Friday, April 30, 2004


Beamer, 16, so nicknamed because of her radiant smile, is smiling even brighter today. She was just selected for her school’s Academic Decathlon team for next year. It’s a big honor and will be very good for her, as a fun-loving third-born and jockette, to buckle down to some serious scholarship.

That’s the good news. The BAD news is:

1) Her mother, the journalism major, told her grandmother, the English major, yesterday that the cell phone ‘’had rang’’ instead of ‘’had rung.’’ Remember yesterday’s Bible anecdote about Nehemiah tearing people’s hair out for making stupid mistakes? Yeah, well. . . .

2) Her father, the intrepid business leader, lost his car keys, and was afraid they were somewhere out among the 42 billion blades of grass that he just mowed yesterday. His pocket was empty, anyway, and that was the only clue. He has no hair left to tear out. He felt reallllly stooooopid.

Good thing parental IQ isn’t a factor in the Academic Decathlon selection process. We’re not exactly kickin’ on all cylinders. Several of the bulbs are out on our intellectual candelabra. We’re . . . ‘’Academic Decaf.’’


Prayer request: A good friend’s mother has passed away. All year in Bible Study, Brenda has asked us to pray for her mother’s various needs and illnesses. Father, reward her for being such a loving and responsible daughter, a faithful witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 26:16)

Thursday, April 29, 2004


I love Bible study. It’s so . . . RELEVANT! We’ve finished the book of Nehemiah, which you would think would be a big bore-amentio. But it’s not!

Nehemiah was the dude who led the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the ancient Israelites got out of captivity in what is now . . . gulp . . . Iraq.

The first wave of people who came back were already backsliding: marrying wives from pagan cultures who led them astray spiritually, being cheapo by bringing diseased animals for sacrifice instead of perfect ones, going to the casinos on the Sabbath and so forth.

When Nehemiah got there, he ran a tight ship. He got everybody to quit messing around and put their noses to the grindstone to get those walls rebuilt. Then he went back to Iraq for a while.

When he came back, wouldn’t you know? They were backsliding again, only worse. After all he’d done!

I love Nehemiah 13:25. He yelled at them, beat some of them up, and pulled their hair out! Literally!

I mean . . . wouldn’t you just LOVE to do that to some of these bozos whose off-kilter ideas about what’s right and wrong are threatening to destroy our country?

Election Day is coming up. I’d love to vote for someone who would promise to stand up to people like that and yell at them (G-rated and Politically Correct, of course), beat some of them up (a Nerf bat would suffice), and . . . hmm . . . pulling their hair out by the roots must’ve really hurt; maybe our candidate should just promise to give them a buzz cut.

Whatever it takes to get ‘em to straighten up and fly right, I’d be for.


Prayer request: A Nebraska soldier in Iraq was driving a tanker recently when he was hit by a ground rocket grenade. He is severely hurt, with burns to his nose, cheeks, ears and hands. He blew out his eardrums from the explosion. His name is Jeff Raastead, a husband and father of two from Cozad, Neb. Almighty God, we ask You to grant him a full recovery. Let him know how much we appreciate his sacrifice, which may benefit us but is offered in obedience to You. (Psalm 50:5)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


Maddy’s preschool sent home an A-Z list of birthday party themes. The more I look at them, the more I see possible ideas for GROWN-UP fun. Ideas for invitations, decorations, costumes and games all materialized, and I started to smile.

If your social life has gotten pretty blah, revive it with one of these. Or combine them in wacky ways: try a combination Pajama Party and Backyard Golf Party! Grown-up kids will love you for it!

Adventure Party
Beach Party
Costume Party
Dinosaur Party
Equestrian Party
Firefighter Party
Garden Party
Hero Party
Ice Cream Social
Jungle Party
Knights’ Party
Magic Show
Nursery Rhyme Party
Outer Space Party
Pajama Party
Queen Party
Robot Party
Safari Party
Tea Party
Under the Sea Party
Vehicle Party
Winter Wonderland Party
X-treme Sports Party
Yacht Club Party
Zoo Party


Prayer request: A friend’s grandmother, Esther Alberg, has gone to be with the Lord, just a few days shy of her 100th birthday. The family was gathering from around the country for a birthday party, but now it will be a “celebration of life” type funeral. We praise You, Lord, for elders like her, who point the way toward a long, fruitful life. (Proverbs 14:26)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


We heard this tale from some friends who are from a small town in Nebraska. It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘’getting blown off.’’

It seems the only restaurant in town served tremendous steaks and burgers, but the facilities left a little to be desired. OK, the restrooms were in hideous shape. You know the formula: the better the food, the messier the restrooms. Something like that.

Well, this friend of theirs went there for dinner one night and went in to use the restroom. He was smoking a cigarette. He dropped it down on the messy floor of the stall, planning to stub it out with his foot, when FLOOM!

The cigarette ignited some crumpled toilet paper on the floor . . .

. . . which in turn ignited a large amount of methane gas which was flowing out of the crummy old toilet . . .

. . . which EXPLODED and BLEW the man UP, UP and AWAY . . . literally out the window!

You could say it scared the pants off him, but they were already off.

Anyway, he was hurt, but not too badly. The reason I know this story is true is that the man used the large settlement from the restaurant to purchase a ‘’swather.’’ That, to the agriculturally challenged, is a swank mowing machine . . . what they call ‘’a cut above.’’

Nobody makes up stuff like that. So it must be true.

It will be used with high humor to teach my teenagers the importance of keeping an absolutely spotlessly clean restroom, wherever they live or work. That, and to never SMOKE!


Prayer request: We have been asked to pray for a little boy named Joey, age 8. He’s the nephew of a friend. We don’t know the particulars, but You do, Lord. Bless and keep Joey safe and well, today and always. (Proverbs 14:26)

Monday, April 26, 2004


The hubby was in the Kansas City area last weekend, helping his best friend from childhood move. Upon his return, we were saddened to learn that the friend’s adorable grandmother, who is almost 100, has fallen ill. She may not make it for the big birthday party that’s planned for Saturday. Family and friends were coming from as far as New Jersey to celebrate with this lovely lady from Topeka.

She reminds me of my Aunt Nell, who died at 101 1/2. She was a card. At her 100th birthday party, she wore a lovely peach-colored pantsuit. She had to sit in a chair, the receiving line was so long; many, many people were delighted to come to her birthday party. At party’s end, she asked me to escort her to the restroom. ‘’I’m afraid I might have become incontinent for the first time in my life,’’ Aunt Nell confided. I felt sad: what rotten luck, to spoil her 100th birthday, force her into the indignity of adult diapers, etc. But then she rejoiced: ‘’No! It’s just perspiration! I was sitting for too long!’’

