“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…]

“So, How’s Your Weather?,” column for Tues., April 21, 2015

On a clear day, from where I sit, you can see forever.
Well, more or less.

My desk is wedged into a bay window of our home on a hill just outside Las Vegas. Facing west, it looks out across the desert and a patchwork quilt of subdivisions to a point at which civilization ends and the Spring Mountains rise up, rugged and majestic, reaching up to heaven.

I never get tired of this view. It changes throughout the day. As the sun makes its way across the sky, the hills and valleys and ridges in the mountains take turns lighting up and going dark, like actors on a stage sharing the spotlight. [Read more…]

“When There’s Nothing You Can ‘Do’ …” column for April 14, 2015

Have you ever wanted to do something for a friend who was hurting, but it seemed there was nothing you could do? What if you could lift the weight of the world, just a little, off her weary shoulders and carry it for her for a while? [Read more…]

“Shadow Dancing,” column for April 7, 2015

A funny thing happened to me recently. You probably wouldn’t give it a second thought, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

OK, I’ll just tell you. A man asked me to dance, and I turned him down. No big deal, right? Nothing to obsess about. So why am I obsessing? [Read more…]

“The Spring-Green Persistence of Life,” March 31, 2015

For me, two of the loveliest words in the English language are “Life persists.”

I happened on them years ago as a college freshman, sitting in the library on a gorgeous spring day, bored spitless, working on a history paper. I don’t recall what I was researching. Funny, isn’t it, the things we find while looking for something else? [Read more…]

“The Healing Magic of Stories,” column for March 24, 2015

Children are like sponges soaking up drops all around them, especially the drops you’d rather they not touch. But they are also excellent teachers.

My brother, blind from birth, taught me how to see the world, not just with my eyes, but with all my senses. He taught me other things, too, like how to be pig-headed and never confuse pickles with jalapeno peppers. [Read more…]