a group of ladies at the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism in Ville Platte bidding me to come for a cup of coffee. If you are not from Louisiana, let me tell you that when you are invited for coffee by anyone, it’s a sign – a good one. I was so excited about the coffee klatch, even having the tire on my brand new car go flat on the way didn’t discourage me, although I do admit to being nervous for arriving late. Nervous? Not much! I was a basket case. But come to find out, the people I met were awesome and equally as excited as I was. It appeared that my 15 minutes of fame was extended to an entire 16 minutes. They thought they had a celebrity in the house. Who, me? The one who stuttered and had sweaty palms? The one who worried for many an hour about choosing a suitable outfit from my vast array of jeans and tee shirts for this coffee/meeting? Yes, me.

Worrying is pointless and I must re-learn over and over that it accomplishes nothing. The coffee klatch was a success. It started out with me saying a few words about the characters in my book, then, to my relief, the room exploded into hilarity as, one by one, the ladies reported ways in which they identified with my characters. One story shared led to another, and another and before long, all of us were laughing, slapping our knees, and gasping for air until someone passed a box of tissues to mop up the dripping Niagra of tears while we caught our breath. We couldn’t help it. Old ladies are fun.

So to cap it off, I was asked to give a little talk during the Chamber of Tourism dinner, which I did last Wednesday. And to the October Chamber of Commerce dinner coming up. And someone asked me to speak to the Rotary Club. Add to that, the person in charge of ordering books for Evangeline parish (not county, c’mon, we live in Louisiana) informed me that she had ordered copies of my book for every library in the parish. I. am. surprised. And can’t believe how blessed I am. The author of this blog does not ‘do’ social activity well. I break out in hives, blank-outs, and nausea when I meet people I don’t know. Usually. The good news is when I talk about my book, I rarely have to finish a sentence before someone else in the group takes over and within moments everyone is talking and laughing at the same time. That’s what makes it easy. I start, someone else finishes. I just sit back with a smile on my face, nod my head, and have a good time.

Truthfully, I don’t know how it happened that I have gone from 15 minutes of fame to at least 19 minutes now. I just started with some crazy old lady busting out of my head to get her story on paper. Or something like that anyway. If you have ever written a story, you know that the characters come to life in a unique and delightful way. Once you write about them, they move in. They don’t leave. It’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

In an earlier post I’ve mentioned that I have a habit of going through what my husband and step-son call ‘phases’, meaning I go off on a tangent with one of my many hobbies until I have come completely undone. It’s fun. To my husband’s surprise, or perhaps disdain, I rather like it.

My latest burst of energy produced some pretty positive results. Here are a few pictures:

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A bold statement-of-faith necklace and a St. Theresa Chaplet prayer beads.

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A one-decade rosary with a locket crucifix, a one decade world peace rosary with a “drop of His blood”

These are listed in my etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ToLoveAlways

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And some five decade tee-tiny little rosaries made for baby’s baptism, or keep one close beside you in your pocket, or give it as the perfect original shower gift.

And these little darlings are not yet listed, but soon…

Oh, and don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. God answers prayers. We wait for His time, but continue our vigil of prayer.

NO JUDGMENT HERE


spoiler alert: Got some good preachin’ goin’ on up in here!

Isn’t it odd how we think of ourselves as good people because we are good deed doers and don’t judge others for the mistakes they make, for being down on their luck, or suffering from their weaknesses? How sometimes we go out of our way to help a person because they have a specific need? How we think we are doing the right thing when we give to the salvation army, or buy raffle tickets for a worthy cause, or do volunteer work? It makes us feel good, like we are nice people trying to do the right thing. Like we are people who don’t judge others. See a man on the side of the road picking up cans? Here, you can have this one too. No judgment here. See an obviously homeless person hitching a ride? Jump in, no judgment here. Some painfully poor person panhandles for your loose change? I’ve got plenty, no judgment here. How about this one: a perfect stranger on face book needs someone to listen to her problems? Sure, take my ear. No judgment here.

My question is this: Do we exert ourselves in the same manner for our family, and friends? Are we as kind to them as we are to some strangers down on their luck? Do we give the people we love the most the same amount of respect as we do to people we don’t even know, or perhaps will never even meet?

I’m asking these questions of myself today. A distant memory triggered this onslaught of soul-searching and I realize there are a lot of sins I have not asked God to forgive. I hadn’t asked Him to forgive me for resenting my mom’s efforts to help a child in another country with a monthly donation. It was probably thirty five years ago and I remember my grandmother saying at the time “charity begins at home”. I agreed with her because I thought my mom would have better spent her money on me every month, after all, I was a single mother trying to get by. In all actuality, I was a self-centered knot-head with an it’s-all-about-me attitude. My world had an invisible boundary that hindered my ability to think beyond the ‘dome’. I never stopped to consider that my mom’s contribution might very well have changed the future for one little person, a change that might have an impact on the whole world, all because of that one little gesture, one little contribution. God said He forgives me. I hope my mom does too. If she were still with us, I would ask her from the bottom of my heart to forgive my selfish resentment – and for judging her wrongly.

