Category Archives: Coffee Corner

Leading God’s Choir

Some elementary classmates considered choir cruel and unusual punishment. Not me. Although stuck in the back row because of my height, I didn’t permit boys’ cooties to lessen my joy in music. I grew up singing.

As an adult, I directed my church choir. We developed spiritual closeness and musical mental telepathy … that didn’t transfer to sitting/standing together. I’ve never seen another choir do the wave every Sunday. Still, we sang with gladness and authenticity.

After moving, my husband and I joined a large church with a bigger choir and classically trained director. How I missed old friends! But now I didn’t direct while belting out alto and/or tenor to compensate for members lost to the flu du jour. I sang my natural soprano!

Image by CCXpistiavos from Pixabay.

However, our director discovered my past. Would I substitute for him? I attempted the game all God’s people, beginning with Moses, play: Ask Somebody Else.

Other directors weren’t available.

The director believed in miracles. He also promised his compassionate pianist would cover my back.


What to wear? Often, seams split and zippers opened as I conducted. In the past, arm motion sent shoulder pads traveling. Once, I appeared to grow a bust on my back.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay.

Wardrobe decided, I caught cold. While I directed, would God send an angel to wipe my nose?

What if singers didn’t show? Without them, I was only a crazy woman waving her arms.

They came, though. A row of Bach’s descendants gave me the eye.

We practiced well, but questions erupted about missing music, standing up, sitting down …

“Only God is infinite.” I answered. “Ask Him!”

When I stepped up to direct, congregational eyebrows rose. But it wasn’t about me. Or anyone else.

We worshipped an audience of One: Jesus. All who lifted heartfelt praises to Christ belonged.

In His choir, nobody has cooties.

Those singers were so patient with me.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you deal with feelings of inadequacy?

Garden Party

Every year, my husband and I repeat: “We’re too busy. We’re too old.”

Still, we give our annual garden party.

Image by Monica Max West from Pixabay.

Unlike the scenario in Ricky Nelson’s song, “Garden Party,” neither Mary Lou, Yoko Ono, nor her walrus show up. Just lots of uninvited guests.

Image by Alana Jordan from Pixabay.

Given our sophisticated attire, you’d think nobody would dare approach our garden without an engraved invitation. I wear an orange T-shirt accidentally bleached with the underwear wash load. Hubby sports his free T-shirt from our 1971 prom, plus trendy ripped jeans. Roomy 20-year-old shorts show off my black-knee look, enhanced by matching black nails. Emitting an elegant fragrance called “Compost,” Hubby and I have dressed in our casual best.

Unfortunately, thistles, with their prickly personalities, crash the party. I’ve nicknamed them “Klingon sticker weeds.” Like the legendary “Star Trek” foes, they aspire to conquer the universe, beginning with our garden.

Image by Solfaroli Renzo from Pixabay.

Grass, which avoids our yard’s bald spots, flourishes alongside its evil ally. Morning glories that rebel against trellises swarm the cucumber patch.

For other boorish invaders, we’re not only their hosts. We’re their refreshments.

Millions of mosquitoes and chiggers view us as a free Golden Corral.

Image by Beverly Buckley from Pixabay.

Still, Hubby and I stick to the program, playing garden games cherished for generations:

  • Lose the Trowel – Did I leave it among the tomato plants? On the freezer? Or (on bad-memory days) in the freezer?
  • Find the Rake – Gratifying for the spouse who lost it. Not for the unconscious spouse who stepped on it.
Image by CCXpistiavos from Pixabay.
  • Twister – Hubby and I possess twin gallon bottles of Ibuprofen to document our prowess.

Only God, the perfect Host, has given the flawless garden party that might have lasted forever.

Hmm … wasn’t it another pair of humans who spoiled it?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What makes a great garden party?

A Carpet Dream Come True … Right?

Image by José Augusto Camargo from Pixabay.

Have you ever lain awake at night for two solid weeks before the scary moment of truth arrives?

The moment when installers are hauling in new carpet for which you paid thousands of dollars?

I feel your pain.

