The next morning after packing, I woke up in mountains of North Carolina for a family gathering.
I suggested a hike because that was my strategy not to come home 30 pounds heavier. Hike every day. Burn 326 calories to offset 500 calorie piece of pie after 2000 calorie dinner.
Talking my sister and husband into a four mile hike up a mountain, I ran upstairs to dress after my 1500 calorie breakfast. I put on my shirt. I pulled on my shorts. I rooted around in my suitcase for my running shoes.
I found one.
I found the other.
Except . . .
Maybe this is a better angle.
My two right feet.
I can’t tell you how many times this clip went through my head in three days of hiking staring down at that.
“Am I nuts, or is something wrong with his feet?”
Yes, instead of two left feet, my story line held two right feet.
Determined soul or sole that I was, I hiked everywhere — tripping over roots and granite boulders — for three days.
Yes. Ninety floors in one day with two right feet.
What I learned.
By the second day, a left foot presses, sort of molds the inside of the right shoe so that it’s bearable. Though a right shoe turns to the left, the fabric and your left foot stretches the toe box to the right. Curving the way a left shoe would.
It’s more so the third day.
We are all bent in lots of ways.
If we don’t like the bend of our nature — I’m too loud, too quiet, not blonde enough — we can change our behavior, appearance. The world thinks we are a right foot but deep down we will still be a left foot pressing against instep of a right shoe.
Now this can be bad or good. Bad if we are trying to conform away from our true positive, unique nature.
Good if we are trying to change unhealthy ways we naturally bend.
But no matter how much we look like a right foot on the wrong side of the body, we are a left foot in the wrong shoe.
Only a miracle (or act of God) can change a foot. Or break it till it fits. Which can be considered an act of God I guess.
And that’s what goes through my mind hiking 90 floors with the wrong shoe.
I usually don’t daydream of God breaking bones but I usually don’t hike 90 floors in the wrong shoe either.
I hear that a lot. Sometimes, when the latter is uttered in a whiney, exasperated call from the other side of the house — I cringe.
My ears work pretty well. I hear birds madly chirping and the thunder rumbling over head. The refrigerator hums over my left shoulder as the kitten walks without sound into the kitchen.
I would have missed the birds, the thunder and the appliance vibration without my ability to hear.
Good writers don’t forget sound in their work.
I forget it all the time.
I tend to write one-dimensionally because I’m a one-dimensional person and I take my hearing for granted. As one-dimensional people are wont to do.
Me and my friend Annie heading up to Athens.
I’ve written about Annie a few times on the blog. I’ll give the Cliff Notes on posts re me and Annie.
Jesus, the garden, Jesus and the garden.
We were on our way to the Speech and Hearing Clinic at UGA for Annie to get her hearing aids serviced.
A recipient of the Lions Club Foundation hearing aid program, she was having problems hearing and so we made an appointment and headed up there. Backstory: She got the hearing aids three years ago, through the Lions Club and with the help at the good folks up at UGA. Periodically, they need service, etc.
This meant I got to spent a few hours with Annie. She makes construction delays on 441 enjoyable.
She was laughing at me taking this pic. You can’t see the horses on the other side of this pond. While stopped by the paving, and on way up to Athens we covered what was new in her life, the churches she’s been too, where her grandchildren are working. Let’s see. We touched on Jim Crow as I’m reading Isbabel Wilkerson’s amazing, The Warmth of Other Suns. Caitlyn Jenner. Ways to cook squash. Having diabetes and the problems that causes with pedicures.
Before long we were in Athens and where we needed to be.
I gave the business to the Red & Black like any self-respecting Gator fan.
I waited about 45 minutes pecking away on my lap top while Annie went back with the audiologist.
Annie came out after her checkup wiping away tears.
She always does this.
Praising God and saying how good it is to hear again.
They fixed a broken tube and cleaned the hearing aids.
One-dimensional, no-sound-writing me got to thinking.
First, the Lions Club International does a very, very good thing with this program.
And secondly, the ability to hear is easy to take for granted. When one-dimensional-writer me sees Annie crying for joy because she can hear again, well.
Spiral notebooks. I must have a million in the attic. They are my Talking-to-God journals.
If you are reading this and don’t happen to believe in God, that’s fine. You might want to keep reading to gain a bit of insight into a modern, neurotic feminine Christian mind.
Notice I didn’t say the modern, neurotic feminine Christian mind. Every modern. Every neurotic. Every female. Every Christian. Is different.
Notice the Day 4.
I made it my goal on April 22 to have a quiet moment with the Lord and my journal every day for a year. Let’s just say I’ve started over a few times. Day 4 is a long way from Day 365 but maybe since I’ve made this public, that will spur me on. I can at least make it 30 days. I’ve done that for NaBloPoMo twice.
Here’s the point of this post.
