While reading a post of the same title by my friend PJ, I was reminded of an incident that happened to me a few years ago while traveling to a business meeting.


In order to arrive at the morning meeting in a timely fashion, I picked up my rental car after work and began driving to the hotel where I would be staying for the night. Around ten-thirty pm, I pulled into a gas station to refuel, stretch my legs, and use the restroom. The station looked run down, a little sketchy, and distant from other businesses, and I considered picking a more well-lit place with a happier vibe, but my bladder urged me to stop here. Besides, I knew that the stretch of highway ahead of me held no exits for another several miles.

I kept my guard up while locking my car doors and sauntering into the building, and I memorized the layout of the store while walking towards the bathroom. I also took a hard look at the only person present, the cashier standing behind a counter and protected by what I could only assume was bullet-proof Plexiglas. Not reassuring.

When I opened the bathroom door, I realized two things: first that a motion sensor over the doorway had picked up the movement of the door and turned the lights on for me, and second that the bathroom was unusually long and narrow. The sink and toilet sat at the far end of the room, and I felt claustrophobic as I sat down.

I'll spare you the details (mainly because I don't remember them), but apparently, I sat on the throne long enough for the timer on the lights to go off. My first thought was one of those horror film scenes where the lights get cut off right before the gorgeous and brilliant heroine gets brutally murdered. My second thought was that the electricity to the building must have gone down. Then I finally realized the motion sensor had not had any motion to sense, so I waved my hand to turn the lights back on.

Nothing happened.

I waved again.

Again nothing.

I began wildly wiggling my arms and legs while still perched on my throne.

No result.

My heart raced along with my brain as I stopped to think about the scenario in which I had found myself trapped. Then I cleverly removed my right shoe and heaved it towards where I remembered the door to be. Then my left shoe.

Still Darkness.

I sat, wanting to cry and feeling a panic rising in my throat. I'm not normally afraid of the dark, but this darkness felt so thick and complete. I thought of the phrase "So dark you can't see your hand in front of your face," and I tried it out. Nope, no hand.

I began imagining my future. I wouldn't be missed until morning when my co-workers would wonder why I had not arrived at the meeting, and even then, how would they think to send the police to this particular restroom at this particular gas station? I thought of my cell phone locked in the car outside. I wondered if the cashier with the bushy, unkempt beard would remember seeing me walk to the restroom and wonder what was taking me so long. Then I embarrassed myself, imagining the scene if he unlocked the door with his master key and found me still sitting there, shoeless.

I finally gathered up the courage to stretch my nice clean fingers out towards where the toilet paper should be bolted to the hopefully equally clean wall. The coldness of the concrete blocks greeted my fingertips, and I had to force myself not to recoil, to continue searching. A few minutes later, I had to force myself to put my sock feet down on the dirty linoleum and step, step, step to the door.


When I got to the door, I waved my hands over my head, but still nothing happened. I had to feel my way around the door until I reached the handle. When I opened the door a crack, the lights blazed on, and I quickly re-locked the door, slipped my shoes back on and ran to the sink to speed wash and disinfect my hands before the lights had time to shut themselves off again.

See, I told you all the best stories contained TMI!
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Alright, you guys, I need help.

I've been back and forth on my eating habits. I think it was Saturday(?) when I finally decided, Enough of this! I am going to do right! Amazingly, I even did great while at a KFC buffet Sunday afternoon with my family. Can you believe it? (Yes, I'm patting myself on the back.)

But Wednesday evening Bible Study buffets seem to be my downfall. You see, every Wednesday night, I go to a Bible Study at church, and the ladies all bring the most deliciously tempting assortment of food. Last night, I told myself, I will be very good. So I took only a small spoonful of salad, and a small spoonful of the to-die-for chili (I'm going to have to get that recipe!) and a small amount of tortilla chips (as in seven, count 'em, seven chips). But the end of the line contained my weakness: chocolate chip cookies...and other desserts. So I stood there, thinking.

