Friday, July 31, 2015

Try: In Which My Daughter Teaches Me, Yet Again!

It's Five Minute Friday, again, the day when writers 'just write', on a one-word prompt, for five minutes. No time to edit, no time to revise, no time to rethink. Just. Write. So, once again, much as I try, I can't seem to bring it all in under the five-minute mark. But I'm getting closer. This week's prompt, appropriately, is TRY,

We drive home from the clinic with the radio on. At first it is simply background noise because we talk about my daughter's appointment. This appointment was to start the process of a referral for a second opinion for a possible upcoming procedure. Sounds kind of wishy-washy, doesn't it? But the possible procedure is a big deal.

And now I have to digress. From the time she was in grade school, my daughter participated in Special Olympics in some form -- she's competed in cheerleading, and basketball, bowling, and track-and-field. It was during her high school years in track-and-field that we started noticing a more pronounced hitch in her step. A definite limp. Not that we ever really cared about her times, we noticed a distinct slow-down and kick-out. She still told us she was 'fast as a rocket', but it was becoming obvious that her orbit was on a slow decay.

So started the process of finding out what was going on with our joy-in-the-running girl. The first orthopedic doctor had her walk on her toes, then try to walk on her heels, then he measured the lengths of her legs. He told us that this hitch-step we observed was related to the low-muscle tone which was related to her Down syndrome. He told us it would probably get worse as she aged, but that there was really not much to be done. We let her keep running; after all, who can stop a rocket?

We saw him a second time, the following year; the hitch-step was worse; she was throwing her leg to the side as she labored down the track. Smile as wide as the stadium, dead last every time. My husband didn't accept his opinion this time, and we asked our insurance company to send us to someone else. Much has been said about military insurance - our experience has been very good. Within a month, we were seeing another orthopedic specialist.

This one took an x-ray. And showed us that Sierra's hip was not completely in its socket, showed us that her socket wasn't quite as round and deep as it should be, showed us that there was much more going on with our daughter than mere low-muscle tone. Then came an explanation of a possible surgery that could correct the joint. In involves breaking the bone around the socket and pinning it back in a new position - a deeper, rounder position that will better cradle the head of the femur. It possibly involved breaking the ball off of the head of the femur and repositioning it so it would better nestle into the newly-formed socket. This doctor suggested the procedure might need to be done in the future; it was not imminent because my daughter was not experiencing any pain. He also let us know that complete hip replacement was also an option -- but that we would want to hold off for a time -- the life span of hip replacement is around 10 years and Sierra was only 20 at this point.

My brain whirled. I memorized the name of the complicated surgery - periacetabular osteotomy, with a possible femoral osteotomy. And I went home and started looking it up online. It is a very specialized procedure and not really done by many orthopedists. Our instructions after this visit, were to keep an eye on Sierra's joint; watch for further movement out of socket, and watch for arthritis (a new character in the saga -- and not a very nice one).

So - long story short - four years, two military moves, and four orthopedists later - we are looking at a more imminent procedure. And the clinic visit yesterday was to request a second opinion and if-we-have-to-have-it-done request that Sierra be seen by the hip specialists at Boston Children's Hospital.

So, my daughter and I are on our way home from the clinic where I requested the referral to send us 330 miles away to see these specialists, and we are talking about how friendly her primary care manager is, and my mind is whirling again because this process is a bit daunting - and remember, the radio is playing... It's one of my favorite songs - upbeat and catchy. I look at my daughter and tell her I love this song, and her actions show me that she has shifted from the conversation to the music. First, she starts clapping. Then the clapping widens to include an on-the-beat shoulder swing. Then she gives me an eyebrows-raised, wide-eyed grin of recognition. "It's SHAKE, Mom, look!", accompanied by a shimmy and a hair flip. And finally, the statement that practically makes it impossible for me to drive, I'm laughing so hard...

"It's SHAKE, I wrote it."

Oh God! Help me to look at life through my daughter's eyes. Help me to enjoy each moment. Help me to push away the whirling worry of things I can't control, and help me to put into place, the things I can. Help me to laugh more, dance more, sing more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just Some Thoughts

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! 
Strive for full restoration, 
encourage one another, 
be of one mind, 
live in peace. 
And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)

Our conversation was about centerpieces, place settings, and the menu. My mom always tells me about her plans. This week she's trying a new meat dish, something she saw on Pinterest. Something that had her mouth watering before she'd finished reading the list of ingredients. She wants everything to be perfect for the company she's invited.