I loved it. She also taught me that the same junior-high social strata that characterized most people’s teen years continue in the nursing home setting. You know: who’s cool, who’s a jock, who’s a brain, who’s a dweeb. One time, a white-haired lady passed by a little haughtily at Aunt Nell’s nursing home. Nell said, ‘’She goes around with a great big smile on her face . . . BUT SHE HAS TO WEAR DEPENDS.’’ Meaning . . . social status goes down a couple of notches, I guess.

I’m looking forward to old age. There’s a lot to learn!


Prayer request: We can’t hold on to Esther Alberg if it’s Your time to lift her up, Lord. But we do pray that You will lift her gently and peacefully. Thank you for a life well lived. (Psalm 37:25)

Sunday, April 25, 2004


And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female. . . .
-- Matthew 19:4

There’s velvet in my voice when I put Maddy to sleep. We cuddle, ‘’doing story.’’ She gets cozy as I drop to my knees bedside. We say a prayer. I tell her a quiet story about her Care Bears or a brave little mouse or kitten.

Then I sing her a song. It has HAD to be ‘’Silent Night’’ since Christmas, but for variety, I’ve been trying those lyrics to the melodies of ‘’Tiptoe Through the Tulips’’ and ‘’April Showers.’’ She protests, smiling sleepily. I sing it the right way.

We hug. I tuck her in, kissing her rosebud mouth and soft cheeks. ‘’Sleep tight! Don’t let the bedbugs bite!’’ She watches me silently back out of the room, blowing kisses. Her eyelids flutter closed. She says drowsily, ‘’Tell Daddy to come.’’

I congratulate myself on my skillful mothering, TLC and well-honed nurturance, when . . . BOOM!!!!!




They do Tickle Monster.

They do Ceiling Walk.

They do The Up Game.

They do Pillow Ride.

They do Shoulder Ride.

They do Get Your Neck.

They do Timber!!!!!

They do Head in Bed, making Maddy into a cross between a human tamale and a giggling mummy.

They do Hot Dog, with lots of imaginary ketchup and mustard.

They do Tick Tock, featuring an upside-down, laughing human pendulum.

So much for my soothing bedtime routine. It takes another half-hour to settle her back down.

The female brain just does not conceive games like these. I whined about it to friends the other night, hoping for sympathy about this rowdy wildhair mayhem instigator I married.

But noooooo. The OTHER husbands ALSO do Daddy Games, and the other WIVES don’t get it, either.

They do Bucky the Wild Squirrel.

They do Horsie the Buckin’ Bronco.

They do Coldy Roldy, tickling the lower legs ‘til the kid gets the shivers.

They do The Chase Game.

They do Boogie Man.

They do Monster.

They do Couch Potato: dad pretends to be asleep, kids walk by, and he JUMPS UP AND GRABS THEM!!!

They do Rolly Polly: giant group hug off the bed onto the floor.

They do Tornado: everybody under the covers whipping them around and up and down until the kids are hyperventilating, the sheets are ripped, or both.

It takes THEM a while to get THEIR kids settled back down, too.

We wives don’t understand this. But you know what? Vive le difference. This is how it’s supposed to be. This is legitimate ‘’diversity.’’ Men show children love differently than women do. Both are creative. Both are good.

That’s why I don’t buy same-sex ‘’marriage.’’ It rips off kids. They miss out on half of what they need to be whole persons. They get distortions, or at best a pale imitation.

There are a lot of legal, political, financial and religious reasons to oppose same-sex households, too. But what cinches it for me is that they deny kids what they need. And that is a mom and a dad -- distinctly different, and delightfully so. There’s a reason we were made this way.

How do you understand what a mountain is, if you’ve never seen a valley?

What good is music all in the treble clef, but no bass?

How do you define sweet if you’ve never tasted sour?

Maleness and femininity are both good, just different. And you can’t fully experience one without the other.

That precious, consistent complementarity of true marriage -- one man, one woman -- is the only way to model how to be and how to love, to make the next generation of people complete.

Preserving marriage really is a matter of life and death, for our society.

Let’s don’t play games with it. OK?

Or Bucky the Wild Squirrel will make you a Head in Bed and Get Your Neck!


Prayer request: A beloved friend named Jean who is very dedicated to her work has asked for prayer cover for the next couple of weeks, the busiest ones of the year. Help her be a shining light of competence and serenity that customers and coworkers will be attracted to, Lord, and learn that her power source is You. (Matthew 6:13)

Saturday, April 24, 2004


I was standing in the driveway at a friend’s house yesterday when the school bus let out. A young mother with a 4-year-old son in a Spiderman shirt walked down to the corner to meet his older sister.

We saw him say something to her, and she leaned over and kissed him on the top of his head. It was so sweet.

Then he said something else . . . and ran like mad down the sidewalk laughing all the way, while she attempted to hit him on the head with her backpack.

We couldn’t resist asking the mom what happened. She was shaking her head.

‘’He said, ‘Welcome home! I missed you today!’ and she kissed him. I was thinking what a sweet memory this would be for me.

‘’But THEN he said, ‘Now I’m going to KICK YOUR BU___!!!!’’’

Boys will be boys. Ain’t it grand?


Prayer request: Drought-parched Nebraska is getting a slow, steady rain today. It’s a gardener’s love-hate relationship, since we can’t get out there and work on a Saturday. But boy, do we need the moisture. Help us to remember that gardens, like our lives, need a little rain just as much as the sunshine. Thank You, Father, for the rain. (Psalm 68:9)

Friday, April 23, 2004


What do they always say about people who get lost in the mountains and chased by bears, or thrown overboard and forced to beat off sharks with the heels of their shoes?

That they’ve been through ‘’a harrowing experience.’’

We had that going on in the back of our barn last night. Fortunately, for once, we were the harrowers and not the harrow-ees.

What a world: here we are in Nebraska, the heart of farm country, with agricultural equipment abounding. But my husband turned to eBay to purchase a tine harrow from someone far away -- Manhattan Island, I reckon.

