Saturday, August 23, 2008

The things we carry

Yesterday Denis and I were on our way to Birmingham. He’s doing a weekend conference at Faith Presbyterian. I’m along to set up our…nevermind.

I got my favorite Swiss army knife confiscated by airport security. The TSA guy nodded, almost apologetic, (disarming me for the kill) telling me he’d need to look in my purse. First he pulled out my hand cream and said it was way over the ounce limit.

I did point out, “It’s not li-quid. It’s practically sol-id.” I could see that was stupid.

“Liquid, gels, aerosols, three ounces or less,” was all he said.

“So, just pitch it.”I should have made everyone wait until I applied all of it. But it was that oatmeal stuff with no fragrance, no additives, very boring.

I did have my favorite water bottle from a Bloomberg friend, which I pointed out with some hostility, was EMPTY. (I planned to fill it at a fountain.)

He then asked, like they ask criminals on the Cops program, was there anything else in my purse that he should be aware of and suddenly I recognized this very, very unfair question by which he would condemn me. So, I don’t know if he believed my “Oops, I think I forgot I have a knife.”

He raised one eyebrow, reached in my purse and from some secret inner compartment instantly pulled out my Swiss Army Knife, and said, “I thought I saw something."

I’ve owned this for years. It is green and not only has blades and scissors, it has a pick for your teeth. I was about to cry, and he softened a little. He offered to let me take it back to our car, but we were dropped off… then he suggested I could go back to the ticket counter and see if they would let me put it in my checked luggage, but I saw out the window behind him, and the luggage cart was already loaded and the attendant was there getting ready to grand slam our suitcases onto the conveyor belt. (Rochester airport is small.) He then offered I could leave it at the business office and pick it up when I came back, but I knew about that. You think that service is free? Unfortunately, I’d already redeemed it once this summer – in Minneapolis when I was escorting my granddaughter to her gate and remembered just in time and took it to their business office window, signed papers in triplicate, and when I came back a short while later to claim it, they charged me $15.00!

I just was so sad. I stood there until someone nudged me, and then I said to the TSA guy, “Why don’t you keep it? It’s a sweet knife. Feel how nice it sits in your palm?”
I think in his heart he was tempted, but I know my knife is now rusting in some dumpster along with my hand cream and dozens of plastic water bottles.

So this morning we prayed, together, Denis and I. Not about the knife. That’s so little, I know. No, we prayed to see if we could leave behind some of the things we carry, to see if we could be here in Birmingham, and to see if God could use us by his grace, and could we bring some gift of loving God and finding glory in all he’s made for us to be.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


We went on a walk last evening and I said, “Let’s go down the alleys.”

Denis wondered, “Why?”

I say, “Well, so we can raid backyard gardens, tease pit bulls, and climb on little kids playhouses, what do you think? Because it’s more interesting than the street – that’s why.” Of course, I forgot we’d be passing Hollyhocks.

Every time we pass Hollyhocks, I promise you, every, every time, Denis says,
“I love Hollyhocks. I’ve always loved Hollyhocks. I’ve asked you again and again to plant them and you never have.”

I just roll my eyes and remind him ONE more time: “I DID plant them. The bugs ate them every year.” Man, could someone please get him a package of hollyhock seeds for his birthday, and he can plant them himself?

Actually, I don’t REALLY mind. I know he loves them because they remind him of his Grandma Haack who raised them when he was a little boy. She grew enormous hollyhocks, sort of matching her enormous love for her grandchildren. I remember the one time I met her, right after we were engaged, and she crushed me into her large, soft bosom. She smelled like peonies and fresh corn. We didn’t know she wouldn’t live much longer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

God's ill timing

Every so often I find encouragement in this man’s writings. There has been a rash of strange events and unexpected blows in the lives of friends, in our lives. Sometimes we feel bewildered, other times under siege, or even just plain tired. We need wisdom in such times. One of my favorite quotes:

O how ravishing and delectable a sight will it be to behold at one view the whole design of Providence, and the proper place and use of every single act, which we could not understand in this world! What Christ said to Peter is as applicable to some providences in which we are now concerned as it was to that particular action: ‘What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter’ (John 13. 7).

All the dark, intricate, puzzling providences at which we were sometimes amazed, which we could neither reconcile with the promise nor with each other, nay, which we so unjustly censured and bitterly bewailed, as if they had fallen out quite against our happiness, we shall then see to be to us, as the difficult passage through the wilderness was to Israel, ‘the right way to a city of habitation’
(Ps. 107.7).
- John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kitchen Done!

Pretty much. Yesterday Denis installed the track lighting above the sink. It only required one extra trip to the hardware store and only one twelve minute period when I stood on the counter silently holding up the track while he forced one piece to fit another. He was patient, only said one swearword, and I love the sunny, warm light on those old counters. All we have left is painting the cabinets. (We already did the one on the left.) When Kelly walked in the other day looked at the walls and said, Oh! Lilac! I corrected her: “NO. No. Soft gray. I don’t LIKE lilac. Please don’t say that.” Thanks to all for helping me keep the chimney exposed. However, Denis says, when it comes time to sell this house and move into assisted care, and buyers say “WHAT were you thinking?” you, who voted in favor, will need to come buy Toad Hall from us.