Saturday, January 31, 2004


We were driving along. Strangely, the resident commentator in the carseat hadn’t uttered a peep for miles.

She was up to something.

And here it came: “I just got cookie water in my mouth!”



That’s what we should have named it the first time!


Prayer Request: We lift up to You a dear young lady in Colorado, Father, who needs guidance and insight regarding her romantic relationship. Let her know, clearly and convincingly, what Your will is regarding her love life. If he is the one, draw them closer together and closer to You. If he is not, push them apart gently but firmly, Father. (Matthew 19:5)

Friday, January 30, 2004


A friend shared these weird facts that remind me of people:

If you put a buzzard in a 6' x 8' pen that is entirely open at the top, the bird will be an absolute prisoner. Why? A buzzard always begins a flight from the ground, with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, it will not even attempt to fly.

A bat flies very well, but cannot take off from a level place. If it's on the ground, it just lays there or shuffles about helplessly. If it isn't on the slightest elevation from which it can throw itself
into the air, it remains flightless.

A bumblebee dropped into an open glass will be there forever. It never sees the means of escape at the top. It keeps trying to find some way out through the sides. It won't climb. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

If your dreams aren't coming true right now, can you take a hint from these creatures? If you can't find the way, why are you still trying with the old way? Are you stuck in a fruitless habit? We'd all be free to fly if we'd just do one thing: look up. That's where the answers are. That's where life finds wings.


Prayer request: A dear lady in the Omaha area, Kathy Holkeboer, is gearing up to produce the Voters Information Packet (online at again for this round of elections. Lord, give her strength, wisdom and diligence, and send lots of volunteers as she completes this priceless service. (2 Peter 1:5)

Thursday, January 29, 2004


I slowly maneuvered my Mommymobile to the gas pump over the icy parking lot, got out and tried to keep my nostrils unstuck in the 1-degree air as the tank filled with gas.

Suddenly, a young man in a black pickup careened toward the convenience store on the ice. He whirled around in almost a circle, and then pulled straight in to the parking spot. A rooster tail of bright snow whisked into the air, and then settled down.

He had done it just for fun. We girls never do that stuff. Vive le difference.

A friend confirms this. Her son Trev used to have a blue and yellow Big Wheel. At 3, he would ride that thing down the street full speed, and at the last possible instant before becoming a quadriplegic, he would pull the hand brake, crank the wheel sharply to the left, and spin that sucker 180 degrees, stopping on a dime. He did it over and over, with a huge grin on his face, and a hunger for more.

Now he’s a young adult. But sure enough, when she was in the car with him the other day, he made one of those icy pirouettes into a parking spot, just to pull her chain. While she gasped, he got out without a word and went inside. She saw him grin. She sat in the car waiting for him, and started laughing hard. She praised God out loud for the gift of boys and the joy that her two sons have brought her. She thanked God for the freedom and capacity to delight in them, even though they’re “all boy” and they do the unexpected.

And then God did the unexpected, too. He spoke to her heart: "Chris, I delight in YOU that same way!" It made her heart do a wheelie. Life’s even more fun when you remember Who’s lookin’.


Prayer request: Today is the birthday of my best friend, Cindy, who is beginning a battle with leukemia. Lord, thank You for Your gift of Cindy. We are grateful for her medical treatment team. We know You will rescue her and heal her, because You delight in her. (Psalm 18:19)

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


We interrupt this monologue to quote just one thing said by the resident 3-year-old while mountain-climbing yesterday – that is, playing on the tall peaks of pushed snow on either side of our driveway. They were so tall, in fact, that when she was standing up there, her feet were at the level of my shoulders. Now, THAT’S a snowfall!

She talked the entire hour of play out in the cold . . . commenting on barn cat TiGrrr’s battle with a little snow clod on the icy driveway . . . giggling as handfuls of dry snow disintegrated in her mitten . . . declaring that she had saved me from a dinosaur named “Ty Wrecky Rex” by laboriously rolling a snow-lump in his general direction.

And then she uttered this utterly random comment:

“Did you know when a boy sees a bee-oo-tee-ful girl, his eyes turn into hearts?’’

How would I know? Don’t answer that. Guess I’ll just have to take her word for it.


Prayer request: A special auntie in Florida who never fails to send the six of us birthday cards has a birthday today. Unfortunately, she has to go see the doctor about an ongoing health problem. Father, give her an extra-special present with a good report, and improved health for herself and her dear hubby. (Psalm 42:11)

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


I was whining about our foot of snow to a relative who lives in the Valley of the Sun in Arizona. She said they missed the snow down there on the desert, the blinding beauty, the crunch underfoot, the way it piles up on the branches, even the smell, which reminded her of ice skates. Since they don't get snow, they go find it:

''Sometimes we take a day and go north to the snow to play in it with sleds and inner-tubes . . . take chili and crackers and rum for antifreeze. And a couple of times we have gone north to cut Christmas trees with permits from the Forest Service, bringing them home in a pickup truck convoy. Sometimes the kids bring home a truckload of snow to make a snowman in the front yard. Melts pretty fast.''

Look what they go through to experience snow, and yet we complain about it. To us, it's an annoyance; to them, it's an opportunity to live life more fully.

The same relative described a recent detour on a trip to see a distant friend, a detour that would have scared most people:

''We were driving in the mountains, got off track and had to take a tiny thread of a road for quite a ways. We could see signs by the side of the road and knew that weather conditions must close that road frequently. It edged a towering canyon, with fast water rushing over huge rocks and almost vertical mountains on each side that disappeared above us into the mist. Breathtaking, and at times knuckle-whitening where the road was very narrow and rocks and dirt fell from the side over the edge and down, down, down. But we weren't ever really afraid. If we had never seen a single friend on this trip, that stretch of road would have been worth the whole trip.''

When you're open to beauty and adventure, you're closed to fear and irritation. Thanks, Cuzz. I needed that.


Prayer request: An older bride has two concerns: the best man, the groom's adult son, has suffered a knee injury and has trouble standing. We pray that he'll not ''go over,'' which might make the wedding a little too memorable. Also, the bride has been having serious jaw pain. She hopes it'll subside until after the wedding, when she'll be on her new husband's dental plan at work. A wacky combination? Yep. Does God mind? Nope. He's used to it. (James 1:17)

Monday, January 26, 2004


“How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated! I should hardly admire them more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat.” – Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 1856

It’s snowing today, and there are six or eight inches already on the ground. We’ve shoveled and sledded, and run outside with a piece of black fabric and a magnifying glass to “catch snowflakes” and once again thrill to the fact that each one is a little different.

“Just like people,” the child of the house exclaims. She gets it, because we’ve been boning up on the subject.

We have been enjoying a book, “The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty” by Kenneth Libbrecht, head of the physics department at Cal Tech. He’s an expert on the free oscillations of the sun and stars, ultra-cold atomic gases, the detection of gravitational radiation, and all that kind of stuff.

But what endears him to me, besides all the marvelous information he shares about snowflakes, is that he admits freely that science still cannot fully explain the mystery of how they are created. I like that. Snowflakes make us look up, past the drifts, past the clouds, to the Artist who sends ‘em.

I also love the many beautiful photographs of snowflakes in the book. They were taken by Patricia Rasmussen, who bought camera equipment on eBay one day and started taking snow-crystal photos. She almost fell backwards at her first look at a snowflake on the viewfinder – it was that beautiful.

Ice stars . . . fern-like dendrites . . . hollow columns . . . needles . . . 12-sided ones . . . quadruple-deckers . . . chandeliers. . . .

They’re wonderful and delicate, exquisite and mysterious, and each one’s unique. Just like people, all right.


