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)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's (April 30th) Thought

Tuesday's thought:

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
(Albert Einstein, physicist)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dancing With God

Last night my husband and I attended a dance recital held at my son and daughter-in-law's church.
Our three year old granddaughter danced in one of the first performances.
About ten little girls scampered onto the stage along with our granddaughter, Autumn.
The audience sighed out a collective "ah."
Of course tears welled up in my eyes at the sight of these darling three year olds in their spring green tutus. They looked like little fairies.
As the evening of dances went on, older dancers performed their routines.
The evening culminated with the most advanced dancers.
The dances and the music stirred my soul.
Oh, how I wished I were young again!
To bend and twist, leap and twirl.

I'm learning another kind of dance, though.
Infinitely more stirring and satisfying to the soul:
the dance with God.

There are many references to dancing in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament.
  • King David danced without reserve when the ark of the covenant was finally carried into the city of Jerusalem.
  • Miriam, the prophetess,  older sister of Moses, led the women in dances and songs of worship to God.

I think of myself of the shy wallflower that the handsome and noble Prince notices as I sit on a chair, far from the fun and excitement of the dance.
He approaches me, and I blush that such a great man would even look at me.
And then my heart leaps when He stands before me, extends His hand and says,
"Would you care to dance with me?"
For a second I"m afraid. Will I look like a fool? What if I stumble and fall?
But He takes my hand and gracefully leads me to the dance floor.
Gently, he places his hand on my back and guides me in a waltz.
We twirl and glide, circling the floor, melting in and out of the swirl of other dancers.
I am alive, exulting in the freedom and the sublime beauty of music and the delight of movement.
I feel no inhibition, no uncertainty in my steps; I do not doubt my partner's capability to perfectly lead me in this wonderful dance.
I look up into His face and find Him smiling at me with such joy and affection that I know it was no mistake that He chose me as His partner.
He loves me!

"Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing
and make music to Him with tambourine and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in His people;
He crown the humble with salvation." (Psalm 149: 1-4 NIV Bible)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eyes Up!

I've been teaching piano for about 35 years.
One thing that's a constant is:
 beginning students do not want to look up at a musical score for fear that their hands will get lost on the keyboard.
Some kids quickly acquire the skill of  looking up at the musical score, then looking down to check where their hands are, then looking back up.
Others struggle.
I had one student recently (('ll call him Jon, not his real name) who, in spite of my constant reminders, kept his eyes glued to whatever his hands were doing.
Sometimes I'd take a large notebook and place it over the keyboard so he couldn't see what his hands were doing. This helped remind him to keep his eyes up on the score.

Just like the student who's trying to build his speed and accuracy on a computer keyboard:
you don't achieve much speed if you continue to if you use the "hunt and peck" method.

Over a two year period, Jon clung to his old, safe, ineffective method of staring at his hands.
Even when he couldn't remember what notes to play.

Me: "Jon, your fingers don't know what to play."
Jon:  staring at his fingers as if waiting for them to think up the correct notes.
Me: "Your fingers are waiting for your brain to tell them what notes to play."
Jon: still staring desperately at his fingers.
Me: "And how does your brain know what to tell your fingers?"
Jon: "Oh, right, I have to look up at the music."
Me: "Right!"

I find myself behaving a lot like Jon at times.
In my life as a Christian, I know very well where to look when I am perplexed or troubled.
But many times, looking upward is the last thing I'll do.
I'll spend way too much time "staring at my hands," as if somehow these brainless appendages can direct me toward the right way to go.
I'm getting better at consulting the Lord, first thing.
But for me, it's still a daily challenge to break the old fleshly habit of trusting my fingers rather than the score.

The crux of my challenge is this:
The new nature that God has birthed in me knows that God knows best.
But my actions prove that I trust my old self a little bit more than I trust Him.
My "fingers" may let me down, but I've known them all my life.
And I'm still in love with my fingers.
It's a scary thing to rely on the new way of reading and following the "score."
But if I want to make music that God has designed, I'd better get my eyes up, away from the old finger method!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight."
(Prov. 3: 5, 6 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday's (April 24( Word

Wednesday's Word is:

Obdurate: adjective
Pronunciation: ob-dyoor-it, with accent on first syllable

Definition: 1. stubborn, 2. hardened against persuasion or influence

Wanna try to use this in a sentence? I'd love to see what you come up with.

