Lead Me Beside Still Waters—Please!

I like to think that, though I am not necessarily athletic in a sporty kind of way, I am fit and coordinated enough to do physical activities. I say this knowing that I blew out my right knee by attempting to leap up on a 4-foot pillar, broke my arm by tripping over a water hose while roller skating and my Portland to Coast Walking team came in dead last (more than once!). So it seems I may not have a good sense of reality in this department.

My father lived to be three 3 weeks shy of his 99th birthday and my 93-year-old mother is physically going strong, so I come from good genes. Maybe if American Ninja Warrior had been around when I was younger I could have been a contender (and given Jesse Flex Labreck a run for the title of most buzzers hit by a woman). But I’m sure that idea makes those of you who know me roll your eyes a little.

I was in thin in the 1980’s when Jane Fonda made it big with her aerobics workout video empire. I had a closet full of colorful leotards and faithfully made it to the gym most days after work. That kept me in great shape. Then, a few years into it, my attendance started to drop off a bit. I slowly noticed my clothes getting tight. EEK! At that age though it was very easy to get back in shape with just a few visits with Jane or my local gym for a sweaty aerobics class. That cycle continued for a couple of decades. Then my fifties hit, and I couldn’t seem to lose the tight clothes feeling. So, I just bought a bigger size. And then another bigger size. And then another until I found myself eating cookies and crying while watching The Biggest Loser.

Last Saturday a friend and I (my Dear Dawn) took a 3-hour Kayak tour around Fidalgo Island (home of my beautiful Anacortes). I chuckle now thinking that it was a 3-hour tour just like the castaways on Gilligan’s Island. And for a while there Dawn and I thought we might end up being Ginger and Mary Ann (you can decide who was who). But our tour guide, Alex, seemed much better qualified than Gilligan and the Skipper.

I had taken the same tour several summers ago and did just fine so I wasn’t worried. But that tour was in the summer (and I was a few pounds lighter) and this tour was on a cold, windy October day. We were one of three sets of tandem kayaks led by a single kayak leader. We floated gracefully through the marina, but when we hit the channel leading over to Barrows Island the strong winds hit. It was at that moment I really regretted getting rid of my Jane Fonda videos, because being in better shape would have come in very handy.

The person in the back of a tandem sea kayak has the honor of steering. It is a contraption using your feet so I gave that job to Dawn (because she trips less than I do). She couldn’t see very well so I, ever so politely, would holler LEFT or RIGHT as needed. (I told her the PLEASE was implied.) We managed to keep up with the other boats, though in last place of course (in honor of my PTC team) and made it over to Barrows. The water between the two islands was much calmer and I thought the tough part was over. Surely the wind would be moving in our favor going the other direction (wrong). Rounding the tip of Barrows, the wind slammed in our faces again. It seemed much harder, but it may have been that I was just more tired.

I noticed we were going in the other direction as our tour group, so I hollered LEFT. LEFT!! LEFT!!!! Dawn informed me that the steering wasn’t working, and hollering LEFT wasn’t helping. So instead, I hollered ALEX! ALEX!!! ALEX!!! Then Dawn informed me there was no way she could hear me so hollering ALEX wasn’t helping either. I couldn’t stand the thought of heading the wrong direction only to have to retrace that area to get back to where we were supposed to be. Suddenly, as if angels from heaven, two nice looking young men kayaked up to us and saved the day. By the time Alex realized the two old broads on her tour needed rescuing, and made it over to us, our two handsome helpers had repaired the broken foot-steering-thingy and we were good to go. Alex announced the water was extremely rough (like we needed telling) and to just put our heads down and go. And go we did.

What was supposed to be a 3-hour tour took a tad bit longer, but we eventually made it back. The entire time three things kept running through my head. One, I hope Dawn doesn’t hate me for suggesting we Kayak in October. Two, if only I was a few pounds lighter. And three, Lord Jesus give me the strength I need to do this!!!!! He of course did because he always does. And plus, Dawn could never hate me. As for the few pounds, well I’m working on that.

