Sunday, February 29, 2004


But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
-- Matthew 5:44

A Jewish friend overheard people last week talking about ''The Passion of The Christ'' movie and how they should watch out for the ''Christ-killers'' among them and ''how evil the Jews are.''

His wife, a cashier, heard a torrent of anti-Semitic statements from people waiting in line.

Remember that scene in ''Shrek'' where the princess does a triple handspring, elaborate judo and split kicks bonking the bad guys? That's what I’d like to do to numbskulls who are anti-Semitic . . . and anti-Christian.

Don't they know the Bible says Jews are God's beloved, chosen people?

And Jesus went through torture and death out of love for Jews along with everybody else?

And the crucifixion by the Romans of Jesus Christ -- a Jew named ''Yeshua'' -- was the most anti-Semitic act in history? That He was among thousands of Jews the Romans crucified over politics?

And when YOU make anti-Semitic statements, YOU kill our Savior, all over again, because He commanded: ''Love one another.''



Anti-Semitism: you think of Russian pogroms, Nazi Holocaust, crimes in Europe and Malaysia, terrorism in Israel, horrid shortwave radio programs, and hate-mongering websites worldwide.

Now there are claims that ''The Passion'' movie is fomenting it right under our noses. Christians have an opportunity to serve Jesus by standing up against it.

How? Study the awesome book ''Not By the Sword: How a Cantor and His Family Transformed a Klansman,'' by Princeton University writing instructor Kathryn Watterson (Northeastern University Press, 2001), details on

It happened a few miles from me. In Lincoln, Neb., a Jewish cantor, Michael Weisser, and his family moved into a new home in 1991. They got a phone call: ''You will be sorry you ever moved . . . Jew Boy.'' Two days later, a package was flung on their porch with a note, ''The KKK is watching you, scum.'' Inside were pictures of Hitler and caricatures of Jews and blacks.

Police told the Weissers the likely harasser was Larry Trapp, Grand Dragon of the Nebraska Ku Klux Klan.

Trapp had been suspected of terrorizing Jews, Vietnamese and African-Americans for some time. His apartment was crammed with Nazi paraphernalia, hate literature and reportedly enough weapons to blow up a small city.

What would you have done? Buy Dobermans? Set up traps? Get him thrown in jail?

Or do what Jesus would have done? That's what Cantor Weisser did.

Trapp was in a wheelchair because of health problems. One day Weisser called him and graciously offered to take him grocery shopping.

Friendship blossomed.

It turns out Trapp had been beaten and abused as a child; his father used racial epithets against Jews and African-Americans. Trapp's life had been painful, and now, diabetes was killing him. His legs were amputated; he was nearly blind.

Trapp didn't need victims. He needed love.

It came: his visiting nurse witnessed Christ to him . . . a Vietnamese Buddhist hospital volunteer befriended him . . . a black neighbor prayed daily for him.

The Weissers took the lead. One day Trapp asked them to help him throw away his hate propaganda . . . and to forgive him. Eventually, Trapp apologized to each of his hate-mail victims.

As Trapp's health worsened, the Weissers invited him to live with them. Mrs. Weisser quit her job to care for him. He died on Sept. 6, 1992 . . . after having converted to Judaism in the Weissers' synagogue, a building he once threatened to bomb.

A Lutheran minister and friend conducted his funeral service to a full house. Many openly cried.

They cried the same tears people are crying in movie theaters everywhere. Because the Grand Knight of the Nebraska KKK finally saw it, too:

Love. Unconditional, unrelenting, awesome, powerful, wonderful love.

Thank You, Yeshua Mashiach . . . the Anointed One . . . Who sees our tears and hears our cries, beyond the movies into real life . . . and always, always finds a way to bring us love.


Prayer request: The Jews are the apple of Your eye, oh God; You love them greatly. We pray for this movie to inspire us to oppose hatred in all its forms, including anti-Semitism, and demonstrate the will and power of the living Messiah. (Zechariah 2:8)

Saturday, February 28, 2004


We still haven't quite recovered from seeing a copy of the exercise video, ''Buns of Steel,'' in the TV set of a 70-something person we know.

And there's something cruelly fascinating about the artwork on ''Abs of Steel,'' the companion video for sculpting one's torso.

But now I'm proposing a cheap, fun, new exercise for the forefingers of America. In the wake of the Janet Jackson scandal and the ongoing controversy over indecent broadcasting by Howard Stern and fellow shock jocks, I say we all need to exercise . . .


Whenever you hear something awful on the radio or see something awful on TV, use that mighty forefinger to turn it off. First chance you get, use it to dial the phone number of the station manager and tell him or her what you think of what you heard or saw. Courteously, of course.

I have been tolerant enough to let the radio be tuned away from my favorite Christian station to a teen rock station when my teenagers have friends in the car. But they still haven't quite recovered from the ignominy of seeing me using my Forefinger of Steel to turn off foul lyrics, when they come, which they always do. I do it with dramatic flair and passionate resolve.

I usually let my forefinger stay on the ''off'' button a few seconds longer than necessary, and twist my face into just the right degree of disgust, to make my point.

It only took a few ''reps'' of that exercise to work. Now, we pretty much ride in peace, filth-free.

I may have buns of jelly and abs like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but I'm in real good shape when it comes to giving raunchy radio the finger . . . and everybody's ears are better off.


Prayer Request: We pray today for people in positions of authority in broadcasting and the music business, Lord. Help them to be more discerning about their massive influence on our youth. Help them to insist upon promoting only that programming which is pleasing to You. (Romans 12:9)

Friday, February 27, 2004


My friend Fritz from Florida is glad ''Bubba the Love Sponge'' is kicked off the radio after the shock jock's employer, Clear Channel, was fined $755,000 by the FCC for allowing him on the air so long with his indecent, revolting sex talk.

Fritz writes, ''How crazy is the world these days? Reading the St. Pete Times this morning, there are about 20 letters to the editor in favor of gay marriage and asserting that Bush is being divisive by opposing it.