After agonizing debate, I had selected “Dirt Zenith” over “Flaky Rust.” Would the little square’s color, multiplied by dozens of square feet, make my carpet fantasies the past 12 years come true?

Image by Joseph Shohmelian from Pixabay.

Before they laid an inch, I had to leave for a dental appointment. Perhaps you don’t ponder optimistic thoughts while someone digs and drills in your mouth, either. I sank lower and lower in the dental chair.

Returning, I wanted to stay in the garage forever. Would Dirt Zenith clash with the costly Exalted Smudge paint applied earlier to the walls?

Would Flaky Rust have suited it better?

Or should I have chosen Swamp Slime instead?

I crept through the back door. Toward the family room.

Would the stain-hiding texture espoused by the enthusiastic salesman stand out as if in neon? Had I spent a fortune to carpet our house to resemble a 1980s Marriott breakfast room?

Finally, I looked.


Dirt Zenith looked darker than expected. Not enough brown? I opened blinds. Sunbeams gleefully pounced on my choice. Ack! Too much gray!

Hubby looked at me. “Don’t. Even. Go. There.”

We moved the furniture back. Brown returned to the carpet, even when pesky sunbeams tried to scare it off. I breathed again.

Image by Nadin Dunnigan from Pixabay.

However, something didn’t fit my fantasy.

The furniture.

How could these tired, outdated sofas and chairs fit anyone’s dream come true?

But will little cloth swatches prove sufficient to fulfill my furniture fantasy?

Hubby doesn’t want to find out.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What home ownership venture cost you major cash — and sleep?

Springtime Thoughts

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

I can’t wait to do yard work. A glaring symptom of spring fever, right?

Given the number of neighbors venturing into soggy yards, too, others share my insanity. Even toddlers in our church nursery favor toy lawnmowers — though they mostly mow each other down.

Some springtime thoughts focus on the bravado of pear trees and magnolias, like huge bouquets. However, smart oaks, before sticking out a leaf, wait to see if bolder colleagues survive.

Image by Andera Olofsson from Pixabay.

Peepers in nearby wetlands postponed their concerts this year. Why interrupt a nice, long nap to sing during arctic temperatures? Bad for the throat.

Chilly springs don’t discourage my town’s grill masters. Don’t smoky fragrances make you feel as if you’d give your life for a juicy burger?

Believe it or not, salad is beginning to taste good.

Image by fotografi-erende from Pixabay.

I wish ice cream didn’t. Dens of temptation sing siren songs, exactly when shorts and bathing suits emerge from hibernation. Sandals, too, though emergency pedicure appointments cure feet that resemble a Gila monster’s. If only one weight appointment could cure “love handles” too.

Changing the subject (thankfully), I offer prayers for heroic teachers. Nearby recess noise has not yet reached May’s riot levels, but it’s getting there.

Watching kids walk home on rainy afternoons makes me forget recess racket. Little girls dancing through puddles with umbrellas — is there anything cuter? Or more dangerous?

Image by Petra from Pixabay.

Well, maybe boys conducting “sword” fights.

We adults also catch spring madness, running on trails with thigh-high mud and playing baseball when we haven’t moved from the sofa since Labor Day.

Ah, spring. It dazzles us so that the siren’s call to do yard work is almost as strong as ice cream’s.

But not quite.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What spring thoughts fill your mind during April?

Classic Post: An Office Shoveler Ponders the Meaning of Cleaning

Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay.

This post first appeared on February 10, 2021.

I shoveled out my office last November.

A delayed optometric appointment had prevented me from seeing its squalor. After all, having bumped a fellow “pedestrian,” I realized I’d apologized to a mailbox.

I also stumbled through my chaotic office to reach the printer.

What finally inspired a cleaning turnabout? I share the printer with my husband.

Rummaging through rubble, I saw carpet. It’s blue — who would have known? I even (drumroll) cleared my desk.

Hubby thought he’d entered the wrong house. Then he swore I was the wrong woman. After checking birthmarks and dental records, though, he acknowledged I was his wife, not a lookalike alien. Even if I’d cleaned my office.

“Clean,” though, is a relative term. Some neatniks scrub their garage floors. Their streets.

