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)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

King David and Miss Fidget

For the past week I've been rehearsing with a local high school choir. I'll be accompanying them on piano for their up-coming concert. The choir director is doing a great job preparing the kids.
There's this one girl --I'll call her Miss Fidget -- who struggles to stay focused. She tries to roam around the classroom. The choir teacher has to continually call for her to return to her seat. She talks when she should be quiet, fidgets, distracts the other students.
I guess you could say this girl has ADHD.
Nevertheless, she's a lovely girl, sweet, bright.
So I was surprised on the first day of rehearsals when Miss Fidget came to the front of the choir and sang a solo.
She's really good.
Her voice has a lovely quality. She's right on pitch. She's musical and has a good sense of rhythm, as well.
This normally hyperactive child stayed completely focused on the task of singing her solo. Singing had transformed her. . . for the time it took to sing her solo.

Now, I'm no scientist, but as someone who's taught music for three decades, I can tell you that playing a musical instrument or singing skillfully requires great coordination and concentration. It calls on the brain to perform several complex tasks simultaneously.
Learning to perform music literally makes you smarter.
I also believe that playing or singing develops the ability to feel, identify and express emotion.

 I like to think about King David as a young man, out in those fields, watching over his father Jesse's sheep. He didn't have a Kindle or Nook, or even a good paperback book to occupy his time. So he composed poems, and sang, and played his lyre. No doubt, during those quiet hours all alone, God was turning David into the great man. . . and king who would one day rule a nation.
As a musician, I like to think God used music to help develop David's mind and heart.
This is the same mind and heart that wrote:

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations." (Psalm 89:1)

"It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name,
O most High."(Psalm 92:1)

"Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." (Psalm 146:2)

One day, perhaps, the Lord will help Miss Fidget to develop her musical gift to such a high degree that she'll sing for great crowds.
Aren't you glad God gave us the gift of music?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Know the Difference

I recently read a friend's blog. She used 2 Chronicles 16:9: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."
I've read that verse many times, and loved it.
But these words pack an even bigger wallop when contrasted to the following verse found in 1st Peter 5:8:
"Be self-controlled and alert. You enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Imagine that!
On the one hand, we have a ruthless enemy  who's actively hunting, looking for us, to destroy, to devour us. You. He wants to devour you!

And then, on the other hand, we have a heavenly Father, who created you and me, who loves us with a never-ending love, who's actively looking for us, earnestly desires to strengthen us by
  • answering our prayers, 
  • showing mercy, 
  • showing daily grace, 
  • rescuing some from the clutches of the devil, 
  • healing from illness or emotional trauma, 
  • restoring children and parents to each other,
  • fighting our battles,
  • protecting us,
  • blessing us,
  • providing us with His wisdom and revelation (concerning His Word)
I could go on and on.
 The end of the verse tells how and when He will strengthen us: when our hearts are fully committed to Him.
I certainly hope that I will not ignore the Lord, continue to do all things my may, not worship Him, not serve Him, not praise Him, not obey Him, not build a loving, intimate daily relationship with Him, and then expect Him to come and strengthen me when I whistle.
Yes, God in His wonderful grace does ultimately rescue His children even when they're wayward.
But. . .
He's actively looking to strengthen us whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

The flip side of this truth is the verse in Peter about the devil. If he is your master, it wouldn't matter how much devotion you show him, how much obedience, how much worship and awe. In the end he'll devour you, too.

I pray that we will continue to grow in heavenly wisdom to discern the difference between God's loving downward gaze, as He longs to see our faith so He can strengthen us. . .
and the hate-filled, ravening, vengeful glare of the devil who only want to kill us.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tents Don't Last

It's interesting how some subjects come up during several unrelated conversations.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend about tents and how our bodies resemble tents in their fragility. They're just not built to last.
Then today, the subject came up again with another group of friends.
Tents are:
  • flimsy
  • thin
  • not terribly warm
  • can leak water
  • aren't perfect protection from ferocious predators
  • get worn out
  • can be patched, but eventually. . . 
Sound like our bodies?
The older I get, the more I think about this analogy.
God didn't create our current physical bodies to last.
We live just long enough to accomplish the things He's called us to.
I need to continually remind myself of this fact.
I'm not going to be here, in this body, on this earth for very long.
In a few years, maybe sooner, God will call me home.
Ah, home.
That's where I really belong.
I'm just passing through this place.
I'm on my way to my destination.
Every time that I'm tempted to place too much importance on temporal things: my house, my appearance, my apparel, my stuff, my small worldly ambitions. . . I remember.
None of this will last.
What will last?
Have you thought about this, too?
What, if anything, that belongs to you, or that you've done or said will last for eternity?