Prayer request: The mother of my friend Mary has had complications post-surgery. She has fluid in her lung and may have had a heart attack yesterday. Lord, send the Breath of Life to gently and surely fill her lungs with Your precious air, and quiet her heart to return to its steady rhythm. (Ephesians 3:12)

Sunday, January 25, 2004


The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness . . . teachers of good things.
-- Titus 2:3

Maddy wanted to wear her cowgirl shirt, but it was in the laundry. I told her that while I washed it, she could wear her new pink robe.

''Noooooo!'' she protested, totally in the buff.

''But it's cold out!''

The piercing brown eyes looked left. The piercing brown eyes looked right. Finally, she relented.

I double-knotted the robe's belt, but got the dreaded unibrow. One of the belt ends was a MICRON longer than the other. Untie. Redo. The unibrow relaxed. Off we went to breakfast.

''Mommy!'' she exclaimed. ''Can we go to the museum and see Dinosaur Is Rex?''

''Mommy!'' she exclaimed. ''Why doesn't it snow in rainbow colors?''

''Mommy!'' she exclaimed, taking my face into her 3 1/2-year-old hands. ''YOU’RE GETTING OLD!''

It was only 9 a.m. I was stressed. Lord, have mercy.

I had put off taking a shower while the washer was running. Once I put her shirt in the dryer, I set Maddy in front of the 'toons and told her I'd be right back.

Lah de dahhh! Hum de dummm! Oh, the pleasures of a nice, long shower out of the clutches of the world's shortest terrorist!

Suddenly, a very short NUDIST was pounding on the shower door.

''MADDY! Where's your ROBE?''

''I took it off. Mommy!'' she exclaimed. ''There are two guys at the front door. They want to talk to you.''

Oh, no! You can see right into our foyer. My mind raced over the possibilities: our minister and a police officer? Our Congressman and a Child Protective Service agent? Maybe Jehovah's Witnesses – witnessing an eyeful, all right.

''What do they look like?''

''Well,'' Maddy said, ''one had a beard and one didn't. They were both smiling.''

I could imagine their reaction if not one, but TWO nudists came to the door. So I did the sensible thing: hoped they went away.

By the time we got downstairs with one of us fully dressed, at least, they were gone.

Never did figure out who they were. It gave me stress. As the day went on and Maddy continued her challenging ways, I caught myself humming ''Take This Job And Shove It.'' Nervous tics and twitches emerged. But at least there was something to look forward to: we were going to pick up Maddy's little friend and go see my mom later in the afternoon.

Ahhh! A visit to Grandma's. It soothes the savage beast.

She had laid out her childhood tea party set. I asked her if she had a teapot with vodka martinis – shaken AND stirred, like me that day. No, just punch and cookies. We laughed.

She served us like an English butler. We crooked our pinkies and talked about fox hunting. We each tucked a quarter under the placemat. Grandma spelled, ''For the C-A-S-I-N-O?'' She and I laughed some more.

The girls made sock puppets, a piggy and a kitty, and put on a show. The plot thickened, and stayed thick. We applauded like mad.

We had a long walk with Grandma and her dog, ''Money,'' so named so that her grandchildren would say, ''We’re going to visit our grandmother who has Money.''

Finally, we played ''Chutes and Ladders.'' Grandma modeled good sportsmanship by smiling even when she hit a chute. She also spotted Maddy moving her gamepiece up a ladder after an ''inadvertent miscount.''

Grandma spelled, ''Did I just see Maddy C – H – E – A – T?''

Hmm. SHE's the one who used to get busted at Bridge Club for humming ''Heart of My Heart'' before her partner bid.

''I think it SKIPS a generation,'' I said.

We laughed again.

Then the girls wanted to play ''Hungry, Hungry Hippos.'' But Grandma said we couldn't. Why not?

''I don’t have the marbles,'' she said, immediately knowing what was coming.

''Yes, girls, Grandma's lost her marbles, so I guess it's time to go,'' I said gently.

My spirits were lifted. I felt sooooooooo much better. A visit to Grandma's will do that.

With or without the V–O–D–K–A M–A–R–T–I–N–I–S.


Prayer request: A friend who was laid off through no fault of her own is struggling, Lord. She is questioning her very value as a person. Oh, Father, bring her an even better job ASAP in a way that makes it clear that Your hand is on her and that she is a priceless child of Yours indeed. (Matthew 10:31).

Saturday, January 24, 2004


While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction and there is nothing you can do about it!


Prayer request: Father, thank You for making our bodies so wonderful, marvelous, beautiful, excellent and, sometimes, entertaining and wacky! (Psalm 139:14)

Friday, January 23, 2004


Four students were punished for putting up 150 posters on classroom doors and lockers at Omaha Westside High School this week, urging teachers to vote for a boy named Trevor for the school’s annual Martin Luther King Day “Distinguished African-American Student Award.”

Trevor is white. But his family moved here from Johannesburg, South Africa, six years ago.

The students claimed to be making fun of the hypocrisy of Westside’s eight-year practice of giving the award strictly to a black senior.

There are fewer than 70 black students in Westside’s enrollment of over 1,800.

At any rate, Trevor was suspended for two days for hanging the posters. Two friends were disciplined and a fourth was punished for circulating a petition in their defense the next day.

It’s possible that the parents have a case for violations of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression, unless Trevor and his friends violated a school policy about having posters OK’ed in the office before they go up.

It’s just hoped that this won’t go on their permanent records since that would stain their reputations as “racists.”

I don’t think they are. I think they “get it” that the spirit of Martin Luther King Day is about unity, not making one’s skin color the reason for either discrimination or an award. I think they know there were plenty of whites in the civil rights movement who got in there and did something about racism, and still do today.

I think those students understand what Dr. King meant when he said:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


Prayer request: Help us to remember, Lord, there is to be no discrimination among us, but only appreciation and unity, as Dr. King envisioned . . . along with the REAL uniter of us all, Jesus Christ, who gave us the principle in . . . (Galatians 3:28)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Least Corrupt, or Biggest Suckers?

News flash: it’s NOT a good thing that Nebraska was named “the least corrupt state in the nation” recently. That was based on the relatively few political corruption convictions in our federal courts, as charted by the newsletter Corporate Crime Reporter.

I wish I could be as quick as the major local media to claim we’re all Honest Abes out here in the boonies, and the lack of scandals proves it.

But come on. It’s much more likely to be the result of lackluster journalism. Where are our reporters digging around and turning up corruption stories? Where’s our computer-assisted investigative reporting? Where’s the real accountability pressure on public officials?

A big reason bad stuff isn’t coming into the spotlight around here is that nobody’s shining the light where the bigshots don’t want that light to shine.

You follow?

I mean, attendance records in the Los Angeles Public Schools were so inflated last year that $120 million was ordered returned to the state. One of the reasons Gray Davis was kicked out of the governor’s chair there is that he “forgave” the fraud and canceled the audit program that found it.

State aid is determined by enrollment and attendance statistics. Nebraska public schools spend $1.2 billion a year with enrollment upwards of 275,000 students. You don’t SUPPOSE there’s any fandango going on there? But how would we know?

I just printed out a story about a $20 million fraud case in California involving public school money that the outgoing State School Superintendent, a former Democratic assemblywoman, tried to cover up. Now taxpayers will also have to pay $4.5 million in judgments to the whistleblowers involved. It seems her department gave millions in federal adult-education money to “community-based organizations” for English and citizenship classes. In some cases, the “schools” were in open fields or empty houses; some of the money bought Mercedes-Benzes; some was embezzled; some can’t be found. That’s a sad, but typical story of school fraud such as those exposed elsewhere . . . but not here.

