The girl with the broken smile

Here’s the song reference.

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Back in the brave year 1982, my Dad was living with one of my cousins and her husband after my parents’ divorce.  Cousin had, at the time, a seriously adorable redheaded toddler, who we’ll call Wildling, because it fits.  Wildling loved me.  I was all of eleven at the time, but, as is sometimes the case with eleven year old girls, I was a bit self-absorbed and quite convinced that I was too old to play with little kids.  That said, the hero-worship was kind of nice, though, coming as it did at a time in my life when pretty much everything was awful and terrifying.  Dad had weekend visitation with me back then, so I stayed with him at Cousin’s house, with her husband and Wildling.

I awoke rather ill one Monday, and Dad, after consulting with Mom, didn’t think it was a good idea for me to go to school that day.  Since Dad and Mom both worked, Cousin said I could stay with her and Wildling, and they’d figure out later how to get me back to Mom.  Sick as I was, I was quietly delighted with this turn of events, as Cousin had this remarkable luxury called “cable television,” with a really stupendous channel known as “Home Box Office.”  I might be sick, but I would at least get to watch shows I never knew existed, which, to eleven year old me, sounded like a perfectly fine tradeoff.

Wildling, of course, was quite pleased to find that I was still there when she awoke and finished her breakfast that morning.  Two year olds don’t really understand the concept of “leave the sick person alone” terribly well, so she spent most of the day bringing me toys and treasures, trying desperately to pry my attention away from the screen that held me transfixed.  For my part, I was completely absorbed in a documentary about the tragic fire at the Cocoanut Grove (I’ve always been kind of a nerd), and thus failed to appreciate the lengths to which my sweet little ginger cousin was willing to go to get my attention.

She stepped – stomped, really – between me and the television, holding something I couldn’t quite identify in her wee hands.  “Kewwy?  Kewwy?”  she inquired.

“KEWWY!” she yelled – and threw the object in her hand directly at my face.

As it happened, it was a glass piggy bank, a possession of which she was quite proud, and simply wanted me to notice and appreciate.  I absolutely did notice it at that point.  Unfortunately, I also noticed that its impact with my face had broken off a substantial chunk of one of my top front teeth.  I screamed, she screamed, and for a while, it seemed like pretty much everyone in the house with the breath to do so was screaming.

I’m not entirely certain of the sequence of events after that, but eventually, everyone did stop screaming, and Mom took me to the dentist to have a crown made.  People were kind enough to patiently explain to me, over and over, that Wildling hadn’t acted maliciously, and that this was the sort of thing that two year olds simply DO when they’re ignored long enough.  Plus, Wildling still loved me, and that meant more thank I thought it would.  My smile had always been a little snaggly anyway; a little more unevenness from the crown didn’t really make much of a difference.

I grew up, and Wildling grew up, and both of us dealt with the fallout and anger and loneliness from our parents’ divorces.  We’d see each other at family reunions and family Christmas parties and family weddings and family funerals.  She was always the first person I looked for when I arrived, and she would always come and find me.  She was usually muddy, even after she grew up, and if there was a dare being made, she’d take it.  And when we saw each other, after she’d grown up, we’d stand off to the side and I would tell her about some of the remarkably bad choices I was making.  I didn’t realize they were bad choices at the time – they seemed very progressive and cutting edge to me, then – and she always had the same response.  “Love you, you crazy woman you.”

We were bound by a love born of brokenness.

Social media came along, and I could stay in touch with her more easily.  She met the man of her dreams and married him a couple of years after she was a bridesmaid in my wedding – really, I could not imagine having the most important day of my life without her and Cousin there.

wedding day with nikki

Wildling is rolling her eyes at me on the far right, wondering when we will stop all the kissy stuff so we can get to the party, already.

I’ve never been able to decide if Cousin is warning her oldest daughter to behave or joining her in wishing we would get out of the church and off to the reception, here.

We were bound by a love born of brokenness.

