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)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zzyzx --What's in a Name?

Yep, you read it correctly. There is actually a road called Zzyzx. It's out in the Mojave desert a few miles west of the desert town of Baker, California.
Since we have a daughter and son-in-law in San Diego, Bruce and I frequently drive the I-70 to I-15 route through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and finally California.
Most of the drive is spectacularly beautiful.
But when you get to the Las Vegas leg of the journey, you've left beauty behind.
A few miles past Baker as you begin to wind into some barren hills leading up to Barstow you go by the Zzyzx sign.
For years we've speculated as to how the strange word got to be a road sign.
And yes, I've looked in the white pages under "Z." No such name.

Here are some of our theories:
The scenery is so boring that they had to come up with a road sign that would wake you up.

They named the road after the sound that cars and tires make when they speed through the hills in the 120 degree summer heat.

Maybe it's the sound of snoring passengers --hopefully not the driver -- on this stretch of the road.

Someone bet someone else they couldn't come up with five-letter name using only the last three letters of the alphabet. (This one's the most likely explanation, I think.)

Whatever the reason for the name, Zzyzx, it tells me that we're on the last leg of our journey to So Cal.
So I like the name.
Not that we've arrived at our destination. But it means that we've safely avoided winter avalanches around Loveland Pass and Vail Pass. We've passed through snow whiteouts around Cedar City, Utah. We didn't get in an accident coming down the Virgin River Canyon and we missed rush-hour traffic through Las Vegas.

Unlike Zzyzx, the name of Jesus is no mystery; it mean's "Savior."
It's also a name I can trust. But the journey with Jesus is a much greater journey than the little one between Denver and San Diego.
Trusting in His name means I'm going to be safe for the entire journey.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pay Up or Face Me on the Roads!

(Disclaimer: The following blog post was written by my "friend." She used to live in New York, thus she's not only familiar with New York politics, but was a seasoned speedster along the Long Island Expressway. Surprisingly, this a completely irreligious post, but after reading it, you may see why I continue to insist that people really need God and His civilizing influence. )

I live in one of the most gloriously beautiful spots on earth: Estes Park.
As a result, EVERYONE wants to drive up here to sample the town's delights, from elk-watching to Art fests to rodeos and then on to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Half of my life actually takes place down on the flat lands of Longmont and metropolitan Denver.
It's a 45 minute drive down the canyon. . . that is, if my route is unimpeded.

Since highways 34 and 36 actually belong to me, I imagined a system of transportation which would relieve the traffic congestion and facilitate the flow up and down the canyon.
During my weekly drives up and down the hill --and taking way too long to get wherever I'm trying to get to because of other cars -- I've made some really important observations about drivers: there are four basic types.
Therefore, there should be four lanes for both west and east-bound drivers.

The far-right lane should belong to the "Truly Slow Drivers." Those are the ones who think their car will go off the road if they drive above twenty-five miles an hour.
The second lane on the right should be for the moderate drivers; those are the ones who like to drive slightly under the speed limit, say five miles under.
The third lane should be designated: "The drivers who think they're fast but really aren't and you're really annoying me 'cause I drive faster than you."
Finally, the far left lane should belong only to the "Truly Fast." That's me and maybe a handful of F150s and little red foreign jobs.

(I explained to my daughter-in-law, XXXX, and other frustrated drivers about these observations and they added some of their own thoughts, as well.)
Daughter XXXX asked, "But how do you enforce people driving in their own lanes?"

"Simple," I said. "There should be section of the driver's licence test that gauges your speed on a winding, closed course. The results are fed into a computer, which then spits out your designated lane. An automatic traffic ticket of 500 dollars should be levied against those who stray from their lane.

A friend suggested that --since I own the highways, ha-ha -- I should dispense with the whole traffic ticket thing and simply levy a toll for the far left lane.

Some other suggestions were to construct a tunnel that would lead from Lyons all the way to Estes Park. This would be a private road, only for the "Truly Fast" drivers.
I said, "I don't think a toll for the far left lane would bring in enough money for that."
Some one else suggested, "How about we tax all the Suburu drivers?"
"And those Kansas drivers," someone else chimed in.
"Yeah, and what about those trucks that belch all that black smoke? It's really awful when you're stuck behind them all the way up the hill?"
I said, "I thought we were just talking about the problem of slow drivers?"
He said, "But why not roll in the black smoke people while we're figuring out how to tax the poky drivers? That way, we got 'em, too."

Ah, just think of that nice, private road. We and those F150s and fast foreign jobs would have our own patrol officer, but he'd only be there to take care of flat-tires and over-heating."