Mankind is best served by all of the do-gooders out there and for obvious reasons. Jesus said “love one another”. Did you think this post would be about serving others, taking care of the poor or homeless, loving others as we love ourselves? In a way it is, but don’t forget about those already in your life, people. Don’t forget that your family, maybe friends, too, need your kindness. Or understanding. Or forgiveness. Or even to be forgiven. Don’t forget them in all your efforts to serve God’s people. They might be the ones who are down-trodden, disheartened, or misunderstood.

Don’t judge them either.

I used to be the world’s best at judging others. Just ask any of my former co-workers. I was baaad. It’s really hard to think before I judge, but I am practicing.

I’m going to have a go-to-Jesus meeting for a long list of wrongs I’ve done that I brushed aside because I thought ‘doing the right thing’ was enough. And I’m sure you’ve heard (over and over) how if you are in flight and the oxygen mask falls down, put it on yourself first so that you have the strength to help the person with you.

That’s what I’m talking about.

So keep doing good things, people. Don’t stop, increase your efforts. And keep in mind there will be no judgment here.

think before speaking

And don’t forget ya’ll – pray for world peace. Our entire world needs more prayer.

Insanity – Enjoy It!


insanity

I saw this on facebook today and I immediately thought about – me. It is such a funny way for a person to see herself, but for me there can’t be any other way.

I’m crazy and I know it.

I’m crazy and I own it.

But it’s not so bad most of the time. To keep it in the right perspective, I make light of my foibles when I can. Take today for example; I went to see my little princess (although she was crowned Tiny Tee Cotton Festival Queen today) all dressed up in her darling little smocked dress. Afterwards, I ran by Sonic to get my husband something to eat. Unfortunately, I left my wallet at the Queen’s house and had no cash on me. The Sonic people assured me they would hold Mr. Pete’s order while I backtracked for said wallet. So I’m on the road again and well, you know how a person’s mind wanders. I figuratively fell into a deep hole filled with negative thoughts. Dang it. I was so tangled up in the hold they had on me, I passed the Queen’s palace – not once, but twice. Talk about feeling like a damn fool!

Oh, but that’s nothing. You ought to see me when I’m stressed! I don’t do stress, it does me. I’m allergic to stress. I try to avoid it at almost any cost. And I’m the kind of person who doesn’t sleep well thanks to fibromyalgia. Not sleeping = hyper-stress. Therefore, I take sleep medicine. It takes a lot to put me to sleep and trust me, I’ve tried EVERYTHING from holistic natural this-n-that, melatonin, self-hypnosis, no TV/computer at night, making sure I’m absolutely exhausted before bed. When I say everything, I mean everything. So I depend on meds. Or rather I am dependent on meds. But sometimes they don’t work, and when they don’t, I tend to do crazy things. Like get up in the middle of the night and cut my hair. Waking up the next morning after that was a real joy (sarcasm intended). I laid there for a minute before deciding to get up and face the music. Hair was all over the bathroom and apparently I even changed my hairy pajamas before going back to bed. The real surprise was that my hair looked awesome. Even Mr. Pete noticed. He said “Your hair is beautiful today. Did you get it colored?” Nope, I told him, I had a crazy night and cut it. He understood and was ever so calm when he told me my inner-beautician did a good job. I love that man. I enjoyed the moment of insanity and wish they all turned out as well. They don’t. Lucky for me, I am able to laugh at myself. A person like me has to from time to time just to keep her head above water. If I didn’t see the funny side I don’t know what I would do.

I’m willing to bet you feel the same way too. Life is weird that way. Individually we often think that what we do, the way we do it, and our faux pas are exclusively ours. They are not. I’m going to tell you something that you may not believe. Every one of us is the same. You may not get up in the middle of the night and cut your hair, but I bet you’ve thought of yourself as crazy at one time or another. Now, am I right or am I right? Of course I am. And the reason I know this is because I listen to people. It is amazing what you hear when your ears are open. Your heart also has to be open when you listen to people because what your heart hears is all that matters. This week I heard a lot. I heard the tears of a friend with stage 4 cancer. I heard the joy of my granddaughter’s excitement for her birthday, I heard a heart breaking over loneliness, and I heard the silence of a son who needs time away. This morning I heard church bells and God calling. This afternoon, my mood shifted to the I-must-be-crazy mode with my foray into absentmindedly driving around trying to get lunch taken care of for Mr. Pete, and I heard my own exasperation. We can make ourselves feel like we are crazy by being too busy, having a lot on our minds, or maybe even reacting to a full moon. Trauma of any sort will set you up for craziness. Don’t forget hormones, that certainly can do it. Even eating the wrong things can throw a person off balance until the world no longer makes sense. We feel crazy when we have random thoughts like I’m unattractive, I’ll never succeed, I’m not worthy, I can’t….fill in the blank. It’s all relative.

