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)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Click, Pain's All Gone

I love my TV remote control.
It gives me a feeling of power that I can press a button and make something I don't want to watch go away.
There are certain old people's commercials that annoy the heck out of me, especially the ones that air about six times per half hour.
Political commercials.
Food advertisments.
Wouldn't it be great if I could do that in the real world?
  • Some rude person flings up his middle finger at me while driving? Click. He's outta here.
  • Too many people in the grocery check-out line? Click. They're magically transported somewhere else.
  • Those barking dogs next door? Click. They're muted.
  • The droning, long-winded person giving a speech? Click. He's fast-forwarded to the last two words of his talk.

 Gosh, I could go on and on. Each annoyance, each minor inconvenience wiped away by the click of my magical remote control.

I'll bet you can think of tons of things you'd like to erase from your daily life with your own remote.

 But with all those unpleasant things removed from my daily life, I wonder what God would use to help me grow in my faith.
And how would I ever demonstrate God's love and grace toward others if I, as Christ's representative, never rubbed shoulders with unpleasant people or situations?

With my magical remote, it would be so easy to stay completely self-centered, focused only on my comfort, my safety, my pleasure.

I guess it's a good thing God is the only Person with true "remote" control.

Heavenly Father, help me to welcome into my life anything that helps me become like Jesus.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil. 2:3,4 NIV Bible)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is God Good?

Saturday I watched the Olympic trials for track and field. Several of the women who'd won their track competitions said when interviewed afterward, "God is good."
On the surface it sounds nice. "God is good."
These young women appeared to be giving glory to God for their victories.

But what if they hadn't won?
Would God still be good?
And what about all those talented women athletes who didn't win?
Is God good for them?

Are the winners saying God is good simply because they won?
That's kind of a self-centered statement, don't you think?

I've heard this kind of statement many times in athletic competitions.

I find myself reacting in similar ways when things go my way.
It's kind of automatic.
God is good when things happen the way I want them to happen.

But God is not good --or He doesn't care --or He doesn't exist -- or He is weaker than the forces that conspired to make things not go my way.
It's not that I consciously think these thoughts. But this negative attitude shows up in my prayer life for a while after a big disappointment.
My faith is shaken for an hour, a day, even for a week.

My mind says "God is good."
He loves me; He is in control of my life; He works all things for my good.


I struggle for a time.
Because my mind is situated inside of this body, in time and space, limited by the laws of physics.
The struggle for a Christian is always a struggle between what we perceive with our senses and our limited minds, and what God says is true.
Who will I believe?
Before I placed my trust in Christ, I was all I knew.
But afterward, I began to know another Person.
I worship Him when I choose to trust Him and obey what He says rather than going my independent way.
Can I praise Him even in times of suffering and tragedy and disappointment?
Is God still good?
Because if God is only good when things are going my way, then I am not worshiping God. I am worshiping an idol, something I've created for my own pleasure and my convenience.
Will my faith be forever wavering according to how my wants are met?
Or will I choose to stay grounded in the truth of God's goodness expressed in this verse from Ephesians (Chapter 2, verses 6 and 7)?

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

So even if I do not win my track and field heat,
even if my car breaks down and I do not have the money to fix it,
even if the wrong presidential candidate wins in November,
even if I don't get that book contract. . .

God is good!

(Friends, how do you know that God is good?)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

We live about fifteen miles south of the forest fire raging just west of Ft. Collins, Colorado.
When the wind turns, the smoke from the fire blows into Estes Park.
Yesterday morning a murky, noxious cloud floated over our town and settled into the crevices and hollows etched in the surrounding mountains.
The smoke, combined with stinging eyes and burning throats, lowered a kind of pall over the residents and tourists.
Starbucks diehards retreated indoors.
Even the usual herd of elk that congregates on the golf course hunkered down closer to the lake, and kept their noses close to the ground.
From the vantage point of my deck, the usually distinct cut of the Mummy Range had merged, then disappeared into the smudged horizon.
A cloud the shape of a Medusa's head spread writhing tendrils which hovered above the downtown.

Smoke is almost never a good thing.
It signifies destruction.
It obscures.
It poisons.
It irritates.

And unlike clouds of moist fog. . .
rolling into the harbor,
blurring the street lights at night,
bathing the mountains each morning. . .

 there's nothing very romantic about smoke.

Have you ever thought of smoke as a metaphor for relationships?
It's almost never good.
Smoke is allied with deception, hiding, lying.
And the effect of the emotional "smoke" harms people.

I've been in smoke-filled relationships.
It's never pleasant.
I always find myself yearning -whether it's my fault or the other person's -- to break out and breathe free of the fumes.

