Forgiveness Friday: Sometimes It Takes Going Through the Roof

Maybe the reason that life puts pebbles in our shoes and smudge marks on our eyeglasses is that we are living in a cosmic comic strip with only five windows, and the last one always contains dialogue that says: “I can’t do this alone.”

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to find something to put on my desk as a tactile reminder that self-doubt will keep me from experiencing what someone described to me in a letter during last year’s Lent.

The letter says:

“God is present in all things and “everything is grace.”

I found a perfectly snarky reminder to continue this work of allowing myself to experience what is good and real, rather than to spend my whole day in repose due to my pebble injuries and blurred vision. Here is JerkFace in full glory.

Perfect if I do say so myself. What a snot, eh? The fellow at the store said “you can keep him at your desk and at least one of you will be relaxed.” Exactly. JerkFace hasn’t a care in the world, and is full of high falutin’ criticism, smack talk and derogatory sass.

The only problem with my find is that this little thing is so stinking cute and so me. This is the version of me that turns my family blue in the face. One of them told me in no uncertain terms just this morning:

“You just check out and we can’t even figure out

anything about you.”

It’s true. Much of the time I am enveloped by some sort of dark struggle, or recovering by way of a triple blanket bed cave with a book. Anne Lamott describes this need to give pain a full-fledged examination:

“And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

Thankfully, SweetCheeks, my desktop compass toward grace in the form of a desk decoration is much bigger than silly little JerkFace.

What would I do without my family who is willing to forgive me and call me in out of the rain time after time, cartoon strip after cartoon strip? Just like in this weekend’s Gospel story, they are always there the next day, ready to haul my sorry can to some new spot in the sand as the tides ebb and flow.

With absolutely no exception, this weekend’s Gospel story is my favorite. In the story

3 …four men tried to bring in a paralyzed man on a stretcher, 4 but could not reach Jesus because of the crowd. So, they removed the roof above Jesus, dug through the ceiling, and lowered the man.  (Mark 2)

Can you even imagine this? Oh come on, don’t be a jerkface, let go and imaaaaagine the drama of being that guy on the stretcher. Or the people underneath trying to follow the rules and wait in line, and then someone cuts in line by way of the roof?

I have a painting in my office made for me by an Appalachian artist name Charley Kinney. He made it for me when I told him that this healing story was my favorite gospel tale. At the bottom of the painting Charley wrote: “Christ healen peple.”

The drama of the story is epic, but what is transformative is the message.

Jesus says to the man:

9 “What’s easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher, and walk.’ 10 So you’ll know that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins here and now,” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and told him, 11 “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

That is faith.

That, is faith.

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had

a better past.”
Anne Lamott

Speed bump after speed bump, fall after fall, stupid pebble after stupid pebble, faith is the confidence that we are worthy of the tender care given to us in the oddest ways, day after day after day.

And then again, on another day.


Considering Da Birdz (take two)

(Sorry…yesterday one of the links that I had for these eagle cams was broken. Do visit these sites, you won’t be sorry. Both moms are working on laying some eggs…exciting stuff! peace, Kate)

My favorite birds:

#1 = herons

#2 = Bald Eagles. Saw five last weekend.

Here are some sweet links to a live camera in a nest in Davenport Iowa, and another in Decorah Iowa.

#3 Owls

While I was looking for more bird links on youtube, I found this video of a little owl. Apparently “Lyze is a little owl, who likes to be cuddled. Enjoy his happiness! 🙂

But, unless you work for a sanctuary or have “Zoo Keeper” on your badge, don’t touch wild animals, k?

Thnkx. Eye m now going outside to lk @ real birdz.

Forgiveness Friday: Discreet 101

Then, Jesus clearly warned the (recently healed) man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!”

After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

Mark 1: 43-44


This smells fishy at the first read. Sounds like it’s time for some sack cloths that say:

paranoia will destroy ya.

Special attention could be given to the instruction from Jesus to not “tell” in this weekend’s Gospel story about a leper being healed.

