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Eating Pipe Cleaners


It’s true. My dog eats pipe cleaners. There’s no need to call the dog authorities. I hide the craft supplies my younger children enjoy, but Samson the Ornery Shih Tzu manages to find them anyway. I usually have an intense eye on him because of his puppy superhero abilities to be everywhere at one time, but the truth is, one or two small wound-up ones (wound-up circles that used to be antennas? or eyes? on some odd project in my house) came out with the other contents of his stomach. They are so balled up, they aren’t scraping anything on the way down or back up again, but I have to wonder: Why, Samson, why?

It completely perplexes me why he would keep trying this. When I have a rough experience with a local food chain burger, I don’t tend to repeat it for a while.

But then I think about the human tendency to feed ourselves things all of the time that are not good for us, and we know it as we consume it. And I’m not just talking about food.

I’m a crime show freak. I have not one scientific thought in my head pretty much ever, but forensic shows fascinate me. In and of themselves, they are not bad. But I know sometimes I consume too much of the macabre, the darkness of the crime, the visuals that television provides. And it seems to me, at times, that I’m eating pipe cleaners.

Then there are those people in our lives sometimes that spew negativity. Are we wrong to be their friends? No, they need friends too, so that hopefully they once in a while respond to encouragement and look up to the Light of God instead of sitting in their pit of dark. But if we give them permission to define us, our moods, our time, our thought lives—there we go eating pipe cleaners again.

How about the comparison game? I feast on that from time to time. In fact, I make a regular meal of it. Super-Career-Mom-Does-It-All-So-Why-Can’t-I? with a side of Rehearse-My-Failures salad with Her-Family-Lives-Nearby-and Watches-Her-Kids-All-of-the-Time-for-Her dressing. Swallowing down some major pipe cleaners there.

I’m not sure what it is I think is going to happen when I do that, but I know I don’t have too many more brain cells functioning than Samson does when I continue to consume that which isn’t a diet that nourishes. And after a while, if Samson keeps eating rolled-up pipe cleaners, they could straighten and scrape. So can things we take in or feed on. We know they really aren’t to feed our minds, hearts, souls, or bodies, but we do it anyway. And we scrape ourselves along the way.

What pipe cleaners can we stop chewing on today?

Colossians 3:1-2, Apostle Paul speaking

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


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School Start: Open House Angst


I have to admit that I wasn’t very enthused about going to the lower elementary school open house this morning. For one thing, it was a reminder of all the paperwork and gym shoe shopping I still had to do. For another, this week already had a middle school tour, a high school tour, four karate classes, blog deadlines, marketing plan to go over and rework, too many late nights still when the kids should be easing back into earlier bedtimes—but they aren’t—finishing those books that needed to be read over the summer by my resident tween and teen, a husband traveling all week, clean laundry all over the hallway waiting for the folding fairy, and two appointments to catch up with one of the specialists my child sees 45 minutes away. This is on top of the fact that our affordable grocery store chain in the Boston area is still on strike (pretty much the entire summer!). I’m about to let Samson and Delilah (our Shih Tzus) loose to hunt bunnies and squirrels and roast them over the fire because I do not have it in me to go into massive grocery stores and learn a new layout. (And don’t get me started on returning to school the day before the buses roll in to give asthma meds to the school nurse because that is a separate trip from the open house.)

The truth is we have great schools. I’m not unhappy about school starting. But last year was a rough ride for Little Man, and the closer we head into school starting again, the more I see the panic creeping in. It took me a few days, but I think I can name it now. I think he is processing this: “Will I feel that sad again? If we enter the same time of year when the Great Sadness came, does it get to gobble me up again?” And so I gently coaxed him into meeting his new teacher because, even though she didn’t have to, she came in today to reassure her students. But he stood there empty, flat, dark circles under the eyes, and tears brimming but not spilling. He vocalized that he didn’t want to think about school starting. And yet he is a very jovial kid, usually. He’s fun to be around and humorous. This is the kid I wanted to go in and meet his sweet teacher today.

But we don’t plan anxious thoughts. We don’t schedule them. They are always inconvenient. And I felt my own rigidity as I battled within between frustration and great sadness. He met his classmates with cautious greeting, and he wanted to rush me right out of there.

And I took a few steps back. I considered that jovial Little Man can also be fearful Little Man, but one doesn’t mean the other is no longer there. I thought about how it feels to fear the return of the Great Sadness. It sucks us inside-out. But my job is to let him know we are victors, he and I. He doesn’t know my story yet, but I know his. And we can face that time of year again together, gasping for air if we have to, but putting our hands in the hands of Jesus and taking a big step. We are not alone.

This year was full of big steps for Little Man. God gave him many people to help him, and he came through just fine. But even in the low points, there was a Best Friend walking with us, holding Little Man up so he didn’t fold into himself. We keep asking Him to make something beautiful from the Great Sadness. And we know that He will because only He can turn darkness into light that shines such beauty over everything in its path. I’m personally so grateful for this promise that a holy God would walk among us. It brings our family tremendous comfort and confidence. If you believe in Him, where do you feel Him taking steps with you in this season?

Leviticus 26:12, God speaking through Moses

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”

Philippians 4:4-9, Apostle Paul speaking

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

More discussion on how God walks with us in very tangible, clear ways can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, expected September 2014.


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