Years of Forgiveness (a journey of bad hair days)

Today’s Daily Prompt is “Phase” — and I thought, Phases of what? The moon? Growing up?

Then I remembered this piece that has sat in my draft folder for months. It’s the phases of hairstyles — my hairstyles. Enjoy.


Helen asked me, “At what age do women cut their hair short? Everyone your age seems to have short hair.”

Well, no, that’s not exactly true.  I listed off a few women who had longish hair, and remembered women I had taken care of in the nursing home years ago who still hair-pinned their long thin hair into tiny buns.

But she’s right. Most of us have given up on long beautiful hair.

In the fall I had decided to try to grow my hair out. Again.

“I just want to be able to tuck it behind my ears,” I told the woman who cuts my hair.

She stood behind me and we both looked in the mirror as she ran her fingers through my hair and tried to imagine it tucked back.

“Okay,” she finally said, and she trimmed a little here and a little there before sending me on my way.

I hadn’t waited until I was 40 or 50 to get my first short haircut, though. I was little when I got my first pixie cut.

“Can I get a short haircut?” I asked my mother. She grimaced, but she agreed.

I'm the one in the 4-H sweatshirt

I’m the one in the 4-H sweatshirt (1969)

The downside of short hair for a little girl is that people think you’re a boy.

Within a few years I was trying to grow it out again, and swept it over low over my eyes to hide my high forehead.

Chic (not)

Chic (not) (1971)

In high school my hair went up and down like the moods of a teenage girl.

A college friend asked me to model for him my freshman year. It took hours to blow dry and curl my hair. Even then, we used a hat to hide my hair’s wayward ways.

My brief stint as a model (I was pretty terrible)

My brief stint as a model (1978)

I spent more time on my hair that day than I did on my wedding day.

Dad, me, Mom -- 1982

Dad, me, Mom — 1982

I permed it once — that was a disaster.



The bowl cut —



I grew it really long for a while —



And then chopped it all off.




There was a time I asked for a hairstyle like Princess Diana and came out looking like my hair had been cut with a weed whacker. I cried and cried.

There have been times I was too busy to get a haircut and I chopped it off myself.  Once I asked Bud to straighten it up because I knew I had cut it unevenly, and then the hairdresser that I finally went to said, “It’s a good thing you guys stopped.”

January 2, 2016

January 2, 2016

This last time that I tried to grow it out this last time may have been the last.

One day, after a swim meet, I went to the mall, found a haircutting place, and said, “Cut it all off.”

I took a selfie when it was done.


January 9, 2016

And then had Laurel further trim it when I got home.

The thing I’ve learned about hair is that it always grows back.

And it’s very forgiving.

God gave me untamable hair so that I could understand about second chances, and third chances, and forty-seventh chances.

Keep trying, He whispers in my ear. You’ll figure things out.

And forgive them, He whispers, too. Not about my hair, but about people who repeatedly hurt me.

Lost in a Dream

“I had the darnedest dream last night,” my father told me as he ate his breakfast this morning.

I asked him to tell me about it.

“Well, I couldn’t get my bearings. I was in a strange city and I found myself wandering around. I didn’t have any idea where I was,” he said, shaking his head as he spoke. “Then, all of a sudden, I found myself in my room.”

“Is that when you woke up?” I asked.

“Why, yes. That’s right,” he replied, but he furrowed his brow as if still pondering the situation.

He paused for a few minutes while eating his cereal. My toast popped out of the toaster and I began buttering it.

“You know that book I’m reading,” he said suddenly, almost as a question.

Boon Island?” I asked, almost as an answer. It’s the Kenneth Roberts book he has been working his way through.

“Yes, that’s right. Well, in that book, they are wandering around on an island, and they can’t get their bearings…” his voice drifted off and he was lost in thought.  “Then I saw a chair, and I thought, ‘I recognize that chair.’ I looked around the room and realized that I was in my own room.”

We were back at the dream, which, evidently, was partly from his book, but was also his reality.

I ached inside for this man who was losing his bearings.

“Strange business,” he said, shaking his head.


“But I was glad to find myself in my own room because that meant I wasn’t lost anymore,” he concluded.

And [he] sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room…

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

It’s my job now to make sure he finds his supper there.

And that it’s still hot.

The Saga of the Orderly

The hospital hall was a ribbon – lit by fluorescent light;
The cafeteria all a-bustle, with nary a chair in sight;
The tables were crowded with people, so she headed for the door
And the orderly held it open—
The orderly held it open, wishing to see her more.

