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, October 31, 2011

Is a Daily Dose of God Enough?

I love nature. . . in small doses.
A couple of months ago, as I dragged my garden hose around to water the pines and blue spruce on the west side of my property, I surprised a baby bunny. He'd evidently hoped to find safety from predators under the sprawling branches of the big blue spruce that borders my rock garden on the southwest side of the yard. Bunny zipped out from under the spruce and sheltered himself against the rock wall nearby.
I re-directed the water from the hose and said, "I'm sorry, little bunny. I didn't mean to spray you. Next time I'll check to make sure you're not under the tree before I turn on the water."
He regarded me with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. He was a distinctive-looking bunny: no more than six inches long from twitching nose to fluffy tail. But he didn't look 100 percent cotton tail, almost as if one of his parents had been a run-away domestic bunny. He's got an unusually broad face with so many whiskers it looks like he had a run-in with a porcupine.
Since this incident, I've watched Bunny grow into an adult. As the weather has grown cooler, I've noted that his coat has thickened. Occasionally, he rests under our back deck. But mostly he hangs around the blue spruce. I know he's got a home somewhere in the area. Watching him go about his daily business gives me a small dose of happiness.

Then there's the chipmunk. Probably the same one who got into my house one morning during the summer. Since then, he seems to have adopted me. Each morning he skitters up the log banisters on the front porch, then comes to peer into my south-facing office. He taps on the window screen to get my attention, then flicks his tail and looks at me with bright and bold eyes. He's got a home somewhere in the crevices of the rock retaining wall that borders my driveway. The little creature scurries from there, to my porch, then into the gardens. Later, I spy him using the big ponderosa on the east side of my deck as a highway to my roof. Heaven knows what Chip is doing way up there. I hope he hasn't found access to the inside of my house.

On Chip's travel up my ponderosa tree, he encounters the outraged nuthatches. There's colony of them in this tree. Their territory extends from the ground up, encompasses the tree, and then all the way north to the bird feeder. They fly at Chip and cry "pip, pip, pip."
Chip seems unconcerned, but the birds notice me, as I watch from the comfort of a nearby deck chair. So they fly over to the banister, flick their wings at me and loudly complain. Perhaps they think I'm a big chipmunk. They make me laugh with delight.

I love these daily doses of nature. Seeing the animals each day helps bring me happiness.
But if a bear or cougar or coyote decided to adopt my yard and take up residence, it wouldn't be nearly so lovely. Then I'd be the one flapping my wings and crying "pip, pip, pip" in an outraged voice to the local animal control.
Nature is a great thing. . . in moderation. But I do not want to be overwhelmed by it.

Food is also good. . . in moderation. Warmth and sunlight. Decent clothes. Adequate housing. Work. Relaxation. All good, in conservative doses.

One Thing only is good in bigger than chipmunk-size, or even bear-size, or super-size or mansion-size:

the experience of God.

I want a gigantic dose of Him.
No little giggles of delight when I glimpse Him from afar.
No small "ah"s at His antics.
I want to be overwhelmed.
To be tossed by a giant wave, rolled over, pounded, thrown skyward, drenched, possessed, drawn out to the deep.
''All things in moderation," the ancient Greeks said. I'm sure that they were referring to the joys of physical experience, in all its forms.
Evidently, they did not know the God of the Bible.
No one, knowing God, can desire only a moderate amount of Him.

Nature is great. I like my daily dose.
But give me a daily tsunami of my loving, intimate, holy God.

"At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place.
Listen, listen to the roar of His voice,
to the rumbling that comes form his mouth.
He unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of His roar;
He thunders with His majestic voice.
When His voice resounds, He holds nothing back.
God's voice thunders in marveous ways;
He does great things beyond our understanding." (Job 37:1-5 NIV Bible)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Real Imitator

