Tomato Sandwich

I rarely write here anymore, I’m a little rusty (although I will be writing HERE on occasion), but one thing that can bring me out of hibernation is tomato-talk.

Today for lunch:

oroweat-premium-italian

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b-d-toaster

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just-mayo

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hormel-uncured-bacon

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tomatoes-from-the-garden

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lettucegrocery

 

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pepper-creek-farms-cracked-pepper

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hain-sea-salt

equals

A * M * A * Z * I * N * G!

Now, you know I typically don’t even need the B and L for a BLT. Because generally speaking, I think the T (T for TOMATO!) is amazing enough, if I’ve grown it myself. But we might have a freeze coming the next couple of days here in Colorado and so I am going to let the garden go, bid farewell to the tomatoes. So I simply must celebrate them and invite all their friends to the party. The early autumn tomato is so full of flavor, rich in color and just the belle of the ball.

my-blt

I did have the presence of mind to snap this shot just before I devoured it. You can see I wasn’t trying to make it all stylized for the camera. In fact, it was already falling apart, but, baby, oh baby – it was good! Ay-yi-yi!

In just a few weeks, the sweet, ripe, beautiful tomato grown as it should be, just outside the kitchen door, will be all but a memory until next summer. So, as I bring them in, during the next couple of days, I will celebrate them with joy and plan my dining festivities around them which might possibly include, (little brother, Joe) some fried green tomatoes, by necessity. We shall see.

Yes, I could have thoroughly enjoyed just a tomato sandwich for lunch. But I don’t know. With the wild weather coming (though blue skies and sweet sun greeted me today) and  and bacon in the fridge, it just felt like a fancy Tuesday. So we fancied up.

Recipe (in case you need more specifics)

You’ll need:

  • Oroweat Premium Italian Bread, toasted so it’s lightly crispy on the outside but steamy-sweet and soft inside. This is the bread my grandchildren all long for when they come to see me. They tell me I make the best toast in the world, in the world! Can you believe that? I’m known for it. You now have my secret!  :)
  • Spread with a dollop (or two) of a good mayo. I’ve been using this Hampton Creek Just Mayo lately, because it’s GMO-free Certified, if that kind of thing matters to you (which is does to me).
  • 4 slices of uncured bacon. It’s made without added hormones (who needs that) or added nitrates. Fry until just crispy, just. Quit cooking it before you usually do – it’ll be better, I promise. And, maybe you don’t need 4 slices of bacon for one sandwich. I do because I always eat one before it makes it to the sandwich.
  • Thick slices of a variety of garden-grown tomatoes. Pile them on generously, as many as you possibly can. This is their shining moment!
  • Add some crunchy lettuce, if you like.
  • Sprinkle lots of sea salt in honor of how much you are missing the sea (recent trip: was it just a dream?) and fresh ground black pepper.

Eat while the juices drip down your arms.

I’ll miss you while you’re gone, sweet tomatoes. You know I always do.

Some one I love is living with Alzheimer’s

I got to spend time with my mamala for her birthday. She is wonderful and she is perfect. And she is worried and fearful that something may actually be wrong, or maybe people just think something is wrong and she is perfectly fine. Either way, she is bothered.

I wasn’t able to make her laugh as much this visit. Making her laugh has been my focus for the past few years, because it is such good medicine. We laughed this visit, but less. If I’m wry or sarcastic, it’s totally lost on her now. I have to be very gentle with teasing or she might think I’m being mean.

And then there was the coffee. She and my dad make half-caf, so when I visit, I always have to bring my own high-powered coffee. For the past couple of years, she had taken to grabbing my coffee, cup after cup every morning, and “doctoring it up” the way she likes: lots of artificial sweetener and a generous swish of milk to lighten it up.  I’d sometimes have to make coffee 4 times just to get to enjoy a cup of straight black before she got to it and thought it was hers. It drove me crazy.

But this visit, she never reached for my cup. She didn’t even try. She waited for me to bring hers to her, and then we both had our coffee, the way we each liked it.

You may not think that is a big deal, but I see her changing, backing away, noticing less each time. She is getting smaller, not just physically, but in the way she occupies the atmosphere. I am mourning the parts of her I will never see again. But wait…for a flash, for a split second, there it is again…but then gone.

