Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Buddy the Cat


Yesterday morning I took Buddy (one of my cats) to the Kentwood Cat Clinic to get a radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism.

He's eleven, full of spunk and of the longhair variety. I got him through Kalamazoo Animal Rescue and his foster mom told me, "he's like holding a bunch of velvet, his fur is so smooth." And she was right.

This time of year, when it's warm out, Buddy likes to sleep with his stomach exposed, facing up - a cat's way of being air-conditioned. He's a bright, wide-eyed cat, small for a male but big on heart.

The actual medical treatment that Buddy received was quick and about as non-invasive as you can get. It's the after-care that's the challenge. Five days (until Friday) in a room insulated with lead because of the radiation, and then another week in the same place as the radiation gradually leaves his body. The actual level of the dose isn't high, but sufficient to kill off the tumor cells that were activating his thyroid, keeping it switched on all the time.

Of the two cats that I have (Abbott is the other), Buddy is the one who likes to cuddle and is on the sensitive side. Needless to say I'm looking forward to having him back with us!

Sometimes I hear folks describing their pets with feeling, and then apologizing by saying, "but they're just a pet." I always tell them, "you don't have to apologize to me. I know exactly how you feel. Pets are friends and they're important family members." They may  not be human, but God gave them personalities and the ability to relate to us, including the ability to give unconditional love.

Isn't it amazing how God's creation always includes a bit of God's personality in it?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Video: Lori Moore Show Interview 6.19.15

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday I had the good fortune to be interviewed about 20 Short Ones on The Lori Moore Show. Lori is an extremely enthusiastic supporter of Kalamazoo and she was gracious enough to have me on her show.

Here's the link:

Lori Moore Show Interview

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thank You Battle Creek!

                               Part of Battle Creek Books (from Battle Creek Books Facebook page)

Earlier today Battle Creek Books held a booksigning for 20 Short Ones. It was a ton of fun with steady traffic throughout the 2-hour 11:30am to 1:30pm timeframe. No matter how hard you promote and encourage folks to come out, you never know how a particular booksigning will go. You sort of pray and hope and leave it in God's hands. We actually sold out, which is a very nice thing to happen.

Many,many thanks to Jim Donahue (owner of Battle Creek Books) for his great hospitality in hosting the event and to all of the Battle Creek friends and Food Bank supporters who stopped by to pick up a copy!

The Food Bank of South Central Michigan will receive the equivalent of 1,000 meals because of your generosity.

A special tip of the hat to Wenda Dissinger, Food Bank Board Member, who suggested the idea of a booksigning, and to Holly Cavinder, the Food Bank's wonderful Communications Manager for being there and helping behind the scenes!

Battle Creek Books is located in the heart of downtown Battle Creek, 51 W. Michigan Ave. It's operated by the Donahues, who are extremely community-minded individuals and committed to supporting local authors. Battle Creek is indeed fortunate to have such a vibrant independent book store!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Paying it Forward: A Humble Story

                                            image of Kalamazoo Public Library from: downtownkalamazoo.org

A few weeks ago I went to the Kalamazoo Public Library to pick up a copy of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. (#AnnVoskamp  #OneThousandGifts). I've written a couple of posts about the book and Ann. The book is phenomenal and so is she.

But this is about what happened when I pulled One Thousand Gifts from the shelf.

I was thumbing through the book, as I often do to get a sense of the writer's style. About midway the page opened up to reveal a note, neatly written on random acts of kindness in honor of charlie sawyer behrndt Charlie's Kindness Day stationery. I opened it up and found a $20 bill. Even more surprising was the note. It was written by a mom who had lost a six month old to a heart condition a year ago. She explained that since it was the anniversary of her baby Charlie's passing, she wanted to pass along a gift, and encouraged the receiver to do the same.

In part the note read: "No amount of trauma, sickness or pain could cause him (Charlie) not to fight and not to love. After giving us close to seven months of that love his little lungs became too tired, and he left us with the hope of heaven, where we will once again kiss his sweet face. He loved with a sweet yet fiery spirit..."

