One Wednesday Night

Realm received a note the other day from a coworker who spent one Wednesday night with us months ago. This coworker—I’ll call him Alexander because I rarely get to call anyone Alexander, and I really like that name… What was I saying? Oh, yeah: So, Alexander doesn’t live here. He lives three states away. Realm, being the type of guy who doesn’t like to see another guy eating fried chicken from the grocery store deli or buying the very fresh and boring sandwich (call it a Panini or what you will, it’s still a sandwich), invited Alexander over to eat at our house.

I didn’t know very much about him when Realm invited him over but that he was from out-of-town and that he was on a diet similar to Realm’s: fresh veggies, low carbs, no sugar. He walked into the kitchen to greet me, and he was very polite. I was very nervous about what I was serving. It was my third week of making low carb dishes. I hoped the honey in my honey-mustard sauce drizzled over the baked ham wouldn’t be too bad of a diet no-no. Then I hoped my ham wasn’t a no-no! There are some religious groups, like Seventh-Day Adventists, who don’t do pork. Basically, I worried my way through the entire meal, even after he complimented me on the food.

That night, when we left the house for Bible study, Alexander rode with us. My kids fought over who would sit by him. I don’t know much about Alexander’s beliefs, but he told Realm afterward that he’d enjoyed the study.

In the weeks that followed, the kids asked repeatedly whether he’d be back to eat with us again. “He should come over on Sunday and eat, too. Then he could go to worship services with us two times!” my daughter said. I think she thought this was an offer that couldn’t be refused. But Alexander had to go back home, and he slipped out of our thoughts for a bit.

Recently, Realm learned Alexander was returning to town. He sent him a message that he should come over again for supper, that the kids had asked about him, and he hoped his work was going well. As it ended up, Alexander’s business trip was canceled. He messaged Realm, and this was one of the things he said about coming to our house that night:

“That will go down in history as one of the highlights in my life.”

Realm showed his message to me and had to explain it because I thought it was a strange joke when I read it. It completely flummoxed me. That night I’d been super nervous about whether my food worked with the diet, while Alexander wasn’t even looking at that. He was seeing our family gathered around a table, talking and laughing. He was watching us put away stuff quickly, grab our Bibles, and pile into the van. He was listening to us carry on various conversations on our way to the church building—little, insignificant thoughts and silly fights, I thought. But they were great big clues because they exposed our closeness, our regular communication, our peace.

THE WAYNE GIPSON FAMILY SAYS A PRAYER BEFORE T...
THE WAYNE GIPSON FAMILY SAYS A PRAYER BEFORE THEIR EVENING MEAL IN THE KITCHEN OF THEIR MODERN HOME NEAR GRUETLI… – NARA – 556611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t realize sometimes what I have. I didn’t realize it when I was growing up around our family table, where my father sat at the head and we bowed our heads in prayer. The blessing of family comes from God. It is a blessing that is distorted when God is taken out of the center of it. It is a quiet haven that is destroyed when God’s words of kindness, real love, and commitment are ignored.

Alexander is divorced. His kids are almost grown, and he doesn’t get to see them often. There’s a part of him that craves the haven of home. We only have one life. That’s it. Don’t miss the haven. Even if you’ve missed it here, don’t miss the eternal haven with God. Seek Him. Pray to Him. He invites you to His table. Accept His invitation, and He will take you home with Him forever.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
– Luke 15:17-26a

7 Rules of Eticake is Here!

“When you’re down and out; when you’re on the street.”* Okay, I’m not on the street, but I’ve been down and out for a couple of weeks. This week is looking up. It doesn’t hurt that the project I told you about waaaay back in June surfaced. Something like this just makes a writer happy, happy, happy. You know?

The Project: I was hired to write a video script in April advertising Cake Theater.

The Actors: Youtube comedy team, Blimey Cow.

The Perimeters: The script needed to speak to cake decorators, be humorous, and subtly promote the Cake Theater website. And, of course, it needed to fit Blimey Cow’s style.

The Research: I read a myriad of cake decorator rants, exploring the documented dos and don’ts, wills and won’ts. (There are actually a good many of these online.) Then I picked the brains of local cake decorators for insight. Honestly, the stuff these cake decorators go through is insane!

So, for your viewing pleasure…(insert drum roll here)

without further ado…

or further adon’t (wow, that was bad)…

Cake Theater’s 7 Rules of Eticake!

So, what did I learn from this project?

1. Appreciate the person who makes the cakes. Seriously, if you think that video was exaggerating about customers’ requests, you’d be surprised.