That company? They're strangers, really. She knows their names from the directory; she's seen their faces sitting in the pew at the back of the church on Sundays. But she doesn't know about their families. She doesn't know the stories of their growing-up years. She doesn't know their hopes, or their dreams, their fears, their strengths. They will be sitting at her dining room table tomorrow, along with my dad, my sister and her kids, and the new pastor of the church.

Why? Because my mom is doing a Celebration Dinner. She invites church members to her home once a month for good food and conversation, an opportunity to get to know, to enjoy, to fellowship. To honor.

I hardly know how to express what I'm thinking. See, my mom didn't make this up herself. She and my dad were the recipients of a different kind of Celebration Dinner several years ago; a dinner given by a man my dad had rented a room from during his once-upon-a-time-before-his-retirement-contract-work-out-of-state days. This gentleman and my dad became discussion buddies and friends. He opened his home to my family, not only for a Celebration Dinner, but also as an overnight stop while they traveled cross country.

He explained his reasoning to my mom. He explained that he always held a dinner for eight, but he only invited one. That one got to invite the other guests. That one got to choose the menu. Whatever they wanted. If he didn't know how to make it, he learned. He was a 'there you are' kind of guy and made his guest feel welcome and interesting. He honored them. This impressed my mother so much that she brought her version to her hometown. To her home.

Here are some thoughts.

First, I sometimes wonder how many absolutely wonderful, positive expressions of reaching out, of community, of fellowship are happening across America. Without the fanfare of media attention. Without a 'good-job, or pat-on-the-back'. Happening because it's just, plain cool. I think it's happening more than we know. I hope it's happening more than we know.

Second, even if we can't or don't do full-blown Celebration Dinners, can't we do SOMETHING to celebrate each other? To get to know one another better? To share our stories? To encourage?

Send a card
Write a note
Smile more
Call an old friend
Write a personal message on Facebook
Share what you enjoy
Leave an encouraging comment
Jot down a friendly note on a restaurant tip (not instead of the tip...with it - servers work HARD)
Listen better
Ask to help (I added this after reading 3 Magic Words)

Just some thoughts - What do you think? Do you have other ways to reach out to others in celebration? 

Linking with ThreeWordWednesday, and TellHisStory

And now, a confession. I know better than to write a post without an actual scriptural reference, and though I used the reference to 2 Corinthians, it fit the fact that we should encourage one another, but didn't address or reference how. I've been given a gentle nudge in a better direction and want to share the results. 

Honor each other (this sounds like Celebration Dinners..)
1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)
"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

Meet together (it's hard to encourage in a vacuum - there are multiple verses that address fellowship)
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near."

Choose positive language
Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,"

Sing more - share your music with others
Colossians 3:16 (KJV)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Be a friend, buddy, mentor
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

Accept (This one sounds easy, but we so often try to change people to our own expectations...)
Romans 15:7 (NIV)
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

Forgive, don't gossip, be careful with sarcasm
Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV)
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

There are more. But these are enough for me to consider for awhile. How about you? Do you have a favorite verse that leads to encouragement?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fourteen Things You Should Know About Moving

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Psalm 90:1-2

Don't ask me why I did it, but the other day, I decided to count up how many times I've moved in my life. I made up the rules as I went. Rule #1: I had to actually move either all of my own belongings, or all of the household from one physical address to another (no, moving from room to room inside a house doesn't count, AND, teacher friends, moving from one room to another inside the same school doesn't count either). Rule #2:  I couldn't count the same address twice, even if I moved out then moved back in again.

Grand total? Thirty-three. Yup, I said it. Thirty-three times.

And here's the kicker. Spoiler alert... I am fifty-six years young, so that averages out to a move every 0ne-point-six-nine-seven years (rounded, of course!). However, as you know, statistics can be deceiving. I actually spent 11 years in the same house when we lived in New Jersey, which included all of my elementary school and middle school, and I spent four years at the same address in Phoenix. More about the high school situation following... But, that does something to the true average, doesn't it? If I take away those 15 years, and the two moves, the truer picture is move every one-point-three-three years. No wonder I get antsy after living in the same place for a year or so...