And that love would endure.  She forgave me my moments of inattention, even when I had to miss her wedding.  I cheered her on through all her adventures, from afar, for I’d moved to another state and didn’t make it back for reunions and Christmas parties too much anymore.  We saw each other mostly at funerals over the last decade or so.  But when I found out she was expecting her first daughter, Beauty, I sent the only shower gift I possibly could – a glass piggy bank.  We were pregnant together four times, and it was glorious.  It got to be a bit of a joke between us that if one got pregnant, the other had best watch out.

We had both found that no matter how angry we’d been at God as children, He had always been waiting for us, with open arms, ready to welcome us as His beloved, just as we had always been willing to welcome each other.  We shared Scripture, and prayer requests, and an exuberant faith rich in mercy and resounding with joy.  And we found that our brokenness did not diminish the beauty He saw in us.  The crown on my tooth gradually chipped away from age, and I decided to leave it as it was – because when I looked in the mirror, I saw love.

We were bound by a love born of brokenness.

Several months ago, Wildling had some bitter news.  She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer, and her prognosis was grim – two years, tops, if everything went according to plan.

Things did not go according to plan.

Six days ago, I received a text from Cousin asking me to call her.  Cousin knew how long and how well Wildling and I loved each other, and she gently told me that if I was going to come, it needed to be very soon.  The next morning, I was on the road before sunrise, for all the times I had not come before.  She woke, and recognized me, and I received the exquisite gifts of being able to tell her I loved her and give her a kiss.  I loved her in her brokenness as she had always loved me in mine, and her beauty was undimmed by her exhaustion.  The old fire, however, was gone, replaced by weariness.

Wildling left this world yesterday, in the early afternoon.

I have many regrets – times when I should have made time to answer a message, drive a couple of hours, write a letter.  But as I sit here staring at yet another screen tonight, reflecting on how the Lord worked through her to make so many places more joyful, to remind so many people to love the person who stands before you, however broken that person may be, I’m thankful.  I am thankful for the brokenness I have from her, for the brokenness I shared with her.

She’ll be with me, and live through me, every time I smile, though.

I think that when the day some that my teeth finally fail and I need dentures, I will ask the mold maker to make them just exactly as they are now.  Because there is a deep and wild beauty that can only be found in brokenness, and I would not part with it.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank you for the moments where I have been so broken that all I could do was turn to You.  Thank you for using my brokenness to teach me the infinite value of a child’s love, and that authentic love truly does bear, and forgive, all things.

Peace be with you.



She will sing, sing a new song

Here’s the song reference.

We homeschool year-round, taking breaks of a week or two when they seem warranted.  Quite honestly, when we try to take longer breaks, Beanie gets weepy and starts asking when she can have her math time again. and Bugaboo develops a profound case of Notgonnadoit Syndrome with respect to pretty much everything.  We had been on a bit of a break through most of May, but in the early days of June, it became obvious that it was time to do some formal school time again.  Out came the math and penmanship books, but no more than that.  It is, after all, summer, and one of the more important lessons they’ll learn is the glory of a summer’s day, and the value of time that has only minimal limits.

I do, however, make it a point to have a few things lying around that, should any pint-sized personages complain of boredom, can be immediately placed into their waiting hands to relieve that dread malady.  Most of those things are of the printed matter variety.  As it happened, today’s selections were a book of traditional children’s games and the Wee Sing children’s songs and fingerplays songbook.  Since none of the tribe slept especially well last night, I declared universal naptime at noon, immediately following lunch, primarily to prevent bloodshed.

Beanie and Bugaboo, even on the rare days when they do nap, don’t sleep long during the day.  When they tumbled downstairs to see what wonders the latter part of the day might bring, I first offered them the opportunity to straighten up their room.  There are times when having taught these children logic works to my short-term disadvantage, as was the case when our daughters brightly informed me that the picking up and storage of Legos results in a decibel level that is nearly certain to awaken their little brothers, both of whom happen to be nursing summer colds.  To their credit, they did wash the dining room table and put the books back on the shelf in the playroom, since they agreed that a chore or two would be in order.

