Archive | January 2012

52 Book Challenge/ Books #1-4

I am doing the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge. I have been a voracious reader since I discovered the Little House series in 2nd grade. They were my “hook books.”

As an adult I still read quite a bit. But lately I’ve noticed that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and mindless internet surfing have replaced some of my reading time. So has television. So I decided to challenge myself to reading a book a week for 2012.  This way I can pick up all those books I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, but, with all my previously mentioned tweeting and pinning, haven’t tackled.

So far I am ahead of schedule. I’ve been book-gorging every available minute and it’s been heavenly! Why didn’t I ever consider doing this before now?

I intended to post one a week, but now I’ll post four, since January’s nearly over. Here we go:



#1  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I adored this book about girl living in the tenements of Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century. Her family was poor, but they were taught the values of reading and putting aside money for saving. My husband was born in Brooklyn, so this story was extra fun for me to discuss with him.



#2 Deceptions by Rebecca Frayn. Mysteries are my favorite genre. A pre-teen boy disappears one day after school, without a trace. Narrated by the live-in boyfriend of the boy’s mother, I found this book to be a bit of a slow read. The voice of the narrator was left-brained and analytical without much emotion. I had a difficult time getting excited about the story. But that’s just me. Maybe you’ll love it.



#3 The Killer’s Wife by Bill Floyd. A great thriller! A young bride discovers that her husband is a serial killer, and the story unfolds with twists and turns. This was a yummy page-turner.



#4 Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. Another can’t-put-down thriller. This book chronicles a woman’s abduction, eventual escape, and attempt to get her life back. A really, really good read.


Yes, you can see that I’ve been stuck in the mystery/thriller section of the library. But no fears. I am branching out. Just wait.



Bright Eyes

I sat on a chair in the pharmacy, waiting for a prescription to be filled, and contemplating how many better ways I could be spending my time.

A preschool-age little girl sat down in the next chair, big bright eyes studying me. “Who is the candy for?” she asked, pointing to my packs of sour gummies and kit kat.

“These are for my sons,” I said.

“Want to see my dress?” Without waiting for a response, she unzipped her coat, and proudly twirled about in a cloud of pink.

I exclaimed the appropriate little girl compliments. “It’s beautiful! You look like a princess!” She beamed.

Her mother marched up to the pharmacy window. In a volley of angry words, she berated pharmacist for a variety of what she considered to be errors, laziness and incompetence. I heard her say, “My daughter is in the middle of being diagnosed….”

Bright Eyes, sitting next to me, seemed to shrink as her mother continued to lambast the pharmacist. She looked scared. Was she the child her mother was referring to, who needed to be diagnosed? She looked healthy. I wondered what the back story was.

As the pharmacist punched keys on his computer to look up insurance information, the mother turned and snapped at Bright Eyes, “Put your coat back on! We’re not staying.”

“But she only took it off to show me her pretty dress!” I wanted to say to the angry mother. I also longed to invite her to sit down next to me and tell me her story. Maybe she was scared. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Was she a single parent, battling diagnoses and insurance companies all alone?

I glanced at Bright Eyes, fidgeting in the corner. I wanted to pull her into my lap and give her one of the candy packs. I wanted to comfort her and explain that her mother wasn’t really angry at her, just very anxious. I’ve been there in the past.  I’ve been that stressed-out, angry mother, yelling away my anxiety at the closest, safest target, a stranger.

I didn’t say anything. I pretended to play with my phone.

The angry mother slammed her purse shut and said, “I’m done with this place!” She grabbed Bright Eyes by the hand and said, “Let’s go!”

“Wait!” said the little girl. She ran over to the rack of tabloids for sale, grabbed a magazine, and handed it to me. Then she followed her mother out of the store without looking back.

I stared at the magazine in my lap, a touching and unexpected gesture of love from a little girl in a pink dress. A child with an angry, anxious mother. A child who might be diagnosed with something serious. I had longed to do something for her, yet she gave me a gift. A magazine.

Sometimes a random connection with an unknown someone leaves me breathless and pondering how God is moving in that moment. What am I to learn?

In our short encounter, Bright Eyes managed to touch a deep part of my heart. I will give to her the gift of prayer.