As a Christian who has made it to sixty-one years old, I know to ask God for help. I also know He will help, but I need to take some proactive steps of faith. I used to think that just praying made things happen, and it is a vital first step. God wants that intimate communication and communion with Him. But it’s through the time spent with Him (prior to kayaking emergencies) that He’s able to remind us the steps to take when we need it. There are those times, after praying, that we sit back and watch God work. But there are also times when, through our praying, God shows us proactive steps to take.

So back to the gale force winds kayak trip. I kept saying, “Lord, help me” and I knew He would, but what was my role? I’m a musician so the paddling of the Kayak took on a rhythmic cadence. Every time the right side of the paddle went in the water I’d say, “God is good” and then breathe when the left side entered the water. The next time I said, “Jesus is Lord” and then breathe when the left side entered again. Then, “The Holy Spirit comforts and guides” followed by a breath. I just kept repeating that over and over as the rhythm of the paddling took on a meditative motion. Those three phrases just happen to be how I begin most of my prayer and Bible study times, so it was a natural transition into saving me from the embarrassment of being towed back to the marina.

Once we were home the weather report was issuing a small craft warning because of gale force winds. I gotta say I was a bit more impressed with myself and Dawn once we heard that. And Alex said we killed it. So, there’s that.

Psalm 23, that famous Psalm, was my reward at the end of that trip. My shepherd led me to still waters. We will often find ourselves in rough waters, sometimes by our doing and sometimes by no fault of our own. I guess being out on the rough Puget Sound waters in gale force winds in October was my own fault, but it is what I’ve learned when I’m by still waters that helped me get back to safety. I could have spent the struggle swearing and being mad and frustrated. Instead, I chose to proactively turn to God for help. Saying, Lord Jesus help me, was the first step. Then he showed me my next steps.

God doesn’t need our help to save us, but does desire us to learn and grow in difficult situations. If he just miraculously intervened each time we asked we’d be stuck in our childish ways. Our faith grows when we’re challenged. If we build our relationship with the Lord while we are by the still waters, then, when the rough seas come, the Holy Spirit will reveal His rescue plan. And our faith will be even stronger for the next rough patch.

I am so glad God is in control and that I’ve lived long enough to see it in action many, many times. I want to encourage you to endure through the end of your rough waters. If God had sent a lifeboat instead of those two handsome young men to help us, it would have robbed us of our victory in that ever so difficult paddle back to the marina. And if felt so good to have done just that.

…God is Good…Breathe…Jesus is Lord…Breathe…The Holy Spirit comforts and guides…Breathe…

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Fur Ball of Love

Meet Wilbur. He is a furry feline full of love. I hug him so much I now have a fur ball problem myself. He actually belongs to my niece, Sherry. We’re just taking care of him while she is in residential transit mode (takes after her aunt).

When Chrystal moved in with me and mother she broached the subject of getting a pet, specifically a cat. I was “put my foot down” adamant about not getting one, figuring we had our hands full taking care of our demented mother. Plus I didn’t want the safety hazard of mother tripping over a cat weaving its way underfoot. Since Chrystal’s the older sister, I lost that argument. I knew I would. I was just surprised it took so long.

Upon Wilbur’s arrival I announced my door was to stay closed, and he was not to set foot in my bedroom. I’d had four years of no cat hair on my clothes and didn’t feel like investing in new lint rollers. Well, that lasted all of one night. He is now this single girl’s bed partner-cuddle muffin. It didn’t take much. I was so easy. A cat slut if you will. I didn’t even put up a fight. It took just one look at him snuggled up on my bed, and my heart melted. I was in love.

I knew the day would come when Wilbur would have to go back home to Sherry. However, her bossy mother came into my room this evening and said Sherry was ready to take him back. Chrystal however, informed her daughter that Wilbur was a permanent resident of the Brown house. Yay!

My phone is now full of pictures of Wilbur. I take a picture and then crop it to get even more up close and personal. I can’t help myself. Like right now. He’s curled up in a gray oval with his tail wrapped around him, and his sweet little muffin face nestled ever so preciously on top of his white gloved paws. Every so now and again one of his funny snaggle-toothed fangs will slip out, but that doesn’t take anything away from the sweetness of that face. Ooooo, that face. He’s so handsome!

