Sneaky Flu

Ruby’s got the flu. I’m home with her at least today and maybe tomorrow, as Jonathon’s out of town.

She came downstairs Sunday morning, flushed and shaking.

“Mom, I don’t feel good,” she said, breathless. She’d gotten home the day before from a two-day long youth convention in Portland. The combination of too little sleep and junk food meals did her in.

I quickly wrapped her up on the couch. She already suspected she had a temperature, because she held the thermometer in one hot hand. The thermometer beeped almost immediately: 100.6 degrees.

“Okay,” I said. “You’re staying home with me.” I didn’t have any church obligations, and even if I did, most likely whatever instrument Jonathon was scheduled to play would trump my back-up vocals.

I grabbed some Dayquil from upstairs, thinking it might give her relief from the fever and sore throat. But she threw it up. And threw up again later. I asked her if she wanted to go back to bed. I’d be here to take care of her.

“Can I just sleep on the couch?”

Sure. Pick a couch. We have six.

She parked herself, a huddled, barely sentient lump, on the purple couch in front of the TV. I left her alone. I had vacuumed that room early in the morning. I’m glad I did now. I checked in on her, added a blanket. After a few hours, we tried some water. She kept it down. Then, tea. She groaned now and then. Her stomach still roiled. She fell asleep at one point. I think that helped immensely. Her temp peaked at over 102 degrees.

She never ate any solid food. I ran a hot bath for her and got her into bed, this time with Nyquil. She woke up a bit better today. She drank tea, even put milk in it herself. She ate a bit of toast and cut up mango.

I don’t like it when one of the kids is sick. I imagine most parents don’t. We wish we could take it on ourselves instead. We know we’ll recover; we only have to wait it out. But maybe that’s something we should let our kids learn on their own. It’s part of growing up. We’ve already rooked them out of experiencing chicken pox, measles and mumps. I had all of those as a child. They helped me to learn that I can get really, really sick and still recover. Healing is possible. God designed our bodies to function in amazing ways. We have immune systems that we can enhance for greater, faster recovery. We can play a part in our healing, but ultimately, God does the work.

So, in a way, I get a front row seat to a small miracle with my girl. She’s already laughing a little and voicing her preferences again. We’ll keep her and ourselves quarantined until the ick passes. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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When Dreams Attack

I know I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been reintegrating into regular life and applying for jobs and, and, and. But I need to write. It’s a part of me. Every time I try to get away, I find myself missing it. It’s one of the tethers in this world, at least for me.

I found Ruby sitting on a couch in the rotunda the other morning. She was crying.

“What’s wrong, baby girl?” I asked. I sat down next to her and hugged her.

“I dreamt that Chloe died,” she sniffled.

Uh oh.

“Oh, I’m sorry. But she’s fine.”

I pointed out the black Muppet cat, curled at her feet. Ruby nodded.

“I wanted to make a blanket out of her fur.”


“So I cut off her head.”


She started sobbing.

“Then I saw her ghost.”

OK. Now what, God? I breathed in and out, holding her. I decided to ignore the ghost comment.

“Ruby, do you really want to make a blanket out of Chloe’s fur?”

I looked down at the long, luxurious fur on the most mellow cat in Christendom. It is very soft and touchable, yet manages to get everywhere. It has always reminded me of

troll doll

But she doesn’t need to know that.

“Well, I want to keep her around. I don’t want her to die.”

Folks, I believe this is how taxidermy on household pets got started.

“Chloe won’t live forever. And I’m sure you’d never cut off her head. Let’s enjoy her while we have her. God gave you the sweetest cat. There will never be another Chloe.”

Isn’t that what we all need to be doing, appreciating where we are, when we are, and who we’re with? Tomorrow is not promised.

Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die.  – Psalm 103:15

I hugged Ruby a little closer and smiled at Chloe. I swear Chloe smiled back.

Ruby & Chloe





Do It Scared

stud earrings

We told Ruby when she got to the halfway point between her and her cousin/BFF’s birthdays, she could get her ears pierced. She got excited. Us moms and daughters went to the mall to do it this past Saturday.

We gazed at the display of stud choices. I almost choked when I heard the man made birthstone ones were $55. What?! We gently steered the girls towards the lower-priced options. Still sparkly, just less out of our wallets.

My niece Joy, a brave girl with darling dimples, sat on the raised purple stool. The clerk, a girl sporting a blonde bob with pink highlights, marked her ears’ future holes with a purple pen. Joy smiled out at us.

The clerk clipped one ear, leaving behind a glittery cross. A cloud passed over Joy’s face, then the sun shone again. The clerk finished her work and stepped back.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Joy said.

Ruby’s turn. She sat in the chair and shivered. The clerk tried to dot Ruby’s ears. Ruby hunched her shoulders, protecting herself.

“Hon, you need to sit still.” The clerk did her best to corral Ruby. Ruby wasn’t having any of it. She flailed. She panicked. She slipped out of the chair, dejected.