He’d a white lab coat with large pockets, a pager clipped at his hip,
Eyes the color of robins’ eggs, and a mustache above his lip.
He fixed those blue eyes on her as he watched her sweep on past
And he saw her turn the corner —
He wished there was no corner —
Blast that silly corner! He wanted the moment to last.

For the next few days he was watching, to determine whence she came —
As he pushed his patients’ wheelchairs, and wondered at her name,
She was a bit of a mystery, no one seemed to know,
But he was very patient —
even as he pushed each patient —
How long must one be patient! He wanted to be her beau!

He began to catch quick glimpses — my goodness, she walked fast!
Through the door to the stairwell, but when he got there she had passed.
He stationed himself in the hallway, at times when he thought that she
Would be heading to mail-room —
Or perhaps the lunch room —
He would go to any room he thought that she would be.

In the end he found and charmed her, and made this girl his wife.
Thirty four years together! They’ve had an awesome life.
Blessed eight times with children, and now a grandchild, too.
God has richly blessed them —
blessed them — blessed them
God has richly blessed them as He is wont to do.


Today’s Daily Prompt: Saga so I wrote this a la “The Highwayman” — though it’s not nearly as exciting.

The bridge where we used to take walks

The bridge where we used to take walks

Bud and I went out to dinner last night and reminisced about those early days. He loves to tell the story of holding the door open for me in the cafeteria and I whizzed right by, not even noticing. But we recalled the days of getting sandwiches together and sitting by the lake to eat them. Or walking over the stone bridge and up the service road because the hospital clinic building hadn’t been built yet.


Thirty-four years. I never would have thunk it.

My troll takes great delight in telling me that I don’t deserve Bud and he’s right — but that’s the beauty of God’s greatest blessings to us. God gives us not what we deserve but what He chooses out of His great bounty.

dating days

back in the dating days

taken today

taken today


One year in the early years of homeschooling, I decided that my children needed to have a business adventure. I think it was supposed to be a venture, but it really was an adventure.

I decided that we would have a holiday craft fair. I invited other homeschool families to participate, found a venue, and then looked for something for my children to sell at this shindig. I know — kind of a backwards way of doing things.

“What do I have in my hand?” I asked myself. It was a concept being put forth by a then-leader in the homeschool community. What do I already have that I can use without making a big investment? Upcycling, before it became a craze.

I poked around at my parents house and found some old bricks thrown to the side of one of their barns.

With my parents’ consent, I gathered a bunch, cleaned them, and brought them home.

We decided to make Christmas doorstops. Everybody needs a Christmas doorstop.

The kids painted Christmas/winter scenes on the bricks and then we covered the bottoms with felt, so they wouldn’t scratch floors. Here’s one that Helen painted. It’s the only one we still have; my parents bought it at the craft show.IMG_8635

I know it was done by Helen because her initials are on the back. Sort of.IMG_8637

At the craft fair, I remember someone picking up a brick and looking at the childish painting on it. Christmas trees. Bold yellow stars over mangers. Snowmen. Snow. They weighed the brick in their hands and said, “How do I choose? Each one is a work of art!” I’m pretty sure we sold out.

I remember when I was selecting those bricks I was delighted to find gnarly misshapen ones. They had so much character. They were, most definitely, the rejects of somebody’s building project — and we gave them new life.

This morning I wandered over to see if there were still any left. The barn has been gone for years and my husband has been cleaning up around where it was. I found a stack of bricks.IMG_8634

Some were covered with moss.IMG_8631

Others were hiding in the leaves and earth.IMG_8633

All were beautiful.

Thank you, Daily Prompt, for today’s trip down memory lane with one little word: brick.

Love of Books

On any given day, I’ll find my father reading.

Now that the sun is more often visible, he sits on the sunporch near the glass doors where he can feel its heat and enjoy its light for reading.

Reading can be harder for him these days. Not always, but sometimes, brain cobwebs cause the journey into Kenneth Robert’s world of privateers a little challenging. He struggles even more to understand the news stories in our daily paper.

“What does this mean?” he’ll ask me, and read a poorly written headline or first paragraph of a news story.

SCN_0008 (2)

Pensive reader

He loved reading as a boy —

He encouraged that same love in us.  Each Christmas my father would give each of his children one really good, often challenging, book, selected by him with us in mind.

The first one I remember was The Yearling. I was in 7th grade and looked at the size of the book, thinking my father had made a mistake. But he hadn’t. I still feel the ache The Yearling left.