Jesus spoke about "smoke."
His solution always involves hard words:
  1. humbling myself
  2. repenting, 
  3. forgiving
  4. submitting to God

They're hard words to implement.
Sometimes the smoke is so thick that I can't even see where I'm going wrong.
 But if I do one of those four things listed above, the smoke clears.
The result is freedom.
And I'd much rather breathe clean, pure air, than smoke.

"Whoever would love life and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (1 Pet. 3:10-12 NIV Bible)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Men Are Super-heros

My husband can fix things around the house. He's even more impressive when something goes amiss with the computer. All I have to do is yell, Help!" and he hurries upstairs to rescue his lady-love from her plight.
There are things that I can't fix because I lack the sheer physical strength to do so.
Other things that stymie me are techy sorts of questions. I don't comprehend much of the lingo attached to the world of computers.
So Bruce rushes to my side.
After he fixes something, I ask, "How did you do that?"
(I'm really looking for some sort of instruction that I can use the next time my computer does something nasty.)
But Bruce tilts his chin upward, looks down his nose, and says,
He says it partly to amuse me, and partly to annoy me.
I suspect that the reason Bruce loves to rush to my call for help is the same reason he loves to watch super-hero movies.
Deep within my man --and probably 98 percent of all men -- beats the heart of Superman.

As comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, when asked why men think they can perform heroic acts involving superhuman strength or valor: "These are not fantasies; these are options."

What I observe in my husband, I also observe in my sons. And I'm beginning to see inklings of the super-hero psyche in my grandson as well.

I love that about men. Honestly.
And the older I get, the more I appreciate that God made them that way.

My man will battle mice, spiders and stink bugs around the house.
He'll go without sleep, forgo recreation, and work long hours to provide for us.
And he always drives the old car so I can drive the new, safe, luxurious car.
Yesterday was Father's Day. I called my husband, "Lord."
He looked incredibly pleased.  Then I leaned over and whispered in his ear, "I'm only calling you that 'cause it's Father's Day. Don't expect me to say that in public tomorrow."

But I'm thinking I might address him as "Lord" sometime this week just to see his reaction.
He does respond well to praise.
What super-hero doesn't?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friendly Persuasion

I had to un-friend someone on Facebook the other day.
The guy kept pressing his political viewpoint.
It wasn't that I agreed or disagreed with his statements.
It was the way he went about expressing his opinion.
With anger, accusations, and insults.
I "friend" you, and then you spend days and weeks insulting me and others of opposing political stance?

My "friend" may disagree with me vehemently.
He may have a completely different world-view.
I  have no problem that he expresses his thoughts.
I welcome his persuasive, logical, calm debate.
I call on him to provide provable facts.
And I love to see true, unaltered statistics.
I also don't mind that he's passionate about his subject.

But, please, don't attack me (and my other friends) personally!

There's an old saying: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Scripture says it this way: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Pet. 3:15 NIV)

I'm so grateful that we live in this day and age, where we writers enjoy the benefit of multiple media outlets for our words. How wonderful that God has given us this opportunity to proclaim Him and His wonderful Gospel.

My unpleasant Facebook experience helps me keep in mind the Lord's admonition to speak with gentleness and respect, preserving each person's dignity, while holding up, without compromise, the truth of God's Word.

(And a new feature of "God 'n me" is a weekly vocabulary word.)
The word for this week is: boor 
Noun. A rude, unmannerly person
Used in a sentence: The man's boorish behavior on Facebook persuaded me to "unfriend" him.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Is This My Last Accomplishment?

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?" (Matt. 25: 45)

The other day, Bruce and I were driving back to Estes from South Denver. It's a long drive and we talked about lots of delightful things. But then we got to discussing how both of us have been in situations where we could have died or been seriously injured, either while driving or just doing household projects.
Bruce mentioned the day that he had climbed into our attic to work on some electric wiring and almost got himself electrocuted.
I remembered the day we skidded on ice in our jeep and almost collided -- at sixty miles an hour --with a pickup truck.
God had definitely intervened, we concluded, to have spared our lives those times.

That got me to thinking.
What if, the next time I'm driving somewhere, or Bruce is doing another do-it-yourself household project, catastrophe strikes?
And God doesn't intervene.
Because it's my time, or Bruce's time to go home.

Sounds kind of gloomy, doesn't it?

But it doesn't have to be.
After all, going home to be with the Lord in heaven is a good thing. Right?
I mean, there will come a time for all of us.
I hope it's later, not sooner.
But there are no guarantees.

These kinds of conversations --about why God sometimes intervenes or doesn't --
remind me that every errand I run, every project I complete (or don't complete), every trip I take, every article I write, every phone conversation. . .
may be my last accomplishment.

