Wednesday, March 31, 2004


A fellow had a letter to the editor in the local paper Monday that claimed that, since in Leviticus God condemns eating shellfish as an abomination, then next time you enjoy a tasty shrimp feed, you’re acting just as sinfully as a person who practices homosexual behavior.

‘’It’s hypocritical to invoke the Bible to put down one type of prohibited behavior yet ignore scores of others,’’ he wrote.

Yeah. Right. You can say that, if you don’t know scripture from apple butter.

Fortunately, scholars have long since ‘’deveined’’ that line of thinking.

Here’s the scoop, from the book, ‘’Leviticus: Intepretation, a Bible commentary for Teaching and Preaching,’’ by Samuel E. Balentine (John Knox Press, 2002), among other sources:

The levitical laws about clean and unclean foods were ceremonial laws that God set up so that the ancient Jews could learn how to be holy, and to be safe in pre-refrigerator times and so forth.

It’s thought that since so many of the prohibited animals are scavengers who ingest feces and other bacteria-containing matter, God taught the Jews not to eat them so they wouldn’t get sick. But the key reason for the food laws was for the early Israelites to strive for holiness in obeying God’s specific precepts. It’s the old ‘’letter of the law’’ idea.

Keep in mind that everything in the Old Testament ‘’prefigures’’ the Messiah and how things would be after He came. When Jesus came, these ceremonial food laws were done away with -- not needed any more -- since He is the picture of holiness we can follow, and since grace, not law, now reigns. See Mark 7:18 and Acts 10:15, which make it clear the food laws aren’t needed.

The New Testament makes it clear that dietary laws were no longer in force, but it’s important to note that moral prohibitions against homosexual behavior were clearly restated after Jesus came. See Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Jude 7.

Also note that the penalty under Jewish levitical laws for eating pork or shrimp was isolation for a few days; the penalty for homosexuality was capital punishment (Leviticus 18:29). That kind of paints a stark contrast, doesn’t it?

The laws against homosexual practices (Leviticus 18:22 and elsewhere) are obviously of far more seriousness to God than the dietary and cleanliness laws set out in Leviticus 11. Homosexuality is listed in a separate chapter along with laws against rape, incest and bestiality. No one would argue that THOSE laws are irrelevant today . . . especially not victims of those terrible sins.

Also note that God condemned homosexual sins among Gentile people (Romans 1:26), and they didn’t have the ceremonial law of Leviticus. That makes it clear that sexual immorality is a mistake of human behavior applicable to all people that goes far beyond a shrimp cocktail in God’s eyes.

So enjoy that shellfish. It may be sinfully delicious -- but it’s A-OK by God.


Prayer request: A good friend’s husband has to have gall-bladder surgery and she is struggling with serious complications of menopause. Oh, Father, comfort them and heal them. Remind them they are the apple of Your eye. (Zechariah 2:8)

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


My husband’s funny Aunt Betty lives in Hawaii in the wintertime. We’ve never been fortunate enough to go and visit, but pictures show that it’s spectacular and heavenly. They’re on the rough and ranch-y side of the Big Island, not far from Kona.

We hear wonderful stories about their adventures, the weather and all kinds of things that you don’t see in Nebraska. But I also enjoy hearing about the trials and tribulations of living in paradise. Here are three recent ones:

n Wild goats ate their screen door and ruined their deck.
n Flooding had made the roads impassable; Betty hadn’t been to the store for so long, she was thinking of tearing timbers out of the walls to lash together for an outrigger canoe.
n The other day, her washing machine went nuts. The laundry room was flooded. She cleaned that up. Then she went into the garage and there was water in there, also. She called for repair. But she’s not hopeful. Here’s how she put it: “So, being Hawaii, I will be on top of the world if I get a washing machine in two weeks. Three will be ‘way more likely. Nearest laundromat is at least 20 miles away. The way I figure it, nobody had better get dirty, or I will have to go out and beat clothes on a rock.”

Trouble in paradise? Not really. At least it makes those of us who have to live elsewhere feel a little better.


Prayer request: Be with Betty and Mike as they prepare for their only son’s May 2 wedding on the beach, Lord. They have worked so hard to make it special. Make things go smoothly and let that Hawaiian mystique bathe the whole family with Your spiritual sunshine. Bless these two dear young people as they say “aloha” to single life, and begin the adventure of holy matrimony, a paradise all its own. (Mark 10:7)

Monday, March 29, 2004


I was reading the other day about ‘’high-nurturing families.’’ They say ‘’I love you’’ a lot, hug a lot, laugh a lot, talk things out, and show respect for self and others.

The article said that the real reason for our societal ills -- depression, divorce, addictions, obesity, crime and all the rest -- is that our country, as a whole, has become ‘’low-nurturing.’’

Then I saw a big story in The Wall Street Journal about ‘’dysfunctional family’’ house design. It intentionally gives members of the same family lots of ways to avoid each other. Instead of a family room, there are several ‘’get-away’’ rooms like Internet alcoves, separate play areas for each kid, and his-and-her offices on opposite ends of the house. There are separate garages and separate entrances. Everyone can even watch TV all by themselves.

Ewwww! That sets everybody up for ‘’low-nurturing.’’ And yet, that’s kind of how we were all weekend . . . so far.

I rocketed off to find a kid, any kid, and nurture the heck out of her, to ward off a life of crime and ignominy, or at least begin that process. I raced to our teenager’s room to deliver some high-octane maternal caring and sharing.

But noooo! She had wrapped herself up in her bedspread like a human tamale. How can you nurture a tamale? She had her headphones on, and was rocking rhythmically back and forth on her bed. Meanwhile, the four-foot pile of ‘’stuff’’ on her floor, which she had been commanded to remove by sundown of the day before, remained messily intact. A plate with a stone-cold, half-eaten piece of pizza, or maybe it really was a stone, alongside a glass of onetime milk that had fossilized to the side of the glass, sat at bedside. You couldn’t even open her closet door because of the deluge. And her wastebasket overflowed like a Niagara Falls of regurgitated backpack remains and half-empty Powerade bottles.

That’s when things got scary. Caring and sharing? Bah! I became forcefully ‘’anti-nurturing.’’ AT A VERY HIGH DECIBEL RATE!

What was scary was how I suddenly YEARNED for a house like the one I’d read about . . . where nobody got any nurturing, but at least you wouldn’t have to SEE their disaster areas, and you’d be free to curl up into a little ball and nurture yourSELF!