We took a walk around the mall. Ruby kept her head down, frown on her face. Ruby never got the guts to sit back in the chair. I didn’t want to pressure her into it. Getting your ears pierced is optional, as far as I know. I didn’t do it until I was 13.

I asked Ruby how she was doing. I wanted to know how I could help. I’d encouraged, talked about not psyching herself out by thinking about it too much, etc. I’d prayed, too.

“I’m disappointed in myself,” she said. Her eyes mirrored her sadness.

Ah. That’s the worst feeling. I told her about how I’ve run races and not done well. I’ve stood up to play flute solos and sat down again, unhappy with my performance. But you get up and do it anyway. You don’t give up. You think about how pleased you’ll feel once you accomplish your goal. You push through.

“In fact,” I said, “you do it scared. I used to tremble all over when I played. So much so that my lips would quiver. Then I would get mad. You can’t play well if your lips are moving all over the place. But you keep on and do your best. It’s alright to be afraid. That’s what bravery is.”

She considered this.

So when we went to the mall two days later, she sat in the chair. For a minute. Yes, we took another trip around the stores to help her gather courage, this time with purple dots on her ears as a precursor of things to come. Did it help that a 4-month-old baby got her ears pierced right in front of Ruby? No. Really didn’t. But Ruby did it. She sat there, tears falling down her cheeks, but she got the piercing.

“Did it hurt?” I asked as she wiped her eyes.

“Yes,” she said.

The hurt fades, in time. Yet the satisfaction of looking your fear in the eye and staring it down remains. We never outgrow the need to fight some kind of fear. I put on my running shoes this morning and ran outside for the first time in two weeks. My foot feels better. It’s time to move on. I have to stare down my fear, too. Let the satisfaction of besting fear fuel the next dream.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10





College Girl

college bound

Ruby ate her cereal. I ate my eggs, avocado and half of an everything bagel. With butter. Take that.

“Mom, can I skip college and do it later?”

Ruby looked up at me over her spoon.

“What will you do instead?” I asked. It’s early days for these conversations. She’s just 10 years old. But we talk about college with Zac pretty regularly, as it’s on his horizon now.

“Move into a house,” she told me.

“With what money?” I asked. Better to get the facts out now rather than later. Daddy Warbucks won’t step in, my dear.

“You mean, I need to work at a job to make money?” Ruby sounded incredulous. I guess putting the two together had never occurred to her for her own life.

“Yes. That’s why most people work. You will need to do the same.” Mean Mommy!

“Well…what is college like?”

I told her about college.  She could spread her wings as an adult and find great adventures with new people in new places. If she went away to school, which I highly recommend, she would need to go to class, pay for room and board, and tuition as well as books. Or she could live at home while going to class, then come home and sleep in her own bed.

“I want to do that last one,” she said quickly, a smile lighting up her face.

“Once you figure out what you want to be when you grow up, it’ll be easier to decide where to go to school. You can get scholarships, too, if you get good grades. That means you’ll pay less for college.” Hey, plant that seed.

I told her I met my best friend in college. She now lives in Minnesota, but she’s been there for me when I cried and to encourage me. It’s my privilege to do the same for her. I met Jonathon at college.

“If I hadn’t gone to Bethany, I never would have met your dad,” I said.

Ruby’s eyes got wide.

“I never would have been born!” she said.

Daylight’s beginning to glimmer, I thought. I smiled to myself.

“We wouldn’t have Rex or Chloe, either,” she added.

Okay. Probably not, but less important.

“Or Zac,” I reminded her. Priorities land in strange places when you’re a kid, I reckon. Felines can edge out brothers.

She moved on to other things, like listening to music and doing her daily chore. As I rinsed my dishes, I mulled over the conversation. Life has a funny way of forcing us to make choices. We all grow up, little by little, whether we want to or not. Peter Pan is a fairy tale. Responsibility comes calling, and moves in. The best we can do is pray and talk to our kids, and hope they learn from our successes as well as failures.

My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. – Proverbs 6:20




Ruby came downstairs this morning with a frown on her face. I had already done a 2-mile speed workout on the treadmill, showered and dressed.

“I woke up too early,” she sighed.

You woke up early?! Ahem.

We ate our breakfast of scrambled eggs and half a pizza bagel in front of the gas fireplace. The orange flames warmed our faces.  We chatted about Chloe and school and church.

“We don’t do the song ‘Wake’ anymore.  I miss it,” Ruby said.

I understood that.  It’s catchy. I explained that we cycle through worship songs.  “Wake” kinda had a short shelf life.  It makes a random cameo appearance now and again. But, in the spirit of Tuesday, and back to work and school and responsibilities, I found it on and, well, one thing let to another…

We had an impromptu dance party in the kitchen, flailing around like headless chickens. I can neither confirm nor deny whether twerking took place at 7:23 a.m. this morning. We grinned at each other. Waking up can be fun.