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, May 30, 2013

Hurt Before Healing

The Process of Healing

I had my second round of injections in my back yesterday.
To prepare me, the nurse put in an IV. It took her a couple of tries since my veins are so small.
And even though they now inject a little lidocaine to numb the area where the IV needle goes in, invariably it hurts.
Good thing I'm pretty stoic when it comes to pain.

The door was open to the surgery room, so I spent the next half hour watching the surgery nurse get prepared for my procedure.

She lined up three small stainless steel tables. The sight of them made my toes tingle with apprehension.
 Next, she opened three plastic bags each containing a disposable gray-blue blanket. These were placed over the three tables.

Then she opened scads of plastic-covered disposable needles and dropped them, untouched—yes, I was looking to make sure she didn't handle them—onto the tables.

A few minutes later, they came out and escorted me to the table and told me to lie facedown with my head on one pillow, stomach on another pillow and the last one just below my knees.

"Okay," the surgery nurse said, "here comes the sedation." She injected a clear fluid into my IV line. "And here's the  painkiller."

My lips turned numb, my head swam. Next thing I knew, my face was scrunched into my pillow.

In spite of the painkiller, those needles hurt.
Please God, make these shots count, I prayed silently.
I'm going through a lot of pain to get rid of pain.

It's seldom pleasant to improve one's condition:
  • Getting physically strong after being weak requires a willingness to challenge our bodies
  • Losing weight takes discipline, planning and re-training
  • Learning requires time, focus, discipline and practice
  • Healing from an injury almost always requires a painful surgery, or painful physical therapy
It shouldn't surprise us as Christians that becoming more and more like Christ requires a daily—sometimes painful— choice to deny our natural inclinations in order to choose the way that the Holy Spirit leads.

Healing from emotional or spiritual wounds follows that same path as healing from physical hurts:
  1. You have to recognize the need to get better
  2. You have to desire to get better
  3. You have to start searching for appropriate healing therapies
  4. You have to listen to an expert who can tell you what steps to take toward healing
  5. You have to do what you've been told even when it hurts or takes longer than expected
  6. You have to persevere
  7. After your healing, you bless others by helping them find their own healing.
The road to emotional or spiritual healing is never pleasant.
 It's easier to do nothing,
 or point blame or bitterness at others,
or compare yourself favorably with someone who's much worse off than you are.

But none of these three inactions draws you or I closer to Christ.

We must be willing to experience a little pain and inconvenience for a time...
so that Jesus can claim more and more of us.
(and He won't leave you alone in this quest for wholeness. He'll empower you!)

Perhaps you'd like to read the entire 12th chapter of Hebrews.
Here are verses 12 and 13 of that chapter:
"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wednesday's (May 29th) Word

Wednesday's Word is:

saccharine, adjective
Pronounced: sack-r-rin or sack-r-een
Definition: 1. an overly sweet countenance or attitude, 2. overly polite

Last week's word was raconteur
Used in a sentence:

"We can always count on Uncle Bob to be the party's raconteur with his funny stories from the old days."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday's (May 28) Thought

Tuesday's Thought:

"If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say, meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."
(Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jurist)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Gardens of Mercy

I had hurt my neck and the doctor told me to "take it real easy" for a few weeks.
Weeks stretched into months and despite physical therapy and pain medications, the spasm in my neck was unrelenting and agonizing.
Spring arrived, but because my neck had not yet healed, I couldn't bend over and work on planting or tending all the plants in my garden. I had always loved working outdoors. The scent of flowers and freshly mowed grass brought sunshine into my heart.

 But now, I felt so helpless and useless. I even needed help taking care of my young children.
Friends from church took turns coming over each day to cook, and clean and tend to my two little boys.

One day, when my loving husband, Bruce, could see how depressed I had become, he said, "Dena, I think you'd feel a lot better if you could fly out to California to see your parents and your brothers and sisters."
A few days later I stepped off the plane in Oakland, California wearing a neck brace and carrying little but my purse and a tiny over-nighter.

The next couple of weeks passed quickly. My parents, in hopes that a little fun would take my mind off my physical misery, arranged visits with aunts, uncles and cousins who all lived in the San Francisco bay area.
It was wonderful to see my relatives, but after my two-week visit I missed my husband and children and my friends.