Why a harrow? For the tractor, of course. To guys, tractors are like Barbie dolls. Now that he has a tractor -- my grandpa’s 1947 Farm-All Cub, ‘’Maudie’’ -- he has to have a bunch of accessories to go with it. ‘Course, boy toy accessories are always LOUD and usually SHARP. That’s why they LOVE them.

He dragged that harrow ‘til long past dusk all over the paddocks behind our barn. They had been stomped hard as a rock by horses over the years, but now my brother-in-law and I are making a vegetable garden back there. We had already lovingly tilled up about a quarter of the space and worked it ‘til it’s like dark chocolate cake mix. Primeau, I tell you. The brother-in-law fixed up a bunny fence around it that rivals Stalag 17.

But the rest of the paddock looked like the Everglades, full of stinkweeds and dandelions. I wanted to make one part of it a great, big punkin patch for our 4-year-old Maddy, and another part a great, big cutting garden for me, for stuff I don’t have room for closer to the house, like sunflowers and zinnias.

Hence, the harrow. The husband was happy as he dragged it back and forth, back and forth. Out popped the weeds and apart broke the clods. He transformed the space from a weedy eyesore to a well-groomed garden plot.

Maddy made it fun for him by hanging on the paddock gate and giving him a high five every time he rode by on the tractor: her tiny pink hand slapping his big leather glove was a picture. I made sure he saw me admiring him and the results, grateful for his willingness to come home from work and do more work . . . for me.

It struck me that marriage is a harrowing experience, too. It can be a real drag. It can get awfully bumpy. But if you keep at it, eventually you’ll smooth things out . . . and beautiful things will blossom.


Prayer request: A brilliant and beautiful 16-year-old girl whose mother passed away has had a true harrowing experience: a full blown panic attack. It was frightening. An ambulance was called and she has been put on medication. Oh, Lord, restore her to soundness of mind and spirit. Her grandmother says she should be having the time of her life. Father, replace her panic with Your peace. (John 14:27)

Thursday, April 22, 2004


Yesterday was garden day, and today I look like the witch in Hansel and Gretel -- back all bent over, knobby knees, hands like claws, bony finger poking myself to see if I have enough fat (yes, I still do). I love gardening. It’s a lot of fun.

However, I was shocked and appalled by the explosion in baby plants among some of the perennials. I have asters up the whazoo, mums the size of continents, and obedient plant that has been anything but. I was digging and dividing all day.

Where did all these new babies come from? I found little plant-sized cigarette butts all over, too. Hmmmm. Now I know why they call them flower BEDS.

They must have been propagating with each other allllllll winter.

Yeah, the asparagus must have been watching too many Brittney SPEARS concerts.


Prayer request: There are two husbands who don’t quite know You yet, Jesus, but their wives would dearly love them to. Let these men see the goodness and sweetness in their wives that come from being close to You, and want that happiness for themselves. Bring them to the Word and teach them. We lift up John and Larry. Kindle the flame in their hearts, Holy Spirit! (1 Peter 3:1)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


She was an itty bitty bichon frise, my close friend’s puffball pup. She was like a furry mini marshmallow with eyes. She was nearly 17 years old. Over the past year or so, her tiny body had been shutting down. Last Saturday, they had to put her to sleep.

Oh, Snowy! We’ll miss you so much. You were the cutest and most ladylike dog we have ever known. If you wanted to go out, you’d make a sound no louder than one of those infinitesimal little guys from Horton Hears a Who.

My friend insisted on being the one to take Snowy to the veterinarian’s office, to be right there for the shot. They gave it . . . and suddenly Snowy lifted her head off the table and smiled -- really smiled -- at her longtime mistress. Then she laid her head back down and went to sleep.

The vet had never seen anything like it.

But that was Snowy: quietly, sweetly, adorably memorable.

I’m just so grateful it’s April. The Japanese snow crab apple tree right outside my kitchen window is in all its glory. The huge clusters of white blossoms look like snowballs. I cut as many as I could and stuffed them into the biggest vase I have, and put them at my friend’s door.

She’s going to be OK. She knew it was time.

But oh, Snowy! We’ll miss you so much.


Praise report: Excellent outcome for our teenage friend Hayley, who had a tumor removed from her hand on Monday. She’s in some pain but was able to go back to school, praise God. It was benign. Thank You, Jesus. (Isaiah 62:3)

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


The first 10 times our 4-year-old Maddy insisted that I read ‘’The Dumb Bunnies’ Easter’’ to her, it was amusing.

The book is by Sue Denim with very cute illustrations by Dav Pilkey. The dumb bunny family puts a Thanksgiving turkey on top of a pine tree and calls it their ‘’Easter tree.’’ They sing an Easter carol, ‘’Jingle Eggs.’’ They set the dinner table with a pencil, a ruler, a hammer, a screwdriver and pliers. For Easter eggs, they spray-paint ‘em sunny-side up in the pan.

Hoo boy. We GOT some sky-high sophisticated humor going on.

But after the first 10 bedtime readings, Maddy wanted ANOTHER 10 nights’ worth. In a row. We had to exaggerate each joke on each page, savor the satire with belly laughs, and deliver each scene in exactly the same voices, squeals, screams and sound effects each time.

Let the record show that by now we have ‘’done’’ this book 4,217 nights in a row.

And yet it never dawned on me to lose it in the same place the harmonica and the finger paints got lost. Ahem.

Who’s the REAL dumb bunny here?

Oh, well: while Maddy slept last night, I finally ‘’put away Easter’’ . . . and made sure that confounded book was stashed away with all the decorations ‘til the ‘’fun with dumb’’ urge strikes again next spring.


Prayer request: We lift up a Marine captain in the Iraq hotspot of Fallujah, where that brutal lynching of Americans went on recently. His name is Joe and he’s the son of a friend’s older sister. Father, we unite in prayer around Joe and plead with You to bring him home safely. (Job 16:21)

Monday, April 19, 2004


I wrote recently about a really neat Greek Orthodox funeral for my neighbor’s dad, and it reminded me of a couple of other funerals that I thought had a lot of personality.

At one, they passed around big boxes of Russell Stover’s candy. Why? Because it was the deceased’s favorite. He wanted to share what he’d loved with the people who came to mourn him and get a ‘’taste’’ of the joy he was having now, in heaven. Everybody just grinned at how much like him that was.

Meanwhile, my Aunt Nell died a few years ago at a very active 101. She was a go-er and never feared death. Everybody joked that we should have green bananas as table decorations at her funeral reception, and pretend we got them from her kitchen, as if she’d just bought them. She was the optimistic type, and would have thought that was funny.