This entry was posted on January 23, 2012. 2 Comments

The Day I Went To The Airport With Donald Miller

Sometimes God orchestrates some pretty cool adventures for me.

Through a number of circumstances, a friend of mine was going to be driving one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, to the airport. He’d been speaking at our church the night before. Knowing my adulation for him, my friend invited me to come along.

I had first read his book, Blue Like Jazz, two years ago. It completely resonated with me. I identified with his outlook, and loved the stories about his quest to find God. I adored his casual writing style. It ended up being one of my favorite reads of that year, one that I savored, chewed on and debated about at our book club. God used it as one of the most transformational books for me of all time. I subsequently bought his other books.

So when my friend invited me to accompany them to the airport, I was thrilled! Then anxious.

I have Celebrity Phobia. When I meet celebrities, I tend to get either completely tongue-tied, or I become a babbling idiotic caricature of myself when I am strung out on caffeine.

I was nervous. What would I wear? What topics of conversation would I broach?? I had only one hour with him as captive to my attention. I wanted to know everything about him! Would he be as cool in real life as he seemed from his books? My friend and I have a history of wacky adventures together. I pictured the caption of this experience: “Lucy and Ethel Take Donald Miller To The Airport. Next Time, He Requests a Limousine.”

My friend and I picked him up at his hotel early the next morning. He hopped into the back seat, and we were off.

I wasn’t disappointed. He turned out to be one of the most authentic, unaffected, easy-going men ever. We talked about our families and his dog. He talked about why he loves the area of the country where he lives, and showed me a picture on his cell phone of his favorite spot to write. I was looking at the sacred place where Donald Miller types his thoughts onto his keyboard….and they birth into books that transform hearts. 

I quickly conquered my Celebrity Phobia, and felt like I’d just made a new friend. He invited us to come visit his home where he regularly hosts friends. I think he really meant it! He let me take several pictures of us together in the drop-off zone at the airport, thanked us profusely, and gave us big bear hugs.

It was an hour of my life….my ordinary world colliding with the world of an author I’d admired. A special grace from God.



This entry was posted on January 18, 2012. 5 Comments

Guilt And TED Hose

If I could have cloned myself yesterday, I would have. I truly would have.

It was 8:55a.m., T-5 minutes until we were to leave to drive Butterfly back to college. My husband and I were going to split up the marathon drive to OH and back. As we were about t0 leave, my mom called in a panic, saying that Dad was in excruciating pain. He had had a total knee replacement three weeks ago, and was healing and progressing along well. But he’d woken up in the middle of the night with his knee swollen, hot, and in terrible discomfort. She had a call in to his doctor.

After a quick consultation with Super Hubs, I made the decision to go to my parents’ house instead of to OH. I felt like they needed me more. My dad was barely mobile because of the pain, and I knew he’d have to go to the ER and probably be admitted. If it was an infection, it could be serious.

I kissed my college daughter good-bye with a heavy heart, knowing I wouldn’t see her again for a few months. My car headed off in one direction, while my husband and daughter drove off in another.

I accompanied my parents to the ER. It was a typical ER visit….lots of waiting, prodding, consulting, TV watching, more waiting. In the midst of the waiting, my teen son called, confused and angry that both cars were gone. How was he supposed to get to church and have lunch with his small group friends? In my haste to get to my parents, I had totally forgotten that he’d be left without a car. He had still been sleeping. Now he was angry. He had no car and was stuck at home. I hadn’t given him any notice to even try to find a ride with a friend.

But I’d been worried. As I drove to my parents, I kept thinking, “What if this is it?” My dad is in his 70’s. Although healthy and active, I’m not naive enough to think my parents will live forever. We’d lost my husband’s dad two years ago. I wrote about it here.

I kept thinking about my dad and his TED hose, the tight medical socks he’s had to wear since his surgery to prevent him from getting an embolism from being sedentary. The day before, I’d gone to my parents’ house to help “take down Christmas.” My mom was at a meeting, and my dad asked me to help him put on his TED hose. It took me a while, because TED hose are tight, and I was trying to be very gentle and not hurt his knee. While I was doing that, I thought about how many times he’d helped me put my shoes and socks on when I was a very little girl, and how, forty-something years later, the roles were reversed. I felt good that I’d helped my dad with his TED hose the day before. If something bad happened to him….. if this knee problem turned out to be fatal, at least I’d had that moment of caring for him the day before. I could hold that with me forever.

