Category Archives: General

What a Mess I Am!

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(Me, with my grand girls a couple of months ago.)

I stuck my lunch in the microwave and punched in the recommended six minutes. Then I returned to my laptop and got distracted by email.

After a few minutes—it felt like four or five minutes—my nose detected an overcooked smell coming from the kitchen. But, heck, my nose must have been mistaken because nothing is overcooked after only four or five minutes, right?

I went back to my email. But a ‘minute’ later, the overcooked smell was turning to the burning smell. I went to investigate. That’s when I noticed the countdown display on the microwave at forty-five minutes.

Uh oh. Must’ve accidentally punched in an extra 0. So now the microwave thinks it should cook for 60 minutes, not 6 minutes.

Dummy Dena! I punched cancel, turned on the fan and opened the microwave door. Smoke billowed forth. My chicken pot pie was a total loss.

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I opened the kitchen door and tried to shoo the noxious-ness out. Even pumping the door to try to draw in good clean air only accomplished turning the kitchen into an icebox—a stinky icebox. (Temperatures have hovered in the teens this entire week.)

Darn! I was really in the mood for a nice, piping hot, comfy-food chicken pot pie.

I thought, this must happen all over the USA at least ten times a day. I love machines and I love that they never question my orders. They just do whatever they’re programmed to do.

Nine-nine times out of a hundred, when something goes wrong, it’s not the machine’s fault. It’s you-know-who’s fault.

I am so consistently fallible:

  • I forget dates
  •  I lose papers I really, really need
  • I make snap—almost always incorrect—judgments
  • I can’t come up with the word or phrase I need right now
  • I say or do something I shouldn’t or don’t say the right thing or do the right thing
  • I forget all of God’s benefits…

…and so on.

So now, to make me a little less fallible, I keep a little calendar in my purse. I train myself to always put my important papers in the same place, I counsel myself not to make snap judgments, I warn myself to keep my mouth shut., and prod myself to get up and do what I know I should.

And most importantly, the sixth item on my agenda to not be quite so fallible: I’m training myself to notice and thank God for ALL his benefits: every fleeting moment of northwest sunshine, every trill of a bird, even a burned meal, because I’ve got more good stuff in my freezer, every morning that I wake up and can still see, feel, move, touch, or think.

Thankfulness to God will override those moments of complete exasperation at my own fallibility.

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Psalm 103:13,14: “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.

For he knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.”

 

The Parking Sign That Hit Me!

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We traded in the Toyota for this two-year-old Mercedes beauty. Powerful, loaded, even equipped with a towing package.

Problem is, these German cars do things a bit differently. Like, their gear shift is on the wheel column, on the right. No problem with that. But, to reverse, you push the lever up, and to go forward, you push the lever down. Huh?

Doesn’t it seem logical to push the lever down to go backward, and up to go forward? Aren’t we Americans used to doing it that way?

It took some getting used to that darned lever. Caught myself several times about to do the ‘logical’ ‘thing with the lever.

After a few weeks, I was doing pretty good. The car handles like a dream and is super comfortable, plus it pulls our trailer effortlessly.

A couple of weeks ago I had some errands to run downtown, and the only parking spot available was one of those super-narrow spots. I pulled in, right in front of a two-hour parking sign.  I needed to reverse a bit to straighten out. Concentrating on not scraping the cars on either side, I put my car in reverse and gently pressed the accelerator. The car wasn’t budging. Hmmm.  So I gave it a bit more juice and that’s when the car lurched up and over the lip of the curb with the roar of a charging lion.

Only then did my brain register that I was going forward, not backward, and that the two-hour parking sign was dangerously descending toward my bumper. With a Wagnerian scream, I jammed on the brakes. But not before I had knocked over the sign, and, in trying to reverse over the metal foot of the uprooted pole, scraped and pulled my bumper out.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” I jabbered to myself. “What do I do?! What do I do? I’ve never been in a car accident. This is awful, just awful. Who do I call?”

I got out and went to inspect the damage. The sign was a goner. No way it could be repaired. There was about a four-inch dent on the front right of my car, smudged with the sign’s green paint. And the bumper? Scraaaaaaaaaaaped like some maleficent had taken a key to it.

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I got back inside the car and called the police. When I got dispatch and told them what I’d done, the lady seemed kind of confused. So I repeated, “I knocked down a parking sign and did some damage to my car, as well.”

While I waited for the traffic officer to arrive, a woman walked by, stopped, surveyed the damage. I could see her wheels turning, wondering if she should do anything, Finally, she stepped over the sign and continued on her way. A man walked by and I told him the obvious: “Yes, I’ve already called the police.” He nodded, smiled, and went on his way.

A big, stern-faced police officer showed up about fifteen minutes later and I explained what I’d done, but he obviously didn’t understand about the gear lever and its counter-intuitive ups and downs.

My hands shook and my fingers went clumsy as I tried to retrieve my license, registration and proof of insurance. The officer noted immediately that neither Bruce nor I had signed the registration sheet. Then he also noted that we didn’t have a license plate on the front of the vehicle. Oh boy! This was going to be one whopper of a ticket. And I’m also glad that he didn’t make a stink about my expired proof of insurance card. The new one was still at home.

In the end, the very nice, but stern officer didn’t even give me a ticket. What?!

He gave me his police report and instructed me to call my insurance and send them photos, too. I said thank you and pulled out of the parking spot ever so slowly, aware that he was watching my driving style.

Some lessons for me:

  • Stay in the moment when I’m driving, particularly in parking lots, particularly with an unfamiliar vehicle.
  • This little accident was the perfect example of Jesus’s words: “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • God can use all sorts of difficulties to teach us, and to bring glory to His name. I’m thankful to the Lord that no one was harmed, and I’m thankful that I didn’t panic and drive away from the scene of the accident. And I’m thankful that He instructed that nice officer not to give me a ticket.

