I am thankful for friends, because they make my life sweeter! A couple of weeks ago, I asked God for a houseful of guests for a Thanksgiving meal, and boy, did He deliver! I stood in my foyer adjoining my dining room, and asked God to fill it up all the way to the wall with people. See the stair railing? That’s the wall that I pointed to to ask God to fill it up to that point. Do you see my dad sitting with his back against that wall? That was God who was responsible for that.

Fast-forward: Thanksgiving afternoon. The table is set with 18 places, and the doorbell rings: Two more! We have to add a card table, extending it all the way to the wall I had pointed to when I asked God for it! We scrambled for a couple more forks & plates.


This is half of us; there were 20 people sitting at the table (actually, 3 tables smashed together).  Most of these people had never met before today; they represent all the people I could find who would otherwise be alone for Thanksgiving. They joined me and my parents and my kids. Isn’t it cool how comfortable they are with each other?

I’m going to count my blessings:

1. Two of the folks exchanged phone numbers because they discovered that they lived near each other, and had common interests!

2. The two teenagers said, “Cool! We’re going to play games!”

3. My kids had a nice time, even though their house was flooded with people they didn’t know previously.

4. My new daughter-in-law enjoyed herself, and participated in the introduce-your-new-friend game!

5. New smiles on faces.



More Kid Stories

I see a 3-year-old boy with Down syndrome for speech therapy. For a very long time, he had no words, so he communicated by crying and whining, mostly. I diligently tried to keep his attention as I taught him the baby signs for “dog”, “car”, “drink”, “ball”, “rain”, “helicopter”. All important words for little ones.

I didn’t think he was paying attention until one day I showed up for therapy, and his mom told me this story:

The little fella’s grandma visited for the weekend during a torrential rain storm. Florida has some scary-loud thunderstorms with dramatic lightening shows. Grandma saw the little fella crying and raising his hands up and lowering them straight down. His mom realized he was saying “rain” in baby sign because that was what was making him cry.

That reminds me of another little girl that I see for speech therapy. She had 30 words in her repertoire, all baby signs, before she spoke her first word. Her mom told me that at a routine doctor’s appointment, the little 2-year-old girl cried and cried, and produced the baby sign for “boo-boo”. She was afraid that the doctor would hurt her.

This little guy is saying “help”.

This gal is saying “please” or maybe “I’m sorry.” I’m not sure which. By the look on her face, I’m guessing she’s saying “please.”


Twin Switcheraoo

I got tricked by a 3-year-old. It starts young; or maybe I’m getting old. I see a little princess for speech therapy. She is adorable, and precocious, and her mother dresses her and braids her to the 9’s every day. And, to make things hard for the rest of the world, her mom dresses her and her twin sister exactly the same. As far as I can see, the ONLY difference between these girls is that one speaks less clearly than her sister. Enter me. Enter speech therapy.

Photograph of eight month old fraternal twin e...

Now, you have to understand that every other child in the daycare (whichever daycare I go to) wishes that they could be the one chosen to go with Ms. Kathy for speech therapy. Because it looks like fun! So, when Twin B had had just about enough of her sister always being the chosen one, she decided to take matters into her own hands. When she saw me coming, she ran up to me in her 3-year-oldness and announced to me that she was ready to go with me.

Another thing you have to understand is that I can never, ever tell the difference between these girls. They are identical in the extreme. So my tactic is to stand at the door and wait for the right twin to come to me. Then I say her name, and take her by the hand to do a speech therapy session.

So this day when Twin B stood by the door and announced that she was ready to go, I grabbed her hand and proceeded to take her down the hall. She was looking a little suspicious, so I was on alert. I grilled her with questions such as, “What’s your sister’s name?” She was supreme in her ruse. She answered with her own name to the question.

The therapy session commenced. I thought: hmmmm. Her speech is sounding good today! Am I an excellent therapist? Or is this girl tricking me. The session went on. I snuck in a few more questions to see if I could trip her up. Not so. She was good. She even queried me about the bubble gum in my bag. She knew about my gum. Was that first-hand information, or had she heard about the gum from the real therapy patient?


The session went on. And then she choked. She let this comment slip: “Does (Twin A) do these words?”

I grabbed that girl by the hand and marched her back to her classroom. I exasperated to the teachers: “I’VE GOT THE WRONG TWIN!” They clutched their sides and laughed as hard as I’d ever heard them laugh. I grabbed Twin A by the hand and completed the therapy session with her.

I told her mom this story on the phone this morning, and we had a laugh together.


Well Done…….