I've done a great job the past few days. In fact, I've actually eaten less calories than I'm supposed to be eating - totally by accident, I assure you - I can have some dessert. Which is true! I'm not cutting out desserts; I'm just being reasonable.

I scooped a square of banana bread with cream cheese frosting onto my plate and thought about walking away, but the next dessert was one of those beautiful concoctions covered with all sorts of colorful, chopped fruits. You know, it's very important to eat fruit. I said to myself, so I picked one of the larger pre-cut squares. (I wouldn't want to skimp on nutrition.) Again, I thought about walking away, but you know what plate was next in line? The chocolate chip cookie plate. And I truly have never seen any chocolate chip cookies in my life that looked better than those did. They were the perfect size, texture, smell, everything! I really did think about walking away. I should get points for that, right?

I took two.

Only two little circles of heaven.

That's good, right?

Of course, after the main learning and before the discussion, I went back for two or three more.

And then after the Bible Study group dismissed, I snagged another one or two.

This is getting embarrassing.

Here's how you can help: On Wednesdays BEFORE the meeting, please message, comment or email me with helpful humor like - DON'T DO IT! or IT'S NOT WORTH IT!

And if you happen to be at the Bible Study with me, I give you permission to examine my plate for excessive cookie consumption.

Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens," right? So, give a sister a hand! (And if you happen to be holding a few cookies in the hand you extend to me, I'll be your best friend forever.)
Whew, I am worn. flat. out.

Liberty and Mercy had a couple friends over today from about 1:00 pm to 8:30 pm, and the running and shrieking and jumping and hugging and sobbing and laughing and chocolating (it starts early) and just all around silliness was a sight to behold! The muscles on my face even now, an hour later, feel strange if they aren't smiling widely. Those four girls together were hysterical!

The non-stop action, hilarity, craziness and just plain fun reminded me of my childhood, and I'm missing my brothers and sisters badly right now. Memories of our own unique brand of nonsense games are flooding my heart and causing chuckles. What a wonderful life I've had! :-)
You remember that overgrown spider who disappeared in my bathroom a week or so ago, right?

He's back.

And taunting me from his perch 20 feet higher than my head.

I've been on high alert ever since the day he disappeared. Two days later, I moved some papers on the desk in my bedroom, and his petite cousin scurried into my desk drawer to hide. The drawer! I ask you, what was I to do?

First I shrieked. Then I prayed.

Beside himself with glee at my predicament, my husband laughed from the other side of the room while I timidly yanked the drawer open, jumped back, waited, slammed the drawer shut, jumped back, waited, yanked it open again, jumped back, waited, found a nearby ruler to stir things up a bit, then shrieked and jumped back again when the little acrobat bungee jumped from the desk to the carpet below.

"Wilfred's getting away again!" Jeremy The Vigilant informed me, thrilled that I was being bested by the same arachnid.

"That's not Wilfred!" I responded, trying desperately not to lose the creature in the fibers of the rug, "She's too small. This is his cousin, Trina. Throw me a shoe! I need a shoe!"

He tossed me a flimsy slipper and called out, "You're really going to kill a helpless little spider named Trina?"

The slipper disappointed me. I had been hoping for a sturdy, steel-toed boot to do the deed. The flexibility of the slipper meant I'd have to put my hand farther down on the shoe and thus closer to the object of my murderous intent. "I sure hope so." I muttered, not at all sure of my ability to do so. Not after Wilfred's mysterious get-away earlier that week.

I smooshed the slipper into the thick carpeting, and Trina, whether by her own powers or forced upwards by the springy fibers, jumped about a foot sideways and closer to me. I screamed again and lost all control of my arm. It slammed and slammed and slammed and slammed, until Jeremy shouted, "Stop! She's got to be dead by now!"