''Then we have the letters in opposition to the firing by Clear Channel of the 'shock-jock.' This guy was the nastiest, filthiest disc jockey I've ever heard. I've been around the block and heard all sorts of things, but this guy was over the top on the radio. And the letters to the editor are critical of the firing?''

He wishes the media would quit giving weirdos, perverts and degenerates so much front-page coverage and credibility.

I don't think we gave ''Bubba the Love Sponge'' the right correction, though. I think we should have sentenced him to set his own radio dial, in car, home and earphones, to POLKA MUSIC, for the rest of his natural-born days.

The only way to clean out filth like that between someone's ears is with bubbles. Lots of bubbles in the music. You know, like that OTHER Love Sponge from the 1960s . . . Lawrence Welk.

Thank ya, boyzzzzzzzz.


Prayer Request: Praise and thanks to you, Father, for giving me such a great and sensitive friend, Carol. She showed up at my door the other day when she thought my voice on the phone sounded sad. She brought me a cheer-up book . . . and my favorite, chai tea. Thanks for sending Your ''picker-uppers'' into this world, Father. (Psalm 26:3)

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Postscript on our North Carolina trip: we loved the Wright Brothers Memorial, the oceanside aquarium, and the safari across sand dunes to try to spot some wild ponies. Striking memories, all. But the grand finale was a gourmet lunch in the beautiful, intriguing home of my husband's father's cousin and his wonderful wife. They live on a picturesque lake in Durham.

He's a magician and she's a fine artist. Their home oozes creativity, color and joy. We adored their furnishings, especially the warmth and wit of their tablecloth, embroidered with the signatures of all the guests who have enjoyed their hospitality.

Second best of all, for Maddy, was a chance to throw chunks of stale bread to the Canada geese out their back door.

Best, though, was her introduction to a certain musical instrument. You could tell this was no ordinary home: they had a ukulele right there handy. She fell in love with it. It was just her size.

Her face would get this soulful expression, and even though she held it to the right instead of the left, and strummed from the bottom up, she was in her element. Put a little Hawaiian shirt on her, comb her hair funny, and voila: a mini Don(na) Ho!

So naturally, when we got back home, we went to the music store, which had one on sale -- $25.95 -- and she has been ''in concert'' ever since.

It's funny now. But we may live to regret this.

However, this frazzled mom says, if ukulele music has charms to soothe a savage 3-year-old breast, play on!


Prayer Request: On the other side of my husband's family, there's a crisis. Unborn twins need to stay unborn for at least two more weeks, but the water broke around one of them yesterday. Contractions were stopped with medication. Mother and babies are fine so far, but this is 'way, 'way early for them to be born. Father, we pray for maximum development time in utero, and for a healthy, happy delivery when Your timing is right. By the way, guess where these dear twins live? The Twin Cities! (Psalm 139:14-16)

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


The climax of our North Carolina trip was to meet our daughter's boyfriend's father. Gulp!

It reminded me of the funny movie ''Meet the Parents.'' Only this time, WE were the Fockers – hicks from Nebraska who could never measure up to this former New Yorker, a North Carolina businessman who sent his son to a tony boarding school in New Jersey and summered on the coast and so forth.

I thought about getting some of those fake hillbilly teeth and a buffalo jacket to wear when we were introduced: ''Howdy! How're YEW?'' But the premonition of Jordan's horrified face stopped me in the nick of time. Instead, I just flossed and tried not to make a scene.

He was delightful and asked the right questions -- Nebraska football, life with a 3-year-old, the snow we've had. We ordered grits and sweet tea. I think we ''passed.'' For sure, he did.

The whole time there was this new aura over our gathering -- a little scary, and yet sweet and exciting. If this young man is ''the one,'' then this stranger will be our fellow in-law with a lot of influence over our daughter's future life, arm-wrestling with us for who gets 'em for Christmas and stuff.

I didn't really like it . . . and yet I liked it.


Prayer Request: Adam, 24, the only son of some friends of a friend, is hospitalized with a mysterious illness. He has severe diarrhea, can't eat and has lost 30 pounds in two weeks. He studied in Rome last semester and that may be connected. Also, Kaitlyn, 4, is having surgery today in Omaha for a tumor on her spine. She has been afraid and crying at the hospital. Oh, Father, heal these precious children and comfort and strengthen their parents in faith as they look to You in these trying days. (1 Peter 1:7)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


. . . than to be in Carolina in the moooooooooornin' . . . and afternoon and evenin' and especially in February, when it's relatively warm and colorful . . . it's a great state.

We visited our oldest daughter Jordan at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and dropped off her teenage sister Eden for a few days. She got to go to classes and attend an Actual College Party With Actual College Boys, learning from them that ''Friends Don't Let Friends Go to Dook.''

Meanwhile, we parents and Maddy, 3, drove to the coast to get some R&R at the Sanderling, a gracious hotel on the Outer Banks north of Duck, N.C. It was the first ocean experience for Maddy, and a treat to see it through her eyes. Two shellers coming up off the beach were ''mermaids,'' and she saw both a dolphin and a whale in her first glimpse. Or so she said.

It was the off season, so we were able to get a good table in a swank, historic restaurant in Duck, which is a classy mixture of southern California and Scottsdale. They weren't really set up for kids, though. No lids on the drinks; naturally, Maddy spilled her Shirley Temple. Then she was holding the plastic straw in her mouth like a warthog and wiggling her ''tusks'' around, which was not very amusing to our diligent and ultra-proper waiter.

Finally, as we were putting on our coats, she got a few steps out ahead of us down the exit hallway, and spotted the bright-red fire alarm. She had it in her hand, half-pulled! AA-OO-GAH! Both Dad and Mom did Secret Service-style DIVES and stopped her in time. Then she wailed in fright at the expressions on our faces. So much for R&R, traveling with a 3-year-old ''Curious Georgette.''