Since Mr. Man and Baby Guy were still sawing logs when the girls completed their labors, I handed Bugaboo the book of children’s games and Beanie the songbook, then suggested that each might choose something from her book to learn today, to teach the rest of the tribe.   Since both of them love to be placed in charge of almost anything, my recommendation was met with the quiet rush of two pairs of bare feet scampering off to preferred reading spots.

While the girls were weighing their gaming and musical options, Baby Guy shambled down the stairs, arms laden with toy cars and mumbling something about needing milk.  As I filled his cup, Beanie skidded into the kitchen, waving her songbook, and Bugaboo bellowed from the downstairs that freeze tag looked like great fun.  We play regular tag, but she had been hitherto unaware of the freeze variant.  Beanie had found a song she found enchanting, but needed some help figuring out the tune.  Off to the family room couch we four went, Baby Guy dripping cars as he walked, Bugaboo loving her baby brother by gathering them as they fell, so he would still have the full complement when we arrived.

After a moment of figuring out the melody to “Three Blue Pigeons” and a quick round of practice, Bugaboo suggested we sing and play tag outside.  Mr. Man, who has the worst of the household summer cold, was still peacefully sleeping (he ended up taking a four-hour nap).  Allowing him to continue in that state seemed advisable, so, after a quick drink of water to combat the heat of the day, we found a good singing spot in the shade of a grand magnolia.  Little pigeons flew and landed, with a madly grinning Beanie conducting our little chorus.  She tried ever so hard to convince Smudgie that he should be a pigeon, but he was far too interested in chasing us to sit nicely on a wall.

Once we’d tired of playing at being pigeons, and run out of Mo Willems references, it was time to play freeze tag.  Mr. Man was still comfortably snuggled up on Daddy’s pillow, which led Bugaboo to declare that she would give him special freeze tag lessons once he was feeling better.   A noisy, merry chase around the back yard ensued, with Smudgie being declared the winner of our game of freeze tag; any time anyone started to run, he or she was immediately tagged by a cold, wet nose.  Among our other discoveries were Sal’s excellence at sprinting off in random directions but utter inability to freeze, the blissful cool of a light breeze in the shade when we’ve been running, and the softness of grass (relative to dirt) for cushioning high-speed falls.

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for summer afternoons, and for the gift of a big back yard where Your blessings can safely revel in them.  Thank you for the ability to read, for those who taught me, that I might later teach Your blessings, and for all those wonderful people who committed their childhood memories to paper that we might learn new and hilarious ways to enjoy Your creation.  When our calendar gets crowded, Lord, and I get cranky over the amount of work to be done, please keep me mindful that what I do, I do to serve You, and the greatest service I give You lies in the time I spend loving Your blessings instead of video screens and telephones.  Help me to cherish these days when playing tag and singing silly songs is my most important labor, and give me the wisdom to always teach Your blessings that we rejoice in each day You send.

Compliment without caveats

The ladies over at Scary Mommy have had some remarkable postings lately.  I would strongly encourage all of you to read their latest, “About Children with Down Syndrome.”

Every life matters, friends, and most people appreciate both an honest compliment and an honest question.  The rules of etiquette teach us it is best to separate the twain.

Peace be with you,


Fear and hope and love

No song reference here.

I read a blog post from Robyn over at Scary Mommy last night about her son’s near-lethal encounter with a cookie that contained a trace amount of nuts.  If you encounter children who have food allergies, I encourage – no, exhort – you to read this post and share it in either digital or hard copy form with everyone you know.

The time I almost killed my child

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have granted us four little blessings who can, and will, eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.  Thank You for that great gift, and thank You for the mothers like Robyn who you have blessed otherwise.  Please help me teach Your blessings to appreciate how tremendous the gift of unrestricted eating is, and help me to set an example of compassion and understanding towards parents and children who must be ever-vigilant about their children’s diets.  Thank You for Robyn and her husband’s watchfulness and quick action, for the education and medical professionals who loved them and Rory, and for Rory himself, who is so clearly beloved by his family and by You.  Please protect Your little child from the “bad cookies,” and grant his parents Your comfort and peace.


