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 29, 2011

My Little Stone Monument

On our way through the Utah desert, we exited at a rest stop. We climbed and explored a path that went from the parking lot and eventually narrowed into a narrow, crumbling Bruce-I-don't-think-this-is-a-path-anymore ridge, looming a few hundred feet above Interstate 15.
At one point the "path" met with a couple of fissures that dropped away into darkness and certain death. Unnerved, I turned back, but Bruce continued on his confident way.
While he explored, I looked off and watched a herd of donkeys roaming around a narrow valley about two hundred yards away. Colorful flowers decorated the precipice where I stood. Beautiful broken pieces of red shale lay all over the place, catching the last rays of the setting sun. A feeling of magic surrounded this place.
I had to bring part of this quiet, colorful, desert place back with me. Just as Bruce re-joined me, I stooped and picked up a small piece of shale.
When we got home, I put the little rock in my garden. Every time I go out to work on the garden or water the plants, I see the red piece and it reminds me of the special moment in one of God's red deserts.
This little piece of earth is a reminder of a slice of my life.
  • Just as the Christmas ornaments the children made for me when they were small,
  • or the shells I've found at various places and on various trips to the Pacific coast,
  • or the Indian arrow head I found buried a few inches beneath the soil in my own childhood back yard in Lafayette, California,
  • or the thank you letters from  my students that I've bundled, tied with ribbon and placed in a box. 
They serve as tiny monuments to commemorate my relationships to special people and places.

Thousands of years ago, a man named Jacob rested in the desert and had a dream of a stairway to heaven and of God telling him that all people on earth would be blessed through him and his descendants.  Jacob realized that he had had an extraordinary encounter with God and so he set up a pillar of stone and worshiped there.

Our special moments slip into the unrecoverable pass and we can never reclaim them.
But how wonderful that our fingers can still carress the little "stone monuments" of our God-given encounters.

What have you collected to help you stay connected to a precious person or time or place?

"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.'" (Genesis 28:16,17) 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bear Country

On our way up north to go camping, we passed a number of signs that said: "Bear Country: stay in your car."
I thought about those pioneers to these parts of Montana and how they must've been very courageous folk to face harsh elements, dangerous rivers and big, hungry grizzlies. It made my toes tingle just to step out of my car for a minute to snap a photo. Especially since I'd just heard about a hiker who'd been attacked by a bear.

Nowadays we've black-topped roads through these huge areas of wilderness. The roads are patrolled by police people and maintained by our tax dollars. Every crack and pothole is taken care of. Fish and Game people watch out for dangerous rogue bears. Trees and undergrowth are not allowed to grow back onto the road. One season of inattention would result in the wilderness reclaiming its own.

The roads are like our bodies: if not bathed, scrubbed, shaved, exfoliated, brushed, flossed, scented and lotioned, we'd soon revert to our uncivilized, hairy, smelly ancestors.

And like our bodies, our souls, too, require constant maintenance. Or else we revert to our old nature: mean, selfish, impatient, unthankful, unholy. Ick!

We need to care for our inside self, too: cut back the trees of moodiness, the bushes of grumpiness. Watch out for the bears of vicious talk and the wolves of voracious greed and envy.

Staying close to the Master and His Word will keep the "roads" of our lives groomed and sweet-smelling.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight." (Prov. 3:5,6)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Don't be Afraid

I've been talking to a number of Christians who've said that, due to all the turmoil in the world and what's happening to the economy that they're afraid.
Yes, it is so easy to be afraid.
 But this morning, as I glanced through old sermon notes, I came on some really encouraging words from a sermon preached by a visiting pastor while we were living in California.
Here are some highlights:

While the Apostle John was in exile on the island of Patmos, he had a vision. Jesus Christ came to him in order to reveal His message to the Church. First He said,
"Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last."

Years earlier, while John and the other disciples were in their boat, Jesus came to them, walking on the water. The disciples were terrified. But Jesus said almost the same thing, "It is I, do not be afraid."
Jesus's presence and His words reassure believers that everything is going to alright. Jesus holds the keys to Death and Hades. He lives forever and has all power and authority.

Do not be afraid!
God is present wherever you are. . .  whatever century or decade, whatever continent or culture.
The ancient Greeks saw life as a circle. The Romans saw life as a continuum.
But Jesus speaks of life as a spiral. Yes, there are cycles of birth, death, renewal. There's "nothing new under the sun."
But this spiral does eventually lead to the Lord's great conclusion.
The "pure in heart" will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
If you are a Believer and living in the Spirit, you will sense God's presence.
While walking in the Spirit, you will have a hungering and a thirsting after God and His ways. You will desire to be like God.
You will hear God's message that, even though times are scary, He is near and He is working out His plan, however mysterious that is.
Your body may be in "Patmos" but your spirit resides with the Lord.
So, Believer, be encouraged. God is in control and He is working out everything (including His plan for your life) according to His great plan.

"Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever.And I hold the keys of Death and Hades." (Rev. 1:17,18)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It's wonderful how children begin to ask questions and to wonder about why they're on this earth.
One day I listened to a very intelligent man (someone I know well), talking to his nephew.
The little boy said, "What's the purpose of our lives?"
The man sighed and said, "If I could answer that I'd be the wisest man on earth."
It made me so sad to hear him say that. You don't have to be a great intellect or have the wisdom of Solomon to answer that.
All you need is an understanding of God's word and a faith that His word is true.

"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . . "
(Genesis 1:26)
First of all, God made us. We are not an accident. We were designed by God to be like Him.

". . . Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offerings." (Genesis 4:4)
From this scripture, we see that Adam and Eve's son, Abel, already had a relationship with God, worshiped Him and did things to please God.

"Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." (Genesis 5:24)
Enoch had a close relationship with God.

The Bible is the story of God's mind and heart and of His dealings with people, and of His intent to reconcile Man to Himself through Jesus Christ. Just from these few scripture verses in Genesis we see that God is, God made us to be like Him, that He intends for us to have a relationship with Him and wants us to worship and please Him. That's a pretty high purpose for Man. And I didn't even delve into the other 65 books in the Old Testament or the 39 books of the New Testament.

So if some little child asks you why we are on earth, you can say confidently: "God made us so we could be His friends and worship and please Him with our lives."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Encouragement from God's Word

Dear Friends,
I will be off-line from August 12th through August 24th.
I will return with a new post on Thursday, the 25th.

In the meantime, here is one of my most favorite scripture verses for. . .

God's love:
 "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge --that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:18,19)

My friend, if you do not know this love of Christ, please ask God to show you how much He loves you. When you sincerely seek God, He will be found. (Jer. 29:13 and Heb. 11:6) There is no greater joy than to know God and to know that He loves you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Uninvited

A couple of nights ago I heard some strange noises coming from the upstairs bathroom. As I mentioned in Monday's blog,  I'm frequently awake in the middle of the night, so the "swishy, swishy" noises upstairs caught my attention right away.
I crept upstairs and listened intently. Yep, those noises are definitely coming from the toilet. Without turning on the bathroom light, I tiptoed to the toilet and lifted the lid.
Agh! I dropped the lid and it banged shut. Something was definitely inside the toilet bowl.
Okay, I thought with a frown, I didn't get a good enough look at whatever the thing was in my toilet. So now I'm going to have to lift the lid one more time.
Carefully and slowly I lifted the toilet lid just a few inches. And there it was.
A squirrel. A wet, tired, scared little ground squirrel, clinging to the side of the bowl, panting from its desperate attempt to climb up and escape its watery prison.
"Bruce!" I called several times until I woke him up. "I need you. We've got something in out toilet. Please bring a towel."
Bruce arrived with the towel. I used it to grab the little critter and wrap it securely. Then Bruce took it downstairs, out the front door, and released it in the yard.
"How in the world?" He said when he returned.
"I don't have a clue." But after I thought about it, I realized the only way the squirrel could have gotten inside a closed toilet was to have swum up through our pipes. Ew!

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, lots of uninvited critters have gotten into our mountain house lately: birds, a chipmunk, an occasional mouse, a cat, a raccoon --almost, and now the squirrel.
Some of those unwanted guests could not have been prevented. (Who would have thought a squirrel could swim up pipes into an upstairs bath?)
Some come inside because they're looking for shelter, or scraps of food. Or by accident.

I thought about the unwanted things that come into my mind and heart sometimes.
Is it because they've wandered inside by accident? Hardly ever.
Most of the time, my unwanted guests arrive because I've left the "door" open.
Or the "door" has been unguarded.
The solution to preventing the destructive thoughts is almost the same as preventing critters from entering my house:
Keep "doors" and "windows". . .  
my eyes
my ears,
my unchecked tongue,my loose, undisciplined, unrestrained thoughts. . .
check for any "holes". . . 
my old patterns of acting and responding. . .
 where something might creep through and begin, in the undetected hours, to do damage.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3)