Last week's word was nabob, a wealthy person of influence.

"All I've got to do to get this bill before the American people is to call a couple of the nabobs in my address book."

Tuesday's (April 23) Thought

Tuesday's Thought:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games; 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed."
Michael Jordan, Basketball player

Monday, April 22, 2013

When God Delays

During Sunday School, a friend shared about her son's challenges in graduate school.
I shared about my constant battle to give the Lord the reins on my life, especially concerning how long it is taking to find a publisher for one of my books.
Another friend talked about her struggle to understand God's will when her grandchild died suddenly.

Everyone of us expressed our ultimate trust in God and our submission to His will.
But our humanity cries out for the "why"s of our individual tragedies or injustices.

I said, "My fleshly eyes want to see the reasons behind God's delays to my prayers, or his "no"s.

But, scripture says:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." (Heb. 10:38)

And this is not a blind faith. A stupid, ignorant faith that says, "don't worry, be happy."
No, this is a faith based on:
  •  the reliability of scripture,
  •  the faithfulness of God,
  •  the testimony of hundreds who witnessed His death and resurrection, 
  • the faithful testimony of Jesus's disciples,
  • the writings of secular historians who were Jesus's contemporaries, 
  • two centuries of evidence of the power of God to transform lives,
  • fulfillment of prophecies,
  • archeological evidence,
  • and our personal experience of the work of the Holy Spirit within ourselves and those we love.

When we cannot understand God's answers or why He delays in answering a godly prayer, we cannot say that:
God is not good.
No, we already know that God is good and is never not good. (James 1:16)
We cannot say that God doesn't care.
We know that He cares for us, not only because His Son died for us, but because His word says repeatedly how He loves us. (1 Pet. 5:7)
We cannot say that God doesn't know best.
We know that the infinite, omniscient, Alpha and Omega, Ancient of Days, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the One not bound by time, Who always has been and always will be...
has more than just an inkling about our circumstances! (Rev. 21)

Every morning the battle begins anew. My heart and my mind begin to question and get upset about the things that I've earnestly prayed about.
"Why, God? The things that I'm asking for are such good things?
Yes, I know that you want me to learn to trust you.
Yes, I know that the work of the Spirit is to transform me.
Yes, I know that I am to live by faith and not by sight.
Yes, it is possible that you are preparing the way for others involved in my prayer,
But... "

Then I sigh, and lift my hands up toward heaven to release my prayer burdens.

For I know that when God does answer, it will be on His terms, way better than I could ask or imagine, and will be by His provision, not by anything I have done, and will be for His glory, not mine. (Gideon in the book of Judges—chapters 6 and 7— is a great example of this.)

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5: 16)

(All scripture verses are taken from the NIV Bible)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sittin' on the Shelf

Years ago, as a young wife and mother, and a baby in the Christian faith, I got super involved in our church.
I was there just about every day.
Prayer ministry,
bible studies,
children's ministry,
a touring singer,
a teacher and mentor,
partnering with my husband to lead a Young Married Sunday School class,
regularly entertaining friends and new church attenders.

When I look at my journals from that period I see a common thread of thought:
I had to do it all.
Notice the focus on self.

It wasn't that my faith was not genuine.
It was.

But I think my understanding of "works" was incomplete.
I knew God loved me.
But I also felt that somehow God would love me and value me more if I kept busy in His house.

Then I hurt my neck and was laid up for months.
I felt as if God had simply stored me in a dark coat closet.
There I sat, despondently watching a slim light at the bottom of the door while the world of church ministry went on without me.

How I struggled with not being involved.
I felt so useless.
That's when I discovered an unpleasant truth about myself:
I wasn't convinced of God's love for me. I felt I had to "work" for His love.

My earthly experience of feeling devalued as a child and needing to work for my parents' love and respect had colored my faith in Christ.

Fortunately, the Lord intervened in a miraculous way and communicated His great love for me.

I sometimes wonder how great it would be if every busy server in the church were to be put on a shelf for a period of time.
It's a great way to reevaluate what you truly think about your value and significance in God's kingdom.

