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, December 31, 2012

Ten Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp

Okay, this being the last day of 2012, I thought I'd do another out-of-the-box post. Well, out-of-the-box for me.
My last blog post was about remembering my seventh grade year. I put out a question: what do you remember from seventh grade?, and got a number of wonderful responses.

Seems most of us oldsters can recall lots of old things.
It's remembering the recent past that becomes difficult as we get older.

I used to go to nursing homes to sing. Afterward I'd listen to some of the women (it was almost never men—most of 'em they didn't survive long enough to be in a nursing home) as they waxed sentimental about growing up on a farm, or taking the streetcar to see their Aunt, or just-married memories.
The women recalled these memories with pristine clarity.
Yet they had trouble remembering that their family had visited them just yesterday.

So here are my top ten ways to keep your memory sharp. Do these daily:
  1. Exercise.
  2. Stop eating junk. Instead, eat lots of raw things: apples, carrots, celery, red peppers, etc.
  3. Don't sit around.
  4. Learn new skills: a new card game, a new video game, a new musical instrument, a new language.
  5. Force your brain to work on solutions to everyday problems but in novel ways.
  6. If you're right-handed, use your left hand; if you're left-handed, used your right.
  7. Work out a math problem in your head each day.
  8. Compose a short story and tell it to someone.
  9. Stay socially connected.
  10. Meditate on God's Word and talk to Him about it.
Most of these tidbits of advice have to do with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and forcing your brain to keep learning. For example: if you always play bridge, learn chess!

Have a wonderful  NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm Old, But I Remember

I just turned fifty-nine.
No way!
I can't be that old. Next year, the big 6..0..!
Uff da.

The other day I was sitting in church choir next to an adorable thirteen-year old.
She started telling me about her school and the classes she was taking. I could tell by the way she tried to explain things that she thought I couldn't remember what school is like.
Finally I told her that I clearly remember seventh grade.
The year was 1967. Jim Morrison yelled "Come on baby, light my fire," on the radio.
I read some wonderful books that year: The Great Escape, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Gone With The Wind.
I remember the kids in my classes, I remember my teachers.
I remember that I had secretly begun to shave my legs and wear just a smidge of makeup.
There was a boy I had a crush on but he was way older  and I knew he'd never look twice at me.
I played the violin in the school orchestra, studied piano at home and had started to develop my singing voice.

 I remember that I could run the 440 in 55 seconds and do fifty men's push-ups.
I hadn't yet reached my glorious height of five foot one inch but that didn't keep me from sprinting faster than any girl in my class...except for Jeanie Walton whose speed ran in the family. Her brother later went to State in track and field.

Mrs. Yamaguchi taught us English and tried to stay just one lesson ahead of us in Spanish.
My history teacher had heart trouble and so we got a long-term substitute by the name of Yerger.
Loved him. He was tall and black and super smart and had the best sense of humor. I wanted to have a crush on him, too, but being that he was so old (at least thirty) I wouldn't let myself fall for him. We studied European History and learned all about Charlemagne, the Great Plague, and the English and Spanish explorers. I wrote one of my best term papers about St. Patrick.

Then I caught whooping cough and had to stay home for several weeks.
I tend to bisect my memories of my childhood by that great illness:before the whooping cough and after the whooping cough.
After I recovered, it still took me a couple of years to stop feeling the urge to vomit every time I coughed.
It also took a long time before I could run the 440 without collapsing at the 400 mark in a fit of coughing.

I remember my locker was stubborn and sometimes I got to class late because that darn thing "just wouldn't open." I was mortified when Mr. XXX, the vice-principal had to come and help me open my locker. He was big and strong, and forced the locker open with his enormous, meaty hands. Then he proceeded to tell me—me, all five foot, eighty five pounds— to just give the locker a little extra muscle and it'll open, no sweat.
Then there was the little twirp who used to sneak up behind me when I was struggling with that same locker to smack me on the fanny. I never did find out who he was. He did it a lot. My twin brother Royce knew, but he wouldn't tell. Said the guy had a crush on me.

So darling thirteen-year old in the church choir, don't for one minute think that just because I'm fifty- nine I can't remember things that happened forty-six years ago.
I remember it like it was yesterday.

Now, if only I could remember what I fixed for lunch today.

What do you remember from seventh grade?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday through Wednesday, the wind howled,
 snow blew,
and the sky remained murky.
It's a good thing we have shelter from such blizzards.
We got two feet of snow.

But by Wednesday afternoon, the sun reappeared and glistened on the smooth white landscape.
After the storm, a small bird tried to fly through our sliding glass window, perhaps to find a haven from the frigid temperatures outside.
She gave up and flew into the protective snow-covered bows of the big ponderosa tree just off our deck.
Besides the bundled-up school children waiting for the bus, the only live thing I saw yesterday were flocks of crows and ravens, congregating on the white driveway across from us.
By the way they seemed to frolic in the cold, I think if they had hands they would have built a snowman.

Outside, it looks like a Christmas card.

So here is my Christmas card to you:

This Thursday morning, the 20th of December, I sit at my desk with a hot mug of tea.
Our central heating whirs unobtrusively as I click away at the keyboard.
The news anchorman reading his sound bites from the other room keeps me company.
The dishwasher chugs peacefully, disinfecting my morning breakfast dishes.
On my desk, my Bible is opened to the second chapter of Luke:

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.'"

My soul is filled with the joy of this message:
 'Fear not,
I bring you good news.
Christ the Lord has been born for you.'

That is the good news for us all: We do not have to try to reach heaven on our own power.
Christ has come.
He did the work.
We can rest and rely on Him.
And God will be satisfied with us...
not because we reached perfection, but because we trusted in Christ's perfection.

A Merry, Merry Christmas to you, my friends!

Monday, December 17, 2012


After horrible tragedies like the shootings at the Portland Mall and the awful mass murders of precious little children at the Newtown school, I've heard some people ask, "How could a loving God allow such tragedy?"

Let's remind ourselves of the truth:
"God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." (1st John 1:5)

God cannot think evil.
He cannot be tempted to do evil (because in Him there is no darkness at all).
He does not do evil.

His Ten Commandments make it clear that murder (sixth Commandment)  is evil.

  • God does not plan murder, 
  • He does not condone murder, 
  • He does not cause evil.
Although men do horrific acts—as a result of their free will to choose good or evil— that does not mean that God is any less good.

What then do we say about the horrific crimes of shooting shoppers at a mall, or murdering little, helpless children?

Murder is evil
Anyone who murders is evil.
This does not conflict with the medical or psychological determination that the two perpetrators may have had serious mental illness at the time of the murders.
They are still guilty of murder. ("If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." 1st John 1:8)
Whether crazy or sane, the amount of rage and hatred in the soul of a man or woman who murders must be staggering.
Where does that rage and hatred come from?

1st John chapter 2: 11: "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him."

Where does this darkness comes from?
From God?
Absolutely not. We already know from the Bible that there is no darkness in God.

Darkness originates from our separation from God.
When we choose— notice I said "we choose"— to live independent of God, we walk away from God's light and into darkness.
Away from God's light, we no longer listen to or submit to God.
We become lawless.
And this lawlessness is not necessarily the lawlessness of breaking civil rules or laws.
For there are many law-abiding people who are nonetheless their hearts and minds.

Evil, murder, sin—call is what you will— is lawlessness.

Back to Portland and Newtown: With no loving Lord God to enlighten them, to counsel them, to restrain them, to convict them of their hate and rage-filled thoughts, these murderers of children and adults have carried out the end result of darkness.

One day, the Lord will put an end to sin and will judge those who have rebelled against His goodness.
But until that time, we all have a choice:
to walk in darkness...
or to walk in the light.

The light is found in Jesus Christ:  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."( John 8:12)

Let's remember this: those who do evil are walking in darkness because they have rejected the loving God Who created them.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Gospel In Christmas Carols

Bruce and I had lunch in downtown Estes Park the other day. Afterward, we window-shopped. All along the main shopping street, beautiful Christmas music played: pop Christmas songs, classical music, Christmas carols.
I'm so glad our little town has not banned the playing of such music as other towns have.
Of course I'm not so naiive as to suppose that the town plays Christmas music just because it's the Christian thing to do at this time of year.
I'm sure the music evokes happy childhood memories in most shoppers. This probably makes them want to shop and thus spend money.
Happy shoppers =happy and prosperous store owners.

Whatever the motivation of the town of Estes Park Chamber of Commerce, no one complains.
People from the lowlands come up here to view the majestic Rocky Mountains, the beautiful light displays along the streets, the Holiday decorations, to spend their money on a good meal, and to pick up some souvenirs and gifts.

