Monday, May 31, 2004


When I was in college, there was a girl in my Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority house, Jennifer, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. She had brown eyes and brown hair, and was sweet, funny, smart, talented and humble.

We would gather in her room and watch her put on her makeup for a date. Two sweeps of mascara, a double pinch of her soft cheeks to bring out some color, and that was it. That was all she needed.

It was no surprise when she was elected Homecoming Queen. She and her dad were pictured in the local paper and it was such a cute picture -- the tall, handsome father looking down with such love at his beautiful daughter in her crown -- I arranged to have a copy of it for our sorority’s annual newsletter, which we sent out to alumnae all over the country.

I’ve looked at that picture from time to time over the years. The look on that dad’s face . . . if only every young woman could know for sure that her father admired her and adored her like that.

His name: Manuel Drumm.

Well, yesterday I got the news that Mr. Drumm has passed away at age 74. On this Memorial Day, it’s fitting to remember him along with so many others; he served in the U.S. Navy on a minesweeper out of Charleston, S.C.

Drumm lived in Sikeston, Mo., where he had a private practice and was longtime city attorney, legal counsel for the local Board of Municipalities, and active in the local and state bar associations.

He and his wife Patricia have another daughter Susan and nine darling grandchildren.

He was a Christian, and so he’s the one wearing a crown now -- the crown of life -- given to him by his King.

We’ll remember you, Manuel. Well done. ‘Til we meet again. . . .


Prayer request: Shawn Winans, son of some church friends, was injured in Iraq last week. His vehicle hit a land mine and his buddy was badly wounded. Shawn got shrapnel in his neck, shoulder and arm. He was evacuated to Kuwait and will be going to Germany for surgery. The Lord answered prayers when he left for Iraq, that his Bible would not be confiscated . . . and it wasn't. Thank You for watching over Shawn, Father, and we ask for quick, complete healing for this brave soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3)



He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. . . .
-- Psalm 23:2,3a

We have this neighborhood pond that’s more than a pond. It’s a place of unity, healing and beauty, where towering cottonwoods whisper, ‘’Blessings! Blessings!’’

It used to be an eyesore, a slime pit. This is an equestrian neighborhood, but you couldn’t ride your horse around the pond because of sinkholes. There were weeds and broken bottles, litter and bare spots.

Then came 9/11. The guys were mad. They wanted to fight terrorists. But they are middle-aged family men. How could THEY wage war?

They decided to attack . . . the pond. They met down there on weekends, with shovels, rakes and chain saws. They tore out countless volunteer trees and hauled out countless loads of dead branches.

It became a Testosterone Festival. They drained the pond, rented bulldozers, and tripled the size, leaving an island with trees. A guy with a chain saw on a pole “shaved off” the poison oak and dead branches. They planted new trees, too.

They engineered a well with a pump to feed fresh water down a curving streambed of river rock. Electricity followed, and a lighted fountain. They built a fishing bridge.

One guy researched fish habitats so that the pond would have deep fissures necessary for laying eggs, and the right mix of fish.

Two teenagers were hired to maintain the pond area. Their dads taught them how to mow correctly, seed, and weed-eat. The meadow transformed into a manicured park.

We ladies got into the act, adding mulch and flowers, flagstone and even a heart-shaped piece of limestone from the old retaining wall.

Neighbors donated pretty benches with plaques in memory of lost loved ones. Another fellow made one with a horse theme in the metalwork.

It dawned on me how many needs that pond was meeting: this one had had financial setbacks; that one was beset by grief from a child’s tragic death; this one had a business partner going loco; that one’s kids were dealing him fits.

But down there, by the still waters, working alongside people we loved, we were all being refreshed and restored . . . set right.

Now, you see kids and dads fishing, people exercising, lovers walking hand in hand, folks on horses, folks on bikes, folks with dogs, picnics, corporate outings, and, last night, even a wedding.

But not just any wedding. This was for the daughter of the couple who have done the most. Pond beautification efforts intensified.

One Sunday, here came the bridegroom and his friends, some neighbor kids, and many others with scrapers and brushes, to repaint the fence.

A neighbor lent a boat, and people got in wetsuits to lean out from it and hack down the cattails.

This was to be a Christ-centered wedding, so the groom and his dad built a wooden cross. Seven men lifted it and set it in quick concrete. It was like Iwo Jima, moving and meaningful.

