No road-kill on the golden streets of Heaven


It was laying there feet up by the fountain when I got home. E had called and said there was a dead pigeon in the garden and for some reason she couldn’t deal with it. This is the bravest woman I know. She wrapped up my foot when it was sliced all the way to the tendon and told me, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” She’d lived out in the patio room at 100 plus degrees so her Alzheimer’s stricken Mom could have her room. She’s also never met a vehicle she couldn’t operate no matter how big.

But from a young age, her Grandmother instilled in her a deep-seated reticence about touching birds: “They all have lice,” she remembers her saying.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized she must have meant a dove and not a pigeon; she gets them mixed up. She knows how I love doves, how I appreciate the backdrop of their cooing when I pray out in my shed. That’s why it made her sad.

I said, “I hope at least it was single…..not old enough to have a mate.” I have read they are one of the few animal species that mate for life; I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a romantic notion anyway and one that makes me appreciate the fact that you hardly ever see one dove without another by its side.

“Use the shovel!” she said. I didn’t listen. It was surprisingly weightless as picked it up. I wrapped in lovingly in a paper towel, much like my own Grandmother did when my parakeet Peppy died on her watch. She saved it for us for when we got back from vacation; lovingly preserved in a strawberry crate coffin covered with a paper towel for its burial shroud.

I can’t imagine what my Mom thought about that………..

As I gathered the little form in my palms, I said a prayer of thanks to God for its short but meaningful sojourn on the earth; for the joy that it gave with its song in the morning, and at the peaceful close of day. And again I marveled that there will be no death at all in Heaven, not any. You won’t find any road-kill on the golden streets of Heaven.

As I said the prayer, I thought of how I have always loved the Native American’s deep-seated appreciation and gratitude for animal life, and the humility with which they took a life, knowing that the animal had made a sacrifice to sustain their own preservation. They never took more than they needed and nothing was ever wasted.

God created all life, and it’s through His grace that we all live and move and have our being. By His word the Heavens and Earth and all living things came into existence. Let Heaven and nature sing His praise:

He appointed the moon for seasons;
The sun knows its going down.
You make darkness, and it is night,
In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.
The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.

Psalms 104:19-21

I leave you with this Lakota prayer I found today……it’s a good meditation for it shows us how small we really are in the realm of creation, but also, how very loved we are. How thought of by God himself. Not a sparrow (or dove) falls to the ground without Him knowing…….

Oh, Great Spirit,
whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life
to all the world, hear me.

I am small and weak.
I need your strength and wisdom.

Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes
ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise so that I may understand
the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.

Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes,
so when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit will come to you without shame.

– Chief Yellow Lark, Lakota, 1887

What looks like wonder on an ordinary day

I pulled the bread out of the cabinet to make toast, and watched the bread slide down with a metallic click. I thought, I need a special plate today. Sometimes you need to feel like each day is worthy of celebration.

I pulled the pink plate from the cupboard and the memory floaded in before I could stop it. My Mom and I had decorated her kitchen table with this glassware complete with goblets and lace tablecloth and flowers at each place setting. I don’t even remember what the occasion was and it doesn’t matter now.  I have been missing her.

I cried all through my toast.

I wonder if she knows how my heart is bound up with hers and how often I think of her a hundred little moments every day. She was the first one to teach me about the small wonders. I worry about when I will lose her. I worry that I can’t help her more. I know how long her days are, how they’re filled with serving others, with few moments for herself.

I remember the last time I was home and I fixed her lunch, she was so thankful……for that one small thing.

I went about the day feeling her nearness. You feel the impact someone has had on your life when hard times hit and you realize you’ve silently picked up the baton they’ve passed you without even knowing it.

I was finding peace in the tasks……the folding of the clothes, making up the beds, watering the plants. The peace in going on, living out hope in my actions.

She has never let me forget that we are a people who have passed from death to life, and for that there is always a reason for joy. It’s the grafting into our hearts this one thing that fans the flame of wonder more than any other.

If you suddenly found out you didn’t have the cancer they thought you had it would be easy to find the wonder in all those little things we may even think of as mundane.

All her friends and family have heard her say many times, “If you can’t find anything to laugh about you might as well go out behind the garage and shoot yourself.”  That’s assuming the garage is in the back of the house, I am guessing.