Have you ever been "put on a shelf?"
Did God teach you valuable lessons while you were in a condition of "uselessness?"

Here are some of the truths God showed me during my period of convalescence:

"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)

"For You created my inmost being;
 You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:13,14)

"...the Lord disciplines those He loves
as a father the son he delights in." (Proverbs 3:12)

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph, 3:18,19 )

I needed my time on the shelf. It was painful, but enlightening.
The Lord showed His faithfulness, His sweetness, and His goodness during this time.
And I fell more deeply in love with Him.

(All scripture verses come from the NIV Bible)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday's (April 17) Word

Today's word is:

nabob, noun
Pronounced: nay-bob, with accent on first syllable.
Definition: a wealthy person of influence

Have you ever used this word before?

Last week's word was:
elaborately cunning, scheming, unscrupulous

Used in a sentence:
"The senator's machiavellian plot to discredit his opponent was overheard in the men's restroom."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's (April16) thought

Tuesday's thought:

"Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person."
R. Buckminster Fuller, philosopher

Monday, April 15, 2013

He's Not Like the Weather

Colorado weather is notoriously changeable.
Up here in Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, seasoned hikers know to pack for all types of weather conditions.
Years ago Bruce and I and our three kids took a hike in Roosevelt National Forest. The day was sunny and warm. Not a cloud in the sky.
We didn't know about Colorado weather then, having recently moved from New York.
In the middle of our hike, clouds swiftly rolled in, drops of rain smacked our heads.
Soon thunder crashed overhead and lightning zipped alarmingly close.
Within minutes we were all completely soaked. None of us had brought jackets.
We ran the two miles back to our car, dodging lightning strikes the whole way.
Once safely inside our minivan, I said to my husband, "From now on, we never step onto a hiking trail without some kind of jacket and head covering."

Now that we've lived in Colorado for many years we know that the weather out here is treacherous.
I harbor ambivalent feelings toward our weather people. They seldom get it right.
If they forecast a big snow storm (like last week), then we get a dusting.
If they say it's going to be sunny and warm, you can bet that we'll get snow.
Last year we lost a brand new table umbrella to an unexpected bluster from the west.
The thing snapped in the sudden wind and flew several houses away.

One thing you can count on: you can't count on the weather!

Because of the unpredictable weather it's hard to plan social or sporting events.
You don't know what you're going to get.

Aren't you glad that God isn't like Colorado weather?
Isn't it great that with God you always know what you'll get?

If you cry out to Him for mercy, then mercy is what you'll get. (Psalm 28:6)
If you confess wrong-doing, He will forgive and restore. (1 John 1:9)
If you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

He doesn't change.
He is not capricious: sometimes happy to see you and in a good mood.
Other times in a bad mood and anti-social.

Nope. God is the same.
He always loves you.
Always wants what's best.
He's not testy or moody.
He's always holy.
Always keeps His promises.
Never abandons His children.

What a God!

I guess that's why so many believers in the Bible have referred to Him as their solid, immovable "Rock."
"He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." (Deut. 32: 4)

The weather in Colorado may change, but you can count on the unchangeable-ness of the Lord.

"I the Lord do not change." (Mal. 3:6)

You may be down one day, and upbeat the next.
Not God.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17 NIV Bible)

Praise the Lord He's not like Colorado weather!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Get Ready For The Tickle-Man!

When we were just little kids, my dad occasionally displayed his more playful side.
This usually involved chasing each of us down, then tickling us till we howled for mercy.
It went like this:
Dad would lunge for the oldest kid, Jay. (There were five of us.)
The rest of us would stand and watch him get dumped onto the couch and tickled.
Jay, being the oldest, and being so dignified usually only got a few seconds of tickle time.
Then it was Lee's turn. She'd make a half-hearted attempt to flee, but Daddy would catch her and give her the same treatment.
Then on to Lori, who had been watching Lee's tickle torture. Lori was obviously enjoying herself immensely.
My twin, Royce, got an extended time of tickles. Probably because he would spring away and make my dad work extra hard to catch him.
Last, I got the tickle torture.
Mine was the worst, of course, because I had to witness four people ahead of me.
The fearful expectation of tickling made me breathless. I could run fast as a small child, so my dad had to chase me down the neighborhood block until I couldn't catch my breath anymore. Laughing hard, he'd seize me, sling me over his shoulder and carry me home like a sack of potatoes.

