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, June 30, 2011

Lazy Saddle Horse or Glorious Steed?

About a half mile up the road from my house is a gorgeous pasture, resting at the foot of ponderosa-covered mountains. Grass-filled, with occasional stands of aspen and rocky outcroppings, the place is one of my favorite spots to watch horses and elk graze.
It's fun to walk down there to watch the horses feed out of troughs filled with hay and alphalfa.
They come up to the fence and I get to scratch their dusty necks and talk horsey talk while they lazily flick flies off their rumps and nuzzle the fence posts.
After breakfast, the horses --I think there's close to 20 of them --meander farther into the field to graze or shelter in the cool shade of aspens.
It's been this way for me for the five years that I've lived in Estes: take my walk and stop next to the field to watch the lazy saddle horses graze.
But the other day, as I was making my circuit from my neighborhood and up to the highway, something must have gotten those usually phlegmatic horses very excited. Whinnying and calling back and forth, several of the horses broke out into a gallop. Not a canter, but a full-blown, all out gallop.
Tails high, waving like war banners, manes flowing, longs legs stretched out in strides longer than the animal itself, hooves pounding the earth, powerful muscles rippling in the sun. They seemed filled with joy, almost as if they were exulting in their own speed. Glorious steeds!
The horses were doing what God created them to do. Run!
I wanted to jump up and down and squeal and shout, "Hooray, good for you, beautiful horses!"

Then I thought about us as average, ordinary Christians. How often do we take off with passion into our "fields? To stretch and flex and whinny and stride and pound the earth?
Aren't you moved when you see the horse run full-out? Is that because you yearn to do what the horse is doing: stretch out to the limits of all that God has endowed you?
God knows we were meant to do more than laze by the water trough and flick flies.
Perhaps this message is for you today: Don't hold back because of fear or uncertainty or even complacency. Let God stretch you. Let Him fill you with courage and joy in the fulfilling of His purpose for you.
Draw near to Him, get to know His glorious character, fall in love with Him, listen closely to Him.
He's got a mission for you.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen." (Eph. 3:20,21)

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's Your Liability?

Don't you ever wonder how some movie and TV stars ever got to be so loved and well-known?
Take Jimmy Durante. With his huge nose and gruff voice, how in the world did he ever get to be a star?
Or Fran Drescher with that awful voice?
Or Barbra Streisand: wonderful talent, but not so pretty?
How about Ethel Merman's strident voice?
Or Danny Devito?

It's easy to understand how Elizabeth Taylor or George Clooney or Ewan McGregor or Jennifer Lopez got their star status. They're all fantastic to look at.

But I have real admiration for those less-than lookers who became celebrities. Not that celebrity-status is admirable in and of itself. But to have such grit and determination, to ignore the doubting voices of friends or families or critics, to keep on going after your dream even when the the chances of making it are slim to nothing.

What I can say about the first group of stars is this: they're originals. Their stand-out quality: height (or lack of it), big nose, weird voice -- these might be termed a liability.
But Durante, et al, took their liabilities and turned them into an asset.

How about you? What liability do you have that can be turned into an asset?
God is the Master of using people who seem the most unlikely candidates, the "nothings" of their world:
Moses didn't talk well,
David was the youngest and most obscure son of Jesse,
Rahab was a prostitute
Joshua was an old man
Abraham and Sarah were too old to be parents
Mary was a poor peasant
Paul was hateful and self-righteous (and a murderer).

Are you too short, too shy, too unschooled, too fat, too unattractive, too untalented, too stupid, too damaged?

God delights in using the "nothings" of this world to pour into them His glorious strength, wisdom, giftings and passion.
Liabilities mean nothing to God. In scripture, God has said many times, "Is anything too difficult for me?"

Place your liability at God's feet and see what He can do.

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14)
"For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)
"What is impossible with men is possible with God." (Luke 18:27)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Little Grey Bird and the Sunflower

We have a birdfeeder that hangs just off the corner of our deck. I fill it with sunflower seeds and watch all types of sparrows, crossbills, chickadees, finches, and siskins.

There is one bird that I have yet to identify. It's a small, greyish bird. Every year it nests a few feet away from the feeder in our big ponderosa tree. When the fledglings are ready to fly, they take advantage of the nearby feeder.