Places? I was born near Chicago. Before I turned two, we moved to New Jersey. My dad was transferred from New Jersey to Arizona with his job in the fall of my freshman year of high school. Honestly, I wish I could count the different high schools as moves, so as a cheat, I'll just try to explain.

See, Phoenix was a rapidly growing city in the 70's and my sister and I are only a year apart. So, common-sensically (new word, get used to it), mom enrolled us both in the not-yet-built high school that was to serve our area. Thunderbird High School. Because the building wasn't yet completed, we were on split sessions with the previous-area high school - Moon Valley High School, the one that was bursting at the seams from the rapid growth of the city. Come to find, my sister, a year older than me, was actually supposed to be a student at Moon Valley. She was part of the last class from our neighborhood to graduate there. AND, come to find, I wasn't really a student of Thunderbird because there was still ANOTHER school to be built. Greenway High School. So, in my freshman year, I attended a school in New Jersey until we moved at the end of September, and was a student of Thunderbird High School on split sessions with Moon Valley students on their campus until April when Thunderbird opened its campus. The following fall, Greenway opened its campus and we settled into being the first class to graduate.

After graduation, I went to Brazil as an exchange student for a year. I arrived and stayed with a wonderful family in Rio de Janeiro for a month of intensive language training (Portuguese), and then flew to a small city in the northeast. Yes, I am counting the stay in Rio. But I won't count it twice - you'll see why in a sec... I lived with a family in Maceio, the capital of the state of Alagoas, for about four months before I was granted the opportunity to move back to my original family in Rio. See, according to Rule #1, I can't count moving back to the same place. However, I moved with this family when they sold their apartment and bought a new one in a nicer area of the city.

At the end of the year, I traveled back to Phoenix (Rule #1), and prepared to go to the University of Arizona in Tucson in the fall. Tucson counts as a move, although I only stayed there one semester. Quite honestly, I felt like I needed to be with my family. So, back to Phoenix - doesn't count. After a semester at home, I was ready to leave the nest again. I enrolled at Arizona State University, and made arrangements to live with my cousin and her husband. By the time I graduated, I had moved with my cousin's family from a small condo to a house. Then I took off on my own, renting a garage apartment, and finally moving into a house with three roommates. Side note - I also changed majors a couple of times. I wonder if I should count intellectual moves, right?

Are you getting bored yet? The count, by the time I graduated college at 23, is ten places, nine moves. After college, were three different apartments in Colorado (and two different jobs). Then I spent five months with my grandmother in Indiana - she had suffered an aortic aneurism and needed live-in help. Why not? Right? OK, so I moved back to Phoenix, staying with my family until I could get my own place. Four jobs and five apartment/houses later, I met and married. In the space of six years, we moved to Illinois, then to Wyoming, then back to Phoenix. By the time we divorced, my daughter was three. The official count stands at 23 places, 22 moves, which includes six states and two countries.

My daughter and I moved into a roommate situation in a condo in Phoenix. I knew I needed to go back to school in order to find a viable career to support us. I found a trailer with a small yard that I could afford, and took out a loan to get my teaching certification. I met my favorite Army guy; we married and I started teaching. In 17 years of teaching, I have changed schools eight times. Fast forward to today, I have had teaching certificates in Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and now, New York. Four of them are current.

Before he rejoined the Army, my man and I moved again - this time from Phoenix to Flagstaff. Once into an apartment, the second time, into a trailer. Then the military moves began. We rented a house while he was stationed at Fort Campbell. At Fort Hood, we lived on post for a couple of years, then bought and remodeled a house where we stayed for three years. In Virginia, we were supposed to get housing on post, but circumstances put us on a wait list that would have meant temporary housing for over a month. So we rented a house. Then we bought a house. Then my husband got orders for a change of station to Fort Drum. We are on post here. Grand total, 34 places, 33 moves.

So, what have I learned? What can I share?

1.  Home is not a place, it's a combination of the people you surround yourself with and your attitude. My husband and my daughter are my home. There was a time, during all of the moving around, when I was not a believer. I am now. Thankfully, I also know that Jesus is my home - there is always room in His arms to rest and recharge. He is a faithful guide and companion.