I love this time of year.
Mostly because of the Christmas music.
When I was a child, I didn't read the Bible.
The only facts I knew about Jesus came from Hollywood-ized Biblical movies
and Christmas Carols.

Christmas Carols taught me that Jesus Christ is the King of heaven and earth:

"Who is He in yonder stall?...Tis the Lord, O wondrous story, tis the Lord, the king of Glory."
"Hark the herald angels sing, 'Glory to the new-born King.'"

Carols taught me that Jesus Christ came from Heaven:

"Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy Kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me." 

They taught me that Jesus Christ came to earth to set us free from our fears and sins:

"Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free. From our fears and sins release 

Christmas Carols taught me that Jesus Christ came to die for us:

"I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus the Savior did come for to die for poor onery people like you and like I..."

That Jesus Christ casts out our sin and longs to live within us:

"O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today."

And finally, that He is the Word of the Father:

"Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."

"Oh come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."

Christmas carols may be the only Bible most people "read" during this time of year.
I sure hope we keep playing them in our streets!

Carols quoted:
Who is He in Yonder Stall? (Hanby)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus (Wesley/Pritchard)
Thou didst Leave Thy Throne (Elliot/Matthews)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing thou Didst Leave Thy Throne (Wesley/Mendelssohn)
I Wonder as I Wander (Niles)
O Little Child of Bethlehem (Brooks/Redner)
O Come all ye Faithful (Wade)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Agony

This past week I've listened to three friends all describe their struggle to surrender some precious loved one to God.
In one case, my friend struggled with surrendering his "right" to feel angry at God for taking his mother home to heaven.
My other friend watches his precious wife battle cancer. He said learning to trust God to do the best for her, and for him and for his children is about the hardest thing he's ever done.
This morning, during a ministry meeting, my third friend shared her challenge at trusting God to do what's best for her child.

Such a universal struggle for the believer.

To be able to say to God:
  • I trust You. 
  • I relinquish my right to hold onto my loved one. 
  • As much as I love my child, my parent, my husband, I know that You love him/her much more than I could ever conceive. 
  • I believe that Your best is better than my best.
  • I testify that You are good. Always good.

I call this struggle between my flesh and my spirit
Sweet: because there is nothing sweeter than God.
And to be able to rest in Him brings a peace that the World cannot ever know.
Agony: because my flesh wants what it wants...
and because I must ignore what my physical eyes perceive. With each decision to relinquish my will to God, I feel as if I am leaping into space, trusting that He will catch me.

The other day my husband and I discussed a difficult decision.
A "yes" decision wasn't very difficult for my husband.
But for me, it would mean putting aside something I yearned and prayed for.
Later that day, our decision to say "yes" became God's answer to me about my long-standing prayer: 

  "No. No, Sweetheart, you may not have the thing you want so very much."

Sweet agony.

Because my flesh wants what it wants.

But it is sweet to know that, with every "no," from Him, the Holy Spirit communicates this assurance:
"Trust Me, My child. I love you more than you can know, and I am working out your best for eternity."

"All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
I surrender all, I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all."
 (I Surrender All, by J. VanderVenter/W. Weeden)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My "Joy" Ornament

My favorite Christmas ornament is one that my son made when he was in grade school.
It's a piece of thick paper, about four inches long, painted red and green and dusted with glitter. The word "JOY" is printed across the length of the paper.
I always hang it about eye-level where its message cannot be missed by anyone who happens to examine my Christmas tree.

Is there a better word to describe the emotion we feel at the advent of Jesus Christ?

Out of darkness comes the
 light of God
 in the form of a baby.
What joy to be able to know God.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light,
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Is. 9:2

Not only does His advent bring us light,
To know that Jesus Christ makes it possible for you, for me to get right with God.
What joy!
"Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him!" Romans 5:9

To know God, to be reconciled to him...yes!
But not only that:
to receive an
eternal inheritance
 that can never be taken away.
"the Father...has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Col. 1:12
Nothing can separate me from His love. Ever.

My son's "JOY" ornament reminds me each year to focus on the incredible gift God has offered...and that I have accepted.

  1. To know God,
  2. to be at peace with Him,
  3. to know that nothing—ever— can separate me from His love.

Mankind's greatest needs answered by Christ's advent.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Help! I Need Your Advice

I'm tempted to get a fake Christmas tree.
It would be so much easier to set up and tear down.
Not to mention that the pine needles don't need to be vacuumed.
Oh, but I'd miss the real-ness of the Christmas tree that we usually pick up from the Boy Scouts' lot.
I think it's the scent.
There's nothing like it to tie one to the Christmases of the past.
Every year Bruce and I finally get that fresh tree to stand up straight.
Then we add the lights. I decorate.
When it's complete, we step back and exclaim, "it's the most beautiful tree we've ever had."
But...I don't know. Is it worth all the trouble?
What do you think?

Then there's the age-old question (at least in my family): what am I gonna serve for Christmas  dinner?
I'm sick of Turkey; we just had that for Thanksgiving.
My grandmother used to make a Roast Beef. We kids, fresh from an annual reading of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,  called her big hunk of meat, "the roast beast."
My mother used to make a ham loaf. Hated it when I was a kid, but it's sort of grown on me.
If you have a menu suggestion, I'd really appreciate it.

Shall we take the long drive down to our church for Christmas Eve service?
Or shall we hunker down with a nice fire, comfy Christmas music, family, and food?
Should we let the grandkids open a couple of their gifts before Christmas?

Some of my friends are trying to organize a giant caroling party. We'll probably sing Christmas Carols around one of the neighborhoods in Longmont.
Most of the people in the neighborhood really appreciate it when we come through.
A couple of the neighbors turn off their lights when we meander by their houses, singing. But that's okay. Free country, right?

Free country.
I still have the freedom to buy a Christmas tree.
I have the money to choose which menu I'll serve on Christmas.
I still have the freedom to attend my church and worship Christ.
No one drags me off to prison if I proclaim Christ in song.

Thank You, Lord, for the blessings of freedom and choices.
That I can still tell my grandchildren about Jesus and what Christmas is really about.
That I even have the freedom to write about Christmas and Jesus, and no one has attempted to shut down my blog.
What blessings.

What joy!

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room,
and heaven and nature sing!" (Joy to the World, Issac Watts/G.F. Handel)

By the way, I really am serious about the menu suggestions. If you have a great meal suggestion, please send it my way.Thanks.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Powerball Jackpot: You Won!

Seems like every time I turn on the news this week I hear about the 550 million dollar Powerball jackpot.
There's a part of me that's tempted to go on down to my local convenience store and buy a ticket or two.
Wow! Just think what I could do with the money.
What would you do?
I think I'd set up all kinds of accounts for my favorite charities.
Lots of my winnings would go to my church.
Some would go to local hospitals
Some to women's shelters.
And, of course, there'd be lots for me, too.
First thing I'd do is help my children get the rest of their schooling.
Then I'd set up education funds for my grandchildren.
I'd pay off the house.
Maybe pay off my children's mortgages, too.
Maybe I'd get some liposuction for my middle-aged midsection.
Buy a condo in my favorite city. Then I could jet over there any time I wanted to sight-see and attend the ballet and the opera.
Gosh, all my money woes, and all of my dreams would be fulfilled.


There are a few small problems attached to having all the money in the world, though.
I think my personal problems with a largesse might approximate  what I believe happens to societies who have too much material wealth:

We stop putting our hope in God.

Oh, I'd keep worshiping my Lord.
I'd give Him thanks for His tremendous blessings.
But I think, somewhere down my wealthy road, I'd begin to focus more about my money in the bank and less about my Lord in heaven.

Our Sunday school once hosted a Russian missionary who flies planes and brings supplies to villages in Siberia.
He shared about his many struggles, both physical and spiritual.
The intense weather saps the physical strength of the village people he serves. Health care is sparse.
Never enough food and supplies. Religious persecution rampant.
So many needs.
Yet this missionary and the people he serves are on fire for the Lord. Their faith is vibrant.
They have nothing. Yet everything. Because God supplies all their needs. And they look to Him for their nurture.

The Russian missionary said he pities us in the western world for this very reason.
We have no need, so we have little faith.

So, I think I won't go down and buy a Powerball ticket.
Winning might be losing.

"And my God will meet all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Refocus and Really See

My daughter and I went to the San Diego Zoo about a year ago.
My favorite viewing place is the big cats, especially the lions.
There was a gorgeous lion who seemed to be enjoying all the gawkers.
I'm not sure if he was enjoying the attention from all of us, or simply planning his next meal.
I got a great shot of him through the rope fencing with my digital camera.
When I loaded the picture onto my computer and it came onto my large screen, I was surprised by the effect.
The fence, which looks like a rope cyclone fence is in the foreground.
For a minute, my eyes focus only on that, and the lion behind the fence seems to be just a blur of light brown.
Then my eyes adjust to the background and I see the lion.
He startles me every time.