Prayer request: We thank You and love You, Lord, for answered prayer in the Nebraska Legislature, as an important pro-life law passed last week. Teenage girls no longer ‘’have’’ to be informed in public high schools about how to get an abortion. We give thanks for the leadership of State Sen. Mike Foley and the Nebraska Family Council on this. We’re also grateful for the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in the U.S. Congress. (Psalm 78:72)

Sunday, March 28, 2004


There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: the way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
-- Proverbs 30:19

I gave my mom a really neat credit card carrier. It looked like a wallet. There were slots to keep her plastic always at the ready.

The best thing was, if a card was missing when you folded it, it would sound an alarm.

It was a great way to keep her from ‘’going home without it’’ -- leaving a credit card on a store counter or at a restaurant cash register.

Mom took this unique contraption on vacation far into the North Woods, to a remote town kind of frozen in the past. She stopped in for supper at a backwoods joint that was a combination bait shop, grocery store, greasy spoon, mayor’s office and notary public. You know, with moving pictures in the Hamm’s sign.

She had her Reuben and got up to pay with a credit card.

You guessed it: she forgot to pick up the card from the counter. She shut the card-case, and turned to leave, when. . . .


Heads turned. These folks had surely heard a beeper before. But there was none in sight.

Mom took the card-case out, opened it, slipped the card back in, and stopped the beeping.

Then she noticed that the old coot behind the cash register was staring at her, slack-jawed.

Mom’s obliging. So she showed him how it worked. Others gathered ‘round. They marveled. It was by far the newest and most interesting thing in the North Woods -- much more mysterious than a Fish Finder.

The old coot, who was minus many teeth and hadn’t thoroughly shaved since Eisenhower, put chin in hand, contemplating. He’d heard Mom say that the card-carrier beeped only if you accidentally left a card out. He stared intently at the folder.

Finally, he asked:


As in, how did the card-carrier ‘’know’’ that a card was missing?

Mom stared back. For all her bragging, she couldn’t exactly answer that. She told him she didn’t really know. Something about a chip. She was sure his mind leapt to an image of what a moose leaves in the woods.

But that was OK: they shared in a mystery. They didn’t need the answers, the technical details, to know that it worked and it was good.

It’s like that with everything God makes. The wind blows, the sea flows, and nobody knows. Not exactly.

The planet tilts at precisely the correct angle to the sun to sustain life. Why? I’m not sure, but if it didn’t, we’d all be blackened toast or icicles.

The boys of every species find the girls of every species. How? We don’t know, but they find ‘em. All over, they do.

Those daffodils peeking up along our driveway. How do they know It’s time to rise and shine?

Those little birdies who pick up twigs in their little feet before they undertake to fly over oceans during long migrations. How do they know they’ll need a raft to go night-night ‘til it’s land-ho again?

That young cousin of ours, that adorable hunk who’s getting married, whose bride-to-be blushed so endearingly at her shower yesterday when people asked her how many kids they hoped to have. She’s so much in love with him. He took her out on a boat on the Missouri River last Fourth of July near Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium, and when the region’s most spectacular fireworks show was going on in the black-velvet prairie sky, he dropped to one knee and popped the question.

How’d he know to do that? How’d he get such grace and love, such winning style, such fireworks in his heart?

And life goes on, wonder after wonder, miracle after miracle.


It doesn’t. But that’s OK. God do.


Prayer request: Susan has finally started to try to get these columns published and has two queries in the mail. Father, if it be Your will and Your timing, we join in prayer that these columns will be published so that more people will come to know You, and Susan can stop being such a slacker and start contributing some income to the family budget. :>) (Esther 4:14)

Saturday, March 27, 2004


Our lean and muscular 16-year-old daughter played nine softball games in a day and a half in Tulsa last weekend, and woke up Monday with a soft lump right along the crease of her groin in the bikini area.

We figured it was some kind of a pulled muscle or something minor. She went to track practice that afternoon. She couldn’t run very fast and it hurt the more she tried.

When she came home, I stupidly asked why she didn’t have the school’s athletic trainer, a nerdy boy, take a look at it.

She pointed her index finger to her head and pulled her thumb in like a trigger.

I should have KNOWN better.

We high-tailed it to her regular doctor, who was worried that it was a hernia, but it wasn’t. Just a simple twist during all her athletics the weekend before had inflamed a lymph node. No medicine, no treatment: just tough it out and wait for it to go away.

I just couldn’t imagine a guy athlete reacting so modestly.

Jockettes: vive le difference.


Prayer request: Father, only in Your amazingly diverse world would the fact that the present tenants have a SOUTH AMERICAN RACCOON keep our daughter from securing an apartment for her senior year in college. A realistic fear of weird tropical diseases has caused that lease to fall through. We pray that You’ll route her to a wonderful alternative with a minimum of germs, much less South American ones. (Psalm 78:72)

Friday, March 26, 2004


I was helping our little one get dressed the other day. She has had a growth spurt, but Mama hasn’t had time to re-up her wardrobe or scale Mount Laundry. So she was down to the last pair of undies . . . size 2T for a 4T bahoonie.

She struggled and strained to pull them up.

‘’Oh, Mommy,’’ she said. ‘’I’m OUT-GROANING my clothes.’’

My mind instantly raced to my past wrestling matches trying to pull on tight swimsuits after various dalliances with my good friends, Godiva, Hershey and Dove.

Now I have a new friend -- Atkins -- so maybe this season the audio won’t be as loud in the swimming pool dressing room.

Then again, Easter’s coming . . . and ooh, do I love those chock’it bunnies!


Prayer request: We pray for power and grace for a new believer who has realized his need to end a longtime estrangement from his sister and brother. Oh, Lord, do a miraculous work in their hearts so that their love and fellowship will be restored. Let his wife see this miracle of grace, and be inspired to forgive him, too, and stay in the marriage honoring her vows -- always Your will for our relationships. (Matthew 18:22)

Thursday, March 25, 2004


We have some adorable, teeny, weeny new relatives and you’ve got to come see:

They were born 10 weeks prematurely earlier this month, have gained only a little weight so far, and can’t come home for a while yet. Devin is at 4 pounds 11 ounces now, and Curran weighs 3 pounds 10 ounces. They’re doing OK.

They are my husband’s cousin’s sons. Their last name, Neely, is the first name we chose for our daughter, the one at Baylor University. It’s a fun bond.

The twins have an older brother, John Marshall Neely VI, age 2, who unfortunately got the flu shortly after his brothers were born. So one relative joked that she won’t be bringing pea soup for the family’s meal any time soon.