Last night I shared with Elaine what I was going to write about today.  She was taming down her inflammed throat with a popsicle and vigorously nodded her head. When she could talk, the tears that had yet to come since her Dad’s death filled her eyes.  

She told me how one of her co-workers had come up to her and said, “You are a Godly woman, and God is with you. He will never give you more than you can handle.” Sometimes you just need that affirmation.

Personally, I believe that God gives us more than we can handle just so we’ll have to lean on Him.

Earlier in the day, she was sitting in her bus, sick, tired, grieved and weary-worn, when a little cactus wren landed on her side mirror and stared at her and sung his heart out. A little spark of hope just when she needed it most.

He uses common, ordinary, everyday things to speak to us, just like He uses common, ordinary, everyday us to do extraordinary things through Him.

Things like pink plates and silly little birds.

And you and I.


Thank you Margaret Feinberg for this wonderful book, I am sorry to see it end, but I will do my best to keep the wonder alive and tell everyone I know about this book!

Grace Dispensers


Linking up with Duane Scott and Shelly Miller today, join me there too?

We sat outside on the front porch of the carehome, she, her Mom and I. Another lady in a wheelchair came out for a smoke. E. helped her find her lighter. We were commenting on different cars that came by, talking about nothing in particular. The lady in the wheelchair was punctuating our last words with, “Uh huh…..and Yes.”

A cement truck went by and E. told the lady next to us that she used to drive one, in her words, “When I was young and too stupid to be scared.” Her Mom, ever the harbinger of goodwill and bolsterer of egos says, “Now you’re old and stupid.” I blew out a breath……The verbal assaults and barbs she always had at the ready never failed to shock me. I guess a lifetime of negativity doesn’t die easily, even with Alzheimer’s.

It was the one thing that was most difficult when her Mom lived with us.

Ever the contradiction in terms, this was the same Mom who cried after she read the story I had written about her own daughter’s years driving a cement mixer. How she gained the trust of the men by applying herself to being the best driver there was, even so far as having contractors request her for the most difficult jobs.

I snuck the words out under my breath, “This would be almost bearable after a couple of Coronas.” She snorted a laugh.

After that, we went to see her Dad. As I witnessed her attending to him, I couldn’t help remembering the paranoia and the padlocked doors, the way he threatened his own daughter with violence. Things I won’t even talk about here.

And even though you know it’s the dementia talking, it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

That was also the same man who went with us when we put E’s 18-year-old cat down. He cried harder than any of us.

Day in and day out, for years I have watched her be a dispenser of mercy and grace to parents who were never there for her. And each day she refills her cup from a Holy fountain that never runs dry. She shoulders her grief and sadness courageously and I know she doesn’t tell me everything. Because then the dam would break and run over and she couldn’t continue to do what she does.

This is the kind of living lesson you could never get sitting in church, it’s only in the deep trenches where God meets you at the bottom, when He smiles and hands you a shovel.

One day not too long ago, her Dad said he wanted his beard shaved. (He doesn’t trust the aides to do it). I honestly don’t know if I could have put my Jesus sandals on for that one, but she did. It was as she finished that he said the five words she quite possibly had never heard before.

“You are a good daughter.”

And sometimes when you’re at your weakest, God sends His confirmation that He is paying attention. That He approves.

One day it was love letters in the parking lot of the nursing home. And yesterday it was two snow-white doves that landed on each side of her school bus.

The driver behind her was incredulous. He had never seen anything like it. He told her they landed, one on each side right before they all took off for the morning run.

And if that weren’t enough confirmation?

As she pulled in the driveway yesterday there was another one, also snow-white. We have scads of doves around here, but never have I seen one while one let alone three.

No one can convince me that the Holy Spirit wasn’t masquerading as those white doves. I know it.

Help me Lord to be more like my friend who keeps on refilling her cup and offering it back to the One who is worthy, even if it hurts. Each day looking to You for a fresh supply. Because it isn’t just a one time thing.

Along the way I discovered a facet of faith I never noticed before, the truth that forgiveness is not an action as much as a discipline. A solo acknowledgment of absolution or single act of disentanglement from the situation wasn’t enough. Margaret Feinberg.