A number of years ago, I had a conversation with one of my children's friends. The young man stated that he'd placed his trust in the Lord Jesus. He was saved and that was all he needed.
I asked him if he intended to go to church or get involved in some sort of Christian fellowship.
"Nah," he said. "I don't need any of those things. Isn't that why we're saved by grace? So we don't have to do anything else to get salvation?"
I tried to explain to him that when we become Christians the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside. The Spirit develops in us a desire to fellowship with other Christians and to want to know our heavenly Father in a loving and intimate way.
The young man continued to argue with me that none of that was necessary since he had already obtained salvation.
Since our conversation was about to end, all I could say was, "If you have a relationship with someone, wouldn't you want to spend time with him or her?"
The sad thing is, this young man went on to a life of bad choices, bad relationships, troubles with the Law, and drug use.
I can't say whether or not the man had actually turned his life over to the Lord. It seems unlikely, given his life-choices. I could be wrong.
This isn't the first or (unfortunately) last conversation I'll have with a Christian who's chosen to do the Christian life in a non-Christian way.
They seem to think that going to church, or attending a Bible study, or reading the Bible, or spending time in prayer each day is too conventional. They'll do it (the Christian life) their way. . . or no way at all.
I have never seen anyone with this type of attitude bear fruit for Christ. Never.
You simply can't be a disciple of someone and simultaneously reject his teachings.

The ancient people of Antioch were the first to call Believers in Christ, Christians, or little Christs.
That pretty much sums up what we're about on this side of heaven: we aspire to resemble Christ in our actions and words. We have a relationship with Christ and we admire and love Him so much that we want to be just like Him. The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to desire and to act according to God's good purposes.  (Phil 2:13) And so, we practice imitating God.
But how can we imitate Somebody we do not know? How can you imitate a Person you've never heard or seen? You can't.
You must spend time with the person you're imitating:
  • You listen to His voice, 
  • you read about Him, 
  • you talk to Him, 
  • you observe His patterns of behavior, 
  • you also spend time with those who know Him,
  • you practice walking, talking, acting just like Him.

After some time, you become an expert on this Person. You come to instantly recognize his voice. Imposters do not fool you, because you've developed a practiced eye and ear to the Person. Everyone identifies you, because of your speech and actions, as the Person's "imitator."

Yes, we Christians are saved by Grace. But after that, the Spirit begins a transforming work, to make us conform more and more to the image of Christ. We need to get in alignment with the Spirit and give him free rein. . . and reign.

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Eph. 5:1 NIV Bible)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Never Too Late

"It's never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise, " said writer, Nancy Thayer.
What do you think?
Are you too far gone down your path to change?

In an earlier blog I mentioned how Bruce and I hiked up a steep path, thinking we'd eventually hit another path which would circle us back to our starting point. When we discovered our mistake, we turned back. That was kind of a no-brainer.

But what if you're stuck in a career you think might be a mistake?
Or what if your marriage isn't exactly what you'd originally envisioned?
Or suppose you're hanging out with people who seem to lead you in the wrong direction?

I like to play Spider on my computer. It's one of my ways of taking a break from writing and letting my brain get into another groove. The game involves moving cards from one pile into another pile until all the cards are stacked by suit and in order, from King down to Ace. The game tries to trap you (like getting caught in a spider web) by presenting an obvious move that actually is designed to lead you farther and farther from your goal. Sometimes, after I've made a move, I see where it's leading me and I have to quickly backtrack before all my cards are used up and I have nowhere else to move.

The game of life is similar. Some life moves seem like the right choice.
But be wary!
And just because you've made a move doesn't mean --when you discovered you've made a mistake -- that you can't turn around and choose another path.
Perhaps your career needs an overhaul. Or maybe you need to adjust your attitude. Make your revision. Go ahead. Do it.
Maybe your marriage needs a tune-up. Maybe the direction you take when you talk to your spouse leads to a dead-end. Can you back up and try another route?

Maybe the social life you've chosen feels fun at the time, but makes you feel miserable the next day. Do you have to continue down that same path? Sometimes we go down a path because it's the only one we know. But isn't that kind of like a cow or a sheep? You're a lot smarter than a herd animal. Can you put your mind to it, find another route and change direction? 

It's never to late to revise your life.
Just look at the thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus:

"Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him (Jesus) to be executed." (Luke 23: 32)
"One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him. 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!'
But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.'
Then he said, 'Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.'
Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Luke 23:39-43 NIV Bible)

That criminal realized during his last few hours of life that he'd gone down the wrong life path. He revised his life attitude in the nick of time.

Take a look at your life, and revise.
It's never to late to make a heart or a life change.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heed the Warning!

