The deal is…I care for the little boy named Levi and Alex cares for the little dog named Finn.  This is a good and proper way to do things in our house because Alex doesn’t change diapers very well and I don’t like standing around in the cold and wet waiting for a dog to ‘go’.

Today, our well oiled plan became a little turned around.  Alex has been feeling particularly bad since we have entered the monsoon season here in our town!  Really, we are all either floating away, have sandbags at our door or are molding!  Hurry Spring!    And, since there was rain predicted for three days straight…this was going to be one of those “Let’s stay in our pajamas all day and chill out” kinda days.  Levi and I both thought it was a grand idea!

The housekeeper was going in to do Alex’s apartment and since he was moving so slowly, I went in to lend a hand and let Finn out to take care of his business.  It was pouring rain.  So, I intended to just stay in the doorway.  No such luck…I had to step out on the porch.  And, it was wet with standing rain. And, I did not have my shoes on…day in pajamas and chilling, remember?  Well, Finn finally bonded with nature and decided to come back in.  As I stepped back in I took off my socks so as not to wet the floor. And, quick as a wink!  Finn grabbed one of my socks and ran over to the chair.  “Get my sock,” I shouted,”I don’t want him to put a hole in them!”  Alex tried to get it, the housekeeper tried to get it, and I was on my way to try to get it, when Alex said, “It’s gone.  He ate it.”  “What do you mean- he ate it?”  I yelled.  Housekeeper said, “He shore did, Ms Tonja.  He swallowed that sock right down.  I never saw anything like that!  He swallowed that sock!  He did!”  “Y’all are crazy…look under the chair, he probably dropped it,” I said.  Alex and Housekeeper looked at me and said together, “He swallowed the sock!”  “Well, can he still breathe?” I asked.  They assured me he could.  And, when I looked over at him, he looked quite pleased with himself…had himself a little sock snack here on this rainy day!  And, he wasn’t worried about it a bit!

Well.  I knew this could cause trouble so I went to call the vet.  They said to watch him.  Yeah, well, I did that.  I watched him eat my sock!  But, in a little bit the doctor called back and said for me to bring him in middle of the afternoon to get an x-ray.  OK.  I can do that.  It will cause me to have to go and get dressed though, put one makeup, too…but I can do it.  And, that’s what I did,  Went and got ready, because with my luck, he’d try to pass it and get an intestinal obstruction.  But, no..that sock was in the belly and in the belly it was going to stay.

And, as I dressed, I watched my wonderful day all snug inside…OUT of the rain…go floating past.

After the Vet saw the xray, he said, he was going to try to go down through the throat and try to catch it with an endoscope, but if that didn’t work, it would be surgery.  When he called me later, he told me that there was no way the sock would have ever moved.  And, so, Finn now has a 2 inch incision on his belly where he was sliced open and relieved of the sock in his tummy.

I went to pick him up later.  They said to be there around 5:45.  Around 5:30, here comes one of those downpours that renders windshield wipers useless as well as headlights…because of all the lightning.  If you know me you know I do. NOT. do .lightning.  Unless I have to pick up a poor, hurt dog and bring him home.  So, I prayed all the way to the vet that God would move His little thunderstorm a few miles in the direction of His choosing and give me time to get the dog and put him back in the car.  Obviously, the thunder was too loud for Him to hear me, because when I got out of the car at the vet, all I could hear was a sonic boom as I sprinted to the door…in the pouring rain…and much lightning.