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Song of the Insomniac

I think if I just slept through the night, then woke up at 6 or 7 each morning and went about my usual day-to-day routine, my life would have turned out much differently.
But I'm an insomniac.
Have been for as long as I can remember.
My brain is hopelessly wired like brain of the cat, or the possum, or the lemur. . . or the vampire or Gollum or the burglar.
You ever notice how novels always treat the human who's awake when all others sleep as the villain or the mentally twisted?
We insomniacs are a lonely bunch. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a party each night? We'd simply slip out of bed, put on our slippers and head on out to some pre-arranged meeting place. There we'd all sit in a circle on the carpet, holding warm glasses of milk, and exchange our stories of the night:
"Tonight I heard a prowler outside my bedroom window," an older widow says.
"Awe, that's nothing. I heard terrible fighting next door. Happens each time my neighbor comes home drunk."
"I climbed up onto my brother's bunk bed to watch our neighbor's tv,"  six-year old Matt chimes in. "I can see right into their living room. They were watching 'Zorro.'"
"I heard strange noises upstairs in the guest bath," I said. "When I went to check on it, there was a squirrel in the commode. Yep, absolute truth."
"How'd it get inside the toilet if the lid was closed?" asks the plumber, who drives his white van all around the neighborhood during the day.
I rub my bleery eyes and say, "Only thing I can think of, is it came up through the pipes, like those stories about the snakes coming up and scaring the bejeebers out of people in Brooklyn."
The plumber says, "Aren't you the lady who had a chipmunk in her house the other day?"
"Yeah, what about it?" I'm feeling kind of defensive.
"Didn't mean anything about it," the drowsy plumber says. "Just that you sure get a lot of critters in your house. Maybe I should come over and check your pipes."
"You guys are all cranky," A new guy named Dave says.
"Hah, " the lady who heard the prowler says. ""You'd feel a little cranky if you were afraid some creep was gonna break in and kill you."
"Believe it or not," says Dave, " I get scared at night, too. One thing that helps is singing."
"Singing?" We all say at once.
"Yes, that's right, singing. Oh, not loud enough to wake up the house. Just loud enough to remind me that when I can't sleep, I've still got God to talk to."
"At night, at 3 AM?"
"Why not?" Dave shrugs. "D'you think you'd wake God up?"
"What'll I sing?" the widow asks.
"I'm tone deaf," the plumber adds.
"Doesn't matter." Dave says.
"Singing's not going to make me sleep." I roll my eyes.
"Probably not," Dave says, "but God'll like it." He stands up and stretches. "Gotta go. Night, all."
He shuffles out the door.
We all stand up, too. The 3 AM meeting of insomniacs is over.
I help Matt get his slippers back on. "C'mon, I'll walk you home."

"On my bed I remember you;
I think of You through the watches of the night.
Because You are my help,
I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me." (Psalm 63: 6-8)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Appetite for Life

My dad's in a nursing home. He's over 96. Considering how hard his life has been --growing up in poverty with seven other siblings, forced to quit school to help support the family, seeing his buddies die during World War ll, working two or more jobs while also going to school to finish a bachelor's and a master's degree --it's amazing he's continued to slog through life.

Mostly, my dad sleeps. (He deserves sleep, don't you think?)
He has few joys left to him. He can't hear, he has difficulty speaking, the other inmates at the home aren't quite what you would call scintillating company, and I'm not sure he always recognizes his daughters and sons when they come to visit.

But one thing still makes my dad's Santa Claus-blue eyes open wide: the promise of dessert.
Yes, Jim Nicolaisen has one thing left that keeps the feeble ember of his life still burning.
Somehow, just imagining Daddy slurping up a Coldstone milkshake or the last piece of my niece's Sweet Sixteen party cake makes me laugh. For most of their married life, my mother kept tight control over how much sweets Daddy could eat. So he kept a secret stash hidden somewhere from which he could indulge from time to time.
But that's all over now. Whatever Daddy wants, Daddy gets --sweetswise.

I thought about my own life. What is my appetite for life? What keeps me prancing (or slogging) through my days?
Have you thought about that, too? What is your reason for living?

I suppose a better question might be: if your possessions, your job, your health, your friends were taken from you, would you still have an appetite for life?

Jesus said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)

Jesus had an appetite for doing God's will; that was His sole purpose on earth.
Gosh, I would love to acquire an Appetite like that.

"Lord, please build up in me the desire (appetite) to  do what ever it is you've planned for me to do."

Scripture for the day:
"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." (Phil. 2:13)

Monday, August 1, 2011

History Lessons

Theodore Roosevelt said :
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiams, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause;
who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Roosevelt, our 25th President, knew what he was talking about. He was a sickly child who suffered from asthma. He studied at home and was particularly fascinated by natural history. To compensate for his physical weakness, he began a regimen of rigorous physical training.
In 1901, after President McKinley was assassinated, Roosevelt became President, at the age of 42.
Roosevelt is known for his larger-than-life personality and adventurous spirit.  He is remembered not only for being President, but also for his successes as a naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier.

Theodore Roosevelt is a great example of a man who never shrank from a challenge, refusing to be limited by a weak and sickly body, or later, by the political challenges of his day.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us, as believers, to live a life of faith and courage, and to consider the lives of those from ages past who did not shrink from worshiping and obeying God in spite of the challenges, or the threat of torture or death at the hands of those who hate God.
In the latter chapters of Hebrews, the author reminds us of Abel, of Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and others who rose to their own faith-challenges.

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

We've got a great future, if we'll just keep on remembering our history!