Even though I still felt very depressed about my painful neck, it felt so good to return home.

Bruce carried my bag upstairs. When I stepped into the Master bedroom, what I saw stirred my heart with delight.
Sitting everywhere were pots of live plants and flowers: miniature rose bushes, geraniums, mums, ivy, ferns, impatiens, lilies, and daisies.
Their gorgeous scents mingled and swept into my nostrils. Tears welled in my eyes as my husband wrapped his arms around me.

Bruce explained that my friends, knowing how sad I'd been that I couldn't work in my garden, had tried to bring me comfort by creating an indoor garden for me.
That afternoon, God seemed to whisper in my ear, "Your friends love you, and so do I."

There is something sublimely healing in the knowledge that you are thought of with love and affection.
Years later, my hearts still warms at the memory of the friendship and concern represented by all of those wonderful plants.
This kind act seems like a small thing. After all, no one donated a kidney, or sent me on a cruise to the Caribbean.
But that my friends knew me well enough to recognize that my soul longed for the beauty of flowers, spoke volumes to my heart.
That evening, as I settled into bed amongst my indoor garden, my pain eased a bit.

(This blog post was written in honor of Wayman Publishing's quest to encourage readers with true stories of how we can bring comfort and healing to the hearts of those we love by little acts of kindness.)

If you buy any of Wayman Publishing's books you will automatically be entered into their sweepstakes. For more information, visit this link:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Learn From the Trout

The other day, as I did my three-times-around circuit of Lily Lake, a ruckus just yards away from the lake made me jerk my head around.
Under the log bridge that is part of the trail, a small stream exits the lake and tumbles down the hill in the direction of Estes Park.


A patch of ice lingered next to a narrow part of the stream. Here, a lucky raven had snagged a small trout and hauled him up and onto the ice.
Seconds later, two other sharp-eyed ravens swooped down to share the take.
Croaks, cackles and screeches ensued.
Apparently no one wanted to share.

Under the deadly onslaught of the three black-plumed sisters, the little trout zipped back and forth across the ice like a hockey puck.
Finally the victor snatched the now mangled fish off to a corner and greedily tore into it.
The losers flapped off and settled to watch in nearby Ponderosa trees, still voicing their outrage.


The most interesting thing about this true-life adventure in the wilderness wasn't what happened on land.
It was the reaction of the other small trout who had witnessed their comrade's tragedy.

They hesitated between the  bridge and narrow icy spot where the other trout had met his fate.
One foolhardy fish made a dash for freedom through the hazardous chute. By now, he's probably gliding with the beavers in Fish Creek somewhere near my house.
Unless an otter got him!

The other little trout appeared to weigh their decision and then opt for safer waters under the bridge.
But even that sheltered spot wasn't entirely safe.
A pair of mallards paddled under the bridge.
The trout instantly dispersed, each making panicked darts around rocks, seeking hiding places.
One of the ducks made a half-hearted dive at a trout. But the fish escaped and zipped back into Lily Lake.

We tend to think fish are pretty stupid. But what I saw that morning at Lily Lake convinced me that they're actually wise little creatures.
  • They witnessed the ramifications of making a foolish decision: death.
  • They backed away and consulted with each other: a wise action.
  • They took shelter behind solid structures when another danger arrived: good judgment
  • They prudently chose to remain in safer waters: they'll live long enough to reproduce!
I wish I was always as wise as a trout.
By the Lord's grace, He has spared me from facing many unpleasant consequences of my foolish decisions.


The behavior of God's creatures can teach us a lot about right living. After all, The Lord has built into each of his birds, fish, and mammals instincts intended to preserve their species. If only we'll observe and apply nature's principles, we may spare ourselves and our loved ones grief!

Let's put this in human terms:

  • When faced with a risky decision—like the stream and the raven—consider what has happened to those who made the same decision.
  • Consult with others, especially those considered wise. ("Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22)
  • When danger lurks, recognize it for what it is and avoid it. ("Flee from sexual immorality." 1st Cor. 6:18)
  • Think about your life not in terms of what pleases you right now, but in terms of what will ultimately provide you the longest, most productive life. ("Be careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Eph. 5:15-16)

"My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble;
when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you life down, your sleep will be sweet." (Proverbs 3: 21-24 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday's (May 22) Word

Wednesday's Word is:

Raconteur, noun
pronounced: rah-kon-tur
Definition: a teller of interesting anecdotes, a story-teller

Can you use this word in a sentence?