It really is the long goodbye.

mom and dog 6.5.16 small

She asked me to teach her to use the TV control. We worked and worked on it. She used to be the techie in the family, she was the one who would hook up the TV to the VCR to the DVD player and whatever else or call Dave for computer help and she’d figure it out. It’s gone now. After 15 minutes, she still could not retain that the on-off button was top, right.

I used to be able to do this. What in the world is wrong with me? Why can’t I do this anymore? It’s like I am going backwards or something,” she kept saying to me.

It’s the same question she asked about the washer and dryer and her CD player and the telephone. She doesn’t even ask about the gas stove. The microwave is starting to become mysterious, now. Sometimes you put your coffee in and it comes out hot and other times, it doesn’t. Why is that, she is wondering?

I told her gently, very gently. Yes. These medicines are because you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Yes, your memory problems are part of Alzheimer’s. Do you know very much about that?

It perturbed her. “You mean that is what they are saying I have? That is why they keep giving me these pills?!” as if a diagnosis is an accusation of some sort. She doesn’t like it. But I know she won’t recall it anyway. Tomorrow, she’ll wonder why she “keeps going backwards,” remembering just enough to know she is losing something…

But I told her that she is doing fine, just fine. And then I promised her I would remember for her, so she shouldn’t worry. And she cried. She just fell into my arms and wept.

And I assured her that love isn’t a memory that can be forgotten, that it will always stay up to date, so we would just keep on loving each other. Every little thing will be alright, mamala….
And I just held her for a while.

mom and bogey 6.16 small

—————–xoxoxo——————

You can learn more about Alzheimer’s at www.alz.org. There are articles about the signs and symptoms and great resources for caretakers. They remind us that everyone with a brain is at risk for this. And I am passionate about raising awareness because this woman, my sweet mom, is the last person on earth who would deserve to be fighting this battle, but Alzheimer’s doesn’t care. So I hope we can find a cure so my own children and theirs are not left watching the pieces of the people they love fall away, and are not left holding the bag as this insidious disease ravages our nation and the world.

Alzheimer’s is the only disease among the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. – alz.org/facts

#endalz #thelonggoodbye #alzheimers #igopurplefor my mamala…

In the Garden

A couple of weeks ago I got to help Tredessa and Ryan start their very first square foot garden. One 4 x 4 square and three large pots to hold those tomatoes! Gardening is easy, but mysterious. I started in the late 90s when my kids were all teens. And still, to this day, I wonder if the seeds will germinate, if what I planted will grow.  It takes a lot of faith to plant a garden.

She has excitedly sent me snapshots several days and those seeds are indeed emerging. Thrilling!

Time with the Word

I have written about my Bible-reading-plan fails (including here), but how I also love the Bible.

“The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me…” -one of the first songs my mom ever taught me

I love it, and I struggle with giving up those Bible-in-a-Year plans that are wonderful and then awful when you’re reading madly on a “make up” day because you fell behind. I have to believe God thinks we’re hilarious when we do that and that we are wasting time, and so much of His love towards us.

A few years back, James Ryle said this, which I also posted about here

“I invite you to begin reading your Bible as though you are taking a slow walk in a beautiful park — one filled with God’s presence. You will find that makes all the difference in your world!”

Even now, when I read that quote, it makes me happy, sets me free. I imagine time in my garden, slowly turning over soil, or walking from the front yard to the back enjoying what is blooming, making mental notes of areas I’ll tend tomorrow. I take time, I slow down in the garden. I sow seeds, I pull weeds, I pinch off the basil’s flowers to keep the green leaves coming. I dead-head the marigolds and inhale the heavily perfumed purple petunias. I enjoy the buzz of the bee. I get scolded by the mama spider and I adjust the clematis or roses on their trellises so they can be seen in all their glory, Creation reflecting Creator.

mom at garden center

My mom in the garden center at WalMart in Greencastle a few days back

He walks with me, and He talks with me

And I meet God there. In the garden. He coaxes me from my to do lists to show me hidden hyacinth (in the cool damp soil behind the raspberry bush) and the sparkling crystal drops of water on spring-green leaves left by a thunder-and-lightening afternoon rain, which has now given way to clean blue skies and radiant sun.

“He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet that the birds hush their singing…”

That is how I want to read the Bible – the way I walk through the garden so aware of the Presence of God. That actually happens!