2.  Take it one step at a time. Anything is do-able if you break it up into do-able pieces.

3.  You will always use more boxes than you think you need.

4.  Don't pack book boxes too heavy.

5.  Pack boxes full, so they can stack and not crunch down. Don't skimp on packing paper. You use it to wrap and protect, but you can also crumple it into a ball to fill awkward spaces inside boxes.

6.  Use lots of crumpled paper in dish packs. It keeps them light enough to move, and sturdy enough to stack.

7.  Invest in good packing tape and a sharpie. Label your boxes. Label your boxes. Label your boxes.

8.  I need a view and light. I am not happy in a home without them. It took me awhile to learn this; if I had known earlier, I might have saved my family a few moves.

9.  Surround yourself with familiar and loved scenery. Hang pictures on the walls. I enlarge and frame many of my photos - this doesn't have to be expensive. Look for half-price deals and use poster frames. I have also used the engineer print service to blow up black and white pictures.

10.  Start your church hunting as soon as you arrive. We have been introduced to more good people and good community activities and events through churches then through any other organization (save work...). Visit as many as it takes to find your church home. Stay when you recognize your family.

11.  Keep your medical records, financial records, and vital papers in a safe, transportable file. You don't want to have to hunt through (remember - label those boxes...) boxes to find them.

12.  If your occupation requires state certification (as does teaching), start the process early. Some states take awhile and you can't apply for a job unless the certification is in place.

13.  Keep your sense of humor. I'll never forget moving from Flagstaff to Tennessee. My husband and I had literally thrown all of our household goods into a big U-Haul truck and were hoofing it across country. We couldn't miss the sign for a Toad Suck Park as we drove through Little Rock, Arkansas.... I'm sure there's a good story behind that one. I couldn't figure out if Suck was being used as a noun or a verb, and couldn't keep a graphic picture out of my mind illustrating what was happening to toads in that park. We laugh about it to this day.

14.  No matter where you live, in whatever circumstances, find the beauty around you - even if it's a weed that springs up in glorious color. God's handiwork is amazing. Look at the details. Take pictures.

Bottom line, what's the take away? Moving is considered a major cause of stress. It is important to know what your non-negotiables are. For me, it's a good church, a house with a view and some natural light, and my family. Your family and your spiritual life are your constants. 

We change. Our circumstances change. Our physical homes change. Our jobs change. Our children change. 

God never does. He. Is.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Not a New Thing

The Adoration of the Christ Child
Flemish Painting circa 1515,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. 
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 
I John 4:7 (NIV)

I purchased a doll for my daughter, Sierra, years ago. Of course it wasn't her first doll, and it wasn't to be her last. But I thought this particular doll was important for Sierra to have, so I gathered up some rare-at-the-time money and I sent for her, Dolly Downs, through a mail-order site. I think my daughter may have just turned two.

Up at the top of this blog, is a list of my pages. My home page carries posts in backwards chronological order, the further down you scroll, the farther back you go. There is a page of stories, I pulled out the titles and first paragraph or so and linked them to the original post so they wouldn't get lost in the archives. There is a page for poetry as well. Then, there's a page of old posts from a blog I started and discontinued years ago. I just couldn't let them go away, so I saved them here. But the first link on that page list is titled Down Syndrome. See, my daughter has Down syndrome (DS); this page includes links to every post I've written about my girl. And it includes links to other websites and blogs by and for people with DS.

Sierra was developmentally delayed. This is typical for kids with DS. In fact, I suppose that at age 24, she continues to be developmentally delayed, but I just don't tend to notice it these days. Our world focuses on her CANS and not so much on her CAN'Ts (but that's another post). So, back in the early days, she was barely sitting up on her own, she wasn't walking, she wasn't drinking from a cup, she wasn't crawling. But, I had placed a mirror sideways along the wall where she could see it. She scooted up to it and looked and looked. I wondered what she saw. I wondered if she recognized the girl in the mirror. I wondered if she needed a role model, if she needed to see another face that looked like hers, with the button nose, the bright smile, and the epicanthic fold that crinkled her eyes to nothing when she laughed. That's when I ordered the special doll with the special features.