With a picnic, the work team put the finishing touches on everything.

Then came the wedding day. Murphy’s Law kicked in. Storms brooded all day. Tornadic activity was expected at about wedding time, 6:30 p.m.

Oh, no! After all that work. . . .

The Body of Christ mobilized again, this time, with prayer.

And the wedding came off. The only thing that got wet was the bridegroom’s cheeks, as his gorgeous bride walked down the aisle.

Everybody smiled when one of the solos was about the storms of life. Mighty thunder roared as the couple took their vows, sealing their significance.

Our Maddy, age 4, was precious as the flower girl in white tulle, with little white roses in her tucked-up hair, tossing the petals left and right.

I sat there amid the flowers and the fountain, with the wind in my face, surrounded by loved ones who had given so much for this moment, and felt myself, too, being restored . . . set right . . . renewed.

‘’You may kiss your bride,’’ the minister said.

And the towering cottonwoods whispered, ‘’Blessings! Blessings!’’


Prayer request: We thank You and praise You, Father, for holding out Your mighty hand to keep back the storm. You made this beautiful wedding, and the elegant and creative reception that followed, a lifelong memory for all, but especially for our precious newlyweds, Jessie and Chad. (Song of Songs, 8:6a)

Saturday, May 29, 2004


There’s an expression from golf: ‘’everything within the leather is a gimme.’’ That means if a ball is no further from the hole than the distance from the clubhead to the bottom of the grip, it’s good golf etiquette to tell your opponent to go ahead and pick it up, no need to putt -- it’s a ‘’gimme.’’

Well, it’s the same thing with marriage. Those pesky little details that so often flare up into full-blown fights could all be headed off if a husband and wife would just give each other ‘’gimmes’’ -- let each other have their way on the small stuff.

Last night was the rehearsal dinner of our dear friends’ children, who will be married this evening. For a gag gift, I went to a golf store and got a telescoping rod with a cup on the end that’s used for plucking golf balls out of cricks and ponds. It was on sale, too.

I made a clubhead out of cardboard so that it looked like a regular-size golf club. I practiced smoothly pulling it out to its full 12-foot length.

Then when it was my turn for a toast, I explained that this was the bridegroom’s conflict resolver. Every time he had a disagreement with his bride, if it was within the leather, it was a gimme -- she could have her way.

Then I pulled it out to its full 12-foot length . . . to show just how much grace it takes for an up-to-par marriage.


Prayer request: Weather is a concern for this evening’s outdoor wedding. Oh, Father, stay the storms with Your mighty hand. Let all the work and dedication of the bride and bridegroom and their families be allowed to blossom unencumbered for a lovely wedding and outdoor reception. If it is not to be, though, Father, we pray for grace and good cheer to prevail. (Psalm 107:29)

Friday, May 28, 2004


I was at the preschool program today and asked the advice of other mothers on how to get a 4-year-old to smile naturally.

She’s to be a flower girl in a wedding tomorrow evening. She has been photographed so much that, lately, when she sees a camera pointing at her, her face erupts in the biggest, fakest, most forced smile you ever saw. It almost looks painful, she’s smiling so big, with her little white Chiclet teeth placed artificially on edge.

I don’t want her to ruin the wedding pictures. How to get her to smile naturally?

Another mother had the answer: right before the camera snaps, tell her that her daddy has stinky feet. It always makes ‘em relax and giggle.

I know it’ll work. Whoever said all’s fair in love and war probably had a 4-year-old.


Prayer request: We pray for a safe trip for our older daughter’s softball team en route to an out-of-town tournament. Lord, reward their many hours of practice and hard work with some snappy hits and great pitching this weekend. (Proverbs 24:29b)

Thursday, May 27, 2004


My good friend Jeannie has a daughter getting married Saturday. The wedding is at our neighborhood pond and the reception is in Jeannie’s gorgeous backyard. The whole neighborhood has been in a tizzy, helping them get everything ready. Since 300 people are going to be driving past our humble home to get to Jeannie’s, I have been using my body as a human hammer getting the front yard shined and polished.

Every time I see them, I cluck my tongue like the ‘’tick tock’’ of a clock, as the countdown continues.

They are holding up remarkably well and only tear up about once every 5 minutes, as the emotions of this special time overwhelm them.