Funny thing about this little grey bird, is that is doesn't have a typical seed-eaters bill. The bird's beak is narrow, too narrow to crack and eat a sunflower seed at the feeder, unlike all the other types of birds.
It takes a seed, flies to the corner post of our deck and deposits the seed there. Then, it proceeds to whack the fool out of the seed. Its whole body gets into the act. Wings flip outward as the little creature throws itself at the seed. Finally the seed yields to the bird's onslaught. He extracts his prize and flies back to the ponderosa for a brief rest.
Then, a minute later, he's back at the feeder.

Even the crossbills and the red-headed finches can't compete with this little bird for my attention.
He seems so ill equipped for the job of seed-eating. Yet, what nature has not provided, he makes up for with sheer determination and perseverance.
That small grey bird is a lesson for me. Each time I see him at the feeder, or sitting on the corner post, I think about my own limitations.

God speaks to me in the small things of life. If a bird with a slim beak can feed on hard sunflowers, then I can rise above my own limitations, through God's grace. He gives me the strength to persevere, then increases my faith as I exercise it in the daily struggle.
Even a hard sunflower will yield to a constant, skillful barrage.
What is your "sunflower"?
I'd love to read your comments.

"He (the Lord) gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak." (Is. 40: 29)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fool, You Will Get Caught!

I've been hearing and watching on TV the debacle of politicians getting caught -literally- with their pants down. Every time I hear about another congressman or governor or rich person, I always shake my head in wonder. "Don't they think they're going to get caught eventually? How can they risk their marriages and careers and reputations for  some cheap thrills or a night of illicit sex?"
It always comes out.
Even if it doesn't ever come out on this side of heaven, there will be hell to pay on the other side!
I can't even get away with cheating on my diet.
The other day, after a long day of running errands, shopping for two wedding gifts and finishing off my shopping excursion at the grocery store, my feet hurt and my tummy rumbled. At the check-out, a little bag of M n Ms must have noticed my depleted state. It whispered, "Come on, you know you want me.Where's the harm? I'm just a little bag of chocolate. Not too many calories. And, after all, chocolate is good for you."
I kind of looked around me to make sure there wasn't any one watching who knew me from church.
I enjoyed those M n Ms all the way up the canyon to Estes.
As I pulled into my garage, I thought I'd better throw away the evidence. I have been encouraging Bruce to cut back on his carb intake. I sure didn't want to look like a hypocrite.
Later that evening, Bruce and I decided to drive downtown for a stroll along the river. I climbed into the passenger seat and Bruce stepped into the drivers side.
"What's this?" Bruce leaned over and plucked up something small and colorful, lying on the floor mat.
"An M n M. You had M n Ms!" Bruce looked wickedly delighted at his discovery.
I glanced at him with a guilty expression, and he roared with laughter.
"I am so busted."
"You sure are." He handed me the little green M n M and I popped it into my mouth.
I really didn't feel too guilty about eating the M n Ms. It had more to do with getting caught. I felt really sorry about that.
It immediately reminded me of the congressman in the news recently. When he resigned from his congressional position, he didn't seem too sorry for what he'd done. (I could be wrong.) But he did seem sorry for the affect of his actions. Didn't he ever think he'd get caught?
Didn't I think I'd get caught for my M n M sin? Sure. So I attempted to cover my tracks.
But even if Bruce hadn't discovered that single errant M n M, my lack of discipline would have shown up eventually on my waistline, or my doctor's lab test next month.
Sin always gets exposed. Somewhere, somehow, sometime.
There is for all of us an "Aha!" somewhere down the line.

Job 12:22 says, "He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light."

But as Believers, no matter what He reveals, we can be assured that He loves us and has accepted us in the Beloved. We do not need to fear ultimate judgment. Discipline, maybe, but not judgment.
I sincerely hope that those men who have been caught in scandal recently, sincerely repent and come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The question is: in our actions, who are we trying to please? Our own flesh or God?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thick or Thin?

