Living in the Pages of a Well Read Book

My father’s hands wore away the front and back covers of his Bible. The binding is cracked and if he were still around, I know that he’d eventually have it rebound. He took good care of his books. But I like it the way it is. If I’m not careful, the leather crumbles and sheds, so I’m careful. I always give it a kiss when I’m done reading it.

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I discovered this morning where the frayed ribbon bookmark was last laid within its pages and three small tattered pieces of paper sticking out from the bottom of it. I suppose it’s common to only read one section at a time, but Dad always read from four. I feel my heart swell as I realize they mark the last time he read his Bible, and the final time he had held it.

I carefully open the Book to each section—Ezra, Jonah, Luke and Jude—finding the last scripture he had read—appropriately, the Doxology from Jude. To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

I imagine Dad’s head bowed in thought. I’d often find him seated in his chair, Bible in lap, either snoozing or praying–it was hard to tell which. Even though I stood in the same room with him, it was always apparent to me that I had brought him back from another place.

I  can hear him clear his throat as he would before he prepared to speak. His fingers were long and bony—his hands sun spotted from sailing, with one nail deformed and cracked down the center. It never grew back the same and was always a reminder of the sailing trip that had ripped it out and sunk his Bible along with his boat.

Reminded of that, I turn back to the inscription written in the front of the Book—To my Dad the sailor, my hero. Shipwreck August 27. Presented on Sunday, September 1, 2002, with love, your daughter, Debbie—and cringe. Did I really have to remind him of that day every time he picked up his Bible? His sailing years had represented his keen ability to manage his sails in storms. “The LORD was teaching me something,” he would tell me later, implying his ultimate dependence was on Jesus, not on his own abilities.

“Where are you Debbie? Are you depending on Him?” I can hear him ask. Oh Dad. I return to the section I was reading and hear his voice read it to me, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21). “Yes, Dad, I am depending on Jesus,” I say in my heart.

I hope that one day my own Bible—notated, well-read and worn—will carry my spirit in it for someone I love, as Dad’s does for me. It sits zipped inside a red leather cover to hold it together, and is—for now—abandoned. I prefer to read from Dad’s.

I don’t know if he can see me but I do know that Christ stands between us—and by that we are still connected. And I know that the Bible is God’s Voice given to us, and as we read and live by Its Power and Beauty, I have the sense that our spirits connect with much more than we can ever hope or imagine while we’re on this earth. Dad has left behind a great gift.

Magi’s Journey

Epiphany: A moment when you finally feel that you understand. (Cambridge English Dictionary)

I can just barely see a single star as I squint into the dark early morning sky. Shades of navy are beginning to layer up as the sun nears the horizon, competing with the stars’ light. I know they are there. And if I need a reminder of God’s amazing Power available to me once again this day, I imagine a star filled sky on a clear winter’s night and shiver. 

It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the sky’s magestic beauty and stop there. 

Instead, I bow my head in gratitude to the One who made the stars and give thanks for this new day. 

Epiphany. 

O Child of Awe

If you, in the midst of the carols and cards carry sorrow, don’t be discouraged. It was a dark day for Him too. He made Himself nothing to give us the light of His Knowledge in a wee Babe’s face. Though a great company of heavenly hosts appeared saying, “Glory!”, He laid in straw in a gloomy dank place—the heart of the world.

Now here our hearts lay. Waiting expectantly for His Light that flames the fibers of our inmost being, enlightening, warming, refining, extinguishing, overwhelming the old life, quickening us to the place where we will no longer fear His Flame because everything combustible will have been consumed.

Poor, and knowing sorrow—the deepest of the deep—He came, and comes into the dark cold cave of our hearts with His Igniting Love. His rebirth—Gift Everlasting—is received with sorrow, with humility. And with awe. 

 Christ’ Mass

He Heard Me Think


I can barely perceive the thread of light–the Fisherman’s line cast down into the depths of thought. No hook is needed, only a tiny opening, a single thought, and with its sharp penetration the shadows vanish. The invisible line becomes a Lightbeam, doubt is swept out. The vessel shines. 

He enters, sits, as I quickly search the rooms He knows so well, for secrets I’ve hidden from Him. He calls my name to come and sit, but I’m still too jittery from the dark, so He waits in His chair surrounded by Light. 

I collect the discouragements laying around haphazardly and dig out my faults and fears from the dark corners. They had built up so quickly in my distraction. I notice He has lit a fire as I finally enter to take a seat beside Him, and as I throw the bundles from my arms into the flame, it spits and sparks its delight. He smiles. I sit. 

The warmth of His Presence fills me as He talks to me about His needy friends He’d like to invite in. We sit in silence for quite a while. I’m not really up for company, I think and He sees. I notice His smile again as I bask in the Presence of His restoring Love. I know I can’t keep it for myself. 