Image by svklimkin from Pixabay.

I speak a different language. “Clean” means piles have been boxed and lined up along walls. It also implies bookshelves no longer threaten to collapse, as (sniff!) I gave books to Goodwill. Three of them.

I follow a never-fail formula for dealing with UFOs — Unidentified Funky Objects. If it doesn’t erupt, tick or grow tentacles, I toss it into a closet or drawer.

It doesn’t always look this bad. Sometimes, it looks worse.

Mission accomplished last November.

Then came Christmas.

Bushels of Christmas junk migrated to my office. With the advent of energetic grandsons, our antique clock fled there for protection. So did the crystal clock my husband gave me. Custom-thrown pottery also took refuge.

Piles of trash, attracted as if magnetized, have made themselves at home.

Now, trying to force the office door open, I confront the unthinkable: I should clean again.

Twice within four months?

Let’s just buy another printer. And put it in Hubby’s office.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your definition of “clean”?

Joy to the World? At Easter?

Who needed baskets? Our kids thought “Easter shoes” were normal.

Does your family celebrate Easter in traditional ways?

My siblings and I hid Easter eggs so well, truants were located weeks later by their potent odor. We awoke to yummy treats … in our polished shoes. Years before, Mom had possessed only pennies to spend on Easter. Having poured out frustrations in prayer — Mom talked to Jesus about everything — she recalled reading about Dutch children receiving Christmas candy in their shoes and nested jelly beans in ours.

My father, a pastor, celebrated Easter wholeheartedly, his bass voice leading “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “He Arose” and … “Joy to the World.”

Image by AvocetGEO from Pixabay.

I thought everyone sang that hymn at Easter. As a teen, though, I realized other churchgoers sang it only at Christmas. I kept our odd custom a deep, dark secret, hoping no Easter visitors knew me.

Fast-forward 20 years. My children and I dyed eggs, their clothes and mine. One helpful toddler knew egg-zackly what to do with eggs.

Crack them.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Our family could afford Easter baskets. Repeating the story of their grandma’s faith, though, I filled my kids’ shoes with grass, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.

My grandchildren still receive Easter treats in their shoes and hear of their great-grandmother’s prayer. They will dye Easter eggs — and their clothes. Our congregation will sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and “He Arose.”

Joy to the World”? Probably not.

I’ll save that hymn for a visit to our parents’ graves. I didn’t want them to die. They weren’t crazy about the idea, either. But because Jesus came alive again, they will too. Someday, we’ll all be together with Him.

Joy to the world! To all who believe in Jesus’ Resurrection.

Image by Arnie Bragg from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you celebrate Easter?

His and Her To-Do Lists

Should I bother with a spring to-do list?

Image by Michéle from Pixabay.

This past winter, I could have scraped old wallpaper in three rooms. Instead, I read books. Enriching my mind inspires me so much more. Hubby’s enriched his mind too, finishing a thousand-page book on American history.

We’ve enriched our minds so much we’ve lost them — when recalling winter to-do lists. But a little repression never hurt anyone.

Besides, it’s spring. Why waste time indoors when we can stay outdoors?

Between snowstorms and tornadoes, I mean.

The only problem: our enriched minds cannot agree on priorities.

Items on his spring to-do list:

Clean the camper versus clean the garage? On Hubby’s list, the camper wins every time.
  • Conducting intense research on camping gear.
  • Buying lots of it.
  • Arguing with umpires and Cubs podcasts while cleaning our camper.
  • Arguing with mice that established winter quarters in the camper.
  • Tilling and planting the garden he knows deer will eat.
Image by Teodor Buhl from Pixabay.
  • Negotiating with dandelion and violet armies determined to conquer our yard.
  • Coaxing the mower into eating grass, despite its lack of appetite.
Image by forstephany from Pixabay.

My list:

  • Conducting intense research on spring shoes.
  • Buying lots of them.
  • Arguing with The Weather Channel.
  • Arguing with ants demanding the deed to our house.
  • Buying enough plants to create a second Eden.
  • Planting maybe four I know the deer will eat.
  • Applying fertilizers only weeds like.
We should move spring walks on Taylor University’s campus to the top of our lists.