Yeah," someone else said, "but would you have any money left over to take care of the original road with all the slower drivers?"
"Oh, them," I said.
"What if all those poky drivers find out what you're doing with their tax money? Won't they get upset?" XXXX said.

He said, "Not if we make it look like we're just trying to protect them by keeping all of us fast, dangerous drivers off their road."

"So, true," I said. "As Sylvester Stallone said in Rocky IV, 'Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.'"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are You a Survivor?

Were you glued to the TV when they were rescuing those thirty-three miners in Chile.
I was, too.
Ever since that day in August when the news first covered the story about the trapped miners, my imagination had been down half a mile down, in the dark, with those guys.
Those first seventeen days, before the outside world knew that they were still alive, must have been excrutiating.
That is what I think about the most: how did those men keep going with hardly any food, thinking they might starve? Would they be discovered? Would help arrive? What were their families doing?

I'm fascinated with survivor stories and have read much on the subject. Ben Sherwood's The Survivors Club is a well-told and well-researched book on how and why certain people survive terrible crises. I highly recommend it.
In a chapter about faith and health-outcomes, one researcher was quoted as saying that faith in God helps a person in crisis because he or she believes that there is a purpose in their suffering and that God is present. This, in turn, gives the survivor incredible perseverance.

Most of the Chilean miners said that their faith in God helped sustain them even in the worst time before the rescue efforts began.

A survivor might hit rock bottom (literally, like the miners) but hope persuades him/her to take one more step. . then another, and another.

What have you survived?

(Isaiah 40:31) "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Does God Know Your Name?

We're expecting our third grandchild any day now, a boy.
Our son and daughter-in-law will call him Roen.
What a great name.

Yesterday, Bruce and I were taking a drive and Bruce said, "I'll have to remember to bring photos of Ryan when I go visit your mom and dad in California."
I chuckled. "Ryan?"
"Oh, I mean Roen."
Bruce is a bright and talented man, but he does have a tendency to fumble with names.
For years I've stood by his side at social gatherings, as a faithful helpmeet, and murmured names to him when people approach to talk to him.
But now that I'm older I'm not much help anymore. I just shrug and and say,
"That's my first cousin, but darned if I can remember her name!"

We all flub names. I used to laugh when my mother would have to recite all five of her children's names before she got to the right one.
But when my three kids came along, everyone's name became, "IanGarrettKiri."
They all responded and then I'd dismiss the two that I didn't want.
I imagine the day will come when little Roen will visit, and we'll both be calling, "Ryan, er Rusty, er Ross, I mean Rheinhold. Ach! Hey you!"

But God never fumbles with names. Whether it's Sue, or Bob, or Dena, or Rumpelstiltskin, your name sits comfortably on His tongue.
He knows you completely.
Unlike earthly parents (and grandparents) He doesn't make mistakes.
When He calls you, it's you He's calling.
He'll never say, "Oh, never mind, I didn't want you."

Your name is precious to God.

"He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out." (John 10:3)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Little Thanks Would Be Nice!

What is it with not thanking people? I mean, really!

I was in the lady's restroom the other day. A woman in a wheelchair and her friend needed help so I opened the door and held it while they wheeled inside. Then I assisted them in cleaning up the "room" they needed because it looked --shall we say-- less than inviting. Finally, I helped them with the washing and drying and held the door so they could exit the restroom.
And they never said thankyou. Just rolled out the door. In fact, neither one even so much as acknowledged my presence as I performed my acts of service.

Imagine that!

Well, these were two old ladies, one of them handicapped. Maybe neither one was in her right mind.
See how generous I am? Ain't I wonderful?
Most of the time, when I bring a meal to a sick friend or give a gift, it is received with thanks and appreciation.
But when my service is not acknowledged?
Better know that I'm grumbling on the inside. And it's not my stomach.

But every time I complain in my heart about other people's lack of appreciation for my grand acts, I imagine God, throwing His arms out in a gesture of exasperation and saying, "Welcome to my world!"
"When I give you each day's breath, do you acknowledge Me?"
"When I sustain the world so that it doesn't spin off its axis, do you thank Me?"
"When I work tirelessly to prepare a wonderful home for you in heaven, do you praise ME?"

I'd have to say my answer to God's questions would be"sometimes."

Obviously I, too, miss the appreciation boat more times than I want to admit.

Maybe the secret to the world's greatest "Mother Theresa's" is that they realize how much unearned favor God shows them each day and then they turn around and give it to others, as well.

Just like my church's motto: "Broken People, Being Made New in Jesus, Overflowing with Gratitude, and Being Poured Out for Others."

