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)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Losing is Gaining?

When Bruce and I were first married, we drove the smallest U-Haul trailer from the University of Michigan to Crystal Lake, Illinois to begin our new life. We had a second-hand rocking chair, a second-hand kitchen table, an old mattress and dresser and a few kitchen and bath wedding gifts.
It was the end of the seventies, and that's just the way lots of couples started out.
A few years later we got our first microwave. I didn't know what to do with it at first. Now I don't know what I'd do without the thing.
Couple of years later we got our first new car. It was equipped with cruise control. At first, I balked about using the cruise. But then we took a cross-country trip and I became a believer.
We bought a house with an automatic garage door opener. Such luxury.
As we have accumulated wealth over the thirty-one years of our marriage, we wonder how we functioned so well without the next newest "thing" that makes our lives run easier.

Aging seems to be exactly the opposite.
Over time --instead of accumulating -- we gradually give up things: good hearing, good vision, quick reflexes, good digestion,
good joints, strong muscles.
When my skin was young I couldn't imagine what it would be like not to have a smooth, unlined face. Now I slather night cream.
I can still take my daily five mile walk, but now my feet get sore.
I wish I could sleep better.
At first the changes were subtle. But now, like a ball rolling down the hill, gaining momentum, the decline is obvious.

Accumulating things, jobs, houses, or experiences doesn't seem to have done much to force Christian maturity on me.

But aging gives me daily opportunities to look toward Christ and His Kingdom.

Now that I cannot sing so well, I give more energy to encouraging other, younger singers.
Now that my children are grown and my house is empty of their energy and youthful voices, I spend more time helping and praying for younger mothers.
Now that I am no longer beautiful, I understand and have compassion for those who are plain and ignored.
Now that time has passed and God has redirected my energies, I can spend more time at the computer, tapping out what He is teaching me.
It takes faith --His gift --to adapt to "losing."
It takes grace --from Him -- to expend new energies in an outward direction.
It takes eyes --lifted upward --to see beyond the temporal.

Losing is gaining, if you let it be so.

Friday, August 27, 2010

There Just Might Be a Stink Bug

When my big sister, Lori, and I were eight or nine, we used to ride our bikes to a magical place just on the outskirts of Rio Vista, California. In this little patch of sand and tumble weeds were all the elements to conjure up childhood's most imaginative adventures. We named the place. . .
Lizard Land.
Old pipes, rusted out parts of tractors and sheet metal lay in haphazard fashion throughout our little kingdom.
And under each piece of sheet metal lay the possibility of untold riches. . .
or death.
The riches part of the "lady or the tiger" equation would be a lizard. Those lightning-quick miniature dragons with the detachable tails brought out the ancient, prehistorian huntress in Lori or me. As soon as we lifted the sheet, one of the critters would dart for safety. It took keen eyes, nerves of steel, and nimble fingers to grasp those little reptiles just behind the head. If you missed and caught its tail, he'd simply let the appendage go and you were left with a wriggling, scaly tease. On some summer afternoons we proudly came home with two or more lizards in our makeshift cardboard cage.
But. . .
occasionally, when we lifted a piece of sheet metal, we were met with a little, black demon. . .
So, we were ready. Lifting the sheet with trembling fingers, holding our breath, ready to drop the metal at the first hint of something black.
We were savvy little hunters.
We knew about the risks.
Lizard Land provided us children with valuable life lessons.
Sometimes your efforts yield treasures, sometimes unpleasant surprises.
So, envision great things, but prepare your mind and body for warfare.
Ya gotta be ready for what's under the sheet metal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moose or Mountain Peaks?

Bruce and I were hiking the other day above Lake Brainerd. We go there each July to see the spectacular display of mountain wild flowers. The last two weeks in July is when they're in their greatest glory.
Anyway, just after we took the left fork in the trail around Long Lake I saw him. Big --very big - --with dark-brown fur. At first I thought it was a horse. Then, immediately my brain made the leap in reasoning. "Couldn't be a horse. What horse would be wandering around in the mountains -- at 10, 500 foot elevation --without an owner? Th-that m-means it's a-a-a MOOSE!"

In hushed excitement I called Bruce. "Get your camera, quick! Hurry up, before it gets away!" Bruce took a hurried shot and the picture didn't quite capture the moose's wide-eyed anxiety to hurry away into the obscurity of the thick undergrowth.

Bruce is a die-hard mountain peak sort-of-guy. That's what he usually takes pictures of. It's a wonder he's never stepped off the trail and plummeted to his death. He's always looking up at a mountain peak.

Me, I'm a small things kind-of-woman. I go gaw-gaw over tiny flowers and unusually shaped leaves. I'll stop to watch an Abert's squirrel and laugh at its antics. Or try to identify a bird's call. Or wonder why this aspen tree is blackened by a lightning strike and this one, inches away, escaped.