Yesterday, while walking to my weekly meeting with my writer friend, Nancy, I almost ran into a small herd of elk. They were lying down, just off the edge of the sidewalk in downtown Estes Park. They raised their heads and gave me "the eye," a familiar look of wariness that elk give as a prelude to fight or flight. I gave the herd a wide berth and continued on my way.
Two hours later the same herd had wandered onto the lawns and banks of the river next to the Visitor's Center where I'd parked.
 Again, I gave them lots of space as I passed.
But several tourists got very close for a good shot of an elk. Just outside the Visitor Center, a little girl of perhaps seven or eight had approached a cow elk within inches of its face. Before I could shout a warning to her, the cow jumped toward her and stamped its front hooves. Deer and elk do this to warn and intimidate a predator. If the warning doesn't work, they attack.

The little girl's grandmother, who had missed this entire incident because she was looking at the river, came up from the river bank and said in a casual tone, "C'mon, Susie. Leave the elk alone."
Susie now seemed to realize that she had annoyed a five hundred pound animal. She passed several other elk, while looking nervous. The grandmother said, "Just walk by them and ignore them. They won't hurt you."
The girl and her grandmother headed toward the ramp where I stood. A four foot metal fence separated them from the elk who stood just on the other side. "Okay," Grandmother instructed the girl, "now you can get close. They can't come over this fence."
The little girl again approached another five hundred pound elk, obviously feeling safe because of her wise grandmother's words.
At this point I couldn't hold back any more. I said, "Please be careful, little girl. An elk can come right over that fence if you scare it."
The grandmother didn't even look at me. She was getting her camera ready to take another picture. "Oh, they won't come over here," she said in a distracted tone as she focused her camera.
I had half a mind to run over, grab the little girl and pull her to safety. But at that minute, the girl moved away and joined her grandmother.
Oh, how I wanted to lecture that foolish grandmother!
Her lack of vigilance, and ignorance of the ways of big, wild animals  could have resulted in the granddaughter's injury.
Oblivious to danger.

The danger was so obvious to me.
But no matter how I warned this woman or her granddaughter, they ignored me. Obviously, Grandmother thought she knew better.
Grandmother didn't recognize her own desperate state of "lack."

There are so many analogies I could make from this frustrating experience.
How often have you tried to warn someone about danger and been ignored? It could be physical danger, psychological danger, spiritual danger.
You've been around, seen how things are. Maybe you've even been hurt yourself. How you wish you could make the foolish one hear you.
You do what you can do to warn about the dangers of "elk."
But after that, it's up to them to heed or ignore the warning.
One would hope that a tourist would read up on the many wonderful things to be encountered on the vacation. Best to know that elk, no matter how docile they look, can be dangerous. That grizzlies roam Glacier National Park. That the Mohave rattlesnake slithers just outside your Southwest motel so don't let the kiddos play in the pretty plants just outside your room.
One would also pray that people on a life journey would consult the ultimate travel guide, the Bible, for instructions.

"God's word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
There's more: God's Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?" (Psalm 19:10,11 The Message bible)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lost People Shouldn't Give Directions

Recently at church I heard from a lovely and godly mother whose nearly-grown son continues to make unwise life decisions. A group of us prayed for him, and for his mother, who will need supernatural wisdom in knowing how to deal with him.
As my husband and I drove home from church I shook my head sadly and said, "Wouldn't you think that after making such bad life decisions for several years, a person would eventually come to his or her senses and change direction?"
You know the old definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
I suppose that the need to "go your own way," keeps many people from listening to a voice of reason.
It reminds me of a story of two hunters:

Joe, the hunter had become lost in the woods. Wandering aimlessly, exhausted and nearly dead from the cold, he suddenly stumbled into the camp of another hunter. Tom, the other hunter, welcomed him and helped him sit by his fire. He fed Joe and gave him some hot coffee.
Finally, Tom asked, "So, how did you get lost?"
Joe replied, "I was heading north over Spiny Ridge so I could meet up with County Road 46. My truck is parked a hundred yards south of the intersection of the Cty. Rd and the old logging road."
"Oh, no wonder you got lost," Tom said. "County Road 46 is actually south of Spiny Ridge."
"Can't be," Joe said, shaking his head. "I think I should know where I left my truck."
"Hey," Tom said, "who's the one who's lost here?"