Spring lambs come in two-fers! It’s delightful.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, that Your biggest miracles are reserved for the smallest life. Send strength and healing into newborn neonatal ICUs across the land, including where Devin and Curran are. Help us all to remember, as Horton did in the famous Dr. Seuss tale, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” (Matthew 13:32)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Have you ever been out-punned by a 5-year-old? Most probably. It’s character-building.

A friend of mine was putting on her mascara one morning when her 5-year-old son, an eager-beaver kindergartener, came in, yawning, in his jammies. He perched on the edge of the tub and watched her.

He had mentioned that he had had a “sub-sa-toot” teacher the day before.

‘’So, Scott, your ‘subsatoot,’ Mrs. Case? Was she nice?"


The mother was struck with an idea for a pun, even though she thought it would be over his head.

"What was her first name, Scott . . . 'Suit'?"

She watched him in the mirror as she mascared her lashes. Three seconds passed. The corners of his mouth turned up almost imperceptibly. His eyes twinkled.

Then he said simply, "Nooooo . . . ‘Basket.’"


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for providing a kind and competent computer guru to help me do long-overdue maintenance today. Bless You, too, for making my logjam of 12,000 old emails look like nothing compared to the office “record” – 37,000. Help me to be better at deleting messages I don’t need so that there is more room in my computer as well as my heart and mind, for Your messages. (John 14:23)

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Not able to send out DailySusan today. My email system is apparently choking on a really stoooopid move I made. I had procrastinated on dumping a whole bunch of deleted emails dating back to 2002. Then, the other day, I discovered that 12,000 of them had piled up in one poor, bulging, over-stretched delete folder.

So I tried to delete it all in one fell swoop.


Now it's frozen, in mid-choke. A computer doctor is coming out to pay a house call, at $100 an hour. GALOOOOOOOOOOP!!!! AAAAACCCCCCHHHHH!!!!!! XCHXCHXCHXCHXCH!!!

On the bright side, though, I wonder if he'll demonstrate the Heimlich maneuver?


Prayer request: Lord, I confess that I have been undisciplined and less than diligent in my approach to the computer end of my writing efforts. Help me resolve to be a better manager of the important resources You've equipped me with, and to be less of a techno-bonehead in the future. (Proverbs 27:23)

Monday, March 22, 2004


Vocabulary is destiny, they say. One of the sweetest payoffs of being a stay-at-home mother is packing a small child with new vocabulary words during that crucial ''language acquisition'' stage. It's fun to watch new vocabulary go to work developing that young brain.

We're celebrating: our Maddy, now 4, has a way with words already. 'Course, she's being raised by two adults and three semi-adults, so her environment is a torrent of words. It's a big help.

But here's the latest:

A song on the car radio had the word ''gallery.'' Maddy asked what it meant. I struggled: ''Well, it's kind of like an art shop. They have a whole bunch of pictures lined up next to each other.''

Later, we were tying Maddy's shoes in the threshold of her big sister Neely's room. Neely just pledged Alpha Chi Omega and had a bunch of pictures of her pledge sisters lined up on the floor, being put into a scrapbook.

Maddy looked at the sorority pictures and made an astounding little play on words:

''Ooooh!'' she said. ''It's a GIRL-LERIE!''


Prayer request: Praise and thanksgiving for Eden's softball team's great experience in Tulsa, coming in second in the tournament and playing very well. Special thanksgiving for the obedience of one player, who was about to quit over playing-time issues, but with prayer and Godly guidance, hung in there . . . and had a fantastic tournament. Lord, You are faithful. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Sunday, March 21, 2004


But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
-- Matthew 6:20.21

I started an archaeology dig in a long-unexcavated kitchen cupboard. I found a sack of baking nuts from 1982. Since my DNA molecules spell out ''c-h-e-a-p,'' I opened it to see if they were any good.

Out flew about two dozen little bitty moths.


I tried to swat 'em. Just then, the girls were walking up the driveway from the schoolbus. They saw me through the kitchen window running around clapping my hands high in the air. To the busload of their peers, it looked like Mrs. Williams had been hitting the cooking sherry again.

''Geez, Mom,'' the girls said.

I told them about the moths. They were skeptical.

Then they spotted the big, ugly cleome pods on the kitchen counter. Cleomes are my favorite flower. In the early spring, I collect the pods from the year before, and cut them open for seeds. You have to do this before the pods burst in the spring sun or you'll have cleome boldly going where no cleome has gone before.

The pods were on the counter, near the ingredients for that night's Cafeteria Surprise casserole.

''Geez, Mom,'' the girls said. ''Moths and pods, right by our food!''

Well, ''pod-on'' ME! I'm just TRYING to have a LIFE here! I'm SORRY if my cooking, cleaning and gardening get in your WAY!!!


Things calmed down. At dinner, the kids raved about some teen idols we grownups had never heard of, with skunk mullets, tongue piercings and wretched songs. Ewwww! Naturally, I changed the subject.

''Have you guys ever heard of William 'Wilber' Wilberforce? He's my new hero! I read about him today. He lived in England in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

''He was short and sickly, but he was rich. Instead of just laying around being rich, he got into Parliament. He devoted his whole life to ending the wicked slave trade by British ships out of Africa.

''There was so much money in slavery, people wanted to keep it. He got beat up, ridiculed in the press, took death threats and had to have a bodyguard. But he was a devout Christian, and he hung in there and got the job done. Three days after the law was finally passed, Wilber Wilberforce died, a happy man.''

They stared at me.

Just then, I saw another one of those itty bitty moths overhead. From my seat, I extended my hands high in the air to try to get it, talking all the while. It fluttered just out of my reach.

''So that’s why. . .''


''. . . your heroes ought to be guys like. . .''


''Wilber Wilberforce!''


They didn't see the moth. They thought I was losing it in my excitement over this antique dude nobody ever heard of.

Jordan spoke for the rest.


They thought I was trying to lead them in overhead clapping, like at a rock concert.

We stared at each other across the generation gap.

Just then, from the kitchen:







Everybody hit the dirt.

But it wasn't a band of terrorists machine-gunning the kitchen. My Cafeteria Surprise wasn't THAT bad.

No, my PODS had simply chosen that particular moment to burst.

Big, round cleome seeds were bouncing all over the counters and floors, while more of those itty bitty moths danced up high overhead, just out of reach. A nightmare scene.