All around us there are living lessons to be learned. But we can’t learn the lessons God has for us we are so caught up in rights and wrongs and who is deserving and who is not. We lose sight of the Grace that He continues to pour out on us every day.

Help me be a Grace dispenser Lord.

God sized opportunities


We get our pizza and start to eat when I mention my Mom’s tooth problem which in turn leads her to saying she needs to get her front tooth redone before she starts looking like Nanny McPhee. I laugh and mention how crowded my bottom teeth are and that I think it may be pushing a crown out of whack.

She says, “Maybe they should just pull one and they would straighten out.” I say, “With my luck the gap wouldn’t close and I would be left with one tooth missing in front like Si from Duck Dynasty.” That mental image gets me laughing so hard I am afraid to take a drink. It’s the times we laugh like that over nothing that I see something like God-light in her eyes.

It’s a pure and holy laughter and it flows like living water when two people of like mind gather.

Sitting there at the Pizza place, I thought of how our lives intersected all those years ago and how it was all so arranged by God. We were to be rescuers to each other yet at the time we didn’t know it. We were too busy each carrying our separate loads of super-sized grief.

She had just courageously left behind the only life she had ever known. It was either that or die. She was searching for life, and hope.  And I was busy trying to convince everyone and myself that I didn’t need anyone. The only friend I wanted was my husband and he had died.

At night I would sit alone and write letters to him that he would never see, except from Heaven.

One of the first things that struck me about her was her contagious laugh. And even though she was hurting she still tried to open the door to friendship.

And I did my level best to keep that door shut.

But there was something she saw in me that made her keep trying.

Somehow enough of Jesus shined through my dysfunction and sadness because she wondered where I got my peace.

And when I finally let down the wall and invited her in, it was almost like we were getting reaquainted after a long absence instead of starting a new friendship. And then she met Jesus and it only got better.

And 22 years later all I can see is the joy and laughter and wonder I would have missed out on had she not opened that door, had I not walked through it.

How many people have I dismissed that I should have embraced? How many sparks of life have I extinguished rather than rekindled? How many times have I refused the invitation to join God in his supernatural work? Margaret Feinberg

What draws us together is a mystery and a wonder. What makes total strangers click and feel they’ve known each other all their lives? It’s a connection that can’t be fully explained but that’s part of the beauty of it. What I do know is that it’s what God wants for us and what He made us for.

He calls us friends first and Disciples second, and I believe He sees not only the person we are, but the person we will become.

When we connect here in this place, I don’t see Bloggers, or Facebookers. I see friends.  I see brothers and sisters. I see family.

And I am thankful for every one of you and what you bring to my life.

Bringing eternity into the here and now

Join Shelly Miller and Duane Scott today for the Wonderstruck Book Club!


There are times when you need to get away and you need it as bad as you need air.

When E’s Mom was living at the house, I took mini-Sabbaths often at Wal-Mart amidst the patio furniture. It’s a far cry from a pine forest or waves lapping against your feet, but hey, sometimes you have to take what’s readily available. At work I go outside just to hear the birds and maybe throw them some bread from my sandwich. Or I take a short walk and gaze up at the clouds to remind myself that it’s all still there. I find those times are crucial for my emotional and mental well-being.

I have always been attracted to the idea of praying the hours, the idea of taking a set time each day for prayer. To me, the morning and the evening are Holy and I feel I have missed something if I don’t get to see the sunrise or see His grand artwork in the sky at the close of day. When I first started having a regular prayer time, it usually went pretty much the same. I would start with praise, thanking Him for anything and everything that came to mind, then I would pray for specific needs of people for myself or others.

Now, I try to follow His leading more. Sometimes I ramble on and sometimes I sit in silence. Sometimes I just breathe and meditate on God’s goodness, and that is a prayer too. Sometimes I use my prayer language and sometimes, like Margaret, I use just a few words…..peace, or hope or sometimes just help! (I use that one a lot)

When I willingly get off the merry-go-round even for a moment, and get in tune with God’s rhythm I have found that something within me expands…….the world gets smaller and He gets bigger.

If I can, I extend my prayer time by a morning walk. I have always been a nature girl with my ear to the ground waiting to learn the secrets God reveals through what He has made. The desert captures you slowly. You resist at first seeing only the thorny plants, the relentless heat, but then the desert blooms and the lightning strikes and wonder abounds.

