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, July 28, 2011

Dyson Never Gave Up and So Shouldn't you!

While I was waiting to see my doctor this morning I picked up a copy of Newsweek. At the back was an interesting article about James Dyson, the guy who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner.
That man was like Thomas Edison with the light bulb. He just didn't give up.
The article stated that he tried 5000 versions of the vacuum before he got it right.
He'd given up his job, and his wife supported him while he worked non-stop on his invention.
Then he tried to market his idea to all the major vacuum cleaner makers. None of them liked his idea. One guy even said that people would be so digusted by seeing all the dirt in the bagless, clear container that they'd never consider using it at home.
Finally, Dyson realized that if he wanted to market and sell his vacuum cleaner, he'd have to do it himself.
When the first model came out, in the 90s, it sold big.
Dyson refused to listen to naysayers. He went with his gut. And it paid off. His machine is now a household word.
That's a lesson for us all, and in particular my fellow writers. Yes, you should listen to the professionals in your industry. But sometimes you just gotta go with your gut.
And in the spiritual realm, when God has something specific for you to do, He rarely tells everyone else about it. It's up to you to listen and go with His directive.

What has God called you to do? Be like James Dyson: never give up!

"Take my life and let it be  consecrated Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee,
filled with messages from Thee." (Take my Life and Let It Be, F. Havergal/H. Malan)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

The older I get, the more I run into these strange and wonderful meetings:

Bruce and I decided to sell our pop-up camper. We've used the trailer for close to ten years, camping in many western national parks. Through word of mouth, a work colleague told a friend that we were selling, and the friend wanted to come up and take a look.

Last Saturday, a big white Tundra pulled into our driveway. Two attractive older women and their nice husbands and one younger man climbed out of the vehicle. We all introduced ourselves to each other. The one man (the potential buyer) and his wife and son went with Bruce to look inside the trailer. I stayed to talk to Bill and his wife Marie.

Something about Bill made me do a brain scramble. He looked familiar but I couldn't quite place him.
We got to talking and he mentioned that he used to be an opera singer but now he toured the country doing sacred concerts.
"Oh really?" Now this was going to be an interesting conversation since I'd trained to be an opera singer myself, but God had re-directed me toward music education and children's ministry.
"Yes," Bill said. "In fact, I used to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. I sang roles with Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Leontyne Price.
Wow, now I was thoroughly impressed. The Met is the cadillac vehicle for operatic performance in the US and the singers mentioned were some of the biggest stars during the 60s and 70s.
"Do you have a business card?"
He handed me his card and I glanced at the name.
Bill was William Harness.
"I know you!" I gave him a big grin. "Well, I don't know you, but I've seen you sing many times."
Bill looked surprised and delighted.
"Yes, the first time I saw you was at Paul Masson Vineyards. You were part of a summer concert series. You were singing with Shigemi Matsumoto and Bruce Yarnell. I especially remember that concert because you sang that gorgeous duet with Bruce Yarnell  from The Pearlfishers.

Bill couldn't believe I could actually remember a concert given way back in the mid seventies.
"And I saw you at the Sanfrancisco opera and also at a concert at Stearn Grove."  I'd also read some articles in Opera News that mentioned roles that Harness was doing.

After Bill and Marie and the others drove off with their newly purchased camper, I ran to the computer to check out Bill's website. He's been a busy man, having spent the last thirty years singing sacred concerts all over the country. I listened to some of the song selections, and he's still got this amazing, Metropolitan opera voice: big, rich, beautiful, perfect diction, great phrasing, amazing high tones.

Gosh, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get him to come and sing a concert at our church? Our church has this wonderful music ministry called "Offerings" the second Friday of the month, featuring one of our many talented musicians, paired with an artist and a display.

Anyway, isn't it amazing how one chance meeting because of a used pop up trailer led to a conversation about a past connection and the possibility of future connection with William Harness singing at our church?
Lots of people would label this serendipity.
But I just say: Isn't God amazing?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Emotion = Devotion?

We put a lot of stock in "feelings" these days. Our present culture seems to believe that emotion equals reality --my reality, or your reality --no matter how facts cloud the situation.
This kind of thinking has invaded the churches and it worries me.
Just watch a typical evangelical church worship service.
You'll see these techniques employed:
  • "Let's show the Lord how much we love Him by standing (or bowing or swaying, etc.)."
  • "Let's sing this verse again (and again and again and again)
  • "Let's raise our hands."
  • "Let's sing that as loud as we can. Louder, people, I can't hear you."
  • "Amen, if that verse doesn't make you weep then you're just not worshipping."
  • "Let's hold that note a little longer."
  • "Let's sing that verse again but in a higher key."