Saw the vet…Finn OK.  Give up mega bucks to the receptionist in order to get my sock back all soggy and wet in a zip lock bag like some kind of prize at a fishing rodeo!  What did I want this nasty sock for?  But, I gingerly put it in my purse, along with what was left of my paycheck, and waited for the ‘dog of the hour’!  And, then I heard him…”whine, whine, yelp, YELP,YELP, whine, whimper, whimper.”  I was a goner.  How dare they hurt my Finn!  No, they were just trying to bring him to me…his mama. The Vet said, that he was going to give him another shot and it would probably knock him out by the time I got home and that we should be careful because he may run into the walls and look at things and not see them.  “Stoned?”, I said.  “Stoned”, he said.   And, there came poor Finn…walking slowly…ears down, head down, no smile, no jumping up to slap my thigh.  He was pitiful.  And, they gave me his meds and they gave me his leash.  And all of this drama inside was accompanied by the drama going on OUTSIDE.  Finn and I and the sock got to the door and I knew there was no way we could safely make it to the car amidst the lightning striking in a circle round my car without me carrying the 25 pounds he was…minus the sock.  So, I prayed, again, and bent to pick up the animal that was hurt and in pain.  And, I immediately remembered people’s stories of how the dog turned on them and bit them when they were hurt, and so since I was praying anyway, I asked God to remember what He did for Daniel when he was forced to be in the den with hungry lions and would He please do the same for me with the hurting Finn…especially since I was forced not only to carry the animal, but endure one of His firework shows at the same time.  I pushed opened the door and made it down the steps and carefully shifted the dog to my hip so I could open the door. I got it opened and …”who put those gloves and muzzle on my front car seat?”  Oh, no, it must belong to that lady that just took that 80 pound boxer in and this must not be my car, even though it is the same make and model and color.  I can tell all this because the sky…she is so lit up.  Shift dog back to carry in both arms, round the back of my car to ease, oh so carefully, between her car and mine, and to shift the dog and open the door halfway and try to carefully sit the dog on the front passenger seat.  FYI…there are only 2 cars in the lot.  Only 2 cars in the whole lot!  Plenty of room not to have to squeeze in so close to another car and make life so much the harder…I’m just saying!

Finn goes on the seat and I shut the door and run for my life to get to the driver’s side before certain death from being struck by a dagger of lightning occured.  Opened the door and there is Finn…standing in my seat…whining, ears still down and eyes looking so doggone mournful you could cry.  So I gently picked him up and held him…all 25 pounds, above the steering wheel, until I could slide the ampleness that I am under the steering wheel.  With door still open, I carefully lay him down on the towel I remembered to bring.  Keeping one hand on his head, I straighten my body and slam my car door.  And there we sat…in the thunder and lightning show…hoping all I’d ever heard about the car being the safest place to be and all…but deciding it didn’t matter anymore…I’d just trust the Maker of all the lights and noise.  And we sat for a good 5 minutes.  Me, panting and blowing…Finn…in la la land.  Then I cranked the car and carefully drove home.

I called Alex from the car and told him to meet us in the garage to help.  He did.  We got the dog in.  And got him settled.  And, they he lay…stoned out of his head…probably wondering why his people went all ape on him and freaked out and cut him open.  Or maybe he was just seeing pink elephants.

He lay carefully on Alex’s bed and slowly lay his head down.  Who knows what dreams he dreamt while under the influence.  But, I didn’t stay around to find out.  I put back on my pajamas and got into bed.  Yelling to whomever may care, “I’m hereby OFF DUTY!”

And as I reflected on this day before sleep overtook my eyes…I thought how chaotic it had been, but yet…perfectly orchestrated.  My housekeeper was here to care for Levi when I had to leave, both times.  The Vet said, “You’re lucky, most Friday afternoons we are so wrapped up, there would be no way I would have had the time to do this surgery.  Today, we only have 2 doctors and very few patients, and I have all the time I need.”  And, I told him, and he agreed…”No luck involved…ochestrated by the Father.”  See, this dog is more than just a dog to Alex.  It is his companion, his friend, his heart.  As Alex, due to his disease, is homebound 99% of the time, he misses so much.  But, Finn is there, beside him, to love and comfort and share.  Finn watches patiently as Alex suffers, offering a warm body and a lick to the hand.  He waits until Alex feels like it , and then they sing together….howling loud enough to wake the dead!  And, if Alex is up to watching some TV, Finn is watching, too…from his perch in Alex’s lap.  And, though Alex is in pain himmself…he is tenderly and carefully tending to Finn.

I know many of you love your animals like this, as well.  But, to end this story, I just want to say that God sends His love and comfort to us in many ways.  He offers us arms to lean into and He lets us sit in His lap.  He picks us up and carries us when we hurt too much to go on.  He promises to meet our needs.  And no matter how hard our life may be, He knows the best way to be with us.  In Alex’s case…He sent Finn.  Mischievous, impish, yelping, sock eating Finn.  And, we thank Him for His goodness!