One way I'm "passing it on," is simply to let you know about Charlie's Kindness Day. You don't have to wait to find $20 nestled inside a book in the library to be motivated to do something kind for someone.

P.S. There is a "Scribbles and Crumbs" Facebook page, where you can share stories of kindness, or use #charlieskindness day on Twitter or Instagram.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rene Gutteridge's Novelization of Old Fashioned

Author Rene Gutteridge (#ReneGutteridge) has hit a proverbial home run with her novelization of the film "Old Fashioned." In fact she adds a bit of background material that serves to enhance a few of the characters from the screenplay by Rik Swartzwelder (who also directed the film and played the part of Clay Walsh).

After reading Old Fashioned, I was motivated to look into other books by Gutteridge, and so far have read My Life as a Doormat, and Troubled Waters. Both are solid. My Life as a Doormat is a more lighthearted take on having the courage to be yourself, while Troubled Waters takes on a deeper subject. Both show Gutteridge's ability to be insightful and down-to-earth at the same time.

She is a seasoned writer of fiction written from a faith-based perspective.

And speaking of "Old Fashioned," if you missed this fresh take on relationships while it was released in theatres, the DVD is being released on June 16. In the meantime, you can pre-order it on several websites, including Barnes and Noble, Christian Cinema and Family Christian Stores websites.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

More From One Thousand Gifts

I finished reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp yesterday and I've been taking up the idea of eucharisteo (giving thanks) and writing down what I'm thankful for, following Ann's example.

So far I'm up to 400. 

But I know I'm still a far way off from the achieving the purpose of tracking things to be thankful for. To remain in constant communication with the Creator of All Things.

So, on pg. 58 of One Thousand Gifts, Ann writes about the significance of ingratitude. How it's linked to the snake in the Garden of Eden - the first recorded instance of our ingratitude (as in not being grateful for being in a perfect world and that ingratitude expressing itself in wanting something more).

This is a huge deal. If Ann's on to something, then it's possible that it was ingratitude that caused our spiritual ancestors in Eden to give in to temptation. And consequently, it's ingratitude that causes  us to slip up as well. 

If all of this is true, then it would seem like being grateful by actively expressing thanks to the Creator would be a huge part of the solution towards remaining grounded in the Source of all Good. 

The equation is being thankful by actively expressing it leads to joy. A joy which is not based on events or circumstances. A joy that does not deny the existence of terrible pain or evil, but transcends it by rescuing us from despair.

This is a joy that isn't based on feelings at all. It's based on relationship, breaking of bread with the Creator, with God. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts & The Place of Suffering

A few days ago I went to the Kalamazoo Public Library and picked up Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. (That's her photo above this post).  The subtitle reads "A dare to live fully right where you are."

I'm about half-way through this very well written and extremely thought provoking book.

Here's something she wrote on page 58: "Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all-things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world."

She goes on: "When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry open places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?"

This morning I was sitting on my little deck, admiring the evergreen tree that was transplanted near the herb garden. I found it one spring in the front yard flower bed. It had grown up from a pinecone seed, probably planted by a squirrel. For some reason I thought it was such a remarkable thing. A small miracle in the vast scheme of things, but a miracle nonetheless. I was so thankful to find it!

So a few years after finding the accidental evergreen, I transplanted it to a spot with more and even sunlight. Now, that same tree is as tall as I am (just an inch or two over five feet) and it's beautiful and full of life.

I've often looked out the dining room window at that evergreen and almost without exception, every time I do, a smile comes to my face. Because I LOVE that tree! I love how it came to be, secretly planted in a very inconvenient spot. Probably planted there by another participant in life (the squirrel). How I stumbled upon it. How I transplanted it when it was just over twelve inches high, and how it's grown every year since.

That tree, a gift of nature, continues to bring joy. And I'm still thankful for it.

I like how Ann Voskamp makes the connection between being thankful and joy.

For more about Ann Voskamp and One Thousand Gifts, and to link to her blog, check out the link below.

Ann Voskamp