Pillow Talk

I love a cold house. Like, ridiculously so. My bedroom at night is downright cold. (You can blame a certain Robb Williford for this. I had no choice but to adapt my body temperature to his arctic preferences.)

But the furnace stopped working yesterday, and the temp in the house was dropping dangerously close to my age. I’m a tough girl, but this I can’t handle. So we loaded up and came to my parents’ house, which meant three things: 1) Tuck could watch Broncos with his favorite comrade, Grandma, 2) Favorite cereals for everyone, 3) Waking up to my dad’s coffee.

It also meant that Tuck and I would be bunkmates. I came to bed after he had fallen asleep, because I’m an adult like that. I nudged him to move over and make room for me. He looked at me with narrow, sleepy eyes and pillow creases across his cheek. “Um, no, Mommy. I’m going to sleep on this side. Sorry about that.”

I forgive you. And I’ll sleep on the far side.

“Mommy, can I have that fuzzy blanket you brought up?”

“No, because you get to sleep on that side.”

He rolled over to face me, now fully awake. He looked at the book in my hands, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. (Love. Her.)

“Mommy, what does that say across the top? Number One… New… York… Tim’s… Boat Stealer.”

“Close.  Actually, it says #1 New York Times Bestseller. The New York Times is a newspaper, and they keep track of the books people love most. That means this is a book that America loves.”

He traced the letters. I said, “That’s one of my dreams, Tuck. I would love for one of my books to say that on the cover.”

He held the book out to me, “Well, look! You already have a book that says that!”

“No, I mean I book that I write. I hope someday one of the books I have written will be a New York Times Bestseller.”

“Ohhhhh…” A look of recognition. Aha. So it’s not just about collecting NYTBS, although there is great merit in that.

He opened my book, naturally filled with doodles and notes, circles and scalloped underlines. He said, almost out of the side of his mouth like he was speaking a secret we keep together, “Mommy, I told my teacher about this. I told her that you write in books.”

“Oh, did you?”

“Yes. I told her I think you underline the very best sentences, and probably also any words you don’t know.” The second grade version of ‘interacting with the text.’

I smiled. “Yep. That’s pretty much how it goes, buddy. Do you ever write in books?”

My rule-follower looked at me wide-eyed. “No. I definitely do not.”

I situated my pillow under my head as he found my bookmark, a 3×5 card with one of my favorite quotes scripted in my handwriting. He asked me to read it to him.

“It says, ‘Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. It takes so much time and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies,’ and it’s written by Shauna Niequist, one of my favorite authors.”

He rolled onto his back and said, “A million moments.”

I think this is one of them.

All This Baggage for a 20-Minute Drive

When I leave a hotel room, I try not to worry if I’ve left something behind. In part because details are just not my gig, but also I like to think it’s my gift to the next guest. Here you go. I’m paying it forward.

I head downstairs, choosing to have lunch in the hotel restaurant before I get the car – which is parked forever away.  So, I have on my person three bags and a carry-on. Which, yes, I realize is ridiculous.

The host greets me, “Ah, heading home today, ma’am?”


“And where is home for you?” Surely I cannot tell him that I brought all of this with me when I live only 20 minutes away.

“Um, Ohio.” I mean, not entirely a lie. It’s not where I’m headed right this very moment with this monstrosity of baggage, but I do feel a sense of homecoming when I arrive in the Akron/Canton airport.

“And is this your first time in Denver?”

“No, I have family here.” As in, my six- and eight-year-old whom I’ll pick up from school this afternoon.

Just couldn’t say it. Oh, this? Yes, it made sense to me to bring all this nonsense on a trip that’s barely outside my zip code.

A Cry for Mercy

A Cry for Mercy

Have mercy on me, O God,
because you promise your love never fails;
because your eyes look gently upon me,
please wash away my stains.
See me as clean.

I have sinned against you.
This will always be true,
a decision that will follow me forever.
My heart is tainted; my spirit is weak.
Give me a heart that is clean and pure.
Give me a spirit that will sustain me.

I am embarrassed to come before you.
Please don’t send me away,
but remind me that – by your mercy – I am welcome here.
Open my mouth.
Give me a melody,
give me a word,
and I will declare your praise.

I would bring you everything I have,
but these don’t matter to you.
Even if I burn my favorite things in your honor,
you would not be pleased.
These I bring to you: a broken heart and a sorrowed spirit.
These, I pray, you will cherish.

~ Adapted from Psalm 51

Mourning and Rejoicing

Sorrow never entirely leaves the soul
of those who have suffered a severe loss. . . .
but this depth of sorrow is the sign of a healthy soul,
not a sick soul.
It does not have to be morbid or fatalistic.
It is not something to escape but something to embrace.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Sorrow indicates that people who have suffered loss are living authentically
in a world of misery, and it expresses the emotional anguish
of people who feel pain for themselves or for others.
Sorrow is noble and gracious.
It enlarges the soul until the soul is capable of
mourning and rejoicing simultaneously,
of feeling the world’s pain and hoping for the world’s healing at the same time.
However painful, sorrow is good for the soul.


Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised

Sick in a Hotel Room

Sick in a hotel room.

I will spare you the details. But it was a gross night and early morning.

I pulled myself together and went to the front desk around 4 AM.

“Yes, ma’am, how may I help you?”

“I have a terribly bad headache. Where can I buy some Excedrin or Advil… or anything?” I’ll even take addictive and illegal at this point. Just, please help.

He said “Well, we do have a 7/11 across the street.”

I’m not sure what expression I gave him. Maybe nothing. I may have done absolutely nothing in response to the invitation walk outside in my jamms, in 18 degrees, cross the street, find the 7/11, find the aisle for medication, buy it, and then trek the four miles back to my bed. I think that left me speechless.

In the absence of my response, he said, “We do have some things back here in the office. I’ll look for you.” He came back with four little packets of off-brand meds, pills called “PainAid” or “TabuFix.”

In my desperate thanks, I didn’t leave any bodily fluids on his front desk.

Here’s the irony: I’ve taken these couple of days for personal rest. And so I guess I’m really going to do that very thing.

(Sometimes I cheat and write a few chapters in the name of sitting still.)

Not today. A friend and I have been discussing the challenges and merits of a Sabbath of single parents. Looks like I have one – hand-wrapped and delivered.