Every day I write that scripture at the top of whatever it is I end up expressing to God that morning.
“This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
You know what word I have the most trouble with?
Does it mean a little smile? Does it mean butterflies-in-the-tummy giddy? Does it mean a happy place that only a couple of glasses of wine seem to get me these days?
I was stumped. But I don’t feel all that rejoice-ful.
Leaving church on Sunday, I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. She asked how I was doing.
Here another beautiful day has dawned and we are told to rejoice.
Felt it was high time I looked up rejoice.
So I pulled out my falling apart Strong’s.
And looked up the word rejoice as it is used in Psalm 118:24.
It gave me a number then I had to look in the Hebrew section because the verse is from the Old Testament.
Here is what it said.
“To spin round (under the influence of any violent emotion).”
To be honest reading that spinning around part, the first thing that came to mind is You Spin Me Right Round from the ’80s.
Amazing how I had that same hair my senior year at SMU. Loved that hair.
Then the second thing I thought about was how David danced uninhibitedly before the Lord as they brought the Ark back to Jerusalem.
Maybe King David had that ’80s hair too?
How do we rejoice each day? Spin around rejoice. (and not from issues-induced nausea.) When these darn ISSUES saturate our minds. When they are the first thing we think of in the morning and the last thing at night.
Well, this is what theologian Jamie has come up with.
With social media, we’ve all become our own press agents. Our own spin doctors.
I try in my solitude to put a positive spin on my issues. And those that I can’t I say my new favorite phrase.
“It is — what it is.”
And now I’m off to download Dead or Alive on my iPod.
God surely wouldn’t mind if I missed church. Took a sick day, personal day even?
It’s not like I didn’t have a reason. Good friends visiting. Friends I didn’t get to see very often.
A leisurely cup of coffee, laughter as we caught up on all that has been going on in our busy lives. Communing in the sunshine and not rushing to pews and hymns.
That’s what I decided anyway.
“I’ll just stay and wait for Ken and Tracy to get up,” I whispered to my husband as he left for early church.
Walking back into the bedroom, our bed was a tangled mass of sheet and blankets. Off to the side, a leaning tower of dirty exercise wear and school clothes rudely beckoned.
The bed looked inviting but duty called. Gathering up some clothes, I headed to the kitchen to start a load of wash.
On my trek through the television room, I noticed my youngest enjoying his reprieve from Sunday School. His face mesmerized by a laptop screen. Fingers furiously controlling the destiny of his Minecraft universe.
Throwing the clothes in on top of earlier deposited items, I poured the soap. Turned the knob to NORMAL. Hit start and headed to my room.
Nestling back into the sheets, I pulled my computer onto my lap. Nice. But something was missing. Coffee.
So I went to the kitchen to pour me a cup.
Mew. Mew. Just the faintest of mews.
Trotted back to bed with my coffee, all the while the little mew kept mewing.
“Joe. Do you have a cat in your Minecraft world?”
“No. I have a dog.”
Once again my fingers clicked away on the laptop. Mew.
Ugh. Cats. Could one be trapped in the attic? In a drawer? I got up and looked at my son’s game. Nope. No cat.
Clunk, clunk. Clunk, clunk. I heard the washer rattle on. That’s funny. I didn’t remember putting any tennis shoes in the wash.
I ran to the washer and looked in the clear plastic portal. A cat peered back at me. Tossing and turning. Soaked. Traumatized beyond recognition.
My stomach dropped to my toes and my fingers flew to the cancel button.
Frantically opening the door, I reached in a pulled out the drenched creature. His black fur matted down looking as if he was a poor sea cat freed from a slick of crude.
Oreo tumbled onto the floor weaving back and forth as he tried to move. By appearances, he would surely have failed a kitty sobriety test.
Calling for my daughter, I spilled the whole sorted tale. She screamed in horror and ran to fetch a towel to gather up her big sopping wet baby.
The big lump of drenched critter didn’t move for 30 minutes.
She then carried the wet bundle to her bed.
Throughout the day, I crept into check on him like I did when my children were infants. Was his little chest still moving up and down?
I shutter to think what would have happened if I had thrown the clothes in, started the machine and rushed to church.
Cats have nine lives but it would have taken all of them plus nine more to have survived the spin cycle.
Yes, thank God I skipped church that day.
Like the old hymn says, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches over me — and my pets. Whom I might accidentally try to kill.”
Yes. In the Christian calendar, today was Ash Wednesday.
Our church holds its service in the evening. Too bad because we can’t go around with our ashes on all day. I made it to the pool today and a woman I have gotten to know had her ashes on. Well, they were there before she started to swim. Don’t know about after.
As a child, I thought that so exotic. There were people (probably Catholic) who went to a early Mass and got to wear these mystical gray smudges on their forehead all day.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of —–>>>
Which lasts for —>>>>>
Every year I give up sweets. Ho Hum.
