Category Archives: hospitality

Friendship Friday ~ Dewey’s Doggie Morning

My daughter faithfully rises early each weekday morning to walk and care for her dog. She is often up before me, pulling on a coat and slipping on headphones before grabbing the leash. I remain in my room, doing my morning routine, preparing to engage another day.

One morning, I heard unusual scrambling and barking from Dewey upon returning from his walk. Run-in with ZephyrI conjectured. She’s the boss of us all. I wonder what is up with them this morning. He must have crossed her.

I stepped out of my room to find a ball of white scampering around and under the dining room table with Dewey following closely behind, barking and snapping at it. It was another terrier.

I found Louie this morning on the walk. He was loose, so I brought him here to call his owner.

Sure enough, the name on his tag read Louie, which was kind of funny considering we have Dewey. We wondered aloud if they had been at the SPCA together, and if there was a Huey out there, also.

The morning routine continued as Dewey and Louie dashed around underfoot, reminding me of why I was hesitant to get a dog in the first place and why we have only one. Steve called the number on the tag which went directly to voicemail. He then offered the following words while preparing to drive Kirk to school:

I’m going to walk Louie around the block to see if someone is looking for him while Kirk finishes getting ready.

I got in my car to wait for the girls to come out for their ride to school. They exited the house as Steve returned from his walk around the block with another little dog under his arm.

I think they belong together, because this little one came running up. I had to grab him quickly before he got away.

Then there were three! I was laughing out loud in disbelief. The little brown dog had no tag. Of course we called him Huey.

Please don’t call the SPCA until I get home. The little brown dog is SOOOOO cute! Can we keep him?

I was beyond my comfort zone as Steve deposited the dogs in the backyard while I assured my daughter that I would make no sudden moves without her. We left for school.

I am not exaggerating when I say that at the top of our street there was a large white dog off-leash doing his business. No human in sight.

We are not even stopping for Donald! We have GOT to get to school. 

I returned home to the sight of two dogs looking longingly at me through the fence.

Inside, Dewey was waiting by the back door. I opened it for him to join his friends in the back yard.

There was an incredible amount of cuteness.

Then it was time for me to go to breakfast with my son. This meant bringing Dewey inside but leaving the others out in case their owner should come looking for them. Can you guess the dynamic here? Which dog is supposed to be coming inside?

Please can I come in, too?

After a leisurely breakfast downtown, my son and I returned home to an empty yard. The dogs had been picked up. At least I hoped so!

The call came later. The dogs had, indeed, made it home, and we had made a fun family memory. I’m grateful for caring hearts, bounding dogs, and healing laughter.

Also for a fenced-in yard.

Oh. And the little dog’s name is Chance.

Update

It’s dark here on the back deck of my grandparents’ home in Clinton Township, Michigan. The hum of the air conditioner unit competes with the chirping of the crickets, as the light from my phone competes with the stars.

Man-made sound and light drowns out those of nature.  The chatter in my head drowns out the still, small voice of the Spirit. I am pushed and frenzied and expanding to hold much, as I struggle to rest in the arms of the one who holds my expansive soul.

I turn the phone upside down on my lap to brighten the night sky. My eyes adjust to the shades of dark and the silhouettes of trees against the gray sky. Overcast clouds allow stars to shine behind, not through, them, as one or two dare to peek out before being hidden again quickly.

My last visit to this area was 26 years ago with my family and fiancé the summer before I was married. Michigan, the place of childhood vacations and Christmas breaks, was a chapter closed.

This week I returned with my mom and daughter and my brother and his daughter to visit my mom’s parents. Four generations gathered in a place I had never been. It is one that many of my older children have visited, taking trips with their grandparents.

It was my turn.

It is strange to inhabit a new space filled with childhood memories. Walking through the newer, modern home with its unfamiliar floor plan, I felt the walls and shelves both comforting and disrupting with their familiar decor. Much is from another era that I remember vividly, yet is also a blur.

This has been a visit full of laughter and tears and deep conversations. There have been times of wrestling and struggling in my heart concurrent with unexpected joyful and aha moments.

I have gotten face time with precious family members who hold shared memories and also surprises. I have drawn a clearer picture of people I love, as their faces and stories come more fully into focus. Hearing their perspectives, impressions, and experiences has brought unexpected tears along with head-nodding laughter.

I have connected more deeply with my people.

Those places of connection are settling in my heart as I ponder all the conversations that these days have held. The thing about real life stories and connections is that they belong to their own tellers. This is a space for mine, and for what I choose to process and share of it.

For now it is this picture of feet side by side and propped on a table as laughter rang out while tales were told.

And also the bowl of M&Ms that kept me grounded when I needed some space and chocolate.


Goodnight, Friends. I know it is late, but this is when it is.

Arrival

Christmas came. It brought beauty, comfort, joy. It brought love. The hope I held in the waiting grew, and light broke through my darkness.

From early morning presents while live-video streaming with a man-child on the other side of the world, to sitting down for our traditional breakfast at a beautifully bedecked table, to napping and waking to the sound of laughter around the table, Christmas brought comfort and joy to my weary heart.

It brought tears.