Abuse is real, friends. Blair set a beautiful example of love for neighbor by not turning away. Peace be with you all – Kelly

Trying To Make My Kids Proud

A couple of weeks ago, one of my coworkers gave me some insight into her incredibly abusive relationship. I know this is such a dark topic, but please, bear with me.

She was crying at her desk, feverishly text messaging somebody, when finally I just had to ask what was going on. She said her boyfriend, the father of her eight month old baby, was mad at her because she didn’t clean their daughters high chair to his liking. She said she wanted to file a restraining order, and she asked me if I thought she was over-reacting. I asked her to see her phone so I could read the conversation, and I’d let her know, honestly, if she was being crazy, or if she really needed to get away.

The things I read…

I have never, in all 26 years of my life, read anything so cruel…Sure I…

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Explain God

This is the kind of faith I want to teach my children! I re-blog next to never, but this was something I wanted all of you to see. Peace be with you – Kelly

Morning Story and Dilbert

“One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn’t make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.

“God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because He hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in His ears, unless He has thought of a way to turn it off. “God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which…

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Color the people you love with love

Here’s the song reference.

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From the very first time Bugaboo saw a lady with a freshly painted pedicure, she has been obsessed with coloring my toenails; as soon as she was able to wield a crayon, Beanie joined her in her endless pursuit of the perfect waxy pedicure.  They have since graduated to markers.  Once the two of them discovered tattoos, they graduated to coloring my feet in rainbow hues of marker.

This afternoon, while we were idly watching a special on myths and monsters of the Louisiana Bayou, Beanie remarked that my toenails were looking very colorless, and dashed off the to the kitchen, looking for a handful of markers with which to remedy that situation.  She returned a moment later, triumphantly waving a small rainbow, bounded onto the couch, then seized my feet and set seriously about her work.

I should mention two things at this point, to wit:  I am wildly ticklish on my feet, and only on my feet, and I am violently allergic to nearly every flower on the face of the earth.  One of those facts is well-known to the tribe.  Their blissful ignorance of the other is a credit to the nice lady who taught me the breathing technique I tried to use to avoid an epidural with Bugaboo.

At any rate, I practiced breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth as Beanie quite studiously turned my toenails pink and purple.  Bugaboo, realizing she was missing out on the fun, sprinted to the kitchen and grabbed her own handful of markers; she succeeded in making one toe green before Beanie informed her it was HER turn to give Mommy a pedicure.

This is yet another one of those times where it’s not funny, and I can’t laugh.

Beanie leaned back to assess her work, then frowned before solemnly intoning, “Mommy, your legs are really, really white.  Your legs are like paper.  They look so much like paper that I think I need to draw something on them.”

“Okay, Beanie.  How about if you let Bugaboo help, though?  She really wants to help.”  A rather forlorn Bugaboo was slouched against the couch, watching the interplay out of the corner of one eye.

After heaving the kind of melodramatic sigh that only five-year-old girls and Zsa Zsa Gabor can manage, she grudgingly muttered, “I guess so.”  With great excitement, two little girls set about adding some color to my legs (I am of mostly Irish descent, and have the skin tone to prove it).

As they worked, I set the cable guide to switch over to music after the show we were watching, then programmed in a baseball game Manie and I wanted to watch tonight (He is a Pirates fan, I am an Orioles fan, and we dream of a 1979 rematch).  Once I’d finished, I looked down to see that my right shin was completely covered in wee hearts and flowers.

“Beanie, I like all the hearts and flowers!”

“Thank you.  The hearts are because you love me.  The flowers are because I love you and I wanted to give you flowers that would not make you sneeze.”