I must admit that earning gold stars on a Sunday School poster and getting to say I read the Bible through in a year are a religious fall back for me. Every time. But right here, publicly, true confessions – I will keep trying to be Ok with strolling through the Bible like I do through the garden. Because I hear Him there. I see Him there. I enjoy Him there (and I find He is pretty fond of me there, too). And it is in the rich garden soil, the seeds are hidden, planted, die and spring forth.
mama and flowers 1

Meandering through Romans this summer…

My Tennessee friend, Donna Bella, and I are going to just read chapter by chapter and “talk about,” via email, what we saw, what brought life, what fed our souls.

“When your words came, I ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight…”  Jeremiah 15.16 NIV

And just in case giving Romans 16 solid weeks for reading and meditating on (one chapter weekly) started me getting all Romans-focused and religious-weird, a guy I follow on Twitter (because he is brilliant), Howard Snyder, posted this on Twitter the other day:

“Paul never intended Romans to be THE definitive statement of the gospel. It is one of a symphony of varied voices that reveal the Good News.”

Perspective, yes? But ah, the riches of Romans.  Can’t wait! Chapter 1, this Thursday! Going to be so good!

Romans 1:20: “For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.” AMP

kaye kohler's summer nights 2016 loveland, co

My friend Kaye took this amazing picture at sunset a few nights ago. She let me swipe it from her FB page. She takes great pictures.  And God’s workmanship is majorly visible here, in Loveland, CO. Don’t you think?

 

My Memory-Keeper is Losing Hers…

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself about this, which is the most selfish thing ever!

She is the first human being on earth who knew anything at all about me, from that first tinge of morning sickness. The longing of her heart, and lucky me! God chose her for me.

My mom delighted in me, her first child, after losing other babies, “miscarriages,” not sure she would ever carry to term. But she did. Then she delighted again in my brother Joe when he came along 18 months later, then Tim, then Tami and finally Danny. She had 5 babies in slightly more than 7 years. And it has been her heart’s joy to love us and ponder all the things about us.

“I have the greatest kids in any city or state. That’s the honest truth. I love my kids and I want to tell everybody and I don’t care who it is. I have the best kids and now I have grandkids and greats and I love it. I love every single one of them! It might take me awhile to remember all their names, but if I had time I could…” -my mamala, today on the phone

More than all the “adopted” spiritual sons and daughters and  the thousands of devoted and treasured friends she has amassed along her life’s journey as a pastor’s wife, she has delighted and reveled in loving her five children, her babies more than anything.

There are boxes in her closet filled with scraps of paper, journals, and backs of church bulletins where she has scribbled notes, a story about one of us or a scripture she felt was meant for me or a sibling. There are lined pages with our names at the top documenting the funny things we said or did, cute quotes, all the things she thought were so brilliant she never wanted to forget. All through our lives, she has loved to tell and retell our stories. She’ll say, “Remember when you thought eyelashes  were ‘eye-blashes?’ Or when you didn’t like sour foods because you felt they were ‘screamy?'”

She kept record that my little brother, Joe, called hub caps “cupstacks,” and referred to his pant legs as “pant sleeves.”  And she wrote down that our baby sister, Tami, called cow’s milk “wet whip cream” and freckles “sparkles” because it was cute. Danny, the baby of the family, referred to yesterday as “last morrow,” which is pretty astute, actually. And what do these silly moments have in common? Nothing but a mom who thought they were amazing enough to save them.

june 4 mamala and me 2016

And because her attention to us and love for us are grooved so deeply in her heart and brain, many times she can still access these same memories as if nothing is wrong, as if this form of dementia  isn’t reaching in and stealing from her. But other times, she can’t.

The person who has carried the memory of me longer than anyone, who has documented and celebrated every day of my existence, the woman who has cried with me in hard times, paced the floor praying with me during crisis, danced and rejoiced over my victories, encouraged me to do things that scared me because she thought absolutely no one could do it better than me, the one who has believed that I was heaven-sent and wonderful in every way and has oohed and aahed over even the insipid mundanity of my life and days – she is living with Alzheimer’s.

This woman, who has catalogued our lives, collected the bits and pieces of us, set herself to create and then commemorate each memory, and share it with enthusiasm and joy across the years, she is battling a memory thief.

She is living with the disease, and she is working hard to hold on. She says to me, “It’s like I’m going backwards. What is happening to me?”

But here I am, feeling sorry for myself.

