The Empty Pencil Box

I have a friend on Facebook whose become an artist. My brother and I knew his family when we were kids. His latest artwork was in black and white. My favorite pic my brother ever did was black and white. That is where the similarities end. My friend is drawing from a very introspective and possibly painful place. Paul, for all the pain in his life preferred to draw comic characters. If he drew people, they were caricatures. He had a different way to process his pain and that was to not process it.

Last night I had 2 dreams that have me wondering this morning. (And trust me, after yesterday’s artwork by my friend, I’m just thankful it wasn’t a nightmare.) Paul was in one and there was a sad man in the other. The man was not our father but he had lost his son, an artist. I somehow had the son’s pencil box and gave it back to the man who was very grateful. I don’t remember anything about the first dream, just that Paul was in it and it left me with a pleasant feeling. I have this feeling that the dreams were related.

The pencil box was a lovely dark wood and it was empty. I woke up knowing its emptiness had meaning. The image of the emptiness won’t let me go. Then it hits me: what I gave back wasn’t a pencil box. What I gave back was emptiness.

I gave back the empty spot at the dinner table. I gave back the empty spot in the driveway. I gave back the events over the years with empty spots where my brother should have been. I gave back the empty place in my heart.

In my dream the lid was closed on the box. I opened it just before giving it back to the sad man. I see the smile on his face as he holds the empty box. I know this image  in my mind has meaning.

And maybe it is this: The Father grieves until we give back to Him what we have no right to hold on to.


He Missed A Blessing


I’ve published a second inspirational story and this time it’s about my mother. Paul wasn’t around for her final days and that’s sad … he missed a great blessing. I loved being able to care for my mother, stressful interactions with nursing home staff and all. I wonder if Paul and I would’ve seen eye to eye as I kept a promise and did everything I could to bring her back to her own home. It took using a reverse mortgage which almost ate  up my inheritance when I later sold the house. I don’t think he would’ve liked that but I hope he would agree that letting her live out her final months in her own home was for the best. When she was home was when I could truly relax and just be part of the journey. Was there still stress? Yes, but inside the humble walls of home there was also blessing … and Paul missed it.

And I missed him. In the book I talk about that too … about how he was supposed to be there. Even if we argued, he was supposed to be there. Even if he didn’t help as much as I thought he should, he was supposed to be there. The gift I gave my mother should have been from both of us. The subtitle should’ve been The Gift We Gave Our Mother.

But it wasn’t. He missed the blessing but thanks be unto God, I didn’t.

You can read How Do You Wrap That? The Gift I Gave My Mother  digitally:

or in soft cover directly from the publisher:


Of Dandelions and Destruction

dandelionI don’t know how many wishes I sent into the wind as a child. I only knew that Daddy told me to take a deep breath and blow hard. Every little bit of fluffy whiteness had to be detached from the stem for my wish to come true. No one told me they were weeds and what I was really doing was spreading their seeds. I didn’t know my simple action had consequences for others.

I meant no harm.

I don’t think Paul did either. During his addiction, I’m sure he justified his drinking saying he wasn’t hurting anybody. He never drove drunk and pretty much kept to himself. I’m sure he felt our mother was overreacting with her concern. I think he just didn’t want to feel the pain. But his desire to numb the pain did have consequences for others.

He meant no harm.

But harm happened. When weeds grow, they choke out the flowers in the garden. Eventually the flowers stop growing. In the garden of my life there is a barren spot. It’s dry. Because of death, no more flowers will grow. Pressed in a book, I have old faded flowers losing their scent. There will be no new flowers.

There will be no more moments that turn into precious memories.

All he wanted to do was dispel the darkness.

 dark dandelion flipped

But the effect was only temporary.

You Say Desperate Like It’s A Bad Thing


Using this space today to promote the memoir. Notice I didn’t say MY memoir because this is not my story. It isn’t even Paul’s story. It’s God’s story about a brother and a sister who desperately needed Him … but one of them wouldn’t realize it. You’d think I’d be talking about my brother here but the truth is I’ve taken God for granted all my life. Yes, I’m a believer. No, I don’t think I could do this without Him. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever been desperate.

And I’m beginning to think that maybe I should be.

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