This morning, I was out in the front yard when Jeannie drove by. She pulled over to chat. She was in her jammies.

It seems the father of the bride left in his workout clothes to go to the health club early this morning, but forgot his business clothes. Rather than make him conduct business in a stinky T-shirt and boxers, she ran his big-boy clothes over to him.

‘’We all have so many things to think about,’’ she said, with a great, big smile . . . and tearing up.


Prayer request: Praises, Father, for the diligence of the caterer, musicians, photographer, landscaper and other professionals who are taking their responsibilities very seriously for this wedding. It is such a pleasure to see that excellent attitude. Reward them, we pray. (Numbers 18:31)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


My story about spilling a lot of tea on the floor at a party because the ‘’screwy deal’’ came off the big carafe prompted a similar tale from a funny relative in Arizona. She writes:

‘’Our tea urn holds five gallons, looks snazzy and we've used it for two parties so far. Have also had trouble with the spigot, not in losing the thingamajig, but because of putting fruit in the punch.

‘’We made a citrus punch and put in raspberries and orange, lemon and lime slices. The tiny pieces of the raspberries clogged the spigot and stemmed the tide.

‘’With this in mind, we warned the next party giver, who borrowed it, not to put loose fruit in the punch. Ignoring my warning, she put in cherries and other fruit and the same problem arose.

‘’Not realizing what was wrong, someone else unscrewed the thingamajig and made a puddle on the floor. Fortunately, it was a ceramic tile floor, not carpet.’’

Solution: they’re going to try to hot-glue a little faucet screen inside the jar, so tiny particles may not go inside the spigot and clog it up.

I’ll drink to that.


Prayer request: Lord, thank You for the past school year for our Eden. Her last finals are today. We pray that she does well on them. We’re thankful for her teachers, support staff, fellow students and everyone else who made this year a success, for her good and Your glory. Give rest to all teachers this summer and draw them closer to You for strength for the coming school year. (John 3:2)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Maddy took a lovely walk with her dad the other night. It was a bit unusual for him to have the free time, so Maddy was delirious as they set off.

They petted the pets, climbed on the rocks and circled our beautiful neighborhood pond. They saw tadpoles and skipped rocks. Then a well-timed shower brought them home just a little bit wet, but chattering and happy.

“Everything was good, Mom,” Maddy said. “There were no bears.”


Prayer request: We are grateful for our 4-year-old’s healthy fears, Lord. They protect her. We are glad that she is aware and concerned. Thanks, too, for her Dad, who would have taken care of those ol’ bears if they came around, anyway. (1 John 4:18)

Monday, May 24, 2004


High-school hijinks mount to a fever pitch that last week of school. Today, some naughty sophomore tossed a large cup of water off the senior balcony onto kids below.

It didn’t take long for the powers that be to figure out who the perp was -- mainly because they saw him do it, but he ran away. They found out his next class was biology.

At our school, instead of using intercoms, there are phones in the classrooms so the office can contact teachers immediately.

The phone in biology rang. The unsuspecting teacher picked it up. There was nobody there. “Hello? Hello? Hello!” She frowned, and hung up in a huff.

That’s when she saw that the cord was missing, so the phone wasn’t connected.

The class burst out laughing. Apparently, every time the kids know somebody is going to call that classroom for whatever the reason, they hide the cord.

“Very funny, guys,” said the teacher. She sent him to the office. It must have taken all her restraint not to lead him there by the ear.


Prayer request: Our good friend Steve Alberg, who survived an aortic aneurysm late last year, has to have some important tests this week. We pray for accurate, helpful results and an excellent outcome. (Psalm 33:4)

Sunday, May 23, 2004


Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
-- Colossians 3:18,19

The mother of the flower girl (that’s me) and the mother of the bride (my dear friend) were over by the buffet table (not surprising) at a swank event.

I decided to serve myself some sweet tea from a tall glass carafe. It had this brass flange with a deal you screw open to get the tea to pour out the spigot. I have one just like it.

Mine, you can unscrew all day. Theirs, however, took only a couple of little twists and . . .


The screwy deal plopped off and dropped down to the bottom of my glass.

Tea cascaded out of the spigot, quickly overflowing that glass, running down the wooden antique table and splattering onto the expensive parquet floor. My mouth formed a perfect ‘’O.’’

I tried to dam the dike with my finger. Tea just sprayed.

