Monday, December 26, 2011

Now that the cultural insanity is over and done with, I hope and pray that we may have a few still moments in which to contemplate the ostensible Reason. Don’t forget that the holy-days of the Christ Mass aren’t over until Epiphany, January 6th. Nobody’s putting a pistol to your head to take-down-the-tree-and-head-to-the-mall.

I love this blue-grassy take on the story:

It’s from a musical called Precious Childwhich features many country and Contemporary Christian artists including Russ Taff, Vince Gill, and Ashley Cleveland. Even Janis Ian... anyone remember her?

Turn it up loud and enjoy!

God Rest Ye Merry!


(p.s. I give you permission to stay in bed late today.)

Us, being merry:

I told you it gets loud.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Timeless Moments

This is the use of memory:

For liberation—not less of love but expanding

Of love beyond desire, and so liberation

From the future as well as the past.
(from “Little Gidding,” T.S. Eliot)

For the first time in weeks, the house is quiet.

I am alone.

It’s a gift.

There was a time when our house felt as empty and lifeless as a fizzled-out balloon.

But not lately.

It’s been popping with beautiful chaos. Loud laughter and even louder electronic devices.  Phones and doorbells ringing nonstop. Televisions blaring from rooms that are usually vacant these days. Voices yelling calling from upstairs to downstairs and back up again.


I’ve loved it. It feels normal.

But, for a moment, I cherish this solitude.

I grab the huge stack of Christmas cards that have arrived in the mail today and a glass of tea, and head for the sunroom. There’s not much sun left, but it feels bright and cheerful there.

I savor each card.

Some are from local friends we see frequently. But more cards represent faces and voices from the past. College friends we’ve almost lost touch with. Friends from our early married days in Palm Beach. Childhood besties. High School cohorts. Former business associates. Random people we’ve met all over the place.

Some folks have been faithfully sending us annual cards for 35 years.

Until fairly recently, I kept every one of them.

Every picture and brag Christmas letter.

How can you throw away people’s stories? Thirty-five years of a family’s life in pictures and narrative.

But I did, finally. After the AVM.

I flipped through bunches like I was shuffling cards, said a little prayer of thanks for the friendships, and let them go. (The cards and pictures, not the friendships.)

I’m finally learning to live lightly.

Ironically, that makes the pleasures sweeter. Knowing that you can’t hoard the moments makes them more poignant.

So now I think…

Thank you so much for sending this adorable picture of your sweet baby. He’ll be leaving us in January, but I’ll remember how precious he is. And I am enjoying his pretty blue eyes at this singular moment in time. A moment that passes as I draw the next breath.

That passes.

The sun shifts lower into the trees outside the veranda.

I take another sip of tea.

It is bittersweet, this moment.

I close my eyes and scenes from college flash by, ignited by a friend’s card featuring her cats.

I laugh outloud, all by myself.

She was so darn funny.

She still is.

But how the heck did we get so old?

I look through the pile of opened cards in my lap. The long-haired guy that I remember dancing with a lampshade on his head (it was worse than a lampshade, but this is PG) now beams with pride as he holds his grandchild. I have to search hard to find him hiding inside that distinguished gray-haired gentleman’s guise.

Yesterday’s babies now hold babies of their own.

I sit and let it soak in.

There’s been so much rushing around, so much travel, so many Christmas parties and activities, so much company… that the season has managed to slip away, as it usually does for me. It feels like it’s over before it’s even really started. Just another whirling hurdle into the next year. 

No, I'm not ready for Christmas. I haven't even bought my husband a present yet.

Respectfully, lovingly, I rest my hand on top of the pile of cards.

I am so very grateful.

Thank you, I breathe

to the senders… to God… to the universe…

thank you

for these reminders of time’s passage.

Thank you

for showing me how the hours creep, but the years fly.

Thank you

for the gift of this moment

in which to stop

and give thanks

for all the redeemed moments of my ransomed life.


A people without history

Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern

Of timeless moments.

(from “Little Gidding,” T.S. Eliot)


To everyone who's sent us a lovely card: 

Thank you for taking the time to brighten my day. Thank you for keeping up with us. Thank you for sending it to us by Snail Mail. It is such a treat to open the mailbox and find happy things in it for once!

