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, February 28, 2013

Faithful Sowing

When I was a little girl, so little that the memories are only shadowy pictures in my mind, I attended church. I don't think I went regularly. But I have a vague recollection of being seated in a classroom, being instructed by sweet old women.  Mostly they told stories and used Biblical flannel figures which they placed on a large flannel board. Then we would make things with glue and cotton balls.
Later, after we had moved closer to San Francisco, my mother tried going to church again.
Although I was nine or ten, the stories those women told in my new Sunday School seemed awfully familiar:
David and Goliath,
Elijah and the false prophets of Baal,
 Jesus in the manger,
Jesus on the cross.
At this new church, we kids were able to earn a Bible with our name inscribed in gold letters if we'd come to Sunday School ten times in a row.
I really wanted that Bible.
So I fulfilled my ten weeks and scored a beautiful white, leather Bible.
It had a zipper, and my name was inscribed in gold letters at the bottom right.
And for memorizing a certain amount of scripture verses I won a framed print of Jesus, which I hung over my bed.

Something happened and we stopped going to church again.
I didn't read the white Bible. The words in it seemed hard to understand.
I'd open it from time to time to see if I could understand the words in the New Testament.
But those letters from Paul and Peter and James didn't make sense to me.

A few years later, my mother decided to try the church thing again. By this time I was a teen.
I got involved in the youth group and came to know some terrific kids who loved God and could actually understand the Bible.
I wanted what they had.
I'd go home and stare at the picture of Christ above my bed.
I always believed that He is the Son of God.
What was missing?
Why did I always feel like I was standing outside in the cold, uninvited, peering through the window at a grand and glorious party?

At church, for the first time, the gospel message was clearly explained.
And I responded in faith to Jesus.

Many things changed after that.
The words in my white Bible instantly made sense.
I felt for the first time that I belonged to God.
I had a strong sense that He was very near and was operating inside of me.
And I stopped fearing death.

As I've grown older, I've often thought about those sweet old women who faithfully taught truth from God's Word. Their lessons sowed seeds in my mind and heart. And through the next ten years, the seeds quietly waited for just the right conditions in order to sprout.

We may never know how a single affirming word, or brief testimony, or quiet act of kindness may be used by God in some other person's life. Or you may be the blessed person who gets to reap what others faithfully, through the years, sowed.
I wonder if God will tell us when we get to heaven. Or will those, through whom we've sowed, come up and thank us?
Some day I hope to find those lovely older women who taught us preschoolers and elementary kids about God. I think I'd say, "You never got to see the fruit of your work, so I'm here to present myself to you. Thank you that you planted God's Word in me, and when the time was right He called me to Himself."

"I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, 'one sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."
John 4: 36-38 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday's Word (Feb. 27)

Wednesday's Word for Feb. 27 is:
Gaffe, noun
Pronounced: Ghaf (rhymes with laugh)

Definition: a blunder; indiscreet act or remark

Can you use "gaffe" in a sentence?

Last weeks word was "factoid"
Definition: trivial fact or news item.

Used in a sentence:
"Based on a factoid I read on the internet, I bought twenty thousand shares of a start-up company that makes buggy whips."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Thought (Feb.26)

Tuesday's Thought:
"I don't like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn't of much value. Life hasn't revealed its beauty to them." (Boris Pasternak, writer)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tumble Weed Fort

When I was a child, we lived in a small California town, bordered on the west by the Sacramento river. To the east, just beyond the elementary school, the hills seemed to stretched endlessly. Sometimes sheep grazed the hills. At other times, jack rabbits and kids raced and cavorted through the tall grasses.
In the Spring, winds swept through the grasses, making them undulate like waves of green ocean.
Tumble weeds would roll down and stick to the cyclone fence that marked the border of school property.
One day we kids got a great idea. Why not build a fort out of tumble weeds? They just naturally stick together and you don't need nails or lumber or anything. Yeah. Let's do it.
So we gathered all the prickly bushes and stuck them together to form a u-shaped wall.
Safe and shielded from the cool wind, we played all day inside the secure walls of the tumble-weed fort.
At dinner time, we raced home for hot dogs, baths, and black and white TV.
But we all promised that the next day we'd assemble again at our fort for more Cowboys and Indians.