Who will remember my first solid food and be able to tell the story with such glory? Or how fantastically I navigated those concrete stairs when I first saw them and how even though she wanted to stop me so I wouldn’t get hurt, she let me try anyway? She tells the story with great tension and animation, as if I am the only baby ever to have climbed stairs, and she tells me how she cheered for me as I reached the top and turned around and sat down, satisfied with my victory. She was so proud. Who will remember or care about those things? In the scope of everything, what does that story matter anyway? But still. She was keeping it for me, periodically encouraging me with a glorified vision of myself as a baby…

No one else will ever know me like my mama does.

It’s what we do as moms. Like Jesus’s mother, Mary, she “pondered these things and held them in her heart.”

Today, when we spoke on the phone, as if everything were as it has always been, she blessed my future, she gave me a message for Dave and said I needed to get a dog, both for protection and to avoid loneliness. Such wisdom, such good advice.

Then she started telling me about a most wonderful day she had experienced ” a week or two ago,” about going downtown to a coffee place and eating outdoors at a sidewalk table and then going across the street to “that big, beautiful building” and how she so wished I could have been there and hopes she gets to do it again and I can come along. She forgot that I was there, I took her to those places.

It made me feel sorry for myself.

But it’s my turn to keep her memories for her now.

– – – -#endalz- – – –

Important information

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and it is my mom’s birth month. I am talking openly about a disease that kills people because I want to raise awareness and say we need to act. There is no one less deserving of Alzheimer’s than my mom, no one. But it doesn’t care who you are.  The Alzheimer’s Association will say anyone with a brain is at risk, as this disease is set to reach epidemic proportions in our lifetime, according to researchers.

I want our generation to set themselves to stopping this disease before it reaches predicted, staggering numbers which will be visited upon our children and theirs. Let’s spread the word!

#endalz  #igopurpletoendalz  #someoneilovehasalzheimers

Here are the facts:

quick-facts-2016

Watch this 1 minute and 45 seconds to hear more:

I hope all your memories are in a safe place.

Childlike

“It’s snowing!” she squealed with sheer delight, lifting her dazzling smile to the sky and throwing her hands into the air.

Look, mommy, it’s snowing,” three-year old grandbebe, Bailey, declared as the cottonwood seed-fluff nearly white-out blizzarded on our picnic at the beach the other day.

Bailey's Day at the Beach #family #colorado

We were grabbing covers for food and waving it away from our faces with frowns of aggravation. But Bailey saw the fun in it. Right here in the summer sunlight, while she was wearing her cute new swimming suit and playing in the sand: snow.

Sometimes, in an effort to grow up, be mature, represent our religion by “putting away childish things,” we forget that Jesus wants us, for all times, to remain childlike: full of wonder, hope springing eternal, looking for the good in everything around us. “Unless you become as little children,” He said. The path into the Kingdom of heaven starts with that premise.

Jesus: “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Amplified

family beach day eva #colorado

Do you remember? Can you recall when life was an invitation to joy, to experience whatever happened, to see a complication as an adventure to explore? Remember innocence? Whatever will be, will be…

Oliver at the beach

Oliver recently visited the beaches of Florida. This was old hat to him.

Childishness? No. Put that away. Don’t be a selfish, self-centered booger demanding your own way.

But childlike in spirit, in hope, in wonder, like a little one full of innocence and trust, pure-hearted and content in what comes?  Oh yes. Be that.

Even though we all had cottonwood fuzz in our hair, probably ate some in our S’mores and had it stuck to our skin with sunscreen (and I nearly choked on a breath-full walking to our shady picnic area from the beach), it didn’t hurt our day in any way that mattered. Like so many things, tiny annoyances we have come to barely tolerate in life, we should just let the fuzzies float by against the blue of the sky on a sunny June day, like a sweet child would. Like Bailey did.

Childlike.

#colorado #beachday #family #statepark

Played all day

Matthew 18. 1-3 NIV   “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'”

Kai setting sun #beach #colorado

Oh, we stayed until that sun set.

PS- Don’t make fun of colorful Colorado for DIY beaches on homemade lakes. It’s our can-do attitude! We’ve got the Rocky Mountains already. You can’t replicate that.  :)

May I?

