Saturday, June 28, 2014

Almost There... a house update

BEFORE pictures of our living room, gutted after Hurricane Sandy

AFTER (or during, getting close to finish)

Newly painted walls and new floor hidden under the paper

Keyra enjoys her new lookout post from a clean room

Our house is getting close to being finished. After all the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, we will soon have a new home. In the last few weeks, we have had Samaritan’s purse volunteers come from Illinois, California and Kentucky. Many of these special people have been to Long Beach more than once since the storm. Some saw the gutting stage and mountains of garbage around our town. Now they got to see it beautiful again, something that seemed impossible almost two years ago.

It seems very symbolic to me, reminding me of the day I asked Jesus into my life about twenty-six years ago—okay, now I sound old. God took my messed up heart and cleaned me, made me brand new. Every mistake I regretted was erased, painted over so I could shine for Him. Sometimes it’s good to look back at my “before” just as the pictures of our house help me appreciate the transformation.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Turning Pages

The best grandparents

Where did the years go?

Little fingers wiggle,
Tickle my hands,
As I turn the pages
To “Goodnight Moon.”
A gurgle, a hiccup, a yawn;
The moon, just as swollen as the one on the page,
Rests, high outside the baby blue checked curtains,
Suggests a story be told.
Lights off, I kiss his forehead
That glows in the moonlight.

Little fingers point
To the scariest of all
As I turn the pages
Of “Where the Wild Things Are.”
His legs bounce until
They can’t be stopped,
And he jumps to the floor
To show me his wildest monster dance;
A roar, a growl, a giggle.
“The moon is turning me into a werewolf,”
He says.
“Ooh…you better run to dreamland
Where it’s safe.”
Lights off,
I kiss his forehead that peeks out
From under a Cookie Monster quilt.

He balances the book
On bent knees,
Tucked toward his chest,
And turns the pages of
“The Graduation of Jake Moon.”
As I listen to him read,
We laugh at the funny scenes
We can see like a film;
He laughs as I dab my watery eyes
At the end of the chapter;

But it is a sad story
And deserves tears.
Lights off,
I kiss his forehead,
Hidden under too long bangs,
Like parting weeping willow branches.
Heavy eyelids beg to stay open,
But the room is dark
In the moon’s crescent light,
So I kiss his warm forehead,
Thankful for the moment.

Overnight, it seems,
Monster-size feet criss-cross
On the old oak coffee table
In between a monster-size glass of milk
And Oreos.
“The Outsiders” is open,
His favorite.  
The moon will sleep before my son,
So I sail blown kisses
Over the cover
And wish him goodnight.
Goodnight Son.

I save the books
That can’t be saved forever
To hold the moments
Before the end of days.


All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great shall be their peace.
Isaiah 54:13 NIV

Friday, June 6, 2014

Clean-up Duty

She calls me her best friend, always will be no matter who pats her belly, feeds her chicken, or plays tug of war. I am the official Bestie to this Yorkie. So…I get to deal with the good, the bad, the ugly. Some problems are too difficult for my little four-legged friend, Bella.

Mornings. To ease our morning rush routine, I resort to putting my friend outside on a leash tied to the fence; she can roam free but not too free, and I can pick up her little piles later, or let inclement weather take care of it. Backtrack two months…

Winter. This winter was unusually white here like most places. Poor Bella was up to her ears in snow and not too happy about her predicament. Since I was always the first to wake, I had to shovel a four square foot space to allow for Bella to run in circles, do her pre-business dance. She’d look at me, concerned, her eyes asking: “How can I find a good spot in this size space? Is this stuff ever going away?” I sympathized with my fine friend, but couldn’t totally relate. Eventually, she’d do her thing and hurry inside to share her snow with me. Since five AM was just too early to pick up piles, they remained hidden and gradually packed under new fallen snow layers…the positive side of unwanted weather.

Clean-up duty. I’m not talking the everyday walk-the-dog-with-bag-for-scooping-up-clean-up. I’m talking the real time-consuming jobs, like earlier today.  I glance out my kitchen window to check on my furry friend and watch her play her favorite sport of bark at anything that moves. She does have talent for being loud for her size. The snow is gone, so I can easily see where my Bella did her circles yesterday. From a distance, someone might think a piƱata had burst supplying the yard with open tootsie rolls.

Bella’s circles have grown into crazy figure eights. Back and forth, stop and squat. Nothing happens, and she repeats this new dance five times until she looks my way. Her eyes plead, “Can you do something to help me, please?” As she turns, I realize her new dilemma. A drooping piece of poo won’t fall; it dangles from under her tail. As I open the door to see how I may help Bella, she dashes inside, still hooked to her leash. Now some poo falls near my feet on the kitchen floor. I know she expects her best friend to help, but I scream and nudge her back outdoors. She does try to clean herself in the mud. Poor Bella. Now she’s filthy all over.

Totally disgusted. After I clean the kitchen floor mess, I let her back in to deal with her backside. I’m sure I’ve cleaned worse messes on my own children in the baby years, yet fur adds to the challenge of the task before me. Holding Bella’s collar, I wipe her with soapy paper towels as she tries to wiggle away. A bath might’ve helped, but I do have to get to work soon.

 A new solution.  I try to hide the scissors from Bella so she won’t panic as I cut the poo off with her long dirty fur. A tangled mess covers the floor. I snip as close as possible until her high pitched bark informs me I cut too close. Does she feel betrayed by her best friend? Why am I torturing her like this? I’m sorry, Bella, but trust me…I am the only member of this family who would go to this extent to help you. I admit her new hairstyle is amateur all the way. I hope to trim her front half to match her back half when I have time, if she lets me.

Even after the entire morning trauma, as I leave for work, I hear Bella crying for me from my mother-in-law’s porch. I know she’s saying, “Don’t go! Stay home with me!”

Revelation. As I bike to work, leaving the yelps behind, I think about God cleaning up my messes. Sometimes the sin clings as old habits surface. I run around in circles trying to shake it off in my own strength.  But He is patient, wanting to help me clean up. Jesus loves me as a best friend, giving His life to make me new. I can trust Him as He trims the refuse away.

My furry friend’s name has been changed to protect her privacy. 

Note:  This story was written for the writing challenge and won fourth place for the theme              "Besties."