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)
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I tear up every time I get to that part. Every time.
It's such a timeless message: we all touch other lives in ways we'll never even comprehend this side of heaven.
Jimmy got to see his worth only because an angel intervened in his life and granted him his wish. The angel, Clarence, said, "You've never been born. This is a chance to see what the world would be like without you."
Have you ever thought about the impact of your life?
Oh, not just the meal that you brought over to a sick friend, or the encouraging word you spoke the other day to a stranger.
I mean, the entirety of your life.
I ask myself that question a lot, particularly as I approach (in a few years) my sixties.
Has my life counted? Has the quality of my character, my work, my relationships really changed the world?
Will I leave a legacy of good works long after I am gone to heaven and forgotten?
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. . . " (Galations 6:9,10)
Monday, September 27, 2010
Down at the end of Fish Creek Road, where it ends on Highway 36, is a small sub-section of Lake Estes. The elk love to wade into the shallow water there and congregate.
For me, it's elk as usual. I drive by and hardly glance at the big beasts.
But for the out-of-towners, a gander at an elk is big doings.
The other day, as I drove down Fish Creek on my way toward a writer's meeting down in Loveland, I came around the corner and nearly collided with about ten cars who'd all stopped in the middle of the road to stare and take pictures of the elk in the lake.
I sometimes wish I had one of those police loudspeakers that I could thrust out my window and say with an authoritative voice: "Please pull over!"
But I understand. Really, I do. I remember how overwhelmed I was by the Rocky Mountain's beauty when we first moved to Colorado from the flat farmlands of Illinois. Estes Park is about one of the most gorgeous places in the world. Add to that deer, elk and other fascinating wildlife, towering mountains and crystal blue lakes and you have a recipe for a wondrous vacation.
It's just that I've lived here for nearly two decades and an elk has now become a ho-hum sight.
I wonder. When you first arrive in heaven, doubtless you'll be looking around with eyes of awe, joy and worship.
But do you think that those who've been there for a few thousand years have grown blase about their heavenly home?
Nah! It's not even a close comparison to Estes Park and the majestic elk.
As beautiful as this world can be, it's still an imperfect world with imperfect people.
We see things God has made, but not He, Himself.
We see the created, but not the Creator.
I can't even imagine what it will be like to see GOD.
Would you ever grow blase about. . .
Thursday, September 23, 2010
You see, I have a relative who practices his tai chi each morning, and the word just flows from my mouth habitually.
It's like that with the names of my children, too. The name, Ian, flows out of my mouth when I mean to say Garrett or even Kiri. Or visa versa.
These household words flow from years of use. They have achieved, as they say in the education world, "automaticity."
We gain automaticity with thousands of small and gross motor actions: tying shoes, braiding hair, driving a car, saying "please" and "thank you."
I thought about the other vocabulary words that have achieved automaticity in my mouth:
"Good heavens! (I got that one from my mother.)
"Warsh rag" (That one came from my Iowa-born grandmother. I learned, with much practice, to exchange that word for the more genteel "wash cloth.")
"Don't even go there."
There are other words and phrases that I'm working on so that they flow from my tongue just as automatically:
"I appreciate you."
"You just made my day."
"Sue" or "Bob" or "Melissa" or whoever it is that you just met.
Wouldn't it be great if kind words just poured off our lips, habitually, like healing waters?
"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind words cheers him up." (Proverbs 12:25)
Monday, September 20, 2010
What they see:
we work at home
we often don't get paid
we must divide our writing time between loads of laundry, meals, errands and a hundred other distractions.
we're not famous like Debbie Macomber or _______ (insert name).
We don't travel (much)
We don't speak (much)
But, this is what we writers know:
We work at home
we often don't get paid
We must divide our time between hundred of daily distractions
We're not famous
We don't travel much
We don't speak much
This is what we also understand:
Writers are often the first ones to get put in prison when there's a revolution.
Writer's book are banned or even burned when ideologies clash.
Writers are sometimes threatened because they express controversial ideas.
Jesus told stories and those stories are preserved for all time in the Bible.
A good story has way more power than a sermon because it flows like a memorable tune.
Story has the power to change lives.
If God has called me to write, there's no way I'm going to listen to naysayers and not write.
God called Noah to build an ark. It seemed like a ridiculous project to his contemporaries. But Noah was obedient in spite of the ridicule.
And finally, when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom's Cabin), he said, "So you're the little lady who started this big (Civil) war.
You, as a writer, are the only one God spoke to and called to do this work of writing. God doesn't explain to others what He's called you to do.
And anyone who thinks they know better how you should be spending your days, will have to take it up with God!
"From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Eph. 4:16)
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Then, there were the routine fire drills. The worst part was the inital blast of the fire siren. But we kids sure learned how to immediately stand up from our desks, form a line and walk in an orderly fashion out to the playground.
I was a speedy runner in school. Our gym teacher had us practice how to explode from the crouch into a full-blown sprint. Then we practiced handing the baton smoothly. At the district meets, the skills we'd honed helped us win races.
As a pianist, I spent hours practicing scales and arpeggi and Hanon and Czerny. Then, when I played a Mozart Sonata, the scalework in the piece came automatically.