I wonder if we tend to view life like that, too.
Do we focus only on the immediate things in our life? The rope fences?
Do we see only the urgent things that need to be done?
 the meals to be prepared, the errands to be run, the bills to be paid, the workload sitting on our desks?

 The "fence" is valuable.
But it is the lion that we came to view.
He is what we will remember after we have returned home. 

Can we allow our "eyes" to refocus...
On the larger picture?
  • The meaning of our lives in the light of eternity.
  • The larger goal of our child-rearing. Not just the immediate need to frantically chauffeur our children from one activity to another each day.
  • The timeless quality of our relationships—not just for the pleasure (or the work) of the here and now— but for heaven's sake.
  • That God is near, very near, and waits for us to stop and enter His presence, so that we might touch eternity and view the universe from His perspective.
Stop from time to time and think about the events of your day.
Not just the routines.
But the significance of each event, each conversation.
See the lion behind the fence.

"For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Cor. 4:18 NIV Bible)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saved From Suicide

Some of you have already heard the story of my encounter with God. But if this testimony is new to you, I encourage you to read on. Perhaps my story will bless you today:

Years ago I hurt my spine and was in such unrelenting pain that I spiraled down into a deep depression.
I prayed and cried out to the Lord for help.
But I could not feel Him near.
It seemed as if He'd simply gone out of the room and shut and locked the door.
For weeks, as I lay on my bed and tried to recover from my injury, I prayed.
"Please, God. Please let me feel that You are near. Please answer me. Where are You? Do You even hear me?"

Friends prayed for me.
Other friends helped me clean the house, and took care of my young children.
But the Lord...where was He?

After many weeks, I woke up one morning and wondered how I could die.
I saw no end to my suffering. And God had abandoned me.
In the middle of my black thoughts,  a voice intruded.
It said, "Get up and praise me."

What? Praise the God who had abandoned me?
I could barely walk. But I got up and hobbled down to my piano.
I thumbed through one of my praise and worship songs and started to play.
My neck was so tight from severe muscle spasms that I could barely sing.
But I tried.
I sang  a song adapted from Psalm 139: Where could I go from your presence? You know everything about me, when I rise and when I lie down. I praise you because I'm wonderfully made.

In the middle of my song, I felt a Presence enter the room. There are no words to describe the transcendent sweetness and goodness of the Presence. I turned from the piano and saw nothing.
But I didn't need to see Him. I knew instantly Who was approaching.
The Presence hovered over me, then enveloped me.
He spoke into my brain three things that I will never forget:
"I love you. I've never left you. I've heard every prayer that you prayed."

He stayed for only a few more seconds.
If the piano had not been in front of me, I would have fallen flat onto my face.
Instead, I fell onto the piano keys and wept...joyfully.

If anyone ever tried to tell me I had imagined all this, I would say that there's no way my puny, mortal mind could have conjured and experienced the magnitude of such a Presence.

That was the day I began to heal.
Not my spine—that is still in progress—but in my depressed spirit.

That was over twenty-five years ago and I have never forgotten the day that the Lord visited me.
He could have strengthened me through a reading of His Word.
Or He could have encouraged me by the presence of my husband and children and friends.
But in His great mercy, He gave me a very special gift, one which I shall cling to the rest of my life: the physical sensation of His Presence.

In this season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you my wonderful memory.
Whenever I'm sad or discouraged, I remember the day of my encounter.
And give Him thanks.

(I even put this encounter in my latest book about a young woman who suffers from panic attacks.)

My prayer is that my experience will encourage others who feel that God has abandoned them during their crisis.
He has not.
Sometimes He is silent.
But He is always with you.
Don't ever give up crying out to Him.
He hears you.

 "Never will I leave you.
Never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Choir Sang Without Me

What a disappointment.
I spent hours practicing and memorizing our church choir's music. We were presenting a concert of Brooklyn Tabernacle songs.
Last Friday night we performed our Offerings Concert.
The soloists sang beautifully.
The orchestra played like they've never played before.
And the choir gave it their all.
Standing up there in the alto section, I felt a little queasy.
But I chalked it up to nerves, even though there was really nothing to feel nervous about.

We had two more performances of the Brooklyn Tabernacle songs on Sunday.
Saturday night I started to feel more than queasy.
In fact, I felt downright sick: terrible headache, sick stomach, and a body that felt like it had been run over by a truck.

So I missed singing on Sunday.
I know, I's not the end of the world.

But for me, it was almost heartbreaking.
To work so hard on the music, attend all the rehearsals, encourage other singers...
and now this.
Why, Lord?

I guess my plans are not written in stone.
I need to keep a light grip on my belongings and my calendar.
And trust God, that He knows the beginning, the middle, and the end of my life.
He knew I wouldn't make that Sunday performance.
Couldn't He have given me a little heads-up about getting sick?
No, I guess He doesn't operate that way.

I think the Lord sees the significance of a performance as more than just the experience of singing in front of a crowd.
He delights in:
  1. The act of rehearsing, of being with other singers, of listening to their testimonies, of praying for each other during practice,
  2. Of giving glory to Him each day as I plunk out my part at my own piano,
  3. Of meditating on the powerful messages contained in each song,
  4. Of singing the songs for Him each day in the privacy of my home,
  5. Of memorizing words that will stay in my mind and spirit for the rest of my life.

For me, the performance was the goal.
Perhaps in God's view, the preparation is the goal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Is Not Heaven

Sometimes I have to turn off the TV and stop watching bad news.
Wars, famines, unjust governments, murders, rapes, diseases.
It breaks my heart.
And if I feel so very bad about these things, what must the Lord of heaven feel?

I want to beat my breast and plead with the Lord, "Why, Lord? What do such terrible things happen?
Please stop this evil!"

Today I was reading in the book of Revelation. In chapter 13, scripture describes a beast that resembles wild animals. People will worship this beast. He will be proud beyond imagination, and a hater of God.
One verse struck me: "He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." (Rev. 13: 7)

Why would God allow such an evil person to conquer His own people?

Later, in verse 10, we read, "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

I tend to think that life will go smoothly if I worship God, do right in my community, serve in my church, obey the government.
But in some parts of the world—and I believe it will be the case in America soon—doing right will not reap any civic reward. Instead, those in authority will come against those who do right by honoring Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ stands in the way of their own quest for total domination.
We should not be surprised.
Jesus was hated by His religious contemporaries because they rightly saw him as a threat to their control.

For whatever reason so great and mysterious that I cannot fathom, God has allowed misery to continue to flourish in this physical world. (When will it end?)
As long as we sojourn here, we are not in heaven.
This is the domain of the one who Jesus conquered. This one's time is short, and he will wreak as much mayhem as possible until his final punishment.

Hurricane Sandy's will keep ravaging nations.
Pandemics will sweep the world.
Evil rulers will inflict misery on their subjects.
There will always be corruption.
There will always be unfairness.
There will always be people who have, and people who have not.

Presidents and prime ministers, and parliaments, and congresses, and the United Nations will never be able to legislate or tax or fine or penalize or control the sin that is in the hearts of men.

Because this is not heaven.
We should never place all of our hope on any human ruler to bring an end to injustice or human suffering.
Let's keep our eyes focused on the Lord and the justice and healing He will bring.

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Rev. 21:2-4 NIV Bible)

Monday, November 12, 2012

We Couldn't Stop Praying!

When we heard about our friend's accident, we started praying. Throughout the night, we woke and immediately thought of him, and prayed again. And again. And again.
Our hearts ached not only for our friend, but for his family, his dear wife and children.
At church that morning, every one we talked to said the same thing, that they had been praying throughout the night for J.
The congregation prayed together.
J has been stabilized now. For a while it was touch and go.
Today we heard that J is much better. Of course he will have a long road ahead of him for full recovery.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people prayed for J.

It is a wonderful thing when crowds of Believers come before the Lord and intercede for someone.
Has that ever happened for you?

In some mysterious way, the Lord beckons us to partner with Him to bring about His perfect will.
How can that be?
How can we help bring about God's will?
Do we "help" Him?
Or are we agreeing with Him for some great answer to prayer?
Is it that, as God's adopted children, He is allowing us to come alongside Him as He works?

I don't understand prayer.
I only understand that God wants me to pray, and it is glorious to enter His presence to plead someone's case.

What would happen if we didn't pray?
Would the outcome be different?
I don't know.