My heart thudded loudly in the silence. I slowly removed the slipper from the small black body and watched for a flicker of movement. Finally, convinced she wasn't faking, I stood up to get a burial shroud from the bathroom. I planned to bury her at sea in a solemn ceremony, but when I returned to the scene of her death, I couldn't find her. Not even a chalk outline helped me remember exactly where she had been.

Another few days passed. As has now become my habit, I checked the bathroom doorway and ceiling for Wilfred the Terrible upon entry, and this time, I didn't even flinch when I found his adjutant, Darius, sitting over the garden tub. I considered mustering my artillery battalion, but two resounding defeats in a row had my men discouraged. I took in their state of despair and the enemy positioned on the higher ground and decided it would be a more strategic move to let this battle pass. My troops needed more time to recover and rebuild before our next engagement; besides, lulling Darius into a false sense of security could prove to be the smartest move yet in my war against Wilfred the Terrible.

It has now been almost two weeks since my first and last sighting of Wilfred. Until yesterday. I sat in my favorite ugly upholstered rocking chair, drinking in the silence of naptime. My shoulder muscles slowly relaxed, my head finally dropped back against the headrest, and I saw him. Lounging about ten inches from the highest point of the living room's cathedral ceiling, Wilfred sits and watches.

He knows I cannot reach him. He has seen the burned out bulbs in our living room light and has correctly surmised that not even our ten foot ladder can come to our aid. Great strategist that he is, he also waited until I decorated the fireplace mantel for Valentine's Day with a length of red tulle, white lights and glass framed pictures of my love and I. He knows, he knows I will not risk firing at him only to have his heavy body drop onto the breakable items below.

For two days, we have stood at an impasse -- I, surreptitiously glancing at him from time to time, pretending that he matters naught to me, and he, laughing to himself as he reclines on my living room wall, his legs crossed, his chin resting on his knees, observing my habits, learning my movements.

I will tell only you this: I am feeling at a distinct disadvantage. Thankfully, spiders cannot read -- I would eat my blog before allowing him to know how I am feeling at this moment.
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The other day, Liberty, Mercy and I were at the chiropractor's office. Dr. C has become a friend, and the girls just love to visit with him. He took note of Mercy's purple, polka-dotted baby doll top, sparkly jeans and crisp white hair bow, and he told her, "Mercy, you look so pretty today."

Now, I've taught my girls to say "Thank you," when someone says something nice about them, but Mercy just looked earnestly into his face and said matter of factly, "Yep." Then she nodded to reaffirm his assessment of her looks.

Dr. C and I both laughed, "Nothing like an extra dose of self-esteem, huh?" he said jokingly.

A little bit later, Dr. C told Liberty, "Oh, Liberty, that huge diamond on your shirt is so sparkly!" Liberty nodded and pointed to her hair bow, "And look at this, Dr. C!" she encouraged him. "It is so pretty, too!"

"Yeah, you missed a compliment, there, Dr. C," I muttered facetiously for only him to hear. We laughed again and started talking about how hard it is for some people accept compliments. He pointed out that most adults, when complimented, instead of graciously accepting it with a thank you, try to put themselves down. Apparently, that is one of his pet peeves because he continued talking about it while he worked on my spine.

A few minutes later, we were discussing another subject when Liberty asked Dr. C a technical question about one of the machines nearby. He answered her and then said to me, "She's going to be an engineer like her daddy when she grows up."

"No, I don't think so. That's Mercy."

"Why do you say that?" he wanted to know.

"Because Mercy's brain works like her daddy's, and Liberty's definitely works like mine."

"Ah, then Liberty's going to be an incredible mommy when she grows up," he complimented me.

But I didn't recognize the compliment - my mind was still focused on what Liberty might grow up to be. I could see her being a good mommy, so I nodded, "Yeah, you're right."

He cracked up laughing and when he could breathe again, said, "Now I see how your girls learned to accept compliments!"
On my drive into town today, Liberty's concerned voice piped up from the back seat. "Mommy, do you have your money with you?" She asked this because a few weeks ago, we tried to eat at Subway using a check to pay. We now know that our Subway does not accept checks, even the checks of nice, innocent-looking people like us. I wonder if our crossed fingers gave us away?