I guess I'm kind of a cynic, but whenever I suspect that my emotions are being manipulated, I start resisting.
It's none of anyone's business what I'm currently feeling as I worship. That's between the Lord and me.
And telling me how I'm supposed to be feeling (and looking or acting) as I sing a particular song seems a little like taking on the role of the Holy Spirit.

Since when did a display of emotion equal spirit-filled devotion to Christ? Emotions are a great gift from God. But they can drive us one way or the other. Emotion must be tempered with wisdom, judgment, experience, maturity, knowledge and understanding of scripture.
I want a passion for Christ. Emotions that follow that passion are great. But emotion comes and goes. We cannot always feel the mountain-top emotions. But our deep love for Christ impels us forward in His worship and service.

 I resent having to "act" during worship services. I resent the philosophy behind the display of emotionalism. And I don't trust it when it's coerced and continuous.
It's like the person you see at church who's always, and I mean ALWAYS smiling. If they're human, they can't be feeling like smiling twenty-four/seven.

I desire real worship, worship in the spirit and the Spirit, no matter what I'm feeling. There are deeper things than feelings. Much deeper. Christ always connected worship and truth:
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in  truth." (John4: 23,24)

There's a lot of talk of "authenticity" in the church. Why then do we try to make corporate worshipers fit into a mold? That's not authentic.
  • Sometimes, I feel great emotion while worshiping.
  • Sometimes, I feel nothing, but think much.
  • Sometimes, both my emotional and rational side get in sync with my spirit in worship.
  • Sometimes, the music is distracting and hinders me from worship.
  • Sometimes, the greatest worship I can offer Jesus Christ is a quiet, waiting, willing spirit. That cannot be coerced or manipulated.
As Jesus, Himself, said, "You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3: 7,8)

I'm going to study up on the subject of corporate worship. I still love corporate worship. To bless the Lord within a Body of Believers in worship is a wonderful thing. I'll get back to you on this with a list of the wonderful things that happen when we worship together in humility, sincerity, and real unity.

In the meantime, would you please give me your thoughts?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Are We On the Right Path?

Last Saturday, Bruce and I decided to hike above Sprague Lake.It's only a couple of miles and the climb is gradual. The aspen, mixed with spruce and ponderosa, the rock formations, the glimpses of  high snow-capped mountains through the trees make this one of our favorite early-morning jaunts.
At a junction on the trail we saw a sign for Boulder Creek. We'd never done that hike and I was curious.
"Where does this go? Does it meet up with the Sprague trail but at a higher point on the mountain?"
It took some cajoling, but finally Bruce agreed to explore the Boulder Creek trail with me.
Usually, when  trail is steep, they'll construct it with switchbacks to level it off. Well, this one didn't do that. It followed the creek, straight up. I think if it had been any steeper, we would have been on our hands and knees. I hadn't brought my trusty poles, thinking we were just going to hike the Sprague trail.
I could've used them.
We kept hiking, thinking, at each curve of the trail that, surely, this would be the last steep section.
Surely it must level off eventually and curve to meet the Glacier trail that we usually hiked.
We stopped to take pictures of the incredibly gorgeous cascading, rolicking, frothing, dancing stream.
After about three miles, the steep trail leveled off and we checked our altitude with our GPS. Just about 10,500 feet.
When were we going to meet up with the Glacier trail?
Through breaks in the trees, we could see the back of Long's Peak getting closer and closer. An ominous sign.
"Do you think we should turn back?"
I don't know. What do you think?"
"Gosh, " I said, "we've come this far. It'd be a shame to stop now and then find out that we were really close to the intersection of the trails. Too bad we didn't bring a map, though."
We didn't think we needed a map.
Just then, an older man, traveling solo, came up the hill. He had a map.
We told him what we were trying to find and his eyes got big. "You're never gonna connect with the Glacier trail this way. You're on your way to the Boulder fields, halfway up Long's Peak.
We thanked the man and started back down the trail, feeling foolish that we hadn't thought to pack a map in our day pack.

A lot of people live their lives the same way we hiked that day: without a map, but certain that their way will eventually lead them to a good destination. But no matter how sincere they are, without a map, they can't be sure they'll ever reach the good spot.
Bruce and I had our doubts about the Boulder Creek trail, but we hoped that if we kept pushing on, we'd eventually meet up with a more familiar trail.
But hoping and knowing are two different things, right?
Just because you hope you're going in the right direction doesn't make it so.
Wouldn't you want to be sure. Would you want to trust your whole life with just a hunch?