Prayer request: She’s a softball catcher and acts tough on the field, but when she takes off that catcher’s helmet, long red-gold curls emerge and a soft, sweet smile. Her name is Hayley and she’s having surgery to remove a tumor on her hand today. Father God, send miraculously quick healing for Hayley, and send her ‘’touches’’ that remind her that she’s in Your hands and all will be well. (Psalm 90:17)

Sunday, April 18, 2004


Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
-- Hebrews 12:1

There’s a beautiful, holy scene going on this weekend down in Georgia. It has to do with a precious family heirloom.

A little old rocking chair that dates to 1935 has been rescued from an attic, completely refurbished, and presented with lace trim and white tulle to a newborn baby, a first granddaughter.

She is Maci Alexandra Hain, and her parents, Jack and Dot Hain, are my sister’s in-laws, former Nebraskans who now live in Pennsylvania. The child-sized rocker has been in their family for six generations. It was originally a gift from grandparents Leopold and Mary Hanus to their first granddaughter, Josita, now a retired nun.

Eight children in that family, and all their cousins and friends, rocked in that rocker. Then it was ‘’retired’’ at a farm sale in the 1950s.

Fortunately, a dear family friend bought it, and gave it back for the next round of grandchildren.

And now Dot and Jack have had the wood repaired and new wicker woven in. A friend made an eyelet-trimmed, tufted seat pad with a matching pillow. Underneath, there’s a hidden pocket that could hold future lost teeth, or maybe serve the ringbearer someday at her future wedding.

Whoa! These things take on a life of their own, don’t they?

But that’s what family heirlooms are about: life, and passing it on.

Someday, Maci will rock in that chair and feel a direct connection to a Nebraska farmer named Leopold, who was born not in the century before hers but the century before THAT. And yet this 21st Century child will know that his life led to hers. She will feel his love behind her, beside her and underneath her.

Because love rocks on.

And it’s so important that heirlooms, plain and fancy, be passed along with stories of the people who used them, to bring that important truth home to each of us.

There really is ‘’a cloud of witnesses’’ surrounding each of us in life -- those who have gone before. Heirlooms remind us that if they made it through, so can we.

That’s why the rickety old cradle on wheels that I’m passing on to my nephew takes on such meaning. He and his wife are expecting the first great-grandchild; that cradle was originally my dad’s. Putting new life in it honors the old life that once was.

That’s what heirlooms do: remind us and refresh us.

Recently, I’ve had a big personal problem, a private matter. In Christian circles, they call this ‘’a desert time.’’

Even so, it has been amazing to see a barrage of precious family heirlooms suddenly come to me, as if they were sent, and of course they were:

My Grandpa Darst’s 1947 Farm-All Cub tractor, Maudie, is up and running again, hauling kids around the neighborhood.

On Easter, as I watched my sister Robin put on a feast for 30 people with gracious hospitality, I was struck by how exactly like our Grammie Miller she is. She let the kids roll down the hill behind her house in their Sunday best, just like Grammie used to do. She even made Grammie’s Bombastic Black-Bottom Pie.

Then last week, I went down to Lincoln to see the 80-year-old Everett baby grand piano that belonged to my Gram Darst. The rehab job is nearly complete. I can see her lovely fingers moving magically over those ivories. Now her chief legacy to me -- music -- can be passed on to our youngest.

And then yesterday, I toiled alongside my brother-in-law Ernie -- proud new great-uncle of the baby who got the rocking chair -- tilling soil for a garden that will rival my Grandpa Miller’s. We both worked alongside Grandpa on it. But with this new one, we struggled because the soil was hard-packed by the two 1,200-pound horses I just had to have. Grandpa was also a horseman; I caught that bug, too. I could hear his deep chuckle as we worked to reconcile these two great loves.

My ‘’cloud of witnesses’’ surrounds me. I’m encouraged. I’m strengthened. I can go on.

Because love rocks on . . . I can, too.


Prayer request: The grandchild-grandparent relationship is holy, Father. Inspire older family members to interact more with younger ones, and pass on family stories, hopes, dreams, and precious mementoes and heirlooms. (Proverbs 13:22)

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Last weekend, we took our 4-year-old to the Easter play at our church. It was by no means as intense as ‘’The Passion’’ movie, but there were a couple of pretty scary scenes.

Maddy jumped onto the pew, pointed at the stage, and yelled, ‘’Heyyyy! Why are they being so MEAN to JESUS?!?!?!?!’’

Man, these kids. They are always thinking. That was the most profound question of the whole weekend. It left me speechless.

Then this morning at swimming lessons, it was the first time the little tadpoles were going to float and kick all the wall down one lap of the pool and float and kick all the way back. They hadn’t yet gotten into freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, but they could at least move themselves through the water now.

They made for a wacky-looking flotilla -- especially another little 4-year-old girl. She was vertical in the water, not horizontal, and held her hands up in front of herself. She seemed to be bouncing all the way back.

‘’What do you call THAT?’’ her teacher asked.

‘’This is the ‘Easter Bunny Stroke,’’’ the girl replied.

Again, we adults were left speechless. I mean, who are WE to tell her that’s not how he swims?


Prayer request: There’s a real estate deal that has gone awry at the last minute, and the son of a friend is wondering whether what seemed to be the perfect ‘’first house’’ is just a rabbit trail. Father, open doors, windows and chimney hatches to make the finances come through, if it be Your will to bless him with this home. Help him stay sweet and obedient to Your teaching, too, if it is not to be. Remember, in Our Father’s house are many. . . . (John 14.2)

Friday, April 16, 2004


Maybe all this stuff about tolerating diversity, busting gender stereotypes, expressing a man’s sophisticated style as a ‘’metrosexual,’’ and making the heretofore unthinkable notion of same-sex marriage part of the everyday landscape has allllllll gone a BIT too far.

We have these darling neighbors. She’s a gorgeous former Homecoming Queen who likes home decorating, fashions and gardening. He’s a big, strapping former Cornhusker football player who is happiest when he’s wielding his chain saw like a machine gun. They are about as polarized, gender-wise, as it gets. It has worked beautifully for them for nearly 30 years, too.

Well, our Maddy, age 4, has spent more time with her than with him. To strike a balance between formality and familiarity, she calls her ‘’Ms. Jeannie.’’

And NOW she’s calling the husband “MISTER Jeannie.”

It’s a crazy, mixed-up world. You gotta love it.