The Chicago Sun-Times just revealed that three sisters were paid more than $450,000 in overtime to write math teaching manuals for the Chicago public schools. The manuals were full of errors and have since been scrapped. They were all teachers, but one had flunked an elementary teacher certification exam seven times.

Could there be instances like that, of excessive overtime and other unchecked non-classroom costs, contributing to the skyrocketing trend line in Nebraska school spending?

But nooooo. We don’t know. Every time you go to another city and pick up the paper, you read about some kind of scandal involving misuse of public funds. But not here.

And yet we have billions of dollars in governmental budgets being spent every year in Nebraska. State aid to schools, probably the biggest pile of it, isn’t even audited by the State Auditor. What’s up with that? A wacky situation, that’s what.

It just doesn’t make sense to think corruption is not going on.

A sleeping watchdog gathers no bones . . . and isn’t doing its job.

I may be only a Chihuahua in this. But I say it’s time for the public to demand that they let the dogs out in Nebraska journalism.

Arf, arf.


Prayer request: Blessings today, Lord Jesus, for my friend Jeannie, who celebrates a birthday today. She always signs cards and notes with lots of whimsical drawings of tiny stars. I see You in her sparkling, twinkling personality, Lord, and I praise You for sharing one of Your “stars of light” with us. (Psalm 148:3)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

She’s Rich!

We were scurrying out the door this morning when Maddy, 3 1/2, spied a penny. It was on the garage floor just under the open car door.

She sucked in her breath, flung “Spotty,” her teddy bear, to the left, and her preschool backpack to the right. Then she crouched down, carefully picked the penny up, and thrust it to the sky in extreme exultation, jumping up and down.


I smiled with amusement, and then smiled some more, thinking of how God must feel when we have our little victories here on Earth. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet of what it’s really going to be like to be rich.

In the meantime, what the heck? If it only takes a penny for her thoughts to be so happy, I’m all for cheap thrills.


Prayer request: A theology graduate student I know, who’s a really good writer, is discussing her future with the school’s media dean. It’s very encouraging. Oh, Father, thank You so much for gifting Cindy with the ability to paint Your pictures on the insides of our hearts. I pray that You will make it plain to her what direction she should go with this, in Your ever-perfect timing. Give her Your arrows to aim and fire for soul-winning in years to come. (Habakkuk 3:11)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Close Encounter With a Presidential Hopeful

Several years ago, a Nebraska doctor was touring Washington, D.C., with his family. While in the U.S. Capitol, a woman in their tour group suddenly collapsed. Naturally, the doctor intervened and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to save her life.

Just then, a man who is now one of this year’s Democratic Presidential hopefuls, whose name was one of those involved in today’s Iowa caucuses, swept by.

He stuck his head into the group around the doctor and the woman. Then he turned back toward his staff, the media and other onlookers, and announced grandly:

“She’s going to be OK. It’s taken care of.”

Naturally, many people assumed that HE had been the one to save the woman’s life. He made not even a gesture in the doctor’s direction.

It all left a funny taste in the mouth of the doctor, not that he was looking for any credit or fame or anything like that.

You can bet he’ll never vote for the guy. One down . . . how many million to go?


Prayer request: Lord, give grace, comfort and strength to a young woman and her family as they face the very difficult process of divorce and single-parent child-rearing. Instead, Lord, turn the heart of the young man, whom they still love and pray for, but who fell as a casualty in the siege against families. We pray for reconciliation – the better way that You have prescribed. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Monday, January 19, 2004

Let’s Give Kids a REAL Head Start

(Scene: our house the other day)

Maddy (age 3 1/2):

Alexa wasn’t sharing with me today.


Uh oh. I hope you didn’t get into a fight.


No, we weren’t fighting. We were just talking madly.

It’s a shame, on Martin Luther King Day, to witness people “talking madly” about Head Start. It’s one of the government’s most prominent programs stemming from the 1960s and the civil rights movement that Dr. King led.

Head Start is the preschool program that was supposed to give disadvantaged children a level playing field for grade school. It’s the preschool equivalent of “free or reduced price” lunch subsidies in K-12 education. It was supposed to compensate for the lack of developmental activities that often characterizes homes in poverty.

Well, it has never worked – and it has cost taxpayers $66 billion. Pause for a moment and think about all that money. Wasted! It has been another example of pointless social engineering and unproductive government “make work.”

All over the country, people are “talking madly” as they find out Head Start officials are making salaries of $200,000 – and yet inner-city kids who received the supposed benefits of Head Start continue to fall farther and father behind non-Head Start kids academically.

I know that would make Dr. King “talk mad.” You can read more about it on:

In Omaha, we have the specter of Head Start parents being used as political bargaining chips as the feds close down Head Start, suddenly, for lack of regulatory compliance. That leaves the low-income parents of more than 1,000 preschoolers scrambling to find alternative day-care. Meanwhile, all those tax dollars are down the drain, throwing more money at Head Start would just perpetuate the problem and make the rest of us madder and poorer, and worst of all, Omaha disadvantaged kids are even further behind their peers in the ‘burbs than in most cities.

Is this latest hassle all simply a political maneuver to shift that funding away from Head Start, traditionally controlled by liberal Democrats, and toward a different program controlled, perhaps, by the local public schools? That appears to be the end-game.

It’s just a shell game, though, if our tax dollars aren’t spent doing what it takes to make the kids able to read, write and figure to the best of their ability.

Until the pre-educrats and educrats admit that the Head Start philosophy and methods are counter-productive for disadvantaged kids, it’ll be something that caring taxpayers ought to be “talking madly” about.

That’s not only because we all want Dr. King’s dreams to come true for all Americans, but also because we’re footing the bill . . . and we want a good payback!


Prayer request: Lord, raise up people who truly understand what makes children literate and numerate. Bring them into contact with the families of Head Start, and of all preschoolers. Educational foundations are so important, Lord. Work in us so that all children truly will have a solid “head start” toward success in school. (Zechariah 4:9)

Sunday, January 18, 2004

RADIANT BEAMS column series:

A Son and Psalm 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
-- Psalm 91:1

My grandfather was a doughboy in World War I. It didn't turn out to be the ''war to end all wars,'' but at least they tried.

Their songs were the best: ''Over There,'' ''It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,'' ''Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile,'' and my personal favorite, ''Mademoiselle From Armentieres,'' with the immortal chorus:

She got the palm and the croix-de-guerre /
For washin' soldiers' underwear /
Hinky dinky parlez-vous.

(And WE think the youth of TODAY have weird song lyrics.)

The Great War left great images: the spontaneous Christmas Truce of 1914, poppies blowing in Flanders Field, Sgt. York, Lawrence of Arabia, and University of Nebraska professor turned world-class military leader, Gen. John ''Blackjack'' Pershing.

I don't know where Grandpa fought or what he did. But I know everybody was grateful when he came home in one piece.

I just heard about another Nebraska boy who went off to war. I’m sure his mama has many of the same feelings my great-grandma did. He's Jonathan Riskowski of Lincoln, now in Iraq, patrolling the Syrian border with the U.S. Army. His specialty is tanks.

His dad Al is head of the Nebraska Family Council. I listen to his radio reports on the ''culture wars,'' including in the state legislature. One day recently, Riskowski told a story about his son, and it made me realize how connected all our battles are, literally and figuratively, and through the years, too.

You see, Jonathan's mother, Linda, was worried about her son going off to Iraq, putting his life on the line. She sought some extra protection for him. She came upon a true story from World War I.