The girls looked at me with pity and incredulity, the nonverbal equivalent of a highly embarrassed ''Geeeeeeeeez, Mom.''

You know, you work your fingers to the BONE to give kids good values, make them less materialistic, inspire them to lead productive lives, and point them to classic, positive role models so that they will grow up to glorify God. And THIS is the thanks you get?

Hmm. Wonder if Wilber Wilberforce ever got into the cooking sherry? They say he died a happy man.


Prayer request: We pray for support funding to come to Dan Lague, a friend of a friend who is a missionary for Campus Crusade for Christ out of Kansas City. Dan has a wife and three sons and has been battling cancer. He remains patient, joyful and expectant. Bless him, Lord, with an outpouring of funding and love, in Jesus' name. (Matthew 28:19)

Saturday, March 20, 2004


One of the best birthday gifts our 4-year-old got was a fairy bower. Well, cynics might say it's just a grass-green nylon net tent with a fake floral ring around the top, and some dangling ribbons. But those of us who know what childhood's really for know that it's really a fairy bower, a magical place where she can be a princess or a pony or whatever she can imagine.

It's supposed to hang from a tree limb outside. 'Til the weather’s nice, we're using the ceiling fan in the hearthroom. Yes, everyone has sworn to NOT turn ON the ceiling fan for the duration. Not even a knight in shining armour could get THAT untangled.

Maddy gets in there with her ''people,'' which include three little plastic lions, a Scooby Doo, a My Little Pony, her Baby Born, and assorted other comrades. They have long discussions and drink pretend tea. She sits in there for long moments, too, saying nothing at all. That's the business of childhood: just ''being.''

When you have a fairy bower in the house, you must accept a new set of rules. Here they are:

''Make sure there are no people talking and turn off the radio,'' Maddy commanded. ''Just go tippy-toe . . . when I'm in my dream tent.''


Prayer request: Safety and enjoyment for another of our imaginative daughters, a softball player, age 16, and her dad down at a big tournament in Tulsa this weekend. Reward her winter training with some snappy hits, Lord! We pray that all the girls bond as a team and are grateful to You for their athletic talent and fun softball experiences. (1 Corinthians 12:24)

Friday, March 19, 2004


Yesterday's look at the sandhill crane stopover in central Nebraska gave us a bird's-eye view of that astounding natural wonder, migration. Speaking of migration miracles, today's the day the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano. Arriba!

Thousands of people, including many children, will gather at the 1776 Franciscan mission in that town, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, for the annual arrival. It's literally a bellringer, for that's how the swallows are welcomed each spring -- with the mission's mighty bells.

I know, I know, it has to do with the equinoxes, but I still wonder: how do the birds KNOW, every Feb. 18, that it's time to leave their winter quarters in Goya, Argentina, and start the 7,500-mile trip back for San Juan Capistrano?

How do they KNOW the way?

And how DO they always manage to arrive on March 19, or thereabouts? And leave for South America again every Oct. 23, or thereabouts?

How can they fly from dawn to dusk every day for a month without stopping to eat or drink, so that they can keep to that schedule? I thought OUR family set optimistic and challenging travel itineraries. . . .

And how DO they manage to stay so slim and aerodynamic, considering that each swallow eats 1,000 insects a day during their stay in the vineyards and fruit orchards of the Sierra foothills.

Just as the sandhill cranes help prep the farm fields in Nebraska every spring, the swallows are a miraculously efficient natural pesticide, and help regulate fruit development, in that southern California ecosystem. So they both help the local economy.

They both draw in tourists, too. It's fascinating to see how the Nebraska migration marvel has spawned all kinds of art activities, from paintings to photography to dress-up contests for metal crane sculptures. In San Juan Capistrano this weekend, they'll have mariachi bands, Aztec dancers and a parade.

Ah! Synergy . . . from biology to agriculture to the arts. You've got to love it.

Imagination's on the wing when nature shows us, yep, it's spring.


Prayer request: Praise and thanks for the successful surgery for our young friend with the dangerous bone spur from Norfolk, Neb., Chasse (see March 5). She has two metal rods in her arm and a purple cast now, but the arm doesn't bow and there’s no more bone protrusion at the elbow. It hurts . . . but she knows it's worth it. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Mom and I took three young'uns out to see Nebraska's marvelous migration saga: the return of the sandhill cranes to the Platte River wetlands in the middle of the state.

They're taller than our 4-year-old, with soft gray feathers and a dashing spot of red on the tip of their heads. They fly in loose V's with their long, skinny necks stretching straight forward and their long, skinny legs sticking straight back. They're modern-day pterodactyls -- breathtaking to watch from your car or the many viewing stands and blinds in the area.

They think there are 650,000 of them that winter throughout the southern end of the continent, and somehow -- miraculously -- know when it’s time to scoot north. They always take a pit stop of three weeks or so in March, in an 80-mile stretch of cornfields and sandbar-speckled river banks in Nebraska's midsection.

Then, as if on cue, they wing to Alaska, Canada and Siberia to nest for the summer.

We learned a lot about them at the Crane Meadows Nature Center east of Kearney, Neb., and then had a ball just driving around, watching them feed, fly and ''loaf,'' or nap standing up. It's a great example of synergy between nature and agriculture, since the birds come right before planting time and clean up the grainfields for the farmer, leaving lots of little fertilizer dividends for this year's crop.

It's fun for moms and grandmas to explore nature with kids and see it afresh, through their eyes. It was a great chance for the kids to witness how their Grandma migrates toward humor, too. As we left the nature center and began our crane-watching drive, we came around a wooded bend to see a herd of Angus cattle.

''Ooooh!'' Grandma exclaimed. ''There are some BIG cranes!''


Prayer request: A dear friend is celebrating two years of sobriety today. His whole family is immensely better off. Praise You, Father, for bringing him to the point of repentance, giving him discipline, and rewarding him with the ultimate blessing, new life in the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I've been wondering why some cute actor like Liam Neeson doesn't hurry up and play the part of St. Patrick, that Irish spiritual stud muffin, in a new movie. It would make sense artistically and financially, now that Mel Gibson has made such a success of telling the stories of other Christian greats, from Jesus Christ to William Wallace, and the Christian mega-allegory of ''Lord of the Rings'' won every Oscar in sight.

Enough of anti-heroes and angst. It's time for heroes again.

St. Patrick's is a great story. He was kidnapped as a child in Britain and put into slavery as a shepherd boy in 5th Century Ireland. The paganism and human sacrifice were atrocious, but St. Patrick, like another little shepherd boy, David, spent a lot of time in prayer . . . and God spoke freedom to him in a dream, promising there'd be a ship waiting for him and everything.