Prayer request: We lift up our friend who’s going to Virginia to have ‘’the talk’’ with her elderly mother this weekend. Father, let her love shine through as she explains to her mother that it’s time to say ‘’no more driving’’ and that the ‘’safest, best place for you to be is in assisted living, permanently.’’ Are there harder words for an adult child to say? Be in her eyes, hands and voice, Lord, so that her mother knows the message is from You, too. (Proverbs 23:22)

Thursday, April 15, 2004


Tax Day is a day for slings and arrows, sighing and wailing. On this day in 1912, the Titanic sank. WAH!

Then again, it doesn’t take long to find an even BIGGER mess than your taxes to cheer yourself up. Take my friend Chris, who went downstairs one day in her lovely home . . .

. . . and found the entire floor, the water heater, the washer, the dryer, every other conceivable surface and item in sight, PLUS her small son, COMPLETELY COVERED with 10x30 motor oil.

Daddy had forgotten to put the can back on the upper shelf. Uh oh.

Junior was dripping in it from head to toe.

To clean that mess? It was kind of like doing your taxes . . . painful, arduous, never-ending and unbelievable.

How could one tax form possibly require that much information?

And how could one oil can possibly contain that much oil?

Oil well. Oil’s well that ends well. Until next time, that is.


Prayer request: Wonder how many people have trouble paying taxes because they’ve wasted their money on things like gambling? We pray that the evil of casino gambling won’t pass in the Nebraska Legislature through the rest of this session and beyond. Father, clarify in the hearts of decision-makers how against Your ways all forms of gambling are. Confuse and defeat the pro-gambling forces, in Jesus’ name. (Luke 15:13)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Easter visitors from Colorado with light-hearted April Fool’s Day antics to share made me sad I let the day slip by without playing any jokes on anybody. I need to fire up some practical jokes for next year, if not before.

The best practical joker I know lives in Colorado now. He’s my cousin, the original ‘’Problem Child.’’ He was always in trouble for doing funny things that his parents didn’t think were too extremely funny, though the rest of us did. I especially liked the time he ‘’frosted’’ the bathroom mirror with peanut butter after watching his mother frost a cake, and the time he threw a bucket of water at his friend at the swimming pool, who stepped aside and the water drenched a finely-coiffed society matron instead.


Now it’s fitting that his three truly adorable daughters, while mild-mannered and demure in formal settings, have inherited plenty of his Dennis the Menace spunk.

On this past April Fool’s Day, for instance, they set their alarm for 3 a.m. and snuck into their mother’s closet, removing every last piece of underwear. They then took them outside and threw them high up into the aspen tree.

I don’t know how many hours those undies were displayed up there for all to see, but I do know I’m still laughing.

I’m also still laughing at how the parents reacted. Instead of punishing the girls, they got into the spirit and showed them some grown-up fun. That evening, they put chips and snacks in a sack and took along a liter of pop, and got in the car. Over the dinner hour the whole family rang the doorbells of several of their friends. They waltzed right in and set their goodies on the counter, acting nonchalantly as if they had been invited over for dinner.

Which of course, they hadn’t.

But that’s what made watching their ‘’hosts’’ go through mental gyrations for several minutes so much fun.

April Fool . . . and remember, it’s more than a day-long celebration, or even a month-long one. Fun is always in season!

Prayer request: A dear friend’s father has had to have a pacemaker installed. He lives in Springfield, Mo. Lord God, thank You that he is doing so well, and for giving us this wonderful technology in the first place. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Monday, April 12, 2004


A toast to funny coaches. They make endless practices, endless road trips, and even endless situps worthwhile. Over the Easter weekend, we heard what our 16-year-old’s softball coaches did a few years ago.

They were taking their team to a tournament in Colorado. Among the players: University of Nebraska standout Peaches James, who was named the nation’s softball player of the week recently.

Well, before the tournament, the coaches told the girls what fun things they were going to get to do in the mountains. They mentioned a few times, however, that there had been sightings of the mysterious hairy monster, Bigfoot, including near the town where they’d be staying.

They got to their hotel, nestled right up against the mountainside. After dinner, they called the girls in to their ground-floor room, one at a time, for a serious discussion about tournament goals and so forth. The first one scheduled was Peaches James.

Two of the coaches talked with her for a few minutes, and then one of them said, ‘’Hey, Peaches, there’s a cooler on the patio. Would you get me a Diet Coke?’’

As she did, out popped BIGFOOT from the mountainside, a’comin’ straight for her!

She moved so fast, she practically went through the glass of the sliding door. The coaches brag to this day that they were responsible for this amazing athlete’s quickness.

They were also responsible for a terrible practical joke: that was Coach No. 3 in the rented ape costume.

The rest of the team got the same treatment. Tomorrow, we’ll reveal what they did for revenge.

Prayer request: A belated prayer of praise for the golden wedding anniversary of our dear friends in Kansas City, Joan and Hank Alberg. What an accomplishment, and what a strong testimony of enduring love and obedience for their three children and seven grandchildren. (1 John 3:11)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

My Big Fat Greek Funeral

He is not here, but is risen. . . .
– Luke 24:6a

I’ve never been to a funeral where you had to throw a block just to get inside the church, there were so many people talking and laughing in the entryway.

I’ve never brought food to a family funeral gathering where I was knocked flat by the roar of relatives, who came in for the funeral from all over the country.

I’ve never been to a funeral where 100 of the deceased’s nearest and dearest stood up in the front rows talking and laughing like it was the greatest day ever, right up to the instant the priest appeared. It was a stand-up cocktail party without the cocktails.

But then, I’ve never been to a Greek funeral before.

This one was for ‘’Pouli’’ -- short for ‘’Papoulie,’’ Greek for ‘’little grandfather.’’ He was Paul David Swoboda, my neighbor’s father, a retired optometrist, one of the funniest and most beloved people around. He was born a Czech and married into a huge Greek family, of which he quickly became the most popular member. He was buried on what would have been his 90th birthday.

The funeral had its solemn moments, its ageless majesty. It was beautiful. It was joyous. It made me wish I were Greek. I’ve never seen life so abundantly celebrated at a ritual that was supposed to be about death.

I loved sitting under the beautifully-painted arched ceiling, facing a panorama of Byzantine icons, all Bible figures. I adored how the priest, in elegant vestments, sang the whole service with ancient Mediterranean melodies and riffs.