It seems there were some American soldiers in France who were ''green.'' They had never seen combat. Naturally, they were scared. Their commander was a Christian. He wanted to encourage the members of the 91st Infantry Brigade. So he gave each one a little card imprinted with the 91st Psalm.

It's a beloved psalm of protection. It promises that though thousands may fall all around you, you'll still stand. It promises angelic deliverance, and honor for those who honor God.

They all agreed to pray it aloud, every day.

Well, the story goes, and research bears this out, the 91st Infantry Brigade got into some of the bloodiest battles of the Great War. They were at Chateau Thierry. They were at Belleau Wood. They were at Argonne.

Surrounding units sustained casualties of up to 90 percent.

But the 91st Brigade did not suffer a single combat-related casualty.

Every one of those boys came home from ''over there,'' no doubt with those copies of the 91st Psalm dog-eared and well-worn.

So what do you suppose the Riskowskis gave Jonathan as he left for Iraq? Naturally: a laminated copy of the 91st Psalm – and lots of extras, to share.

Everyone in their family prays it for him daily, too. Many of their friends do. Word is spreading: people they don't even know are praying it for him, just because they heard the story and know the power of prayer.

I wonder if my great-grandmother prayed that same psalm for Grandpa. I'll bet she did. People who realize that war is mostly spiritual will use the best ammunition available: prayer. It's hard to beat these words from that psalm:

He is my refuge and my fortress.

My God! In Him will I trust.

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust.

His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.

Take heart, Jonathan. Those of us behind the lines are giving you prayer cover. It worked before, for your comrades of the past century, those doughboys who might not have been as high-tech as you are, but faced the same fears. It'll work again.

So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, you beloved son of Nebraska, and smile.

Hinky dinky parlez-vous!


Prayer request: There are lots of battlefronts in today's world, Father. They're in our schools, our businesses, our courts, our streets, and in military operations around the world. I pray that each of us will choose someone who's ''in the trenches'' in some battle right now, and pray Psalm 91 for them (Psalm 91:15).

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Let’s Stop Cloning Around

We need to ban human cloning right now, before things get too weird. The Nebraska Legislature may take up debate on that very matter next week with LB 602. Here’s what those senators need to know:

1. Whether it’s called “research cloning,” “therapeutic cloning” or some other euphemism, the process still deliberately creates human life and then destroys it. They can SAY the intent is for good, but you still have to look at the facts. Hmm. Now, where’d that road lead, that was paved with good intentions?

2. Cloning degrades women into farm animals. Poor women used to sell eggs on the side for a little extra income. But those were eggs from their CHICKENS. Egg harvesting would become a macabre sidelight to cloning. Cluck, cluck, cluck.

3. Remember Nuremberg? One of the worst things the Nazis did was experiment on human beings, knowing that what they were doing would kill them. After Nuremberg, that was never supposed to happen again. Is cloning NAZI same thing?

4. It would add at least two years to law school and mega-zillions to the cost of government, as we’d have to change all our laws and legal documents to accommodate clones -- everything from the Declaration of Independence (“all men are created equal, except clones, who are fully human but have no civil rights, not even the right to life”) to inheritance law (can you escape probate taxes forever by simply passing your wealth on to clone after clone after clone in perpetuity, since all of your clones would technically be of your same generation, instead of your descendants?).

5. We don’t even need it. The truly exciting and fully ethical realm of scientific research utilizing adult stem cells and umbilical cord tissue is the way to go.

So get on that phone and say, “No clone!” If you’re a Nebraskan, the bill is LB 602 and you can find your state senator’s contact information on

Also see these resources on cloning and other issues:


Prayer request: Father, the people who are “for” cloning are blind to what’s wrong with it. Work, in Your mighty, mysterious and marvelous way, to open their eyes to how cloning violates Your ways. Let them see the right path to scientific progress. Help them to turn away from cloning, and pursue techniques that are pleasing to You, for the betterment of mankind and also to show reverence for the sanctity of the life You have given us. (Psalm 16:11)

Friday, January 16, 2004

67,000 Crazy People

In his “State of the State” address yesterday, Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns reported that there are 67,000 people in the Cornhusker State who have mental illness to the point where they need treatment.

Yes, and they fill Memorial Stadium every football Saturday. They’re bipolar, with wild mood swings depending on the win-loss record. They’ve had shock therapy recently in the coaching switch, and lots of talk therapy and venting on radio call-in shows and Internet bulletin boards.

Just kidding. Mental illness is real, and it’s real expensive. It’s a good move, albeit a little belated, to close the state’s three regional centers and deinstitutionalize those who are ready to live in the normal community. It’ll save millions and allow them a lot more personal liberty.

But when it comes to saving tax dollars, maybe years ago BEFORE we started funding state loony bins, taxpayers should have heeded the words of Dr. Hans J. Eysenck, a psychologist at the British Institute of Psychiatry who wrote over 800 articles for scientific magazines, authored 30 books, and combined findings of more than 170 studies to come up with this conclusion:

44% of people who get psychoanalytic therapy improve within 2 years

64% of those who receive eclectic (varied) therapy, including drugs, improve within 2 years

But 72% of those who receive NO therapy improve within 2 years

And in a 5-year follow-up, 90% of those who received NO therapy improved.

Other doctors, including D.H. Malan, O.H. Mowrer and D.L. Rosenhan, have done studies that show the same thing. And we’ve known all this since the 1950s.

All those salaries and all those pills and all those trips with men in white coats . . . all at taxpayer expense over the years . . . for NOTHING?

Good grief, Governor. I’d say you underestimated the number of mentally ill people in Nebraska. You left out the 49 state senators who kept authorizing all those mostly needless expenditures . . . and the 1.5 million of us who paid for it!


Prayer request: An extra dose of strength today, Lord, for all those who are struggling to regain control over their thought life. We know mental problems are real, but so often the approach taken to solve them is off the mark. People with sick minds and souls need You, Lord. Fill their minds with Your wisdom and guidance, and send caring, positive people into their paths who can help them find that solid mental equilibrium they need. (Romans 5:3-5)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Wild Man Saddam, Revisited

Every time I see a picture of the captured Saddam Hussein, I think of a really great Bible study on the Book of Daniel I took a few years ago. It had videos and visuals from Kay Arthur, a nationally-known speaker and teacher.

One of the most memorable was a drawing of what King Nebuchadnezzar must have looked like after he lived as a beast in the field for seven years as a punishment in Daniel 4.

In the beginning of that book, the king made a lot of big talk and fancy doin’s, including building a great, big statue honoring himself that he wanted his nation to worship, and putting Daniel’s three friends into the fiery furnace to test their God’s power.

But the more he challenged the living God and tried to take His spot as all-powerful in his country, the more he got the hammer, bigtime. The king was eventually driven out of human society to live, literally, like a “wild ass,” with no shelter from the elements, eating grass and just looking like an idiot.

Well, every time I see a picture of Saddam Hussein coming out of that hole over there in Iraq, with his wild eyes and crazy hair and beard, looking like he could really, REALLY use a pedicure or maybe some rabies medication, I think of old King Nebuchadnezzar.

And guess what his country was, back then? Babylon. We now know it as Iraq.


Prayer request: Praise and thanks for the safe return this week of our friend, the father of three and husband of a very patient lady, who was in Iraq for the better part of a year. He wasn’t a soldier, but he did represent our country and was in great danger as he used his architecture skills to help rebuild that country’s simple structures, such as water and sewage, which had been so sadly neglected under Saddam Hussein. We pray that his steadfast service helped attract many Iraqis to come to know the REAL king of the universe. (Isaiah 58:12)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Getting Beat By a Canoe and a Dead Cat, But at Least I Beat Solich

This football bowl season . . . uh, that is, I mean, this holiday season . . . I participated in an extravaganza in which I tried to select the winners of as many bowl games as I could.