"Yes, I do, honey."

"Oh, good, Mommy. How much do you have?"


"Is 'enough' a lot of money?" she wanted to know.

"Well," I thought about it, "'enough' means God has given us all the money that He thinks we need."

She squealed, "Oh, good! Now we can buy everything! This is GREAT, Mommy!"

I laughed. "Actually, it would not be a good decision to buy everything with our money." I saw a teaching moment on the horizon and reached for it. "We should talk to God and ask Him what He wants us to do with the money He gives us. Then, we can spend the money on only the best things."

She was impressed, "Oh! You're right, Mommy! I know what the best things are! We need to buy a horse, so I can ride on him." (This is her latest obsession.) "And after that, we can buy the best puppet." (Puppy.) "And then a kitty cat for our house, because it is the best. And then..."

While her best list grew, I had to laugh silently, because my best list looks like this: living room furniture, dining room table and chairs, back deck... And I'm quite certain my list was a direct revelation from God! ;-)

*Note to self: get that kid a horse! We can keep it in the basement.*
So I was sitting on the toilet...

(Sorry for the TMI, but let's be honest, don't all the really great stories start that way?)

...when I noticed a gigantic black spider creeping it's way across the bathroom ceiling towards my position. I stared and stared, sure that if I looked away for a tiny moment, I'd miss the part where he rushed me. (I'm not fond of surprise attacks by insects.) It was an intense five minutes, let me tell you. Afraid I'd be caught with my pants down, so to speak, I had a hard time with the toilet paper, while that colossal arachnid crept closer and closer.

Finally, I jumped up, ready to do battle. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a single weapon that would be useful while he held the upper ground. I did consider getting the broom from the pantry, but that would require leaving my reconnaissance post, and that would have been completely unacceptable. After all, who would be left to guard my bedroom doorway if I went AWOL? We all know that a renegade spider loose in the bedroom may be the only thing worse than one loose in the bathroom. I quickly took my eyes from the enemy just long enough to perform a sweeping search of the available weaponry, and I found a small pile of ponytail holders in reach. AHA!

I positioned a band on my right index finger and pulled back with my left hand, aiming for the ceiling. Twang! The cloth-covered rubber shot from my finger tips and thwacked against the ceiling. The spider flinched and then froze in place. I quickly grabbed another hair band and repeated my actions. Thwack, thwack. The band hit the ceiling near the spider and ricocheted against the wall before falling to the counter top. I shot again. And again. And again.

I really impressed myself with my aim. In our family rubber band fights, I can't hit a human target for the life of me, but several of these shots hit so close to the spider that only the fact that he hadn't fallen or lost a limb told me I'd missed. After several rounds of ammunition had been spent, I decided to call in the big guns. I grabbed a nearby hand towel and launched it at the ceiling. It hit, my aim way off, and landed on the light fixture over the bathroom mirror. I reached up and snatched it down before the spider could regroup or drop on me, and I launched it again.

This time, my aim was spot on, and the spider and towel fell almost gently together. On its way down, the towel hung itself on the air freshener plugged into the wall and draped its lower half into Jeremy's sink. I waited breathlessly for the spider to come running out of its protecting folds, but he was too smart for me. He remained hidden.

I had to stop for a re-strategizing meeting. Once I'd gotten my new very risky orders, I took several steps back so my body was as far from the counter as possible. Then with my fingertips, I quickly (so as not to get crawled on) and gently (to prevent excessive towel swinging) picked up the towel and dropped it to the floor a few feet away from where I stood.

I tried to watch two points at once, the counter top where the towel had been and the floor where the towel was now. Neither revealed a crawly creature. I even quickly eyeballed the air freshener to see if it was giving refuge to the enemy. Nothing there either, so I knew that he must still be lurking in the folds of the towel.