He misses me when I gone. When I come home he meows and meows, as if he’s telling me about his day. Then he’ll follow me into my room, but more likely though, he’s already sleeping on my bed purring away. He’ll look at me as if he’s wondering how I could be away from him for so long. I wonder that, too. First thing I do is pick him up and nuzzle his furry face close to mine. He’ll linger for a bit, but not too long. He let’s me know it’s time to be put down by putting his little paw on my cheek, gently pushing me away. If I don’t do as he says right away the gentle push turn into a firm smack (ok, ok, I’ll put you down).

I also now refer to him as my boyfriend. “Hi boyfriend,” I sweetly say when I see him. How precious. And sad. But mostly precious.

There is just something about a cat curled up on the back of a couch that makes a house so homey. I smile when I pass by a window and spy a cat sleeping the day away in the warm glow of the sun. But there is also something wonderful about sitting in a chair and standing back up without a slathering of cat hair on the seat of your pants. Or plopping clean laundry on your bed only to find you’re folding up new cat hair to replace the hair that you’d just washed away.

As I sit here typing this Wilbur is snuggled up on my bed, inches away from the towel I leave there for him.  A few months ago I would have lifted him up and put him on the towel. But today, nah, he’s fine. Go figure. Love changes things. Parents of human children have to forgive, ignore, accept, deal with and take care of the messy side of their children because they love them. Pet parents are the same. Smelly kitty litter on the floor is our version of a dirty diaper. You begin to find other places to sit (or buy leather furniture) to cut down on time spent lint rolling your pants. And you find the kitty butt in your face hilariously charming. All because we love them.

I am a pet person. The last few years without one I thought I had left that companionship behind. But it appears I have not (you may want to invest in lint rollers). I highly recommend pet parenthood for everyone, especially my fellow singles. Having pet babies makes life more cozy. I like cozy. I mean, come on!  How cute is he?!?!

Are you a pet person?  Cat or Dog?  Lizard or Frog?

I can’t take comments here, but you can comment on the Facebook post.

Would You Rather…

I enjoy posing “Would you Rather” questions to my students in order to get to know them better. Last November I was presented with a real life would you rather question. A couple of days after the election with claims of election fraud swirling, I received a Facebook message from a friend asking everyone to stand with President Trump. I simply responded “I voted for Biden.” She asked me why. I politely responded, “Because he was my choice for president.” Not wanting to get into a political discussion over FB messenger I hoped that would be it. She responded to me, thinking she was responding to another friend who said Trump was a horrible human being. Though I shouldn’t have been the recipient of that message, it did allow me to read her thought process. Her thought was this, though Trump may have “character flaws” she would rather have him run the country because at least he was doing a great job for us. She compared it to having a surgeon that may make you uncomfortable if you’re alone with him in an elevator, but if at least he’s a brilliant surgeon wouldn’t you rather he be the one performing your operation. I didn’t respond, but if I had it would have gone like this…

Say your son had a teacher in high school that EVERYONE knew was cheating on his wife, allowed athletes to skate by in his class, was inappropriate with his female students, kept his student class fees for himself, made fun of the special needs students in school, charged for good grades, and openly showed favoritism to some students while ignoring others. Though you thought he was a “horrible human being” your son admired him and wanted to emulate him thinking he was the best teacher ever. Would you be willing to overlook that teacher’s character flaws knowing your son looked up to him, just because he was doing a good job teaching your son academics?

One of my education professors in college overheard me say I could never be a doctor because I wouldn’t want to hold someone’s life in my hands. He stopped the pre-class discussion to remind us to never underestimate the power you have over your students’ lives. We not only speak into them academically, but socially and emotionally as well. Teachers and leaders are an example of how to treat people, how to succeed without running over others, how to play fair and share, how to get along and solve issues, how to be the best they can be, among so many other things. We influence them in ways we may never know. Think back to the teachers you had growing up. I’m sure you have memories both positive and negative.

