Contact Me

If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email:

Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book review of Broken Angel

Sigmond Brouwer has written a masterful suspense tale which takes place in post-apocalyptic days. Set in a sub-nation within the United States, no one comes in to Appalachia, and no one gets out. Caitlyn's father, Jordan, is trying to keep the details of her birth a secret to the oppressive townspeople. . .and her, as well.

Wonderful, sympathetic characters will grab your heart as they attempt to escape Appalachia, while hunted and hemmed in by bounty hunters and a bad guy who makes Dexter seem tame.

The writing is masterful, with beautifully crafted descriptions, compelling characters and an intriguing plot.

I can't wait to read his sequel, Flight of Shadows, which will be available January 2010.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hero for the Day

I was six years old when our family went on a rare camping trip to Sequoia National Park. That was back in the days of canvas tents, cheese sandwiches, and powdered milk.

Mother and Daddy sent us five kids away from the tent site so they could catch a nap. (That was also back in the days when older children watched the younger children and no one called CFS.)

We hung out at the restroom/shower building, trying to come up with some exciting activity, like how many times Lori could punch your arm before you got a bruise, or how long Lee could stand to keep a daddylonglegs on her shoulder without screaming.

As we lounged on the cool cement under the eaves, pondering our choices, a shiny red cadillac zoomed up. The man driving it pulled around the corner. We heard the motor shut off.
"Quick," big brother Jay whispered, "you two go hide in there and we'll go in the other restroom." Never mind that he'd just directed big sister,Lee, and I into the men's room. Without thinking, we obeyed. Ducking into the restoom, Lee and I slid into the nearest shower stall, covering our mouths so our giggles wouldn't be heard.

In strode the man. Cick, click, click went his cowboy boots on the tiled floor. He chose the farthest stall for his business. He took forever and made the most darned-awful noises. I wanted to dash out of our hiding place, but Lee held me back, holding a warning "shh" finger in front of my face.

Finally, the man flushed the toilet and opened his stall door. But he didn't go out of the restroom. No. He started opening each stall door, one by one, loudly commenting on the condition of each toilet. Each toilet critique brought him closer to our stall. Lee's eyes grew as round and as big as pie plates. I'm sure the guy could hear our child hearts hammering at the thought of discovery and. . . murder.

The moment came. Mr. Red Cadillac slowly nudged our stall door open. Halfway. "My, what a clean shower."
The door eased shut. Click, click, click. The echo of his boots receded. Lee and I remained frozen in terror. Moments later, we heard Mr. Cadillac drive off. I took my first real breath in five minutes.

We high-tailed it out of that men's restroom like two Jack Russells chasing a rag bunny. Jay and Royce and Lori waited outside. As we breathlessly related our harrowing experience and how we'd --giggle, giggle -- hidden so well that that stupid old guy didn't even know we were right behind the shower door, our siblings looked at us with newfound admiration.

Throughout childhood, every time Lee or I needed an ego boost, we'd resurrect the story of Mr. Red Cadillac and our courage in the face of certain death.

I think I was somewhere around 25 when, in recollecting that day at the restroom in Sequoia National Park, it dawned on me that a good-natured man in a red cadillac played along in our child's game.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anxiety Therapy

Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being..."

Remember way back when I said that I'd revisit the subject of how I dealt with my panic attacks? Well, here goes.
After my first panic attack, several weeks passed in which my anxiety grew. They call it agoraphobia: literally, fear of the marketplace. Got so bad I couldn't even stick my head out the front door.
I spent hours in prayer, asking the Lord to heal me. My pastors and some elders came to my house, anointed my head with oil and prayed over me.
I had just committed to directing our church's children's music theater, so it was imperative that I regain the ability to drive and to walk into buildings without freaking out.
"I pray that out of His glorious riches. . . " Even in my time of mental illness, Jesus Christ has riches to offer me.
"He may strengthen you with power. . . " The Lord is fully capable of giving me power to do what I need to do.
"through His Spirit in your inner being. . . " Because His Spirit indwells me, my inner me has all of God's power at my disposal to do His will.
Like a solid rock where I could hide from the elements, prayer became my first refuge.
But God's Word was His soothing counsel, reminding me that I am a warrior, not a mouse.
More on the "warrior" subject later.
Let me know what wonderful scriptures God has given you in your time of trouble.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mad bomber