I sure hope my daily activities all bring honor to God.
I hope the last thing I accomplish isn't gossiping about my neighbor. Or thinking mean, unforgiving thoughts.

I hope, just like the wise servant in Jesus's parable, that I'm prepared and doing good and valuable things when the Bridegroom suddenly appears to take me home.

"The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of."( Matt. 25: 50 NIV Bible)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Think First, Save a Life

A few years ago I was driving a borrowed car down to the airport to pick up my son.
Going sixty-five mph down highway 85 in moderate traffic, suddenly my cell phone rang.
Without thinking, I went for it.
Of course the phone was halfway across the passenger seat, buried under my purse and my coat.
But I took my eyes off the road for just a second to reach over and grab the phone.
When I did that, the car veered slightly toward the right, almost into the next lane.
Well, what would you do?
Uh huh, just what I did. I jerked the steering wheel back to the left. I over-corrected. The car lurched toward the left shoulder.
I pulled it back to the right.
The car fish-tailed dramatically.
Drivers behind me slammed on their brakes to avoid me.
Lord, help me!
The car is going to flip!
I'm going to die!
My friends will lose their car.
I hope the cars around me don't get tangled up with my car.
What will my husband do without me?
And my kids?

Amazing, huh? how many thoughts run through your head in an emergency.

And then, surprisingly, I gained control of the car.
I found the cell phone still gripped in my left hand. And flipped it on.
It was my son, merely informing me that his plane had landed.

So this was what I'd just risked my life to find out?
I snapped the phone shut and dropped it into my open purse.
"Stupid Dena!" I berated myself, still recovering from the giant adrenaline kick of my near-death experience,  "you almost caused a bad car accident because you just had to answer the phone."

I should tell you that this "stupid Dena" learned a valuable lesson that day. Your life is more important ( and the lives of other motorists) than answering a ringing phone.

I'm not one of those people who can't go more than two seconds without talking or texting.
I answered the phone that afternoon because I've been conditioned to do so.
An unthinking, automatic response to an urgent request. As automatic as responding to a baby's cry.

But sometimes, an automatic response can be dangerous. Just as a I learned on hwy 85.

I read an article in a recent Reader's Digest about how dangerous automatic responses can be. We jump, without thinking, into uncertain water to save a drowning person. We rush into a burning building before considering how we'll survive the flames, smoke and toxins. We drive into a flooded street. (Yep, I've done that one, too.)

The same wisdom of stopping and thinking first holds true in our spiritual lives.
The Bible warns us: "My dear brothers, take notes of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

When I'm tempted to respond automatically to someone's sharp words, or annoyances at work, or commute-time delays, I need to remember to think first ("be slow to anger, slow to speak").

It could save a life.

"Think first." Anonymous

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hijacking God's Agenda

I like to think that I'm a follower of Jesus Christ who daily submits to His plan for my life.
But I've noticed that, somewhere between my worship and prayers,
and my expectations for a satisfying answer or outcome for my requests,
my own agenda becomes apparent.

A few months ago I entered a writing contest.
I was really excited and happy when I found out that my submission had made it to the semi-finals.
As I waited the six weeks to hear if my pages would advance to the finals, I spent a lot of time in prayer about the outcome.
I told my heavenly Father over and over, "Lord, I want Your will more than mine. I know you're in charge of me, the judges, the outcome, everything. If I don't get into the finals I'll be sad, but I'll also know that You are working out your perfect plan."
Sounds pretty mature, don't you think?
But as the weeks went by, I pictured how great it would be if my manuscript got into the finals:
  • it would sure help me get the attention of an agent
  • I wouldn't feel so intimidated when I face an agent-appointment next time
  • It would look great on my resume
  • and on and on
My heart and mind had concocted my own satisfying solution.
Then my anxiety level began to rise.
Based on the images I'd planted of winning, I lost my peace about the contest.

Sound familiar?
I'm sure we all wrestle with these competing desires:
to walk close to God, pleasing Him in every way
to worship myself.

When I found out that I hadn't advanced into the finals, I felt disappointed and a little angry.
"God, I've walked closely with you on this project. . .  for years. I've worshiped you and sought to write a story that would glorify you. I've studied, practiced, improved, done everything I know to do that would make me into a great writer, and the story, great. And my story deserves (Deserves?) to get out there."

Do you see how my focus on God turned into a focus on me, what I need, what I deserve?

I had to get on my knees and confess my lack of trust.
Because everything that I write belongs to Him.
Every devotional, every article, every Facebook or twitter post.
Every novel or novella.

I belong to Him.
He does not belong to me.

His agenda wins every time.
Because He is Lord.
And I am not.

"Have thine own way, Lord
Have Thine own way.
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still." (Pollard/Stebbins)