A fun memory.
But I wonder why none of us bright children thought to hide ourselves while one of the others was getting tickled?
Maybe we thought we didn't have the right to absent ourselves from the tickle game.
We were all very obedient and compliant children...
even when we knew we were doomed by our lack of action.

Still, it seems strange that all five of us stood by, witnessing the "torture" of our brothers and sisters and did nothing to elude the calamity which was soon to follow.

Sometimes, I suspect, it's not always good to unquestioningly accept our fate.
As adults, we need to take action to ensure our safety at the first hint of danger.
Not when it has already arrived:

  • If it is building a nest egg, start now, not later.
  • If it is getting out of debt, start today.
  • If you have just had a baby, start today to lead him/her to Christ. Not when they're older.
  • If it is repairing a relationship, don't wait till the damage is irreparable.
  • If it is fixing something broken in the house, don't wait till it costs thousands. Fix it now.
  • If it is giving to a charity, or getting involved in a ministry, and you've been thinking about it for years, what are you waiting for?
  • If it is taking action to protect your children from a bad influence, act now. Don't wait to see how things go.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action..."  (1 Pet. 1:13 NIB Bible)

Wednesday's (April 10th) Word

Wednesday's Word is:

Machiavellian, adjective
Pronunciation: mak-ee-a-vel-ee-an

Definition: elaborately cunning; scheming, unscrupulous.

What a great word! Can you construct a sentence using this word?

Last week's word was "laconic."

"The cowboy's laconic style of speech left me hungering for more information."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's (April 9th) Thought

Tuesday's (April 9th) Thought

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."
Eric Hoffer, Social commentator


I remember when Jack-in-the-Box first opened in my hometown of Lafayette, California.
A little sign just preceding the figure of Jack clued us newcomers in to the ordering process. It said:
"Jack will speak to you."
We all know the drill now.
But before the novelty of speaking to Jack wore off, we'd giggle a little before we gave our order.
It was brilliant marketing and customer service.

Before Jack-in-the-Box and MacDonald's and Wendy's and Burger King, most of us didn't give too much thought to the safety afforded by restaurant standardization.
We'd go to our local hamburger stand... and stand and wait. The hamburgers and fries might change from day to day depending on who was cooking that day.

But now, we know exactly what to expect from each fast-food joint.
Standardization gives us a certain security. Each MacDonalds  will yield one pickle, a tablespoon's squirt of ketchup, a dot of mustard, a miniscule beef patty, all enclosed in the usual bun.

This week I'm wrestling in my soul over God's delay in answering a very urgent prayer request.
I sometimes wish I could merely put in my order, pay a certain fee, and get the requested answer.
Wouldn't it be great if God were predictable, like fast food,  and all His answers to our prayers were safe, comfortable, predictable answers?
Like Jack-in-the-Box, God could be expected to always answer our prayers in a standardized, predictable manner.

But, oh, it would also be horrible!
What kind of God is predictable, and bows to our methods?
How would He be God if I could manipulate Him?
If He simply spit out whatever my human heart conceived, then wished for?

I want to box God in.
I want to figure Him out, so I can control Him.
Then I won't have to be afraid of His big, holy, inscrutable, so-much-higher-than-my thoughts.

There is in me a constant battle for my heart's throne.
The old me wants to be god.
The new nature that God has placed in me when I asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior desires to place the true God on my throne.

My old self wants to the security of knowing that I will always be pleased by the god who controls my life.
When the true God is in control, I am not always assured that I will be pleased.
This much bigger God loves me, I'm sure.
But like a big, mysterious parent, He sometimes makes painful things occur and denies me my whims.

When I am god—for the day, for the hour, for the minute—I view God as my own personal Genie.
But when I surrender and step down and God becomes God again on my throne... He is so much more than simply a fulfiller of my wishes...

(I hate that I sometimes view God, my Savior merely as a fulfiller of my desires. But that is precisely why I need a Savior: to rescue me from my slavery to self!)

...He is everything: my God, my King, Savior, my best friend, Savior, Counselor, healer, comforter, the One who fills my thoughts, the One I desire, I the One I yearn to hear and to see.