Someday I will know more fully, when I stand on the other side, outside this temporary shelter of my body.

What are your thoughts?
Why do you pray?
How has God answered your prayers?

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Discern the False Prophet

My friend was under attack, both emotionally and spiritually from a man who claimed to have a message from God for her.
My godly friend is a woman of great spiritual strength.
She's spends a lot of time in the Word and in prayer.
Her life is characterized by service, submission, worship, leadership.
 She is supported by her pastors and elders.
And all who know her can attest how God works through her to minister to people and to encourage their faith.

Nevertheless, a man came to her office and tried to tell her that she should submit to his leadership and allow him to "teach" her.

My friend's experience is not new.
We've probably all run into a man or woman who claims to speak for God.
But how do you discern the truth —or deceit— in that person?

The Bible contains many warnings about "false prophets."

In the Old Testament, if a prophet claimed to have a word from God, and the thing he predicted didn't happened...then the people did not have to listen to him or to fear God's punishment. (Deut. 18:22)

But what about nowadays?

Matthew 24:11: "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people."

Steps to identify a false prophet:
  1. Study the Word daily. A thorough knowledge of scripture will help you identify spiritual error in a person's words.
  2. Spend much time in prayer with the Lord. Learning to recognize His voice will sharpen your ears to recognize the true voice of God.
  3. Be under the proper submission to those placed by God over you: your pastor and other church leaders, your parents, (if you're a child) your husband, etc. because a rebellious attitude in one of these relationships makes you especially vulnerable to deceit.
  4. Spend time with other believers in fellowship, study, and worship.
  5. Meditate on God's Word throughout the day.
  6. Ask God for a discerning mind and heart.
  7. Discern the true motives of the person who is trying to tell you something in contradiction to what you've heard at church or through your Bible readings. Answer the following questions:
a. Do you know this person well?
b. What is this person's testimony of salvation?
c. Does he/she demonstrate saving faith?
d. Does this person have good relationships with others at church?
e. Has this person frequently left other churches? Why?
f. Is this person a new convert, or so new to the church that no one knows much about him/her?

If the words of this person are so troubling that you doubt your own mind, then seek counsel with your pastor or elder or counselor.
Examine your own heart. Why do the words of this person trouble you? Is it your own sin attitudes, or is it because something he says doesn't square with what you already know?

Surround yourself with mature and praying Believers during this time of perplexity.

Here's a verse to encourage you:

"As soon as it was night, the brother sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Act. 17:11 NIV Bible)

God bless you!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faith in Faith, or Faith in Jesus?

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves,  it is the gift of God,—not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians, 2:8, 9, NIV Bible))

I had a friend who frequently used to say: "I just gotta have enough faith,"
when referring to something she desperately wanted to happen...or not happen.
Usually it was about the health or safety of one of her family members.

My friend wasn't a Christian, so I'd ask her, "What do you have faith in?"
And she'd say, "Oh, just faith. If I have enough of it, bad things won't happen."

I think she thought that faith is a kind of mental energy which, when there's enough of it, can magically produce whatever you happen to envision.

But that sounds to me very much like magic.

Now, I'm all for keeping a positive attitude. You feel better and live life with more energy and optimism with a positive mental attitude.

But to have faith in faith itself is a whole different focus.

I tried to tell my friend that faith must have an object:
I have faith in the chair I'm sitting in, that it will not suddenly collapse.
I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow.
I have faith that my heart will continue to beat, at least for the next minute or so.

But these attitudes of faith are based on strong evidence in the reliability of these objects.
The chair is sturdy and has always held me up in the past.
The sun has been coming up for as long as recorded history.
My heart is healthy and I'm not so very old.

My faith is based on an object, a glorious Object: Jesus Christ.
And my faith in Jesus is based on:
  • Archeological finds that support accounts from the Bible,
  •  Irrefutable historical acts, 
  • The testimony of eyewitnesses,
  • The transformation of cowardly men into men and women of such conviction that they were willing to die martyrs' death.
  • The power of the cross to change whole nations from death-dealing Vikings or Romans or Goths, etc. into peaceable and civilized societies.
  • Witnessing the transformational power of Jesus in others' lives.
  • Answered prayer.
  • My own experience.

Faith in faith means nothing.
It's like saying I have faith that "nothing" will protect my children or heal my husband.

When a Christian says, "I have faith," he/she is saying, "I have faith in God."
God has supplied the Believer with faith (saving faith and faith to continue to believe and trust and obey God).

It is not the faith in itself.
It is the faith in its Object: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ brings about God's will.

And it is not the amount of faith.
For even when my faith was small as a baby Christian, God answered my prayers.
I did not ever have to summon enough faith based on the size of my request.
(A little faith for a small request, a large amount of faith for a biggie?)
No, it is just that my faith rested in Jesus.

It is easy to think that the size of my faith will move God.
But faith comes from God. (Eph. 2:8, 9)
It does not originate from me or you.
I cannot add to the faith God has given me by generating my own faith "energy."
That would be tantamount to saying: God plus me equals my desired outcome.

Perhaps this is why so many people put faith in faith itself (which then becomes a feckless idol); they do not want to risk that God will mess things up by providing the wrong answer.

Faith is not simply thinking good thoughts.
Faith is placing your trust in a loving God who has proven Himself reliable and good
over and over in both good and bad times.
And trusting that even if He does not answer the way you want, He is working a perfect outcome.

"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." (Heb. 12:2 NIV Bible)

Friday, November 2, 2012

He's Been Transformed

Yesterday I met John (name has been changed) down at the guitar store, to try to decide if I should lay out the money for a new guitar.
Actually, it wasn't a new guitar. Just new to me.
John demonstrated his impressive skill on the guitar, then handed the instrument over to me. As we talked about guitars and I played my classical guitar music for him, I asked him how he had first gotten into guitar playing.
John said that he had once been a heavy metal player. He'd been a drug abuser and an alcoholic,
a real miserable guy with a god-complex. But he'd accepted Christ about 16 years ago.
I stopped playing and gave him my full attention. "How did that happen?"
He went on to explain that he'd met a country singer who shared her testimony with him. Little did she know that John had reached a low in his life and had been searching for God.
She gave him a tract about the four spiritual laws.
John read it over and over, but couldn't comprehend how it related to him.
In anger, he prayed, "God, please help me to understand this."
Then he read the tract again. Suddenly he understood that "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," applied to him personally.
When he read, "for the wages of sin is death," he knew that the wages for his own sin was death.
But the rest of that Bible verse reads: "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
That's when John prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord.
He says that he was instantly healed of his drug addiction and his alcoholism.
I looked at John. It was hard to imagine that this clean-cut, nice-looking man could ever have been the man he'd described himself to be.

Wow! I came to buy a guitar and got to listen to a man tell me how Christ has transformed him.

I asked John, "Have you considered playing and sharing your testimony for other musicians?"
He looked kind of skeptical, so I said "you never know what's going in the mind and hearts of these musicians. They might seem hard, but privately searching for Something better."

I did buy the guitar that morning.
John made me promise that after I'd had the small crack in the instrument repaired I'd come by and show it to him.

My time with John was another God-appointment.
 John's testimony had me driving home rejoicing.
Because Jesus is in the business of transforming people.
Oh, if only people realized how passionately Jesus Christ seeks each one of us.
How He yearns to come close and embrace us.
He doesn't want you or me because He wants to oppress us, or take all of our "fun" away.
He wants us because He made us, loves us,  and understands our deepest needs.
He wants to give us everything.

When John was a drug abuser and alcoholic, miserable, as he lived only for himself, treating those around him with anger and disrespect, he thought he was pleasing himself.
But he wasn't happy. Far from it. And the harder he tried to fulfill himself by pleasing himself with booze, drugs and sex, the farther he got from fulfilling his deepest need:
reconciliation with God.

To all who met John in his former years, he probably appeared hard, sure of himself, unapproachable.
But his spirit was yearning for answers.
I guess you never know what kinds of struggles and searches are going on in the people you meet every day.
Like that nice country singer, we just need to be available for the next "John" that God puts in our daily path.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Pet. 3:15 NIV Bible)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Powerful Name of Jesus

The other day, my husband and I were waiting in line to purchase movie tickets. Some teens behind us were trying to impress each other with rude and dirty language. You've probably had your own experiences in public with these awful verbal displays.
The kids frequently used the name of Jesus as a swear word.

I know if the people who spew Jesus's name as a swear word suddenly encountered the Lord, in all His majesty and power, they'd be rendered speechless. They'd fall flat on their faces.
But most of these people have no idea whose Name they're abusing.