Right after breakfast, Lori and Royce and I grabbed our jackets We slammed outside the front door, ran down the block, crossed the street, tiptoed through the elementary school, just in case the custodian, Red, was around, then raced to see who could be the first to touch the cyclone fence.
We vaulted over it, then the scanned the horizon for our fort.
It had been about a hundred yards out and a little to the south.
Where was our fort?
Did another gang of kids steal it?
For a minute I was really mad, just thinking about those nasty kids. The nerve of them to take our fort!
Supremely disappointed, we headed home to climb the backyard tree.

Later that day, we told Daddy that some bad kids must've stole our tumble weed fort.
Daddy chuckled.
What's so funny?
"Tumble weeds are made to tumble," he said. "When the wind blows, they tumble and spread their seeds."
Dumb tumble weeds.

I still remember how secure and satisfied I had felt inside our tumble weed fort.
A rock fort would have been much harder to construct.
But the wind wouldn't have scattered it the same night.

God speaks of Himself as a secure fortress.
Behind His walls we are always safe and sheltered.
Sometimes, like children, we misjudge the safety of our man-made shelters.
But we will never be disappointed by the security of God's protection.

"But I will sing of Your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to You;
You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God." (Psalm 59:16, 17 NIV Bible)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Allegory

An Allegory

Once upon a time, a band of feral children wandered into a village of old people.
The old ones were very happy to have children in their midst.
But these wild children resembled animals in their behavior and their language. Instead of speech, they communicated with one another with snorts and grunts and screeches.
Their hair was wild and matted. Apparently no comb had met their heads in many years.
When the gentle people of the Dena Village saw the wild state of these children, they took pity on them.
The villagers tolerated, even indulged the children,
offered them food,
gave them soft beds to sleep on,
Tried to teach the children the language of humans.
They sang and played their instruments to try to calm the wild ones' explosive emotions
But, alas, as hard as the villagers tried to civilize the wild children, their efforts failed.
Instead, the bad behavior of the wild ones began to affect the villagers.
They, too began to screech when frustrated.
They stole instead of paying for their bread and fruit and meat.
Chaos erupted in the town square as the villagers began to imitate the behavior of the wild ones.
For the first time in many, many years, weeping and shouting was heard behind the walls of the huts.
The villagers no longer wore smiles as they greeted one another during the day.

One day, an old, wise member of the village stood in the town square and announced to his friends:
"People of Dena, we have deserted the ways of the former times. We no longer smile, or happily greet one another. We have listened more to the children than the writings of the Elders. We no longer play and sing with joy. We have lied and stolen. No longer peaceful are the homes where we eat and sleep."

A villager cried out, "But how can we return to our former days when we were so happy?"

The old, wise one answered, "We must no longer allow the wild children to run about the village and cause mayhem. At first, we thought we were showing the children kindness by giving them freedom to run about and express their childish nature. But now, do you see how their behavior has influenced our tribe?"

"Shall we dispel the children? " one villager asked.

"No," the wise one answered. "That would be impossible, for they are part of us. We need the children, and they need us."

"What is the answer then?" another villager cried.

"The children must be restrained, " said the wise one.

"Oh, oh, oh," cried the old ones. "It makes us sad to restrain the children."

"But," said the wise one, "if the children be not restrained, we will all be at each others' throats before long. The village will not survive."

So the villagers did as the wise one counseled. They corralled the wild children. They lovingly tended them, fed them, instructed them, and showed them how to be kind to one another.

In time, the wild children came to know that they would always be nourished and loved. But they also learned that the older villagers expected obedience. Within these safe boundaries the children eventually came to behave as well as any good but mischievous child could.