There was. He escaped back to Britain and the rest, as they say, is history.

He rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church and went back to Ireland, this time as a great evangelist. He helped the pagans literally turn their swords into plowshares. He built a network of monasteries that single-handedly preserved the core of the literature of western civilization -- Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian -- so that the barbarians couldn’t destroy our roots. Read more about it in Thomas Cahill's neat book ''How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.''

I'm looking for a whole new wave of hero stories out of Hollywood now. Can't you see Tom Cruise as a gorgeous and gritty Daniel? How 'bout Julia Roberts as Esther? Dustin Hoffman as St. Paul? Can't you imagine the fun Stephen Spielberg would have recreating Noah's flood?

Movies like that would have the luck o' the Irish at the box office . . . because, you know, the luck o' the Irish comes from the great Producer in the sky.


Prayer request: Peace and rest for an adult daughter who has power of attorney and has been dealing with an elderly mother's stolen car, half a continent away. Giving up one's precious days off to deal with faxes and phone calls to the police, insurance, towing, impound, repair, attorneys, bureaucratic details . . . oh, Lord, help mother and daughter cope. (Titus 2:3)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


First, it was the Hindenburg, a big blob of gauze around my left thumb. I sliced it and diced it pretty good last Friday night while cooking. The quickie emergency room said it didn't need stitches, just a big blob of gauze for three days.

I tried to keep the Hindenburg clean Saturday and went around like a Finnish speed skater, with my left arm tucked behind my back. We put on a birthday party for six little girls and had Mom over for a ham dinner. Naturally, I got green frosting from the Winnie the Pooh cake on the gauze, and plenty of dirt. So we cut some off and rewrapped it. Now it was a cigar.

On Sunday, I needed a shower. I put newspaper plastic over the cigar and wrapped a rubber band around my wrist, tight. It got drenched, anyway. There's nothing so mournful as a sopping wet cigar. It plopped into the wastebasket.

So I got out my own gauze, and fashioned my own little bandage, using Scotch tape. It looked like a finger-puppet Moses, with a white beard in front and a flowing long headdress in back. My fellow church-goers no doubt thought I was a dedicated Sunday School teacher. REAL dedicated.

But Moses kept falling off. Monday, I tried again. This effort looked like a deranged Easter bunny. It kept falling off, too.

Today, I'm down to three misshapen Band-Aids around the tip of the thumb. Sparse. Utilitarian. Unimaginative.

But so far, it's working best of all.


Prayer request: We lift up a 15-year-old boy who was crushed to be cut from the baseball team yesterday. Oh, Lord, inspire him to call upon You for help. Frame this as a challenge . . . a quest. Encourage him to work on his game and try, try again. When he "makes it" next time, he'll know it's because You love him . . . and want him to play ball! (2 Chronicles 32:31b)

Monday, March 15, 2004


Four years ago today, Whoopsie Daisy Williams blasted her way into this world, seven weeks early and half the size of her three older -- much older -- sisters. Our tail-ender! Papa's little dividend!

The aged mom, also known as moi, had toxemia so bad that I resembled a Macy's parade balloon. My blood pressure was over 200. Since only about five minutes had passed between the time I found out about this late-in-life pregnancy, and the premature delivery, it really wasn’t so bad on my end.

But Whoopsie -- OK, her name is ''Madeleine Joy'' -- stopped breathing twice, had to go in the neonatal ICU, and had to stay there for a week. It was a much more stressful scenario than the first three deliveries, which were so easy, my theme song was: ''Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton -- have a baby -- jump down, turn around, pick a bale a day.''

But in the midst of the exhaustion, anguish and stress of that childbirth, a corps of guardian angels surrounded our family and especially me, to bring us through this life challenge to the point where now we don't know what we ever used to do for FUN before Maddy arrived.

A toast, today, to all those who have made this so sweet.

I'm fondly remembering my late Grammie Miller's humorous touch. She was past 90 when Maddy was born. While I was still in the hospital, she suggested that I put a set of dentures in a water glass at my bedside, since word had spread in the maternity ward that there was a REALLY old mother in the midst of the 20-somethings.

Then she and I would do a ''Little Red Riding Hood'' switch: SHE'D get in the bed and pose as the new mother, and I'D be the ''visitor.''

''Grandmother! What big STRETCH MARKS you have!''

We were afraid to do it for fear of liability lawsuits over the cardiacs it'd cause.

To Grammie and all our other guardian angels: thanks.


Prayer request: Thanksgiving today for Dawn, who is home after a second brain surgery and doing well (see 2/9 prayer request). We are grateful for the medical marvels that bring healing in such difficult cases. We also pray for improvement for newborn baby Luke, who has a rare metabolic disorder. Comfort and sustain his parents, Father God, and help us all to be grateful for our wonderful bodies. (Luke 12:23)

Sunday, March 14, 2004


And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.
-- Joel 2:25

I loved my Grandpa Darst, but he died when I was in fifth grade, and the memory of him is fading away.

He knew how to farm and fish, was great at math, ran a bank and an auto mechanics shop, and could do anything . . . anything! . . . with machinery.

I remember him down on the dock at our summer cabin in northern Minnesota, tinkering with NautiGal, his big, beautiful boat. He and my dad built the cabin from scratch on a slab of Minnesota granite. They ''engineered'' it sitting side by side looking out over the gorgeous lake in their crazy felt hats.

To this day, in our family, if you're dealing with a problem, you ''have it in engineering,'' because that's what Grandpa used to say. And anything that works well ''runs like a sewing machine.''

His woodstove was ''Bessie.'' His car was ''The Flivver.'' His outhouse was ''The Biffy.'' His World War I telescope for observing passing boats was ''The TV.''

And his little red tractor, the queen of the place, was ''Maudie.''

She was a 1940 International Harvest Farm-All Cub, with a matching red trailer and great, big Studebaker headlights that stuck out like lobster's eyes.

There was no road, so everything was barged in. From shore, Maudie hauled all the building materials up to the cabin. Once it was complete, she started hauling luggage, waterskis, gas tanks, fishing tackle . . . and little girls.

I'll never forget the aroma of Maudie's exhaust mixing with the scent of the fir trees. I loved sitting on Grandpa's lap, ''helping'' him cut lakeside hay and haul it to a deep-woods dump.