As Believers, I hope we practice our faith skills just as diligently. Do we:
thank God and worship Him every day?
pray for the needs of others every day?
read and meditate on God's Word daily?
instantly repent when the Spirit makes us aware of a wrong attitude or action?
bring every thought captive before it takes us captive?
Then, when it's no longer a drill, but the real big test or crisis, we're skilled in automatically drawing near to our HELPER.
I hope we don't wait until the bomb flies overhead to realize with dismay that we have no idea what to do.
"There everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who buillt his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did no fall because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matt. 7:24)
Monday, September 13, 2010
Anyway, the articles explain that after pouring out insulin for so many years, either the pancreas gets tired and can't quite do the job as well, or our cells get so they don't recognize the "doorbell" that says, "Open up and let the glucose come in, please."
As a result, the much-needed glucose can't get into the cells to power them. This glucose-run-amuck wanders around in the bloodstream causing problems, eventually gets converted into fat, then stored in places we don't want it. Like the belly.
I've noticed that same thing happen in marriages. One spouse needs something. The other spouse doesn't quite speak the right language. Result: an unmet need.
Over time, a husband or wife just shuts down and quits being receptive to the spouse. Condition: Love Resistance.
Just like diabetes (type 2), the problem isn't so bad at first. If you catch it early and do the right things, you can arrest or even reverse the disease.
But if you let the condition persist over years, the effects can be devastating. Heart disease, blindness, numbness. Those are just a few of the consequences.
These articles on diabetes sure gave me a lot to examine, not only about my physical condition, but about my marriage.
I hope I recognize and stop any "Love Resistance" before it causes my heart to get sick, my eyes to grow blind to my husband, or numbness makes me unable to feel his needs.
That would be awful.
"This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." (I John 3:11)
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The book outlines characteristics of un-safe people, those who hurt and bind us in habitually unhealthy ways of thinking, acting and reacting. These people could be parents, friends, business associates, employers, teachers.
Frequently, those who display un-safe characteristics, such as being overly critical, expecting perfection, using guilt, put-downs, unfair comparisons, over-spiritualizing of physical or emotional problems, do so with the desire to "help."
The book then goes on to describe characteristics of safe people. A "safe" person:
displays acceptance and grace
is willing to confront in a loving way
doesn't try to show superiority
doesn't try to control
has other friends
is humble and honest about his/her own struggles
is continually growing in his/her own walk with the Lord.
We've all had experiences with hurt and betrayal at the hands (or tongues) of un-safe people. Reading SAFE PEOPLE was not a pleasant experience because it brought up so many painful memories of people who've hurt me.
I've been on a long journey of learning that it's okay to place boundaries around myself. That's it's acceptable to say, "No, I'm a separate person. I am not you and you are not me. What I am feeling or thinking or experiencing is my own emotion, thought, experience. I have a God-given right to emotional self-preservation.
God bless my wonderful friends in Christ who've understood and respected my boundaries and who've supported my endeavors to grow in this area.
God has, in His wonderful grace, placed "safe" people around me who have blessed me in tremendous ways.
I'd like to be a safe person for others.
Isn't that what the body of Christ is all about?
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Cor.1:3,4) NIV
Thursday, September 2, 2010
The bulls become so love-smitten that any large object in someone's backyard seems to become a competitor.
While the younger bulls --who have no hope of any real success with the cows --parry, tilt and spar with each other, the older bulls have serious work to do.
Sometimes a bull will bring his harem of forty to fifty cows through our yard and watch them possessively while they graze on dried grasses and shrubs.
One fall I watched out the window at a bull in our neighbor's backyard. He narrowed his eyes and lowered his antlers at a swing set, swaying gently in the autumn breeze. Pawing the ground, the bull snorted, then charged the swing.
Then something terrible happened. The poor dumb animal got his huge rack of antlers tangled in the chains of the swing. I could see the white around each iris as his eye's grew wide in panic. He bucked and pulled frantically. He lost his balance and crashed onto his side. Then his antlers slid free and he climbed back onto his feet. Shaking his big, furry neck --and still eying the swingset with suspicion -- he trotted off to be nearer his cows.
As he cantered away I imagined the bull was thinking something like this: "Man, that was one big, dangerous dude! I think I'll take my cows and skedaddle to a safer pasture."
That poor, dumb animal almost got himself killed because he didn't recognize that the swingset wasn't his real enemy. Where was the real enemy? Lurking somewhere nearby. . . behind a neighbor's garage, or up the hill fifty or sixty yards, eying the heard of cows with greedy eyes.
That's who the feckless bull elk should have been looking out for.
Not a swingset!
Poor, dumb beast. How could he be so stupid. Can't he see that a swingset doesn't look remotely like another bull elk?
But, you know? I'm just as dumb as a bull elk at times. I get angry or annoyed at people or situations, sometimes thinking that they are my enemy:
- that blasted politician who thinks abortion is justified,
- that neighbor who uses the Lord's name in vain every chance he gets,
- the school board that voted a god-denying, history-re-written textbook into the school district for the proper education of our naive youth.
If only I have eyes to see reality, I'll recognize that these people (for whom Christ died) are not my enemy. The real enemy is lurking around my neighbor's garage, or fifty or sixty yards uphill, watching our souls with greedy eyes.
God grant me discernment. God grant me love.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12