This was entirely different from a “betting pool.” This was an extravaganza! So don’t get it confused with immoral and despicable gambling. In fact, no money exchanged hands for this extravaganza. That’s because everybody paid by mail . . . I mean . . . uh, I don’t know, it was all so extravagant, I’m not really sure what went on. I do know that the winners were not to receive cash. They were to receive “holiday gifts.”

I don’t really know who organized it – whether it was a male or a female, someone old or someone new, at home or abroad – or at least, that’s my story should the FBI inquire.

The point is, out of 64 entries, I came in a putrid 55th. How far I’ve fallen! This, from a women’s libber who struck a mighty blow for the cause in the newsroom of a great metropolitan newspaper once by winning the poo . . . uh, I mean, extravaganza . . . against legions of cigar-smoking, testosterone-crazed sportswriters!

But at least we had fun, thanks to the hilarious email updates sent out over the past few weeks by the extravaganza’s organizer, whoever he or she was:

(On a front-runner) “Not only is she a cat, she is a DEAD cat. That is what I call overcoming adversity.”

(On an entry in the name of two babies) “They have stopped eating and pooping long enough to have picked six out of seven so far.”

(On the defending champion) “A dog once said to be as smart as a bucket of fur. . . .”

(On unconventional entries) “Inanimate objects, such as Eggie the Canoe, Darin Erstad’s bat, and the Bob Hope Autographed Bar Tab, aren’t doing very well, but have emerged as crowd favorites.”

The humor took the sting out of the ignominy of getting beaten so badly by everybody and, literally, his dog. I especially liked the notation about the entry that took 64th place. It was in the name of recently-fired University of Nebraska Football Coach Frank Solich. The person who entered for him “picked all the teams with low expectations, that had slipped into mediocrity.”

The extravaganzist commented, “This completes a pretty bad holiday season for Frank, with this 64th place finish being surely the most bitter pill to swallow.”


Prayer request: We praise you, Lord, for inspiring a sensitive and positive optometrist, Dr. Graves, to go into nursing homes and not only help patients with their vision needs, but to do it with such warmth and caring. We pray that everyone will put on spiritually-focused glasses and see their jobs as a mission from You. (Luke 22:31,32)

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Ohhh! THOSE Illegal Aliens!

Everybody’s in a hubbub over whether the president is imprudently granting amnesty to the estimated 8 million illegal aliens thought to be in the United States. But they’re focusing on the wrong illegal aliens.

Why would we suddenly look the other way at mostly Mexican law-breakers and let them stay here as “guest workers”? They could come out of hiding and continue taking those minimum-wage jobs formerly taken by American citizens who are teenagers, college students, moms who want to work part-time, and so forth.

What’s behind all this? To perceive what’s going on, you have to read the REST of the paper. You know that big scientific probe to Mars that’s going on right now? Costing us skillions and wad-dillions of dollars – sucking that money right out of our economy and sending it, not to the moon, but all the way to Mars?

Well, think about it. If there ARE men on Mars, there must be a LOT of them. It’s a pretty big planet.

Then, with our new amnesty for illegal aliens, THEY can come freely through our borders and take jobs away from American citizens. It wouldn’t be that big of an adjustment for our employers. Many of the new high school grads ACT like they come from Mars.

Anyway, then our president could not only get reelection campaign contributions aplenty from Big Food, but he could get the Latino vote . . . PLUS the Martian vote!


Prayer request: Lord, there’s someone in a job-search situation today who is pretty upset. He feels like he’s wrestling constantly with unanswerable questions. He doesn’t know whether two recent job turn-downs are a rebuke to his lack of credentials, or Your leading. He thinks it may be time to change career fields or perhaps start a business, but he has built up a lot of expertise in his career field, and the turn-downs may simply be routine. Besides, he needs money for his family. Father, draw this man closer to Your heart so that he will understand Your plan and purpose for him. Empower him to move forward with confidence and vigor to a fulfilling, high-paying position. (Luke 22:31,32)

Monday, January 12, 2004

Beat the Parents

You know that funny movie “Meet the Parents”? Well, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have a not-so-funny power play in Nebraska’s public schools that I call “Beat the Parents.”

Basically, they go behind our backs to promote abortion to our kids without our knowledge. It’s the only such sad, strange program in the nation. Sigh. What’s next? A class on how to SUE your parents? Directions to the next KEGGER?

Luckily, there are some Nebraska state senators, led by Lincoln’s Mike Foley, that may stop it once and for all. Debate on his LB 172 starts as soon as today in the newly-convened Nebraska Unicameral.

Here’s the deal: school districts in Nebraska are forced by law to distribute information each year to kids in grades 7 through 12. It shows them how to get an abortion without parental notification or consent. Instead, they’re told to go directly to the courts to get the OK. It’s called “judicial bypass.” Who gets bypassed? Mom and Dad.

Apparently the selling point is that teenage girls might be being victimized by sexual abuse from those same parents and the request to get an abortion would get them in trouble – absurd, since they’re ALREADY in a horrible mess and since when did killing an unborn child stop child sexual abuse? Also, the abortion industry says, a teen might have an emergency medical need for a lifesaving abortion that necessitates skirting the parental notification and consent process, even though that can be done in a matter of minutes.


The real motivation is obvious: if the parents found out, they might prevent the abortion. You know, get counseling, get medical care, get financial help, maybe pursue adoption, and everyone, including the unborn child, has a chance to live happily ever after. What a concept.

But then Planned Parenthood and abortion doctors wouldn’t make as much M-O-N-E-Y. Get the picture?

Yes, the abortion crowd may want to Beat the Parents, but WE can beat THEM at their own game. Let’s go behind THEIR backs, only for a totally ethical counter-move. Let’s lobby. It just takes one quick email, letter or phone call.

Nebraskans, contact your state senator and urge a “yes” vote on LB 172. Find your senator:


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for the dedication and faithfulness of public servants such as State Sen. Mike Foley. He and others have been working on this for 10 years. Lord, give them a victory this time. It will be shared with moms, dads and children born and unborn. We seek to maintain the model You set, that nothing should come between the parent and the child. (Mark 10:19)

Sunday, January 11, 2004


Boy! I . . . I Say . . . Boy!

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
-- Song of Solomon 6:3

It was our 10th wedding anniversary, in early January. Our children were 4, 3 and 1 month. Our home was a seven-layer salad: Christmas gifts, newspapers, toys, laundry, mail, new diapers, old diapers . . . utter chaos.

My husband was so noise-assaulted and sleep-deprived, he looked like Humphrey Bogart pulling the African Queen through the leech-infested swamp.

I was a housecoat-wrapped, zombie-like, breastfeeding Dairy Queen since, speaking of leeches, our latest baby whopper seemed to want to top off her tank 24 / 7.

It was coooooold, too. So no, I didn't FEEL like going out to dinner and anyway . . . AA-OO-GAH!!! Lash me to the mast! Here comes another postpartum hormone hurricane!

Tell you what, he suggested. I'll take the two older kids to Burger King and feed them and let them play in there 'til they’re tuckered out. Then I'll get some takeout from that good Italian restaurant and pick up a video. We can put them all to bed, and have a peaceful dinner and movie together at home.

What a man! What a plan!

The baby fell asleep shortly after they left. I ran the Zamboni through the house, folded last month's laundry, and read an entire week's newspapers in a bubble bath.

When they got home, I was a noodle of bliss, with toys and unmatched socks completely removed from my hair, smiling serenely as we put the children to bed.