He also gave me …And Ladies of the Club (Helen Hooven Santmyer), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), and The Book of the Dun Cow (Walter Wangerin, Jr) — all books I have loved.

When I met Walter Wangerin this past October, I brought my bedraggled copy of  The Dun Cow  so he could sign it. I wasn’t sure if the condition of the book was a compliment or an insult. He signed it without giving me a clue.


Engrossed reader

I love to watch my children also love books.

This was Mary a few years ago. She loved the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson.

Today, as I took her to volunteer at the village library, she patted her bag and said, “I’m bringing Outlaws of Time (N.D. Wilson’s new book) to Martha (the librarian).”

A friend asked me last week what books I’m reading and, as I thought about those books, it hit me how my reading has changed.

I just finished re-reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a thick not-easy read that challenges my vocabulary and my thinking. This time through I was struck by the impact of small acts of mercy. But a few years ago, when I was in the throes of raising small children, I couldn’t have attempted reading it because of all the interruptions.

I’m struggling through a little biography about Lancelot Andrewes. Unfortunately I was not a good history student and don’t know much about 17th century English politics. I have to stop and look things up all the time so I understand the context of his life.

Philip asked me to read The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea and I’m over half-way through. It’s a easy read, and interesting, but not necessarily the kind of book I would choose on my own.

IMG_8627In the meantime, my father continues to read, for hours every day.

Ann Landers said, “No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic.”

I think my father is making the better choice.



When I first learned to sew with a sewing machine, my mother showed me how to wind the thread through the little maze that lead from the spool to the needle.  Then she showed me how to open the secret door on the bottom of the sewing machine where the hiding place for the bobbin was.

When done correctly, these two steps led to magic. I would line the fabric up, press the foot pedal, and watch the needle pierce the fabric. When the needle came back up, its thread was miraculously looped through a thread from the lower bobbin, and the fabric moved forward.


My mother’s sewing machine

Sewing on a machine was a wondrous experience. Each stitch, a mystery.

“What’s this knob for?” I asked my mother, pointing to a knob above the needle.

“Don’t touch it,” she said.

Of course, that meant that I fiddled with it. Often.

If I cranked it one way, the stitches were loopy and loose. If I cranked it the other, the thread was pulled too tightly and got all knotted underneath.

Somehow, the tension knob held both upper and lower threads with the right amount of tautness to yield perfect stitches.

With flimsy fabrics, it needed to be turned one way, and with stiff, bulky fabrics the other. My mother, either instinctively or through years of experience, always knew just where to set it.

I was thinking about that tension knob the other day while thinking about our country’s political situation. We’re a mess, don’t you think?

But if one party is the top spool and the other the bottom bobbin, they can’t make stitches without working together.

My father's reel-to-reel

My father’s reel-to-reel

If either party is totally destroyed, we’ll be left with a useless fwap-fwap-fwap like one reel on our old tape deck spinning empty because the other reel has taken everything. In order for the music to play, there’s needs to be a tension.

A balance needs to be maintained in so many things:

  • Mercy vs Justice.
  • Opening our borders vs Closing our borders.
  • Government programs vs Self-sufficiency


When everyone piles off one side of the teeter-totter, the other side crashes to ground, jarring teeth and bones.

I haven’t always understood this and I feel like I need to apologize.

For being pig-headed and stubborn. Sometimes.

For wanting harmony so much that I side-step issues. Sometimes.

For demanding my way and not listening. Too many times.


Two adverse parties working together is too rare, but, Lord, how we need it!

When it happens, it’s a miracle.

Like a sewing machine.



I can tell a lot about a person just by listening to what he or she calls my husband:

“Mr. Zen-agle” — a telemarketer struggling through our last name

“Jay” — a telemarketer not even attempting the last name but using his first initial as his name

“Lambert” — a telemarketer ignoring the initial and using the written out middle name as his first

“Mr. Zaengle” — a former Sunday School student, tee ball player, club soccer player, or one of our children’s friends

“Mr. Bud” — a neighbor child

“Bud” — someone who knows my husband

Buddy” — someone who has known my husband since he was a child

“Dad” — kind of obvious

“Pops” — Henry

“Honey” or “Sweetheart” — me

Whatever he’s called, I love him.

We are approaching our 34th anniversary — years filled with lots of ups, some major downs, births, deaths, joy upon joy, hard work, and fun. I’m so thankful for my husband.

Cutting the cake