I sometimes wonder why Bruce even comes on these hikes; he misses so much. Those two bull moose we encountered weren't more than twnety feet off the trail, but he'd have walked right by them if I hadn't pointed them out. 'Cause he's always looking up at some mountain peak!

Then I thought, isn't it wonderful how God has made us so different? Bruce is a big picture sort of guy. I'm a detail person. Bruce likes big, grandiose music. I like understated, complex harmonies with lots of dissonance. I'm verbally creative, but I'm constantly yelling, "Bruce, help me!" when I run into computer quandaries. Bruce gets computers; I don't.

The longer I live, the more I'm amazed and humbled by the diversity of gifts, talents and interests displayed by others.

Many people love the mountains for their grandiosity. Something to be worshipped.
Others love the mountains for the sublime beauty of a shimmering river and the trout hiding just under the surface. Something to be harvested.
Some of us love the little plants, sheltered under the towering aspen and spruce. Something to be nurtured.

Similarly,we approach the Majesty of God, some with eyes to view the far-reaching horizons, others to hear and blend their voices with the music of the brook, still others, to build a rock cairn to point the way for other hikers.

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit." ( I Cor.12:4)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God in Mathmagic Land

When I was in grade school I remember watching a film called "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land."
Do you remember that, too?
I think I watched that film at least once each year from fourth grade through seventh.
The film's premise was that there was a logical order and structure of things in nature. Then, as Donald waddled around Mathmagic Land, he encountered flowers, snowflakes, honeycombs, etc. that illustrate the geometrical patterns most able to endure the natural stresses put upon them in nature.
Although a Creator was not mentioned in the film, it was clear to us baby-boomers that One was implied.

And as I take my daily walks around Estes Park and enjoy the natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains, God does not shout audibly, "Here I am; I made all of this!"
He doesn't have to. It's clearly understood that all of this can not come about without a Designer.

No more than a cake can come about without someone assembling the ingredients, putting them together, pouring the batter in the pan and setting it in the oven to bake at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time.
And I didn't even mention that each ingredient had to have a source, as well.

And there was a logical progression in the creating of the cake. If I baked the pan, then poured the eggs in the pan, then whipped the other ingredients in a bowl, we would have not cake.

Thank God for the order in nature that you see each day. Give Him glory.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities --His eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. . . " (Romans 1:20)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bathing Suit Museum

I grew up in Northern California. We had a big inground pool in our backyard and we five kids were always somewhere near the water during the summer. Those vacation days were hot almost every day and a sapphire blue sky beckoned us outdoors.
That was back in the day when bathing suits didn't cost a hundred dollars. And so, even on my dad's schoolteacher salary, we could all afford a decent suit.
I can remember just about every bathing suit I've ever worn since my teen days.
There was the pink two-piecer: I wore this one for two years.
Then there was the wild and crazy kind-of bikini: I didn't mind wearing this one around the house, but I did mind having to wear it (it was the only one I owned) to swim class at high school. All the boys would parade past the pool on their way to soccer or whatever and they'd ogle us girls.
When I married Bruce I weighed a scant 105 pounds. 34-24-34 were my dimensions and I proudly wore a yellow bikini on our honeymoon.
Then there was the pregnant bathing suit. Ugh.
My suit sizes have gone up. No more size 2.
Most of the time when Bruce and I swim it's at a motel far from home. Where nobody knows me.
The anonymity makes me feel less self-conscious.
Half of the time, when we go on a road trip, we forget to bring out suits. Then I insist that we stop off at WalMart and buy a cheap one just for the trip.
We joke about how funny it would be if we had a room in our house just devoted to displaying our suits. It would be a kind of bathing suit museum. Each suit would be under glass, complete with the name of the wearer, the date, and possibly the occasion where it was worn.
I don't much like to wear bathing suits anymore. I'm in my fifties and, even though I'm still strong and fit, my shape isn't quite the shape of my youth.
I suppose that a swimsuit is a kind of gauge of how I wish, or don't wish to be viewed by the world. It reveals that I'm prideful and a perfectionist. God continues to work on me in these areas.
I frequently see people at motel pools who aren't self-conscious about their bodies. Many of them have lumpy, saggy bodies.
I wish I could stroll out to the pool with the same abandon as these sun-bathers.
It's gotten me to wondering: do I hide my internal flaws with the same self-consciousness that I hide my aging body?
What does that say about me?
I'd like to say that I have great self-control so I avoid saying or doing anything that would bring shame to God.
But is that the real reason I hide the real me?
Job 12:20 says, "He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light."