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They added some “hugs and kisses,” too.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who constantly remind me that love is sometimes messy and often does not happen exactly where or how we think it should.  Thank you for the wisdom to not discourage them from showing their love in their way, and thank You for their steadfast belief that anything associated with love must have the most vibrant and merry colors possible.  Please keep us mindful that genuine love, the love that wishes only the true and lasting good of another, is best seen when it is made vivid, and when it shines forth from every part of us; fix it in our minds that You have given each of us different gifts, different talents, with which to draw all souls to you.  Please help us understand that love seeks always to build up, to beautify the lives of others with flowers that will not make them sneeze. Thank you for markers, for crayons, for all the little hands that brighten up my soul on days when the world has told me my work with Your blessings has no value.  Guard my heart against the insidious whisper that tells me treasures here matter more than Your rewards, and help me teach Your blessings the same watchfulness.

Voices carry

Here’s the song reference.

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The threat of thunderstorms led us to seek mostly indoor pursuits yesterday; the mosquito swarm that infested our back yard for most of yesterday, unfortunately, kept the tribe from venturing out-of-doors to play chase-the-puppy with Smudgie, which is my usual go-to activity when they need to burn off some energy, and, you know, be little noisy kids for a while.  Insect repellent is wonderful, but when the bugs are in such an enormous cluster that you can observe it changing shapes like clouds in the sky, the wiser course of action is to simply avoid the area.

After a relatively uneventful morning studying reading, math, and Latin (incidentally, if you’re looking to work on Latin with littles, I highly recommend Prima Latina), we headed off to the library, just to have a reason to get out of the house for a while without going shopping.  Our library has a wonderful, enclosed area for the very youngest patrons, which bears the charming name of “Preschool Reading Room.”  It is full of giant magnetic letters, huge foam building blocks, a big, sturdy dollhouse, a wall-sized felt playboard, and a small basket of board books.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy think it’s the berries, and Bugaboo and Beanie are not averse to passing a pleasant hour there, either.

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After that hour, the boys were tired and everyone was hungry, so we headed for home and lunch, after which I attempted to put four yawning, stretching children down in their cozy little beds for naps.  There is something about the sight of a bed at naptime which re-energizes all of our children.  Thankfully, Bugaboo and Beanie have learned to channel this second wind into quiet reading time, particularly when the library bag is full of previously unexplored literary goodness.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy, however, tend to use the post-lunch burst to have spectacular fights that involve throwing Mega Bloks at each other and at random points on their walls and door.   These battles are generally accompanied by shrieks of either delight or pain, depending on whether the block being hurled connects with the house or the other brother.  We’ve seriously considered removing the blocks from their room, but when the boys are not using them as missiles, it’s fairly common for Mr. Man to quietly build tower cities while Baby Guy slumbers.

After several reminders to the male half of the tribe that, even with their door closed, the sounds of war were still clearly audible throughout the house, including their sisters (who were, in fact, trying to nap), the noise level finally decreased to a point where it seemed possible that I might be able to recline on the couch and close my own eyes for a few minutes.  It was at that moment that Beanie, who when I had peeked in on her just before retrieving my pillow, had been curled up in a sweetly somnolent ball amongst her stuffed animals, decided to start playing with her alarm clock.  She has an old-fashioned double bell alarm clock of the Hello Kitty variety, and the noise it makes is enough to rouse a comatose elephant.  It’s a wonderful thing in the mornings when two little girls need to get up and moving, but not so much at two o’clock in the afternoon when everyone, including poor Smudgie, is just drifting off for a much-needed nap.

It took a few minutes to calm the startled boys, who finally decided to settle down and sleep, and then the girls came out of their room to see what might await in the afternoon.  We did a little more work on our food pyramid unit; just as I was explaining how to use the dictionary to look up definitions of words, Smudgie developed an urgent need to go outside (mosquitoes or no, a 125 pound dog’s gotta do what a 125 pound dog’s gotta do).  Leaving the girls with a few last words of guidance, a dictionary, and a vocabulary list, I took off down the stairs after Captain Enormous.