“Telling” vs. “Not Telling” is the main topic of conversation between my ten year old son and I right now. After moving to a larger town and school, our Joe has been exposed to larger and more diverse groups of children. In his mind, he has gone from cozy to mega, but really it is exactly what his dad and I would wish for in a small school and manageable class size.

Initially, our hard work paid off each day by pumping him with the promise that investing himself in a larger and more assorted mix of friends would bring him to a whole new level of happy.

And pay off it did! Though there was more than one tearful bedtime that included “I hate this place…I miss my old friends…no one likes me here,” for the most part his boundless extroversion paid off and his initial goal to have one best friend has expanded to trying to figure out how to manage his large group of best friends.

The flip side? He is in overdrive with trying to figure out what a clique is vs. a group, what exactly defines bullying, and what to do with the fact that girls are not disgusting during every minute of the day.

Which brings us back to the Gospel snippet which began this post.

Here is the whole story:

Mark 1:40-45

40 A leper approached Jesus, fell to his knees, and pleaded, “Jesus, if you want to, you can make me whole again.”

41 Jesus had such deep feelings for the leper, he reached out and touched the man. “I want you to get better. Be whole again.” 42 At that moment, the disease left the man. 43-44 Then, Jesus clearly warned the man. “Don’t tell anyone about your cure! Go! Show your skin to the priest. Then give to the Temple, just as Moses commanded. That should show them!” After that, Jesus kicked the man out.

45 But, after the man left, he talked about Jesus all the time. Because of his comments, Jesus could not enter any town in the open. Instead, he stayed in places where he could be alone. But people from everywhere kept coming to see him.

This morning while reading and listening to this story, I couldn’t help but remember a talk I had with Joe the other day on the way to basketball practice. It went something like this:

Mom: Joe, I was wondering if you know what paranoid means?

Joe: (huge sigh) Yesssss mom, it means to get on someone’s nerves.

Mom: Oh, I think you might be thinking of annoyed. No, I meant paranoid which is when someone worries way, way too much about bad things that people could be thinking or saying about us. Sometimes it’s true that some of that nasty stuff is going on, but almost always it’s not as bad as we think.

This got him talking a little bit about his concern that I was spreading rumors among the fourth grade moms about some of his less favorable transgressions from before we moved.

Which…led to talk #346 which is

The Big Difference Between Private and Secret

Mom: Here’s the deal Joe, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t keep secrets because secrets are about shame and I am nothing but proud of you. I DO keep things private though, and no, I didn’t tell all the moms about XYZPDQ because it isn’t any of their bizwax.

Joe: K. Gotta go. Coach is right there.

So, when the leper who had been healed boogied off to town and bragged up Jesus, he wasn’t spreading a long-held secret, he was just excited. But, the consequence of his lack of discreetness was that Jesus had no privacy and doing his work became complicated and, as we now know, very dangerous.

Glad that I took a minute to soak this story up – I’m sure it won’t be long before I am forced into some awkward mom situation again, and I hope I can keep my word to my kid.

Living Grief is Legitimate

Shweet! I was just looking in my old blog for some posts on grief to share with someone. I came upon an unfinished draft from what looks to be at least two Octobers ago. It makes me dearly miss the cow path, and I now want to write about nature.

But, the topic is grief…so here it ‘tis:

This is the time of year of course that political signs are popping up in yards. If there is a big issue on the ballot in our teeny village, I’ve not seen or heard.

Then again, I honestly don’t pay much attention.

I know that there’s competition for a part-time job that will affect getting our road (aka. cow path), clear of ice so that we can get to work and school.

Last year’s ice created the repetition: “Yeah, well, our road is the one that shuts schools down.” I hope the smartest township farmer wins on that one.

I’ve noticed a LOT of signs that are red and white this year.

Perhaps there is a candy cane sale going on.

This week though, while parenting, getting myself to the doctor and soaking up the fall colors, I noticed a new campaign of signs everywhere:

Legitimate Pain Care. Call 123.456.7890.

The sign has one of those pharmacy images on it with the snake that to me looks like a music signature.

My first thought was, okay…who do the people who fake pain call?

As I passed more of these silly signs, my gut reaction was slowly turning to some form of rage, as the Small Towns Against kNucklehead Drug Dealers corners of my heart and mind woke up.