But the ones who really know about Jesus,
who've encountered Him in heaven,
who know that they are weak and subdued before Him,
who understand that they are mere created entities,
but HE IS alive from eternity past and into eternity,
who know Who has the power and authority to throw them into Hell for eternity...

they are the ones who recognize the Name of Jesus...
and tremble.
Demons know who Jesus is.
They hate Jesus! "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." (James 2: 19)

I always thought it was strange...and utterly stupid for people to worship demons, the evil ones who curse Jesus's name.
They're conquered foes. Why would anyone worship them?

Jesus has far more power.
These former angels rebelled and God threw them out of heaven.
But they know the power of Jesus's name. After all, He's the one Who threw them out!

This all-powerful God, Jesus, is the same God who died on the cross to pay for our curses and our rebellions.

Any time His name is spoken, it should be with the utmost reverence and awe.
By His name, the earth and everything else was created.
In His name the sick were healed, and the dead were raised.
And by His name we are saved.

What a mighty God is Jesus! Praise His name.

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:9-11 NIV Bible)

Thursday, October 25, 2012


This morning I began a reading of the book of Luke.
I like to sit in my office with the door closed and read scripture out loud.
When I got to verse 39—the part where the Angel, Gabriel comes to her to announce that she would be the mother Of God—I was struck by her response.
How many times have I read this passage?
Perhaps thousands of times.
And I've sung it, too.

When you receive incredibly good news, who do you focus on?
Probably yourself.
Just last week I signed a contract with my new literary agent.
Gosh, I was excited and filled with joy.
My happiness was mostly focused on myself.

But Mary's prophecy was entirely focused on God:
What He is doing and will do among those who love Him.
Perhaps this is why God highly favored her and chose her to fulfill this wonderful task.

Humility coupled with a tremendous love for her Lord.

May we all be so willing to complete whatever work God has called us to...
with the knowledge that everything that we do is all for Him and about HIM.

"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for He has been mindful of the humble estate of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm,
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
remembering to be mercifiul
to Abraham and his descendants
even as He said to our fathers."( Luke 1:46-55 NIV Bible)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Christ is Offensive!

When my husband worked for a company in southern California, he had a small, private office. He put a picture on his wall that he's carried around since his college days. One of his friends—an artist— had done the ink drawing of Christ on the cross. At the bottom of the work are the words, "Paid in full."

None of the employees had a problem with the art work. In fact, when Bruce's work associates discovered that he was a Christian, and witnessed his integrity and kindness at the workplace, many of them came into his office to talk about their problems. Sometimes Bruce was able to pray with those who asked him to.

 But one day a woman who was party of a visiting team of speakers educating all the company's personnel about the governmental requirement for tolerance in the workplace, happened to glance inside Bruce's little office. When she saw the picture of Christ, she demanded that he take it down right away. It could be offensive to the other employees.

Bruce refused and told the woman that "This is a non-government office. No one is forced to come in here. If I can display pictures of my family in here, then I certainly can display a picture of Christ.  Show me where I'm not adhering to company policy. No one so far has ever complained about the picture."

The woman continued to insist that he take it down and warned of possible disciplinary measures if he didn't comply.

Bruce held firm.

I'm sure that the company he worked for had many employees who held different religious views.
But I doubt if one of them had put up a picture of Krishna, or Buddha, or Mohammad, or some Wiccan illustration that the woman from the government would have asked for the picture to be taken down.

No, because only Christ is offensive.
In Christ, we see God reach down to His highest creation, man, and call him to repentance and a restored relationship with Him.
How dare God ask men to repent!
Away with this Christian God. We want no part of Him.
We'll devise our own god, thank you very much.
One who fits our idea of a proper god.
We have no need of repentance.
We will not be accountable to God.
We are gods and we will have no other besides us!

I should note that after the government woman left, no one bothered Bruce about the picture of Christ.
But if they had, He would have collected his picture and walked out for good.

We should never let the world bully us into "taking down our pictures."

"For the message of the cross if foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God."( l Cor. 1:18 NIV Bible)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leave the Results to God

Bobbe and John, and Chris, and Kathy and I got together Saturday morning to discuss our journey as writers.
I shared that, in writing my last three novels (all related to each other) I've had two ministry goals:
  1. to help those who struggle with fear
  2. to illustrate the fact that though we may feel God has turned His back on us in times of great trial, God never...never abandons His children. 
I said that, though I'm not a control freak, I do have very specific ideas about what my readers will glean from the stories I've written.
John shared that, as a former pastor, he's had many people come up to him after the church service and thank him for his sermon, then go on to say, "I particularly liked it when you said..."
Then the appreciative one would mention something that John is sure he never said in that sermon. He finally concluded that the listener must have been hearing the translation of God during his sermon.

Powerful words from John. And very humbling, too.

I'd like to control the effect of my stories and my messages.
But sometimes God will overrule.

Once my story has been published, it's up to God what each reader will take away.
I need to be okay with that.
Just as I need to let God do His work and not get in the way.

I suppose this is true for all Believers. We imagine, then anticipate the effect of our "doing."

  • We share our testimony and suppose that our words will convince our listeners.
  • We sing a beautiful song and wonder if our performance changed the hearts of those who heard it.
  • we raise our children the best we know how and imagine great things
  • We compose a sermon, 
  • we write a lesson,
  • we demonstrate kindness or charity,
  • we forgive,
  • we pray...
and anticipate.

Then we are disappointed when we do not see the hoped-for result.
But God knows what He intends to accomplish. It may not be at all what we imagine the result to be.

Just as the Apostle Paul said, "So neither he who plants, not he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." (l Cor. 3:7 NIV)

 Leave the result to the Lord.
After all, He is the Lord.
And we are not.

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens—what can you do?
They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?" (Job 11:7, 8 NIV)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

God's Night Chorus

I think the coyotes must have been having a party last night. About two o'clock in the morning, they began their revelry.
I've gotten to recognize their individual voices since they frequently pass right under our window.
And because I'm an insomniac.

One of the coyotes sounds like a train whistle.
Another has a song that rises high in pitch, then plummets.
The third coyote sounds like cross between a kookaburra bird and a woman who's just received a ten million dollar check from Publisher's Clearing House.
The fourth one just goes, "yip, yip."

I sure wish I spoke fluent coyote. I'm no animal expert, but it sounded to me like the coyotes waxed eloquent about the glories of the night and the anticipation of the hunt.
They carried on for at least ten minutes.
Then...dead silence.
An hour later, they reconvened under my window and sang another chorus or two.
I crept to the window and tried to lift the shade as quietly as possible.
But as soon as they heard the sound, the music ceased.

To some of you, the proximity of coyotes might feel a little creepy.
But when I wake up and hear their song, it reminds me that God never sleeps.
He has placed His hand over the earth, settling His creatures in their appropriate lands,
formed His mountains, His oceans and seas,
determined the force of the wind,
set the turning of the earth on its axis,
separated the night from the day.

None of God's ceaseless activity depends on my prayers, or my attention.
While I sleep, He is running the Universe.
As He has for eternity.
And will continue to do long after my body has run down and I join Him in heaven.

As the children's song goes: "Hes got the whole world in His hands."

"When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of You.
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, Your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God's prayer." (Psalm 42: 6-8 The Message)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Your Church: Attractive or Repugnant?

A few years ago when we lived in Southern California, I used to take a daily three mile walk through several nearby neighborhoods.
Most of the houses attracted me, with their well-manicured lawns, rose gardens, and tall palms.
Occasionally I'd pass a house and hear children and mothers laughing and splashing in their backyard pools.
The sights and sounds in these neighborhoods filled me with a feeling of happiness and well being.
If one of those neighbors had invited me inside, I'd have gladly come.
But there was one house along my route that upset me almost every day. Southern California weather is usually warm so many owners had their windows open.
This one house should have had its windows closed. Angry voices, complete with the most profane language I've ever heard,  assaulted my ears.
I'd hurry past that house while plugging my ears.
What an unhappy house. Why were they always screaming at each other?
Boy, was I glad this house was a mile away from my own place.
I'm sure that the neighbors who lived nearby were well acquainted with the unhappiness and strife belonging to that family.
It got so each morning I'd cross the street and hurry past until I was out of earshot.

I thought about houses in general. Big and little houses.
Churches are houses.
Churches are large families.
Do you know of any churches in your locale that have a reputation for strife, division, political fighting, unhappy, oppressed members?

Just like the unhappy family near my neighborhood, I'll bet people know that church's reputation.
And I'll bet most people avoid that church.
Who'd be attracted to a church family like that?
Christian families looking for a place to worship would certainly hear about that  church's reputation and avoid it.
Seekers certainly would not be attracted to that church.
How can a church filled with strife attract people so that Christ's mandate—preach the gospel and make disciples—could be fulfilled?