Do Hubby and I share any common items on our to-do lists? A few:

  • Taking hand-in-hand walks, spotting new blossoms on Taylor University’s campus.
  • Pretending we’re students again.
  • Glorying in growing old like two aging maples sporting rings of experience, yet plenty of new buds.

Maybe we should put these — and, of course, enriching our minds — at the top of our spring to-do lists.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s on your list?

Night Fright

Image by 51581 from Pixabay.

People often say they conceive their best thoughts at night.

I’m missing this microchip. My mother often told me that even as an infant, I wasn’t a positive thinker during the wee hours. When I grew old enough to read, I added hundreds of new items to my nocturnal Scary List. Take, for example, the 1960s obsession with outer space. If I read a story in Look magazine about flying saucers above a wheat field near Boring, Nebraska, I knew the little green guys would like Indiana sweet corn better. I resolved to eliminate bedtime in order to protect my state from alien invasion.

NASA spent millions to supply me with worry material — until monsters took over the task: Frankenstein, Wolf Man and TV vampires. When tired Mom nixed movie and television viewing, the local paper kept me informed. I read about a hairy, Bigfoot-like creature that cried like a baby and haunted Detroit. Nowadays, sports writers would deduce it was a Detroit Lions lineman, lamenting their playoffs loss. But then, I never knew whether the unearthly wails from the next bedroom came from my baby brother or the monster.

Thankfully, I outgrew all that. The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West no longer scares me.

At least, not much.

Image by 51581 from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do some childhood boogeymen still haunt you at night?

Stupid Spring Flowers

Have you noticed spring flowers don’t possess high IQs?

After years of “surprise” March blizzards, you’d think clueless flowers would wait until April before peeking out.

Brave or foolish, my crocuses herald the hope of spring.

My daffodils also are poor communicators. Having often turned into flower-sicles, they should have the decency to warn the younger generation. New bulbs should don furry little mittens like spring-smart pussy willows. But they never do.

So, every March, I lecture my flowers about the virtues of sleeping in.

I never had to instruct my children about this.

But flowers don’t get it. Each year, they hear the same weather wisdom: come out too early, and you’ll freeze your buds off. Wait until the sun shines more than one day out of 30.

But do they listen?

Image by Ryan Minion from Pixabay.

No-o-o-o. While the ground remains iron and silvered with snow, dumb flowers poke their heads above icy earth and shiver in their shoots.

Not too bright.

Though I admit that doesn’t apply to color. Yellow daffodils and purple crocuses look like fresh, brilliant paint dropped from God’s brush onto a color-starved landscape. His gift after a long, weary winter?

Maybe spring flowers aren’t so dumb, after all.

Image by Ralph from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When does your favorite spring flower first appear?

Leap Year: Yay or Nay?

Image by Simple-aign from Pixabay.

Does Leap Year make sense to you?

“Leap Day” (February 29) sounds suspiciously like “spring forward” and “fall back,” two of my least favorite “holidays.” Why trust people who mess with calendars any more than people who mess with clocks?

It’s not enough that we spring and fall. Now we are expected to leap? The whole scenario sounds suspiciously like exercise. I don’t trust that, either.

Scientists, however, declare we humans don’t have to sweat. Our planet should jog around the sun in 365 days, but slowpoke Earth requires 365¼ days. People who lie awake at night worrying about that — and whether every apple sticker posts the correct bar code, and whether Number 1372 or Number 1373 inspected their jeans, or how many angels dance on the head of a pin — insist Leap Year is a necessary corrective measure.

Image by PIRO from Pixabay.

Thinking positive, though, who hasn’t wished for an extra 24 hours?

Image by Alexa from Pixabay.
  • To catch up on sleep missed the other three years.
  • To discover that aliens do indeed exist — growing in the refrigerator.
  • To read books piled on our nightstands.
  • To meet strangers across the street who have lived there only 12 years.

Springing forward and falling back aside, messing with the calendar might not prove so bad, after all. Maybe we should take some leaps this Leap Year?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What leap would you take?