A man got to hear the words that lots of us long to hear: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I’m positive that Mike got to hear the words. He went to meet God in person last week. I’d like to tell you about my friend/mentor/pastor, Mike Hill. I babysat his son; he was our neighbor; he took the youth group on a trip to Cade’s Cove; he gave me pre-marital counseling; he told me You can divorce someone, but you can never unmarry them. He got his doctorate, and refused to let anyone, and I mean anyone, call him Dr. Hill. After he moved away, he flew back from his new home in North Carolina to perform my sister’s wedding ceremony.

Mike’s impact on me was and is powerful. When I sign my e-mails “Blessings on you”, I’m quoting Mike. On Sunday mornings, before he gave a powerful exegesis of Scripture to the grown-ups, he would sit his 6’6” frame on the steps and invite the children to join him. His boy, David, would hurry to get the place right beside his dad. I can still see David sitting by his dad’s knee, barely taller than that knee with the long black robe draped over it. And Mike would tell the kids a story; as they went back to their pews, Mike would look at them with unadulterated love, and say, “Blessings on You.” If you know anyone from the country part of North Carolina, you’ll know how it sounded when Mike said it, with the vowels stretched out for miles and the consonants sonorous, and the emphasis on unexpected syllables.

Mike showed me that same kind of love. When I was a high school student, he appointed me to be the youth participant on the search committee for a new senior pastor (Mike was assistant pastor). When I went to Mike for advice on serious matters, he took lots of time with me and gave me sage advice that stays with me to this day. He gave the commencement address at my High School graduation. When I met a friend of another religion, and my mother panicked that I might convert, Mike xeroxed a book by R.C. Sproul and mailed it to me in Germany.

And I can still remember snippets of his sermons. I remember one take-home liner: “Christians are  dirty, rusty signposts pointing to God.” I also remember the time he talked about his wife; I was struck by the honor and love he showed her publicly when he said, “She is the best listener I have ever met.”  I remember driving behind them one day and my mom pointing out that Connie was telling him a story and using both of her hands to explain.

I do think that he’s received God’s blessings in person because I knew Mike not only in his public role as pastor, but also I received personal counseling from him, and I spent time in his home. I’m grateful for you sharing, Mike. I’m stunned that you had to leave us so soon.

He Saved Me From Drowning


Today is Sunday. Guess where I was this morning? I was at Real Church. Normally, I sit in the pew and listen to the good news. Today, the folks participated in Real Church: we,  who normally sit in the pews went out into the community went out to tell other people the good news. We got to pick our team. I went with the team that did yard work—hooray! Another chance to get outside and make things beautiful! We weeded, power washed, raked & trimmed the Christian Study Center, a renovated house that serves as a study place/coffee shop for university students.

Before we left to meet at our site, we were given our marching orders: The message was that we are stepping out and making a permanent decision to do what we were meant to do. Each team was given a permanent marker, and invited to write our inspiration on our shirts.  Bob sat beside me, told me what he wanted written on his shirt. I penned “I’m Stepping Out” on the back of his shirt.  I had him write on mine the sentiment that I have about what Jesus did for me when I was underwater with sadness.
Some other teams helped develop curriculum for tutoring, fixing tiger cages for a woman who rescues animals, pray for the persecuted Christians, build a handicap ramp at someone’s house, and some of the teams prepared and served meals to the folks who were doing manual labor.

I can’t end this with what sounds like a pat on the back for the people here. The glory goes to God. His Creation is beautiful, and His love is forever. I’m thankful for Him, and I was honored to serve him this morning.


I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hearing cliches.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Whatever. What goes around comes around. What does that even mean?!? I wonder if we use cliche phrases to avoid feeling pain. But pain is still there. Words can’t make pain/anxiety/angst go away. So I for one intend to look pain/anxiety/angst right in the face and deal with it!

I’m not saying that I like pain. I hate the nasty stuff. But I will tell you this: I drove from my divorce hearing straight to the beach and cried into the waves. I sat there as long as I felt like, crying out loud. I didn’t run any quaint or comforting phrases through my mind. I just cried and cried and cried. In fact, I didn’t really do any self-talk at all on that 5-hour round trip drive. I just cried. I went through most of a box of Kleenex. It was cathartic. And I look back at that time, and I’m glad that I did it. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was a time that I can look on and say: Yeah, I went through that, and now I’m here on the other side.

I appreciate Ramon Presson, who also hates cliches. I borrowed all of the lemon quotes from his blog: He is the author of the book “When Will My Life Not Suck?”

When life gives you lemons…stick some firecrackers in ‘em and blow them all to heck!

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon.

When life gives you lemons…insert them into the tailpipe of your boss’s car.

When life hands you lemons…ask, “Does this come with fries?”