Job 12:7-10 – But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV)


This new phase of my life called ‘POST CATARACT SURGERY’ is causing me much grief and unrest!  Really, I accept the fact that I had to have the surgery.  It’s one of the unpleasant things one has to deal with as we accrue more mileage on the body.  So, it HAD to be done, and I know that.  I am still not liking the results of it, however.  The surgery itself went well and all is well and as it should be, according to my doctor.  However… I do not like the way it has changed my eyes…for the worse.  WAIT…that is not entirely true.  It has definitely made my distance vision much better!  I can drive without glasses and see the TV across the room without glasses.  That’s a wonderful thing!  But, before the surgery, I had enough near vision that I could see my telephone or read the instructions on a box of cake mix…if I had to…without them on.

BUT, NOW… all my close vision is gone…and it’s driving me crazy!  This is normal and not a poor result of my surgery, by the way)It is also making me crazy that I have to try to keep up with a pair of readers so that when one of a million things that I need to look at in a day pops up, I can decipher what it is.  I tried putting the glasses on my head…but my head must be wonky or something…they just won’t stay.  Now, I see people all the time who walk around, go shopping, drive a car, go swimming, dance, play, eat …you know, all the important things in life…with a pair of glasses or sun glasses poised ‘just so’ on their heads…looking ever so cute!  And, they never budge!  But mine slip down around my neck or fall off the back of my head and slide down my back!

I’ve tried using those ‘hang ’em around your neck’ strings…but no.  They flap and flop and and bounce around on the area that is my ‘boobage’ and for all the world it looks as if they are on a trampoline.  Plus, Little Levi thinks they are hanging there purely for his entertainment and amusement!.  I’ve taken them and stuck them into my cleavage and hoped for the best.  No. No, they didn’t go anywhere, but I was most uncomfortable!  I know what I’m doing…whining!  Don’t you hate to hear a grown up whine?  It’s much worse than a child whining and that’s enough to make your hair curl.  That’s why I am not ever going to speak about this again.  Or, I promise to try really hard not to.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Let me just tell you.    I have worn glasses all my life and I never minded so much.  It is much easier than this on and off and on and off game I have to play now.  I got my doctor to give me a prescription for glasses that has the reader part at the bottom and just a touch of correction at the top.  Then last week, I went to the eye glasses factory to get them made.  And, here’s where the drama starts.

They advertise that they will have your glasses in an hour.  They have a lab and technicians right there.  And, it looks…to me, at least…as if it is well stocked.  Or, if it’s not…it should be!  I know that some folks, like my boys in their younger days, do have to have special lens ordered due to the severity of their prescription.  I get that.  But in MY case, they had to order the lens…because I needed anti-glare lenses.  Now, I have always gotten anti-glare lens…it cuts down on glare when you are in a setting with fluorescent lights.  But, now I need them because of the halo I see around lights when I drive at night.  Which is a normal occurrence after cataract surgery as well as a normal part of aging.

But, it was going to take 2 weeks to get my lens in.  2 weeks!!!!  Not acceptable.  I asked if I could have them shipped overnight.  They said they would try.  (I am going on a trip this week…Thur-Sun…and I wanted to have them so I wouldn’t lose my ever-lovin’ mind and act all ill and stuff in front of my friends).  So, I told them I would wait while they called and checked.  (Because I had another option to get them).  They called and they called and they called.   “Sorry, we can’t get them to answer,”  they said,  “We will call you as soon as we get in touch and get an answer.”  So, I made sure M. got my number and I got hers and she promised to call me as soon as she could.  And, she called me later in the afternoon to say that she didn’t make contact but would try first thing the next morning.  I told her that would be fine.  And, she did.  She called the next morning and said that the glasses would be ready on Tuesday!  I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her efficiency.

And, I was all set to go pick up my glasses on Tuesday.  Yea!  All was working out just fine!  My youngest came home this weekend, with a special friend, and I went to Publix to pick up some goodies for them, because what they cook is always better than what I cook.  As I was walking into the store, I heard someone call my name.  I turned around and there was M.  She asked if the store had called me, because she had been off.  I told her they had not.  I sensed some bad news was coming and I was not going to like it.  She said that the maker of the anti-glare lens had called and could not get my lens here in time for me to have them before my trip.  It was still going to be two weeks!!!