I love these things in May {a list}

  • I’ve got pieces of April, I keep them in memory bouquet. I’ve got pieces of April, but it’s a morning in May.“* All the hopes that sprang in April now blossom in May. Remember what your Kindergarten teacher told you, because it is true: April showers bring May flowers!  {*Pieces of April, a song by Three Dog Night, naturally}
  • Tara Jean, Stephanie May and Gemma May: all born in springs’ most surprising and spirited month. They’ve each taken on those characteristics!

steph and her cake

Stephanie let me make her a 4-layer, wedding-white cake with buttercream icing, topped with baby’s breath and scattered caramel macchiato macarons from Happy Bakeshop in Longmont (Cake design inspired by the amazing Constellation Inspiration).

  • Fully leafed trees, that bright, light, spring-green thing that happens. And carpets of lush green grass, chlorophyl all around!
  • I love these bright, sunny days that give way to sudden, dark, thundery showers, then perk right back up to sunlight and a spring song. The sunsets are more colorful, the air is cleaner, and the grass even greener.
  • Memory: splashing in curbside puddles after a spring rain as a kid. Wish I’d done that more. I wonder what the neighbors might think if I…
  • Store-bought tomatoes (at the best markets) are beginning to have some flavor again while my heirlooms are settling in their soil, gearing up to give me brag-worthy homegrowns come July.
  •  I painted my nails with purple polish to match my pansies and freshly potted petunias, but it didn’t last, not even 2 days, because it’s May! Yes, of course I have very pretty sky-blue gardening gloves. But sometimes, you must sink your hands into the soil, to really understand the essence of living. I came from the dust of the earth. Plunging my hands deep as I plant, I am home…
  • It is the anniversary of our very first date, Dave and I. He said today, on Facebook, “The beginning of my life…” I melt.  I didn’t know it was a date (I hoped), he did. It involved a Rock Hudson movie and Barry Manilow. And it has worked out for us, I am happy to report. Dave is the one. :)

The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.
Edwin Way Teale

I love the month of May and wish we could have another 3 weeks of it, at least. And I love making lists. May all things seems possible for you today! In May… :)  xoxo

When it’s Springtime in the Rockies

When the buds unfurl, when the pear trees blossom, as the lilacs burst forth in their purple glory, when the grass grows green and the gardening bug bites, you can bank on it: some freak winter storm will zoom through the valley in a mix of wet and white, create a rush on milk, eggs and toilet paper, and break the branches on our flowering trees, generally creating havoc. Never you mind that we always need that moisture in these arid parts. By this late date I just want to be living in flip-flops!

Shame on you, Home Depot and Lowes, for enticing shoppers with those tender tomato plants and petunias. 

People, dear friends, do not be deceived by this. Wait until after Mother’s Day to plant petunias, zinnias, squash, beans, tomatoes, and cukes! Wait, I say, waaaait!

denver spring forecast

April 28, and the forecast is rainy mixed with snow = heavy, wet slush. There go my lilacs, darn it!

Ode to My Sandy, the Junkyard Dog

sandy old-sandy-1024x702

03.28.15. Saturday.

On a bright, warm, sunny Saturday morning, just minutes after she arrived home, she just sort of sat down and collapsed and gasped a few times and she was gone, her hair shimmering like silver diamonds in the morning light on a soft bed of fresh spring-green growth.

Dave was with her. “It’s ok, you’re home now,” he said. Then he told her it was ok for her to go. And so she did.

She came.

We got Sandy almost exactly 14 years before she died.

Steph was a college student working part time at the BFI landfill office near Denver International Airport. Some one had abandoned this woolly, frightened mutt there and she was running wild, looking for food and afraid of everyone and her own shadow. Stephanie spotted her and started working on becoming friends. She mentioned maybe bringing the pup-dog home and did not get an enthusiastic response from me. Not at all.

But for some reason, Dave went to see Steph one day and he returned with this crazy-looking, fuzz-exploding full-grown dog.

She was afraid of her shadow, this canine, afraid of us, afraid of the freak spring-snow we’d just gotten; she was afraid to move off the oval rug, her feet planted firmly as though she were hoping Scotty would indeed beam her up and away from our staring eyes. Her little spirit had been broken, somehow, by the completely stupid idiots who had dumped her at the landfill. Their loss was our total, joyful, utter gain!