Tomorrow: Meet the Parents.


Prayer Request: A spiritual counselor friend asks prayer for a newly-believing couple with children ages 9 and 10 ''who are so busy keeping score over their hurts inflicted on one another that they may sink the ship before we get away from the dock. Their marriage is a mess. Pray for soft hearts and a willingness to look for the tiny glimmer of goodness and hope . . . and to be willing to build on that.'' (Philippians 4:8)

Monday, February 23, 2004



And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
-- John 6:40

I'm grateful for the Mel Gibson movie, ''The Passion of The Christ.'' It’s going to clear up a whole lot of misconceptions about my Jesus.

No, He wasn't a liar. No, He wasn't a lunatic. No, He isn't dead.

And no, He isn't furry. At least, I don’t think He is.

See, I was driving with Maddy, age 3. Moms know you have to keep up the sparkling conversation and fascinating improv, or they'll chew through their carseat straps and watusi on your head.

So I was showing her how, when you turn the knob on the car radio 'way down, you can't hear the music anymore -- but it's still there. Turn the knob back around, and you can hear it again. Voila!

Inspiration! A ''teachable moment''!

''Hey, Maddy,'' I said, ''God is like music. We can't see Him. We can't always hear Him or understand Him. Sometimes we tune Him out. But we still know He's alive, right here in our hearts.''

SCORE! At least, I thought I had.

But noooooo. You NEVER score on a 3-year-old. She came back with a barrage of questions:

''What does God look like?''

''Does He have a wife?''

''Is God furry?''

I opened my mouth to try to answer, but then turned to my time-tested strategy:

''I don’t know. Ask your Dad.''

How do you explain water or air? I'd die without them, just as I'd die without my personal relationship with Jesus Christ – my all-day, every-day, death-defying, awe-inspiring, ever-humbling, ever-encouraging walk with the living God.

But how do you explain Him to somebody who doesn't know Him?

Voila! If they're of age, you take them to that movie, and then out for coffee. Brace yourself for deep questions. And be ready with some yourself:

''The Bible says you can only get to heaven if you believe in Jesus and accept His sacrifice on the Cross. After watching that movie, do you think a lot more people will?''

''You hear people say they are going to heaven simply because they try to be good. But the Bible says you can't get there on your own power -- only through belief in Jesus' sacrifice. Do you think this movie will change a lot of people's minds?''

''People say they love Jesus, but they do all kinds of things He told us not to do. Do you think this movie will make them realize they've been sinning and need to repent?''

I guess that's what I'm most looking forward to: seeing how much people learn and change from seeing Jesus in His defining moment in this movie. Maybe they'll begin to see Him in their every moment . . . and redefine themselves as part of His Body.

It's hard enough trying to 'xplain Him to Maddy. Of course, you can't take children to that ''R'' movie. You have to find ''teachable moments'' . . . and bear the consequences.

And yes, it happened again.

On Sunday, we worshipped with our oldest daughter in the beautiful, historic University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, N.C. We took Maddy up to the balcony to try to minimize the impact of her mushroom cloud of disruptive activities.

A young couple brought a beautiful baby boy up front to be baptized. Golden sunlight pierced through the tall windows onto his blond fuzzhead and made his long christening gown glow bright white.

In the hush, Maddy asked loudly:

''IS THAT JESUS?!?!?!?''

Shoulders shook on the people in front of us. I got sweet tears in my eyes and hugged her close. ''No, Maddy. But He's right here.''

He’s not ''fur'' at all. He's near – as near as your heart, Maddy.

I hope people see Him on that movie screen . . . and meet Him at last.


Prayer request: Lord, we pray for a hedge of protection around all those involved with ''The Passion.'' Let this movie be a profound blessing to all those who know You, or will come to know You through this film. (Job 1:10).

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


Great news: our daughter's softball coach, Terry Graver, has been named the Nebraska High School Softball Coach of the Year. He's a teacher at Elkhorn High School, an admirable husband and doting father. Everybody loves him. He's someone who has it all.

The award no doubt honors his ability to bring out the best in his squad, since they finished fourth in the state tournament despite losing not one but two All-Staters from the year before.

What I'd like to honor today is what I saw happen mid-season last fall. The girls got into a slump. They lost three games in a row to teams they should have pounded. They made bonehead mistakes. Coach yelled a little bit. OK, he chewed them you-know-where, and at high decibel levels, too.

The girls let their lower lips tremble a little bit. They banded together to bad-mouth this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad coach. They cried and wailed. How could he be so mean to them? How could he yell like that? Didn't he know what he was doing to them?

Before our eyes, they bonded into a team.

And then they went out and TROUNCED the next four or five opponents.

They got their mojo back. They surfed that wave all the way to State, where they overachieved and played great and made everybody proud.

Especially Coach Graver . . . the not-so-meanie . . . who knew what he was doing, all along.


DailySusan will resume on Sunday, Feb. 22.


Prayer Request: Health update on our close friend Steve, who survived an aortic aneurysm late last year with miraculous surgery: ''I did a bunch of tests yesterday; spent the whole day at the hospital: CT angiogram, ultrasound of the heart and aorta and others. . . . Supposed to start a three-month rehab next week. Only able to do two minutes on the treadmill; three years ago I outran the machine. That sucks. Cardiologist says I am now in the less than 1% Survival Club . . . that is how many survive my surgery this long. Onward and upward.'' Amen to that! (Philippians 3:14)

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


She got canned at Thanksgiving, and it hurt a whole lot. Someone higher up made an unfair, selfish decision. It was a big betrayal.

She’s in her 50s now, and that’s a tough age to be out competing for a job in her field. Christmas came and went and nobody was in to new hires. Money started getting tight. She got real down on herself and even started questioning her own value as a human being.

DailySusan was among those praying for her.

Well, guess what? In the last few days, she has received not one, not two, but THREE job offers.