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Life is good even when it isn’t because He has overcome the world.

Merry Christmas, and I wish you a New Year filled with His constant presence and protection.

I love Christmas!

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(Two of my beautiful grand girls. They decorated our tree this year.)

I’m a Christmas Eve baby. But before you go and pity me, let me say that this was a blessing. Because I’ve got a twin brother, and my mother was born on December 27th, which made her very sensitive to the fact that birthdays surrounding Christmas tend to be ignored.

And my relatives—the ones who entertained our clan—made sure that my brother and I were acknowledged, too.

Those Christmas parties were wonderful. We got to share in the ‘specialness’ of the season, complete with amazing music. Several of my relatives were professional singers and pianists. After those parties we kids went home sleepy, arms filled with gifts, and minds saturated with fine music, hearts filled with the wonder of Christ’s birth.

I’ve never lost my love for Christmas. Everything about it. I love the crowds at the mall, the Christmas music, the Salvation Army ringers, the Santa, the decorations and trees and lights. I love preparing a feast and feeding my family and friends.

The other day I caught our local Santa—who has a real beard and twinkling eyes—checking his cell during an off hour. It made me laugh because it’s so illustrative of the times. I wonder if Santa even has a paper list anymore. Maybe he’s got some giant database where he alphabetically stores names and gifts given.

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Santa caught me smiling and waved me over for a selfie:

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Isn’t he adorable?

And this is a closeup of part of my tree. I love to turn on the tree lights late afternoon so people driving by on the their way home can see it through my window and be cheered by it.

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I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Put on some music, pour yourself some cider or egg nog, invite some friends over, share a meal.

Thank God for Christmas!

 

 

 

Crazy Fall Love

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I’ve always loved fall. After August heat, it’s nice to feel cooler air on my skin.

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, the cool, moist air smells amazing. When I step out  onto my front deck to refill the bird feeder early in the morning, my first sniff of the air never fails to invigorate me. I can smell the sea, only a couple of miles west,  the oak trees, and cedars and spruce and Douglas fir, and combined with the rich, moist earth they brew up a kind of perfume I like to call ‘Dena’s magic elixir.’

When I get my first whiff of my ‘elixir,’  it’s like a cup of stiff coffee, and all of a sudden I’m filled with ambition and creativity. Do you feel like that too?

This morning,as I pulled up and parked at my hair salon for a cut and color, I saw this:

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Incredible isn’t it? God is so good to let us experience this kind of beauty especially when the rest of the plants on our hemisphere are ready to go to sleep.

In the early years of our marriage, Bruce and I lived in a farming community in northern Illinois. In the fall we sometimes went to a local orchard to pick apples. The kids loved the hot cider we could buy at the farm. Sometimes we’d go for hay rides, then roast marshmallows over a big outdoor fire. Out there, the pleasant odors of drying corn stalks and hay made me wish I’d grown up on a farm.

Later, when we lived on Long island, New York, fall was the time for us to have our annual treasure hunt. We’d hand out clues and maps and send a hundred friends out into the dark to search for treasures and clues in cemeteries, around old barns, empty parking lots. Afterward we’d have a party and hand out prizes. Such fun.

We carried the treasure hunt tradition into our years in Colorado with good success. One year, I bought a good-sized pumpkin and turned it into some pretty tasty soup.

Now that we’ve put in a new gas fireplace, fall is the perfect time to have friends over and sit close to its warmth.

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When I was a child, one of our family traditions was to make the long, long journey (really about four hours from the San Francisco bay area, but it seemed like forever) south to Reedley, California. The town of Reedley was founded by my great-grandfather. It’s close to Fresno, if you know where that is.

Reedley was very small at that time. The current population is about 30,000. We kids used to go to the orchards to pick all sorts of fruit, sometimes cotton, sometimes persimmons—which I didn’t like—and hang out with cousin Bob. My aunt Helen Mae would cook a huge turkey dinner and Bob would play his recent compositions on the piano. He was hugely talented. Grammy and Granddaddy sometimes let us stay with them at the Reedley motel. That was a big treat.

Lately, we’ve been driving down to the San Francisco bay area to see my mom and my brothers and sisters. But Mom died last year and everyone’s decided to do their own thing this year. So I’ll miss being with my sweet sisters and brothers. But next year we’ll get together again.

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That’s my big brother Jay and my older sister, Lori.

Oh, and one last thing about fall: I’m extra creative then. I think 99 percent of my book ideas have come to me between September and December. In fact, another story idea just came to me last week, and it will soon become an outline for me to write from.

Yay, fall!

Thank You, Lord, for the season of fall.

 

What if you could…?

 

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I remember when I was a kid,  thinking it would be a kick to have the gift of knowing everyone’s thoughts. Or knowing the future. Or being able to fly, etc.

But now that I’m older, I think, ick! wouldn’t it be awful to know what others are thinking? I don’t think I could handle it. It would be hard to stay friends if I knew my friends’ thoughts.

What if I knew everything that was coming down the pike? How awful to know about tragedies or catastrophes beforehand!

And can you imagine the kind of trouble you could get into if you could fly over people’s yards, see inside their windows, spy covert government operations?

No, sir. Make me normal.

It’s a good party question: would you rather have a super power, knowing it’s going to dramatically complicate your life, or would you choose to be normal? Why?

Your answer says a lot about you.

Here’s Bruce, showing his characteristic confidence. (I’m pretty sure he’d choose to be a superhero):

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I’ve just finished writing a new novel about a young woman who possesses a spectacular gift. She’s counted the cost of using her gift and decides she’d rather be normal. But how do you give it back? Does God take His gifts back?

Another good question for speculation.