So to my friend, no I wouldn’t want a surgeon who makes me feel creepy when I’m alone with him being the one operating on me. What if one of those “character flaws” distracts him during my surgery. Say he was out late drinking the night before and isn’t totally present while I’m under his knife. What if he is using shortcuts during the procedure, or worse yet, what if I don’t even need the surgery, but he’s performing it anyway so he can make more money.

I have to say I want both. I want a president that of course will have flaws, because we all do. Flaws make us human. But I want someone who acknowledges his flaws and works on them to become a better person. Not someone who thinks he is impervious to flaws and only notices them in others. I also want someone with enough knowledge of how our constitution works, how to get along with both sides of the aisle, and knows what makes America Great. Making America Great is not just knowing we have civil liberties and rights. That’s just what makes America. What makes America GREAT is having those rights and behaving responsibly with them; thinking of others as we make decisions on what we say or how we act and treat others.

Let’s all pray for a peaceful transition come January 20.

This blog was not set up to be political, but my last couple of posts have been. My apologies. I’ve debated with myself as to whether or not I should post this, but here it is. And I’m done now. Back to sharing my single life stuff 🙂

You can’t leave messages here, but feel free to comment on the Facebook post. Thank you!

Inappropriate Prop

And your point is?

In spite of my love for alliteration, this “inappropriate prop” photo of the leader of our country holding up God’s word is absolutely ridiculous and pathetic. And sad. And frustrating. That book is holy to me. Sacred. I read it everyday (most every). I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about how I like the convenience of the Bible on my phone, but prefer having the actual book in my hands so I can write in it and highlight it. Then I can look back over passages I’ve read and be reminded of how those words saw me through difficult and even happy times.

So I would ask the man in the picture holding up this Book of Books, what scripture does he turn to when he needs wisdom? Guidance? Strength? What are some of his favorite passages he reads to begin his day? End his day? In which of God’s words to us in that Holy Book does he find Hope? What page does he turn to, to find the words of Jesus showing him how to live? How to treat people? What story does he read to learn empathy? Compassion? Understanding?

Here are some of the passages from this beloved book I turn to:

When I begin my day:

Psalm 5in the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you…let us who take refuge in You be glad…spread Your protection over us…

Matthew 6do not worry about your life…seek first His kingdom…do not worry about tomorrow…

When I’m scared:

Psalm 121…my help comes from the Lord…the Lord watches over you…He will watch over your coming and going…

Psalm 62…find rest, O my soul, in God alone…I will not be shaken…God is our refuge

Zephaniah…seek the Lord…wait for Him…He does not fail…He is mighty to save…He will quiet you with His love…

When life is hard:

John 16…He will guide you into all truth…in this world you will have trouble…but I have overcome the world…

Habbakkuk 3…though the olive crop fails…the fields produce no food…no sheep…no cattle…yet I will rejoice in the Lord…He enables me to go on the heights

When I need guidance in the face of injustice:

Micah 6:8…He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

II Chronicles 7:14if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…turn from evil ways…I will forgive them and heal their land…

Proverbs 3…do not forget my teaching…let love and faithfulness never leave you…trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…acknowledge Him…do not be wise in your own eyes…fear the Lord…honor the Lord…

When I need my 92 year old mother to have a good night’s rest:

Psalm 86…guard my life for I am devoted to You…You are my God…listen to my cry for mercy…there is none like You…great is Your love toward me…You have helped me and comforted me…

Now I know I am sounding a wee bit arrogant, but (and I know when you say “but” it negates everything before it…BUT) if you’re going to hold up a Bible, God’s word, The Holy Scriptures, then you’d better at least be holding up your own Bible and not just “A Bible” (in case a reporter happens to ask you). And if you want to be associated with the teachings of the Bible please at least know what that book says and apply it to your life (especially if you’re going to break up a group of peaceful protestors to get to a church, that you don’t even attend, for a photo op).

I’ll stop being an arrogant putz now and leave you with thoughts from one of my favorite passages of the Bible. My Bible. God’s words to me.

Psalm 27…The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?…One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to see Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock…wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord…

Question: What are some of your favorite Bible passages?