I have since high school. And that was a heck of a long time ago.
I have been pretty successful abstaining from desserts for 40 days except during law school. First year a fellow law student gave me a box of chocolates. I ate the entire box that day.
First year of law school was very stressful for me.
Tonight the usual suspects turned up.
And I really dressed up.
When the service started, I thought it not very reverent to be taking photos.
As a blogging professional I do set boundaries.
Then my husband photo bombed me during the hymn.
Yes, I took one last photo during the hymn than put my phone away and listened.
The use of ashes in the service reminds us of our mortality.
New International Version (NIV)
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
That hit me hard this year after seeing my dad. When you see a body after life has left — there’s no way that doesn’t impact you.
I like Lent. I love to think about these things.
Sacrifice. What does it mean in the 21st Century?
Why the heck do I fixate on such temporal matters?
“Little clean houses for you and me…” insert John Mellencamp voice and music.
My theme for the last few days.
Travelling and work this week (along with the needs of a family of five) have left our house in critical condition and in a slow state of recovery from holiday decorating.
As I lay awake at 3:30 this morning, I ruminated on two things.
1. My mother had a person help out with the house two days a week.
2. And a few years ago, as a new writer, I attended the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. I sat in on a multi-day devotional workshop with long time UpperRoom Editorial Director, Mary Lou Redding.
At lunch after one of the sessions, I asked her the universal writer’s lament: How do I find time to write?
Nice woman that she was, she listened to all my todos and to-don’ts.
And this is what I remembered in the middle of the night.
Talking a bite of an apple she said, “Find some help cleaning your house or let it go. There is no other way.”
DANG. That’s like hearing God talk.
Let it go.
* * *
7 p.m. a very tired Mr. Miles came through the door.
We jettisoned plans to go to gym, poured some adult beverages and sat.
“I sat there with Johnny. We sat there, we two. And how wonderful it was we had nothing to do.” Except talk and drink.
After a bit, we noticed the house was quiet. Too quiet.
Our daughter ran in breathless.
“I’ve got something to show you. You have to come together.”
We walked to our closed bedroom door.
Then it hit me. Just like it hit me the second before Johnny asked me to marry him.
She’s cleaned our bedroom.
The door opened and I had a Publishers-Clearing-House-knock-me-over moment.
And then this…
She organized my desk. <<< Scream. Stomp feet. Clap hands. >>>
Yesterday, I wrote a reply on Facebook that “Mommy’s only get paid in love.”
Well, seems as if love turns into action when you least expect it.
“Seven, thirteen, nineteen sixty-something-or-the-other,” I replied.
“I’m a Seven-Thirteen, too” chirped the young fellow slipping the bottle, along with fruit, pretzels and a Coke Zero into a bag.
“I bet your year’s a lot different than mine.” My standard reply.
“Oh no,” the young guy smiled.
He smiled a lot this young fellow. We talked while he bagged. A permanent grin tattooed between his lower cheeks. The kind of smile that showed all teeth and most of his gums.
Once again shows there’s nothing to that horoscope cr*p.
That lovely thought goes through my head. This guy and I share the same birthday and he’s obviously one of these people who are perpetually happy. A guy making a few bucks while going to college who will be a success in life because he always sees the positive in every situation.
We head toward the door. He’s pushing my cart so I continue to babble.
For we are kindred seven-thirteen souls. I owe him that much.
“Hello sir,” young smiling Seven-Thirteen says in the direction of someone getting out of a car. (Someone with probably a very different birthday — five-seventeen or something).
“Nice guy,” happy young Seven-Thirteen says…edged with sarcasm.
Odd. Why would nice, grin-so-the-gums-show grocery-bagger care if someone didn’t respond to an attempted hello.
“He didn’t say anything?” I offer.
“No, he kind of snarled at me.”
“Was he old?” I ask. Knowing how young Seven-Thirteen can’t yet know what it’s like to be toward the end of life, feeling beaten up every day. And know the pain of looking at a young smiling fellow with the strength of 65 old fellows in his youthful left pinky who just told him “have a good day.”
“Well, he probably doesn’t feel all that great,” I offer to the young Seven-Thirteen.
We get to my car and he begins to transfer the bags from cart.
As he works, I root around for some money for a tip. I never have cash. EVER. But I happened to find a few dollar bills.
He pulled the back window shut and I handed smiling Seven-Thirteen a George Washington (Two, twenty-two).
At that moment, his grin pulled back three-times wider as he said,
“Thanks so much. That made my day.”
His comment caught me so completely off guard, I smiled and mumbled something like, “Sure thing, us Seven-Thirteens got to stick together.”
And he was gone.
He was gone before I could tell him his words of “thanks” just made mine.
Two days made in about fifteen seconds. Total cost = $1.00.
I bet you could even make somebody’s day on a lot less, don’t cha think?