My days of sending hand-written cards are over now, so I appreciate receiving them more than ever. For the past couple of years, I've posted an e-card on this blog. This year's is not very good. At least one daughter has groaned, "Oh, MOM, don't put that up on the internet!" But I would love to send it to anyone who would like to receive it, imperfect picture and all.  I have sent it to some people in my contacts, but Granny got confused transferring the addresses to Smilebox, so now I'm not sure who received it. 

Please email me at if you'd like an email that's not an advertisement, and I'll forward our tacky card as soon as I get a chance.

May everyone else have a holiday filled with the love of God, which passes human understanding.

God rest ye merry...

Love, Kim

Thursday, December 15, 2011

all I want for Christmas...

December 13 was Christmas night at our house.

That’s when James got to open his Christmas presents from our side of the family. He left the next morning for Montgomery to spend Christmas with his grandparents there. (And go to Disney World!)

After a couple of years of trying to split Christmas day between Athens and Montgomery, we all came to the conclusion that every other year was a better way to share. So I’m trying to put my big girl pants on and be happy that we got to spend as much good pre-Christmas time with James as we did. (But there’s no consolation prize to New York this year. Bummer.)

We had a sweet evening decorating a gingerbread man, reading Christmas stories, and having a little dinner party with James’ great-grandmother and a precious family friend. My friend “Miz Buddy” (whom James adores) even stopped by with her dog Maggie for James to play with. He’d been begging me all week to go see her, so that was a special treat.

We sang a song or two, then James tore into his Christmas presents.

For a second, it felt like Christmas morning.

After lots of dessert, we came upstairs to brush teeth. I went to get the new toothpaste and toothbrush I’d bought for James that day.

When I came back into the bedroom, I saw something brown on the rug:

In the rush of the day, scissors and tape had been left on the bed with the wrapping paper.

James decided he needed a haircut before his trip.

I think he was going for the tonsured monk* look.

Somehow, I think that’s fitting.

He's just a little St. Francis of Assisi.

*tonsure: the part of a cleric's head, usually the crown, left bare by shaving the hair.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

St. Francis of Assisi
(1182 –1226)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So Close To Home...

This story hit so very close to home:

Beautiful tall blonde.


In her twenties.

Living her dream.

Bright, even brilliant, future…

But, in an instant,

something unimaginable happens:

changing life forever.

Brain injury?

Anguished parents.

Cries to God.

Prayers from around the world,

sent up like a fragrant offering.


God is glorified.

But, oh,

don’t forget to count the cost.

My prayers are with them all,

but especially with the mother.

 I think of Mary.

Mary, did you know…

your child was born to suffer?


“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” (Philippians 1:29)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, those who have been called unto His purpose.”
 (Romans 8:28)


As we did in April, 2008,, they have established a caringbridge site:

I know the Scruggs family would appreciate your prayers as much as we have.

This is such familiar territory.

Friday, December 2, 2011


(A post on Thanksgiving... late, as always.)

I am feeling very, very full.

We ate a lot on Thanksgiving and in the days following.

I fixed:

Baked brie with cranberry-pecan topping
Smoked salmon with mustard sauce and capers
Pumpkin bread
Broccoli casserole
Creamed corn
Baby lima beans
Cranberry-Apple Crunch
Pumpkin cobbler
Cranberry pudding pie

Jay and Katherine made:

Butternut squash crustini
Pumpkin soup
Turkey (delicious! Good going, Jay.)
Squash casserole
Sweet potatoes

My husband cooked:

Crab cakes

The other girls made:

Chocolate-Pecan pie

Plus, we had disgusting treats like divinity and chocolate cupcakes.

Even goody bags filled with candy.

I am accustomed to Thanksgiving celebrations involving up to 80 people. (My mother comes from a large family.) But this was just for 8 of us, counting James and Jay’s cousin Johnny, who happened to be in L.A. for auditions. (He’s moved to New York.)

All that food for 8 people.

Full isn’t a strong enough word.

Stuffed. To. Overflowing.