(I can’t take responses here, but please feel free to comment on the Facebook post. Thanks!)

Single Social Distancing

“We’re All in This Together”

Is it just me or does anyone else want to bust out their best HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL dance moves when you hear a newscaster or public service announcement say, “We’re all in this together.” (I taught junior high music when these movies were popular and my students told me I reminded them of Ms. Darbus. Not sure it was a compliment.)

During this time of social distancing due to COVID-19 you hear all different kinds of reactions to staying home. Introverts say they’ve been preparing for this their entire lives. Extroverts are going crazy. Memes tell us folks will either come out of isolation with the cleanest house ever and down 20 pounds or an overweight alcoholic with a deep indentation of their butt on their favorite chair. Which are you?

Being the extroverted introvert that I am, I’m doing fine. My “demented” mother keeps my sister and I entertained. Each day when she wakes up she gets to learn about the virus all over again. I’m not sure she really gets it. But do any of us? Lots of uncharted experiences out there.

If this had happened a few years ago I would have been living by myself and not with my mother and sister. I keep wondering how I would be doing if I really was isolated. I think I would be fine for a while. I’ve lived alone most of my life so I think I’d be okay, until one day I’d wake up, mid-pandemic, and it would hit me—I’m alone. Single. Siiiinglllllle.

Does this time of social distancing exaggerate that point for you? Probably. It does for me. Especially when you see silly Facebook posts that say how busy maternity wards will be 9 months from now. I do think that would be a much more fun way to pass the time than organizing your closets. But also just another reminder that I don’t have a snuggle partner.

Dear Single Friends, you are not alone. You are not. Reach out to folks via social media or even an old fashioned telephone call. If you’re shy, get over it and reach out. Someone may be needing interaction as much as you, but are afraid to initiate it. Be that for them! You can do it.

So everyone, let’s join that cute Zac Efron and remember we’re all in this together. Hmmm, Zac Efron, such a cutie. Social distancing with him would be much more fun than with my mom and sister. But I do love them and am grateful for their presence in my life. Especially now.

Take care and remember …come on now sing it…We’re All in This Together!!!!!

See Yourself Through God’s Eyes

The group minus two.

It was the day after Friday the 13th, in the middle of a pandemic and during a snowstorm.  Other than that, last Saturday morning 17 of us had a great time together discussing what God thinks of us.

Sweet friends.

Mom and daugther.

We ranged from college women in their early 20’s to women in their 60’s. Some never married. Others divorced or widowed.  All there for one purpose. To find out for the first time, or remind themselves again, who they are in Jesus; who and what God made them to be.

The traits list we made taken from scripture.

We belong and are chosen, loved, graced-filled, created for a purpose, free, refined, more than conquerors, heirs, rescued, set apart, made new, saved, God’s dwelling place, protected, brave, light, wonderfully made and known before we were born, precious, honored, pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, perplexed but not in despair, struck down but not destroyed, and we have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Among other things.

Discussion Circles.

It was inspiring and encouraging to see the different ages and stages of women sharing together. We are all important and have a role no matter our circumstances. When you’re young you may think you have nothing to contribute. Or if you’re older you may think your time has come and gone. That is not how God sees us. But if we don’t know Him it won’t matter what He thinks of us, has planned for us or who we are in Him.  Because we won’t know. Until we spend time with God in His word we have no idea who we are to Him or for Him.

Working on our positive statements to keep us focused on how God sees us and helps us.

I hope you take the time to know Him. It is worth it.

Finding Your Identity in Jesus

All the Single Ladies, All the Single Ladies.

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentine’s Day may be rough for some single women.  If it is, then please don’t stay home with a bowl of ice cream watching the Hallmark Channel!!

Gunne Sax dresses were oh so very popular in the 1970’s and 80’s. I rocked several of them during those years.

I broke up with my boyfriend in high school right before the Senior Ball. Instead of spending that evening home alone moping, a bunch of other “dateless” girlfriends and I bought prom dresses (since it was the ’70’s of course they were “Gunne Sax”), went out to dinner and had a great time together.  It was what we call a “rotic” evening–Romantic without the man.