It speaks to those who listen. All of nature does. It holds mysteries that only God knows the answers to. How the Cactus wren can land and live in the giant Saguaros without getting impaled is beyond me. Each time I see them land, I almost want to close my eyes. But God has shown them just how to do it.

Dawn Chorus

These quail babies at 4 days old are totally out of the nest and on their feet following Mama……I have seen as many as eight!

Water and the Word.....

And this mourning dove I saw when I took my walk early one morning, safely nesting between the barbs of this cactus, God knows she will be safe there from predators. She looked out at me calmly serene in her surroundings, at peace as I strolled on by.

Finding God in the Desert

Observing the wonder of God’s creation is one way we can honor Him and in order to properly do that, we need to slow down long enough to see it. I love how Margaret Feinberg puts it:

Making time to pause isn’t just a holy opportunity but a divine command. Pg. 67

And when we follow God’s leading by making one day different from all the rest, we enter into His rest and then we see why it’s so important. We no longer think of the things we can’t do but the things we gain by taking a Sabbath. God wants it for us because it’s for our good. I am so grateful for Wonderstruck, because it has reminded me that living a life of wonder is really the only way to live.

Wonder is a way we can bring eternity right into the here and now.

Sometimes you have to slow to a stop and reset before you can experience divine presence, my hunger to know God increased as I learned how to develop a healthy rhythm in life and rediscovered the wonder of rest. Margaret Feinberg

Wonder in the Middle


Wonderstruck book club series: Chapters 002,003

It was a question that knocked me off kilter.”Why is God doing this to me?” her eyes were imploring and pain-filled and my words felt puny and unconvincing. “God is not doing anything to you,” I insisted, “He doesn’t work like that.” But my answer felt ineffectual and echoed back hollow.

Sometimes it seems as soon as you are just starting to get relief in one area, something else happens and you’re right back where you started.

The truth is, when you are in pain, it does feel like God’s punishing you. Even if you know deep down He’s really not.

Just about everyone in my circle is rolling in the tide of suffering from one thing or another right now and I feel helpless.

And yesterday, the weather mirrored how I felt, it was stormy and windy all day. The sky was thick with dust and outside was no place you wanted to be. I felt fatigued, restless and burdened. Flagpoles bending, windchimes clanging, rugs blown across driveways, everything askew.

There was a sliver of grace in the day. In one of our favorite spots E and I settled for some breakfast and tea. I told her I felt useless for not being able to answer her question the night before. “Oh,” she said, waving her hand across her face. “I didn’t expect you to really have an answer, I just needed to vent.” So we talked and laughed and sighed and watched people and drank 3 glasses of tea. But I know her, I can see the pain below the surface.

On and on, the wind howled. Dirt and dust collected and banked in the corners of the house like brown snow, and leaves and debris were everywhere, but there were clouds coming in. Back inside, I walked from window to window. I tried to read but nothing held my interest.

I dozed off thinking about wonder, and how to find it in a day like today. Sandwiched in between so much other stuff.

As afternoon turned into dusk, I heard the unmistakable ping of rain on the roof. I turned off all the lights and sat in my chair by the open window. I heard more drops. I went outside and stood in it…..It was grace, this rain. His grace, I knew it. It really started to come down and I felt myself smiling.

I went back to the chair as the healing drops fell, more and more they came like mercy from the sky. Sydney jumped up on my lap and together in the dark, we watched and listened and felt the wonder spilling down from the sky, and my tears fell along with it.

And I thought, that is just like God, showering wonder in the middle of the dirt and dust and chaos of life

And that is how it happens, in the midst of an ordinary day. When we live in realm and possibility of wonder, we recognize it when it shows up even in the midst of heartache. Maybe especially in the midst of heartache.

We sat and sat. I prayed, “More, God, More, God, I want more.” He answered me with a distant rumble of thunder.

Does it surprise you that He would answer that way? We are talking about a God who loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do for us,  so I don’t think a little rumble of thunder is too big of a stretch.

I said, “thank you thank you thank you.”