In the windows of my soul He plants seeds where Fruit will grow and ripen. He’s brought me His Gift of Grace, once again, into this place. I unwrap it. “Be like a shelter from the wind,” He says this lightly but the words are weighty. His strength covers my weakness. 

He stands then and I feel my heart again. He touches my eyes. “See as I see.” He prepares to depart. “Your eyes will see and your ears will hear and listen.”

Then with a kiss on my forehead He reaches into his deep pocket and places one more package into my hands before securing the door behind Him from doubts reentering. 

I untie the ribbon, remove the paper and see. 

Foregiveness. 

I’m astonished. 

I hadn’t asked for it. He had only caught a flicker of a thought of it and brought it to me. 

Immanuel


The last of the leaves linger on the low branches. I can just barely make out fall’s final statement of color on the trees. They stand exposed as the howl of the wind whistles through the sinews and tendons extending skyward. The air is icy, breath crystallized, swirls of mist twirl like smoke. Winter’s silver sky is upon us and will soon toss down its blankets. Once again the branches will be adorned, glistening in rays of light. Snow is predicted tonight.

We wake in a land of wintry Wonder now robed in light, each thread glowing, the sun of righteousness, rising, bringing healing in its rays. Look. See His signs, His Wonders to establish His Name among us.

Immanuel.

True Light

I look at the lights on our Christmas tree and wonder if there was a send-off party before He came here. Were lights strung on the trees there, and ribbons wrapped around gifts for Him in honor of the great Gift He would give to us?

I wonder if He met with Moses, sat down with Samuel, discussed temptation with David or depression with Job. I wonder if there were long walks with the Father beside bright glistening waters, pondering as they prayed for each of their children here on earth.

Was there one final meal? Roasted meats, bowls of Fruits, scented with cinnamon and ginger, fine wine? Did He just disappear to reappear in the dark nest of a young woman’s womb? Or with Gabriel, through heavens, through galaxies, past stars, bursts of flames, shooting stars did he travel?  To arrive–planted seed–while the world lay unknowing unseeing.

Born of Light, He brought Light. Into our night, He came.

Now the candles are lit, flames of Hope for the lonely, lit for the tempted, the lost and the broken, sad and depressed, or mildly contented. We stand beneath lights on our trees, and in front of our wreaths on the doors where He knocks and listens. He waits. Do you hear? Lift your eyes. He once walked here in sandals, betrayed and rejected, and is acquainted with all that you carry and bear. He sees. He’s the Host of Christmas who protects and provides, anoints, with abundance He blesses, and meets you there where repentance is turned into Grace.

So sing songs of Joy. He comes for a reason, New Life–to plant Love within you. A path lies before you, lit bright with Hope–Christmas leads us from wandering to Wonder…

Recipe: Beating the Blues

“Get some rest. Don’t stress over the weekend about anything. That’s what Mondays are for,” my co-worker said with a giggle and her usual twinkle as I walked out of the office this evening. I had filled a manilla folder full of what I had hoped to check off my to do list today, packed it up with my computer, stuffed it all in my briefcase and sighed. We closed on Mom and Dad’s condo this week. So the place I would go for comfort, encouragement and unabiding “wonderfuls”, has been sold. 

It was an emotional week. It’s really over. My parents are gone. No one can love me like they did. 

What do you do…?

I walk in the backdoor. Look in the freezer. Check out the shelves. See what interesting packages surface with a little reshuffling. Greek chicken breasts. That will do. They will lift me out of my funk, my fatigue, my blues. I’ll cook dinner. 

I find an eggplant in the vegetable drawer along with half a red onion and a really big green pepper, lay them out on the counter and feel the theme. Greek. 

I wrap the frozen breasts in a towel and stick them in the microwave, then, I most definately, yes, open a bottle of wine (even Jesus would), change into jeans, my old brown sweater and a pair of dad’s socks, grab my book (The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend) off the nightstand and head back to the kitchen. 

It’s Friday night. 

Not fancy by any means. No need for big plans or any plans. Just a time to bond at home with a dog named Sam, a cat named Mary and a husband name Todd. 

I add about a cup of rice to a pan with a little more than a cup of water to boil, turn the oven on to 450, slice the breasts thin–its best when they’re still a bit frozen so don’t worry if they are–heat some coconut oil then brown the breasts while I chunk the eggplant, onion and half of that honkin’ pepper (I’ll use the other half in an omelet). I really prefer using coconut oil so I lay a cookie sheet over the frying pan to melt the oil, mix the vegetables in, open the oven to roast them and discover I’ve drawn some liquid out of the chicken. Huh. I drizzle it on the eggplant. 