We always joked that we found a junk-yard dog and she never quit looking like she was fresh from the junkyard. She loathed baths and thought any sort of grooming was pure torture. She was a trembling, hairy mess, but we quickly saw the rich sweetness of her, the deep pools of love and loyalty behind those brown eyes.

What shall we name her, we wondered? We toyed with Chewbacca (“Chewie,” for short), for she was similarly furry and gentle. But we couldn’t resist the name of the dog from the Annie movie the kids had grown up watching and since her hair was a millions shades of beige and brown, gold and copper, silver and cool grey, plus black and brown – “Sandy” seemed appropriate.

Ever heard the song from the musical, Annie, “Sandy?”

True he ain’t pedigreed, Sandy, there ain’t no better breed.
And he really comes in handy,
‘Specially when you’re all alone in the night
and you’re small and terribly frightened it’s
Sandy, Sandy who’ll always be there!

Well, our Sandy was a girl. But those very words could have been written of our dog, “it’s Sandy, Sandy who’ll always be there…”

sandy in annie

She actually got to play Sandy in a community theater production of Annie. This was a publicity shot in 2010.

She won our hearts

So we had this wild mutt. She became one of us immediately. She fit. She was born for us, for our family, I am completely certain. Sandy-the-dog was perfect for us.

We didn’t know her age, but she was full-grown. An early vet visit declared she was “4,” but another one several years later also declared her “4.” So, we know she was probably 1-2 years old when we got her fourteen years ago.

But she was an old soul, right out of the gate. She was able to navigate our huge family (5 kids, high school and college age) and  our loud house full of friends and visitors. She was wise and deep in her devotion, love-filled and loyal, generous in adoration of her people and affectionate, loving those belly rubs and declaring anyone who would take the time to pet her to be her best friend for life! She just made sure you knew she was right there if you needed her.

mom and sandy 2009

My mom and Sandy, summer 2009. They’re like sisters from different mothers, personality-wise. It was as if they’d always been close.

She was Steph’s dog, then Steph got married and she became Rocky’s dog. Then he got married and she was Stormie’s dog. Then Stormie bought a house and she became my dog and I didn’t even really want that, but good grief, how had I lived without that? She was my buddy, my friend, my shadow. She worked with me in the garden, or she napped lazily there while I worked, but we loved spring and sunny days together.

She sat as close to me as possible at all times and was my most trusted confidante during hard times and when I cried, she would move in close, place her paw and her face on my knees and look me straight in the face, as if to say, “There, there – everything will be ok. I’m right here.” She caught my tears when they fell.

I once wrote of her, on a blog way back when {click here} and said

She lives for love and lives to love.  The slightest kindness or gentle word from me and Sandy thumps a Morse-Code message of affection back to me with her ample tail.

Sandy was totally undisciplined, as “good” dogs go, never really trained for “show.” She lived her life with us sort of free–form and relaxed.  She feigned deafness when it suited her, but could hear the crackling of a bag of chips from miles away. Her breed, German Wire-Haired Pointer, hunts birds, so she’d bark her head off at a bird flying overhead, then just lie quietly, her head on her paws and watch little birds bathe in her water dish on sunny days on the patio. She’d even welcome them to her food, gentle spirit that she was. Or fraidy-cat, whichever. :)

But she was a good dog. Because a good dog teaches us so much about love and loyalty and forgiveness. Sandy did that for me. She was affectionate and humble, sweet and protective, saving me from many a solicitor at the front door. Her bark could scare, but we always laughed that had a burglar just reached out to her, she’d have given them anything and everything they wanted.

I loved her stretch, her behind in the air, back-back-back, then forward lunge, with her face to the sky, all the while making a loud old-man stretching sigh. Or how she’d grab a dryer sheet and waller all over it, so she’d smell nice for us, I assume.

sandy and me 12 27 14

A few months before “the day”

My old Sandy-girl, she was faithful and loving and loyal to all of us, the whole tribe of us, including each new grandchild as they came. Once she learned on the first grandchild, how to love and protect, she always understood, new baby by baby. They trusted her, too. She was our dog and we were her people.

sandy oct 2014

Sandy with my grandson Kai. He was 1 3/4. About 6 months before Sandy died.She patently waits, hoping he’ll send chicken her way.

Sandy never met a human being she didn’t want to love zealously with her whole heart and to forgive if they didn’t like dogs or just couldn’t return her affection.

Oh, she was a lover.

me and sandy 2004

The end.