The early church grew because her disciples offered something to people the world had never seen:  Supernatural love and Supernatural peace. This kind love, this kind of peace—peace with God and peace with others— could only originate from God.
Not from mere man. Not from a feckless idol.
 But if a church is behaving just like the world, what sets it apart as better than what the world has to offer? Why even exist if God's love, His healing, His counsel, His joy, His teaching cannot flow unhindered out to a needy world?

I love my own church. It is a place of wonderful worship, teaching, and fellowship, where members collectively and individually reach out to their community and extend God's mercy.

I wish more churches would poll their neighbors and community and ask them, "How are we doing? What have you heard about us? Do the people who worship here make you curious (in a good way) about what our church is all about? Would you come here if you felt an emotional, physical or spiritual need?"

Sometimes the only way to see yourself as you really are is to ask an outsider, someone with perspective. Someone who doesn't reside in your family.

Does your house and your church attract people who walk by everyday?

"...Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2: 45-47 NIV Bible)


Friday, October 5, 2012

Who to Vote For

Long-standing research about politicians holds that it is usually the taller, better-looking candidate that has a greater chance of winning an election.
I was watching a re-cap of the presidential debate late Wednesday night.
I thought to myself, "so if the research is true, how do the voters decide on a candidate when both Obama and Romney are tall and good-looking?"
Of course, this is not to say that a candidate's policies and track record do not figure in, also.
But I think people unconsciously make decisions based on externals: looks, charm, effective rhetoric and style.
Haven't we all observed that more attractive people seem to compete better in getting jobs, winning a more attractive or successful spouse, inspiring respect?

Saul: tall and attractive
Take King Saul, Israel's first king.
The people readily accepted him because he was tall and kingly in appearance.
Never mind that he was fearful, rebellious, vindictive, moody and superstitious.
He looked good.

But God later rejected him because of his disobedience.
(Wouldn't that be an amazing event nowadays if a president was removed from office for this reason?)
God planned to replace Saul with a man "after His own heart."

So God sent His prophet, Samuel, to anoint a new king.
Jesse's sons paraded before Samuel.
The prophet saw Jesse's first-born and thought, "Surely the Lord's anointed stands here before the Lord."
But God told him, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him."
(I've always wondered why God rejected him.)

David, a man after God's own heart
Finally, the youngest (least) of Jesse's sons, David, was anointed king. David was so little thought of that Jesse hadn't even summoned him to present himself before Samuel.

David was young, hardly more than a boy. Nevertheless, God said to Samuel, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one."

After David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.
Shortly after this, David went into Saul's personal service. And not long after, David fought his famous brief battle with the giant, Goliath.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we'd search our political candidates, truly search, their hearts?
To look beyond mere height and pleasing physical features to the man or woman inside.
We do not have the edict of the Lord about who will be our next president.
So it is up to us to read, research, question, educate ourselves about the current issues in our country, indeed the world, and to get to know our candidates well.

How to choose
What is his track record?
What is his local and personal reputation?
What proven good (real, un-spun stats) has he accomplished?
Who are her friends and associates? Are they well thought of, too?
Did things get better—economically, morally, academically, under her term?
Are he and his friends constantly embroiled in scandals?
Does he disregard the God-given rights of the unborn, the weak, the very old?
Does she work to unite all citizens under the common love of country?
Does he love Israel and aid her?
Does she align herself with the principles found in God's Word?
Does he uphold the American Constitution as framed by its originators?

After all, if you were choosing a spouse or business partner, wouldn't you ask yourself similar questions? So why would you fail to ask these question when choosing the leader of the free world?

Any candidate who compromises God's righteous principles is not the right candidate for our country, no matter how attractive his appearance, no matter how smooth and inspiring his words. 

May our next leader say with sincerity the words that Solomon spoke when he became king after his father David:
"Your servant is here among the people You have chosen a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"


Monday, October 1, 2012

Be Still And Know I Am God

After I returned from my four-day writer's conference in Dallas, I had just enough time to unpack, do laundry and then leave the next morning to drive to California for my father's memorial.
During the long drive, mostly on interstate 80 (you probably know how boring that route is) I talked my husband's ears off.
I told him about my experiences in Dallas,
The people I met and talked to,
The information I'd gleaned from the classes and agent/editor appointments.
We discussed what God has been teaching us from scripture reading and prayer.
We sang hymns and wondered if any of the hymnal publishers have thought to produce an e-hymnal so us traveling singers could sing hymns while we drive through Nevada.
We speculated on how the next few days would go, and how to juggle seeing my mother and siblings so that no one felt that we had ignored them.
We planned our daily agenda and which times and routes we would take into San Francisco, then San Jose, then Fremont, then back to Lafayette.
I practiced "playing" on my knees the piano pieces I would be playing for the memorial.

Then we arrived in the Bay Area.

During the  next four days leading up to the Friday morning memorial service Bruce and I tried to remain civil toward each other. The stress of the frenetic visit made us both snappy and on edge.

By Saturday, the day of our departure, Bruce and I both felt completely drained.
As we drove back east, I tried to revisit some of the subjects we'd discussed during our drive out to California.
No ideas came.
No scriptures.
No deep thoughts about life and death and mortality.
My mind felt completely drained of energy.

The only thing that ran through my head on that long trip back were the tunes and words from the hymns I'd played for Daddy's service.
Over and over the words played in my mind.

"Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.
As Thou has been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness.
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy had hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto to me."

I think sometimes God lets our minds run down so we can do nothing more but listen to Him.
Listen to Him as He reminds us about Himself.
It's so easy to shut God out when we're on auto-pilot.
I picture Him folding His arms over his chest and saying, "All right then, have it your way."
Then He waits for us to crash.
And when we've got our faces in the dirt, He speaks quietly.
"Are you ready to listen to Me?"

"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me.
See, on the portal He's watching and waiting, waiting for you and for me.
Come home, come home, ye who are weary, come home.
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Your Reputation

While I was at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas, a number of us writers lined up to try to add on extra agent/editor appointments.
While we waited, a certain agent—a very capable, professional, well-known agent and a fine man—appeared from the hallway leading back to the rooms where we would do our appointments. He walked up to the appointment director and spoke with him.
The director turned to us hopefuls, waiting in line, and announced, "Mr. XXX has an available slot for an appointment right now. Anyone who'd like to meet with Mr. XXX, please speak up now!"
The agent raised his eyebrows and scanned us writers in the line.
Almost as one man, we all took a step backward and looked down at our feet.
Again the director said, "Last chance to meet with Mr. XXX.
Finally a little old lady stepped forward and croaked, "I'd like to take that appointment."
The rest of us took a collective breath.

I'm sure the agent was surprised by our reaction--or lack of one.
But he shouldn't have been.
He has a reputation.
A reputation for rejecting writers' pitches.
And if an appointment with this agent would mean forgoing one last conference appointment with some other, more receptive agent--well, you see where I'm going.

Do you have a reputation?
We probably all do.
I'm not famous...or notorious.
But I'm sure that I have a reputation.
It is reputed that I am an exacting teacher, that I expect a lot out of my music students, and that I will give my students "the lecture" when they come in for their lessons with the excuse, "I didn't have time to practice." The content of my lecture has gotten around, and now most of my students know that they'd better not give me the "not enough time to practice" line.

I don't mind that reputation.
But wouldn't it be awful to discover that you have a bad reputation?: you're never on time, you renege on commitments,  you cheat at games, you swear, you have a fearsome temper, you can't keep a secret.

My grand dad had a great reputation. He built his export/import business based on that. He was a man of integrity, hard work, dedication to his clients, scrupulous honesty. Clients were not afraid to sign a contract with his business.

As a believer in Christ my reputation is joined with His. My reputation reflects on Christ.
I hope I make Christ look good:
behind the wheel of my car,
at the grocery store,
at a writer's conference
in the classroom or office
playing or watching sports,
eating at my local restaurant.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."
(Ephesians 5: 8 NIV Bible)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God's Product

I just came back from attending the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas, Texas.
I had a wonderful time, soaking in the information provided in the classes, meeting new authors, talking to agents (who seemed interested enough in my latest manuscript to request a proposal!), and exchanging business cards.

Author Talk
 One of the topics that frequently come up as authors talk is the plot of our novels. We refer to the books as a "product."
Indeed it is.
A product.
An intellectual property.
It occurred to me that we think of our product as "ours."
Seems logical.
The plot, the characters, the theme, the concept, the scenes and dialogues all come from our minds.
So, yes, it's our product.
Then I thought, but I belong to God.
Not only am I His creation, but I have become His disciple, His bondservant.
That must mean that everything that I produce is not mine, but His.