But it wasn’t just about the food.

Strolling along the Santa Monica pier last Saturday with my husband and grandson, I recognized a rare, but sweetly familiar, feeling.

It’s the same feeling I had when we brought home a new-born baby.


A feeling of fullness… contentment… wholeness.

 Satisfaction. Satiation. Completion. Consummation.


Too often, I carry a feeling of incompletion around like an empty sack on my back.

A sense that something is missing.

Actually, that someone is missing.

Wherever I am, there’s a little hole in my heart for the ones not there.

Our nuclear family was not, is not, perfect. But there is an unusual symbiosis of unique individuals that makes an interesting mix. The mixture creates wholeness. On the surface, two of my daughters appear to be polar opposites in many ways. The third has opted out of either extreme, and expresses herself in a singular manner. My husband and I have different, but equally strong personalities.

And yet, we are better together.

When we are all together, it’s almost magical.

At least electric. 

It’s raucous and wild and sweet and cozy all at the same time.

There is boisterous laughter and serious discussion.  

It’s loud.

Very, very loud.

(My grandson James frequently puts his hand over his ears and yells, “Stop talking!”)

But we can’t help it.

There is a joy in being all together again. Every link in place in the chain of love.

I don’t take these times for granted. As life goes on, they become increasingly rare. Every nuclear family suffers the fissure of the empty nest syndrome. The little chicks must fly off on their own to pursue their destinies… create families of their own. So as time goes on, those original family together-times become more precious.

They almost ended for us forever in April of 2008.

Now it is a very treasured gift when I can gather all my little chicks around me.

There is an exquisite sense of fullness.



Back in the Dark Ages, there used to be a church service on Thanksgiving morning. I loved the old hymns we’d sing. There was a beautiful simplicity in the ancient songs. My all-time favorite is “We Gather Together.” When the kids were young, we’d go to church, then pile in the car to drive to my grandmother’s house an hour away. My aunts (school teachers) would dress all the children up like Pilgrims and Indians, and then they would sing for us.

Can you imagine anything sweeter than a little band of Pilgrims and Indians lisping, “We gadder togadder”?

It made my heart glad.


As I was walking along the Pier last Saturday, thinking about fullness, a thought flashed:

Gathering together to worship is a gorgeous thing that gladdens the heart of God.

God created us for the purpose of relationship… with Him and with each other. He hates estrangement, division, separation. He longs to gather all of His children back into His loving arms. He desires for His “quiver to be full.”

Jesus expressed the cry of His heart:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37)

God experiences loss when His children wander away from Him. When His family is incomplete. When a child is missing.

It is not His will that even one be lost.

The Father-heart of God aches with longing for His absent children. He wants His family to be complete. He leaves behind the ninety-nine good little sheep to search for one stray lamb. 

He misses us when we're gone.

Think about it:

God's heart isn't full without you.

He invites each of us to enter in to the finest Thanksgiving feast of all.

And we will be full at last.


“How long will you wander, my wayward daughter?”  (Jeremiah 31:22) 

“…in Christ you have been brought to fullness. (Col. 2:10)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, 
and our hearts are restless 
until they find their rest in thee..”
(from the confessions of Saint Augustine)

I’ve had an unsettled feeling lately. It’s almost anxiety, but not full-blown.


I feel like I need to be doing more with my life in the time I have left.

The next twenty years will go by in a blur. The older you get, the faster it goes.

Anything’s possible, but I have a feeling that it would take a miracle in order for me to be a productive, vital 80-year-old. The genetic load I have to carry is pretty heavy.

(At least I believe in miracles.)

But the clock keeps ticking.

And I keep thinking.

Squirrels run around up there.

This morning, I was trying to get some stuff done around the house before I settled down for a quiet time.

It was no use. The “unsettled” feeling became too uncomfortable to bear.

I headed back upstairs to the “prayer chair.”*


I started out with a pretend prayer, where I just close my eyes and argue with myself. Providing both question and answer. Of course, that never gets me anywhere. Then I start asking for help in stilling myself and my racing thoughts.

“Help me hear Your voice, not just my own echoed back to me,” I pray.