And if a constant stream of “rotic” weekends is getting you down, then please consider joining a bunch of fabulous single ladies on Saturday, March 14th, 9:00-noon, getting to know our true wonderful selves in Jesus.

Click on the link below, register and we’ll see you there!

XO!!!!

Dana Brown Speaker

A Younger Perspective

I’ve never had children of my own, but I do claim the children of many of my friends (it’s a much easier, less expensive parenting plan). Enter Madolynn Hurley.

I sang with her mother in college and met her father a few years later. Then a few years after that I was in their wedding. Ten months after that I met Madolynn. 26 years after that I’m beaming with pride on how well she turned out. Read on to see for yourself…

Madolynn Hurley

I am 26 years old and single.  In a few months, I will turn 27 and then I can no longer deny that I am in my late 20s.  For those of you that are beyond your late 20s, I’m sorry for sounding like a whiner when I’m really quite young.  Boy, do I know it.  Singleness is weird to me because everyone is born single.  Maybe it’s in my head (I’m pretty sure it’s not), but people have made it seem like getting married is a “level up” or somehow moving on to the next stage of adulthood.  Being in my late 20s and unmarried means that I’m not as “adult” as the 21-year-old girls who are married, right?  And don’t get me started on how having kids factors into that.   All that to say, I’m getting older and am still young all at the same time.

People seem to have low standards for single women.  They recommend that we pursue guys that have bad theology, bad hygiene, or are just overall not great guys.  These recommendations, of course, come from women who are themselves married or pretty seriously dating.  I want to ask, “have your standards lowered since getting into a relationship or do you just have low standards for me?”

 If I get married (and yes, I would like to be married), I want to be married to someone amazing.  Someone who treats me well and treats others well.  Someone who loves Jesus and challenges me as one of Christ’s disciples.  Someone who will work alongside me to usher the Kingdom of God into the here and now.

 The thing is, I don’t want my life to wait until I meet a man.  I want to be challenged to grow in serving God, not beginning to serve Him.  I can love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and love others as myself by myself.  Nothing about those commandments indicates that I should hold off until I am married.

 It has taken me a lot of time to come to this conclusion and I can’t promise that I’ll always be strong enough to feel it with all my heart.  I know that the feeling will ebb and flow just like every feeling does.  This, though, is what I believe:  It is not better to be married.  It is not better to be single.  The best thing for you is to be where God wants you to be at this moment.  Let me say it again for myself, but feel free to say it with me: The best thing for me is to be where God wants me to be at this moment.  God can bless every circumstance.  God can use you no matter your marital status.  True, holy, pure joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Abide with God now!  To quote Elevation Worship, “come today, there’s no reason to wait.  Jesus is calling” (“O Come to the Altar,” 2016).

 We have each been uniquely and carefully created by God with different gifts, talents, and passions.  Colossians 3:17 says “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Immediately following this verse is a list of ways that people can lay down pride and exchange it for love.  One of the many great mysteries of God is that when we surrender control and pride, we have more room in our arms to receive blessing.  When we give ourselves for the sake of others, we somehow end up more filled.  Married or single, I hope that all people would recognize how special they are to God and how much they are able to contribute to His Kingdom.

You go Madolynn!

Are you as impressed with Madolynn as I am? We can’t take comments here, but please feel free to leave them on the Facebook post.

One Word

Lookout at the top of Loop Road in Washing Park, Anacortes, Washington.

The title of this blog is misleading.  As if I could ever speak just “one word.”  I’m awful at being succinct.  That’s why I fail at playing games like Password where you have to give one word clues for your partner to guess a specific word. I’m much better at Taboo. Hollering out a bunch of words at the top of my voice over everyone else is where I shine.

During my final year of college at ACU I lived in a house off campus with 4 other girls. One roomie was engaged and her fiance was a friend of mine. At least I thought he was until one evening he asked me if I could go for at least five minutes without talking. I looked at this sweet guy and tried to figure out if he was serious. He was. Game on! The timer was set and when it went off he congratulated me, but I just glared at him and didn’t speak for the rest of the evening (or maybe just another five minutes, which felt like the rest of the evening to me) proving I wasn’t the chatterbox he insinuated I was.  (But I was!)