There’s something about listening to adult children share life plans and goals around the breakfast table that touched a chord deep in my heart. How redemptive to have dreamers who can voice their dreams freely. What a gift!

My parents joined us for dinner at 4:00.

They played a game with the grand kids while Steve and I cleaned the kitchen. Redemptive grace.

More laughter.

Christmas is hard for me. I am learning to understand and find more words as to why that is. I am learning to be kind to the places that hurt. I am growing.

I took two naps.

I showered using my adult daughter’s Lush bath products, massaging a seasonal body wash over my skin, turning it a grinchy shade of green. I breathed deeply and grinned a grinchy grin. I am the grinch, and it is okay.

I laughed twice today. Real laughter. Deep laughter.

My son who was video streaming from Bali, Indonesia, as we opened gifts, later commented on my first laugh. It was fun hearing you laugh so much when you were opening your present.

Eleven-year old daughter had wrapped thirteen-year old son’s gift to me for him. A bag of peppermint-cookie Lindor truffles was wrapped in layer upon layer of paper. Each layer that I tore off revealed another. It was so funny to me, peeling back paper only to find more. Real laughter erupted from my innermost being.

I really do love my kids and their sense of humor. Mostly. Usually. When I slow down and have time to appreciate it.

The second laugh was as Steve and I were walking the grand-furs. I held Wren’s leash. He had Dewey. Steve and Dewey were ahead of us. I wondered what would happen if Wren and I passed them, so we ran ahead.

Dewey was not happy with this, and his short legs moved double-time to pull Steve along. I hadn’t told Steve my thoughts or motive for running ahead. He commented, Dewey doesn’t like having Wren ahead of him.

I started laughing. I laughed more. Wren and I let them pass us and then ran ahead again, laughter bubbling up from inside of me over how funny Dewey looked trying to catch up to and pass us. Laughter felt so good. So freeing.

It has been a good Christmas. It has been a hard Christmas. It has been a good, hard Christmas.

Hashtag blessed.

Scenes From Seattle, part 1

Because I have used up my 1,000 words, here are some pictures.

welcomeNothing says Welcome like chocolate. And an owl lamp.

restMy cozy resting place. I slept like a baby. Or maybe like a 2 year old. Either way, it was lovely.

img_5323The laptop I barely opened in the corner I loved.

img_5324Redemption truly does come in the strangest of places.

morning walkWalking to school.

walkingGetting closer.

The Seattle SchoolMy place.

coloringSo glad I decided to forgo packing all of the books and brought the colored pencils instead.

attachmentTaking notes in blue.

groupWhat I can share about group.

img_5340The ferry that I didn’t ride but watched come and go.

RestaurantChowder.

img_5347The precious people who loved me so very well all weekend. I love them.

img_5348Now I see my children not only in baristas, servers, and valets but also in street musicians. Of course I put money in the can in exchange for the picture!

Friendship Friday ~ Cousin Day

Yesterday was a special day. It had been written on a calendar block, cleared of all else. We spent all day with the Boston little boy cousins and their amazing parents.

My anxiety about having little people around for the day was alleviated quickly when this little one walked in, grabbed a recorder, and began playing while his brother accompanied him on the piano.

recorder

Uncle B patiently listened to Little Mae tell all about King’s Dominion adventures using her map of the park.

Mae and Uncle B

My baby and my sister’s baby smiled at each other a lot, which was a huge milestone for anyone who knows my baby and her thoughts about babies.

Baby B

Baby B won her over.

Mae and baby

Meanwhile, lots of creating happened. The cry of Guys, Guys! Look over here! caught my attention. I looked to see this little one with his airplane.

airplane

My much younger sister was caught wearing my perpetual mothering face in this picture. I so know the feeling.

mothering face

With everything happening at once, there were problems to solve, like the one of figuring out how to find all of the pieces and get this track to stick to the green board. Daddy to the rescue on that one! Problem solved.

track

It was sweet for my littles to get an opportunity to experience the life of their big siblings. Here Coco gets to feel like her big sisters when the littles were being born, holding a babe in arms.

Coco and baby

And these eyes and little chewing mouth. I could not get enough of them.

chewdalee chew

And this snuggly sleeper. I might have cried a little.

sleepy baby

Of course, a day with littles (or bigs for that matter) is not complete without some down time with a screen and a cuddly blanket.

screen time

This day was so full, pictures don’t do it justice. I finally had to put down the phone and just be in it, because everything was so much to take in.

I want to remember the moments of sweetness like a two-and-a-half-year-old cousin wandering into the TV room with his bowl of shredded cheese and climbing up next to Kirk and asking questions about Minecraft. My thirteen-year-old’s patient response and offer of letting him play reminded me of how Caleb treated his little brother, and my heart swelled.

I want to remember the conversations with my brother and sister that felt natural and relaxed and made us forget that we live hundreds of miles apart and that this doesn’t happen every day. Moments of falling asleep on the couch or walking out into the yard or playing UNO Attack (thanks, B!!!!) felt like they happen every day.

And dinner time. Oh, the dinner table.

I want to remember shopping with my sister and planning our meal like it’s the most normal thing in the world, all while talking about everything. I want to remember cooking and being together and living life.