And here is another wonder, I had just been thinking of a certain Bible verse:

“And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

I was thinking of my own version, except adding dust to the mix and then ending with rain. I walked out to the kitchen and looked at the verse on the calendar, which I hadn’t turned over yet… guessed it, it was the verse from 1 Kings.

I looked at my phone and there was a text from my dear friend in Seattle and it said: “Hey, the sky finally came out and it made me think of you, love you, goodnight xoxox.”

I sent one back that said, ‘That is so funny, Sydney and I were just sitting in the dark listening to the healing rain and I thought of you, I love you.”  

He send us His wonder in the midst of an ordinary day, sometimes He disguises Himself in people.

Sometimes He shows up Himself.

Sometimes He sends rain.

But He still comes, and there is wonder in that.


The day I took my wonder back


I am so excited! Today is day #1 of the Wonderstruck book club blog posting. I am linking up with Duane Scott and Shelley Miller  and writing about the book once a week through May 8.

I have long been a student in the school of Wonder. My folks taught me at a young age to live with my eyes open and ears tuned to the beauty of God’s creation. We didn’t go to Disneyland when I was a kid, we went camping. When I read the first two Chapters of Margaret Feinberg’s book I was hooked. She had me at the Northern Lights, and Hobbits. But what do you do during those times when the worries and stress of life has squeezed the wonder right out of you?

What I do is pray. Then I go outside and let the wilderness speak for Him.

I tried to tell myself it wasn’t because of the snake that I hadn’t been to the trail this year. I tried to convince myself it was other things.

But I knew the truth.

In my mind’s eye I could still see it. Coiled there in the sun. Waiting for me to find it. Well, no it wasn’t, but that’s what it felt like. And then right after that we saw the rattler in the road and I remembered how fast it coiled when we slowly idled by. Gave us both the creeps.

The mountain had been calling me for weeks. Someone had told me the Superstitions were ablaze with color and I had decided, today was the day. I needed to hear the quail call minus the sound of the freeway in the background.

When I got there, several cars were already parked in the lot. Good, I thought. More people on the trail means more footfall to scare away the snakes. With camera bumping against my side, I headed out. The desert was ablaze with yellow flowers and for a moment I forgot my trepidation and clicked some photos.

I felt like God had graced the area with hundreds of bouquets just for me.

I took a deep healing breath and walked toward the trailhead. My heart was pounding even though I had scarcely begun walking let alone climbing.  I scanned the trail from side to side as I walked, eyes peeled for any movement. I jumped back at the sound of a harmless lizard scuttling through the brush. My eyes drank in the sights and sounds as I tried to erase that other sinister image burned into my brain.

Breaking into a trot, I figured if I made enough noise, the snakes would have warning and time to get out of my way. Or get really ticked off.  How stupid, I thought. That’s just what they hope to do to us with their clever rattles of theirs.

In times when I have been deeply distressed, nature has always been a way for me to find God again, to get back my balance, and I was tired of letting this fear win.

As I approached the place where I had seen it last year, I prayed for God to deliver me from my silly fear. I made up a mantra, “Damnsnake, Damnsnake, Damnsnake,” and I uttered it under my breath. Then I started to get mad at it all over again for robbing me of trail time this year. With head down and heart pounding, I soared up the mountain in what felt like super-human strength. I did it!

I felt a victory bubbling up in my heart. I even paused to take a photo to commemorate the spot as I felt my wonder come flooding back.

When I got to the midway point I rested on the bench. I felt exhilarated and free. Buoyed by my victory, I greeted fellow hikers and felt joy spill over me like a fountain. I had told myself that for this first time back, I wasn’t going to go all the way up to the top.

Now that I had it back, I simply had to go all the way.

On the way up to the top, I met an elderly man from Canada coming down. He held two walking sticks and was dressed in a dapper cotton plaid shirt and hiking shorts. There was a spark of Heavenly light in his eyes and it inspired me to see him out enjoying life, letting nothing stop him. I stopped and we talked about this and that, and then I went on my way and he went on his.

I thought to myself, this is catching, this wonder thing. And I thought, and not for the first time in my life:

Wonder is contagious, and it’s something we can pass on.

I sailed down the mountain, my spirits lifted to the heights of Heaven, my day transformed by wonder.

Smiled on by grace.