Mine, Mine, Mine!
Many times we authors pray that God will help us find an agent, or publisher for "our" product.
But it's not ours. (If we are truly His).
It's His.
To do with whatever He determines, for whomever He wishes to read it, to accomplish what He decides.
He may never lead me to a publisher.
He may have already determined that the very exercise of writing this particular manuscript, and all the activities surrounding it: the praying, the lifting up the theme, submitting to God's leading, the talking about the manuscript, the research, the Bible study to assure myself that I am in alignment with His Word, the resting in Him as I wait for an answer from a publisher...all this is for the purpose of purifying me, making me more like the Master, growing me in faith, in hope, in trust, in obedience.
My product becomes God's way of shaping and molding me into the image He delights in.
More that my book...
I am God's product.

Are you God's product?

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

God Speaks to Those Who Listen

I was flipping channels a couple of nights ago, trying to get drowsy enough to actually fall asleep. (A hard thing to do for us insomniacs.)
Then I came across the James and Betty Robison show on one of the Christian channels.
James shared how he loves to get into God's Word and spend time in prayer, listening to God.
One day he was so overwhelmed by the wonderful things God was impressing on his heart as he prayed that he spontaneously said, "Lord, why do you tell me such wonderful things?"
Immediately afterward, he felt God impress an answer into his mind: "Because you love to listen to Me."
Wow. "Because you love to listen to Me."

When I heard James Robison share about his experience, it cut me. . . in a good way.
Because there are times when I don't want to listen to the Lord.
When I'm stewing in a problem and don't want to relinquish it just yet.
Even though God always has a better solution.

But eventually, I can't stay away.
I come back and enter His presence.
He always takes me back.
No harsh words.
No punishment.

Just "I'm so glad to see you, my child."

It occurred to me that when God told James Robison, "Because you love to listen to me," He was also communicating His delight in a servant who not only listens but who is ready to obey.

I think these words "You love to listen to Me," are going to become my mission statement for the coming year.
Do I love to listen to Him?
Am I always ready to obey?

"You are my portion. O Lord.
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart. . . " (Psalm 119:57, 58 NIV Bible)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Movies Prove We Believe In God

There are some people who try to convince me that there is no God, that there is no meaning to anything, and everything is just an accident of nature.
No order.
No plan.
No meaning.
No God.

But these same people who argue this will also tell me about the latest action adventure movie or touching movie that they saw.
Why was it such a good movie? I'll ask.
Because, says my atheist friend, it looked like all was lost. Things went from bad to worse, and I felt so sorry for --insert name of hero or heroine.
Then, at last, the hero realized...
Or, the hero made a drastic decision, one which could either destroy him or save him.
And the hero made it out alive, or saved the day, or rescued the perishing, etc.

So many books and movies have this same plan: hero faces difficulties, difficulties nearly defeat him, difficulties make the hero take a drastic path or make some life-altering decision, for a time it looks as though the decision didn't work, then ultimate victory.

Have you noticed the same thing in your reading or movie viewing?
Why does this order work so well?
Why are we so satisfied when the hero finally overcomes? Think Rocky, The Karate Kid, Lord of the Rings, Snow White and the Huntsman.

We humans instinctively recognize and respond with feelings of security to order and meaning of all kinds.
Day follows night.
Summer follows winter.
A baby giggles and we laugh.
A child hurts himself and we want someone to comfort the child.
When bad things happen, we feel empathy for the sufferer and we expect good things to happen afterward to kind of even it out.
We expect fairness and justice.
When we see a movie or read a book in which the main character (with whom we've begun to identify) experiences suffering or challenges, we want that person to rise above it and be victorious.
We want what is fair or good or righteous to happen to the person we've identified with. (This character is, in reality, us.)

Why do we care?
Because God has put the stamp of His nature in us. We feel the God-given yearning for things to be made right. Bad must justly be turned to right.
As humans who suffer our own challenges, we want to experience the vicarious thrill of feeling the hero's angst. But as creatures made in God's image, we want to see justice.

How would we enjoy a movie where the hero experiences both good and bad things, never has to come to grips with any life-altering decision, and then the movie ends? No message, no meaning.
We'd feel cheated of our need to see the character endure, change, then win over his circumstance.

We humans naturally choose order over chaos.
We feel the need to assign meaning to both Suffering and our Blessing.
Even those who deny the existence of God naturally try to assign good or bad karma for the things that come into their lives.
And diehard atheists who try very hard not to assign meaning to life's occurences, slip into this natural mind-set.
When Jesus's disciples saw a man who had been born blind, they asked, "Master, who sinned, his parents or the man that he was born blind?"
The disciple's need to assign blame for the man's condition illustrates our natural human tendency to try to find order and meaning in events.
So when those who deny the existence of God try to argue that the universe was formed out of a chaotic combination of explosions and a remixing of elements with coincidental concocting into operational life forms...
I'll point them to their need to enjoy the order and meaning of a well-planned, well-scripted movie.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daddy's Magic Nail

After my dad's interment, we all went back to my sister's house, sat around and tried to remember all the funny stories and jokes my dad used to tell at family gatherings.
All of us kids (well, we're years past being kids) remembered The Magic Nail story.
None of us could tell the story, now that he's gone.
It's not that we don't remember every detail of the story; it's that we can't tell it without getting all choked up.
There were two places in particular that I can remember Daddy telling us stories:
One was while sitting in the family car while Mother went into the store for a few groceries.
The other time was while watching Daddy in the kitchen as he concocted one of his wonderful Mulligan stews.
Being Norwegian, not Irish, Daddy preferred to call his stew "Magic Nail" soup.
I would sit on a chair  nearby while Daddy chopped up onions, potatoes, carrots and added it to a simmering beef stock. Then he would tell me the story of The Magic Nail. The mouth-watering aromas coming from his stockpot, and his story-telling would transport me into another world. Here is what he told me:

A wizened old beggar struggles through sleet and bluster on a frigid night. "My, my, if I don't get out of this storm, the cold will freeze my old bones, and the wolves will make a light meal a me."
At last he see's through the gloom the dim lights of a cottage on the edge of a small village. "Perhaps it is time to bring out my magic nail." The man adjusts his satchel and stumbles forward to knock at the door of the little house.
The door opens just a crack and the beggar sees just the tip of a long nose and the sad, wrinkled eyes of an old woman. "Eh? What do you want, old man?"
"Please, kind woman," the beggar says, "could you spare a spot by your fire? It's a cold, cold night, and the wolves are howling fierce tonight."
The old woman eyes the beggar suspiciously. "Do you have any money to pay for your lodging?"
The beggar shrugs. "Not a penny have I."
"Then," the old woman says, "I will not let you into my cottage. I'm a widow and I have nothing to share, especially not with a beggar. And no one else in this village will share their fire since famine has gripped our land. " She starts to close the door.
Desperate, the beggar thinks fast. He shoves his foot into the quickly diminishing space between the door and the jam. "Old woman, not so fast. I said I have not a penny. But I have with me," he pats his satchel, "a most magical nail."
"Eh? A nail, you say?" the door opens just a hairsbreadth more. "What's so magical about a nail?"
The beggar lifts the satchel and holds it protectively to his chest. "Ah, this nail in my satchel is like no other nail you have ever seen. With this nail, you can make a most marvelous soup. A soup so delicious and nutritious that your tongue will exult and your belly will be satisfied even during the most lean years."
The woman's eyes light up. "With just this nail I can make soup?"
"That's right," the beggar replies, nodding his head enthusiastically. "All kinds of soup: lentil, squash, vegetable or vegetable with beef, or beef barley or --"
"Oh," the old woman coos. She extends an emaciated arm. "Show me this nail. Then perhaps I will let you inside."
The beggar takes a step back. "Oh, no, Ma'am. This old man and his nail must never be parted. During these years of famine my nail has kept me alive when I should have starved otherwise."
The old woman licks her chapped lips. "I have not eaten a morsel since breakfast," she mutters. "And that was just a dry crust of bread and some thin gruel."
She opens the door. "Come in, come in, old man. Show me how you can make wonderful soup with just a little nail."
The beggar hurries inside, eager to be out of the wind and biting cold. "First, old woman, fill this pot on the fire with water."
"How much water? This much?" the woman dumps a little water into the pot.
The beggar stands with his hands on his hips. "My, my, no. This is a magic nail. You must fill it all the way to the brim with water."
The woman eagerly does as she is told.
"Now," the beggar says. "Here is my magic nail." He slowly reaches into his satchel, rummages around, then finds what he is looking for. He lifts the nail out and flashes it before the woman's eyes.
"Do you see how plain my nail is? Why, one would never guess that it has such powers. But just watch as I drop it into this pot of soup."
Plink. The nail drops down to the bottom of the pot.
"I will get the bowls ready," the old woman says as she reaches into a cupboard.
"Not so fast, old woman," says the beggar. "Let me taste the broth." He dips a spoon into the water and gives it a slow taste. "Hmm." He smacks his lips.
The woman clasps her hands. "Yes? Yes? Is is delicious soup yet?"
The beggar puts down the spoon. "Not quite ready. But what would make it even better would be a potato or two.
"Yes, I can see how a potato would make our magical soup even better." The woman scurries to open her cellar door. When she comes back up, she is holding an old potato, and  a dried sprig of rosemary. "Beggar man, do you think our magic soup could use this old root?"
"The beggar man leans over the pot and murmurs, "What do you think, my magic nail? Would you accept an old, dried up potato?"
He nods his head, then turns to the woman. My magic nail also says that any old carrots would help to make the soup even more delicious."
The old woman frowns with concern. "I don't have any carrots. This potato was the last thing in my cellar."
Then her face brightens. "But my daughter and her husband may have a carrot. and I'm sure I could borrow an onion from my son and his wife. They live just down the way."
The woman throws on her shawl, grabs her lantern and hurries off into the night.
When she returns with her borrowed vegetables, the beggar hears many voices behind her.
He smiles.
The woman opens the door wide to let in her daughter and husband, her son and his wife and their many children. Behind them, too,  are the hungry, hopeful faces of other neighbors, each carrying  some small item meant to be added to the magic soup.
"Welcome, welcome, friends." The beggar motions them all inside. "With my magic nail, we have more than enough to feed everyone on this cold, stormy evening."
They stoke the fire with wood. Light, laughter and full bellies dispel fear of the future.
As long as the village possessed the magic nail they need never concern themselves with famine and an empty pot.