We were planning to put her down soon, as ailments of old-age were taking a toll, but on that Saturday morning, when my husband took her into the backyard on the brightest and loveliest of spring days, she just dropped and gasped a few times and he gently gave her the ok to go.

I wasn’t ready…

And even though I ran out, dropped to the ground and called to her, Sandy-girl, hey girl, are you ok?, Hey Sandy, come here, girl...trying to woo her back, gently jostling and petting my old dog to awaken her, she kept on going.

The birds were singing in the blue, blue sky, and the old trees were filled with youthful, green buds for a new season, a new life; and the day was alive, humming its spring melody, so perfectly beautiful – just like every day Sandy gave us for 14 years.

Hey, Sandy-girl, dear old devoted dog. You are not forgotten. Your people still love you…

“They’re doing the best they can”

A friend of mine has chosen to believe that about people. Even people who let her down, or worse. She steps back, assesses the sometimes blazing damage done to the relationship in a fit of chaotic immaturity, when some one has lied about her or accused her of something or stolen from her or disrupted the peace in her life. And she decides to see it this way,

“They’re doing the best they can, most people are. They didn’t mean to cause all this damage.”

crowd-of-people

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I had a meeting today at the coffee shop with a really young woman (really young) who brings light into every room she enters. I was giving advice from the much travelled and loooooong road of my life to this dazzling “younger woman in the faith,” to share my experience in hopes she’ll avoid some of the distractions and missteps I’ve made.

We got to talking about Jesus {great topic, huh?}, the way He dealt with people, how He saw them. He just went around “doing good and healing all who were oppressed.” He talked to the outcasts, and He dined with society’s most hated. He set the sinful on fire with forgiveness, conversed intelligently with the rich and powerful and dealt gently with the poor. He told good stories and drew crowds. He touched blind eyes and deaf ears and people everywhere wanted what He could give.

But He didn’t entrust Himself to people’s whims and opinions and judgements. He didn’t allow people’s  actions or words or acceptance or rejections to sway who He was and why He came. He didn’t let His love die out based on the things they did, “for while we were yet sinners…”  He didn’t “entrust Himself to them,” or as one translations says, “He did not entrust His life to them.”

John 2.23-25 Amp.  “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name [identifying themselves with Him] after seeing His signs (attesting miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the [superficiality and fickleness of human nature],  and He did not need anyone to testify concerning man [and human nature], for He Himself knew what was in man [in their hearts—in the very core of their being].”

And yet, and perhaps because He understood humankind and the all the ways we are quick to judge and condemn and criticize and withdraw – in spite of the fact that He could truly see people for who they were and what they were about, He loved them. And that love led Him straight to the cross for the these same (fickle) people, and you and me.

Sometimes we are moved to jump straight into the amazingly good and messiness of relationship because of love. But  something untoward happens and we emerge wounded and shredded and torn up and surprised and mad and vowing we’ll never do that again. People let us down. Sometimes people do worse. Sometimes we’re shocked they could treat us so badly “after all I have done for them.”

But I bet the problem was us (don’t ask me how I know). Sometimes we entrust ourselves, giving power to others and their opinions and wishes; we give away a part of ourselves when it wasn’t a required part of just loving them. Then we’re disappointed, we’re ticked. But parts of own hearts are out there walking around in some one else’s possession – and we have let that happen. Of course we’re wounded – they possess what we gave!

If Jesus had done relationships like we do, He’d probably have been pretty ticked off at us as He hung on the cross. But He’d kept His heart intact. He loved people. He did good to them. He blessed them and forgave them and healed them. But He kept His heart whole and healthy, whole and holy – strong for the mission. He remained wholehearted. And so He was able to show the ultimate love. He is love.

instapray dot com

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Like my friend reminds me, “People are doing the best they can.” They’re probably not actually trying to be the biggest jackwagons in the world, probably not trying to ruin your life, not meaning to let you down or disappoint you. They’re doing the best they can and when they know to do better, they usually will.

Know how I know? ‘Cause that’s what you do. And me, too. We are all just doing the best we can and learning as we go.