This is when I take a glass of wine–or is it my second?–to the couch with my book and wait until an aroma of roasted goodness wafts through the air. I get up and head back to the kitchen, sprinkle the eggplant with garlic powder, cayenne and Alice’s Garden Mediterranean sea salt and mix it altogether with the chicken. As I stir, the eggplant transforms into a deep caramely richness I could never have planned. I’ve learned to trust food to do it’s own thing. 

We make our plates and instead of sitting down at the table, return to the couch to eat our dinner. “This is good,” I hear Todd say as I open my book. 

I realize I’ve beat the blues. It’s a good life. 

(In case your breasts aren’t Greek I googled this for you:

Mix salt, garlic powder, basil, oregano, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley rosemary, dill, marjoram, cornstarch, thyme, and nutmeg in a bowl. Store in an airtight container. Alternately, blend spices in a spice grinder for a finer texture. Allrecipes.com)

Sunday Night Despair? Stir Fry!

Right. It’s Sunday night—the time I used to sit down to write and share the latest incident with Dad for my blog Sundays with Dad. I mean, three years of that created a bit of a ritual. Now, even though Dad’s not around anymore, it doesn’t mean a ritual disappears. In fact, I find, I just need to write on Sunday night…

As some of you know, I’ve been working through the process of self-publishing our stories in a book called Conversations with Dad. It’s taking a while. I first submitted my manuscript over half a year ago for publication. There’s a timeline I’ve been following with a check-in coordinator, content evaluation, design, marketing, and all the rest. I’m waiting for my galley this week. Over the last months, I’ve stepped away from the work. This morning, I woke up early and for some reason felt possessed to look through it.

I was a little disappointed with the beginning and rewrote that. Then I rewrote a middle section and maybe a little of the ending changed too. I guess that’s normal? To never be satisfied with your work? I feel like I’m alone, though, on this island. Remember the volleyball, Wilson, in Castaway? Sam, my dog, is my Wilson. He stays at my feet and stares at me. If he’s concerned about me, he doesn’t let on. He’d much prefer I’d take him for a walk over waiting for me to take the break which never seems to come, but he’s patient. I can’t help but wonder, what if the entire project is a shipwreck? What if?

I was in high waves today, big swells. Up and down, up and down. My husband was patient. He went to church with me. He will usually do anything to get out of going to church but instead, made me a fresh cup of coffee, pulled the car out of the garage and waited. He made ME go.

It meant so much to Dad to get his designs documented. But then I went and made it all complicated and started writing my own stories, wrote a second blog, mixed it all together and turned the whole thing into a flippin’ miniseries. There were so many things going on it was ridiculous. I edited endlessly.

Tonight, I tried hard to set it all aside. Todd was called into work for the recount and I had time on my hands. I did what I often do when I feel despair setting in. I cook. I get out the smoked paprika.

I found a package of stir fry beef in the freezer and was hoping to make pepper steak, which Todd loves. But there were no peppers. I found celery, carrots, a red onion and tomatoes. So I opened a bottle of Cabernet, let it breathe (like I needed to) and started chopping. In a second pan, I sautéed the little red and yellow tomatoes and sprinkled the beef with pepper and salt. Then I threw a can of kidney beans in with the vegetables, let it all do its own thing and poured a glass of wine and picked up my book (The Audacity of Goats). 

Todd came home with the last piece of furniture left at my parent’s condo—the closing is this week. He thought it could go upstairs but I had an eye for it in the living room. While we worked that out, the tomatoes burned. I splashed in a little wine, scraped the pan and stirred it into the vegetable mixture. Then I heated some olive oil to sizzling and browned the steak just as a favorite piano sonata came on Pandora—it sounded like my mom playing. I gave her a “cheers” and disappeared upstairs to write a Sunday night story.

So what if no one likes my book?  What if? Maybe I’ll start collecting the “recipes” that saved me from despair…

Cheers!

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In the Beauty

Eyes rested, ears soothed, enchanted, now you travel.

No stone impedes your progress.

The thin veil reveals only forms, edges, outlines,

and yet, wonders above, before, beneath draw to you ever active, creative, guiding, protective strength. Newness. Life.

Energy beside seeps within.

Yearning for oneness connects.

And contented, you see, you hear, you know,

God is there.

The Place I Love to Go

In the chill of the air I pull my shoulders up and duck my chin under the thickness of the scarf wrapped around my neck. I notice a silver hair–it’s my mother’s scarf. I also notice my sight has retreated into my thoughts and instead of enjoying beauty on the shore and fresh air, I’m anxious to get home to the fireplace and a piece of chocolate pecan pie.

 Slow down, wait for Me. 

I don’t even hear the water though the shoreline extends far behind me. So deeply have I retreated into the quiet place I love. Even though I’m thinking about the book I want to get back to, I hear His Voice,

Look up! Now! Lift your eyes and see!

It takes three points of exclamation. But I obey,


And see.

In quietness, in solitude I do find my Strength.