I've been grounded...


Between frequent trips to the east coast, a painfully slow and gimpy gait, and pure exhaustion, my "being a good friend grade" has recently dropped well below passing. I was clearly failing at even the basic just "being there" on more than one occasion. So as I headed out of town for yet one more mimi-duty trip east, I decided to stop by the nursing home to see my friend's mother...if just for a minute or two. I'd not been able to see her even once during her recent long stay in the hospital. A short visit now was the very least I could do.

"She's in the activity room." A cheerful nurse pointed me toward the end of the hall.

Several patients were seated in wheelchairs that had been arranged in a semi-circle, facing the front of the room. A man who did not appear to be a patient was reading aloud to them from the newspaper. Mary's wheelchair was on the far side of the room. To reach her, I'd have to walk through the circle between all the other patients and the man reading the paper. I considered leaving, but Mary spotted me standing in the doorway and waved. I can't leave now, I thought. I'll slip in quietly, give her a hug, tell her I love her, and be back on my way.

I whispered apologies and crossed the room as the man continued to read. Mary smiled as I leaned forward to give her a hug. "I love you." I spoke quietly near her face.

"What?" she asked.

"I love you." I repeated, with a little more volume.

"What?" Mary spoke louder, too, and the nurse sitting at the desk behind the wheelchairs chuckled.

I turned to the man who was still trying to read the paper to a now distracted audience. "I'm so sorry."

I tried one more time to be heard. Holding Mary's hand I all but shouted, "I love you."

"I love you, too, honey," she sweetly responded, though I'm not entirely sure she knew who I was. After one more hug, and more apologies to the paper reader, I sheepishly gimped my way back out of the room.

I don't think that feeble effort did much to improve my friendship grade.

Not only have I been failing at being a friend, I've also been grounded.

Protecting me from my foolish, stubborn self, Louis made decisions that I was avoiding. I've been temporarily grounded from away-from-home mimi duty. It broke my heart, but he did so because he loves me, and for that I am grateful.


I made that last trip east and brought the little boys home with me two days before Thanksgiving.

As always, Emily was the very best help. Between the two of us, we cleaned house, changed diapers, had a cousin play date with Gavin, and prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to feed fourteen people for Thanksgiving.

And a lovely Thanksgiving it was. Though we very much missed Nick and his family 'round the table, it was still one of the best. Good food. Good fellowship. Good everything, made all the more perfect when Louis and Lizbeth took charge of cleaning the kitchen afterwards. Could I really ask for anything more?


It's our tradition. The day after Thanksgiving we pack up all the fall decorations, buy our Christmas tree and begin to decorate for Christmas. I think it's a beautiful transition. Preparing for Thanksgiving our hearts have been bent on gratitude that flows so perfectly into celebrating the One for Who we are most grateful.

Because I'm all gimpy, Louis and Emily did all the hard work. It took two trips into town to find the perfect tree, and two days to string all the lights. There's a murphy's law that seems to apply to Christmas tree lights: they work beautifully when plugged in before putting them on the tree, but once they've been strung all around the tree, half of them in the middle will no longer work. It's a test of our patience, I'm sure.

The tree is now fully decorated, and little by little the rest of the decorations are finding their proper place around the house, as well. I'm not obsessed with doing it all perfectly or completely - whatever that is - this year. I just can't, and yet the contentment that comes from being satisfied with the day's accomplishments - no matter how meager they might be - is so delightful.


But I'm grounded and gimpy and my photo walks have been few and painful. Only once or twice recently have I even left the back yard. I'm fully aware of my present limitations and I don't dare walk past the point at which I must have the ability to return. So instead of the wanderings I most enjoy, I am finding pleasure in the sparrows and warblers and goldfinches that are slowly returning to the backyard feeders - surely the painted buntings will be next.

And so the season of gratitude continues. Ann has long been challenging us to number our gifts to a thousand - our thanks for the many blessings that fill our homes and lives every single day, and when Pastor Eric encouraged us this Sunday to make a list of our blessings, I knew what the Lord was asking me to do in this season of grounded and gimpy days.

A thousand gifts in twenty-five days.


to be continued...