Mixed in with my fear about my dad was guilt over my son having to miss church, and guilt at having said only a quick good-bye to my daughter. I’m good at feeling guilty and over-responsible. It’s probably a first-born thing. I knew when I saw the strawberries in the fruit drawer that I’d bought for my daughter, or the tv shows she’d recorded on U-verse, I’d feel badly that I didn’t take her to OH for a proper good-bye. I had only had time to give her a quick kiss before I hurried off to my parents.

In the end, it all turned out all right. My dad was sent home, reassured that his knee did not have an infection or an embolism. Ice, elevation and ease up on the physical therapy, the doctors said.

Super Hubs and Butterfly had a good drive to OH together, and then my husband was home by 7pm. I think he enjoyed the solitude on the ride back.

My middle son was no longer angry at me about missing church. He said he understood, and I made it up to him by getting a pizza for dinner.

On some days I feel torn, stretched, pulled in many directions. People need me, want something from me, try to guilt me. Or I try to guilt myself. But then I think about Jesus. How did He do it? I picture the masses of people pressing in, wanting healing or teaching or absolution or attention; everyone wanting a piece of Him.  Jesus was prayerful, stayed close to His Father, and did what He felt God was calling Him to do in each moment.

Yesterday, God kept reminding me of the TED hose. I believed I was supposed to be with my parents.

Amazingly, everyone else survived with me.

This entry was posted on January 10, 2012. 2 Comments

Invitations In A Doctor’s Office

I am not a patient person by nature. If you are ever in the grocery store somewhere northwest of Chicago and you happen upon what looks like a tornado pushing a cart full of food at 50 miles per hour, it’s probably me. And you’d best move to the side before I run over your toes. It’s not that I’d hurt you on purpose. I’m was just born to be fast. I’m a fast talker. Fast walker. Quick decision-maker. I’m often in a hurry. It’s my nature.

The upside is that I accomplish a lot in a period of time.

The downside is that I miss moments. I miss opportunities. And, undoubtedly, I miss some invitations from God. Being Open To God’s Invitations is my #1 New Year Resolution, as I posted here. So I’m working on it. Sloooow down, Kel. “Where’s the fire?” as my grandpa used to ask me.

Yesterday, God gave me some invitations.

I took my husband to the eye specialist because he needed to have a cataract evaluation. It took us nearly an hour to drive to the office, and we showed up half an hour early. The doctor was running about an hour behind. The waiting room was filled with patients that were a good thirty years older than we are. The chairs were hard-backed and small. Two gray-haired ladies sat snuggly against me, engaged in a long chat over everything and nothing. They were loud and talky.

My first inclination was to feel annoyed. This appointment was clearly going to take up a good chunk of my day. These senior ladies were clearly not going to stop their chattering anytime soon. My bad back was cramped and sore.

But then……I decided reframe my situation, put my New Year Resolution into practice and look for God’s invitations. Surely He had at least one here for me in this waiting room?

I recognized God’s invitation to rest…..relax….read my book. I had no other agenda there, no chores staring me in my face. I could dive into my juicy novel without guilt.

I recognized God’s invitation to appreciate. The little old ladies were darling, really. I heard all about their aches and pains, their vision problems, and little vignettes from their lives. I appreciated their sweet support of one another. I appreciated that we have good medical insurance, and access to a doctor that can treat my husband’s cataract. If we lived in another century, it could blind him!

I recognized God’s invitation to be patient. Ouch! One of the things I’m sorely bad at! Instead of obsessively watching the clock and fidgeting nervously, I took some deep breaths and practiced patience. I realized how frazzled the doctor must feel, seeing a roomful of patients waiting for him. I recognized that everyone in that waiting room had an issue with their eyes. Some were probably nervous and worried. I could put a pleasant smile on my face, and be an encouraging presence.

And then I saw God’s invitation… enjoy a cup of coffee! A Keurig machine sat in the corner of the waiting room, with a variety of flavors available. God is full of surprises! Have I mentioned that I adore coffee?? I brewed  a cup for my husband, and one for myself. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This entry was posted on January 6, 2012. 3 Comments