She had the unusual privilege of having to choose between three nice jobs. She took her favorite, of course – just minutes from her home. It had been a 3 1/2-hour interview, but to her, it felt like five minutes. She was asked to make an impromptu presentation in front of all these executives, but because of all her years of experience and her love for her field of work, it was “a breeze.”

They loved her. They affirmed her. They validated her.



Prayer Request: Thank You, Jesus, for answering our prayers for this dear friend, and bless her work for that company to the highest degree. May they all prosper, and may they all attribute their success to You. (3 John 2)

Monday, February 16, 2004


A friend was powdering her nose in the ‘’necessary room’’ of a popular restaurant when she saw a darling little girl carrying her Madeline doll into the stall. Why? Because the doll had to ‘’go,’’ of course. The little girl's bemused mother played along as the little girl solemnly held the doll over the commode, then to the sink to pretend-wash her hands. The friend did a double-take. That wasn't just ANY deranged little girl and her deranged mom.

It was Maddy and me.


Among the other restroom secrets that only little girls can tell:

-- The first time Maddy experienced an automatic flush, she informed me, ''My 'pretending friend' did that for me.''

-- In the doctor's office, the t.p. was high-quality, with a lovely pattern of roses embossed on the surface. ''That’s because we're in the girls' room,'' Maddy reported. ''In the boys' room, they have BIG SHOVELS.''


Prayer Request: We are grateful for the good attitude of an older friend in southeast Nebraska with heart problems, who had a stent (a wire mesh tube) and pacemaker installed in January. He is having trouble walking. But he says he is thankful for the ''parts that do work'' and especially for friends who stay in touch. Lord, bless him for his ''attitude of gratitude.'' (Colossians 2:7)

Sunday, February 15, 2004


Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
-- Psalm 4:4

We women have our own Homeland Security. It's a deep, dark secret, a stash of ammunition brought out only in severe crisis mode.

It's dark chocolate.

I have been known to serve chocolate chip-less chocolate chip cookies. In a pinch, I'll even turn to squares of baking chocolate. On a really bad hair day, dark brown sugar, mainlined, will work.

I wrote recently about going on the Atkins diet, and waxed orgasmic about my immediate 15-pound weight loss. A big reason: I gave up my ''dark secret.'' I've since learned how many other women have the same one.

A friend opened that email and literally had a Ghirardelli candy bar – dark chocolate, of course – halfway to her mouth. She dropped it like a hot potato, and stashed it away for another day.

That's what we do – we stash. And sometimes, we get found out.

My friend Chris once accepted four dark-chocolate candy bars from a friend who was going on a diet. ''Hide these for me,'' she urged. Only women understand missions like these. Chris has a ''dark secret,'' too. But she resolved to preserve, protect and defend that candy in case it was ever needed.

She turned to the only place on the planet still her own: her underwear drawer. For weeks, those candy bars hid there without incident.

Then one Saturday, she came home and saw her husband on the deck steps with one of the candy bars, half-eaten. ''Hey, Baby!'' he exclaimed, grinning. ''Look what I found in your underwear drawer!''

She gasped in horror: ''That's PATTY'S!!! And you ATE it? Did it not OCCUR to you that it MIGHT belong to someone ELSE?''

Turns out for the first time in history, he decided to put the laundry away, found the stash, and thought it was hers.

Men just don't understand. But they're right about one thing: when problems emerge, we shouldn't turn to turn to things that make us fat or drunk or in a stupor. I've learned this, being on Atkins these past six months. We have another Secret to turn to.

It goes like this: the other day, I found out that someone had done something really mean to me. But if I called them on it, it would make things worse. I was stuck. I really, really wanted a handful of chocolate chips. OK, a bag full.

Then, Maddy, age 3 1/2, made me stop and watch her repeatedly dent the belly of her rubber porcupine to see how long it took the dent to disappear. This was a DOG TOY! I had BETTER things to do! But I could imagine her in a psychiatrist's office someday: ''Why do you think you have these neuroses and psychoses?'' ''Because my mother never cared about my hobbies.'' So I stuck with it. Visions of Hershey's ''Special Darks'' danced in my head with each belly-dent iteration.

Then I met friends. One of them gave the other one a box of Italian candy – dark chocolate, of course – with a toy porcupine decorating the box. Salivating, I told them about the ordeal with Maddy's rubber porcupine, and wistfully said that I had never seen a real porcupine.

That evening, the accumulated stress overwhelmed me. I ran upstairs, hurled myself on my bed in the dark, and had a great, big, honkin' pity party.

I cried and sobbed and fumed to God. Then I got the hiccups. They're silly. I chuckled. My funk was broken. I got up, and for once, kept it all to myself.

WELL! At bedtime, my Bible flipped open to Psalm 4:4 -- basically, ''just pour out your troubles to Me, and otherwise, shaddupaboudit.''

I beamed. I don't need dark chocolate or anything else. He's my REAL secret . . . my REAL sweet.

And then yesterday on a whim we took Maddy down to the zoo. Down in the deep, dark secret of the Desert Dome, guess what I saw, for the first time in my life?

A porcupine.

Thank You, Jesus. Life with You . . . how sweet it is.


Prayer request: Comfort, Lord, for my sweet friend Mary, who has been such a faithful and loving daughter, but whose mother went to be with the Lord. Open the family's hearts to the fruit of the Spirit at this tender time. (Galatians 5:22,23).

Saturday, February 14, 2004


Happy Valentine's Day to young lovers, middle-agers, and especially those oldies but goodies, who've made marriages work over the decades.

Here's a quote worth sharing with brand-new bridegrooms and every married man you know, especially those precious, priceless LONGTIME married ones:

''The married man is like the bee that fixes his hive, augments the world, benefits the republic, and by daily diligence, without wronging any, profits all; but he who contemns wedlock, like a wasp, wanders an offense in the world, lives upon spoil, disturbs peace, steals sweets that are none of his own, and meets misery as his just reward.''