Again, I waited. Again, the spider outsmarted me.

I became brave enough to bend, allowing my face within eyesight range, and I searched every centimeter of the top of that towel before declaring it clear of enemy presence. Then with my fingertips again, just as quickly and just as gently, I flipped the towel and examined the other side.

No spider there either.

In puzzlement, I pondered the situation -- never taking my eyes from that towel in case my nemesis might use that moment of weakness to make good his escape. I reviewed all moves and counter-moves, on the lookout for times or means of escape that the spider may have seized during the course of our battle. I found none. At least none plausible enough to really investigate.

Finally, certain that his only hiding place could be that towel, I bravely trampled it. Back and forth, missing nary a fiber, I trampled it. Then I trampled it again. The entire time, I remained on the lookout for a fleeing invader. Afterwards, I gingerly flipped the towel over again, searching for a crushed corpse, or a stray leg, or a wet smudge on the tile floor, anything to indicate the terminated presence of my foe.

I found nothing. He has vanished.

And I want to know, who is going to stand guard so I can try to sleep tonight?

Click here to read Part Two.
I've spent the past four days gaining back those seven pounds. Apparently, I had already forgotten what agony it was to lose them.

It started out with a Progress celebration that got a little out of hand. Those extra calories (which weren't even that much extra) discouraged me. The next day, Jeremy talked me into going with him to our favorite restaurant where I somewhat successfully divided my portions with the family, but I was left guessing the numbers on what I'd actually eaten. I let that discourage me, too. Then my entire busy weekend kept me from logging onto SparkPeople - my main catalyst for continuing.

On Monday, Jeremy encouraged me, "Just forget about trying to record what you did this weekend, and start today." But I couldn't let it go. My own perfectionist tendencies kicked in and wouldn't let me move on until I had recorded perfectly what I couldn't perfectly recall or even guess. I stayed stuck.

This morning, before I even got out of bed, I asked God to help me out of this hole I'd planted myself in. I'd been using my own faulty logic and my own sporadic strength. It wasn't working. I was ready to move on.

While I put away the breakfast dishes, this verse popped into my mind. "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Starting today, I have amnesia. The good kind.

And you know what else? This morning, I realized that my new lower-sized jeans still fit, albeit barely. So maybe I haven't gained it all back!
Yesterday marked two weeks since I started this tumultuous journey on Sparkpeople.com, and my friend Que asked me (ever so fearfully politely) if I had lost any weight. Oh how that question shot tremors through my soul. You see, I've purposely avoided any scales so far.

That may sound strange for someone who's trying to lose weight, but I've tried and tried and tried and tried before with little to no results, and I wanted this journey to be different. My goal is not really to lose weight (although that is a very desired by-product). My goal is not really to become healthy (although, that is closer to my goal). My real goal is to glorify my Lord with the body He has given me. I want to be able to say to Him, "I love you SO MUCH, God, that here is how I have respected what You have created."

I started this journey by praying, no, by BEGGING God to help me do something that I had never been able to accomplish before, and already in these past two weeks, I have seen Him bring circumstances about that proved to me: this goal that He's put on my heart is important to Him. He is actively walking this road with me.

Because of the transformation I've seen internally, I didn't want to discourage myself by seeing no progress or very little progress on the scale. That was easy to manage, though. I simply stayed away from the scale. Then Que's question touched a question of my own, have I made any physical progress? I don't know.

You wouldn't believe how I stewed over my decision: to weigh or not to weigh. THAT is the question.

This morning, I stood in the bathroom brushing my teeth and pondering how my body felt to me. It definitely does NOT feel lighter, I determined. I should wait until I feel lighter to weigh myself. Then I started talking to God, "What do You think, God? Should I skip it? I should skip it, right? I don't want to feel defeated."

And God said to my spirit, I thought your goal wasn't about losing weight, that you'd be happy whether or not you lost anything as long as you were closely following Me.

"Oh yeah, that." I muttered.