I had no sooner opened the back door than the shrieking started from the kitchen, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of the kitchen table being stabbed and drummed upon by pencils in the hands of suddenly insane girls.  The combination of the mosquito swarm and my proximity to the boys’ room meant that I could not leave the door open to run upstairs and remonstrate with them, nor could I holler up at the kitchen window to advise them that their activities were clearly audible to their hearing-impaired mother.  Luckily, Smudgie’s not a mosquito maven, so he finished his business quickly, and we zipped back upstairs together.

Bugaboo and Beanie had the grace to look guilty as soon as they saw my face crest the top step.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for active little blessings who exult in making joyful noises of various kinds.  Please help me teach them that there can be equal joy in moments of silence, and that when our joyful noise-making interferes with our neighbors so that what they hear is an obnoxious racket, we must, in love, lower the volume.  Please grant us the grace of hearts that are grateful for the many tools You have provided, from the power of speech, to the ability to read and write, to nimble hands, and help us offer all those daily tasks and celebrations to You.  Please keep me mindful that my every thought, word, and deed is an offering to You, and let me show Your blessings, by my example, that we do all things with all the love and skill You have granted us.  Help me teach in love instead of complaining in wrath.

Eat like an Egyptian

Here’s the song reference.

Our school year started last Monday, at the girls’ request.  Once the shelves in the corner of the kitchen were taken over by the new school books, both Bugaboo and Beanie reminded me daily of the texts’ existence, and of their great and burning desire to explore and learn from them.  After a month of furious lesson (over) planning, I acceded to their increasingly plaintive requests, and a new school year was born.  Going forward, I think we’ll probably go year-round, with five-to-ten day breaks salted in.  This summer and last taught me that a break of longer than two weeks’ duration is something they neither desire nor enjoy.

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At any rate, our first science unit this year is the study of the food guide pyramid, which is timely because this has been the summer of explaining to Bugaboo that she cannot live on pasta and milk alone, and to Beanie that she cannot live on fruit and juice alone.  Actually, our entire first-grade year in science is devoted to the miracle of our bodies and how we should care for its parts and for it as a whole.  Food is a great starting point, partly because good nutrition plays such an important role in keeping all systems go, as it were, and partly because there are so many excellent tie-ins to math, history, and religion.

Yesterday, we took a stack of grocery ads and cut out pictures of various foods, then labeled the cells in a blank food pyramid and added one example of food from each group.  This was actually a bit of a trial for Beanie, who likes to cut things out very precisely along their outlines, and the picture of strawberries she wanted to use had so very many berries that she became frustrated trying to cut out each one individually; we won’t talk about what happened when she tried to cut out each individual kernel of corn from a picture of corn on the cob.  As it happened, her greatest lesson from yesterday’s exercise was that sometimes, we can lose sight of the larger picture because we become so focused on, and frustrated by, each tiny piece of it.

We also read the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand.  Bugaboo was mightily impressed that the person who gave the food that started the miracle in motion was a child.  We talked about how when we share the best we have to offer, the Lord multiplies it and uses it to feed many more people than we could have fed under our own power, and that this goes not only for loaves of bread and little fishes, but also for acts of kindness and prayers for help.

Today we’re going to cut out more food pictures, this time with the prices, and make a stack of meal planning cards by gluing them to cardboard we’ve reclaimed from cereal and pasta boxes.  We’ll learn about how to estimate and round, because it’s quicker to figure the cost of five pounds of apples at about two dollars a pound than to calculate that same cost at $1.89 per pound, and we’ll learn that “lb.” is the abbreviation for pound.  Mr. Man will probably receive his first pair of scissors that actually cut (I have them hidden in the family room), and be able to join in the fun.  I’m grateful to our local Giant for being so generous with their sale ads!

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the bounty of good things to eat in Your creation, and for providing for Your blessings, who have never known real physical hunger.  Through teaching them how to be good stewards of their bodies, help me instill in them a desire to be good stewards of all You have given us, from the soil that grows the food to those who lack good food to eat.    Please grant us all the grace of eyes that see the needs of our neighbors and hearts that long to fulfill those needs, not with our expired leftovers, but with our first and best fruits, as we would offer them to You.  Please help us to not only be Your merciful face, but also to see Your glory in the faces of those who hunger and thirst, and to not become so frustrated with their numbers that we seek to send them away instead of coming to You, in faith, for help.