-- Owen Felltham, English essayist and poet, 1602-1668


Prayer Request: Thank You for my "honeybee," Lord. Send a double dose of Your wondrous love to every married couple in the world, Father. It’s what pleases You most – sweet, pure, true, strong, committed, protective, sacrificial, enduring love between a man and a woman living by Your model, for Your glory. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Friday, February 13, 2004


A friend sent a really silly email joke with mockups of humorous and mostly R-rated, inappropriate slogans on phony roadside billboards. A few I can repeat:

(Graphic: an Asian chef with fancy knives)
Sushi: Still your best bet for intestinal worms.

(Graphic: the Canadian flag)
Canada: Leading the world in being just north of the United States.

(Graphic: a bride and groom)
Planning a wedding?

(Graphic: a dazed guy with his hand on his forehead)
Dude, we totally forgot our slogan.
-- American Medical Marijuana Association

(Graphic: luscious doughnuts)
Chew, you fat b-------s, chew!
-- Krispy Kreme

(Graphic: a big diamond ring)
Two months' salary, my a----.


Prayer Request: We call upon the Most High to protect our teenage snowboarder friends and their entourage on their trip across the Plains to the Rocky Mountains this weekend. May they encounter You in Your wintry splendor, Lord, and come back with happy stories and no casts or slings. (Psalm 36:6)

Thursday, February 12, 2004


Let's say you hit a golf ball 30 miles and it lands without a bounce in the cup on the 18th green of a golf course that far away. That's what human conception and fertilization are: miraculous. And yet that has happened, just that way, billions of times . . . and we've got the people to prove it. You're not an accident – you're a miracle!

That's why I get so TEED OFF at people who still say Charles Darwin was right in 1851 when he wrote ''The Origin of Species.'' He has blocked the faith of more people than anybody else in human history by postulating that random chance and natural selection are responsible for the universe and all forms of life in it . . . not God. Boy, is that stoooopid.

Yes, I'm reading another book: ''What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects the Theory of Evolution.'' It's by Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., a physician since 1969 who has studied the human body and evolutionary theory his whole life. It's a wonderful read about the human body, from the cell to all the complex systems, neurological through excretory.

It'd be a great gift to give anyone who is doubting their faith, especially since today is Darwin Day, marking the birthday of the English naturalist over 150 years ago who studied male barnacles and proclaimed that there is no God.

And that, girls and boys, is . . . excretory. :>)


Prayer Request: We pray for diligence for road engineers and their bosses in government as they design and fix streets and highways. Lord, we mourn the revelation that in the October 2001 fatal bus crash on West Dodge Road in Omaha, the lanes were so narrow that there were only nine inches of ''room for error'' at the spot of the collision, a sharp jag, no guardrail. . . . Father, may it never happen again. (Romans 12:8)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


We're having my grandmother's piano refinished and refurbished by an old, old company in downtown Lincoln, Neb.

Gram used to play the piano for the silent movies. I remember being awed by how her long fingers would dart all over the keyboard of her baby grand, embellishing old melodies. She played by heart . . . and her playing is remembered that way.

Her piano is an Everett. It dates to 1922 or so.

The piano shop is on a corner near the downtown core that I'm sure was in its heydey, hustling and bustling, when Gram's piano first arrived.

Now, they say, that intersection has the Four P's:




And, of course . . .



Prayer Request: For our friend Chris, we pray that going back to work after eight weeks off with a painful disability will be as much of a joy to her as it is sure to be to her coworkers and customers. Take away her pain, Lord, for she is one who glorifies You in her work and sees her job as a ministry. (Revelation 21:4)

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


The little one made colorful hand stamps on doilies yesterday to send as Valentines to the grandparents and other special people. Somehow, she got it in her head that the pink handprints were ''girls'' and the red handprints were ''boys.'' As we worked with both her hands, we were very careful to have one red and one pink handprint on each doily, not two of the same color. That was by the artist's command, not the go-fer's.

Whoever thinks same-sex ''marriage'' is natural has never made Valentines with a little child. Funny how they know what's what. How on earth do we -- or should I say a few radical judges and terribly confused people -- forget?

But how do you explain all this to a child? How do you communicate God's love for us individually, and His purpose for our body designs, without invading a child's innocence? It's wrong to give them lewd descriptions of what homosexual sex is, and tell them about the health hazards of nonlubricating body parts and sperm getting into the colon and so forth.

I mean, none of that is very Valentinesy.

But here's one way: tell them that the only kind of love God wants us to have is ''heart to heart.''

If you can't make love facing your loved one, with your heart next to your loved one's, it isn't really love. And if your hearts can't merge as one in the creation of a new heart – a new human being – which is only possible through the love between a man and a woman, then it isn't God's kind of love, either.

From God's heart to yours, and from yours to your child's . . . a Valentine message that hearts of all sizes can hold.


Prayer Request: We pray for a great job offer to come to Leslie, Father, in such a way that she clearly sees Your hand in this important life change. Help her to see beyond the new job, to the real blessing, which is Your caring and provision in her life. (Colossians 3:2)

Monday, February 09, 2004


Our sweet 16-year-old is very patient about babysitting her 3-year-old sister, especially if it’s on a Saturday morning when they can both park in front of the ‘toons and she can pretend she’s babysitting, not enjoying her old favorites.

Well, this past Saturday, the toddler was parked and the mom was out the door. So the teenager went downstairs get her ever-present cellphone in case any of the mutants cared to call with one of their earth-shaking issues, like “Wuzzup?” “Not much. You?”

Naturally, it rang while she was down there, so she conversed in the privacy and splendor of her own room. And maybe she let it go on a little long. Maybe a lot long.

She vaulted the steps two at a time to rejoin her young charge . . . but the toddler was no longer there.

She wasn’t in the kitchen. She wasn’t in her room. She wasn’t in the basement. She wasn’t anywhere in the house.

Worse yet, her little purple winter coat was still hanging in the closet!