Dena learned this week that unfettered, child-like thoughts have the power to destroy peace in the  village of her mind. At present, the "children" are being rounded up and placed in protective security.
She and her husband are currently facing many unknowns. Just like the peaceful villagers of her story, she made the mistake of allowing her wild imaginings to create fear and unrest within her hut.
As mature villagers, we know that the "children" must never be allowed to reign. They are immature and foolish. The mature Believer rests in the truth of what God says in His Word, not on the capricious whims of the heart.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in Whom I trust." (Psalm 91: 1, 2 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday's Word

Factoid, noun
Pronounced fak-toyd
Definition: 1. simulated or imagined fact. 2. trivial fact or news item

Can you use this word in a sentence? I dare you! Show me in the comments section.

Last week's (Feb.13) word was eschew.  "I choose to eschew nonsensical arguments in favor of well-reasoned debate."

Tuesday's Thought (Feb. 19)

"When you're at the end of your rope, all you have to do is make one foot move out in front of the other. Just take the next step. That's all there is to it." (Samuel Fuller- film director)

And how about a comparable biblical quote?....
"...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 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. 12:1-3 NIV Bible)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Waiting is Awful/Good

So I had my MRI last Wednesday and still haven't heard from my doctor.
It's so very hard to wait, especially when you're in pain and want answers.
I brought a meal to a friend last Friday. She'd recently had her second hip replacement and she's only 40!
We spent about a half hour on the phone the day before I brought the meal. She told me that she'd been visiting doctors for almost nine years before she got a diagnosis she could wrap her arms around.
That's a lot of pain years.

So I shouldn't complain. It's only been three years for me.
But not knowing what causes the pain, or how long I may suffer with it is almost as frustrating as the pain itself.
If a doctor were to say, "You have a bulging disk at L264—"
(I know, I know I don't have that many vertebrae; it only feels like that)
"—and you should avoid bending, twisting and lifting. And here's my prescription for 6 weeks of physical therapy. After that you will be well on your way toward recovery."

If I knew what I was dealing with, it'd be much easier to be patient through the healing or therapy process.
God knows exactly what is going on inside my body.
But He isn't telling.
Because He is using time and circumstances to grow a Christ-like characteristic of perseverance.
  1. He makes me wait for the appointment with the doctor.
  2. then I wait again for the diagnostic test.
  3. Now I wait for the doctor's report.
  4. And I hope for a diagnosis and a plan of treatment
  5. And last, I hope for an end to pain.

Between each of these events, as I wait, I pray.
And as I pray, God encourages me and teaches me to trust Him.
Of course, I waver. I have private little tantrums from time to time about the waiting.
But would I learn so much about the Lord, would I trust Him as much if I didn't need Him daily because of my suffering?
Of course not.

Chronic suffering is one of his tools.
Suffering reminds me that I am human, weak, not as yet transformed.
Waiting makes me look hope.

Today at church I told a friend that each morning I take an imaginary box, containing all of my urgent requests, and raise my hands up to the ceiling, as if I'm handing it up to God. I say to Him, "There, Lord. It's yours. I have no power to effect any change. If you want it to happen, or change, or heal—or whatever— then You're the only One who can do it."

Our understanding of God's strength grows as we recognize our weakness and learn to wait for His answers.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  (James1: 2-4 NIV Bible)


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Voice of the MRI

I went in for an MRI the other day.
As the technician told me everything that would happen, I could tell she was trying to read my anxiety level. I've heard that lots of people freak out when they have to go into that tight contraption.
"How are you doing?" She asked me.
"Just fine," I said.
"Would you like a blanket?"
"That would be nice," I answered.
I half expected her to ask me if I wanted a teddy bear.
I told the technician that I don't have claustrophia.
Heights are more my thing.

So she covered me up, slid a couple of pillows around me, provided me some ear-phones, and then slid me into the tube.

For the next 40 minutes I listened to a variety of strange bangings, jack-hammerings, and boop-boops.
I tried to remain as still as possible, even though my back was starting to protest.
That was the reason I went in for the MRI. My back.