Then the doctor said she'd need glasses. At two. I went right out bought a couple of packages of those party-favor sunglasses from Walmart. I took them home and popped out the darkened lenses and put them on every single face I could find. Mine. My husband's. ALL of Sierra's dolls. I put a couple of pairs of those crazy frames in the bathtub with Sierra so she could get used to wearing them. She was finally wearing her real glasses by the time Dolly Downs arrived, so I drew a pair of glasses right onto that doll's fabric face. My daughter was, quite simply, delighted.

Here's the point. A lot has been written about models and role models and diversity. No one really wants to be an island. From the rising representation of diversity in advertisements, to the recognition of worth and accomplishments of people of all races and ethnicities, male and female, typically-abled and challenged, we (meaning humanity in general) want to see ourselves. We want to know that we're not alone. We want to know that we matter. We want to feel like we're somehow important enough to notice. And this isn't a new thing.

I recently came across this painting from early in the 16th century. The artist is unknown, but by the style and subject, thought to be a follower of Jan Joest of Kalker, a Flemish painter. There are two figures in this painting with Down syndrome. Imagine! One is the angel just to Mary's left. The other is the shepherd directly behind (and above) the angel centered on the manger. One a heavenly being, the other, salt of the earth. Included. In places of honor.

We want to see ourselves. We want to know that we're not alone. We want to know that we matter.

Linking with Monday Musings, and Small Wonder

Friday, July 24, 2015

When I Was Ten

Today is Five-Minute Friday. Five minutes to write - no time to edit, no time to think, no time to plan. Just. Write. The prompt is TEN. Go....

When I was ten, I thought fairy godmothers were real,
I thought little girls could become princesses as long as they were home before midnight.
I thought happily ever after was a place, just beyond the orange-slurpee sunset
I thought leprechauns danced on pots of gold
And rainbows were bridges to heaven

When I was ten, I thought tornadoes picked up houses and carried them to magical places
With yellow-brick roads, and talking scarecrows
And flying monkeys
And witches that melted like brown sugar

When I was ten, I believed in Tinkerbell and the Magic Kingdom.
I watched Mutual of Omaha and Doctor Welby, MD
And Ed Sullivan's Variety Show.
I watched newsreels of an undeclared war in a far-away place
I saw an American flag planted on the moon by men in marshmallow spacesuits
And I heard gunshots fired at night and heard the news of gas stations burning
To protest busing and segregation and inequality
Dr. King died when I was ten.

When I was ten, I played outside until dark
Kick the can, Flashlight Tag, Capture the Flag,
Sometimes I just walked the trails of a nearby woods,
And thought about the people who lived before
All the houses and roads and factories and schools
I made myself a bow and arrows and played pretend

When I was ten, I swam like a dolphin
Like a butterfly
I competed
I won

When I was ten,
My family used to take vacations to visit relatives
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents
On farms far away from the city-suburbs
Even my great-grandparents were alive
When I was ten.

What memories!
What lessons!

I still carry that ten-year old
Inside with the starlight, starbright imagination
Inside with happily ever after hope
I still see that ten-year old in the faces of my niece and nephew
In the family resemblance,
In their curiosity
And their joy
I still remember the heartbreak and pride of news
Long gone and still heavy in my heart

When I was ten, I never thought I'd be one of the old people saying When I was...

Friday, July 17, 2015

How Do You Choose?

Welcome to Five-Minute Friday, where writers madly scramble to respond in five minutes to a one-word prompt. No editing, no revisiting, just the page, the thoughts, the words, and the timer. The word today: Free. 

Our Creator was. And is. And is to come.
Eons passed in His Void before He spoke.
From His breath, emptiness became.
Darkness, light, heavens, earth, oceans, and sky.
All that we know, all that we are, fashioned and molded
Lovingly, purposefully, with great gentleness and quiet command.

Thou shalt not eat of the tree...

But we did. And we do. And we will continue.
Children of Mighty Jehovah
Created with free will

And there are wars.
And there is poverty,
And slavery,
And abuse.
Great sadness,
And terror.

But there is also kindness.
There is sacrifice,
And humility,
And community,
Seeds of faith,
and grace.

Created with free will.

How do you choose?

I wanted to respond to the shooting in Chattanooga, a terrorist act against our military. My husband is military. I am military. I remember the shooting on Fort Hood. The shut-down of schools - the scrambling to pick up my daughter - the frantic phone calls and text messages to know that my husband was safe. For our family, peace in the moment. For others, a forever reminder that our world is not. Not  

And now this. Again. It is one thing to know, intellectually, from a distance, that we are hated. It is another to feel it, see it, in acts of terror in our own home. 