Last week's words was "quail."

"My heart quails when I meet an editor."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's (May 21) Thought

Tuesday's Thought:

"He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." (Proverbs 13:3)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Do Look Back!

Years ago I worked as a wilderness camp counselor in California. One of our mentors was a man who'd had training in wilderness survival.
He took us out on walks through the wilderness and instructed us about how to navigate in unfamiliar territory.
One of the the most important points he made was this:
As you make your way through the woods, always look back. That way, if you have to return the same way, the terrain won't seem unfamiliar.

  • Note landmarks that you have just passed. 
  • Make a mental note of how steep the terrain is.
  • When you look back from where you've just come, are you facing north, south, east, west?

Look back. Look back frequently. So you remember the trail.
This excellent advice from my mentor has helped me when I'm hiking up in the backcountry of the Rockies.

The Bible has something to say about looking back, too.

The Lord told the Israelites to remember their days as slaves in Egypt. (Deut. 5:15)
They were to tell their children about what God has done to free them and to provide for them.

The psalmist states: "I will remember the deeds of the Lord....I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds."(Psalm 77)

Jesus has told us to remember His death by taking communion. Whenever I do, I stop focusing on my troubles and remember how wonderful Jesus is, how much He loves me, and how much I love Him.

It is easy to get discouraged. But when I remember all that God has done for me, His answers to my prayers, His protections and provisions over the years...
then my walk with the Lord becomes secure once more.

Look back frequently.
So you remember the trail.

"Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." (Psalm 103:1,2)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Performing With God

This weekend our church choir and orchestra is performing Mozart's Requiem.
The score calls for  soprano, alto, tenor and bass solos and quartets.
I'm the alto soloist, which is quite a thrill since I get to sing with Kara, our marvelous choir director and professional singer, Jeff, one of our extremely talented tenors, and Keith, a bass from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
So last night we had our first rehearsal with the conductor, Arturo, and the orchestra.
I'm a pretty good singer. Used to be really good back in the day. But as I approach my sixtieth...well you know. Doesn't the song go something like this?:  "The old grey goose, she ain't what she used to be!"
However, as I stood with Kara and Jeff and Keith, their glorious voices made me sound better.

That's how Jesus is.
When He is standing with me, I sound better.
I think better.
Love better.
Understand better.

What a privilege, what an honor to partner with Jesus in "making music."
Without Him, our sounds would be rather puny, and the audience would surely hear all our inconsistencies of tone, pitch, vibrato.
But the Lord breathes life into all He has called us to do.
Enables us. Inspires us. Stays close.
His harmonies explain the meaning of our individual lines of music.
Weaving them into a comprehensible whole.

Thank Him every day that He has called you into a relationship  with Him. What a joy it is to be able to accompany Him throughout His day!

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100 NIV Bible)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday's (May 15th) Word

Wednesday's Word:

quail, verb
pronounced: kway-l
Definition: to flinch, to be apprehensive with fear.

Can you use this word in a sentence?

Last week's word was: palaver.
Used in a sentence:
"Jane rolled her eyes at her daughter's palaver over the lead singer of the boy band."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday's (May14th) Thought

Tuesday's thought:

"Forget past mistakes.
Forget failures.
Forget everything except what you're going to do now,
and do it."
(Will Durant, historian)

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Guitar is Broken!

A couple of days ago, I had a very satisfying practice on my classical guitar, Aria.
At the end of my practice, I reached over and set her in her guitar stand, and stood to stretch out my sore back.
As I walked past my guitar, my hip lightly bumped the heavy music stand that held a couple of big guitar books from which I'd been sight-reading.
The stand toppled. It should have fallen away from me.
But no. The stand fell straight toward my guitar.
Like one of those movies where the tragic action happens in slow motion, the main character attempts—by running, diving, or springing—to avert the tragedy, all the while mouthing, "Nooooooooo!"
A corner of the stand hit Aria and she fell backward.
I made a dive for her, missed and grimaced in horror as she hit the wood floor.