I loved how he would swing the incense at Pouli and then at us. I loved the way the crowd filed past and most put a hand tenderly on the casket or whispered something, smiling sweetly.

But most of all, I loved hearing that Pouli believed Jesus Christ was Who He said He was . . . and that because of Jesus, the instant Pouli died, he had his very own Easter.

Like Jesus, Pouli is risen . . . or in Greek, ‘’anesti.’’



He lived like he knew it. What a testimony. What a model.

If I get to be his age, I hope every wrinkle in MY face rises up three inches when I smile.

I hope they remember me for being myself. Pouli’s individuality shows in a big family wedding picture, with all the other men in dark suits, but Pouli in bright red pants, a pink coat and white shoes . . . impeccably memorable.

I hope I can do fun things, like mow the lawn into my 80s (Pouli was ‘’The Lawn Ranger’’) and tell the same joke for decades: ‘’Did you hear the one about the optometrist who fell into the lens grinder and made a spectacle of himself?’’

I hope I’ll be remembered as a ‘’do-er.’’ Pouli was ‘’The Bargain King’’ of his family. He went grocery shopping every Saturday night. He’d pick up his sister-in-law Helen (’’Lenie’’) and off they’d go, coupons in hand. Everyone’s certain they’re shopping in heaven together, right now.

Most of all, I love how Pouli insisted that the birthday party which turned out to be his last would be held at . . . Hooter’s. That’s right: Hooter’s! Everybody had a riot. Pouli knew they would. The life of the party knows how to throw one.

Now, it’s too late for me to ‘’go Greek.’’ But I want a funeral like Pouli’s. I want a faith like his, too.

Pouli’s funeral is how I imagine heaven will be . . . a great, big party that goes on and on, with vivid personalities, talking and laughing, colorful art and great music, all focusing on the life of the party . . . Who is still very much alive.

We get a glimpse of that party today. We call it ‘’Easter.’’

Jesus Christ is risen!

Risen, indeed!

Or as our Greek friends say:

Christos Anesti!

Alithos Anesti!



Or as we all say:



Prayer request: Thank You for Easter, Father, and thank You, Jesus, for being our Lamb and our Crown. Praise You, Holy Spirit, for turning so many hearts toward Jesus on this most precious of holidays. Let us resolve to be Easter people day in and day out, like Pouli, in the coming year. Christos Anesti! (Matthew 28:19,20)

Saturday, April 10, 2004


I’m reading a neat book about Jesus’ suffering. That doesn’t SOUND very uplifting, but it really is. It’s 248 pages of Bible verses, stories and explanations on how to get through suffering and conquer pain, deception and conflict in your life. Basically, it’s a strategy book for spiritual warfare.

Title: ‘’Stripes, Nails, Thorns and the Blood,’’ by Dr. Bree M. Keyton (Black Forest Press, 1997).

NOW I get why Easter’s right at the start of gardening season. It makes you think about what our Savior went through:

Stripes: you should see the cuts on my hands and arms from whacking down last year’s vines and grasses

Nails: mine are shot already from doing garden chores glove-lessly

Thorns: early season climbing rose care is very prickly business

Blood: I’ve shed more than a few drops while gardening over the years, from clipping and punctures and just-sharpened tools

Yes, Jesus is the Branch of our salvation, the Root of David, the Vine of forgiveness and strength . . . and no piddling little garden owies could ever compare to what He did for us.

But when the harvest comes in, in my flower garden, it’ll be a miniature version of His harvest. My strong, sturdy plants with solid root systems and bright, beautiful, fragrant blossoms are nothing compared to the millions of spirits He’ll gather in.

Stripes, nails, thorns and blood: worth it? Ohhhhh, yeahhhhhhh.


Prayer request: On this day before Easter, Lord, help us to remember that Jesus shed His blood to set us free from all evil and sin. Through the Blood of the Lamb, we have eternal life. All we have to do is accept this wondrous gift and take our places in the Garden of Love. (Revelation 12:11)

Friday, April 09, 2004


My mom just got back from Salt Lake City, where she did a lot of genealogical research and found out lots of interesting stuff about our ancestors. They had cool names like ‘’Hattie’’ and ‘’Otis,’’ and did interesting things like lie about their age not once, but three times, to the U.S. Census.

Well, there must have been something ELSE on that family tree that so far isn’t showing up in the records.

The doorbell rang yesterday. I went. There was our 4-year-old daughter, Madeleine . . . BUCK NAKED and holding out the season’s first DANDELION!!!

I did what I shouldn’t have: I laughed. She had gone out the back way, undetected. How many passing motorists got an eyeful? This is not the first time, either. Hmmm.

There has to have been NUDISM in the family tree. Guess the OTHER grandma is going to have to book a trip to Salt Lake.


Prayer request: We lift up a wonderful pastor, Paul Howard, who is beset by massive pain and struggling with heart problems. He just had his seventh catheterization and has had four angioplasties and a bypass. We come up against frustration, weariness and despair for him and his wife, Laurie, and four children. Lord, give them joy instead. Sustain his health so that he can be present at Easter services, this year and for years to come. (John 16:22)

Thursday, April 08, 2004


My Atkins gurus are going to be out of town for Easter. They had not only introduced me to that effective and common-sense diet, but had recently taken the hubby and me out to dinner.

So I thought it would be a nice thank-you to make the family an Easter basket and leave it on their porch before they go.

Only there couldn’t be any giant chocolate bunnies or (sob!) malted milk ball eggs. These were ATKINS gurus. This Easter basket was going to have to be . . . organ music! . . . LOW-CARB!

It took some thinking, but here’s what it had:

-- A couple of hard-boiled eggs dyed with love by our 4-year-old, who now sports lime-green hands.
-- Some top-quality beef sticks, vacuum-packed at the finest meat vendor in the area, Stoysich Deli.
-- Danish Brie cheese, since Mrs. Atkins Guru is a Dane.
-- Sugar-free, low-carb chai tea.
-- Carb-less BBQ rub.
-- Some yummy spiced nuts.
-- And one bow to that icon of Easter fun, chocolate, with a low-carb twist: chocolate-covered, candy-coated sunflower seeds. You can have, like, 4 million for just a couple of carbs.

Heyyyy! It was pretty cute! There were some fuzzy chicks and other non-edibles in there, too, to make it look Easter-y.

It wasn’t Godiva . . . but it was doable.