A few years later I was playing a Mash trivia game (I loved Hawkeye!) with my singles group from church. Midway through my winning streak one young man came over and taped my mouth shut.

So see, I have proof that I fail at the one word thing.

However, this will be the third year in a row I have chosen one word to concentrate on in the new year as opposed to making official resolutions.  I thought this endeavor was something I came up with on my own. Since then I’ve seen many a blog and Facebook post on the idea so I guess I didn’t.  (Just like having to tell my friend he indeed did NOT invent “The Wave” at sporting events, as well as all the folks who think they coined the “Have 20/20 vision in 2020!” phrase.)

2018 I selected Health (Romans 12:1-2).  It wasn’t just physical health, but spiritual and emotional health as well. In addition to the numbers on the scale creeping higher, I was feeling selfishly unhappy with my living situation and was allowing myself to fall into a bit of depression. I’m happy to say I ended 2018 in a much better frame of mind.

2019 Discipline became my focus (II Timothy 1:7).  Wanting to keep the progress I’d made in 2018 going I thought a good dose of discipline was needed.  And since I finally published the book I’d begun 15 years earlier I’d say I did rather well.

Lovely Anacortes Sunset

2020 will hopefully bring Contentment to the forefront (Philippians 4:4-9). Life is good. I have a loving family, fun and supportive friends, a great job, dependable vehicle, good health, and countless other blessings. So why do I spend so much time living in the future? I am seven school years away from retiring and moving to Anacortes, Washington and spend way too much time daydreaming about 2027. Doing so wishes my current life away. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste my present on living in the future.

Washington Park Loop Road.

On a 17 day (17 day!) visit to Anacortes last summer I was awakened in the middle of the night with the words written below. I got up and wrote them down. The next morning I set them to music.

I will walk through ’cause  it’s leading me to You

I will walk straight then wait…’til You show me what to do

I will walk through this and come out the otherside

See Your arms open wide

So I will walk through

‘Cause it’s leading me to You

My role in life now is to live with my mom and partner with my sister to take care of her. I am blessed in this. Wishing I had my own home again won’t change a thing, except to frustrate me. That’s what the enemy wants–discontentment. God wants to bless me. And He has, so richly. I will walk through this season of life and come through it stronger, more aware and appreciative of my God who brought me through.

So….

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What would your “One Word” for 2020 be?

I can’t take comments here, but please feel free to comment on the Facebook post.

A Mouse in the House

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My sweet mother with one of her “pets”

I am a horrible daughter. I left my mother at home alone with a mouse in the house and went to a diner to stress eat.

Let me start at the beginning.

Monday evenings my sister, Chrystal, attends BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and is usually gone by the time I get home from school. A few Mondays ago I came home to find my mother staring at the floor beside her rocking chair saying, “I think we have a pet.”

My sweet 91-year-old mother has dementia so I wasn’t sure if she was hallucinating our cute little fox terrier, Puddles, from the 70’s or just seeing a dust bunny on the floor.

“What do you mean, you think we have a pet?”

“Over here by my chair. I think it’s a mouse.”

I had begun to walk over to her until she uttered the word “mouse” then I quickly began backtracking.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, and he’s so cute.”

She lowered her hand to the floor and I screamed, “Don’t touch it!”

“But he’s so cute. I just want to pick him up and cuddle him.”

“Stop!!! Don’t you dare.”

I gathered up what small amount of courage I had (which even on a good day is next to nothing) and stealthily walked over behind her chair to see our, hopefully imaginary, little pet. There was a tiny bundle next to her chair and I assumed it was just a lone Christmas ornament that had strayed from the pack. I thought that until I saw the bundle wiggle its ears.

“Eeeek, a mouse!” If there had been a chair close to me I would have jumped on it. Instead, I grabbed my phone and ran outside to our carport and called Chrystal.

“Hello.”