So I bolstered my courage, and told myself, "Even if you've only lost a pound, or worse, gained a pound, it doesn't matter. You're in this to glorify God through self-control and training yourself to be a good steward of your body. So, you might be discouraged by the results, but you're going to keep going no matter what. Right, Missy? Right!" Then I stepped up.

"No. Way!"

I stared at the numbers.

"No. Freaking. WAY!"

I took inventory of my body again. I felt heavier. Really and truly, I felt heavier.

So how could the scale tell me I was seven pounds lighter?

SEVEN POUNDS! In two weeks!

Those two weeks had been filled with victories, yes, but also with multitudes of failure. Sparkpeople tells me that I should be eating between 1300-1500 calories each day and excersizing three times a week, but there was a day that I ate more than 3400 calories and a few days when I topped 1800 calories, and I certainly haven't been exercizing three times a week, although I have been more purposeful in trying to move vigorously more often. So how in the world...

Then I got suspicious. I jokingly said, "God, did You mess with my numbers just so I wouldn't be discouraged? Okay, just step back for a second. I want to weigh by myself."

I stepped off and then back on the scale, totally kidding with God.

Same result: SEVEN POUNDS!

Can you believe it?

I jumped up and down, twirling around the bathroom tiles, and shouting my praises to God. Then I counted that as one of my days of exercize for the week. (Just kidding.)
It snowed today. A Lot.

Jeremy hauled out his big manly snow-blower and started with our driveway, then our sidewalks, then the street in front of our house, then the street from our house almost to the crossroad, then he sent me next door with a request, "Can my husband, please, please, pretty please clear off your driveway for you? It will make him so happy!"

They said yes.

That kept him busy for another while, until he came into the house to ask me to do some ice-chopping on sections of their driveway - major upper body workout, let me tell you! Then I was forced to go across the street and ask if he could clear that neighbor's driveway. He was too chicken to ask by himself.

We breaked for lunch and some fun times, and during the girls' nap time, I got onto facebook where I saw a status from my neighbor down the street mentioning that her husband had been outside shoveling their driveway the past two hours, and he still wasn't finished. I read that status to my heroman Jeremy who jumped up and grabbed his coat. "Tell her I'm on my way!" he said happily.

We scored a bucket of homemade chocolate chip cookies from them!

When I found out about it, I had mixed feelings. I've been doing pretty well with my eating habits, but I've also wisely kept most temptations out of the house during this start-up period. I looked up the nutrition information for homemade cookies and found out they are usually about 60 calories. I then looked at what I intended to eat for snacks and supper and decided if I cut out my snack, I could eat two cookies! Hooray! Oh how excited I was!

Of course, I did all this without the cookies in my eyesight. I dream big, don't I?

Once that bucket of homemade chocolate chip cookies was clutched in my grubby little hands, and the sweet aroma entangled itself in my nostrils, I lost all control. I ate three cookies immediately. (Not too bad, I rationalized to myself.) Then I put the lid on and put it out of sight.

When the girls got up from their naps, they were ready for their snack, and I told them, "Guess what? I have a surprise for you!" I opened that enticing bundle of sugar and chocolate and carbohydrates and fat and inhaled deeply. I doled out Liberty and Mercy's snacks and ate another cookie. I put the lid on the container, but when I finished my extra cookie, I grabbed another one. And then another one. While I ate that sixth cookie, Gandalf's words reverberated in my brain, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" And I remembered my cocoon post, celebrating my new-found self-control.

I felt defeated.

I put the lid back on the bucket, and put the bucket on top of the refrigerator. I walked to my room, sat at my computer and entered my newest calories into SparkPeople. I found that I had only 125 calories left for the day. I stared sadly at my screen, not looking at the numbers, but thinking of my failure. My emotions begged me to fully accept my defeat and go finish the rest of the cookies in the container. At least that way, the temptation will be gone! I thought to myself.