Nothing happens. Mentally twiddling thumbs.

Be still.

“I’m trying,” I pray.

Too hard.

Deep breathing.

Exhale self, inhale Spirit.

There is no rush here. There’s nothing more important.

Finally, I feel some peace. I start over again, calmly laying out my prayer needs. As I pray for others, I feel my shoulders loosening up.

I sense that I am heard, and that my prayers are being answered.

Then I get back to what’s wrong with me.

“Lord, I don’t know what’s going on. I feel on the brink of something, but I don’t know what. I feel you calling me to a new place, but I don’t know where. And I don’t know what I might have to give up in order to get there. But I do know there’s stuff I need to get out of my life.

I’ve already got more on my plate than I can handle, but I want to do something more.

I want to serve.

Time is running out!

Immediately, the answer hits me right between the eyes:

“I have all the time in the world.”

And then we started laughing.

I got this sense that God was merry. That His eyes were twinkling like stars.

As if He were saying something like, “Oh my darling, silly girl…”

He created time. He created the world. He created me.

He owns all three.

We are all in His hands.

And there is a plan.


“This is what the Lord says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you…” (Isaiah 49:8)

Remember the things I have done in the past.
For I alone am God!
I am God, and there is none like me.
Only I can tell you the future
before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish…
I have said what I would do,
and I will do it.
(Isaiah 46:9-11)

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. (Ephesians 1:9-11)

(All scriptures from the NLT translation.)


Does anyone else struggle with restlessness?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No French Fries For Breakfast???

When the cats were away...

the mice did play!

Week before last, my adorable son-in-law strolled into the Granny Shack (aka Munchkin Manor) to remind me: You do remember that tomorrow’s our surprise trip to Hawaii, right?

No, Granny didn’t remember. Granny is getting old. And the weeks in LA had been a busy blur. That afternoon, Katherine and I had gone over our schedule for the next couple of days. It was to be even busier over the long weekend.

But, no.

Instead, my sweet son-in-love whisked his wife off to Hawaii for six days to celebrate their seventh anniversary. He informed her that she was going an hour before James and I drove them to the airport at 7:00 a.m.  (He’d packed her suitcase while she was attending a function the night before.)

Then, suddenly, there was just James and Mimi and five days of fun!

No schedule.


Because of our life circumstances, I don’t always get to be the indulgent, spoiling granny. I have to be the Mean Disciplinarian more often than I like. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for some grandmotherly indulgence.

Doing things the cats wouldn’t allow.

So the mice headed into Santa Monica for our first adventure…

a Happy Meal at McDonald’s!

James’ health-conscious parents never would have darkened the doors of such an establishment. But James thought he’d been given a one-way ticket to Heaven. Caressing the decorate-it-yourself Halloween pail that was the Happy Meal prize, he inhaled his fries and chicken nuggets. Then we decorated the pail, front and back, and went on our way to do some

serious shopping!

(his Mom hates that more than just about anything… unless it’s at Costco.)

James expressed his sartorial independence by picking out a cool new shirt for himself at the Gap. Mimi added some needed pants and socks. As we left the store, James held the bag like it was gold. He even chewed on it.

"Look, Ma, some high-end shopping!"

Then we hit Tory Burch and Nordstrom...

and rewarded ourselves with major ice cream… in the middle of the day, for no special occasion.

The next day, James didn’t want to go to school.

But after promises of more FUN, he rallied.

After school was out, we headed back to the coast. Auntie Amie was out of town, so we were staying at her apartment, the Santa Monica Ritz. We sent her this pix to make her miss us:
James enjoying a cup in Aunt Amie's bed.
Lunch was at a local Arby’s where the main course was…

French fries!

Then we met up with Auntie Grace and her good friend Erica and strolled over to the Santa Monica pier.  
Life’s such a merry-go-round.

We all ate at Umami that night. James ordered…

The next morning, James was raring to go. Mimi was trying to tidy up Aunt Ames’ apartment in her absence.

James didn’t like the breakfast choices in Aunt Ames’ refrigerator. “I’m hungry, Mimi!” he cried.

“Okay, James, we’ll go get something to eat in a minute.”