It was time for our private party.

I was famished. What culinary delights had my stalwart provider brought in that big takeout sack? What romantic movie had he selected to kindle the flames of matrimonial desire?

But noooooo.

The restaurant had forgotten everything in that sack EXCEPT the hors d'oeuvres: six little itty bitty toasted ravioli. They forgot the salads, breadsticks and entrees. At least there were mass quantities of dipping sauce for the ravioli. But that was it.

Meanwhile, the movie he'd gotten was . . . not Kevin Costner . . . not Tom Cruise . . . but FOGHORN LEGHORN.

Sixty minutes of cartoons featuring a blathering, rednecked, Southern-fried rooster. You know, the one who yells, ''Boy! I . . . I say . . . Boy!''

He thought I'd think they were funny.

I looked at him. He looked at me. He could go back for the rest of the food. But it was sooooo cold out.

We sighed.

We cut those six itty bitty toasted ravioli into itty bittier pieces, and put them on plates. They looked lonesome. We carried them to the TV, turned on Foghorn Leghorn, speared each little ravioli molecule with a single fork tine, and took turns dipping them in the sauce. At least there was plenty of sauce.

No waltzes, no sparkling diamonds, no moonlit walk on a Caribbean beach. Just molecules and rooster jokes.

You can see why it was another dozen years before our next child was born. Just kidding.

But fast-forward now to our latest anniversary, our 26th.

We were going to a swank soiree. He would be in white tie and tails. I got a smashing black dress with caviar beading. Posh!

He was ready to go -- nothing new there -- when I came down the stairs.

Our eyes locked.

Dang! We looked GOOD!

I forgot all about the hassles and headaches of 26 years of marriage. I saw the silver hair I'd caused, the broad shoulders I'd cried on, and the hand that had held mine back when necessary, and guided it forward, too.

Dang! He looked GOOOOOOOD!

My heart went plippety-plop, just like at our wedding. I knew I'd gotten far more than just the hors d'oeuvres in my sack that day. It might not have come to me exactly in the form I expected, like that wacky anniversary. But in marriage, yep, I got the whole meal deal.

With a rooster like this, I was one lucky hen.

Boy! I . . . I say . . . Boy!

How 'bout we slip out after the dance, and split a little old toasted ravioli?


Prayer request: Father, there's a longtime married couple in our area who are considering a divorce. We plead for Your gracious intervention to bring them back together. Help them see that You gave them to each other for a lot of good reasons, and they can work out their problems successfully, together, for their good and Your glory. (1 Corinthians 13:7)


Susan Darst Williams,, is a writer, wife and mother of four who lives at the base of Mount Laundry, Nebraska.


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Saturday, January 10, 2004

New N.U. Coach: Fess Parker? Yee Haw!

I feel good about the University of Nebraska’s new football coach because he looks exactly like my favorite TV star in childhood, Fess Parker. He played Davy Crockett and Dan’l Boone, America’s best-loved straight shooters.

I can just picture Bill Callahan in a coonskin cap with a buckskin jacket on, wielding Old Betsy, his Kentucky longrifle. Though I suppose there’d have to be an “N” on that cap, the buckskin would have to be red, and the longrifle would have to stand for his pass-happy West Coast offense that may make the expression “Air Nebraska” less of a joke.

Nebraska’s athletic director Steve Pederson, under assault for the 41 days of turmoil it took to get this new coach signed, can take some solace from the fact that Walt Disney found Fess Parker in a bit part in the movie “Them,” which was about giant ants.

That HAS to be more ignominous than what happened to Pederson, being turned down for Nebraska’s high-dollar coaching job by an Arkansas yahoo named Houston Nutt.

Were Fess Parker and Bill Callahan separated at birth? Check out the pictures on the website

There’s a 1954 quote on there from Fess Parker about Davy Crockett that has transfer power for the new Nebraska coach:

The actor said, “God touches the lives of some people, like Davy Crockett, choosing them for great achievements in order to show the rest of us the right way.”

Oooooh! Hope that’s so for our new coach!

Billy . . . Billy Callahan!
King of the wild Huskeers!


Prayer request: Praise for another strong, tall, soft-spoken man who is going through an exciting change in life. This Omahan, a business owner named Russ, lost a close friend recently in a motorcycle accident near his home. In fact, he came upon the scene and had to comfort the widow. It was shattering. Well, one thing led to another, and now Russ has been transformed from a quiet, uninvolved, pew-sitting Christian into someone who is leading a small-group Bible study, taking leadership positions in his church, and even praying for a former business adversary who has cancer. Once again, the Holy Spirit has used death to teach someone about life and what it’s all about. Thank you, Jesus, for breathing new life into Russ and may he do exploits for You that will touch countless lives. (John 5:24)

Friday, January 09, 2004

From a Former Embryo

Memo To: The Former Embryos in the Nebraska Legislature

From: Former Embryo Susan Darst Williams

Re: LB 602 Involving the Current Embryos in Peril in Scientific Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center


Thursday you heard a speech by Former Embryo Irving Weissman, now a grown-up scientist at Stanford University. He was brought in by N.U. officials, apparently, to urge you to vote against LB 602. That way, the Med Center could continue to slice, dice, chop and puree little bitty unborn babies for their medical research projects. The Med Center, using our tax dollars, also would continue down the path of what’s being called “the commodification of human flesh” – profiting on human body parts, in other words. But that’s the kind of stuff Former Embryo Weissman apparently thinks is good. He warned that Nebraska would lose a lot of fantastic medical researchers if embryonic stem-cell research were halted.

A few cautions: depravity, even with a top hat on, is still depravity. We’re all former embryos; remember that. And in this case, please consider the source. This Christmas break, a Stanford freshman from Nebraska sat at my kitchen counter and sobbed because she had been so excited to go to Stanford . . . but it was so depraved, ultra-radical and horribly negative, she felt forced to transfer. She was being downgraded for her conservative approach to her subjects, her dorm official was a homosexual who constantly and loudly had what we used to call “sleepovers,” her roommate was brilliant but so messed up she wouldn’t speak to other humans but they wouldn’t let her get a new roommate . . . it was an ordeal for this outstanding and perfectly normal young scholar from Nebraska. You hear this more and more. It looks as though Stanford has fallen off the deep end in the name of being “cutting edge.” If you’ve ever been on that campus and inside its fabulous chapel, you’d know it was founded on good principles and now has fallen away. Just think about it.

Also think about this: another university that most people would say is equal to Stanford in academic stature, Georgetown University, has apparently recognized depravity at last, and has stopped the use of aborted fetal cell lines in its medical research.

Why? Because it’s unethical, of course . . . just like embryonic stem-cell research is, especially since there have been so many exciting developments with highly-ethical and A-OK adult stem-cell research.

According to the pro-life group, Children of God for Life, aborted fetal cell lines MRC-5, WI-38, IMR-90 and HEK (human embryonic kidney) were being used at Georgetown University's Medical Research Center. The group contacted Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., and now reports that all objectionable cell lines have been removed from Georgetown’s tissue culture bank inventory.

Hmmm. If THOSE former embryos can do it, why can’t we?

For more on bioethics, see the Children of God for Life website,


Prayer request: Lord, I ask you to bring babies into the sight of our legislators in the coming days as they consider this issue. Let them see them morning, noon and night. Let them have a chance to hold a baby and goo-goo to a baby. Let them feel that incomparably soft skin. Let the beauty and innocence of those babies awaken their hearts to the truth, that embryonic human beings ought not to be killed for medical research and that there are lots of good alternatives out there, including adult stem cells. Use your favorite thing – young life – to work this miracle in Nebraska, Father. (Matthew 6:25c: Is not life more than meat?)