“There’s a mouse in the house,” I said very Dr. Seuss-ly.

“Where?”

“In the den. I thought it was a Christmas ornament until it wiggled it’s ears and now mother wants to pet it. What should I do?” I said that hoping she was going to race home to take care of it.

“It’s not running away?”

“No, it’s just sitting there freaking me out!”

“Well if it’s staying put and not scampering away it must be dying.”

“I think maybe mother rocked over it, causing him a slow, agonizing death.”

“Well don’t tell her that. She’ll feel bad.” At that point I didn’t really care what my sweet, mouse-loving mother felt.

“I can’t handle this. If it was a spider I could take care of it, but I don’t do mice. You have to take care of it.”

“OK, I will when I get home after BSF.”

“But that’s in 4 hours. I’m FREAKING out…”

By this time my anxiety level was rising along with my voice level.

“Get a bowl and put it on top of him. That way he won’t wander off before I get home. I’ll deal with it then.”

“Are you crazy?!?! This is freaking me out! I can’t even go back inside.”

“Where are you?”

“Outside in the carport.”

“(Sigh) Just go back inside and keep mother from touching him and put a bowl on top of him.”

“I can’t do that. I’M FREAKING OUT!!”

Chrystal laughingly gave up on me and hung up.

I went back inside, took a bowl from the cupboard and proceeded to ask my mother to put it on top of her pet.

“I can’t,” she said, “he’s too close to the chair.”

Bummer. I realized it was time for me to rise to the occasion and be the adult in the room. (I hate being the adult in the room.)

I prayed. Nothing. No bravery dust fell from heaven. I then recited all the Bible verses I’d committed to memory. Nothing. No sudden surge of courage. I did deep breathing. Nada. Just made me dizzy. So I stood frozen in the kitchen staring at my mother. When her hand went down towards her pet again I screamed, “Do. Not. Touch. That. Mouse.” Grabbing my purse, I made my escape outside leaving my crazy mother inside next to what might as well have been a terrorist.

I found solace in the loaded tater tots at Sherry’s diner down the street. Halfway through my tots I began to feel guilty for leaving my mother alone with a monster, but not guilty enough to go back home. Instead, ordering more food seemed better and definitely more logical.

Three courses later I figured it was time to venture home via the Starbucks drive through window for a Chai Tea Latte. I sat in my parking spot, sipping away, and left Chrystal a voicemail, “I’m here, but not going inside until you take care of the mouse.”

Proof…sometimes people think I make these stories up. Trust me, you can’t make this stuff up!

A minute later she texted that the coast was clear.

Once inside mother told me she didn’t know why I was frightened by such a cute little thing. I stared back wondering if she was always this way or if the dementia had taken her fear away. She also mentioned she may have slipped him some crumbs from her cookie. (No wonder we have mice, cuz If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…)

Not a proud moment for Miss Dana. Leaving one’s aging mother alone for four hours wasn’t kind, thoughtful or wise. What if she’d gotten up and tripped over the mouse as he tried to escape? What if she really did pick him up to have a snuggle? What if he had managed to escape only to wind up having a snuggle with ME in the night? (Shudder!)

Oh well. One of these days I will learn to not overreact. It reminded me of the time I found the leaf in my hallway, or when the power went out during a snowstorm (those of you who read my book will know those stories…you other losers need to buy the book and find out…hee hee). But I do so want to be the adult in the room. Like I said, a spider would be creepy but doable. When I was teaching at Crossroads Christian School we didn’t have a school nurse. If someone was hurt on the playground, we all had our specialty. Mine was vomit or blood. No broken bones for Miss Dana. Other teachers would pass out with blood or throw up themselves over vomit. So I guess being afraid of a mouse is my broken bones and spiders are my blood and vomit. We all have our skills. Fortunately for me Chrystal’s is mice.

I never saw a mouse in the house before December 9, 2019 or seen one since. It’s been 2 ½ weeks. I pray the streak continues.

Would you have been able to handle finding a mouse, alive or even half-dead, in your house? I can’t receive comments here in my blog, but please feel free to leave them on the Facebook post. Thanks!