Perhaps one day I'll have a room, open to visitors and friends, that presents my internal flaws. Each display would carry a label with words such as: July 1, 2010: "I gossiped about you and I'm sorry." Or Aug. 10th, 2010: "I didn't quite tell the truth."

God, may you develop in me the freedom and courage to reveal the real me. Help me to face my imperfections and allow You to transform me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Feel the Wind in Your Face

Whenever I drive somewhere I get a kick when I see a dog enjoying the ride in the back of a truck or sticking his nose out of the passenger window.
One second the border collie or shepherd or terrier is sniffing oncoming traffic to the right, the next second, the dog has whipped to the other side to bark at the man walking his dog on the sidewalk.
The dog isn't thinking about his destination; he's just enjoying the moment, savoring messages in the wind. So much to see and smell along the way!

I try to remember the passenger dog whenever I get too obsessed about some goal I'm straining forward to reach. The dog is like a gentle reminder from God that every second of life --not just the future -- is precious.

Yes, it is good to envision a goal and work for it. But let's not forget the joy of the ride toward our destination. In your journey there are treasures along the road: people and relationships, a delicous meal, lingered over and shared with loved ones, a rousing thunderstorm, a super-good book and a mug of tea, singing a great song at church, showing hospitality and encouragement to someone who's hurting.

I think one of the reasons we love dogs is that they enjoy the little things. They have no goals; they just live.

Keep your goals, my friend. But as you travel forward, stop every once and while to delight in what you see, touch, taste, hear.

Savor the messages in the wind.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just a Baby

So we're out here in San Diego visiting my daughter, son-in-law and baby granddaughter. We're having a great time, even though Bruce still has to work. (He can pretty much log on and do his job anywhere.)
The little girl is absolutely delightful. Just one year old. Oh, she's going to be a charmer. Kaya already knows how to look at you sideways with a smile and a little scrunch of the nose. And when you whip out the camera, she also already knows how to hold her pose and smile while you focus and shoot.
Her mommy and daddy adore her, of course. I do, too.
When Kaya gets crabby she's very dramatic, switching from chuckling, laughing and cooing to screeching with unbearable decibels. After ten minutes of the ear-splitting vocalizations you're ready to throw up your hands in frustration and do some of your own screaming.
But you tolerate her behavior. You find something to distract her. You feed her, or rock her, or change her.
Because she's a baby. And you love her. Adore her.
Isn't that just like our Heavenly Father?
He's so much bigger and stronger. When we exasperate Him, He could make the mountains crumble with the power of His voice. He could make the oceans roar or the wind uproot trees.
But He doesn't. Because He loves us. Our gentleness and patience with our own little ones is only a tiny picture of God's own gentleness and patience.
I hope we never take such gentleness and patience for granted. It's meant to draw us to respond to His great love.
Just as your own child responds to your love by holding onto you and cuddling, I hope you get close to God today.
Spend time "cuddling."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Joy of the Journey

When we were little we went on road trips.
Not like the road trips of 2010.
I mean the the kind before interstates. Before air conditioning and seat belts.
There were seven of us: two parents and five kids.
Jay, being the oldest, got to sit up front with the adults. Mother said it was because he got car sick and needed to watch the road.
Never mind that I got car sick regularly and Daddy would have to pull the car over so I could heave.
In the 1950s child-rearing mindset, being the youngest meant that you had the lowest status. Thus you were relegated to the back seat, and when the older kids got to sleep in the tent, you had to sleep in the car.
And so, my memories of those road trips are very different from older children, Jay or Lee.
But the memories are there, nevertheless. And for the most part, they are beautiful.
Because we were all together, seeing the same things, eating the same stale cheese sandwiches, playing the same silly word games to pass the time.
But we kids were only vaguely aware that we were headed to the Grand Canyon or Bryce or Zion or Yellowstone.
At ten or eleven, what I remember were the stories around the campfire and the homemade blackberry syrup that Jay made for our made-from-scratch pancakes.
When I think of the 1966 trip to the Grand Canyon, I think of our agonizing hike back UP the trail and how hungry we were when we got back. I o.d.ed on Fig Newtons and couldn't look at another one for at least two decades.
Brother Royce climbed out of our station wagon just seconds before a tree came down and smashed the back end of the car.
A young good-looking hitchhiker attached himself to us one vacation at Yellowstone. I still remember how he took a burlap sack and cut holes for his head and arms, and that's what he wore the whole week that he followed our family around.
These are the memories that bind our family together. Precious vignettes that we recall at family gatherings while others listen and don't understand our laughter or groans.
We've carried on the tradition with our own kids, now grown.
Those memories cement our relationships and provide us with a certain pride about belonging in the family.
When times are bad or arguments tangle our feelings, we still have our memories.
Like glue, they keep our love intact.