We could form a group called STANDD. I’d vote for that. Who wouldn’t?

Oh. Yeah. Drug dealers.

None the less, I am enjoying the fall view tremendously during this week of our wedding anniversary. The beautiful weather along with our youngest son’s cute “boy and girl” questions makes it easy to remember our honeymoon. This blessing makes me hopeful that something funny could come from seeing these signs.


Overall, in some circular way, these signs loop me back to a wonderful conversation a couple of weeks ago with a woman on my support team that convinced me that “living grief” is indeed: legitimate pain.

We weren’t talking about standard grief: when someone dies. We were talking about situations like one that a friend and his wife are experiencing. They are avoiding downsizing and possibly foreclosure.

I’ve lost touch for a bit with this friend for a variety of reasons. I think of this guy as an online mentor, particularly in terms of spirituality. He and his wife saw the income writing on the wall and “took a knee” right off the bat in their unique way. I’m fully confident that they will continue to work through their dilemma.

One of the things that I was impressed with when he first got the news that he was losing his job was that his first list of lists of to do’s was, oh, fifteen lines long. It was something to the effect of:

1. Go to the bank to see what to do.

2. Buckle my shoe.

3-4. Go to the store.

5. Grieve. 6. Grieve. 7. Grieve

8. 9, 10. Love on the elderly dog ’cause we ain’t gettin’ no fat hen.

Living Grief” is pretty legitimate stuff.

(Updated Post) One Word, One Photo: Hope

July 9, 2013

I originally found this old photo for the WordPress Photo Challenge theme: “hope.”

When I published it in the winter of 2012, these two sons would have been in the fourth and tenth grades. It was also our first winter living away from their older brother, and our first winter living away from our country home in southern Ohio.

(check out this Homer Baily photo about last week’s no-hitter:

I’d have to consult their dad about when that hotel window snapshot was taken, because sizes are deceiving in that photo. Our youngest son was a giant as a toddler and preschooler. Yet, I don’t remember pullups on that trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so he must be somewhere around four years old.

This memory jog also helps explain why the other handsome guy in the photo was the one of my three boys to have the best time on that trip. He wasn’t a pesky preschooler melting down in the gift shop, nor did he have the world of worry that was distracting his early adolescent brother in between being amazed by various music legends.

If I spend too much time thinking about all of this…I may become a little bit sad.

Our youngest starts Junior High School in early August, and it is a matter of months before the current sparks of little boy perspective will no longer be front and center in our home.

Thankfully, our youngest is very extroverted. Shockingly private already, but very extroverted none the less. This results in constant dirt as the front door seems to revolve, but having frequent guests makes it fairly easy to get the local preteen scoop from various angles.

So, I predict that if we are sensitive enough, and the normal amount of more often not all all swag (aka:insensitive), it will all even out and we will keep having glimpses into the reality that we still are raising one boy and two men. For a few more years anyway.

I’m not sure why, but this little reflection excercise is not resulting in a sad moment at all. I guess it’s the assigned photo challenge word from a couple of years ago…

Ha! look at what popped up first on my “Good Reads” quote search:

“Don’t cry because it’s over,

smile because it happened.”


the-Muppets-movie-posters-the-muppets-26849004-75-120 Miss-Piggy-the-muppets-34940648-100-100 Electric-mayhem-the-muppets- fan pop 120-96

(Muppet images from Fan Pop)

― Dr. Seuss

Better stop typing while I’m ahead. Have a good day ~ Kate

John O’Donohue: “It’s Strange to Be Here”

Let’s see here…

~ Katherine O. Cooper

I’m tempted to write a post of apology that my time has been limited in terms of writing daily posts here on Attendance Please. I want to explain away my blogger shortcomings during the past couple of weeks.

But, I had so much fun last week pretending to give be a woman of no regret to an imaginary nemesis in the form of Alec Baldwin (aka: Jerk Face), that I’m going to sit on my hands.

This decision makes it difficult to type.

So instead of working on becoming a bloginista, I am reading parts of the transcript of an awesome interview which I was able to grab snips of in between birthday celebrations yesterday.