Maybe she's okay.
Guitars do fall sometimes.
It wasn't a bad fall.
Maybe I'll be lucky. 

I picked Aria up and turned her gently.
Then moaned when I saw the crack.
A big one.
Right along her shoulder.

Bruce heard my moan and came running upstairs.
"What happened?"
"Look!" I cried as I turned the guitar so he could see the crack.
I sank onto my chair, still holding Aria. Tears sprang to my eyes.
(I'm not usually a crier, but this just got to me.)

The next day I took Aria down to Boulder to my favorite Luthiers.
Don examined the guitar.
I held my breath during the suspenseful interval of time.
 When Don finally looked up, he was smiling. "Yep, we can fix her."
I exhaled all the air that had been screaming to get out of my lungs for at least 60 seconds.
"But we probably won't be able to match the wood perfectly."

I didn't care. Just so long as Aria was fixed and ready to make beautiful music again.

Don quoted me a price that seemed reasonable and said it would take about 3 weeks for the repair.
What a relief. Now I'm counting down the days when I can bring my guitar back home.

Aria is a special guitar. Not custom made, but well-made, nonetheless.
With a lovely tone and lots of resonance.
It hurts not to have her close.
Her strings and her sounding board, are an extension of hands and a heart that desire to worship and praise God.
The two of us have spent many hours in the quiet and privacy of my office...
playing and singing,
offering sacrifices of praise,
finding refreshment and encouragement,
and, I believe, pleasing the Lord.

What is your instrument of choice?
Your voice, the piano, drums, tambourine?
Have you ever been separated from music?
How did it feel?

"Praise the Lord.
Praise God in His sanctuary;
praise Him in His mighty heaven.
Praise Him for His acts of power:
praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise Him with the harp and lyre,
praise Him with tambourine and dancing,
praise Him with the strings and flute,
praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord." (Psalm 150 NIV Bible)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tell Her!

My husband has the gift of encouragement.
I'm so grateful to God that He put us together.
Because I need lots of encouragement.
(Of course, my gifts build up my husband, too.)

Years ago I used to come home after a day spent with various women's groups.
I'd tell about all of my conversations and then say something like this:
"So and so sure has a special way of making all the women feel significant."

Then my husband would ask, "Well, did you tell her?"
"Tell her?"
"Yes." my husband would say enthusiastically. "It probably would have made her day to tell her what you were thinking."

Tell a person to their face what wonderful things I was thinking about them?

Now, that's a novel idea!

I wasn't raised in a family where that was done, and I never thought that my words could hold such power.
But the next time I attended another Bible study I made it a point to speak words of encouragement to a woman who demonstrated a gift for listening to others.
When I came home, I told my husband what I'd said to my Bible study friend.

By coincidence, the following Sunday, our friend, Jeff shared that he had been talking to his friend, Greg at the Seminary a couple of weeks earlier. Jeff's friend shared that he had a lot of things to think about concerning his studies and asked Jeff to pray for him. Jeff doesn't remember specifically what he said to Greg to encourage him, but they prayed together.
A few days after their conversation, Greg called Jeff and thanked him for listening to him and encouraging him.
Greg said, "I had already made up my mind to give up my plans to enter the ministry. I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged. But then you told me I had a special gift of caring for others and that I should press on. Jeff, if it hadn't been for you being there and listening to me, I would have given up."

By the time Jeff—a calm, unemotional, intellectual guy— had finished sharing his story with the Sunday School class, tears rolled down his face.
He said, "I never thought a few words coming from me could have the power to change the course of another person's life so dramatically."

Coming on the heels of my husband's nudge to start sharing encouragement with women, Jeff's story left a powerful imprint on my soul.

We may never know what is going on inside another person: the struggles, the discouragement, the fears, the doubts.
But God does.
He wants us to be His instrument to speak blessing into another's life.

When you feel a nudge to speak words of kindness, don't just think about it.
Do it!

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday's (May 8) Word

I apologize for missing last Wednesday's word.
We had a big snowstorm and our power was out that day!

