“The Gift of Being Human,” June 30, 2015

We all have a gift. We don’t go around bragging about it, unless it’s a gift for making people hate us. But we all do something a little better than most anyone else we know.

What about you? What’s your gift? What’s the thing you do that makes people smile and shake their heads in wonder? [Read more…]

“When Angels Dance,” column for June 23, 2015

What do you know about the day you were born? What’s the first sentence of the first chapter of the story of your life? Most of what I know about my birth (place, date, names, etc.) appears on my birth certificate.

Not the snowstorm. My dad told me about that. When he left the hospital after I was born, he said, he found his car buried in snow. It took hours to dig it out. He blamed me. When the angels heard I was born, he said, they were so happy they danced all the snow out of the clouds. [Read more…]

“Leaving It All on the Stage,” column for June 16, 2015

She came dancing out on stage looking like a woman who knows exactly who she is, in silver T-strap pumps and a neon-pink dress trimmed with a whole lot of sparkle and fringe that moved when she moved in all the right places.

I thought to myself, “I want that dress.” I might not wear it to church. But I’d definitely wear it on Saturday nights to stay home and watch TV. [Read more…]

“A Summer to Daydream,” column for June 9, 2015

Coming back from the post office, I drove past a school. The parking lot sat empty, the place looked abandoned, like a dry well waiting for the rain.

Summer vacation.

The thought made me smile. [Read more…]

“A Few Things our Children (and Grandchildren) Need to Know,” column for June 2, 2015

The mama quail leads her brood across my yard like a feathered drill team, a wee bit out of step. She clucks and fusses, crowing commands. Eight fuzzy, thumb-sized chicks dotter behind her on toothpick legs, running in circles like cartoon penguins trying their best to keep up.

One stops to peck the petals off the lantana. Suddenly, he realizes he’s been left behind and goes sprinting after her as if the grass is on fire and his life depends on following her lead.

Which, of course, it does. She’s his mother. There are things she needs to teach him, things he needs to know to survive. [Read more…]

“The Everlasting, Everpresent Transportability of Love,” May 26, 2015

The photo took my breath away: A little boy with a big grin, waving at the camera (hello or goodbye?) all dressed up in his first cap and gown. Randy, my oldest grandchild, graduated from preschool last week. I couldn’t be in California for the ceremony, so his mom sent me a photo.

I wish you could’ve seen him.

I wish I could’ve seen him, too.

When you get a chance to share a child’s rite of passage (even if it’s only one of many in his life) you shouldn’t pass it up. There will be other graduations in his future, but I was sorry to have to miss this one. [Read more…]

“I Am Nana, Hear Me Sneeze,” column for May 19, 2015

So I have a cold. It’s not like I didn’t ask for it.

After a few days in California with my kids and grandkids, I brought the cold home like a bad souvenir. The same thing happened four months ago, when Eleanor Rose was born. On that visit, I stayed for a month to play with Eleanor and her brothers, Randy, who is 4, and Wiley, who is 2, and their cousin, Henry, who is 3.

I wish you could’ve seen us. We had the kind of fun that is usually limited to frat houses and packs of wild dogs. [Read more…]

“This Messy Old World,” column for May 12, 2015

Have you ever noticed how some things seem to look a lot better on paper than in reality? Take, for example, life.

As a child, after my parents split up and my world fell apart and nothing seemed to be going my way, I sought refuge in a paper fantasy.

One day when I was 6 years old, visiting my dad, he took me to a store that sold newspapers and magazines and other fancy stuff. Then he told me to pick out anything I wanted, as long as it didn’t cost more than what he had in his wallet, which he opened wide to show me: A whopping five dollar bill.

Maybe it was my birthday. Or Christmas. Or Heaven. It felt like all three. I spent the next hour perusing every aisle, every rack, every shelf until finally, I found it, the perfect paper gift: [Read more…]

“The View from the Back Pew,” column for May 5, 2015

I hate to be late for church, especially as a visitor. If you come waltzing in late to church as a visitor, you might as well wave a sign that says, “I’m a potential new member who wants to pay off the mortgage on the parsonage, bring fried chicken to every social and rock crying babies in the nursery!”

Plus, you might get nabbed by some eager beaver usher who’ll drag you down front (back rows are hogged by the regulars) to sit under the preacher’s nose, where you’ll have to try to pay attention to the sermon instead of checking out what people are wearing. [Read more…]

“Making the Most of the Moments,” column for April 28, 2015

A week isn’t much, my mother would say, but it’s something.

Long ago, after college, I left the small Southern town where I grew up, to marry and rear three children and live my life in California of all places. (For years, I thought it was all one word, Californiaofallplaces.)
I’ve never regretted that decision. But I’ve often wished somehow I could’ve had both _ that I had not had to choose one place, one life, over the other.

Life is all about choices, isn’t it? [Read more…]