Maudie's tires were her ''boots.'' Her engine was only 9.6-horsepower, and the womenfolk joshed that they had MIXERS more powerful. But Maudie got the job done.

And she required little maintenance. Her ''garage'' was the same dented Campbell's soup can placed over her exhaust pipe, year after year.

You know what's coming.

Things change.

Grandpa died.

Dad kept everything going and gave his own grandkids lots of rides on Maudie, too. But a dozen years ago, he died, too. Sadly, our daughters barely remember him.

The place sat idle, then, much of the time. We eventually lost it in an eminent domain action by the federal government. It took private land for a national park, Voyageurs, and forced us out.

My siblings and I split up everything, crushed that our family shrine was lost under our watch, but consoled by the mementoes. My first choice: Maudie.

How to get her home, though, with no road access?

We waited 'til winter, and then barged her over the frozen lake by snowmobile. My husband trailered her 680 miles home, and found a mechanic in Iowa with Grandpa's same machine-magic. He and his 10-year-old son rehabbed her this past winter.

My husband brought Maudie home last week. She started up, first try. Our eyes locked and we grinned: ''runs like a sewing machine.''

Our ''tail-ender'' daughter Maddy ran out for a ride. She'll never know her grandpa or her great-grandpa . . . but she'll get a sense of who they were, through Maudie. Family lore lives on.

The twin grins of husband and daughter erased in an instant all that I had lost, and restored all that Maudie had meant to us through four generations.

No, things can never be the same. But they can be just as good. Only different.

I walked alongside, my lungs filled with tractor fragrance and my eyes emitting liquid exhaust. The next Campbell's soup can I come across will be Maudie's new ''garage.''

Some things never change. And that's OK, too.

She's already starred in her new home: Maddy's 4th birthday party was yesterday, and Maudie carried the hyperventilating party-goers around the neighborhood. Petting the neighbor's new miniature horse was almost as fun as riding behind a cute old tractor.

The kids launched their arms to the sky, shouting ''Hip! Hip! Hooray!'' Maudie belched. Maddy beamed.

The decades fell away, and there with them were two beloved old men from our past . . . hauling us into the future on an old, faithful family friend.

I think Someone had the moment ''in engineering'' all along.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for bringing our Jordan home safely for spring break. She's back in North Carolina now, matching friends' tales of Florida beaches and wet T-shirt contests with her own Nebraska stories of sandhill cranes and an antique tractor. We pray for safety for all spring-breakers in these next few weeks, and hope they always take delight in the diversity of Your blessings. (1 Corinthians 12:4)

Saturday, March 13, 2004


I'm typing this verrrrrrry carefully. There's a gauze dirigible on my left thumb.

There was no rabbi for miles, but last night while slicing roast beef I circumsized the tip of my thumb.

I was hurrying for our teenager, who wanted to go see her future husband Johnny Depp in the opening of his new movie. I found the knife in a drawer and it was a lot sharper than my usual set.

Two hours and 12 Band-Aids later, the thumb was still bleeding, so off I went to the emergency room.

It's pretty embarrassing to be there with a slightly sliced thumb that hurt like a “1.2” on a scale of ''1 to 10,'' when other patients are coming in by ambulance, on stretchers, etc., with real emergencies. But the staff treated me like a princess as they wrapped four miles of gauze around it and said I'd be a national champion hitchhiker with a thumb that flashy.

It has to stay there for 72 hours. I can't shower and WAH! I can't do dishes. Heyyy! I'm beginning to like this particular disability.

On the way out the door, the doctor won my heart. He gave me a great big ''thumbs up'' sign.

Friday, March 12, 2004


Years ago, a single mother friend of mine who has four sons, then ages 15 to 9, was driving them from Omaha to Kansas City, the nearest professional baseball venue. This was because their beloved Boston Red Sox were going to be playing there, and they got tickets.

All along the Interstate during the nearly four-hour trip, though, they were playing car tag with two young men who were apparently the world's greatest New York Yankees fans.

The first time the Yankee car passed the Red Sox mother and sons, they saw the Yankees hats in the back window. So naturally the four boys all put on their Red Sox hats, asked their mom to speed up, and passed the Yankees, waving, smiling and pointing to their hats.

A few minutes later, here came the Yankees again, this time wearing their hats, and returning the good-natured taunt.

These hijinks continued to the outskirts of Kansas City, when suddenly the Yankees brought out their big gun, fan-wise: they held up a Reggie candy bar -- you know, the one in honor of Yankees superstar Reggie Jackson.

This was intended to be the ultimate one-up. The guys in the Yankees car beamed, and sped ahead.

But the boys were not beaten. They rustled around in the back seat of the car as their mother wondered how they would respond. Finally, they asked her to speed up and pass the Yankees one last time.

They were holding up a piece of notebook paper with large letters challenging:


From the look on those d___ Yankees’ faces, the boys knew they’d scored a home run!


Prayer Request: Thank You so much, Lord, for empowering single parents like this one to provide wonderful life experiences and memories for their sons and daughters. We know You love it when we have fun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1)

Thursday, March 11, 2004


I'm happy to note that the State of South Dakota has now banned human cloning. It's a felony up there to perform or attempt to perform a cloning operation. This is good.

This is also smart. If you don't make cloning a crime, then you're stuck fighting it in the civil courts with long, drawn-out lawsuits.

The best legal theory there would be that human cloning is ''copyright infringement'' against our Maker.

Well, that's what it is.

At least South Dakotans don't have to worry about going around with a great, big © on their foreheads anytime soon.


Prayer Request: We pray for safety for Patrick, the son of a good friend and ''pigeoneer'' from Iowa, who is going to Kuwait with the Army shortly. He has been having some trouble receiving emails from family and friends. Lord, clear that up so that he can be in touch without having to resort to messenger pigeons like his dad. (Haggai 1:13)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


There's a teenager at a local high school who is not really a star athlete and not really a star student. In fact, he'd be the first to tell you that he has gotten teased all his life for not exactly being the strikingly handsome and razor-sharp movie star hunk that all teenage boys would like to be.

But he's a participant in the school, anyway, because he is athletic trainer for a couple of the varsity teams.

The GIRLS' varsity teams.

And at the last girls' basketball game, the absolute GODDESS of the senior class, a gorgeous and glamorous girl who renders all the boys into helpless pools of goo, hurt her shoulder.

She flopped onto the bench in pain. Here came the athletic trainer. ''Let me rub that shoulder for you,'' he soothed.

Every other teenage boy in the gym trained their laser eyeballs onto him in excruciating envy. And oh, the smile on his face. . . .