I read an interesting question this morning on literary agent, Rachelle Gardner's facebook.
"Are you thick-skinned?"
I'm thinking her purpose in asking this question is to get comments about how important it is too develop a thick skin when it comes to the whole publishing industry and the prospect of rejection or negative revews of your published works.
Here's my question:
How many fine artists, whether they be writers, singers, painters, sculpters, song-writers, poets, etc. do you know who are thick-skinned?
Don't the very qualities required to create art make an artist thin-skinned?
Artists respond to promptings within their creative brains.
Thin-skinned (sensitive) people are permeable. That is, their brains have picked up on visual, auditory, tactile stimuli from outside.
Then, their talent allows them to process and emotionally synthesize what they've experienced and turn it into a unique product:
  • an unusual and poignant rendering of a song
  • a story that captures readers's imaginations and makes them stay up late at night
  • the jazz pianist who learns all his jazz scales, chords and riffs, then shuffles them into a completely new and creative performance style
  • the artist who "sees" something in his head and makes his picture come to life on a canvas or sculpture.
Yes, I know that in the industries of art, music and writing, that there will always be agents and publishers who won't "get it." They'll say, "no thank you." Of course, they're basing their judgments solely on what they think will or will not sell.
And of course that rejection hurts. It's like learning to play the guitar. Those strings dig into your fingers and make them pretty sore. But the guitar student pushes past that and eventually develops tough finger tips.

But wouldn't it be awful if the entire body developed that kind of toughness?
Would you want thick skin when it comes to your relationship with the Lord?
He has many things to communicate to us each day. We need spirits that are soft and permeable, so that we can receive and apply His messages.

So I say, develop toughness, but just in the small spot where it's needed.
Let the rest of yourself, the parts that feel, listen, see and hear remain tender and soft.
Listen and learn from rejection and criticism. Embrace the pain. Let those lessons permeate.
Then, you will not write stories that have lost any scintillation, or unique style.
Your unique stamp is based on your thin-skinned receptivity to everything outside of yourself.
Have the courage to remain thin-skinned.

How about you, artist friend? What are your thoughts? Please leave them here.
Have a wonderful day!

"Let a righteous man strike me --it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me --it is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it." (Psalm 141:5)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Las Vegas Nights

Bruce and I took a quick road trip out to San Diego last week.
We needed to get out to California quick but getting two round-trip plane tickets at the last minute would've been really expensive.
So we decided to drive non-stop; that would get us to our destination in 18 hours.
We know the route quite well: Highway 72 to the 6 cut-off to Interstate 70 through the Rockies and through central Utah, then turn south on Interstate 15 and stay on it nearly all the way to Mexico.
In good weather and during the day, the trip is a scenic delight. Evergreens, white-water canyons followed by miles of sage-encrusted hills, Then the awesome red-rock formations so illustrative of Utah.
We hit Arizona at midnight and Las Vegas about an hour later.
Wow! The lights, the glitz, the flashing signs that advertise the latest shows and entertainers, the fabulous hotels.
At night downtown Las Vegas is truly impressive.
At night the city displays a kind of beauty that promises excitement, entertainment, and the possibility of winning something you didn't work for.
There's a sign that says, "Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas."
At night, that sign says it all.

But I know what the city looks like in the day.
The gliz disappears and the traveler on Interstate 15 sees:
a town plunked down in the middle of an inhospitable desert
a town with little natural beauty
a hot and dusty place
a town with hotels and casinos that have built themselves up on the money left behind by sad and disgruntled gamblers.

The downtown hotel/casino part of Las Vegas offers us a picture of what sin is like.
Sin dazzles in the darkness.
You can hide it under thick stage makeup, elaborate costumes, bright lights, beautiful, super-amplified, richly orchestrated music.
But when the sun comes up,  the glitz and seductive beauty of sin disappears.
And you see it plainly: inhospitable, hot, dusty and waterless.

Seeing sin plainly offers us a choice:
We can ignore it and wait for another fabulous, neon night to sweep us away
We can see it for what it truly is, confess to the Lord its power in our lives, and make a God-directed change.

This week I've been thinking a lot about the seeming light-filled and bright things --my neon nights -- that I hide behind:
A bright smile, when I'm actually angry or disappointed
Beautiful, skillful words coming out of my mouth that excuse or rationalize or explain my sin, when I should be confessing it
Running around my house making everything gleem and sparkle with cleanliness when I should be seeking God and the cleanliness of my own spirit.

Lord, give me the courage to expose my own darkness.

"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:20,21)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hope that Doesn't Disappoint

A very pregnant-looking cow elk wandered into our yard the other evening.
She lay down, breathing hard.
Then she stood up and circled, as if looking for a more comfortable spot.
She lay down again, still breathing hard.
Oh, goody, goody. I'm going to get to witness an elk birth!
This was happening right outside my bedroom window. So I ran for the digital camera and stationed myself on a comfy chair at the window.
I waited and watched for about an hour. (I am anything if not patient.)
During this hour, the cow continued to tease me with her frequent huffing and repositioning.
Then, the annoying little gargoyles (chihuahuas) next door discovered the elk's presence. They lined up along the cyclone fence about twenty yards away and harassed her with their high-pitched yapping.
So much for the pictures of the century.
The elk hurried out of our yard in search of quieter digs.
That was pretty disappointing.
I guess just about anything that you hope to see or experience that doesn't materialize can ruin your day. Or maybe just your minute.