So, if you keep getting yourself into a mess, stop and take a look around. Maybe, for once, it's not just bad luck or some other guy's fault. Maybe it's the direction you're going.
And if you see someone who seems to know where he's going, ask him for directions!

"Listen, my son, to your father's instruction,
and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck." (Prov.1:8 NIV)

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

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Sun Stand Still" Prayers

I just finished reading an excellent book called Sun Stand Still, by Steven Furtick.
The message of the book is about daring to ask God for impossible things.
And I'm not talking about asking for a nicer house, or new car, or a trip to Vegas.

This is about realizing that God has given you a vision that He wants you to pursue, and asking Him to work through you with His supernatural power to accomplish that vision. Not long after coming to faith in the Lord Jesus, God gave Steven Furtick a vision to start a life-changing church in a major city. A few years later, after becoming a pastor, Mr. Furtick and his family and a few brave souls left their jobs and homes and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. The result of their "audacious" faith? Elevation Church. They've seen thousands of professions of faith and they've grown to over six thousand members.

In Sun Stand Still, Steven Furtick uses the example of Joshua and his battle against a band of people called the Amorites. (Joshua 10) Joshua had the audacity to pray that God would make the sun stand still so that he and his warriors would have the extra time to rout the enemy and completely defeat them. Talk about an audacious prayer!

Of course,  we're not Joshua or Steven Furtick. God has a different call for me and for you. But it begins with a passion, put inside you by the Holy Spirit. Do we dare ask God to do great things in us and through us for His Kingdom? Are we willing to push aside fear, doubt, lack of discipline, discouragement, and trust God by obeying the inner promtings of His Spirit?

My vision is for God to bless me supernaturally with power to write words that will reach, inspire, encourage, help, comfort, and point the way to Jesus. I believe that He has placed this vision inside me, and then prompted me to pray in alignment with 'His will.
Of course, I can't just sit in my office chair and plead with the Lord to make me a better writer. I've got to keep praying and staying in the Word. I've got to step out in faith. I've got to get down and write. And I've got to respond to the opportunities to use this gift for Him.

I've put a notecard next to my computer screen. It says: "My writing is an act of worship."
That card reminds me that the writing I'm about to do is all about Him:
  • It is born from Him
  • It is prompted by Him
  • It is given to Him
  • It is grown through Him
  • Its results are accomplished through Him
Let's dare to envision and pray for great things.
Then, let's be willing to more forward in obedience and faith.
 Let's be people:
"who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies." (Hebrews 11: 33, 34)

(If you're curious about Steven Furtick's book, Sun Stand Still, it is published by Multnomah Books.)


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Domino Effect

My back hurts. I don't know what I did to it, but it's been bothering me for several months now.

At first it was just a little ache in my lower back. I ignored it.
Then the pain intensified.
I've done all the usual and logical things to treat my pain. I:
  • make some amendments to my sitting posture 
  • get up and move around every fifteen minutes or so
  • exercise
  • take ibuprofin occasionally
  • change to a better office chair
  • see the doctor and have x-rays
  • do the exercises my doctor suggested
  • purchase a desk that moves up and down so I can stand and type
None of these improvements have helped.
Lately, the pain has been spreading downward to my hips. Every time I get up. . . ouch!
And, in the past couple of weeks I've noticed that the tendons around my knees are starting to hurt. I'm thinking that whatever is going on in my back has set in motion an unpleasant Domino effect. If I don't get some professional help soon, my ankles may be the next Domino to fall!

I thought, isn't this just like so many other life-situations?
  • a problem with one member in the family tends to spread and affect the other members
  • a conflict at work tends to work its way throughout the entire department, with employees takings sides for or against the issue
  • a small protest in Manhattan grows in intensity and numbers and spreads to other cities
  • and we've probably all seen what happens in a church when a disagreement foments greater and greater conflict within its membership
I guess the solution to my little back problem is to take care of the pain when it's small and manageable. Before it spreads like a wildfire and becomes uncontrollable and painful in other areas.
I think I've learned my lesson: Just because it's only a small part of my entire body that's hurting doesn't mean that I can dismiss its cries for attention.
Same thing goes for the community, the school, the company, the government, the church.