That's the way you play the game, sports fans.


Prayer Request: Today begins a three-day fast and prayer campaign revolving around key political issues in legislatures and courts in Nebraska and other states right now: partial-birth abortion, gambling, human cloning and gay marriage. Prayer warriors are to focus on repentance on Wednesday, humbling turning their hearts to the Lord on Thursday, and thanksgiving on Friday. Bless this effort with Your victories, Lord. (Isaiah 58:3-5, Psalm 51 and Isaiah 58:5-12)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Our high school had its annual fund-raising ''Cake and Choral'' last night. There was great singing, dancing and fellowship . . . but my favorite was the chicken-pluckin' act.

There was a barbershop quartet of four very talented, very humorous boys in adorable costumes with the classic, ''My Old Man’s a Sailor.'' It involved a rubber chicken and the claim that one boy's dad was ever-lovin', chicken pluckin', etc. etc. etc. It was just plain silly entertainment -- fun and G-rated. Maybe you had to be there. But wholesome entertainment like that is so rare.

It reminded me of my days as a ''Kappa Picker.'' I played banjo in a college sorority hillbilly singing group. There was no sex, no off-color jokes, no revealing costumes . . . just singin' and pickin' and good, old-fashioned fun. Wish the kids today were exposed to more of it.

We had a ''hillbilly rap'' that would have fit right in last night:

Look at them sticker-pluckers!
Ain't they neat?
Pickin' them stickers from them feet.
Pickin' them weevils,
Pluckin' them briars;
Pullin' 'em out with sticker-pluckin' pliars.
Want to be a sticker plucker?
Don't need a ticket.
Get yourself a pair of sticker-pluckers
And stick it!


Prayer Request: A high-school girl we know and love has recently made a very difficult decision, which we believe is a great decision. Best of all, it was rooted in prayer. Father, bring her success and fulfillment, for she has chosen Your way. (Hebrews 11:25)

Monday, March 08, 2004


Ewww! There’s something wong with the wawa in Waco. We enjoyed visiting that Texas town last weekend, where our daughter Neely is at Baylor University. But the water tasted and smelled just terrible. We should have known something was up when the motel had bottled water waiting for us in our room.

When I tried to brush my teeth – bleah!

Turns out there are dairy cattle in the vicinity, and there’s been more rain than usual. The environmental scientists think there are runoff problems from phosphorus in the ag chemicals being used.

They say it won’t hurt you but they know they have a serious problem with the taste, and they’re working on it feverishly.

“Don’t Drink the Water!” used to be for SOUTH of the border. Hmmm. I just hope this doesn’t drive all those squeaky-clean, G-rated college students at Baylor to drinking bottled beer!

The GOOD news is, Neely and her roommate got a water purifier. Let’s hope they don’t need it for long.


Prayer Request: Special blessings and comfort for a beautiful new friend named Sandy, who is going through a very difficult divorce. Father, hold her close, give her faith, and bring friends around her to give her strength and cheer. (Luke 22:32)

Just back from a long weekend in Texas visiting our darling daughter at Baylor. Cheers! -- S.



Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee. . . .
-- Jeremiah 1:5

Forty years ago, the wife of my friend Albert Walsh, now a retired judge in David City, Neb., gave birth to their ninth child. He was seven weeks premature.

That month, President and Mrs. Kennedy had lost a newborn son to underdeveloped lungs. This baby had the same problem. The doctor said he was having difficulty breathing. They put him in the ''preemie nursery.''

That evening, some relatives accompanied Al and Eleanor to the nursery. The tiny baby was red-faced and struggling.

At 6:20 the next morning, Judge Walsh was jarred awake by a phone call. His son had just died.

He comforted his wife as best he could and went to Mass. Everyone was glad the little one had been baptized. They named him Marion Michael.

They say losing a child is the hardest thing to go through in life --- a direct hit on your happiness, an assault on your sense of security -- always difficult beyond words.

But there's a way to respond. And Judge Walsh found it.

What happened next is one of the best examples of spiritual warfare I've ever heard. Let Judge Walsh reminisce:

''I had to tell our eight children, which caused the tears -- mine and theirs -- to flow freely. We had opened our hearts to this child who now would not be coming home.

''The children and I were crying during breakfast. I decided to put some music on our record player to try to cheer us up. We heard vocals by the 'Brothers Four,' selections from Victor Herbert, German band marches, operetta marches, the 'Light Cavalry Overture,' and Gilbert and Sullivan.

''Then I put on some Scottish Highland martial music, featuring bagpipes and drums. While the Black Watch Band was playing the famous old Scottish battle song, 'The Wee McGregor,' my wife called. I held up the phone for her to hear.

''We agreed the music was especially appropriate for our situation. It starts so softly that at first you can't hear it. Then it gets louder and louder, a beautiful melody. When it's going full blast, strong and beautiful, it fires up your blood. Then it gradually fades away until you can't hear it anymore.

''It was just like that with our son, Marion Michael. He came into our lives and family, captured our hearts, and then drifted away from us.''

They think of him now as their ''anchorman'' in heaven.

Some 40 years later, as an Epiphany gift, another son, John, and wife Donna gave the Walshes a compact disc of Scottish Highland martial music, featuring ''The Wee McGregor.''

It helps to remember, and to know your loved ones do, too.

I can just see that father with his eight tearful children, sitting around the breakfast table listening to the soulful bagpipes and pounding drums of that Scottish song. It lifted their spirits and opened their hearts to the ministrations of the Lord, which so often come to us through music . . . when words aren't enough.

I bet the children pictured their little brother in a teensy tam o'shanter, wrapped in plaid, marching off to heaven.

I see pure love in this story -- the love of a father who wished to lighten the hearts of his grieving children, and still express how he felt about the son he'll never know, at least not on this earth.

How I wish people who think abortion, human cloning and human embryonic research are all OK would think the way Judge Walsh does.

How I wish they'd treat the tiny humans they're dealing with as ''Wee McGregors,'' not just blobs of tissue.

These are precious little souls . . . to be loved.

Thank you, Marion Michael, for reminding us of that. That's why you were born. It's why you won't be forgotten.

Your life story is distinctive and uplifting, like the bagpipe music that links you to all of us still on our way to heaven . . . and trying to take the high road.


