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, November 28, 2011

The Joys of Car Travel

Back when I was a kid, travel by car was a big deal:
Dads had to know lots about the inner workings of cars because they broke down a lot.
We used rope a lot to tie down all the stuff onto the roof of the car that wouldn't fit inside the car.
Luggage consisted of a 18 inch by 12 inch by 8 duffel, and anything that didn't fit into that got left behind.
For entertainment, we had books or coloring books. Or each other.
We didn't even worry about seat belts --they hadn't been invented -- because there were so many bodies stuffed into the back seat we'd probably stay put even in a roll-over. Not!
Parents showed overt favoritism for a specific child and he or she got to sit in the front seat. (Back then this favoritism wasn't grounds for a state investigation.)
The interstates didn't exist as yet; we took old highway 99 or route 66.
No air-conditioning, and the car heater rarely sent rays of warmth to the second row of bench seats.
No McDonalds or other fast food places.
We didn't dare eat or drink much because potty stops were few and far between, and anyway, Dad didn't believe in them.
Even if you wanted to eat, the offerings weren't too appetizing: stale cheese sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. (Sandwich baggies hadn't been invented.)
Motels? Nope. Dad simply drove until the last of us dropped off into a sweaty, restless sleep. When we woke, sometime in the middle of the night, it was to the motion of the car being rocked back and forth by the whoosh of air as an 18-wheeler roared past our car. (When Dad finally got tired, he simply pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road for a quick nap.)
Still, we kids had heard our parents' stories of travel --or lack of -- back during the depression. And our schools had impressed on us during history class the perils and hardships of our pioneer ancestors.
We knew we were lucky just to be going somewhere. . . anywhere.

Flash forward about 50 years. My husband and I just returned from a week-long trip to California to see family. Except for a snow-storm in Wyoming, the trip was pleasant and quick.
We drive a Highlander Hybrid with great gas mileage.
It tells us when our fuel is getting low. Gas stations on interstate 80 abound.
Food, too. We have our pick of truck stops, fast food, nicer restaurants.
We know the route so well that we plan our gas and food stops accordingly.
The air-conditioning works and so does the heat.
The car switches into four-wheel drive if it senses snow or ice.
I can plug in my lap-top or charge my iphone.
We stay at nice, well-appointed hotels that include a hot breakfast.
I love this country.
Not only do I have the freedom to travel any time I wish, anywhere. But our government collects taxes to improve and upkeep roads so we can safely travel.
And our country gives bright entrepreneurs the opportunity to create and offer more food choices, more hotel choices, more services, more improvements to our vehicles, and more entertainment and technological developments.
What a great place to live.
Some changes and improvements are good. But I hope we don't "change" too much.
God bless America!

Note: In case you missed it, check out my first song recording (from Thursday, Nov. 24th blog). I'm still working on perfecting the use of my recording equipment, but hope to have it fully operational by January 2012. My goal is to offer my readers brief scripture songs that are easy to memorize.
Have a great day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

First song posting

Hey, Readers:
This is not the best recording, but I'm learning.
Click and listen to my rendition of Psalm 139.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To Whom are We Thankful?

Just about everyone I know celebrates Thanksgiving. Many have a ritual of sitting around a table with tons of delicious food, gorgeous decorations, and all sorts of beverages. One by one, the diners share what they're thankful for. But often, what I don't hear is to WHOM they're thankful.

How can you be thankful to. . . . nobody?

"Well, I'm just thankful that I didn't lose my job."
"I'm thankful that we still have a roof over our heads. "
"I'm thankful that I got over my pneumonia."

Are we thankful TO GOD that HE provided us with a job or touched our bodies with healing?
Or are we merely relieved that tragic fate (whatever that is) somehow bypassed our family this year?

Let's always remember that GOD is the giver of all good things.
On Thanksgiving. . . and every other day, let's raise our hearts and voices and give Him loud praise. Let's show the world that we know where our blessings comes from.
Our food, our shelter, our job, our children, our freedoms, etc. all come from a great and loving God.
And, as His children, even the tough times are in His large and capable hands, and HE can turn even those "bad" things into blessings.
What a great and wonderful God. So worthy of our continual praise!

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into His presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is He that made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep
of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations." (Psalm 100 New Revised Standard Version)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seize the Creative Spark!