All sorts of responses ran through my mind.  “This is ridiculous! ”  “Just cancel my order and I’ll take my business elsewhere!”  “I will tell everyone to never shop there for eyewear!”  “I am furious and about to make an ugly scene and embarrass myself and you and it’s what you deserve!”  But, none of that came out of my mouth.  Just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it.  And, even though thoughts may pop into your mind and you can’t always control that…you CAN control what comes OUT of your mouth and what others hear.  I looked at M., a young girl who moved here from another town to work with this company.  She is young, not yet married, and doesn’t know many people here.  I had invited her to visit our church when I found out these things about her as we were talking at the store.  What kind of witness would it be if I told her all the things that came to this sad mind.  So, I said, “That’s OK, M., you tried your best and I appreciate that.  You just call me when they come in and I’ll come and get them.”  She looked so relieved and apologised again.  We parted ways and I breathed a prayer.  “Thank-you, God, for reminding me to speak as you would speak.  Thank you for taking those words out of my mouth and putting kind ones in place.”  To be totally honest with you, my friends, that doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes I DO say things I’m sorry for and ashamed at myself for speaking.  But, I really try…with God’s help.

I finished my shopping, came home, got everything put away, and was sitting down to rest for a few minutes when my phone rang.  I answered it, and it was M.  “Mrs. Owens,” she said, “I just came in to work and your glasses are here and ready for you to pick up!  I don’t know how this happened.  They told me they couldn’t do it, but here they are.”

I went right on to the store and picked them up.  And, oh what a great difference they make!  I can just wear them and not have to change anymore!  I thanked her and spoke to the manager and praised her efficiency.  And walked out the door a happy woman.  This is great!

Now, I don’t know if this little episode in the “Life and Times of Tonja” has a true lesson in it or not.  I am no great theologian nor writer who can take a little nugget of wisdom and turn it into a meaningful devotional thought.  What I get is that God has wonderful surprises for us when we least expect it.  And, He wants us to enjoy the wonderful things He surprises us with.  I am enjoying my glasses.  But, how guilty I would have felt if I had acted unkindly toward M.  How embarrassed I would feel if those horrible words had been spoken out loud.  Just a little ‘life lesson’ that God reminded me of.


DH and I were away from home and not on any schedule.  So when I woke up earlier than he, I eased out of bed…very quietly…and moved to the den.  I opened the computer and read.  I did nothing to wake him up and nothing to make any noise.  I opened the refrigerator very quietly and eased out a DDP and opened it inside the refrigerator…so even the “WHOOSH” sound wouldn’t disturb him.  Cause, y’all don’t even know…just  normal breathing disturbs him.  I didn’t dare get dressed.

After about 40 minutes, I heard him up and then he came into the den.

ME:  “Good morning”

DH:  “Good morning.  I’m hungry.  Let’s go and get a biscuit.”

ME:  “But, I’m not dressed.  Just go on and get us something and I’ll get the table ready.”

DH:  “No, come on and ride with me.”

ME:  “But, my hair isn’t even combed.”

DH:  “You’re fine.  Come on, you’ll just be in the truck.”  Yes, I was tooling around town looking like a sad, sad excuse for womankind everywhere…and I’m doing it in a truck!  One of my least favorite forms of transportation!  But, DH loves it…and it does beat walking! 🙂

ME:  “O.K.  But, I’m NOT getting out of the truck.”  So, out of the house I go…just as I looked when I got out of bed.  And, it’s not pretty.  I had on my pajama bottoms…short, bright green with white polka dots.  I had on the top to another pair of pajamas.  Heaven only knows why…but I packed the top of one set and the bottom of another. You know, some pajamas can almost pass for regular clothes…and the bottoms of my ensemble could have passed…perhaps if I had had on a matching top.  The top I did have on was bright orange…very baggy (so as to sleep more comfortably).  It is not a top I would ever wear out because the neck…she is a little too low for my comfort.  Thankfully, I did have on an upper body undergarment.  I left with no shoes…not even flip-flops.  I was not cute.  Comfortable, but not cute.