So much bigger than the safe, predictable box I sometimes try to place Him into.

 The Beaver family and Peter and Lucy discuss Aslan, the mighty King of Narnia, from Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis:

"If there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
"I'm longing to see him, " said Peter, "even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pain Relief

So I went into the surgery center to have one kind of treatment for my back, but the doctor consulted with me and said I should have another kind of shot.
After listening to her rationale, I agreed with her.
They drugged me and gave me an epidural way down low in my spine.
Two days later, I'm almost pain-free.
Praise the Lord!
Thank You, Jesus for modern medicine.
Thank You for doctors.
Thank You for medicine and pain-killing drugs.
Did you know that before we had anesthetics, people who needed surgery sometimes committed suicide?
I'm used to having IVs put in my hand because I've had so many surgeries.
Now they inject lidocaine before they even put in the IV.
I'm no wimp when it comes to pain.
But if there's a drug that can numb it a little, I say, bring it on.

I went for a walk today. A long one.
Trying to see if my back would hurt.
It didn't.

I'm looking forward to the body Christ will give me when I leave this world.
No more neck pain, no more back pain, no more tendonitis, no more sore muscles when I hike too many miles, no more arthritis, no more disk problems.

"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: 4 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday's (April 3) Word

Today's vocabulary word is:

Laconic (adjective)
Pronounced: la-kon-ik, with accent on second syllable
Definition: terse; using few words; concise.

This is a good word to describe the silent cowboy or the detective who thinks a lot but says very little.

Can you use "laconic" in a sentence?

Last week's word was keel-haul.
"The cruel captain from Mutiny on the Bounty used to keel-haul his sailors when they disrespected him. I wonder if some of the men drowned before they could be hauled back up from the underside of the ship."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday's (April 2) Thought

How to live:

"Be gentle to all and stern with yourself."
(Teresa of Avila, mystic and nun)

What do you think?
Do you agree?
Are there times when this quote might not apply?

Monday, April 1, 2013

It Doesn't Seem Dangerous

It was early evening, still light, as I drove down Fish Creek Road on my way to choir rehearsal.
As I rounded a bend on Fish Creek Road, I saw the herd of elk. Most of them had already crossed the road. But three cows completely blocked both the south and northbound lanes.
Elk see and hear well, but the approach of my car did nothing to make them move. Another car, approaching from the opposite direction slowed. We both waited for the elk to get the hint that they should move off the road.
Frozen like statues, the furry creatures stared at the rest of the herd, grazing on the hillside just twenty paces away.
I tooted my horn. So did the other car.
More cars came around the bend and slowed when they saw the elk blocking the road.
We waited.
I tooted again. The cow that blocked my side didn't even flick an ear.
I considered backing up and taking an alternate route, but I'd probably have annoyed the drivers of the three cars already crowding behind me.
For those of you that don't know about elk, you can't get out of the car and wave at them or get close and try to scare them. Noooooo. Too dangerous.
They look sweet and docile, but they are anything but when threatened or startled.
After about five minutes, the cows decided to move across the road. Slowly.
I made it to choir a few minutes late.
Darn elk.

Tourists love the elk.

"Ooo, Mommy, look! What are they? Big deer?"
Mommy laughs. "No, honey. Those are moose. Let's stop the car and get out so we can get a better look at these cute, cuddly big animals. Maybe we can get a picture of you next to one."
"Oh, boy. My friends at Des Moines Elementary are not gonna believe I got to pet a moose."

Too bad we don't post signs in Estes warning tourists about elk dangers.

We took a trip up to Banff in Alberta, Canada a couple of years ago.
They have signs that warn people to stay in their cars...because of the frequent grizzly sightings!

I guess, in the spiritual realm of our minds we humans tend to be equally ignorant of danger.
The Bible warns us: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5: 8)

Just like the unpredictable elk, or the angry grizzly, all it takes is a second to get yourself into trouble by holding onto destructive thoughts, and chewing on them.

The elk are a constant reminder to me that what appears sweet and docile on TV, on the Internet, on the radio, in my conversations, in the books I choose,  anything that enters my mind for my examination or enjoyment...
may not be.
Be careful, Dena.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
(Philippians 4: 8 NIV Bible)