“I want French fries!” he yelled, awakening the late-partying neighbors next door.

Finally, the non-indulgent granny had to surface. “I’m sorry, James, no French fries for breakfast. We eat protein in the morning. French fries are just a special, occasional treat.”


The Tragedian emerged:

After calmly explaining that French fries aren't available in the morning hours, ("There's not even one single French fry being fried in Los Angeles at this hour, James!"), we settled upon the nearest Starbucks as a compromise. James got into the scene, electronics and all. I texted away as I drank my coffee. We felt way too cool.

We met up with Auntie G and Erica after breakfast. They had promised to play with James while I ran a few errands. "Playing" turned out to be a trip to the toy store. (Aunts can be indulging, too.)

We hit Jack-in-the-Box for lunch.

I braced myself for conflict. "Okay. You may have French fries if you eat a protein first. Here are your choices…”

James chose a grilled cheese sandwich from the list of options.

And then refused to eat it.

He blew bubbles in his milk instead.

I drew a French fry out of the bag and ate it slowly and deliberately, licking my lips.

"Don’t you want your French fries, James?"

"Yes! I want my French fries now!"

"Okay. Then all you have to do is eat your sandwich."

By the end of the dialogue, it came down to: “EAT ONE BITE OF THE SANDWICH AND YOU CAN HAVE SOME FRIES.”

Stubborn little head shake.

I read Dr. Dobson’s “Strong-willed Child” book back in the day. So I rolled up the bag and put the French fries in my purse.

Rather than give in, James chose to squat under the table.

After I snapped that picture on my phone, he decided to run away. A Jack-in-the Box employee even held the door open for him. The cute octogenarian couple sitting next to us were startled awake when I screamed, “Don’t let that kid out the door!” as he headed towards the parking lot off Wilshire.

I scooped him up and threw him into his car seat. 

He fell asleep on the way home. 


Our mini-vacation was action-packed with lots of other adventures, from a picnic at the beach… trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

(In L.A., that’s a trip!)

James’ parents returned from their idyllic 6-day vacation Tuesday night; I flew back to Georgia the next morning.

I’m only now starting to recover.


As I was downloading pictures, my husband noticed the one at the top. “What was that all about?” he asked.

When I told him it was about No French Fries For Breakfast, he said, “You absolutely have to write a post about it.”

So I started this chronicle, having no idea where it was headed, except as an excuse for why I haven’t had time to write lately. Since then, I’ve written a line or two here and there, been interrupted countless times. (This coast is busy, too.)

But I think I’ve finally gotten the lesson I’m supposed to learn.

The morning after I started writing, my daily reading happened to be the good old manna and quail story from Numbers.* Those forgetful Israelites whining for French fries meat. Wanting to go back to the security of their slavery.

I’ve been whining a lot, too, lately. My prayer life has resembled a shopping list.

I realize: However God blesses me, I always want more.

I’m not talking about praying for a new car or a face-lift or a parking space, either.

My shopping list has more to do with “good outcomes” for people I love. Or for more ‘peace’ (or other spiritual blessings) for me. Or for better circumstances. Or less pain.

As if whatever I am given today… whatever I have today… is not enough.

Contrite and humbled, I am reminded, yet again:


But I keep demanding French fries for breakfast…

and refusing to eat the grilled cheese that is lovingly offered to me.


By the last couple of days of our time together, James’ attitude had mysteriously changed.

(Kids are so malleable.)

He was incredibly cute and sweet.

For some reason, he kept thanking me for everything.

His breakfast. The Halloween bucket from McDonald’s. Even the candy that he had collected himself.

He kept telling me, “Mimi, I love you sooooo much.” 

He even told me I was beautiful.

He was my sweet little shadow until the moment I left.


Dear Lord,
Please help me to change.
Forgive me for whining.
Grant me the gift of a grateful heart…
one that is full of praise and adoration...
 even when I don’t get what I think I want.
And help me to remember that all I really want or need 
is to be with You.

*“You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” (Numbers 11:18-20)

(p.s. The spacing in this was mostly Blogger's, not mine. Life of it's own. Oh well, I'm hitting "publish" anyway.)