The problem is free will. The answer is free will. In all things. I choose to not be frightened by circumstances, both beyond my control and beyond my comprehension because I believe in Jesus Christ, my Savior, and my hope for a new world. A better world. A world I will be a part of. I choose hope. I choose love. I choose joy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Saving the Best

This is a super-busy week for my family and me. No writing. But I'd like to share this post from a couple of years ago. It seems that lately, many events have overwhelmed the headlines, the news, social media. Sometimes, I need a reminder to stop and search for joy - especially in the little things and the overlooked. I've noticed most of my writing recently has been about that very thing. You know what they say - when your mind won't allow you to let go of something, it's probably time to pay special attention. 

Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.
John 2:10

I was always curious about the water into wine thing - the first recorded miracle Jesus performed - at the wedding party of a friend.  It just seemed so unimmortal - kind of an anti-miracle.  Not exactly what one would expect from the Son of God - not something as common as wine and water.  He changed water into wine.  Because the feast of celebration had gone on for three days and his mother had told him of the shortage.  Because he and his disciples had added extra mouths to the party.  Because he didn't want the bridegroom or his family to be embarrassed by the shortage.  Because it was needed.

I had to look it up - on - just to see how important a role wine had in the day.  Wine.  Is kind of a miracle in itself.    Fruit of the vine, grown to sweet ripeness, picked, and pressed - the juices separated from the husk - stored, and strained.  Sometimes simple - like grape juice - sometimes fermented like the wine we are more familiar with today.  Spiced, reduced, imported, or home-grown.  Wine was common.  Drunk by all ages, all castes, rich and poor alike.  It was offered as a drink offering in the temple; it was considered a basic household staple.  Although warned against overindulgence, people in Jesus's time didn't mind a little tongue-loosening and happy partying with good wine.  An abundance of wine ranked right up there with signs of God's blessings.

Which is exactly why I'm curious about this water into wine thing.  Jesus was helping the party - that three-day-old-I-can't-even-imagine party - to party on.

Yesterday, my family and I took a little day trip to the coast.  We went via the 'scenic route' - which we thoroughly enjoyed for all the right reasons.  It was, after all, scenic.  We came home via the highway - been-there-done-that with the longer, slower route - we wanted to get home  We had things to do, schedules to follow, deadlines to meet.  But the highway didn't end up being the shortest distance on the timeline - someone had driven off the road and was stuck in the median - and we were stuck in a giant traffic jam.  We moved slowly, for the most part.  Very slowly.

Slowly enough that I had some time to actually look along the shoulder of the road.  The shoulder of the highway was verdant and lush - it had been recently mowed, but there were errant stalks of wild grass bravely swaying in the breeze of the crawling cars.  I was fascinated.   Enough so, that I pulled my camera off the floor, opened my window, and started shooting.  This camera has an amazing lens on it - a 42x optical zoom.  I actually enjoyed the time spent in that traffic.  What I saw was eye opening.  Looking through the viewfinder is an introduction to a whole different planet.  A whole different planet also created by God.  But this is a planet of small things - things missed from normal vantage - beautiful colors and incredible compositions.  Common things.  Things I would miss in my normal day-to-day drive.

But you have saved the best till now.

He changed water into wine.  Common things.  He didn't rant and rave and wave his arms.  He didn't mutter incantations and burn incense.  He didn't even lay his hands on the water jars.  He told the servants to fill them with water and then to pour and present the pouring to the headwaiter.  For his approval.  So the marriage feast - the celebration - could proceed without apology - a gift, perhaps even  a blessing to the marriage.  In the common acts, in the common sequence of events, Jesus performed a miracle.  On the highway yesterday, I had an opportunity to see the world differently - instead of the busy, hurry-up-and-go world of my everydays - the common weeds along the side of the road became something special.  A miracle.  God gave me a gift - perhaps even a blessing.  Like water into wine.

Heavenly Father, I know I lose sight of what's important sometimes.  The great will be small and the small will be great.  I need to remember those small things.  The details.  The unnoticed.  Thank you for showing me - again - the wonders of your creation.  Thank you for showing me the miracles in common things.