I tried to fish the screwy deal out of the bottom of the glass. Ice blocked the way.

I put another glass under the stream, which quickly filled. There I was, holding two filled glasses, a pinkie attempting to block the spray outward, and a continuing stream of tea spilling onto the floor, feeding an ominously-growing puddle.

The mother of the bride to the rescue!

Her mouth also forming a perfect ''O'' in solidarity, she snatched my two full glasses and gave me two empty ones to catch tea. She lurched over to the sink, dumped the tea out, recovered the dealy, and rushed it back.

We were like Lucy and Ethel gobbling candy on the too-fast assembly line. We finally got the dealy back on and the deluge stopped, then ran for towels.

Then we stood there in our drenched party outfits, wondering how so much that was utterly unexpected and out of our control had happened so fast and made such a big mess. And then, of course, we laughed.

And it hit me:


Be ready for anything . . . work fast . . . keep friends close . . . try something else if the first idea doesn’t work . . . and when you’re all wet, admit it, and smile.

It was a great object lesson for this Saturday’s bride and groom, our beloved Jessie Runty and Chad Sievers. But they’re great people. This is one of those marriages that you just KNOW will survive.

Yes, Maddy will be the flower girl. Our only worry is that she has been to a lot of her sister’s softball games recently. We’re afraid she’s going to be hurling those flower petals around with her fastball, slider and knuckleball.

It’s been a lot of fun, being included in this wedding and all the preparations. I’ve been busy collecting advice for marital bliss:

For Chad: ‘’Jewelry! Jewelry! Jewelry!’’

For Jessie: ‘’Husbands have three moods: hungry, happy and hor . . . uh, that is, amorous.’’

For both: ‘’Never go to bed angry. Work your problems out as they come up. Don’t let them fester.’’

For Chad: ‘’Expect problems and trials, and deal with them together. You’ll end up loving each other more.’’

For Jessie: ‘’Divide all forms of bad news, including prices of things, in half. THEN tell him.’’

For both: I asked a couple who’ve been married for 36 years for their advice. Simultaneously, he said, ‘’Total honesty!’’ while she said, ‘’What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!’’

But the bride herself summed it up best. I asked Jessie what was the best advice she’d received. Without hesitation, she said, ‘’To keep Jesus at the center of our lives.’’

Wow. That’s it. That’s how to make a marriage not only survive, but thrive.

Live happily ever after, you two. It’s a privilege to be among your witnesses, hurling flower girl and all.

There’ll be plenty of liquid spraying around, just like our catastrophe with the sweet tea the other night. Only these will be tears . . . tears of joy.


Prayer request: We ask for Your tender blessings and GOOD WEATHER for this precious wedding, Father, and for Jessie and Chad’s happily married life, forever and ever. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Saturday, May 22, 2004


Our teenager was sent to the local middle school to talk about French class and the joys of learning about the civilization of France along with the beautiful language.

The idea was to recruit eighth-graders for next year’s beginning class at the high school.

She was supposed to speak in French as much as possible, to demonstrate how neat it sounds, and to whet their whistles, so to speak.

Much to her shock, one of the students asked, ‘’How do you say (the ‘’f’’ word) in French?’’

The class tittered. Our daughter was pretty disgusted. But she’s a kidder and an actress.

She leaned forward conspiratorially, and said, ‘’Fenetre.’’

The kids all beamed. No doubt ‘’fenetre vous’’ resonated down the halls that day.

Only thing is, ‘’fenetre’’ means ‘’window.’’ It was the only French word she could think of that started with an ‘’f.’’


Prayer request: A friend's daughter-in-law named Chris has just been diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. At least it’s not melanoma, but she’s awfully young to be dealing with this. Oh, Father, guide the hands of her doctor in stopping the disease, for her good and Your glory. (Psalm 78:72)

Friday, May 21, 2004


We attended a banquet last night and enjoyed talking to some folks who are going to China. It was interesting to hear their itinerary and how they were getting prepared.

Then another couple told of the three things that struck them when they were there:

1. We were high atop our city’s tallest building, with the lights of the metropolis (well, Omaha’s not THAT much of a cowtown anymore) twinkling out as far as the eye could see. But in Beijing, a city much, much larger, they said there were hardly any lights on after dark -- that’s how poor the people are.