Prayer request: An extra dose of comfort for all those who have suffered a miscarriage or the death of a newborn child or sibling, Father. Let faith sing in their hearts like the incomparable sound of bagpipes. (Matthew 9:22)

Friday, March 05, 2004

DailySusan will resume on Monday, March 8



This is embarrassing. But do you remember the hysteria a few years ago about child kidnapping? How there were tragic photos of endangered, missing children on milk cartons and so forth?

Confession time: when I went to the grocery store, I anxiously kept my hand on my toddler daughter as she rode the cart through all the aisles in the grocery store.

I was afraid she'd be snatched by some crime ring If I turned my back to get the best deal on string beans. I remember stretching like an Olympic gymnast with my left hand to get a package of Oreos from the bottom shelf without letting go of her little 2T overall strap with my right.

Comes now an eye-opening book that exposes that and some other despicable media hoaxes:

In 1999, guess how many children were kidnapped by strangers in this country? I'd have guessed 5,000.

The answer: 93.

That's one of many startling facts in the book ''The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse'' by Gregg Easterbrook. He says increasing anxiety and a 10-fold spike in unipolar depression since World War II are the results of upsetting and deceiving media hype. There's also the all-out assault against God which mires people in pointlessness, the breakdown of the traditional family, and self-serving tort lawyers who have created the feeling in society that we are ALL victims, or about to be.

We all need to resist what the author calls ''headline-induced anxiety'' caused by news and entertainment programs that deceive us into thinking there's a preposterous calamity about to befall us, right around the next corner.

Of course, if your child IS abducted by a band of wild-eyed, Oreo-brandishing, string-bean powered aliens, that's another story.


Prayer Request: An 11-year-old northeast Nebraska girl, Chassé, has to have surgery on her left arm this coming Wednesday at Shriners Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. A bone spur on her growth plate has caused her a great deal of pain in her elbow and she has lost all strength in her left arm. She may lose the use of the arm unless this procedure is successful. Pray that Chasse, her parents and siblings will be ''armed with faith'' as they face this medical challenge. (1 Peter 4:1)

Thursday, March 04, 2004


Q. What day of the year is a command?
A. March 4th!

I know, it's corny. But that's what we always used to say on the fourth day of March when I was growing up. I'm sure we did a little comical, stiff-legged marching, too. It was a nerd tradition.

These are the remnants of an American childhood that was far simpler and full of whimsy than today's over-sophisticated ones.

I have a 40-something friend who has taught everyone to say ''Bugs Bunny!'' on the first of each month. Why? Because her grandmother insisted that that was something you did.

Another one is looking forward to having her own grandchildren, because she's going to resume a sweet, whimsical practice that her grandmother did for her every spring. On the day that she spotted the first robin of spring, she would send her grandchildren a telegram.

A little fun makes all the slush, mud and chill breezes of early spring seem doable. I even see some early tulips peeking up in a protected spot in the yard.

March 4th! Spring has sprung . . . or is about to!


Prayer Request: We join our young friend Laura in prayer for a miracle of reconciliation with her estranged husband. Bring him to You, Father, and teach him to be accountable. We thank You that, despite being devastated, Laura is still full of joy and peace because she knows her identity, self-worth and future are in You. (1 Timothy 6:6)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Today we hear the saga of another longsuffering mother whose two sons used to play with the ceiling fan. Their game was UNDERWEAR FAN FOOTBALL.

You read that right.

When they were the age that they could almost be relied upon to take their own baths, they would get undressed while the bath water was running and wad up their underwear. Then one would climb on the bed and place the aforementioned unmentionables up on the fan blades while the other would hit the switch.

Then they would both make a mad dash for the flying drawers. Whoever caught the most undies in the best of five runs got to take his bath first . . . which meant the other little guy had to wipe up the bathroom.

Their mom sighed, but accepted it, since they had a ''no balls in the house'' rule. What else could they throw and catch without breaking a window, a trinket or a head?

Boys will be boys . . . and moms will always be their #1 fans.


Prayer Request: A man and wife who are new believers are going to go to ''The Passion'' movie in a few days with their spiritual mentors. Father, we pray that You will use this powerful movie for them and all married couples to see how the Savior's suffering and sacrifice on our behalf reflects His love for His Bride – and let all of us respond accordingly (Luke 18:42).

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Monday's account of drip-drying women's undergarments on a ceiling fan produced two stories from mothers of sons. Here's the first one; tune in tomorrow for the second:

''One spring, I decided to turn on the ceiling fan in the dining room . . . hadn't even used the fan all winter, just the lights. So as the boys sat at the table for lunch, I started up the fan and stepped back to the kitchen, when. . . .


''My heart pounded from the sudden 'gunshot' in the dining room. I thought the nearby door must have shattered. I ran there, wondering why there was no broken glass from the sniper lurking in the yard. I looked at the door – it was untouched. Then my eyes fell to the floor.

''There lay a petrified fish stick.

''When my sons burst out with that little boy infectious laughter, it finally became clear.

''Scott said, 'Hey, Trev, remember that fish stick I kept throwing up in the air last fall 'til it landed on the fan???'''


Prayer Request: Follow-up on 2/25/04 prayer request for Adam, 24, hospitalized with a mysterious ailment after living in Rome: the family is thankful for prayers. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. He has been pumped full of prednisone and another medication. He will need to learn to live with it and the flare-ups. But he's back in school and doing fine. (Acts 4:30)


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Monday, March 01, 2004


I was just reunited with a softball friend from last summer and reminded of a stunt she pulled that stays with me as one of those unforgettable images of married life.

See, she is a woman of heroic proportions -- very statuesque. She is beautiful and diligent and takes great care with everything she owns. That includes her unmentionables – her undergarments.

Careful, diligent women never, ever put them in the dryer. When you are of heroic proportions, you can wind up with dents, twists, rips and other problems that render your bustline as having ''heroic distortions.''

Therefore, she always lets her mighty steel-belted brassieres hang-dry.

But one day, there was no room in her laundry room to do that. And her husband was out of town. So what the heck?

She hung them from the ceiling fan in the family room.

Naturally -- you KNEW this would happen -- he came home from his business trip in the middle of the night.

She awoke with a start. He was shaking her. ''OH, I'M SO GLAD YOU’RE ALIVE!'' he was saying. ''WHAT HAPPENED DOWNSTAIRS?''

One can only imagine what manner of cultists or criminals he thought had been rampaging through their peaceful home.

I'll leave it to your imagination as to how she explained herself.


Prayer Request: Lord, safely return a loved one who has been struggling with breathing problems and is on the road coming home today. Breath of Life, fill his lungs and his heart with Your power and peace. (Acts 17:25)