Prayer request: We pray in one accord with pro-life citizens who will gather around the Federal Building in downtown Lincoln today from noon to 1 p.m. They will pray that the federal judge in trial there will uphold the national ban on partial-birth abortion. In attendance to answer questions at the prayer session will be two women who personally experienced that grisly procedure. Father, let them radiate Your love and communicate the joy of childbirth and children to wake people up to what this procedure really does. Answer our prayers in defense of nearly-born children with a favorable outcome in this case, and grant Godly new birth in the hearts of those who are pro-abortion this Easter season. (John 16:21)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


There’s an up-and-coming rock band at the local high school. They have gotten some impressive gigs and have just come out with their first CD. It was an expensive venture that has sucked up all their profits so far.

The band’s name: ‘’Maybe Next Year.’’

Classmates are having fun teasing them. Whenever they see one of the band members in school, they ask how the CD sales are going.

‘’Well, we’ve only sold a few so far. They just came out.’’

The classmates all make a sympathetic face and give the same reply:

‘’Oh, well . . . MAYBE NEXT YEAR.’’


Prayer request: The brother of a friend is in the process of coming to Jesus. She asks for spiritual strength for him to hang in there and let it happen. What a joyous development this Easter season! Praise You, Lord. (John 14:18)

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


We were attending Softball Game No. 42,023 on Sunday. Fortunately, they had a nice playground for kids like Maddy, 4. I could watch the teenagers play ball with one eye, and watch her on the playground with the other.

However, there was a bully. He was a couple of years older, built like a tank, and even wearing all black. He was yelling and raging, and throwing sand and gravel.

All of the littler kids were cowering, except one . . . one champion who was standing right up to him, meeting every fistful of sand with fistfuls of her own. Yes . . . facing up to this Goliath was little bitty Maddy.

I ran up to her and grabbed her. ‘’Hey! That could get into somebody’s eyes! We don’t throw sand!’’

She was shocked. ‘’Not even at the bad guys?’’

‘’No!’’ I responded. ‘’There AREN’T any ‘bad guys.’ He’s just a kid, like you. If there’s a problem, you use your words or come tell me!’’

‘’Well, I have to go potty,’’ she announced. It was a lovely ‘’out.’’

Since she was barefoot, I carried her to the restroom. She summed up what had happened:

‘’That big palooka was scaring us.’’

‘’Big palooka’’? Ohhh. And I thought he was just a kid!


Prayer request: Let Godly friends come up alongside a girl we know who has gotten mixed up with marijuana and the ‘’rave’’ drug, ecstasy. Apparently, she feels like she doesn’t matter in this world. Father, in the name of Jesus, send people to guide her away from drugs and to discover her worth and destiny in You. (Matthew 10:31)

Monday, April 05, 2004


So now the gay activists have gotten Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey to go along with a foot-in-the-door proposal for special benefits for homosexual police officers. They would get paid time off to nursemaid their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s sick or injured family member, and to go to funerals for that person or his or her immediate family.

Right now, married cops get those bennies. But Nebraska law proclaims same-sex marriage unconstitutional . . . illegal. So gay cops, who can’t legally be married, would be given those bennies anyway.

So now we have city government preparing to pay our public employees for engaging in a practice that’s against the law.

O . . . K.

It’s not full-blown health insurance or pension benefits for boyfriends and girlfriends of homosexual cops. But those are obviously next on the agenda if this gets through.

Law enforcement’s getting wacky, isn’t it? Wasn’t too long ago that sodomy was against the law. Now these goofballs want to PAY law enforcers who practice it.

Here’s what’s even more wacky: gay activists are always citing Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who were, respectively, our third president and author of the Declaration of Independence, and our fourth president and key influence on the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment.

The pro-homosexuals constantly invoke these icons of the American system of law and government when they try to make their case for ‘’tolerance’’ of ‘’diversity’’ . . . which means forced public acceptance of what was taboo up until very recently, homosexuality.

But they have an itty bitty problem. Jefferson and Madison were . . . gasp! . . . ‘’homophobes.’’

According to the book ‘’Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion’’ by David Barton (see, Jefferson and Madison ‘’strongly opposed anything except monogamous heterosexual relationships.’’

Those two Virginians were among the most prominent leaders of their state -- a state that consistently upheld standards of Biblical morality, and enacted the death penalty for bigamy and polygamy in 1788, it says on p. 67.

This was after the passage of the federal Bill of Rights promising freedom of religion. So our founders, who were keenly involved in the drafting and ratification of our chief law and were quite certain of its intent, knew that to negate basic standards of morality was to strip government of its validity. Not until very recently, in fact, have American government and courts ever strayed from the concepts of Biblical morality. In fact, that which undermined Biblical morality has, up until recent years, been punished as a crime.

The idea of homosexual ‘’marriage’’ was just so unbelievably aberrant in the founders’ day that they didn’t even bother to pass a law against it.

Most importantly, in his 1794 work, ‘’Notes on the State of Virginia,’’ p. 211, Jefferson proposed castration as the penalty for sodomy.

Doesn’t sound like a whole heap of tolerance to me.

Are you listening, City Hall?


Prayer request: Give wisdom, eloquence and persuasive power to Omaha City Councilman Chuck Sigerson, who has promised to lead the battle against this ill-conceived plan. (Galatians 3:10)

Sunday, April 04, 2004


(B)lessed be he that blesseth thee.
-- Genesis 27:29b

My friend Jim took up picture-framing. He had been shocked by the cost estimate for some framing his lovely wife Chris wanted to have done. After he got off the defibrillator, he decided he was man enough, and cheap enough, to do it himself.

He found an old pro in a nearby frameshop to teach him, free. Jim ‘’paid’’ by helping him with framing. He loved it. The shopkeeper soon joked that Jim was already as good as he was.

Jim was captivated by a picture hanging on the shop wall. It showed a beautiful teenage girl, with riveting eyes, holding out a bunch of small flowers. Title: ‘’Penny a Bunch.’’

It had the ‘’feel’’ of the girl on the cover of the Les Miserables program. But nobody knew anything more about it.

Jim was hooked by the mystery. He researched the print for months, searching the library, the Web, Joslyn Art Museum . . . learning only that the original painting, by artist George Elgar Hicks, had probably been destroyed in the German blitz on London.

Jim borrowed the print to see if he could have it reproduced. He consulted a lawyer on copyright laws. After months of working closely with a printer and a graphic artist, he came up with a fresh, color-enhanced reproduction.