The teenager went into Full-Scale Panic Mode. Her eyes surveilled the backyard landscape. Hmm: no little blue body in the visible drifts. No little pixie footprints, either.

But what was that, back by the trees?!? Little waving shadows behind the uncut tufts of prairie grass!

She burst outside, ignoring her own bare feet, as the theme song from “Chariots of Fire” sprang into her head. You know, the song they played when they were running really fast along the white beach. Only for her, it was white snow: “Duh duh duh duh duhhhhh duh, duh duh duh duh duhhhhhhh. . . .”

Yeah, duh, all right. She practically dove into the snow behind that grass. But that wasn’t a freezing cold toddler! That was a barn cat!

The toddler was nowhere to be found. The teenager was toast. Her feet were freezing cold, but the rest of her? Toast.

She returned inside, and fretted about it intensely for 30 anxious minutes . . . until her dad arrived with the toddler in tow, in her OTHER winter coat, happy and unblue and unfrozen.

While the teenager had been downstairs taking that call, the dad had unexpectedly come home and taken the little cabin-bound one on an exciting outing to the hardware store and “Burber King.”

No, he didn’t leave the teen a note. That’s the kind of stuff GROWNUP mutants do!

And yes, he should have been grounded. Or made to write 100 times, “I will not take Maddy without leaving a note. I will not take Maddy. . . .”

Prayer request: Lord, we lift up to you Dawn, who is recovering from brain surgery, and suffering pounding headaches, eyesight problems, and doubt and fear. Heal her, Father, and protect her job despite these many absences. Keep her spirits up and help her graciously receive care, even though as an R.N., she’s used to being the one delivering it. Give her medical team the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and keep her family strong in Your might as she undergoes another surgery soon. Help her recall, Lord, that You are her head, and You have her in both Your mind and heart. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Sunday, February 08, 2004


. . . (F)or he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
-- Hebrews 13:5

I had this funny friend. She made my cheeks hurt from an excess of laughing. I scolded her for being so hard on my face – the last thing it needed.

I lay there in the hospital after giving birth to a 9 1/2-pounder, and had to listen to her making wisecracks, extremely graphic and highly inappropriate, that made me laugh so hard I thought I was going to give birth again.

She was super-smart, super-organized, capable, sensitive and thoughtful, the last person you'd expect to become a desperate, suicidal alcoholic.

But she did.

It's a long, sad, familiar story. Stuff went wrong. Real wrong.

She got down on herself. She slipped into self-destructive habits. The wit and wisecracks left her. She put up a good front for years and few people knew, but her private hours were black and blue. She felt all alone. She ate and ate and ate, and drank and drank and drank.

Then one terrible night, she tried to kill herself.

I still can't believe she did this. There are so many better, smarter ways of dealing with life's problems. Being stupid is just not like her. But one night, she hit bottom. She drank a whole bottle of booze, swallowed a whole bottle of pills, and stretched out her body on her lonely bed.

She had had it. This was the end. She was going to die.

But she forgot about one thing:

The female bladder.

She didn't know how long she had been laying there. She just knew that all of a sudden, she had to ''go.''

In her drugged state, it never occurred to her that, if you're going to die by your own hand in a few minutes, anyway, you might as well wet the bed. People are already going to be mad at you.

But nooooo. Ever the perfectionist, she had to get up and go to the bathroom. Somehow, she managed to stagger in there and onto the toilet.

Her head was spinning from the booze and the pills. Her body was heavy and leaden. Her muscles went off duty. She was dizzy. As she stood up from the toilet and turned to flush, she lost her balance and fell backwards — crash! smash!

Somehow, she broke the toilet.

Water seeped out from the toilet tank onto the bathroom floor where she lay. She may have passed out, but the cold water woke her up at least partly. She came up on all fours. She forgot the suicide attempt and how she got there. She was woozy. But her heavy-lidded eyes saw the water pooling up on the floor.

''Heyyy!'' her foggy brain thought. ''There's a leak!''

She crawled and dragged herself to the telephone. In her fog, she couldn't remember the apartment manager's phone number. The only phone number she could remember was ''911.''

So she dialed it. And, in her drugged-out, boozed-up state, slurring her words and making very little sense, she reported that there was a leak on her bathroom floor.

The 911 operator was sharp. She knew the call was about a lot more than a leaky toilet. She knew what an O.D. sounded like. She got my friend's address and sent a rescue squad.

My friend passed out again, but they broke down the door and got her to the hospital. They had to pump her stomach and I don't know what all.

She lived, though.

She had help.

She thought she was alone, that night.

She wasn't.

She forgot that Someone had promised to always be with her.

He didn't.

She didn't think her life was worth living.

He did.

If God can use crazy things like a pillar of fire, a talking donkey and the belly of a whale to get people's attention and show us His love, why not a life-saving toilet?

My funny friend put it this way: she was saved . . . by the ''throne'' of grace.


Prayer request: If there's anyone in your life who might be struggling with despair and depression, tell them this story -- not for them to ''test'' God, but for them to realize that He really is with us, every minute of every day on earth. (Romans 8:38,39).

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Just came from a funeral that made me smile. That’s the best kind, you know. She was a believer and she’s with the Savior now. That’s worth smiling about, for sure.

But what I really liked was an anecdote the minister told about how, despite her many medical conditions and challenges, later in her life she had a hankering to go tubing. That’s right: float down the river in an inner tube and look like a total idiot . . . but a happy total idiot.

The reason that wish was so outrageous is that she had to be on an oxygen tank. Most people would have been hopeless and bitter about the limitations and difficulties that caused.

But she was undeterred. She and her friends simply rigged up one inner tube for her . . . and a child-sized one for the portable oxygen tank.

She showed us all a better way. Life’s like that . . . when you are strong enough to go with the flow.