Oh, to be like Jesus…

“…looking unto [fixing our eyes on] Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12.2

 

The Family Table

PARENTHOOD -- Season: 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Monica Potter as Kristina Braverman, Erika Christensen as Julia Braverman-Graham, Joy Bryant as Jasmine Trussell, Tyree Brown as Jabbar Trussell, Dax Shepard as Crosby Braverman, Sarah Ramos as Haddie Braverman, Lauren Graham as Sarah Braverman, Bonnie Bedelia as Camille Braverman, Max Burkholder as Max Braverman, Craig T. Nelson as Zeek Braverman, Peter Krause as Adam Braverman, Mae Whitman as Amber Holt, Miles Heizer as Drew Holt, Sam Jaeger as Joel Graham, Savannah Paige Rae as Sydney Graham -- Photo by: Florian Schneider/NBC

{source} Parenthood cast, from season 2 NBC

While I was sick last month with the winter-crud, I binge-watched the final season of Parenthood. My favorite scenes were always where the whole family came together to share a meal. Dave loves the show Blue Bloods for the same reason – those Reagan-family Sunday dinners.

blue bloods family dinner

{source} Blue Bloods, CBS

At exactly 5 o’clock pm while I was growing up, every night of the week (except Sunday, when we’d wait to eat until after Sunday night church service), my mom had dinner on the table. Like all families, we were busy with life, mostly school and church. And since my dad was the pastor of the church, he was preaching mid-week services, or visiting the sick, or leading board meetings a lot of the evenings. He worked hard all day and continued his ministry in the evenings. So that 5 o’clock suppertime was our family time. Ross-the-Boss, Mrs Moss and all the Little Landers.

Though I couldn’t have realized then the power of the connectivity of those simple meals, usually always served with white bread and butter on the side, I cherish those people and those nightly meals in the halls of my heart. I cannot imagine a simpler, nor safer time, than around that table.

gather restaurant

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When Dave and I were raising our kids, we ate around the table, too,  though the hour could be anywhere from 6 to 8 o’clock, even later (which my parents found mortifying). We ate at the table until life got really hectic as the kids got older and we let up. As the first of our kids became busy teens, we drifted from the table. We still hung out together as often as possible, had “family days” with just us, sometimes eating on the back deck or at a local eatery, but often it was a pizza while watching a movie. Together, but not talking, not having “face time.”

These days, 4 added-on children by marriage plus the ten grandbebes they have blessed us with, it’s hard to find a table big enough. But each time we can make it happen, find a few hours to get together and share a meal in a crowded room or at a park, our hearts nearly explode with love.

We’re a big group now. 21 of us, so far. If we thought the late nineties were a challenge with 7 of us, we could not have comprehended these days.

Christmas afternoon 2015

The Dave & Jeanie Rhoades Tribe, Christmas afternoon, 2015

Last night we all came together. We gathered for the first time, the whole bunch of us in one place, since Christmas. It was “Italian night,” with pastas in cream sauce and paleo variations, too. We topped it off with the seriously sweet “Fruit Pizza” in celebrating Averi’s 8th birthday. And some of us ate in the kitchen and we popped up a table in the living room and some ate seated on the floor or sprawled on the couch.

And I am fully aware, in a way I didn’t understand 20 years ago, that these moments together are not promised, and they’re not easy to come by, but they’re worth the work to make happen.

Whenever I get the chance to nose in and disperse advice, I tell young families:

“Eat together. Eat supper (or dinner, or whatever you want to call it) around a table together. Make it a deal to set the table and cook the food. And don’t make my my mistake and let that go too early. Turn off the TV and talk. Talk about your highs and lows or how your day went or any number of mundane topics. Just look at each other and talk.” -this advice brought to you by an older and wiser woman

And I mean that. No matter how hard it is to establish the routine. or how many complaints you hear, this will be the most impactful hour of each day for your familia. I truly believe this: this is where family magic happens – breaking bread together, sharing daily life, being comfortable with “just us.”

I came across this commercial today and wanted to share it with you. It is what instigated this post.

Who Would You Most Like to Have Dinner With? By Masterfoods, Australia

“Let’s make time for the people who matter the most.”

Gather  –  Cook  –  Eat  –  Repeat

Face time your family. But for real, in person, around the table. Have dinner together. It will be the most powerful hour of your day. These are your people, they need your face, your words, your time and your love. Gather ’round the table and eat. Listen and share, give and receive. The family table is where it all begins…

magnolia market they broke bread

{source}  They broke bread in their houses and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Acts 2.26, Those Fixer Upper people do the coolest things – like that scripture on this wall!