There is something that we believers hope for that we know will not disappoint:
Hope in God.

  • That all of His promises will one day come true.
  • That He will return.
  • That we will be like Jesus.
  • That all of our infirmities, troubles, struggles with sin will finally be gone!
  • That we will be with Him forever
  • That we will be reunited with our loved ones who knew Jesus.

Yapping dogs and unforeseen situations will never rob us of our hope.
Because our hope is based on the complete trustworthiness of God and His Word.
What He promises, He will deliver.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade -- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."(1st Peter 1:3-6)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chipped Lip

I dicovered a chip on the lip of my favorite mug. "Aw, look, Bruce, the dishwasher chipped my favorite mug."
"You should just throw it away," Bruce said. "It's no good with a chip where you could scratch your mouth every time you take a sip."
But I really like that mug. It's not ready for the garbage can yet.

Isn't that kind of like people, too?
We see some obvious physical flaw or handicap and we tend to make a negative emotional judgment about them. Maybe it's an unconscious thing, but it's there, nonetheless.
We tend to think, " That person wouldn't be able to work in the children's Sunday school."
Or maybe we discount someone because he or she's been very emotionally wounded. "That person probably shouldn't be in a teaching position."
Maybe it's because a person is old. Don't we tend to expect older seniors to just kinda hang out with the older crowd? What does that old person have in common with younger, more energetic church-goers?

God doesn't see the emotionally wounded or old person or handicapped individual as less useful.
The "chip" shows that the wounded man or woman has gained insights into suffering and God's grace.
The "handicapped" individual learns humility and coping skills in ways we probably can't even imagine.
The older people have lived longer and accumulated such wealth of experience through:
 physical suffering,
financial challenges
parenting and grandparenting
years on the job
years of faithful church service
years of working on their marriages
years of making and keeping friends
I could go on and on. . .

My injured mug has now become a left-handed cup. That is, as I'm the only lefty in the family, I'm the only one who gets to use my beloved chipped mug. When I hold the handle with my left hand, the chip is on the other side.
That mug is special and beautiful.
When I feel stressed, the cute, smiling snowmen that wrap around the mug, seem to say, "Grab a good book, pour some hot cocoa, pull a chair up to the fire, and relax with us."
I love my chipped mug.
 I'm definitely not throwing it away.

Some "chipped" people touch others in ways the "perfect" ones can't.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Are you determined to succeed?

George Allen, football coach once said, " People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to."

 I love that.
How many people do you know who have succeeded even though they're not particularly smart or gifted? Probably lots.
I've also know many very gifted people who haven't become very successful in their particular area of expertise.
It's usually because they haven't committed to working with all their heart on increasing their skills:
  • practicing more (longer, harder, smarter) on a musical instrument
  • studying to become more knowledgeable in your subject
  • making more phone calls
  • not quitting after a rejection
  • taking that extra course
  • listening to the expert and making the required edits to the manuscript
  • making the decision to focus on your goal without going off on bunny trails
  • deciding that "good" is the enemy of "excellent"; keep improving
Succeeding is not so much a question of giftedness; it's more a question of the heart.
What do you really want? Are you willing to pay the price of hard work and focus?

I once attended a writer's conference. During each meal I made it a point to sit at a different table. I used my meal times to interview authors. One of the questions I asked them was, "Why do you think you succeeded in getting published?"
Almost without exception, the writers said, "Because I didn't give up. I kept writing and re-writing and when I'd get a rejection, I'd work on it some more, then send it out again."
The key phrase, "I didn't give up" has stayed in my mind.
I repeat it when I'm tempted to slack off or give up.

If God has a job for you to do, then do it well, do it with excellence,
and do not give up!

Take these scripture verses with you today:

(the reason we work and do not give up)
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

(the result of our hard work)
"Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will serve before kings;
he will not serve before obscure men." (Proverbs 22:29)

We serve the King of Kings.
What is the "good work" God has called you to?
Will you work at it with all your heart?