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." 2 Cor. 5:1-4 NIV)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quick! Use "Podium" In A Sentence

Hi all writer friends, and all my other friends.
Today I'd like to --ahem --stand on my soap box and lecture on the word, "PODIUM."
Having fallen off some podiums during my singing career. . . and seeing lots of other conductors and singers fall or nearly take a tumble, I can say quite unequivocally that a podium is something that you put your feet on. (I think it originates from the Greek word for foot, but I could be wrong.)
Why am I lecturing on this word?
Because I see it used all the time --incorrectly -- for the thing that you stand behind where you put your notes for speaking, or your glass of water.
That's a LECTERN, or a stand.
In the past 12 months, I think I've counted at least ten references, by both Christian and secular authors using the term, podium, when they actually mean lectern. I'm really surprised so many editors don't catch this faux pas.
So. . . thought this might help, just in case you're thinking of using "podium" in one of your articles.

By the way, I just caught one of my own grammatical errors in an earlier blog. I said, "None are famous."
Er, I think I should have said, "None (singular) is famous."

And now for some fun stuff.
What are your grammatical pet peeves?
Mine is when I see something written in which "your" is used when the writer actually means the  contraction, "you're." Drives me crazy.

 I know English, like all languages is constantly evolving. But it sure seems as if our language is dumbing down due to the texting and other abbreviated forms of English usage necessary for swift communication.

Tell me what grammatical mistakes make your hackles rise?
Either that, or can you tell me what is wrong with the following sentence?:
"If I was a crocodile, I'd swim up and bite your leg!"

(I'd love to share the results of my readers' pet peeves in Thursday's blog.)

"He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend." (Prov. 22:11 NIV Bible)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is True Fame?

Another seemingly star-crossed celebrity has died. I can't turn on the news without some story, complete with pictures of this "great one" who died by drinking (accidentally or on purpose)  a fatal cocktail of drugs.
Of course it's tragic whenever some person who did not know the Lord Jesus dies, whether celebrity or not. Each one of these souls will have to stand before God in judgment.
But I hear some of my friends refer to these talented celebrities as "great."
What made them great?
The fact that they had talent?
The fact that they made records, CD, movies?
That they made millions?
That photographers and journalists followed them and plastered their name and image in every tabloid and celebrity news show on tv?

I guess I have a different definition of what it means to be great.
I know some truly great people.
And none of them are famous.
Perhaps because they've been too busy looking out for and serving others.
(For celebrity-hood, it takes a lot of time and energy to build up a public persona that others will worship.)
But the great people I know spend the bulk of their days working hard to provide for their families and to give selflessly of their time and resources to help others.
When one of these great people die, not too many people, besides family and friends and those whose lives they've touched, will mourn their passing.
Too bad we can't get a front row seat on the other side of heaven to see the kind of reception each of these selfless and great people will get from Jesus.
"Hooray! " Jesus exclaims as he approaches and wraps His arms around the newly arrived saint. "I'm so glad you're finally here. Here, let me put this fine, white robe over you. I'm so proud of you. You've accomplished all that I called you to do." Friends of the saint surround him/her and kiss and embrace as they sing songs of joy. Then they escort the saint through the City. Indescribable joy and light surrounds the throng of worshipers.
And now, this saint looks forward to an eternity of being in the Presence of the God who loved him/her with unending love, who was present when this saint drew his first breath, who watched as he took his first tentative steps as a new child of God, who was there to welcome him home at the end of his sojourn on earth.
To be known and cherished by God. To know that his/her life counted for God's purposes into eternity!
That is true fame.

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world --the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does --comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1st John 2:15-17 NIV BIBLE)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why God Doesn't Give us Anesthesia

Last week I underwent a medical procedure. Never mind what it was.
It involved lots of needles.
Needles don't freak me out; I've been stuck so many times I'm kind of immune to the fear they usually inspire.
But those needles really did hurt.
The ones that hurt the most were the ones they use to numb you so the bigger needles, and other instruments of torture don't hurt as much.
Fortunately, I'm the kind of person who, when the doctor says, "Okay, this is gonna sting a bit," knows that the word, "sting" is a euphemism for "YIKES!"
So I was prepared.
I didn't move an inch, didn't twitch, or moan, or tear up. (After the procedure the doctor told me I had been an amazing patient.)
I didn't think I'd need those pills they send you home with. You know what those are: they make you happy and sleepy.
But I did need them. In fact, I popped those pills for the next four days.
Today, I'm happy to report, I'm on the band wagon. Still sore, but it's Monday, and I can't afford to be mentally aberrant today.

In medicine, they give you pain shots and pain meds so you don't fight the doctor, and so you don't remember the awful details of your medical procedure.
But with God, it's just the opposite. He frequently operates on us without any pain reducing analgesics.
1.  God does not want us to forget what caused our pain.
2. And when He begins to "fix" us, He allows us to feel pain so that we are aware of just how serious our condition is.
3. And pain drives us to our knees, the very best place to be.