For years I've enjoyed waking up while hearing an original tune in my head. Sometimes it's a single melodic line; other times I hear an entire orchestra. I repeat, the music is just in my head, lest you think I'm a bit crazy. (Although, that's a possibility. too)

The unconscious musical composing also happens during the day. Sometimes I ignore the compositions that my brain concocts. Other times, I simply enjoy listening to the inward music.
But lately I've wondered why I don't write down the music. After all, some of the compositions are really inventive and attractive. I've got the music skills to notate the music (unless it becomes too symphonic!), so why not wait for the next tune to pop into my head and then take pen to manuscript paper?
So, this morning, just as I was waking, a cute little tune arrived. I listened to the entire tune play itself through my head.
After listening, I decided that the tune would be perfect for my piano students. The music, as I envisioned it on the score, wasn't too easy to be boring, nor was it too hard for my intermediate students.
I jumped up and ran to the piano to play what I'd heard in my head. Then I wrote it down.
(In January, when I get this whole "record and play on my blog" thing perfected, I'll share with you some of my brain concoctions.)
I've since talked to a number of other writers and musicians and found that this unconscious creativity is common.

Sometimes, it's a whole story, rising unbidden into a writer's mind
Sometimes, it's a long-sought solution to a problem that finally pops up.
Sometimes, it's a picture just pleading to be painted.

One time, I dreamed that I saw my dining room table dressed up in  certain style and loaded with certain kinds of food dishes. (I'd been wrestling in my mind for a number of days with what to serve my guests at an up-coming party.)
Another time, I dreamed an entire scene for one of my novels. It was exactly what my manuscript needed to raise the suspense and the stakes for my main character. I sat down that very morning and typed out the scene.

And how's this for creativity?: The author of "The Phantom of the Opera", Gaston Leroux, reportedly woke from a sound sleep with the story of the phantom laid out in his mind. He immediately set about to write what his brain had come up with.

Handel wrote the entire oratorio, The Messiah, in twenty four days. TWENTY FOUR DAYS!?!
At the end of the composition, he wrote SDG: Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone the glory)
I'd say Handel was operating by inspiration!

Here's the important thing: when that spark -- call it divine inspiration or a sudden mental clarity --creates something in your mind, seize it and do something to flesh out the ghost. Don't wait. I can't tell you how many musical compositions (not that my pieces will achieve Handel-ian greatness) I've put on hold while I finished the laundry. By the time I was ready to notate my composition, the darn thing had fled, never to be recaptured.
So don't wait.
When inspiration takes wing, grab it by its legs and hold on.
It may take you where you've never gone before!

"I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt His name together." (Psalm 34: 1-3 NRSV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glad I Don't Live in the Good Ol' Days

I like a good historic romance novel. . . occasionally. But some people I know read nothing but. I think they think, wouldn't it be great to have lived in such simple times?
Have they ever stopped to think what the good old times didn't have that we now take for granted?
Take refrigeration: How would you like to have to wait for the ice delivery man to bring you your hunk of ice?
And talk about food: how much could you actually fit into those ice boxes?
You couldn't run on down to the supermarket and stock up on 20  one-pound packages of ground round. Where would you store them?
There were no packaged convenience foods in those little general stores. No frozen juice, no processed chickens or turkeys (you had to kill your own!), no pre-packaged turkey stuffing, no plastic wrap, no baking foil, etc.
Your stove required great care and skill to operate. No convection ovens, no microwaves.
How about plumbing: Indoor toilets are a pretty new invention. How would you like to either traipse outside in the dark and cold to an outhouse, or use a small receptacle that you or the maid (if you were lucky enough to have one) would have to empty in the morning? Not!

How about transportation? Some of you horsey people know how much work it is to feed, groom, train, and shelter your mode of transportation. Not to mention mucking out the stall each day, or arranging for the farrier to shoe your horse.
Do you know how much time and effort it takes to attach the horse to the carriage? How would you like to wait an hour for all that to happen, then walk out into twenty-degree weather and sit in an unheated vehicle as the horse plods along at less than ten miles an hour?

Now let's mention medicine and painkillers. Anesthesia was in its infancy in the nineteenth century. Obstetric care was till in the dark ages. If my first child had been born during those times, we'd both be dead and my second and third child never would have happened.
Wash day took all day. All the women folk got in on the exercise. And it was exercise.
Now imagine doing all that housework in uncomfortable shoes, corsets, in scratchy wool clothing?
And no air conditioning or central heating.
Women grew old quickly, and most died before or slightly after menopause.
My grandmother grew up on a farm in Iowa. She used to put heated bricks under her bed covers to warm her bed before she climbed in on a frigid winter night. When she woke up, the water in her wash basin would be frozen.
No TV, no radio, no phones. Entertainment consisted of books (yay!) and the occasional community ball.
Why am I going on and on about the "good ol' days?"
Because I'm good and thankful to God that He placed me in these modern days. He's given me so much I can hardly believe it.
Thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord!