Prayer request: For Penny and Rich, who join their lives in Your holy matrimony today, Father, we thank You for their extra-special, sweet, humorous, inspiring “fogie love story,” and we pray that You will keep them close together in sacrificial commitment, and attached to You as they “tube” down the river of life. (1 John 4:19)

Friday, February 06, 2004


A friend recalled the time she was sitting at her ''table'' in high school when one of the gang came up, bursting at the seams with excitement. Bev, a sweet, quiet, very smart blonde, had big news.

''Guess WHAT?!? Chuck gave me his PICTURE!!!''

The girls all ooh'ed and ahh'ed. Chuck was a hunk, in the top 10, her long-time, long-distance heartthrob, a big basketball stud, and the cutest boy she had ever seen. They were all impressed and happy for her.

Bev continued, ''And guess what he wrote on the back? 'To Bev, a really COD girl!' You guys! He thinks I'm COD! Wow! Chuck thinks I'm COD!''

They were even more impressed, if a little confused.

One of the group reached over: ''Can I see that for a sec?'' She drooled properly over the photo, then turned it over, , , ,

''But that says 'COOL,' not 'COD.' See? He ran the 'o' and the 'l' together, so it looks like a 'd.'''

A heavy silence fell over the table.

It was the highest compliment, to be COD, even though none of them had ever heard of it. Somehow, being plain old ''cool'' just didn’t have the same pastiche.

Well, it was COD while it lasted.


Prayer Request: A special friend had a Mass said in my family's name yesterday, and a good thing, too: the man of the house had to drive to and from another city on the icy highways, and the teenager was out in it, too. But thanks to prayer cover, everything went – excuse the expression — slick. So we'd like to return the favor, Lord, by asking You to meet her prayer need this weekend for safety and peace around the ''dividends'' (translation: children) who will be near, and also for another friend of hers who is really struggling with the snow and inconveniences therefrom. (John 13:34)

Thursday, February 05, 2004


Our 16-year-old daughter has another new nickname. It's about her 20th. She has more aliases than Jesse James. That's the way it is with colorful characters like her.

But this one's really wacky:

''Mr. Ed’s Girlfriend.''

How'd she get THAT nickname? Elementary, if you know teenage logic. See, she makes her own lunch. One day, she must have gone a little crazy with the peanut butter for her sandwich. It was about an inch thick.

She took a big bite, and was struggling to scrape around the insides of her mouth with her tongue, and over her teeth, to be able to swallow.

I guess to her ''table,'' those longtime friends who bestow nicknames as often as possible and with a goal of as much embarrassment as possible, it made her look like the famous TV talking horse. Since she's every inch a girl, she couldn't be ''Mr. Ed.'' Voila, the new nickname.

Teenagers: they're a horse of a different color. And they talk, too.


Prayer Request: Regarding the upcoming movie about Jesus, we ask for strength and physical protection for director Mel Gibson, producer Steve McEveety, lead actor Jim Caviezel and everyone else associated with the movie. Open doors for it to be shown where it's now being censored. We pray the impact of this movie will win hearts for Jesus worldwide. (Matthew 28:19)

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


I’ve been a mother long enough. I should have known better. But I did the unthinkable: I set up the easel, put out some tempera paint for our 3-year-old . . . and then turned my back.

The dishes were fossilizing in the sink; they had to be done. I heard her humming and chattering to herself. I thought she was contentedly painting on the paper with her little pot of red and her little pot of blue.

But ohhhhh, no. She mixed them. Sort of. Then she made handprints. The fingerprints were red and the palms were blue. The rest of the work – a “porky pine,” if you must know – was resplendently purple. Andy Warhol gone Munchkin. At least most of the paint was on the paper.

The REST of it was covering her naked body from the waist up!

That’s right. While I had my back turned, she whisked off her shirt and decorated her jelly-belly purple, and her arms from fingertips to shoulders, up around her neck, and even around back under her waist, like a halter top.

As soon as I turned around, she took off running to “go show Daddy.”

I just wish I had a photo of my face. Now, THAT would be colorful.

This was the same night as the Super Bowl. In fact, during the same halftime show that has decent people up in arms, I was washing purple OFF two arms, monitoring her shower and tsk-tsk’ing about the purple paint splattering on the tile.

So while everybody was fussing about Janet Jackson and what she was exposing, WE had a DOUBLE dose . . . and they were PURPLE, too.


Prayer Request: Gratitude, Lord, that our friend Russ was not hurt in his ice-related auto accident. It caused a lot of damage to his car, but not a scratch on body or soul. (Psalm 119:117)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Everybody’s in a hubbub over the disgusting, X-rated show of sexuality put on at halftime of the Super Bowl. But the answer, like Janet Jackson’s you-know-what, is staring us in the face:

The Fairness Doctrine!

That time-honored precept of the broadcasting profession holds that, if one side of a controversy or cultural conflict is presented on the public airwaves, then, to be fair, the OTHER side ought to be presented in an equal forum.

We, the American people, own the airwaves that were used Sunday to show the world that unbelievably trashy show that “featured” dancing that was really simulated humping, smutty lyrics, and an obviously planned breast-baring.

It wasn’t what anybody wanted to see. Anybody decent, that is.

So, under the Fairness Doctrine, at NEXT year’s Super Bowl show, the featured act should be something to represent the G-rated community. It should be something that the X-rated community does NOT want to see, just as much as we G-rated people did NOT want to see their show this year. That would be fair, wouldn’t it?

So, next year, they should have to put on a show like the one at the church down the road from us on Sunday nights once a month: senior citizens doing Scottish Highland dancing.

Oh, the pageantry of the laddies and lassies in their colorful costumes! They can dress it up with lots of bagpipes around the stage, tam o’shanters on the cameramen, and maybe serve Finnan Haddie in the concession stands and stuff.

See how many 30-second spots at $2.3 million apiece THAT brings in.

‘Course, some of those old geezers get to spinning pretty good, and those kilts can fly out sideways . . . it’s a peep show all its own, for those who like that sort of thing.