Did you know that I was nearly arrested on suspician of trying to assassinate a prominent city of San Francisco official? (I won't name his name.)
This was back in my young twenties when I was a very busy singer, doing gigs all over the bay area.
One dark and stormy night. . . no, actually it was a calm, star-filled night, I decided to walk home after my voice lesson. I could have taken the street-car, but I wasn't in any hurry and you know how it is when you're young and stupid about the dangers of city streets at night.
Halfway down Vicente, a guy on a motocycle passed me and slowed to get a better look. I ignored him and kept walking. He made a u-turn at the next block and came back for another ogle.
Getting nervous, I hurried down the hill and crossed the street at West Portal, straining to hear any sounds of pursuit from the motorcycle guy. None came.
With great relief I climbed the hill to Portola and waited for a break in the traffic.
Then, "rrum, rrum." Mr. Motorcycle again, a couple of short blocks away.
Still a quarter of a mile away from home, I cast about for a place to hide from my stalker.
The houses across Portola were built on a hill with garages situated at street level. The nearest one, bordered by a thick hedge, might hide a frightened woman.
I dashed across the wide avenue, cleared the sidewalk in one bound and thrust my body into the thorny green stuff.
I held my breath, listening. Mr. Morocycle approached. Slowed. Drove off fast.
Shew! I climbed out of the hedge and brushed myself off.
Then I saw the police cruiser parked on San Anselmo. An officer jumped out and ran across toward me, brandishing a flashlight and a gun.
"Hey!" he yelled at me.
I cowered in front of my hiding place. The guy had to have been seven feet tall.
"What were you doing in there? Let me see your ID." He gripped my arm and pulled me out under the streetlight.
"I. . er. . . you see, there was this guy on a motorcycle and-and. . . "
He scrutinized my driver's license.
"And he kept following me. . . so I thought I'd hide in--"
The officer put his gun back. "Where do you live?"
"With my grandmother. . . j-just down on San Pablo."
He shut off his flashlight. "All right. You get on home. I don't wanna see you anywhere near this house again."
I turned and walked on shaky legs all the way home.
In the morning I told my grandmother about the police officer on San Anselmo.
"Oh, yes," that's where (name of official) lives. Apparently he's gotten several death threats. That must be why the policeman's there."

Do you think the officer entered my name in some official "potential terrorist" government list?Is there a statute of limitations for suspects? That was over thirty years ago. Maybe I'm still be in there. I wonder.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Say "Yes" to the Best

Ive been teaching music for over thirty years. So many students come in with great expectations. I always ask them, "What do you want to do with your singing (or piano or guitar)?" They always answer confidently, "I want to play in a band." Or, "I want to compete in American Idol."
I always tell them, "That can happen if you're willing to work for it."
Months later, through practive -- or the lack of it -- it becomes clear to me if the student is actually motivated to become an excellent musician.

I've been a disciple of Jesus Christ for forty years. And just like a student musician I need to frequently ask myself: How can I be the best . . . for God?

Several years ago I listened to a powerful sermon on being the best. Preacher said:
1. Decide what you want. (Find my target and aim for it)
2. Discern what is best (Am I willing to pay the price for excellence?)
3. Be holy (No one will follow me if I'm no different than the average person)
4. Be righteous (Walk close to God, confess wrong-doing, serve, give)

Four good directives for anyone desiring excellence in their personal walk. I hope I say "Yes" to the best every day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Music for an Aging Woman

Monday, July 27th: We traded in our "clunker" for a new car, a hybrid. Not a moment too soon. The same evening, our son-in-law, Wayne, called from San Diego and told us to high-tale it out as soon as possible so we could witness Kiri giving birth to our first grandchild.
I thought I'd drive out by myself, but Bruce got permission from his boss to work off his computer. So we drove 1000 miles, remembering, thinking about life, praying for our little girl, who's all grown up, and for the little girl who'll be our granddaughter.
Hanging in my upstairs hall is a photo of my Norwegian grandmother taken ca 1900 when she was just 14. She stands in front of the family farmhouse outside Oslo, Norway, next to her siblings, mama, papa, and cousins I don't recognize. Nana's smooth, pretty face is set in a head-cocked, jaw-squared manner, a demeanor that persisted even into her older days. Her round, blue eyes gaze at the camera with naiive dreams of adventure and romance.
In a more modern frame, hanging inches to the right, a much older woman gazes into the camera. The same tilt of the head. Once auburn hair generously salted with white. Flanked on both sides are her four Norwegian-American sons, each uniformed in preparation for deployment to various war campaigns. It is 1942.
I am the same age as that small, pudgy, work-worn woman in the photograph. My life has not been as hard as hers. I did not marry at 16, bear 8 children, lose a child and a husband, and struggle through the Depression in poverty.
I think about the cycle of life: of being born, being young, being strong, being beautiful. How I'm caught up smack-dab in the middle. Neither young nor --thank God for HRT and cosmetics -- too old.
One day I'll look just like the white-haired Nana that I remember as a girl. My daughter will go through menopause and watch her beautiful daughter graduate from college. Makes me feel sad and happy all at the same time, like a beautiful and haunting piece of music.
Thursday evening, July 30th: I stand by my daughter's hospital bed and try very hard not to cry as she pushes little Kaya Victoria into the light and the doctor's gloved and capable hands.
Kiri is just shy of 21 and exceedingly gorgeous. She gazes at her baby with an expression God has given mothers. The same way I looked at Kiri. The same way Nana looked at my father.
Wayne hovers at every conceivable angle, over mother and baby, capturing the moment on his camera. One day, perhaps, in decades to come, their faces will gaze out from time-worn photos at clear-eyed children, curious about their ancestors.