The picture of Gandalf the Gray from Lord of the Rings in that dark cave facing his biggest fear entered my mind again, and I played it out in my imagination. The STAB of his staff into the bedrock; the finality in his voice when he roared at the balrog, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" And the battle to the death that followed so that he could stick with his convictions and not run. Then I thought of those cookies on top of the refrigerator.

"No! I will NOT be completely defeated!" I said to myself. I stood up and imitated Gandalf's stab into the earth, my legs braced for battle, my head high, my face set. I said to those cookies -- no, I said to my own desires -- "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

Then I sat back down and felt a little silly, but definitely settled. I looked back at the screen and tried to decide how to finish out my eating for the day. I could no longer meet my nutrition goals, but I could still meet my caloric goals. I searched the communication from my tummy. Nope, not hungry at all...in fact, slightly queasy from the unusual amount of sugar now present. I decided on a 120 calorie container of Greek yogurt with strawberries. Then I happily smelled (from the other room) while my family chowed down on Jeremy's impulsive order of cheese pizza from Papa Murphy's.

(It's really not so bad if you don't watch them eat it.)

Jeremy kindly set aside a piece for me to eat tomorrow when I get to start over with a clean plate...err, I mean slate, and I'll balance out those carbs and fat with nutrition the rest of the day.

I'm proud of myself. There are still cookies on top of the fridge that I am defeating! Well, I'm as proud as I can be with the memory of those six eaten cookies in my past, but I'm trying to use those to motivate me. My long-term goal is NOT to reach my caloric goal and skimp on nutrition; it is to be healthy.

I'm getting there.

PS> I'm not an insanely addicted LOTR's fan, although my past few posts may indicate otherwise. It's just that the scene with Gandalf seems to be on my mind lately.
The other night, Jeremy and I sat at our dining room table bent over individual Bible Study books. The large, old-world looking clock on the wall ticked loudly in the after-bedtime silence while we flipped pages in our Bibles and filled in answers on our worksheets. Finally, Jeremy announced, "Let's stop here for the night and discuss what we each put in our blanks."

I leaned back in my chair and stretched the muscles in my back that had been leaning forward too long. "Okay, what did you put for question one?"

He frowned, "Question one was complicated."

"Complicated?" I looked back at the question printed in my workbook. On a scale of one to ten with ten being high, rate yourself on the way you love others. "How is that complicated? You get to pick the answer, and since it's based on your opinion, you can't get it wrong!"

"They didn't give you enough information to make a good judgement," he explained. "For example, are they asking how well do I love others right now? How well I loved others in the past? How well I'm going to love others? How well do I wish I loved others?"

I glanced at the text again in puzzlement. "The verb tense implies your current love for others."

"Okay. Let's say that's what they want," he agreed, "Then they didn't describe by what standard I am measuring my love for others."

I nodded, understanding his lack of measure. "I just used my own measure. How well I think I love others by my own standard of love," I said.

"Yes, then there's the complication of what your standard of love has been influenced by," he pointed out. "If your father beat you every day, and you say 'Since I haven't beaten anyone today I must be ultra-loving,' then your standard would be different than if you got a sucker every day from your dad, and you said, 'Since I haven't given anyone a sucker today, I must be filled with hate.'"

I had to absorb his illustrations before answering, "Ah, but you see, I HAVE beaten someone today! I beat you at Sudoku! HA!" I paused trying to remember what his exact wording had been. "Wait, does that mean that I'm ultra-loving or filled with hate?"

"It means you were LUCKY!" he replied, "and I was going really slowly when I was playing anyway."

"Mmm-hmm," I winked at him, "your usual pace."

"I'm like Dash - I move so quickly that others perceive me as going slowly," he grinned at me and went back to our original discussion. "Just like the question in the book doesn't specify whether I should rate myself on how others perceive what I perceive to be loving actions."


"I might tell you not to do something because I love you, and I know that what you're choosing to do will most likely have a bad outcome, but you might perceive my instructions as un-loving because I don't want you to enjoy life."