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Mushroom Cloud of Estrogen Gas

Know how cornball meteorologists always report to the kids on Christmas Eve that they’ve spotted Santa and his sleigh on radar? Well, this week they may be reporting that satellite photos are showing an enormous mushroom cloud of estrogen gas emerging above Waco, Texas.

That’s because there is a considerable amount of emotional energy being expended by persons of the female persuasion in that general vicinity.

Sorority rush is going on right now at Baylor University, and our daughter is a part of it. At some schools, sororities and fraternities are not the big deal, socially, that they used to be. But they’re still a big deal at Baylor.

Our daughter kept her cool despite not one but TWO plane snafus on the way back down to Waco from Omaha the other day. It took her 13 hours to get there, the time it takes by car. She missed the first rush meeting, but is OK with that. Contrast that with many adults, who go bananas over a measly little half-hour scheduling delay. True to her sweet nature, our patient daughter commented that the five-hour delay at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield gave her a chance to visit with an old high-school friend, who happened to be there awaiting another flight on the way back to her college back East. It’s the old “life gives you lemons, make lemonade” routine.

Then again, that mushroom cloud over north Texas may be getting bigger. We understand that the Baylor shuttle bus from the Dallas / Fort Worth airport was out of order, so girls who flew in to DFW had to scramble for alternative transportation to travel the extra hour and a half to Waco to make it for Rush Week.

Well, duh. Why do you think they call it “rush”?


Prayer request: Father, help make the sorority connections and associations that will be most beneficial to our daughter and most pleasing to You. Guide her to connect with the best possible group of young women who will give her good fellowship and good counsel, and help her grow and flourish in the warm light of friendship. (Proverbs 27:9)

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

3,300 Pounds? Now, THAT'S a Pregnancy Weight Gain

Good friend Linda Moreland Weinmaster of Lawrence, Kan., is very concerned about the amount of mercury that is in the flu shots being given to everyone and his or her dog (really!) these days.

It’s almost laughable how the government is warning pregnant women and young children not to eat tuna because of the risk of ingesting mercury. Why? Because you could eat two ounces of tuna five days a week – 270 servings per year – before you’d approach the amount of mercury that may be in just one flu shot – which the government also is recommending that everybody get.

It’s a great, big, whoopin’ “uff da,” if you ask me.

Mrs. Weinmaster is nationally active in the effort to expose the link between mercury in childhood vaccinations and the explosion in the neurological disorder known as autism, as well as many other newly-emerging, mysterious, so-called “learning disabilities.” Her son Adam has autism.

Well, Linda figured out that for you to handle the 25 micrograms of mercury that may be contained in your flu shot, you really would need to weigh 550 pounds. So much for my Atkins diet.

That same mercury was common in childhood vaccinations given in the 1990s, Mrs. Weinmaster said, although the amount has been reduced more recently. A decade ago, the typical baby given three shots in one day at the two-month checkup most likely got 62.5 micrograms of mercury. In order to withstand that amount of poison, the baby would have to weigh 1,375 pounds.

Now, THAT’S a big baby. Ooh, think of the diapers. Quadruple uff da!

Mrs. Weinmaster traces some of her son’s mercury poisoning to the Rho Gam shot she received while pregnant, a common tactic to prevent problems associated with Rh incompatibility. She’s convinced it made things much, much worse for her son. She computed that to have absorbed the mercury in that one shot with no ill effects to her unborn son, she would have had to weigh 3,300 pounds that day.

Makes my ankles swell just to think about it.

For more on this important topic, see


Prayer request: Father, give victories to activists such as Linda Weinmaster and to Missouri State Rep. Roy Holand of Springfield, who has proposed House Bill 852 that would outlaw mercury in all vaccines in that state beginning next year. Let the truth of what they are saying spread across the land and protect all of us, especially children, from disastrous consequences like autism. (2 John 2:2)

Tuesday, January 06, 2004


Eyebrows were raised recently when John W. Shumaker resigned last year as president of the University of Tennessee System amid allegations that he used taxpayer money to install a $30,100 phone system for his home, had no receipts for $62,000 in charges on the university foundation’s credit card, and steered a $300,000 no-bid university contract to a friend.

How do these people even THINK it’s OK to do that kind of stuff? Maybe because they figure – most of the time, quite accurately – that no one will ever find out.

Isn’t it a little past time for accountability in higher education spending? Well, that’s . . . academic.

Here’s a simple, painless solution: you know how small-town newspapers regularly publish the school’s “checkbook,” and sometimes invoice and vendor data for other governmental units, such as city government?

Well, we’ve bought millions upon millions of dollars worth of computing equipment for our state universities. They all have websites.

I say, make them publish their check register on that website – complete with explanatory memo detailing exactly what the money went for, what staff member is responsible for the expenditure, detailed vendor information, and annual spending per vendor.

It’s true, hardly anyone would take time to pore through all that. But the key word is “hardly.” Public-spirited citizens and reporters would take time, all right. What would show up? Motel rooms . . . all-terrain vehicles . . . dinner parties at $100 a plate . . . $1,800 office chairs. . . .

Let’s shine a spotlight on the public purse, see what’s exposed . . . and watch who scuttles away.


Prayer request: Safe travel for all college students returning to their studies this week, Lord. Fill their minds with the knowledge and wisdom they need to feed their souls and equip them for the life You’ve planned for them to lead. (Proverbs 2:2)

Monday, January 05, 2004


What is the eeriest silence you ever heard? A friend of mine experienced a true Twilight Zone silence the other day.

She and her fine, upstanding, middle-aged girlfriend ran into a public restroom at a large community event. It was pretty crowded, but they went into stalls side by side.

She decided to play a little trick on her friend. So she concentrated on balling up the hugest wad of toilet paper that she possibly could. I mean, it was voluminous – your tax dollars at work, but oh, well, just this once. . . .

Then she threw her giant wad merrily over the stall divider, hoping that her aim was good enough to bonk her friend right on the head.

That’s when the eerie, Twilight Zone-style silence oozed from that stall.

Puzzled, she looked down to the floor, and realized that her friend had been wearing white Nikes . . . but all she could see in the next stall that she had just bombed were a couple of rather irritated looking brown leather Borns.

Epigram: Know wad you’re doing.

Prayer request: A young friend of a friend, Steven Weber, is leaving for the Marines this week in preparation for infantry action in Iraq. This outstanding St. Louis University scholar wants to go into politics as a career, but felt it was important that he gain military experience first. He calls it a “must” for those who would make policy and laws for the rest of us. Lord, protect this fine young man and let him see what You would have him see, to make him fit for leadership just as You are about to make him fit for war. (Deuteronomy 3:18)

Sunday, January 04, 2004

SUNDAY: Radiant Beams


A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
-- Proverbs 17:17

I hadn't seen my friend Michelle for a year. Then I saw her three times in a week, at a football game, a lecture, and a concert.

Each time, I resolved to call her to ask what she had done to comfort her best friend, who died recently of cancer. Michelle had been with her every step of the way.

That same week, I was still trembly over what had just happened to my husband's best friend. He had miraculously survived an aortic aneurysm. We had prayed our brains out for him.

The next day, I got a call from MY best friend.

''It seems I have leukemia,'' she said.

''No, you don’t,'' was my brilliant reply.

Yes, she did. And it was advanced.

I zoomed right over. Diagnosis: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. We hugged, we cried, we surfed the Internet, we prayed face down on the floor . . . and we laughed 'til tears of joy mixed with tears of grief.