We traveled the 2 minute trip it takes to get to the doughnut shop/biscuit place.  I told him what I wanted  to eat and drink.

He ordered and came back to the truck while he was waiting, to tell me the following:

DH:  “Look at all those tables they have out here to sit and eat at.  I bet you would enjoy eating out here in the cool breeze.  It sure is nice.”

I just bet he thinks I bet I would enjoy sitting outside in the cool breeze.  In my green pajama bottoms, and my bright orange, too low for daytime top, and no shoes, makeup or hair combing.

ME:  “We can sit here in the truck if you want to, but I’m not going to get out looking like this and go sit at those picnic tables.”

But, something told me this was one of those battles that was going to be senseless to fight.  It was early.  I was hungry.  No one there looked any better than I…and they were ready for the day, and some were heading to the beach.  So, I went searching through his truck to see if I could, at least,  find a comb.  My DH is one of the neatest, most groomed persons I know.  He’s right on par with my Pop.  I can get a shower, wash and dry my hair, put on makeup, pick out and iron my clothes and get dressed…fully…and he will still be in the shower!  So, I would expect him to have several combs stashed around the truck.  Because, the man…he does LOVE to comb his hair.  LOVES!  But, no comb.  All I found were his deacon ministry cards from church, a dozen or so straws from McD’s, several plastic wrapped spoons and forks, a few coins, some chapstick, and a random key.  I thought to myself, “What would Mrs. McGyver do?”

Well, let me tell you, friends.  I discovered that you can take a plastic fork and hold it backwards (upside down)  and it makes a fairly decent comb.  It only has 4 teeth, of course.  But, in a pinch…it’ll do!

And, when DH came back to the truck, I hopped out, and tiptoed through the sand spurs to the picnic tables.

It was, indeed, delightful sitting there in the cool breeze eating our biscuit next to the ocean.  And, after I finished my biscuit, I was REALLY glad I had agreed to expose my self and my night clothes to the morning sun.  Cause in the bottom of the bag was the freshest, gooiest, Long John!  (Rectangle of glazed doughnut dough, filled with yummy white cream, and topped with chocolate icing.)  It was divine!  It was scrumptious!  It was the best!  We enjoyed our breakfast…and the dessert and then, I waited till no one was looking, that I could see, and tiptoed back through the sand spurs (little pods about the size of a pea that are covered in strong, mean, mean stickers) and hopped up into the truck.  SAFE!

Sometimes, you just have to let go of the way you feel and just live the moment as it presents itself.    I did and the reward was well worth it!  Sweet memories made on a weathered old picnic table, by the ocean, just me and DH.

I probably shouldn’t mention that I was also silently beseeching the Lord to “please don’t let anybody who knows me show up while I’m here!”



Monday evening…

From the minute I opened my eyes this morning…the day had *****DISASTER*****written all over it.  Sometimes I can be wrong about these things.  I’ll think it’s going to be a hard day and it will actually turn out well.  But today?  I was spot on!  UN-fortunately!

Today was the month checkup following my cataract surgery.  I had been working on a project out of town over the weekend, and didn’t return home until just several hours earlier, spent a few hours in fitful sleep, and got ready to hit the road by 8:00.  Joy and I usually travel together, but she was not able to go and neither was Don.  So before I left, I got Alex to help me with the Navigation App on my phone.  (The Dr.’s office is tucked away in a spot that requires you to drive an unbelievable obstacle course for several miles to find it).  I wanted to make sure the ‘voice that lives in my phone’ would talk to me when I needed the directions.  Because, even though I can drive just fine, I still can’t get used to reading worth a flip!  And, I knew I could not drive and read!  ANYWAY…he fixed it and even showed me what to do if it happened to mess up.  I took the phone from him and carefully laid it in the car so as not to disturb anything he had done.

I was later getting off than I wanted and the weather was the pits!