I closed my eyes and shook my head. "Jeremy! You are making this way too complicated! The sentence says RATE YOURSELF. That would be YOUR PERCEPTION."

He re-read the sentence in his workbook. "Okay..."

I waited for his next complication, but one didn't come. "So? Do you have a number picked?"

"I'm calculating."


"Yes, averaging my loving level over my lifetime."

"Oh my goodness! You're not serious."

He looked up at me like I was strange. "Yes. How did you come up with your number?"

"Uh, I read the question, and the first number that seemed logical to me, I put down on the paper. And THEN (you won't believe this)," I teased him, "I moved on!"

He shook his head, resigned to my haphazard way of doing things, and continued calculating.

We did finally make it to a few of the other questions with very similar discussions on each one. In fact, on question three which gave a Scripture passage to refer to and asked How did Jesus say we are to love? the convoluted discussion pathways we meandered upon lead us to the end times among other things. By this time, we had moved to the living room to be more comfortable, and as I rocked gently back in my ugly upholstered rocking chair listening to the man I love wax eloquent, I had to smile to myself. His discussion included examples from science about how the atomic structure is formed; it included life examples about people in our past; it included illustrations about building a house, and as I mentioned before, the discussion had now been brought into the "end times" arena.

He paused, "What are you smiling about? Did I say something funny?"

"No," I answered simply. "I'm just amazed at the way your brain works."

He looked suspicious. "What do you mean?"

"Well," I hesitated, searching for a good illustration, and then it hit me. "My brain is like a toy choo-choo-train. The engine hooks to the next car in line, and the next car in line, and the next car in line. My thoughts all follow the same path. I'm very simple-minded.

If I walk to the fridge and see that we are out of eggs, my engine starts puffing, and pretty soon all the cars are clacking along until the caboose gets to the grocery list where it writes EGGS. Finished."

He was staring at me with wrinkled eyebrows and a slightly open mouth.

"Your brain, on the other hand, is like a tinker toy," I continued.

"You start out with this central wheel we're out of eggs and suddenly little sticks start branching off of that wheel in all directions. One stick thinks eggs are full of protein; one stick thinks eggs cost $2.89; one stick thinks we bought this carton on March 22nd; one stick thinks eggs come from chickens; one stick thinks I wonder what the difference is between white and brown eggs? Then each of those sticks gets a wheel of its own added to it, and your brain branches off onto five different platforms of thought all at once.

The first stick eggs are full of protein reaches a wheel protein is good for my family, and sticks begin to branch off of that. 1. I have two girls growing who need protein. 2. I'm cutting back, so I could do without extra protein. 3. I wonder how protein affects Liberty's hearing? 4. Pro-teen. Protein must be extra good for teenagers. Hardy-har!

The second of the original sticks eggs cost $2.89 reaches a wheel what could I buy instead of eggs for the same price? 1. A gallon of gas 2. A kilowatt of electricity 3. A bag of ice melt (and so on).

The third original stick we bought this carton on March 22nd reaches a wheel..."

He was looking at me really strangely now.

"Anyway, you get the idea. After all those thoughts are done branching and platforming and branching and platforming and branching inside, you pool all of the information you have gathered and use that to make a decision: to purchase another carton of eggs or not. If you choose to purchase, you then walk over to the list and write Eggs. I'm just impressed with all the extra stuff your brain does as compared to mine, that's all." I shrugged.

"That's all," he muttered sarcastically.

I made a face at him.

"Okay, what did you write for question three?" he wanted to know.

"Love like Jesus does," I read to him from my workbook.

He did a double-take. "WHAT? That's it?"

I laughed aloud. "Yes. That's it."

"But... Well, how did you come up with that?" and he began to list all the ways that God wants us to love.

I interrupted, "That exact phrase was in the Scripture reference we read. I just copied it right out of the Bible.

"Yeah, I saw it in the verse, but that's so simple."

Yep. Just like my brain, apparently!