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…

 ...to 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.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

...for anyone who could use a little beautiful right about now...