Whew. Take a deep breath.

Up and down and down and up. We all go through it. It’s normal. I know something else you might not know. There is hope even when we are crazy. You see, this kind of thinking is not from God and He says this about that:

Resist him (the enemy) standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1 Peter 5:9

Endure hardship as discipline: God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? Hebrews 12:7

I’m not saying that God sends us hardships. I would never say that because I don’t believe it. What I do believe is that He sends us what we need to get through the hardships (read craziness). He sends us grace, healing, peace. He sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us. He loves us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35, 37

Let me say this; Even when I have my crazy insane moments, I know He is there for me. I know He will get me through it. I know my life is in His hands. He doesn’t control me (crazy little thing called self-will) but He does hold me. And for that I praise Him.

If you have read my book Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club, I hope you got the message that those old broads feel the same way. Even ol’ Stella says “It doesn’t hurt to be a little immature (substitute crazy) now and then!”

relax

Please don’t forget to pray for peace ya’ll. Now more than ever the whole world needs your prayers.

WHAT WAS I THINKING??


I love Vacation Bible School and the reason I do is because, lucky for me, my older grandchildren get to come spend a week with me. I volunteer to help out and I do it for them, so they can have something fun to do when they come to Nana’s in the summertime. That is my favorite part of the summer!

Ok, so this is how it went this year: Today is day three and it’s not called hump day without good reason. Believe me, we have humped up double time to get this far. We have cut, painted, hammered,taped, tacked, and zip-tied everything you can imagine. We enlisted the church’s youth group to help build elaborate stage sets, only to see them melt and fall apart after being left without air conditioning for a couple of days. After the initial let down, everyone worked frantically and feverishly to get it all returned to pre-melt status, successfully, I might add. The stage looks awesome! It has taken days, nay, weeks to get everything done. If it is, indeed, done. Our DRE (Director of Religious Education) has had her work cut out for her. I couldn’t have done it.

Spoiler alert: Here comes the What Was I Thinking part. There are somewhere around 60 kids enrolled in VBS this year. We are thrilled! Can’t you just see the sweet little things running to VBS breathlessly to share Jesus Christ and love of one another? Uh. No. It’s HUMP DAY. That means the team leaders are exhausted, the whole staff is exhausted, the kids want MORE. They want more fun, more projects, more movies, more snacks. They remember how much fun day one and day two were and they expect to have an equally enthusiastic program for days three, four, and five. I’m not so sure that is possible.

I knew today would be a challenge almost as soon as my lovely feet hit the floor. Because I didn’t wash my hair when I showered last night, I had to it this morning. Let me clarify that – I stood just outside the shower so I could bend over far enough and use the hand-held shower head aimed at my hair so I could wash it. Mistake. Why the hell didn’t I just take another shower instead of having to end up mopping the floor too? Again, lucky for me, Paw Pete asked me if there was anything he could do to help me out. Why, thank you. Please feed the animals, I mean, grandkids. That was a big help. He fed them each two pancakes and one corndog. That effort alone gave me enough time to mop the water out of the bathroom floor and dry my hair, in that order. Somehow I knew it was going to be that kind of day from the moment I pulled my clothes on. I found a string and started to pull it. I pulled and pulled. I’m a little slow so it took a moment for me to realize that the reason it was going around and around my waist was because the little string that I pulled was coming from the waistband of my underwear. The more that I pulled, the more sure I was of the type of day I would have. I had to go to VBS with my underwear barely hanging on, to say nothing of how diligently I had to work to keep it on. But I made it, thanks to the power of prayer. Yes, Virginia, God answers all our prayers, especially when he wants his disciples to set good examples for the youth. Wearing underclothes is not optional, it is mandatory.

I thought I had more than three baby grands to corral to the car from the way it looked as we were leaving. We were like a gaggle of cartoon characters trying to get out of the door at the same time. This is the way it has been all week with very few variances from day to day. Right before the program started on the first day, I realized I left something in my car and I had to go back to get it. It was a good thing I did. My car door was still open. That was a disaster waiting to happen. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of that one too!