"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Cor. 12: 24-26 NIV Bible)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve and Danny

I didn't know Steve well at all. Mostly, I kind of knew about him.
But I knew Danny from childhood. He was one of my twin brother's best buddies, and a really fine guy.
Growing up, Danny was like a big, clumsy puppy, full of joy, enthusisam and boundless energy. He had a hard time focusing on schoolwork even though he was quite bright. But in his twenties, he found his passion and went into medicine, eventually becoming a fine doctor.
Both Steve and Danny were only in their fifties when death took them.
At least Steve knew it was coming. He had time to prepare his family, his employees, the public.
But Danny was simply doing his second greatest passion: riding his bike.
The elderly driver who hit Danny said he never even saw him. Danny died almost instantly.
No time to say goodbye to his wife and four children, or his many loyal friends.

It's a funny thing about life. You're really only one breath away from eternity. The uncertain-ness of how much time we have on this earth reminds me of the old magician's phrase: "Now you see it, now you don't."

I don't know about Steve or Danny. Did they have a faith-filled relationship with the Lord?
Both men, Steve Jobs and Danny Dickenson were very successful in their professions.
But now, everything they've worked for with such passion and energy is gone. Other people, riding on the coat-tails of their hard work and innovation, have inherited the finances, the name, the results.
In eternity, Danny and Steve cannot bring their resume to present to the Great I AM.
They are simply Danny and Steve.
You've probably asked yourself this question each time some big important person dies: what will I bring before the Lord when it's my time to go?
I'm so thankful that my place in eternity does not depend on my earthly accomplishments, but on the faithful promise of the Lord Jesus to declare me innocent and worthy of heaven.
When it's my time to leave this earth --even if it surprises me --I'll be ready!

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6 NIV Bible)

Monday, October 3, 2011

He's Even in the Little Things

This morning I met with  my women's ministry team to discuss our plans for two up-coming women's get-togethers. One of the many materials we would be needing for our meetings are pocket folders. Lots of them. 200, to be precise.
I volunteered to search for the folders. We have a women's ministry fund that would pay for them, but I thought, wouldn't it be nice if I could find a good deal and pay for the folders myself? Then the fund could be used for other valuable materials.
It was a beautiful day, and rather than make phone calls, I decided to enjoy the weather by driving to the various office type stores to compare prices.

 Maybe the large number of folders I needed might induce a manager to offer me a discount.

I parked in front of OfficeXXX and confidently marched into the store. There, I found a disappointing selection and an even more disappointing price. In addition, the manager said that since the rush to buy school supplies was long over, there would be no discount. I politely and cheerfully said thanks and no thanks.
I headed on over to the big W-XXXX store. Their prices for folders were even less attractive and no, they wouldn't offer me a discount either.
At that point, it dawned on me that I could pray about this little endeavor. Yes, indeedy, if all else fails, pray!
So, just as I entered the next well-known store, I uttered my prayer for a reasonable folder deal. In this store, the guy who helped me was so nice, and actually seemed to comprehend my shocked reaction when he unveiled the price for 200 plain pocket folders. Hint: the actual retail value was going to be over two hundred dollars.
As I trudged toward the exit, I prayed silently, "Lord, this cannot be the deal I just prayed for."
A dismal image popped into my mind: me, folding and decorating 200 large rectangular pieces of construction paper and stapling little contrasting sheets inside for the pockets.
I shook my head to dispel the gloomy picture.
"Wait a minute, Lord. there's the B-XXX Store just down the way."
I headed in that direction. Just inside the entrance to B-XXX, a nice store worker approached me. "May I help you find something?"
"W-well, I just need a large number of pocket folders." My eyebrows slanted upward into the classic pleading position.
"There you go, Ma'am. Right over there." He pointed to a display unit close by the check-out center.
Remember the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Remember the music they played every time the knights got close to finding the grail? Well, that's the music I heard in my head.
There had to have been at least three hundred of the sweetest pocket folders: reds, oranges, blues, yellows, greens. And each one, 18 cents.
18 Cents! Hmm, let's see, that's 18 times 200. . . It's only 36 dollars plus tax. Wow, what a deal!
Thanks, Lord.

You know, God is interested in even our smallest quests.
He knew my heart. He knew I sincerely wanted to help ease the burden on the women's ministry funds. He knew I was willing to pay for the folders. But he also answered my prayer for a decent price, too. How sweet is the Lord. How generous. How intimate His care.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter. 5:7 NIV Bible)