2. Unless you have some knowledge of cake-decorating, this video really doesn’t relate outside of the cake-making sphere. Like, what is the pink hands comment all about, right? Well, red frosting dye can stain hands for an average of three days. And, for some reason, everybody wants some form of red decoration on their cake, regardless of toxic dye issues and allergies. Red is just a great color for cake.

And 3. If you think Jordan is a little intense and his eyebrows have a tendency to cause a bad case of seasickness, I know. I watched many of his videos to get a feel for how to write the script, so… I know.

*Lyrics to Bridge Over Troubled Water

Me, at Odds with…Me

For three weeks I haven’t looked at my manuscript. It wasn’t a planned hiatus. That’s a sign that something is definitely out of kilter. My racing thoughts are back, I’m not sleeping, and my poor, poor Realm has had to listen to me blubber about all the insane, second-guess worries that pop into my head and grow to incredible proportions. It’s been a gradual discovery over the past three weeks, as I’ve weaned off what I’ve been on for seven months. Controlling what feels like my brain on hives isn’t purely a physical exercise. I exhaust my body and my mood by trying to ‘lift’ the tendency of my racing thoughts, redirect them, step back from them and see I’ve lost focus, etc. all day and late into the night. It’s not productive. There may come a time when I don’t have the option, but right now I have the means of slowing down the misfires in my head. I’m going to take it.

I’m not going to lie: This is a very disappointing discovery. I want to do this without medication. I want to treat it with exercise and healthy eating and meditation, with prayer (and lots of it!) and patience and mature reasoning. I don’t drink or smoke. I have a super supportive family. I’ve been doing everything I know to do.

Heart surgery at the Clinical Center
Heart surgery at the Clinical Center (Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Library)

It’s a clinical issue, like a stone-filled gall bladder or hearing loss. I’ve got to accept that. I’ve got to accept the medicine, as well, because it’s clear God doesn’t work through miracles today. He works through the natural laws He designed and upholds. He works through physicians and nurses. He chooses a much more complex path to provide aids and solutions that make illnesses, diseases, and disorders manageable in our world of entropy. Well, maybe it’s complex to me. Not for Him.

I accept surgery. I accept hearing aids. I’m having a hard time accepting this because it’s something I can’t explain. When did it start? When did it become too much to handle? Could it go away? Is it the result of something in the food I eat? The water I drink? Hey, wait! What about the antiperspirant I use or the shampoo I wash my hair with? Can’t I find a natural remedy for it, take an herbal supplement or drink some kind of medicinal tea? I’ve asked all of these questions and so many more, researched my options, gradually made changes, and seen no improvements. Yet, the medicine works. I don’t like that I’m reliant on a pill, but it works.

Pill tablet
Pill tablet (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

So, now you know where I am right now, and why you’ve heard nothing from me in the comments of your posts lately. I’m frustrated with myself, and I might take that out on you unintentionally. So I don’t comment. I ask for your patience while I sort this out. And you know I can use encouragement, if you have any you can give.

The Romance of the Past

My mom and dad are going to Ireland for their anniversary. I’m so excited for them! It’s always been my mom’s dream to visit Ireland. Her mom’s father left Ireland to come to America. He never wanted to go back. My grandmother never wanted to visit Ireland. In fact, when she found out my mom was going on this trip, she asked, “Why?”

[Cave Hill. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland] (LOC)
[Cave Hill. Belfast. County Antrim, Ireland] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
My grandmother moved in with my parents over a year ago; so when I went home in June, I sat down beside her and asked her to tell me what it was like when she was growing up. Her childhood was influenced by the Great Depression. She found ways to save money and get by, like learning to sew stockings with the same colored thread so that no one could tell where the tear had been.

My grandmother’s recollections have been softened over the years. I think that’s why my mom and I have romanticized the prospect of Mom’s return to the place her grandfather gave up. “Just to see it,” she says. I hope she won’t be disappointed. I don’t think she will. She’s a down-to-earth type, really.

When I was a teen, I sent this poem to my grandmother because I’ve always enjoyed curling up beside her and requesting:

Tell me a story, Grandma, dear
About your youthful past;
About the wisdom you have learned
From beginning to last.

Tell me a story, Grandma, dear;
That happened years before;
When one man left his heritage
In hopes of something more.

Tell me a story, Grandma, dear;
Please let it all be true;
So I can tell my own young ones
My stories about you.

P.S. It is my grandma’s fervent prayer that my mom and dad won’t get killed for not being Catholic.