I want to remember what it was like to have a full dinner table and the littles getting to be the bigs and experiencing the noise and cries and trauma of food touching other food or too much ketchup coming out of the bottle or corn on the cob rolling onto the wrong place on the plate. Our table was full and loud and fun.

Our day was full and loud and fun.

My body, mind, and soul felt full and tired and happy and sad and grateful, so very grateful.

sister selfie

At the end of the day when, Sister Selfie! was called, here is what we got. Sister selfie, plus one. I am old enough to be this girl’s mom, so I could technically be a grandma. Technically. Not yet.

For now I relish being auntie to this precious little one and his brothers and will hold so many special memories close to my heart.

It was a very good day.

Friendship Friday ~ Misty and Davene

I can’t have a Friendship Friday post on April Fool’s Day without thinking of my dear friends Misty and Davene and the wonderful season we shared together from 2006 ~ 2011 or 12ish. April 1 is Davene’s birthday. It also reminds me of the fun play date that Misty hosted one early April afternoon.

The picture above was taken on Misty’s bricked back porch the day she threw an April Fools lunch/party for us and all of our children back in 2011. She is on the left, Davene is in the middle, I am on the right. There were a lot of kids. Doing the math makes my head tired, but I had three or four littles with me, and she had four, and Davene had at least three or four, so there were a lot.

Misty prepared fun things like jello that looked like juice in cups with straws and mashed potato cupcakes and other incredibly creative snacks for the kids to enjoy. We served and shared and laughed together. The kids played. It was a sweet time.

I met Misty and Davene in the season of my second baby bunch. It was through Davene, or should I say her husband, Jeff, who connected us through our husbands whose hair he cut that we all met.

Roo was born in 2006 and was a newborn the first  time we were introduced at a potluck at the Fisher household. Kirk was 3, Coco was 1, there was no Little Mae, yet. In 2006 all of my kids still lived at home. Their ages were 14, 13, 12, 8, 3, 1, newborn. We had a full house and looked like things were under control.

My eyes tear up just typing this. There was a lot going on during that season. I was, and still am, the older mom with the older kids. Misty and Davene were my breaths of fresh air. They were the younger moms with the energy to do fun things. I wanted to bottle and inhale their mothering energy and enthusiasm, and they graciously shared their time and space and hearts with me during a time when it was so needed.

Originally, Misty and her husband weren’t planning to be in the area for long. He was in the military and finishing school. One of the best risks I took was to just be friends without worrying about how long she would be here and if it would hurt too much if she wasn’t. We started spending time together with our kids. Then sometimes without.

For a time she lived in an apartment downtown across from the old hospital. We would meet at the children’s museum with our strollers or at the park or at eachother’s houses. We would see who had what food in the house to make the sandwiches or bring the juice or goldfish or fruit. We made quite a scene parading downtown with our gaggle of children.

The best memory I have is just doing it and road-tripping with my thirdborn child and three little girls to Ocean City, NJ to spend a few days at the beach with her and her children. Wow. It shows how selective memory is, because there were moments.

There were also MOMENTS like walking on the boardwalk together after the kids were tucked safely into bed, talking and eating sweet potato fries and Kohrs peanut butter ice cream. There was the announcement as we finally arrived at the boardwalk rides one afternoon with all of the kids and our ride tickets in hand that two-ticket Tuesday is now OVER. We dissolved into laughter. Of COURSE it is!

Life has moved the three of us on to different places.  Misty and her family eventually moved out of state, leaving Facebook to keep us connected along with an occasional blast through the area and quick hug or lunch. Davene had one or two more babies and continued her path of diligent homeschooling and fervent mothering and blogging as noted here. On a rare occasion the two of us grab a coupon and an evening out to catch up over dinner or dessert.

We really should do that again, soon.

Their kids are growing. Mine are, too. While our time together will never again look just like it was, Misty and Davene’s presence in my life was and continues to be a precious gift. Entering into friendship with them is one of the best risks I ever took.

That’s no fooling!

Friendship Friday ~ Meatballs and Rice

Sometimes an email comes through your box that brightens everything and lightens the load just a little. One of these came through for me last week, as a sweet sister in Christ, a fellow Stephen Leader, followed a prompting on her heart.

She encouraged me with kind words, reminding me that I am not alone on the path, and that my labor is not in vain. A reminder of her prayers for me and her desire for me to see God’s grace in many small ways throughout the week was followed by a statement and a question or two.

Some food is coming to your porch one afternoon that you could simply reheat in the oven. What would work for you? How many family members shall I prepare for?

We worked out a plan that involved the food being left in the church refrigerator for me to take after service that Sunday. I worked on that place inside of me that struggles to receive from others.

What a blessing it was to have a ready-made meal in the refrigerator to heat up this week! The meatballs and rice were perfect on a day that involved Steve and I dividing and conquering events with various children in various locations. Not having to worry about cooking that night was a blessing.

meatballs and rice

Thank you, kind friend, for your gift. Thank you for the work you do for others and the way that you love so well. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do in the secret and quiet places. May our Father who sees in secret, bless you many times over for your thoughtfulness and generosity.