There was one sound that bothered me.
I lay there trying to figure out what it was about the sound that made my heart accelerate.
I suppose it was the almost human voice, insistently prodding my ears with:
"Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy!"
Kind of like Star Trek's Borg, "Boy!" startled me with its half human and half cyborg voice.
The hybrid voice beat on me: heartless, soul-less, loud, un-altering in its perfect repetitions.
He/it continued to disturb me for almost five minutes with "Boy! Boy! Boy!"

When "Boy!" finally quit, my breathing returned to normal.

Machines are not supposed to sound human. At least machines that we don't expect to speak.
Like MRI machines.

After the test was done and the technician pulled me out of the tube, she told me I'd done a great job. Her smile and touch were warm as she helped up from the table.
Her voice soothed me with its human inflection.

But even as I walked out of the hospital and got into my car, "Boy! Boy!" echoed in my brain.
I put in a CD and let the voice of Michael Card drive away the awful mechanical "Boy!"

This experience has helped remind me to thank God for the sound of human voices all around me:
my husband's, my children's, my grandchildren's, my friend's.
How wonderful to hear the warmth, the emotion, the heart behind each of them. 
Can you imagine not having their voices surrounding you?
Ahh, the human voice!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday's Word (Feb. 13)

Today's word (Feb. 13th) is:
eschew, verb
pronounced es-choo, with accent on second syllable

Definition: To avoid, or abstain from

Can you use this in a sentence?

Last week's (Feb. 6) word was daguerreogtype.

"One of the most famous daguerreotypes from the old West is the one of Jesse James, posing arrogantly with his guns at his side."

Feel free to post your sentences here or on my Facebook page.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's (Feb. 12th) Thought

"If there is no dull and determined effort, there will be no brilliant achievement."
(Hsun Tzu, philosopher)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spotting the Counterfeit

I've heard that there are experts who can immediately spot a counterfeit 20 dollar bill.
For me, the counterfeit bill would have to be pretty obvious or I don't think I'd recognize it as fake.

In the diamond industry, an expert can easily spot the difference between a cubic zirconia and a diamond.
For me, the CZ would have to be pretty bad for me to see that it's not remotely as clear and brilliant as a diamond.

In the fashion industry, there are knock-offs of the original big-name designer handbags or shoes or outfits. Sometimes I can tell the difference; sometimes not.

The counterfeits in money or jewelry or fashion keep on getting better at fooling us regular people.
But the experts—those who regularly stare at and judge the quality of the real thing—are not fooled.

Just so when it comes to recognizing the difference between truth and error in the spiritual realm.
To recognize error, we must first get to be experts at the truth.

Jesus said, as He prayed to His Father, "Thy Word is truth."(John 17: 17)
And so, when we regularly stare at and examine and memorize and meditate on and apply God's truth...
we begin to become experts on His truth.
Then we have an easy time recognizing the counterfeit, even a counterfeit that seems very similar to the truth.

Then, when you hear someone say that:
The God of the Bible is the same as the god of Islam, Allah
that all paths lead to heaven or God
that Jesus was just another avatar (like Buddha or Krishna) of peace and wisdom
that so-and-so (insert name) was a good man/woman); surely he/she will get into heaven
that we need to tolerate obvious immorality in our society because tolerance is a society's highest virtue
"Well my god is loving: he wouldn't send anyone to hell."
that being kind means that we never disagree with anyone else's skewed spiritual beliefs...

You know that each of these statements is false and is not based on Gods truth as revealed in in His Word.
And since you are an expert on God's truth, you know exactly how to  gently refute those who tell you these lies.
You don't have shrug and feel helpless to discuss this error. You don't have to refer anyone to your pastor or elder or more knowledgeable friend.
You yourself know the difference between truth and error.

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth."(John 16:13)

"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful tor teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16)
 (All scripture verses come from the NIV Bible)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Good Start

When I start reading a new novel, I begin with a sense of uncertainty.
Will I like the book?
Will the characters and their situations enthrall me?
What challenges will these characters have to endure?
But after I've finished, having been swept away by the story, the setting, the characters, the satisfactory conclusion, I feel drawn to read the beginning again.
Do you do that, too?