Rain and storms and low visability….but I made it into the city and turned on the phone and the ‘voice’.  NOTHING.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.  Not a sound.  Not a whisper.  The ‘voice that lives in my phone’ chose this time to be silent.  I found a place to pull over to study the problem…because the rain…he was falling!!!  (I know it was male rain…it always is when thunder is involved).  I did just what Alex showed me.  And, I took off again…secure in the fact that the ‘voice’ would soon begin to impress me with her knowledge of the crooks and turns that is the Birmingham road system.  NOT.  A.  SINGLE.  SOUND.  Except the sound of me praying aloud for the Good Lord to “take control of my phone and turn it from an evil determined to cause me grief into an instrument of good will.”   I’m sure He had much more important things to take care of…because nary a word came from the phone.  I called Ian.  He had no ideas for me.  He was busy at work…and there was little time for a semi hysterical mother.  He suggested a few things to try, but they were useless.  Friends, I was on my own.

Looking for one little office in the big, rainy, dreary, sad city.  I pulled over for the fourth time.  This time…it was to pray a proper prayer, and ask for guidance and calmness.  And once again, I took off in the direction I thought I should go.

I soon knew I was headed the right way, because I saw some places that looked familiar.  So, I kept going… first down one road, then up another and around at least 1,000 curves.

Obviously, somewhere I went wrong, because I ended up further away than I was when I started!!!   I went back and instead of ‘zigging’…I ‘zagged’.  And this time, I got a little closer.  Once again, I made a wrong turn and ended up going in a circle…but at least I wasn’t getting further away!  STILL NOT A SOUND FROM THE PHONE!  I was determined to get there.  After checking to be sure the volume on the phone was as loud as it would go, on the off chance it regained consciousness, I turned down the only road I had not gone on.  AND…….it was the right one!  HOO-RAY!  I made it!  I did it!  I found it!

The rain was still pouring, so I got the umbrella and made my way through the ankle deep puddles to the door.

And, as I walked through the door I heard the distinctive sound of the ‘voice that lives in my phone’ saying…“stay on Highway 31 for 4.3 miles then make a left onto…blah!  blah!  BLAH!”  Everyone in the building heard it as well since the volume was still at its loudest!  I wanted to cry…but, at this point in my day, it would have been an ugly, ugly scene.  So when the receptionist said, “Oh, Mrs. Owens, there you are!  We were getting worried about you!”  I just smiled the kindest smile I could muster, and thanked her.  Then, I sat down, folded up the dripping wet umbrella, wiped the raindrops off my glasses, and reached into my purse…took that phone and ripped the battery off its back with my bare hands.  I put it at the bottom of my purse and piled everything else in there on top of it.  The empty shell of a phone looked up at me helpless as can be.  It’s probably a good thing the waiting room was full…else it may have found itself under my wet, muddy shoe!



I think God must have a wonderful sense of humor.  I hope you don’t think me sacrilegious when I say that.  Because I say it with much respect.  I happen to think that a sense of humor is one of the things needed most to survive this world with the mind somewhat intact!  If we can not laugh at the funny, the absurd, the quirkiness of life…we miss a whole lot of fun!

Just look at some of the creatures He created…they are hilarious!




“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.”  Job 8:21



Well,  in my life, there are always funny coincidences.  And, sometimes, I can just imagine He is laughing with me when I ‘get it’!  Do you remember that old joke….”Wanna know how to make God laugh?”…..”Just tell Him YOUR plans!”  I’m sure we crazy humans amuse Him quite often.

“A joyful heart is good medicine…….”  Proverbs 17:22 a

Well…before we go on a trip, we always have a prayer after we get into the car.  We ask for safety for us as we travel and for others travelling as well.  And, because I believe in praying specifically, I ask Him to put His angels all around our car as we go.  (Doesn’t it make you feel safe to think of His angels travelling along with you?  It does me.)

So, as Joy and I were travelling home from Birmingham, we saw something we never thought we would see…RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR CAR!  Exactly what we had prayed for!   We both just laughed and laughed and laughed.  And, then I made her slow down so that we could get a picture.  I mean…I had no doubt at all that God had done as we asked.  But, to SEE them…that’s another story!


Yes, there they were!  Just like I had prayed for!  One is sitting upright and two were lying down.  But, I’m sure they, too, were on guard, nonetheless!

And, then I imagined God laughed and laughed and laughed.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  Psalm 126:2




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