When life gives you lemons…re-gift them. (You know you’ve got someone in mind.)

When life hands you lemons…jump up and down, scream, and act like a crazed person who just won a new car on “The Price is Right.” Life will be afraid to bring you lemons ever again.

When life gives you lemons, hold them like a split finger fastball and throw them back at life’s head.

Pair of lemons-cropped

When life hands you lemons…hand them back and say, “I ordered a daiquiri.”

When life gives you lemons…paint them like grenades, duct tape them to your chest, walk into Starbucks and say to the barista, “I want a venti skinny pumpkin spice latte and I WANT IT NOW!!!”

Still Life with Lemons

Book Review

Yesterday at the gym I finished reading a book called When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You by David Hawkins. Guess what I learned? I learned that sure enough, I DID contribute to the sickness of my marriage! Huh……all those times since my divorce, when I piously said, ‘I admit that I was complicit in the breakdown of my marriage’, but I didn’t really mean it because I didn’t see what I did wrong except putting up with so much garbage for so long. Well, what a comeuppance I had with this book! As it turns out, all the times that I didn’t cry “foul”, and all the times I told the kids ‘Your dad works hard, and so that’s why he’s so __________’ (fill in the blank with whatever adjective comes to mind: distracted, tired, grumpy, busy with other things, etc. ). Every time I said something like that, I was encouraging a controlling person to further belittle, abandon, and emotionally abuse me. In fact, it was an invitation for him to continue in that vein.

Here’s the other shocking thing that I learned about myself. Buckle your seat belt, all you other co-dependents. I learned that I was controlling and manipulative. I had an idea in my mind of what a family should look like. Then, I set my mind on making that Norman Rockwellesque picture appear at my dining room table. And if someone didn’t comply with my picture, I pretended that he did, and I made excuses for him. What a crock I was. And all the while, I was patting myself on the back for what a Good Wifey I was, and what Well Mannered Children I had (what a Good Mother!), and what a Good Cook I was. See how I manipulated and controlled?! And that was just part of my dysfunctional, co-dependent way.

The book talks about all kinds of relationships that the co-dependent finds herself buried in. Like the co-worker who asks for “just one more favor”. (Kathy: remember returning from a weekend oration competition , when everyone was exhausted, and walking through the line in a restaurant, and that one “friend” said she was too exhausted to get her own food, and you got it for her? Why didn’t you speak up for yourself and tell her that you were as tired as she was?). Dr. Hawkins in his book talks about relationships at church, where 10% of the people do 90% of the work, and they do it because they feel that they’re doing the Lord’s work. (Thank you, Mom. I always am grateful that you sat in the pew with us when we were little, and waited until we were older to sing in the choir and become an elder. I escaped this particular co-dependent tendency due to your good example.) And Hawkins talks about friendships, and how co-dependent people can be chewed up and spit out for the benefit of others. While I’ve quickly shed friends who take advantage of others, I do have the tendency to help others and never, ever ask other people for help from them. The way I neglect myself in order to help others is a co-dependent tendency. Well, actually, that used to be the way I was. This evening, I invited a friend to dinner at Chop Stix, and then I lingered to listen to a man in the mall play Cat Stevens. I shed my “what will others think of me” and my “maybe I look like a fool” and my “I should probably hurry home” and just sang along with the keyboard player/singer.

Here’s the happy ending of this story: I’m learning to be myself, and not sweat it when other people are messy or uncoordinated or dysfunctional. I just sit back and let them be. It’s a very freeing, lovely way to enjoy the company of others. In fact, I am becoming more the person that I want to be. I posted (in a Martin Luther at Wittenburg sort of a way, but with tape, not a nail, and on my kitchen cabinet, not on my doorpost) my declaration of what had previously been wrong, and what I had been complicit with in my now-ex in-laws:

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the things that will NOT be allowed in my house: (taken from page 21: thank you, Dr. Hawkins). They are the tendencies of a co-dependent family:

1. Don’t feel or talk about feelings.

2. Don’t think.

3. Don’t identify, talk about, or solve problems.

4. Don’t be who you are–be good, right, strong, and perfect.

5. Don’t be selfish–take care of others and neglect yourself.

6. Don’t have fun–don’t be silly or enjoy life.

7. Don’t be vulnerable.

8. Don’t be direct.

9. Don’t get close to people.

10. Don’t grow, change, or do anything to rock this family’s boat!

It’s only through seeing clearly what is wrong that we can fix it. So, I’ve identified (with the help of this book) what was wrong with the way things were done in the  past, and I’m crying “FOUL!” and not allowing it in my future!!! Oh, happy, silly, vulnerable, direct, close & loving, growing, rock-the-boat day!!!!