Prayer Request: Lord, use this Super Bowl flap to wake people up to the sordid oversexualization of so much TV content and music. Help moms and dads teach their children about the “eye gate” and the “ear gate” that they must keep closed to such filth. Help us all to keep our eyes and ears open only to things that will be pleasing to You. (Proverbs 20:12)

Monday, February 02, 2004


Somebody gave me a cookbook and storybook about the life of a southwest Iowa farm wife in the 1940s and '50s. ''Up a Country Lane Cookbook'' by Evelyn Birkby (University of Iowa Press, 1993) is a real kick in the pants to us high-tech softies who think housework is hard. HAH!

For Evelyn, Monday was always laundry day. She used a square-tub Maytag on her back porch with an attached wringer and two rinse tubs. She ran a hose out to it from the kitchen sink. She had to lift each piece out by hand, with a broomstick, to the wringer to get the soapy water out of each garment. Then she used the same broomstick in the rinse tub to slosh everything up and down in the hot rinse, and again in the cold.

She used the same wash and rinse water over and over again, so she started with the bedsheets, moved through the towels, dishcloths, Sunday shirts, children's clothes, colored things and finally her farmer husband's workclothes.

She cooked her own starch, and wrung it out of each garment by hand before attaching it all to the clothesline to dry. Then she'd fold everything and sprinkled the cottons to dampen them for ironing the next day.

Now imagine doing that laundry routine on a typical February day in the Midlands, on the unheated porch and windswept, below-freezing farmstead. Imagine the weird shapes the clothes would make as they froze on the clothesline. She called them ''icicle scarecrows.''

Next time I feel like whining about my housework, I'm going to think about Evelyn Birkby. Next time I gripe about having to go to the grocery store, I'm going to remember how she had to come up with chicken dinners – the ''do it yourself'' way.

I will never again use the expression ''dancing around like a chicken with its head cut off'' without a little gulp, and a lot of gratitude that this is now, and that was then.

Cluck, cluck! I would have made a horrible housewife back then. I'm a . . . CHICKEN!


Prayer Request: Praise, thanks and a wink to our heavenly Father today. Remember our prayer a few days ago, that a young lady in Colorado would receive clear guidance on whether the young man in her life is ''the'' one? Money woes seemed to be the stressor. Well, the very next day after she asked for prayer, the young man got a promotion and a raise. She's elated. Well, well, well. Love is in the air . . . and prayer is amazing. (Hebrews 4:16)

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The Wet Windowsill

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
-- Romans 8:25

A young friend of ours just got a really cool summer internship in New York City. He says it's because he wore the fancy dress socks we got him for Christmas to the interview. We say it's because he knocked THEIR socks off.

I know a lot of people lately who have lost their jobs. They are struggling to hang in there and find a better one. There are sleepless nights and self-doubt. They feel like losers.

I guess that's why I love to hear about people who nail interviews, get good jobs and scale the ladder of success two steps at a time. It gives me hope that maybe someday, something really great like that will happen to me.

And even if it never does, that's OK, too. Because often, the best ''wins'' don’t come the way you expect.

I learned that on a wet windowsill one spring evening long ago. I had foolishly tried out for our high school's drill team. It was enormously competitive.

We learned the routine and practiced like crazy. Girls who had taken dance class since they were in diapers were sweating bullets over those tryouts. It was a big deal.

I had no business being there. I looked like Rodney Dangerfield in a gym full of gazelles. I grinned like Howdy Doody; they smiled like Miss America. I marched like an East Prussian; they glided like Swan Lake.

I remember stumbling awkwardly into the girl in front of me, grinding my toe into her heel, when everybody remembered to take a rhythmic half-step backwards . . . everybody but me, that is.

The judges had their hands over their mouths, and it wasn't in concentration.

But my beautiful, popular and coordinated big sister was already on the squad. Surely, I had ''pull.'' I clung to hope.

That night, the girls on the squad were going to drive around in a caravan. If you heard cars honking in your driveway, screams, and the doorbell ringing, you knew you were off on a teen-dream adventure. You had ''made it.''

I lay on my bed and peered out the window, cranking it open so I could hear. My heart pounded. I sucked in my breath once as the caravan sped down my street. But it passed my house and went a block south. Distant screams of delight wafted over the treetops.

Maybe they were just getting started. Maybe they would work their way back to me.

Silence. Streetlights.

My throat eventually choked up. I left my chin on the windowsill like a hound dog begging for a bone. Tears streamed down my cheeks and pooled up on the windowsill. I wallowed.

It hurt. It really did.

But then I got my mojo back. Rodney Dangerfield never cries for long. Oh, my gosh, I'd better wipe up this windowsill or I'm going to warp the wood. No way was I going to show up at school the next day with puffy, giveaway eyes. Get up off of that thing, take a shower, and eat chocolate. So I did.

Within a few days, I was named the associate editor of our nationally-renowned high-school newspaper. It was a big job, a big honor. There's no way I could have managed to do it along with Drill Squad.

Ohhh. What seemed so bad was really for my good. No, I hadn't ''made it'' . . . but I had been ''made available'' for something better. Something more ''me.''

So to all those with job woes right now, listen up. Quit feeling like you're Rodney Dangerfield; there's a place being made ready for you where you can be a gazelle. Hang in there. Keep trying. Believe. Soon, it'll come.

And while you’re at it, wipe that windowsill, would you? The only thing in your life that should be warped is your sense of humor.

Drill Squad, Schmill Squad. If you have hope, you can ''make it'' anywhere.


Prayer request: Peace and comfort, Father, for the family of a young man named Jonathan who died after a long illness recently. One of the sweetest stories about Jonathan came from a man who gave the teenager a construction job. But the boss had reservations. He was worried that Jonathan, the polite son of a minister, would be shocked and traumatized by the cursing and carousing of his fellow employees. But what happened? Jonathan's presence on that work team lifted the standards considerably; the work atmosphere turned around 180 degrees because of his positive influence. (1 Timothy 4:12).