In soul surgeries, there are pains that we simply must feel.
And we simply must remember.
That is how God brings healing and growth.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Love to Receive Letters

Letter writing is fast becoming a lost art of polite society.
I remember that my mother made a great deal about writing a proper "thank you" letter any time we children had been given a gift or had attended a party or a sleep-over.
Of course we had to write other types of letters, as well.
My mother, God bless her, taught us how to greet the recipient of the letter with a:
Dear Jane or
Dear Sir or Madam (not done so much anymore)
Dear Aunt Margie, etc.

Then, after we had written a rough draft of the letter, she would check it for spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes or awkward sentences, and whether I had included all the salient points concerning the party or the gift.

I have a few friends who still write lovely letters to me. How I cherish them. They're something physical that I can store away in a box and pull out to re-read when I need some encouragement. My children write lovely little notes for my birthday.
Those go into the box.
Many of the children I've taught have also given me lovely notes of thanks. Into the box they go.
And the most precious of all are old letters from my then-fiance, Bruce who wrote to encourage me and to express his love during our long separation prior to our wedding.
Most of these letters obviously were written before the days of computers.

But even now I cherish a piece of paper, written by some beloved's own hands.

Today, as I flipped through all the letters of the Apostles, I noted that each letter began with the author first identifying himself:
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle. . . " (Rom. 1:1)
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. . . " (1 Cor.:1:1)
"Paul, an apostle --sent not from men nor my man. . . " (Gal. 1"1)
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. . . " (1 Peter 1:1)
"The elder," (2 John 1:1)

How lovely to open a letter (probably a scroll) and see, right away, that it was the apostle addressing them.
I wish we'd do that instead of merely closing the letter with our name.
I'm not some big-whig, but still I'd like to open with:
"Dena here, a lover of God and a writer, called to proclaim the love and greatness of Him. . . "
You, the recipient would know right away that this letter was going to be something of value.

Unlike an email, I hope that you would pour over my letter with joy, then place it into your own box along with all the other beloved letters you've ever received.

"See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" (Galatians 6:11 NIV Bible)

Do you love hand-written letters? What is the most precious letter you've received?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just Knowing He's Near

It sure seems as if bad things happen whenever my husband goes away on a business trip.
Last week, the printer crashed and no matter what I did, that darn machine would not spit ink onto the white paper. (Yes, there was plenty of ink and, yes, the printer was connected and turned on.)
Then, since Bruce would be away for the entire week, he had to sign a power-of-attorney so I could close on our re-fi of our house. That was 2 1/2 hours of me signing his name, my name, and the phrase "attorney in fact," then my name again and the date.
Over and over and over on a two-inch stack of paper.
I told Bruce, "Since my hand is now crippled, you owe me dinner at a nice restaurant!"
Then Thursday night, a snow storm dumped about sixteen inches of snow. Bruce wasn't back yet from his business trip, so little ol' me with my bad back was the shoveler of our long, long driveway. (Every year we say we're going to get a snow-blower, and every year we decide it's not worth it. Are we idiots?)
I'm not sure if events like these pile up and dump on me when Bruce is away.

Or, maybe it just seems like that.

Maybe when Bruce is around, negative things also happen, but somehow, it doesn't seem so daunting.
When Bruce is home, he's readily available to fix the printer.
When Bruce is home, the scary noises in or around the house at night don't bother me at all.
When Bruce is home, just knowing that I can confer with him, share my perplexity, receive a hug, or a compassionate look, or feel his human breath behind my shoulder. . .
diminishes the size and threat of my little crises.

And so it is with my heavenly Father's presence.
When I refuse to focus on Him, my nemeses appear unconquerable, and I feel completely alone.
I'm not, of course.
But when I gaze at Him each day, then life's little trials are shared by Him.
He's with me, within me, around me even when I do not feel Him.
But reminding myself of this fact changes my attitude.
And my level of stress.

"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when You walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd's cook makes me feel secure." (Psalm 23: 4 The Message Bible)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Run to the Rock

The other day, it seemed as if events, tons of commitments, bureaucracy, and inanimate objects had all conspired to make my day difficult. By the time I got home that night, I felt tense and irritable.
I plunked myself in front of the tv, hoping to numb those negative feelings by watching something happy and entertaining.
Instead, I surfed over channels offering stupid comedies filled rude or sexual comments, or reality shows  (I hate those programs --what's wrong with those people who create such shows?), or news and political shows, discussing the latest riot that killed xxx innocent people or the horrible state of the economy and our mounting (insurmountable) debt, etc.
How about animal planet? Nope. There was a program on about alligators. Ick!
I shut off the tv and went to bed, still upset.
That was a mistake.

In the middle of the night, God woke me. Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy burdened and I shall give you rest. Cast all your care on Him because He cares for you. Look to the Lord always; seek His face. I am the Rock eternal. (Matt. 11:28; 1 Peter 5:7;1 Chron. 16:11; Is. 26:4)
He reminded me that He is my first and best refuge, my rock and my fortress.
Why had I resorted to the tv to numb my feelings when I could have gone to my heavenly Father to have my soul refreshed and restored?

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." (J. Scriven/Charles Converse)