(The Magic Nail, a variation of Stone Soup, by Thormod James Nicolaisen. Literary adaptation by Dena Netherton)

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Dad's Funeral

I'll be in California this next week to be at my dad's funeral.
Expect a new blog post on Monday, September 10th.
Thanks for reading my posts.
Love to you and yours,
Dena Netherton

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Precious Dad

My precious dad passed away Monday evening, Aug. 27th, 2012.
He slipped away quietly, as if he didn't want to disturb anyone by making a fuss.
So like my dad. Always quiet, always considerate, stoic, not wanting to alarm his wife or children.

My dad, Thormod James Nicolaisen was born in San Francisco on June 14th, 1915.

He remembers livery stables and horse-drawn milk carts. He remembers being frightened, as a three-year-old, of the white-masked citizens of San Francisco during the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918.

The son of Norwegian immigrants, fourth of eight children, my dad lived the childhood of poverty.
Grandpa Oluv Nicolaisen had been an engineer in Norway, but after they immigrated, not being fluent in English, he found whatever work he could to support his quick-growing family.
Nana had enough to do just birthing and raising her four sons and four daughters.

Daddy went to school and worked to help support the family. In 1932, with the Depression in full swing, Grandpa suffered a massive stroke, so my seventeen-year-old dad dropped out of high school to work full time.

In 1941, after the U.S. declared war, Daddy and his brothers, Al, Stanley, and Bobby all enlisted. My dad chose the Army Air Corps. (It hadn't yet become the Air Force.)

Daddy, being the super-bright and cautious fellow that he was survived the training to become a pilot. His superiors quickly figured out that he'd be more valuable to the Allies as a pilot instructor. Even so, he frequently recounted hair-raising tales of near-death spins and malfunctions and the tragic tales of his many war buddies who didn't make it out of the war alive.

After the War, Daddy came home, worked at the Post Office, studied for his BA and met my mother.
They married in 1947 and had five children. . . in five years.
Daddy earned his Masters in English just before he was called back into the Air Force to fly B-29 bombers during the Korean War.

After that war, Daddy became a high school teacher and by the time we youngest had graduated from high school, he was affectionately known by all the kids in the district as "Mr. Nic."

My dad's life was characterized by sacrifice, hard word, responsibility, honesty, and dedication to family.
He was gentle and quiet and never raised his voice. He didn't have to; we respected him so much that just a look of disappointment in his eyes would be enough to instantly crush any rebellion or spirit of mischief.
We kids knew that Daddy would do anything to keep a roof over our heads. Sometimes he moonlighted two extra jobs to feed his family of seven.

Daddy could do just about anything. A child of the Depression learns how to do everything himself. He built a brick staircases, designed bookshelves for every bedroom --books were the cornerstone of our family culture --, repaired cars, installed sinks and toilets, knocked down walls, built up new ones. 

My dad had dreams, too. But his dreams to be a great writer and poet had to be sacrificed. After all,
first a man takes care of his family. Then, when they're raised and on their own, perhaps. . .

And so, when we were all grown, Daddy started to write his poems. They're wonderful. They express the heart of a man who thinks deeply. His poems express the wonder of small things and the glory of great ideas. His poems have been published in the poetry magazine, "North American Mentor."

I often think that for a man like my dad, it is a tragedy that he only lived 97 years. So much talent, so much potential, so many unlived dreams. What could Daddy have accomplished if he'd been given a second life-time, just for him.

". . . then time ticked down and ceased to breathe, and I
Closed eyes, dream-traced the starry lie
To sort this great inigma now set free
And reap the glory fruits of destiny. . .  (excerpted from "Destiny", by Thormod Nicolaisen)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dumb Blonde

The other day I ran down to my local supermarket for some last minute supplies. My husband and I were giving a party the next day.
Usually our store is well-stocked, but this day it seemed as if everything I needed wasn't stocked.
I must have looked slightly confused ( I guess my face just habitually looks that way) because when I got to the produce section a nice lady employee asked me if I'd found everything I needed.
Well. . .  she asked.
So I told her I was frustrated that they always stock things that older people need in places where it's difficult to reach. "For instance," I said, they put the gluten-free pasta waaaaaaay down on the bottom shelf where it's hard for us people with bad knees to get down to get it. And if you even get down, then you hafta get back up. Why do they do that?!"
The nice lady explained that she'd suggested to the store managers many times to stock these items higher up where it's more accessible.
"That would be very much appreciated," I said.
"Anything else you couldn't find?" the nice produce lady asked.
"Well, since you asked, I also couldn't find any diet caffeine-free Pepsi. You've got all the other Pepsi's, just not the one I'm looking for."
The produce lady then went on to explain in great detail about how the stockers can't stock the diet caffeine-free Pepsi because sometimes the Pepsi people just don't deliver it. And if it's not delivered by thus and such day then the store is just out of luck. . . etc.
After her long explanation I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd already gotten that same story from another store employee when I first discovered that there were no diet caffeine-free Pepsi's on the shelf.
The produce lady was so eager to help, and the two of us were getting along so well that I said, "And also, I really don't like that ranch dip that they keep in the chip section. Is there a better, refrigerated kind?"
She said, "Why don't I just walk you over  to where we keep the ranch dip?"
"Why thanks, Ma'am. How kind of you."
"No problem," she said over her shoulder.
I followed her to the refrigerator section where they  have the salad mixes. Funny how I never noticed those tubs of vegie dips before. The produce lady spent a couple of minutes extolling the individual tastiness of each kind of ranch dip. "And I particularly like this one, but if you like, this Southwestern one is pretty good, too."
"Oh, I think I'll just go with the plain Ranch, thank you." I reached in and grabbed a tub.
Then the nice produce lady smiled sweetly at me -- like the way you smile at a cute, innocent six-year old child -- and said in a sing-song, high-pitched voice, "And don't forget that your shopping cart is still parked over there by the sweet peppers."
She hurried back to her fresh produce and I stood there feeling foolish.
The whole time I stood in line at check-out and all the way home I kept asking myself, Did I say something that led that woman to believe I'm simple minded? 

It made me kind of insecure.
Maybe I come across as simpleminded to everybody.
Maybe I really am simpleminded.
 Do simpleminded people know they're simpleminded?
 Maybe my husband and children and friends have been humoring me all these years!

I had to laugh after I got over the initial disturbing emotion brought out by that encounter at the store.
I guess we're all simple-minded occasionally.
And brilliant at other times.
Even Einstein had trouble negotiating around town.
My husband is amazing in his ability to manage groups of people. But he loses things. All the time.

Whether or not I'm losing ground in the cognitive arena, it's nice to know that that doesn't change God's love for me one whit. (Pun intended.)

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever." (Psalm 73: 26 NIV Bible)