Still, it's fun to read about those plucky women on their farms or small towns in the old days. I recline on my leather sofa and hold my Kindle. Even though it's night-time, I don't have to strain my eyes because my living room is well lit by recessed lighting.  Nearby, my gas fire lends added coziness. I sip my Starbuck's coffee that I brewed in my Cuisinart coffee maker. Music floats from my large-screen Samsung TV. Earlier, as my washing machine did a load of clothes and my dishwasher cleaned my breakfast dishes, I took a walk, which made my knee sore. So I took some ibuprofin. Now my knee feels just fine.

"We are so blessed by the gifts from Your hand, I just can't understand why You've loved us so much.
We are so blessed, we just can't find a way or the words that can say, Thank You Lord for Your touch.
When we're empty You fill us 'til we overflow,
When we're hungry You feed us and cause us to know;
We are so blessed,
Take what we have to bring;
Take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much."
(W. Gaither, G. Gaither, G. Nelson, River Oaks Co./Gaither Music Co.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is Evil the Flip-side of Good?

I watch tons of movies where the main character faces almost impossible odds. Near the end of the movie, it looks as if the tragic end is a forgone conclusion.

How to Train Your Dragon
The Karate Kid
Rocky (I,II, III, IV. . . )
Mean Girls
et al

Hollywood has taught us to see Evil as more powerful than Good. Evil holds sway throughout the movie. Then, by some serendipity, fluke, or lucky break, Good breaks free and wins.
I know that movie-goers pay good money to have their emotions whipped and tossed by the delicious tension and uncertainty concerning the hero's end.

Will Superman be able to fight the evil genius, Lex Luthor? Gee whiz, I sure hope so. But it doesn't look like that will happen. Oh, no, here comes the bad guy again. Look out! I can't look. Oh, please, somebody help Superman! That itty bitty rock from the planet Krypton that they wrapped in a chain around Superman's neck is stronger than he is.

Oh, joy of all joys, Miss Teschmacher, Lex Luthor's lusty but brainless girlfriend lifts the Krytonite chain off of Superman's massive shoulders. Freed, he blasts off to save the world and Lois Lane. Yay!
Whew! that was a close one.

Great story, but is the premise really true?
Is evil bigger than good?
It sure looks like that at times.

But, as Christians, we operate under a different set of expectations.
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

The world (and Hollywood)  would have you think that evil is merely the flip side of good. The two balance each other out. Neither is stronger. Evil is necessary to balance out the blandness of Good. Star Trek fans will remember that James T. Kirk needed his bad side to give him strength and assertion. Otherwise, his good side could not lead or make difficult decisions.
Yin and yang.
Moonlight and sunlight.
Warmth and cold.
Evil and Good.
Opposites and equals.
Is Evil really equal in power to Good?

What does the Bible have to say?

Jesus said: "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)

"He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Col. 1: 15-17)

Evil is not the flip side of Good.
Not even close.
At the right time in history, God will seize Satan and cast Him into hell.
It's not even a contest.

I hope you believe what God says about Evil, that its days are numbered.
I hope you choose to put your trust in the all-powerful God.
There is no flip side to God and His goodness.

What do you think? How have you seen our culture twist good and evil?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Side-swiped by a Monster Elk!

My husband, Bruce, was coming up the canyon last night after choir practice.
You have to be careful at this time of the year, we always warn ourselves as we approach the straightaway that bisects two big grazing areas.
But even when you're careful, wild animals sometimes pop out of nowhere.
I don't what the elk was thinking, but she galloped onto the road just in time to meet up with our car's right rear-view window.
The elk seemed unhurt as she continued across the highway.
Bruce was unhurt too -- praise God! -- but quite startled.
The poor mirror hangs by a thread. We called our dealership and it'll be about 500 dollars to fix it.
Darn elk!

Call it side-wiped, broadsided, bushwacked, thumped across the side of the head, or ambushed, or. . .
Whatever the name, the effect is still the same. One minute you're operating under your routine. The next, your whole body and mind have been knocked down and dragged out to sea.
What can you do?

I love the old Boys Scouts motto: Be prepared!
And on the California driver's test, one of the correct answers is: Watch for potential accidents.
To protect yourself and your car:
Keep your car in good working order
Keep your cell phone handy
Keep a blanket in the trunk.
Stock extra water and snacks in case you're stranded
Store flares, a flashlight, etc. in your trunk.