It’s hanging on his living room wall, and on the walls of the lawyer and several others who couldn’t walk away without it.

Recently, Jim looked on a gallery website with a message board. A woman wrote in, wondering if anyone had seen ‘’Penny a Bunch,’’ and knew anything about the artist.

Excited, Jim responded to this cyber-stranger with everything he knew and the fact that he had reproductions for sale.

Jim told her that his son Scott had just designed a website for the print, but it wouldn’t be up and running for another 24 hours. He never heard another word from her.

But . . . it turns out she sent Jim’s information to ANOTHER cyber-stranger, who had put a message on another board about trying to find a print of a girl holding a bunch of flowers.

Out of the blue, the second woman emailed Jim. She lives in Connecticut. She wrote that her grandmother had once had a copy of the print, but it was lost, and no one knew the artist’s name or the title.

However, she urgently needed to know if the picture Jim had was the same one. Her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary was coming up, and nothing would mean more than to give them that picture.

Jim gave her his brand-new website address. She was the first person on it. She recognized the picture and rush-ordered a print.

Then they discovered that the Connecticut woman’s parents live in Omaha . . . just a few miles from Jim! A personal delivery was set up, to their mutual delight.

Last weekend, Jim and Chris arrived at the older couple’s door. Jim unrolled the picture. The woman gasped and sobbed. ‘’That’s IT! That’s the PICTURE!’’

Her husband said that throughout their 50-year marriage, they had searched for that print. A son-in-law in the Navy had looked in all ports, all over the world. Nothing.

The only description they had: ‘’a girl with flowers that you can’t take your eyes off.’’

Lost, for 50 years. But now, she held it in her hands. They had scoured the Earth, and finally, here it was. And it came to them from right in their own back yard.

Only God could’ve pulled this one off. They all knew it.

She couldn’t stop the tears as she thanked Jim for the best 50th anniversary present imaginable.

Jim just grinned. He got an even better present, because it never would have happened without him.

What a blessing to be the hands that frame one of God’s miracles for somebody else. What a gift, to see Him paint a picture of incomparable love with YOU as an integral part of the scene.

And all for a penny a bunch.

But that’s the thing about blessings. Like flowers and fine art . . . they’re priceless.


Come see:


Prayer request: Throughout this Holy Week, may each of us seek to be more like Jesus -- to be the means to a miracle for someone else. (1 Corinthians 12:10)

Saturday, April 03, 2004


I don’t know where our family came up with the name ‘’Headley Gourmet.’’ But that’s what we call anyone who serves a good, new recipe. Martha Stewart’s name doesn’t have the same pastiche anymore, so I suppose this will have to substitute. A friend gave me this spring salad idea, and so we’ve christened it that:

1/2 C. sugar (low-carbers may use Splenda)
1/2 C. oil
1/4 C. cider vinegar
2 T. sesame seeds
1 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 lb. spinach
1 pt. strawberries
1 can mandarin oranges, drained (optional)
toasted pine nuts or sugared almonds

Mix dressing ingredients. Place spinach on plates. Slice strawberries and put on top with oranges, if you wish. Drizzle with dressing. Top with nuts. Makes 8 servings.


Prayer request: Today there’s a prayer walk in the state capital, Lincoln, Neb. Prayer is requested for the following issues: for truth to enter the heart of federal judge Richard Kopf, who is hearing the partial-birth abortion case in the federal building there, so he’ll rule to protect the unborn; for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a California judge who wants to expunge ‘’under God’’ from the Pledge of Allegiance; to keep casinos out of Nebraska; for a state bill to pass granting legal rights to unborn children, and for wise fiscal decisions by state senators as the legislative session winds down. (Proverbs 4:26,27)

Friday, April 02, 2004


The last time Fallujah, Iraq, made the news was when somebody shot down an American Black Hawk helicopter -- a medical evacuation helicopter -- and nine soldiers were killed.

They were helping sick and hurt people. And they got killed.

This time, that town is on Page One because Iraqis there savagely attacked two American civilian vehicles that were helping protect the convoy that was bringing the dirt-poor residents of Fallujah food. Bringing them food! And for that, they got killed.

Ambush . . . grenades . . . shots . . . SUV’s set on fire . . . burned body beaten with a metal pole . . . another burned body hooked to a car with a rope and dragged down the main street . . . mobs of young men, gleefully sadistic, raising their guns in the air as the brutalized corpses were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

The same day, 12 miles away, five more American soldiers were killed when their vehicle ran over a bomb set up for them in the road.

And the Iraqis -- the people the Americans were there risking their necks to liberate and spending our billions to help -- the Iraqis cheered.

You know, this is happening in the part of the world that is often called ‘’the cradle of civilization.’’

Suuuuuuuuure it is.

Here’s what civilized people do: they remember the challenge of the Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. They keep loving those people. They keep bringing them food, and protecting them, and building them streets, sewers and power plants, looking neither to the right nor the left, even to the point of persecution and death, ‘til their mission of love and mercy is done.

That’s showing them the American way. That’s not being overcome by evil . . . that’s overcoming evil with good.


Prayer request: A friend of a friend, Cathy Mitchell, is asking for prayer in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth for protection and wisdom for military and civilian people in the Middle East. Her husband, Tony, is an Air Force Commander in Afghanistan. He reports that terrorist activity is up dramatically and prayer cover is sorely needed. (Matthew 5:44)

Thursday, April 01, 2004


This sounds like an April Fool’s joke. But it’s for real: a guy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is working on a way to make fabric out of cornhusks.

Yiqi Yang, a textile scientist, is seeking $2 million in funding or investment capital to develop a pilot plant to make 2,000 pounds of fiber a day. It takes 3 pounds of cornhusks to make enough fiber for an average T-shirt.

The U.S. now has excess cornhusks up the Yiqi Yang -- 20 million tons of it a year. With inexpensive modifications to combines that could collect husks while harvesting corn, Yang estimates that recycling just one-tenth of the husks into fabric could produce a new $2 billion industry.

You’ve heard of wearing a hair shirt . . . but Yang says because cornhusk fabric is from natural fibers, it’s more comfortable to wear than many synthetics.

Bright idea, and good news for the Cornhusker State if it works out. What’s next? Environmentalists forcing toilet paper manufacturers to go back to cobs?


Prayer request: A young friend has to take a battery of tests to get her real estate license in Colorado. She has worked hard to pass this milestone. Help her, Lord, to achieve success and to know that she’s YOUR property! (John 16:15)