The little bit that I’ve read of this radio interview puts into words why I Dread the coming Lenten season with a capital “D.”

Here’s a snippet of what I heard while gathering party goods:

I read this line, which begins your book Anam Ċara, which is … a different way of kind of analyzing the human condition:

“It’s strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you.”

~Krista Tippett, Host of American Public Media radio show On Being, interview of Irish Author John O’Donohue

Please join me in reading or listening to this interview. Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you have time. The page that has the interview and podcast links also has a variety of other links that I would love to explore, but I’m off to the bookstore to, gulp, get a copy of the 2012 Writer’s Market .

Casper the Bus Riding Cat

Need a reminder that city life isn’t all grime and slime? I’m starting to be a believer. Look at what I just found online at the downtown library:

A pet cat has caught the same bus regularly for four years.

 Casper: He has been making the journey for so long that all First Bus drivers have now been told to look out for him to ensure he gets off at the right stop. Photo: PA

Casper, which is 12 years old, boards the No3 service at 10.55am from outside his home in Plymouth, Devon, and travels the entire 11-mile route before returning home about an hour later.

On the route, the cat passes an historic dockyard and naval base, a city centre, several suburbs and the city’s red light district.

He has been making the journey for so long that all First Bus drivers have now been told to look out for him to ensure he gets off at the right stop.

Susan Finden, 65, a care worker who is Casper’s owner, said: “Casper has always disappeared for hours at a time but I never understood where he was going.

“I called him Casper because he had a habit of vanishing like a ghost. But then some of the drivers told me he had been catching the bus.

“I couldn’t believe it at first, but it explains a lot. He loves people and we have a bus stop right outside our house so that must be how he got started – just following everyone on.

“I used to catch the odd bus too so maybe he saw me and got curious what I was doing.

“Casper is quite quick for his age so he just hops on to the bus before the doors close. He catches the 10.55am service and likes to sit on the back seat.”

Rob Stonehouse, one of the drivers on the route, said: “He usually just curls up at the back of the bus. Sometimes he nips between people’s legs but he never causes any trouble.”

Casper has travelled an estimated 20,000 miles but Mrs Finden says because he is getting old the drivers often have to shuffle him off at the right stop.

A spokeswoman for First Bus said the firm has put a notice up in the office asking them to look after the non-paying passenger.

Alison Krauss Sings Be Thou My Vision

Mountain in County Cork, Ireland:

I found myself feeling very discouraged last night.

Raising children, well, it’s…

it’s umm.

Yeah. I found myself feeling very discouraged last night.

Thankfully, no one was clamoring for the computer, so I YouTubed myself through the whole Taylor family – James, along with his children Ben and Sally.

At some point, I ended up on replay with Alison Krauss singing:

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

My children are, of course, heart of my own heart.

Interested in some history from Cyber Lyrics: on this lovely song? Here you are dearie:

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to Dal­lan For­gaill, 8th Cen­tu­ry (Rob tu mo bhoile, a Com­di cri­de); trans­lat­ed from an­cient Ir­ish to Eng­lish by Ma­ry E. Byrne, in “Eriú,” Jour­nal of the School of Ir­ish Learn­ing, 1905, and versed by El­ea­nor H. Hull, 1912, alt.

Music: Slane, of Ir­ish folk or­i­gin (MI­DI, score). Slane Hill is about ten miles from Ta­ra in Coun­ty Meath. It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Pat­rick de­fied a roy­al edict by light­ing can­dles on East­er Eve. High King Lo­gaire of Ta­ra had de­creed that no one could light a fire be­fore Lo­gaire be­gan the pa­gan spring fes­ti­val by light­ing a fire on Ta­ra Hill. Lo­gaire was so im­pressed by Pat­rick’s de­vo­tion that, de­spite his de­fi­ance (or per­haps be­cause of it­), he let him con­tin­ue his mis­sion­ary work. The rest is his­to­ry.

Van Gogh on Creative Confidence

I found some great quotes while cruising around the net.

Here’s my favorite:

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

~ Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch Painter 

Nice, eh?

I found it on a site called What Christians Want to Know.