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I didn't Have Time

I don't usually write an exhortational type of post. It's not my gift. But this topic has been on my mind for a long time and I feel God nudging me to write it:

Yes, yes, I know there are truly busy people everywhere. I know that there are circumstances that prevent a person from fulfilling an obligation from time to time
But, for most of us, when we say, "I didn't have time to. . . ", we're actually saying:
  • Time got a way from me
  • I watched TV or surfed the web instead of writing that letter, etc
  • I forgot
  • It just wasn't important enough for me to spend any time on
  • I procrastinated because there are so many other things I'd rather do.

I see this all the time as a music teacher.
The vast majority of the hundreds of students I've taught will choose TV, video games, friends, lolly-gagging. . . over practice.
They'll tell me, "I want to be a famous singer."
Or, "I want to play guitar in a band."
But then, they habitually come into lessons unprepared.
I ask them, "Did you practice?" (I already know the answer, but I'm waiting for the almost inevitable answer that will prompt my customary lecture.)
The student says, "I didn't have time."
Me: "Ah, I see. Well, did you have time to go out with your friends? Did you watch any TV?"
Student: "Yes, but. . . "
Then they get the little lecture. Me: "Please do not come into your lessons saying you didn't have time. I'll bet you can come up with five minutes in your busiest day. And with only five minutes of practice, you could have had this piece of music ready to go. Right?"
Student: "Yes," or "I guess so."
Me: "Absolutely. So the next time you come to your lesson unprepared (unless you've been sick or had some type of family emergency) just be honest and say, "I chose not to practice this week so I could do other things which please me more.'"

Teaching kids gives us teachers a wonderful opportunity to say to them what we'd love to say to adults, but can't:
You can always find time to do what's important to you. (Yes, I know there are emergencies!)

You know what they say: If you want something done, ask a busy person.
A busy (not a frenzied-busy, but a disciplined-busy) person has learned how to prioritize. He or she has made decisions and stuck with them in order to get things done.

As Believers, this is so incredibly important.
God has jobs for each one of us to do.
And He will give us the time to do it.
We just have to sort through our choices and put things in the right order.

Oh, if you want to read about a busy person, google Susannah Wesley.
Here's what one of her sons, Charles, wrote:

"My gracious Master and my God
assist me to proclaim,
to spread throughout the earth abroad
the honors of Thy name." (O for a Thousand Tongues, by Charles Wesley)

Monday, July 11, 2011

You Could Be Free If Only. . .

I woke this morning to strange sounds near my window. Supposing it to be some wild animal drama unfolding just outside, I jumped up and peeked out the window.
Maybe a squirrel or bunny or bird is hurt and needs help, I thought.
So I got my gardening shoes on, thinking I'd investigate.
As I walked into the living room on my way to the front door, something small dropped off the couch and disappeared under it.
Uh oh. Mouse?
But it seemed a little big for a mouse.
I slid the couch out and the thing zipped under the loveseat.
I opened the front door wide, hoping I could flush the critter out. Then I moved the loveseat.
The thing sprang out. All furry and striped and cute. A chipmunk.
Did it go outside? Of course not.
We've had these things happen before. They never take the hint. They never take the most obvious course to freedom.
The chipmunk raced past me and on into the family room.
He went under the big, heavy chest that probably weighs more than my entire family.
I called Bruce's cell. He was already driving down to South Denver. I don't know what he could have done or said. Maybe I just needed someone else involved in this little drama. You know, we women can't even go to the restroom without companionship.
"It must have gotten in when I had the garage door open this morning."
So, for the past hour I've been getting the worst of this chase scenario. Both of my big sliding glass doors are open wide and flies are coming inside to investigate the yummy breakfast odors.
Fresh morning air beckons just inches away from the chipmunk's hiding place. Birds twitter on the big ponderosa just off the deck.
Even my broom handle, slid repeatedly under all the pieces of furniture cannot induce this creature to bolt for obvious freedom.

I wonder if we're sometimes just like this stupid little chipmunk. Solutions to our frightening crises lie out in the open, just for the taking, if only. . .
But we see only our adversary and feel overwhelming fear. Blinded to anything but our problem, we stew in it. We're stuck -- flattened, frightened, paralyzed -- under that heavy furniture.
We don't see the "door".
We don't hear the "birds" that signify freedom
We don't inhale the fresh air of newness and joy.

If only that chipmunk spoke human. I'd tell him, "Look, nothing bad's going to happen. But the only way to get free is to come out from under that couch. If you'll just trust what I'm saying, you can get out of this predicament."

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the
mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam
 and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day."
" Be still and know that I am God:
 I will be exalted among the nations,
 I will be exalted in the earth."
(Psalm 46 1-5 and 10) New Internation Version

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Love Your Enemies

My daughter and I visited the pet store the other day. We both love puppies and kittens and soft little bunnies. Just as we were about to leave, I glanced in the window and saw the guinea pig and the baby bunny. Ahh. I just had to snap a photo. Baby bunnies are pretty gentle, but guinea pigs can be kind of feisty. But seeing those two little creatures snuggled up together just warmed my heart.