Wednesday's Word is:
palaver, noun
Pronounced: puh-la-ver, with accent on second syllable
Definition: tedious fuss and bother
trouble, red tape, commotion, bother, nonsense, carrying-on

Last week's word was "obdurate."
"I remember some students from year's back because of their obdurate personalities and the challenge I felt to help them learn to be more compliant."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday's (May 7th) Thought

Tuesday's Thought:

"My motto was always to keep swinging.
Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field,
the only thing to do was keep swinging."
(Hank Aaron, Baseball player)

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm Sorry for Hating You

Have you ever talked to someone whose self-concept was worlds apart from how you view him or her?
I have, too.
Then I wonder, if these people view themselves in such a contradictory way, maybe I do that, too.

Years ago when I was in college a friend and I were talking in the student lounge of the conservatory.
"See that girl with the red hair?" my friend asked while pointing at a young woman who was passing through the lounge.
"Yes," I said.  "D'you know her?"
My friend leaned in toward me and whispered, "She thinks you hate her."
"What?!" I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I've always been nice to everybody and would hate to be thought of as a snob or, well, you know.
My friend continued, "She said every time you walk past her in the halls you look so mean."
I stared at the departing red-haired girl. "I don't even know her. How could she think I hate her?"

This conversation with my friend bothered me for days. I simply had to talk to that red-haired girl and straighten things out with her.
I'm happy to say that I found an opportunity to talk to her, and before long we became good friends.
Later, she told me the reason she thought I hated her was that I didn't smile at her in the hallways.
I apologized for not returning her smiles and explained that I tend to be distracted with thoughts of assignments and go right by people, not even seeing them.

I'm a friendly person; really, I am! It's just that my head is in the clouds lots of the time.
I hate that about me: I don't see people even when they're right in front of me.
Classic introvert.
Over the past three decades I've tried to keep myself more in the moment, but I don't always succeed.

It's great when you can recognize an area about yourself that needs—for the sake of better people relationships— improvement.

I'm really glad my friend helped me discover how my distracted, serious expression intimidates people who don't know me well.

I'd like to apologize to all those people I've inadvertently snubbed.
I'm sorry, truly sorry. I'm really not a snob.
When I ignored you, my eyes were turned inward.
My brain was possibly having a conversation with one of my novel characters,
or I was working out a complicated scene.
99.99 % of the time this has nothing to do with how I feel about you.
99.99% of the time I really like you... even love you.

Now that I've confessed my problem, you have my permission to get right in my face the next time I walk right by you with glazed eyes.
Get right up close and shout, "Hey, I'm here. Come out of that introverted brain and notice me!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bad Bird!

We're under attack from a wood pecker.
I wish I'd gotten a picture of the little black and white vandal.
He's been pecking on our house for at least a month now.
And such nerve!
When I rush outside and yell, "Bad bird!" at him, he doesn't fly away.
Maybe he's waiting for me to do my crazy dance.
Hopefully the neighbors haven't witnessed me outside, hopping up and down, waving my arms while yelling at my house.

The recent snow makes for great snowballs, but my aim isn't good enough to land a bird-bomb.
Once that melts I'll probably have to buy one of those giant water guns that shoot water about twenty-five feet.

Last year it was those pesky, destructive ground squirrels that made me crazy.
This year, well, I'll most likely have to contact some wildlife expert who can advise me about the best method for repelling woodpeckers.

What amazes me about wildlife is their persistence.
God has programmed into each species what to do to survive and procreate.
And they don't stop doing what they do just because I'm upset about it.

Thursday, 10 AM
Woodpecker: drill that hole.
Me: "Bad bird!"
Woodpecker: drill that hole.
Me: "Get away from my walls!"
Woodpecker: drill, baby, drill.
Me: "Agh!"

Thursday, 10:30 AM
Woodpecker: drill that hole.
Me: "Bad bird!"
Woodpecker: drill that hole.
Me: "Get away from my house, you evil bird!"
Woodpecker: drill, baby, drill.
Me: "God, help me!"

Thursday, 11 AM
You get the drill. (Pardon the pun.)

I suppose I should admire my black and white adversary.
I could take lessons from him in focused persistence.
If I worked at all of my tasks with such stubborn assertion, there's no telling what I could achieve.