I love beginnings.
Especially when I know the end.
Maybe it's the sense that a new adventure is about to begin, but I know it will end well for the characters.

Because if I begin to care for the characters in the story, and if I am going to suffer vicariously along with them in the midst of their misadventures, I sure as shootin' want them to come out okay.

I suppose that's one reason why the histories in the Bible appeal even to people who wouldn't call themselves Christians. Everyone loves a good story, especially when it illustrates some redeeming quality about the main character.

Who wouldn't cheer for the son (Joseph) who gets sold into slavery by his brothers, then rises to great power in Egypt? And just in time to save his brothers from starvation, and reconcile with them? (Genesis 45)

And what about Ruth, who loyally clings to her mother-in-law even during a time of abject poverty, eventually to marry a wealthy, righteous man? (the book of Ruth)

 How about the youngest son of Jesse, whom Samuel anoints as King of Israel? He's the only man with the courage to fight the giant Goliath, and win. (1st Samuel, chapter 17)

Who wouldn't cheer for the pious Daniel when he gets thrown into the den of Lions but comes out the next day unscathed? (Daniel, chapter 6)

At first reading, the beginnings of these stories seem so bleak.
But God has a plan.
And good triumphs over evil.

Now that I know the end of these Bible true stories, I can relax the next time I read the story.
Sigh. It all works out okay.

I'm learning to relax a little more with my own story.
Because I know that God is good and that He has a plan—a good plan—for me.
I am only at the beginning of my story.
And even though I feel a sense of suspense about the adventures that may jump out of the bushes at any moment to surprise me,
I can rest in the fact that my ending will be good. Even glorious.
Because, just like with Joseph, and Ruth, and David, and Daniel, the same God who wrote their stories, also writes mine.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
You have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16:5,6 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Word for the Week (Feb 6)

Today's word is...
Daguerreotype, noun
Pronounced du-gher-o-tipe, accent on second syllable
photograph taken by an early process using a silvered plate and mercury vapor.

Can you use this word in a sentence? Check back next Wednesday for the word in a sentence.

Last Wednesday's word: cabal

Used in a sentence: "Espionage is quite precisely it—a cabal of powerful men, working secretly." (Frank Conroy)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday's Thought (Feb.5)

"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. "(Mark Twain, writer)

Monday, February 4, 2013

What God Praises

I recently watched author and speaker Susie Larson on the James Roberson show.
She has written an excellent book called Your Beautiful Purpose.
She said that humans tend to exalt skill and talent. But God praises character.
The godly character He produces in you is what advances His Kingdom.

No talent? Nope.
Not great skill? Not.
Isn't skill and talent a good substitute for godly character?


But if God wants to develop godly character in me, that's gonna take a lot of time and possibly pain.
I don't like pain.
I don't like it when there's not enough money for the bills and I gotta trust the Lord to provide.
That's scary.
It's really unpleasant when some nasty person gets promoted at work and is now my boss. How do I learn too submit to such a jerk?
It's hard to trust God when my little child is sick and might face surgery.
And my next door neighbor is downright mean, but Jesus says I gotta pray for those kinds of people.

And while I'm spending my whole life going through unpleasant challenges and learning to trust and obey God, well, meanwhile what am I supposed to do with my talent and skill?

Use it, by all means, if the Lord gives you and opportunity.
But it's your trust and obedience that brings Him pleasure. (Remember how Samuel said to King Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice." 1st. Samuel 15:22))

God is less interested in the skill or talent we wish to offer to the world than the character He wishes to develop in us.
He wants you way more than He wants your talent to be displayed...even for His glory!
He desires your trust and your obedience first.
Then, in due time, when you have gone through your desert experiences and learned that it is only God working through you that enables you to produce lasting fruit:

Then this quote, repeated by Susie Larson becomes true:

"One thousand people wait at the end of your obedience."