Chemotherapy will start soon. There may have to be a bone-marrow transplant. This was a trial with a capital T.

I looked deep into her beautiful brown eyes.

''Are you ready to fight?'' I asked.

The answer was there before she spoke. ''Yes, with the help of my faith, my family, and my friends.''

She's Cindy Moore, the person with the most smarts and savoir-faire I know. She's adroit with people. She's skilled with decorating. She knows history. She's up on politics. She has done a ton of good things for the community. She's the wife of Omaha pediatrician John Moore and mother of two lovely daughters, Caroline and Madeleine.

She's always been there for me, a big sister type.

Now the tables are turned. I'm going to have to be the strong one. Am I up to it?

What had Cindy said? ''Yes, with the help of my faith, my family, and my friends.''

It's been amazing to watch the help flow toward us from those three things. Friends with chemo experience have advised: know the cycles. Bring food. Get a great wig. Expect sickness. Leave her alone sometimes, but not for long. Give lots of phone calls, notes, gifts, outings, thoughtful gestures.

Just be there. Be a friend. Be a ''chemosabe.''

And be in prayer. I prayed hard for a miracle for Cindy while I was out driving, and immediately saw a car with this license plate: ''LONG W8.''

Meaning, she'll be cured, but it'll take a while. 10-4, Lord!

More help: my uncle and cousins shepherded my aunt through leukemia; they can ''translate'' the technical jargon for me.

Two friends have had hospice training; they're sharing insider tips for comforting those with chronic conditions.

People are responding sweetly in character. Her husband's been fantastic. Her daughters sang a gorgeous duet on Christmas Eve, just for her. Her sisters call and send cards daily. Her brother flexes his muscles and brags that he has ''the largest supply of bone marrow in the world,'' and that God and he are ''tight.''

A neighbor is taking over her carpooling duties. Several others put Cindy's name on prayer chains.

Ironically, Cindy talked me into doing Bible study with her this past fall, her first such experience. She just felt an urge. That's how God moved her into ''community,'' with a dozen new friends praying for her with purpose and skill.

What I love best is how this is drawing Cindy closer to God. She came out of some rigorous medical tests on a gray day before Christmas, feeling small, scared and alone.

She looked up at the sunset . . . and saw a rainbow.

A promise in the sky.

I'm here, Cindy. I'm with you. Emmanuel: God with us. With you.

She cried. So did we all.

Yes, she has a Best Friend. The rest of us have the privilege of being His hands and feet in this trial, to care for her and carry her through.

You're never a lone ranger when you have that Friend . . . and His band of ''chemosabes.''

Listen up, leukemia: you don't stand a chance. Heigh ho, Silver, and away!

Saturday, January 03, 2004


I can solve the whole problem with the University of Nebraska’s embarrassing, extended search for a new football coach. GET A WOMAN TO DO IT!

Hasn’t Athletic Director Steve Pederson acted so, so much like a man? Bull-headedly careening to and fro on candidates, suffering a major media whoopsie about his plans to fire former coach Frank Solich, getting turned down for the job at a reported salary of more than $2 million and if that isn't bad enough it was by an Arkansas yahoo named “Nutt,” and all the time deliberately ignoring the obvious good solution.

Men. When they’re in testosterone mode, they often screw things up.

Women, on the other hand, don’t HAVE a testosterone mode. We don't have TIME.

A woman would have asked Bo Pelini to become head coach ‘way back when, and settled it. By now, the recruiting season would be humming along with all our ducks in a row. And a female athletic director would be sitting back, looking decisive and eating bon-bons, rather than agonizingly twisting in the wind, which is what Pederson’s doing.

On the other hand, Pederson was in my baby brother's fraternity at UNL, Delta Upsilon. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the one who thought up the funny slogan on the tailgate napkins they had: “ADVANCE LARGE CRIMSON.” Who knew that’d apply to our CHEEKS one day?

Bottom line, though: he's a stand-up guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt, that he’ll eventually get this right.

So here’s a surefire tip, Steve. You know that Lincoln woman who got in trouble recently for posting nudie pictures of herself on a website? If she would represent the university in a coach-hiring capacity, then no matter WHO she talked to, they'd HAVE to accept and at a bargain-basement price . . . or otherwise spend the rest of their life trying to 'xplain to the wife just 'xactly what they were doing talking to that Nebraska nudist gal.

Hey . . . desperate times, desperate tactics!


Prayer request: A longtime friend of a dear cousin in Arizona is fighting cancer. The friend, Del, has a husband in the throes of Alzheimer’s who would be lost without her. At Christmas, she started hemorrhaging and had to be rushed to the emergency room. She repeats over and over that she is in God's hands and has no fear. But Lord, we join our hearts in prayer for blessing and healing for Del so that she can continue to glorify You and minister to her husband and many friends. (Numbers 12:13)

Friday, January 02, 2004

A Second Chance at Living Happily Ever After

My husband’s best friend survived an aortic aneurysm not long before Christmas. It swelled up to grapefruit size and was just a nanosecond away from bursting. But a super medical team at a Kansas City hospital saved his life with emergency heart surgery.

We asked everybody we knew to pray for Steve. Through God’s grace, he wound up in the 5 percent of the population who survive such a catastrophe.

Now he faces a long, boring recovery stuck at home in bed, which will be tough for this former Omahan and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate. His career as an attorney has afforded him all kinds of fascinating hobbies and active adventures.

But he’s embarking on a new one, anyway: on Christmas Day, Steve asked his longtime girlfriend Cheryl to marry him. FIN-ally! Both Christian believers, they each have two children from previous marriages. Everyone’s rejoicing and laughing over “what it took” to nudge Steve toward taking the plunge after all these years.

Steve’s no dummy. He knows a second chance at happiness when he sees it. Many congratulations! You got your heart fixed, and now you can put it to good use for the rest of your life.


Prayer request: Father, we praise You and thank You for Steve’s amazing recovery. Thank You that he is responding to Your grace by renewing his heart in Your truth, and giving his heart to Cheryl in love and commitment. Bless their marriage, Lord, as we marvel at Your wonderful ways of bringing people together in love in Your name. (1 John 3:19)

Thursday, January 01, 2004

2004: Oh, the Possum-bilities

Just put a certain young man back on a plane to North Carolina after a visit here in Nebraska. Our daughter met him at the university in Chapel Hill. He's quite a guy. We were worried that Nebraska wouldn't measure up for him, since his hobbies include kayaking in the Outer Banks and surfing and so forth. All we can offer here is the Boys Town Stamp Ball and an occasional skinny-dip in an irrigation ditch, but certainly not at Christmastime unless you're really hardy.

But we shouldn't have worried about our home state coming off as Hicksville. I just read an item about Brasstown, N.C., where instead of dropping a lighted ball at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, they drop an opossum.

That's right: over a thousand people gather at the town's only gas stastion, the Citgo, and watch a possum in a Plexiglass cage being lowered from the roof. They can watch this live, or on the 10-foot TV screen dubbed "Possom-tron." After the firing of muskets and so forth, they let the little critter go.

And that's New Year's Eve in North Carolina.

Hmm. There may not be a whole awful lot to do in the Cornhusker State. But at least we haven't had to stoop to centering our partying around roadkill. Yet.


Prayer request: Lord, we thank You for this new year in Your beautiful world with all that You have provided for us. We plead with You to bring peace to all the nations so that each of us can enjoy Your gifts the way You intended. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)


Happy New Year! DailySusan is changing into a blog with humorous commentary, a Sunday column called "Radiant Beams," and a daily prayer matched with a Bible verse. Feel feel to contribute ideas and prayer requests by emailing me at