Similarly, in life:
Keep your relationships in good working order
Keep the lines of communication open with family and friends
Be vigilant
Store up good memories for future hard times
Take care of problems before they become big problems
Always have a plan B
Keep your word
Pay your bills on time
See that your family has regular check-ups with the doc and the dentist
Serve others, especially the poor and the widow and the orphan
And, most important of all: stay close to the Master!
You may not be able to prevent all of life's "side-swipes," but if you take care of your business and stay aware, you can save your life, or your marriage, or your business.

"Be very careful, then, how you live --not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Eph. 5:15-17 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is it Bad to Finish Last?

Tommy Nelson, senior pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas shared an amusing anecdote. Tommy's a big, muscular guy who stays in shape by running, and working out at the gym. He's also got a quick, well-developed sense of humor. One morning as he worked out on some apparatus in the gym, a guy who was working out nearby sized him up. Then he said, "So, I hear you're a Christian."
"Yes," Tommy replied.
"Well, you know what they say about nice guys; they finish last."
Tommy grinned and said, "That may be true, but bad guys go to hell."
I think that may have been the end of the conversation.

It got me to thinking. Is it true that nice guys finish last?
Perhaps in the world.
Perhaps if you're honest and possess integrity you may not get ahead in a cut-throat business environment. Or maybe you'll struggle to survive in the world of politics.

But what did Jesus say about being last?
 Did Jesus ever cluck his tongue and say to His disciples, "Too bad you're such nice guys. You're just never going to advance in the Kingdom of Heaven if you keep giving everybody else a leg up."?
Gosh, I'm glad He didn't ever say that.
Instead, Jesus said, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant."

Recently on the news, I saw a touching story of a young athlete in a race who chose to stop to help an injured racer, thus forgoing the chance to win the competition.
So extraordinary was the kid's choice that he made the national news. Did this young hero finish last?

A decade ago, as a mountain climber laying dying on the slopes of Everest, no one stopped to help.
Do you admire the climbers who made it to the top?

My son returned from his own climbing expedition up the snowy sides of fourteen thousand foot, Mt. Shasta.
"Did you get to the top?" I asked him.
 He shrugged. "Not this time. I stopped to help a girl. She had altitude sickness, so I helped walk her back down the mountain."
I knew how much my son had wanted to get to the top with a better time than last year. He didn't make it, but to the girl he helped, he's a hero. (And to me, too!)
Fortunately, we don't always have to choose between being the nice guy or losing the race, or the contract, or the whatever.
But when it counts, wouldn't you want to be "last?"
Is that so bad?

"Jesus called them (the disciples) together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10: 42-45 NIV Bible)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanks be to God!

There's an interesting story about St. Patrick. Called by God to preach the Gospel to the Irish people, Patrick encountered a rich, pagan landowner. Wanting to impress St. Patrick and those who had decided to convert to Christianity, he sent food and supplies. When Patrick received the supplies, his only response was, "Thanks be to God!"
A couple of days later, the wealthy landowner inquired of his servants. "Did you send the supplies to Patrick?
"Yes, Master."
"Well, what did the man say? Did he send a message of thanks to me?"
"No, Master. He only said, 'thanks be to God!'"
At that, the wealthy landowner was enraged. "What, he sent me no thanks for all the food and supplies? Go back and demand Patrick to give it all back. He does not appreciate my gift."
The servants did as they were told. When they presented themselves to St. Patrick and requested that he give back the food, St. Patrick merely said, "thanks be to God! Take it all back if you wish."
The servants returned with the gifts.
Their wealthy master then asked with a triumphant look in his eye, "What did St. Patrick say when you took my gifts back?"
"Master," the servant replied, "he looked up to heaven and said, 'thanks be to God.'"
Amazed, the master told his servant, "Take the gifts back to the man. He says 'thanks be to God' when he receives a gift, and 'thanks be to God' when his gift is taken away. So, he must have my gift."

Thankfulness is faith that God has His hand in all parts of our lives, even when times seem to indicate otherwise.  It is strong evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in a believer's life. How else could one respond in both good and bad times, "thanks be to God."?

Here are the words of another great man of God who demonstrated thankfulness in the worst of times:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4 NIV Bible)

"I am not saying this because I am in need. For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:11-13 NIV Bible)

How have you demonstrated this kind of thankfulness in a bad time?