Let her sing

Here’s the song reference.

We said goodbye to Bo last Tuesday.  This is what I posted on Facebook to inform our friends and family that the population of our household had decreased by one beautiful, canine soul:

“We humans are all sad, but at peace.  Smudgie is sad and confused.  Dots insisted on accompanying Bo for his last ride, even after a very direct explanation of what would take place at the vet’s office.  She was a trooper, and refused to leave even when offered the opportunity at the last minute.
For his part, Bo was ready to go.  He complained about the scale, but once in the exam room, he quietly laid down on the big, soft blanket our wonderful vet had set out for him and put his weary old head on my knee.  He left peacefully.  We sang “Taps” to him as he departed.
Every life matters.  Bo saved mine once.  No family could ask for a better friend, playmate, and guardian.
I love you, Bo.  You’ve gone where the good dogs go.  And you’ll always be “Mama’s darlin’ baby boy.”  And the house is too quiet without your snore.  Smudgie is sticking close to your small people and your big people.  You rest.  We’ll be okay.”

Here’s a video of our sweet guardian in better days, if you’re in need  of a laugh.

bo and beanie 2008

Yesterday morning, Beanie decided she wanted to accompany me to early Mass.  This necessitated her rising and shining at 6:30 a.m., in order to allow sufficient time for dressing, grooming, and eating.  To my great delight, she stumbled into the kitchen fully dressed at about 6:45, ate a piece of chocolate cake, then read quietly until it was time to leave about half an hour later.

Manie and I have often referred to Beanie as a “fidget widget.”  She has enormous difficulty sitting quietly and still for extended periods of time, mostly because she is so fascinated by the world around her that she wants to explore and discuss everything.  This poses a certain challenge at Mass.  The Lord, in His wisdom, also blessed her with a great love of reading, so my usual strategy for a successful Mass is twofold, to wit:  one, I go to the early Mass, which is a contemplative Mass with no music (which means it is also of shorter duration) and two, I carry a couple of religiously-themed books in my purse when she goes with me.

One of yesterday’s selections was a little board book with extended lyrics to the well-known tune, “Jesus Loves Me.” I highly recommend this and its companion volumes as baby shower gifts, by the way.  About halfway through the homily, Beanie contracted a case of the wiggles, so I wordlessly handed her the two small volumes I had secreted in my bag, then snuggled her closer to me.  She read the first book silently; then, as the homily ended, she opened the book with the song lyrics.

After a pause for intercessory prayers, which Beanie loves, she settled back in with her book during the presentation of the gifts.  As I mentioned, the early Mass has no music of its own, so the sanctuary was silent except for the occasional rustle of a hand in a purse or pocket rummaging for an offertory envelope.  Before long, people sitting near us, including the elderly lady in front of us who has great difficulty walking, could hear the sweet strains of Beanie quietly warbling her song.

By my logic, as long as she’s quiet and it’s a song that’s appropriate to church (unlike the time Bugaboo burst out with the last verse of “Lola” during the consecration), I’d rather let her sing, sotto voce, than argue with Beanie during Mass.  The family next to us favored her with indulgent smiles, and when the time came to exchange the sign of peace, Beanie was quite the popular little girl.  In fact, the lady in front of us stood, leaned heavily on her cane, seized my hand, and whispered, “Thank you so much for not making her stop.”

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Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings with loving hearts, who yearn to do the difficult works of mercy, then sing praises of Your love.  Please help me remember that You called us to bring the little children to You, hindering them not, and keep it in my mind that they are born loving unconditionally.  It is we who teach them to put prices and conditions of various kinds on love, Lord, and this is our great sin against You.  Grant us wide open hearts, that we may sing of Your love in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and thus lead all souls to rest in You instead of chasing vainly after the things the ignorant hold valuable.