Of course, it's even more entertaining when we see a predator-type animal playing with a prey-type animal.
Utube videos abound with snippets of cats and mice playing. I've seen one with a parrot and a rottweiler, numerous ones with a cat and a dog, and one where a dog was cavorting with a deer. The greater the contrast between tiny prey and big predator, the more hits on Utube.

It amazes us when we see animals that should be enemies actually getting along, even loving on each other. How does that happen?
Somehow, the instinct to attack has been de-fused by an initial meeting that inspired an instinct to nurture. It's an anomaly.

So, does this work with humans who are enemies?
Oh, I'm not talking about a  scenario where two children from enemy cultures grow up together. I'm  talking about treating a sworn enemy with love and kindness.
Peace treaties keep the lid on hostility, to a point. But peace treaties cannot make the heart love an enemy.
Jesus said: "Love your enemy; do good to those who hate you." (Luke 6:27)
How is that possible?
And, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him and if your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink." (Romans 12:20)
This is only possible by a transformation of the heart, birthed by God Himself.
It's just not natural to love someone who hates you. (Except maybe your own children!)
"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)
How can we be transformed? By God's grace, His gift to those who believe in Him. This Grace begins to work a change in the believer's heart.

Look at all the letters to the first Christians that begin with:
  • "Grace and peace to you." (Rom 1:7)
  • "Grace and peace to you." (1 Cor. 1:3)
  • "Grace and peace to you" (2 Cor. 1:2)
  • "Grace and peace to you. (Gal. 1:3)
  • "Grace and peace to you."(Ephesians 1:2)
And there are loads more "Grace and peace" verses.

The apostles knew that without God's grace we simply cannot love others with God's love. God's grace is a miracle, given to us at salvation. But appropriating God's grace for our daily living means that we surrender our right to feel the feelings and think the thoughts of the "old man." We must get to know God's grace-filled character. Then we must choose to agree with and follow God's ways. His grace allows us to see our:
  • difficult family member
  • exasperating neighbor
  • awful politician of the opposite party
  • the hate-filled enemy bent on your destruction. . .

 the way God sees them: as people who desperately need the mercy of God.
His is truly an Amazing Grace.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hiking Poles and Wisdom

Bruce and I took a long hike today. We live just outside Rocky Mountain National Park, so going for a hike  --rather than facing the crowds of tourists downtown --seemed like the logical thing to do.
We started out at the Fern Lake Trailhead, hiked to The Pool --a magical place of huge, flat boulders, a wood bridge and a mist-enshrouded water fall. From there it's another 1.7 miles to Cub Lake and another couple of miles back to where we started. The round trip, from our car and back is just under seven miles.
We saw a family of marmots, a long garter snake, hoards of hikers, ducks, and a group of hikers that had taken along two llamas as their pack animals.
My son and daughter-in-law gave me some hiking poles a couple of Christmases ago and I've started to use them whenever we going on a Rocky Mountain hike. The trails are steep and rocky. The poles not only help with balance, and stability for the old joints, but they really help cushion the shock of jumping off a rock to land on hard ground.
Hiking poles are also great for working the muscles in the upper body.
Sometimes we encounter young people, usually hiking in a group.As they pass, they kind of give me a look that says, "Boy, I'm sure glad I don't need those hiking poles. I'm so young and strong; I don't need any help."
Yeah? Well, just wait about twenty years. I'd like to hear you when you get together with your forty-something friends and complain about your aching knees or back or whatever.
Those old-age aches will come to you eventually. Even the most well-seasoned senior athlete feels more pain than a twenty-year old.

My hiking poles keep me humble, because others see my weakness.
My hiking poles remind me to be careful.
My hiking poles force me to focus on the process of the hike and not just the goal.
My hiking poles remind me that I'm getting closer to the end of my days.
  And finally. . .
My hiking poles communicate: "I've hiked lots of trails in my day, taken lots of jolts to the knees and hips, covered many miles and seen many elk, many mountains, many moons."

In the past year I've seen many hikers --usually older --who are also carrying hiking poles. There's a kind of cameraderie when we meet on the trail. Kind of like we belong to the same secret organization. There's an extra gusto in the greetings we exchange. And a knowing look that says, "Yep, I have to pamper the old knees, too."

Gone are the young whippersnapper competetive tilts to the chin: When did you start your hike? I hiked this circuit in an hour. Bet that's faster than you.

But my hiking poles say, "I don't care how long it takes me. I just want to enjoy the journey and get home safely.
So I'll keep using my poles. And when I run into a young hiker on the trail, I'll just "hi" and smile knowingly.

"Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? (Job 12:12)