My one and only job during the years I have volunteered to help out at VBS has been to man the video station. I like it because I don’t have to be in a big crowd or be surrounded by a lot of noise. That’s another What Was I Thinking episode. Every year, I say I’m not going to do it again, yet every year I still do. I don’t like noise. I don’t do well in crowds. But I do love it when I see precious little hands folded together in prayer. And I love to see a little kid’s face light up when they tell about the ‘God sighting’ they had. I love the fact that VBS is more than just a summertime babysitting gig, it’s a real job. Maybe one of the biggest. There is no cashable paycheck but influencing our children to understand and master the art of worship and the act of loving one another is a heavy responsibility with an eternity worth of dividends. I’m not sure how good of an example I am setting but I’m trying very hard to do the right thing. I’m trying to help my baby grands create great memories of summertime at Nana’s house.

So anyway, tomorrow is day four and I hope we all go back feeling renewed and refreshed so we can present a program that will be something the little ones will enjoy and remember. It will be an exercise in faith to overcome the exhaustion, trust me. I will be certain that my hair gets washed and the waist band of my underwear is good. And somebody please be sure the car doors are closed

It’s a good thing VBS has yummy snacks!

Don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. The whole world needs your prayers.

GIVING AN OLD MAN DIGNITY


I got a phone call from Mr. R, a sweet gentleman of nearly 90 years. “Can you clean up my schnauzer?” he asked. I can’t turn him down; he’s such a dear. Mr. R has been a cattleman his entire life, a successful one if you count that in his day, he had plenty of cattle, a nice big lot of land to keep them, a bunch of kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and most importantly, much respect and love by everyone who knows him. He’s retired now, ‘getting along’, as he puts it. His stature has shrunk quite a bit over the years, his being becoming quite slight and stooped. Mr. R is a distinguished man, although he is quite humble. He misses his wife. Desperately. To ease his loneliness, someone in the family gave him a dog, a handsome little fella he turned into a farm dog. Farm Dog follows him everywhere, even to the pasture to check on the few remaining cattle left there.

Now the thing about farm dogs is that they are dirty. Dirty like you wouldn’t believe. I expected to see a miniature schnauzer on the other end of Mr. R’s leash. Instead, I saw a sheepdog. His hair was so long and matted, if I hadn’t seen him walking toward me, I wouldn’t have been able to tell which end was his head and which end was his -um- other end. Farm Dog made his presence known by his smell. It’s hard to describe and I’ll spare you the details, except to say that apparently this dog who was supposed to be a dignified breed of ratter, was actually an alpha dog who felt the need to scent his territory by wallowing in whatever invaded it. I’m pretty sure this time it was road-kill.

Farm dog is an old dog, I suspect close to or older than Mr. R’s age in dog years. His stature, like his owner, is bent, boney, and slight. His teeth are almost all gone. He limps a little. He has a immense tufts of hair growing out of his ears. His eyebrows need serious attention, as does his entire coat.

It took me three hours to groom him. He had an odd way of looking at me, like “What the hell are you doing down there? Leave that alone!” Let’s say we communicated. When he first got on the table, he did so quite slowly. He kept his head down and his tail tucked. He looked at me with embarrassment. Yes, he did. I could tell. You know how it is when you look in someone’s eyes and they immediately look away like “I don’t want to talk about it”? Farm Dog did that. I had to bathe him three times. By the time he was almost clean and I had cut through most of the matts in his coat, his demeanor began to change. Head up. Tail up. Getting kinda sassy. Pulling and tugging. Sniffing like he was thinking about lifting his leg. I don’t think so, I told him. I cut, I clipped, I washed. His tail began to jiggle. (When it’s that short, it doesn’t wag, it jiggles.) His chest puffed out. His feet danced. By the time I finished, he looked like a different dog altogether and I had re-learned something I thought I already knew. You know, all beings are created by God, and He created with love. Agape love. Unconditional love. I think God loves every being with the same love, not just humans. Therefore, all beings deserve respect and dignity. Something so un-dignified as scraping the crust off an old filthy dog can be pretty humbling. Kinda like when Jesus washed feet. Kinda like touching lepers and the sick with His bare hands, and when He associated with some pretty serious sinners. A humble Man restoring wholeness.

I won’t soon forget what happened when Mr. R got back to pick up Farm Dog. The old man’s face lit up, he was so excited. He stood a little straighter, smiling from ear to ear. Farm Dog jumped into Mr. R’s arms and licked his ears. Now he was the spittin’ image of his owner; clean-cut, shiny, and very happy. “Oh yeah, my old man looks good!” Mr. R exclaimed. Farm Dog winked at me. When they left, they both walked away with dignity.

If I groomed dogs for a living, that’s the way I would want it to be.

It’s a lesson I must remind myself of repeatedly. Every being is worthwhile. Every being deserves respect. God would be so happy if we treat each other with the same love and respect, if we recognized each person’s dignity.

Ya’ll don’t forget to pray for peace.

Imitation of Christ