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (Heb. 12:28)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Dance of Love

My husband and I watched Planet Earth a few days ago. Absolutely amazing photography!
How they get some of those shots inside caves or down under ice floes in the dead of an Antarctic winter is beyond me.
But it's the little intimate shots that charm me the most. Especially the ones of some male animal performing his fancy moves to entice a lady love.

The birds seem to create the most spectacular scenes.

The ones that make me laugh the most are the jungle birds who suddenly inflate elaborate black plumes that look like umbrellas, or rectangles with long, neon blue "mouths." Under the enormous feathery shapes, the bird's spindly legs perform a quick frenzied side-to-side dance, almost guaranteed to wow the plain female who, nevertheless, observes with an unimpressed turn of her beak.

Then there's the long-nosed dolphin who picks up a rock in his mouth and holds it aloft, all the while, eyeing his potential mate with a "aren't you impressed?" look.
What's that all about?

And of course, we've all seen nature programs of big-horn rams or bull elk and their famous jousts with other males.

And human males sing songs, write poems, fight wars, compete in sports, to impress females.

But God is the greatest lover of all. He woos us with sunsets, Caribbean-blue oceans,
snow-capped mountains, summer fields of corn flowers and sunflowers,
sweet corn and tomatoes, the song of the loon on a fog-filled lake,
the scent of pine or the moist air after a rain storm.
His dance is the clouds, swirling and tumbling into the forested gaps between the rocky peaks.
His song is in the murmur of the brook, or the low tunes in the wind through the ponderosas.

But His call is through human words: "I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with kindness. . . " (Jer. 31 3)
What a lover!
What a God!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Lewdly to See You Again!

I think I'm getting Alzheimer's.
Sometimes I substitute a word that begins with the letter of the word I'm intending to say.
I'll say, "that's rhinocerous," instead of "that's ridiculous."
Or I blurt out "I'm on my way to cheat," instead of, "I'm on my way to church."
That one's kind of embarrassing.
It's like I have a giant, but flawed lexicon in my brain and sometimes the wrong word -- but on the right page -- gets selected and sent to my mouth.
I thought I was the only one who said such strange things. But recently I was talking to my daughter-in-law and she admitted that she sometimes expresses similar, but inappropriate words, too.
She's young and a busywife, mother, server at her church, and nurse. Maybe these verbal foul-plays are just a symptom of a brain under the influence of stress.

When our dog, Dudley, was just a pup, I explained to my brother-in-law that the dog was part cocker spaniel and part Jack Daniels, er, I mean Jack Russell. Rich laughed and said "is that why the dog always seems to be dizzy?" I'm not an alcohol guzzler, believe me! Somehow my brain had logged in Jack Daniels ( the strong fire-water) right on the same dictionary page, next to Jack Russell (terrier).

The worst, most embarrassing example of this brain betrayal happened many years ago as I paid a visit to the home of one of the older women in our church.
This very lovely lady was showing me a family picture of her six grown children.
I pointed to the eldest son and said, "Is this the one you said you were going
to bother . . . "
I meant to say, "to Boston next month to visit?
Try to get out of this gaff gracefully.
I turned red and muttered something about how my mouth trips up, and I meant Boston, you see, and, oh dear, and how in the world did that word come out?

People who grew up in the old days of Freud and psychoanalysis would say I'd chosen that word because I secretly considered this kind old lady an annoying, meddling, overly protective mother-in-law.

That's rhinocerous!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Trickle-Down Economics of the Animal World

We have a nice bird feeder that hangs out over our deck, suspended about twelve feet above the ground. It's high enough off the ground that we don't have to worry about bears or elk reaching it.
On rare occasions we've seen raccoons climb up and run along the log banisters, hoping to claw some seed out of the feeder.
I love the feeder because it draws such cute little birds: purple finches, house sparrows, chickadees --even a very small greyish bird that doesn't have a seed-eater's bill and has to deposit a sunflower seed on the corner post and whack the fool out it until he can extract the meat inside.
It gives me great satisfaction to know I'm keeping at least some of God's creatures fed and sustained.
But there are some critters I hadn't intended to feed: ground squirrels, mice, chipmonks.
I love the chipmonks.
But the mice? Those varmints!
Our feeder has drawn them closer to the house and, eventually, our garage.
Observing the little animals on the ground has helped me draw an illustration about life, even spiritual life.
The good that you do for an individual or group of people will eventually trickle down to others --those "varmints" -- that you hadn't even intended to bless.
That is God's good way.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matt. 5:43-45)