2. Flying in to Omaha’s Eppley Airfield is a pleasant experience. But flying in to the airports there is hair-raising. Everything’s so crowded, you can practically slap hands with people in high-rise apartments crammed right up against the runways as you roll past. It sounded eerie.

3. Last, but not least, they said the cool thing to do was to purchase a mini-refrigerator in Hong Kong and bring it back to China as a status symbol. But look inside, and you won’t see any food. You’ll see shoes or knickknacks or paperwork. Why? Because the electricity’s only on about half the day in China. Food would spoil. Nobody gets a mini-fridge intending to really use it, but just because it looks cool in your house.

I gulped. Reminds me of the . . . CHINA . . . we got for our wedding.


Prayer request: We pray for a happy transition to a new host family for our friend’s daughter Jill, a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. Thanks for giving this sweet teenager the strength to seek a change when the first placement was unhappy. May the new situation be mutually encouraging, and may the Lord bless the rest of her stay there and protect her family as they go down there to visit. (Psalm 8:2)

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Postscript on the single woman caring for her elderly father and finding herself becoming an expert on a topic she never expected. No, not origami. Not skydiving. Not raising orchids.


Her dad is a totally G-rated gentleman who would never use scatological terminology or dwell on bodily functions. But I do have to share this:

A few minutes after he took a powerful laxative, he jumped up suddenly and said urgently, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Don’t worry, he made it. And yes, she’s still laughing.


Prayer request: We come before the Great Physician asking for wise diagnosis and treatment for Karen, an amazing woman who has had unresolved chest pain of several days’ duration and has been hospitalized for tests today. Two years ago Karen had emergency bypass surgery for a 95% blockage in one coronary artery. Both her mom and dad died early sudden deaths from heart attacks as has one of her brothers. Lord, we circle the spiritual wagons around her and ask for Your healing touch. (Psalm 103:3)

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


She never married, and now the care of an ailing, elderly, widowed father has fallen to her, since the other siblings live far away. Between her full-time job, ministering to his emotional needs, balancing his medications, taking him to doctors’ appointments, and making sure his house is clean and his pantry is stocked, she is one busy lady.

Then her best friend had a baby, after years of trying and many physical problems leading to a C-section and its aftermath.

The friend called the other day with a problem that had to do with the W.C., and lack of visits to the same. You get the drift.

Well, my single friend could only laugh: through the trials and tribulations of her elderly father, she had learned EVERYTHING you’d EVER want or need to know about . . . LAXATIVES!!!

She never thought she would become an expert on THAT topic. And, being single, she never thought she would be the . . . excuse the expression . . . go-to girl for post-partum advice!

But she was happy to give her friend not only the brand names of the products that worked the best, and how to use them, but even had the magic ‘’bathroom blessing’’ that worked so well with her dad:

‘’May the Force be with you!’’


Prayer request: A friend’s friend in another city has an extremely difficult challenge as a mother: her teenage son’s best friend was killed in a car accident not long ago . . . and now his own father has committed suicide. Lord, there are no words for such a time as this, but we ask Your supernatural strength and grace to flow to and through that mother in the days and years to come. (Philippians 4:13)

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


I did nine hours of yard work on Saturday. I was digging, bending, pulling, pushing, raking, scattering, lifting, kneeling and just about every other –ing you can name.

One of the most physical tasks was trimming trees. I used what I call “the loppers.” I suppose they’re just long-handled pruning shears.

They work great, but there’s some weight to them. When you hold them overhead and take a moment to position them correctly on the branch you’re cutting, it takes some muscle power. Then when you have to hold that weight straight up in the air while spreading your hands about as far apart as you can to get a good “do” when you cut. . . .

Maybe they ought to have the Husker football players trimming trees on campus for their weight-training regimen this summer, and save the university big bucks on new equipment for that glamorous new weight room to boot.

That evening, I happened to look in the mirror as I was putting on my jammies and I swear . . . I HAD SIX-PACK ABS!!!!!

They’re gone already. But it was fun while it lasted.


Prayer request: A good friend’s nephew has donated a kidney, and she is so proud of him and full of love. His name is Chris. We pray for a flawless recovery and lifetime protection for his remaining kidney. In addition, this friend’s son Thomas is playing in the state soccer finals tonight. Lord, protect him from injury and let him have the time of his life! (Matthew 5:42)

Monday, May 17, 2004


Our daughter’s softball team won another tournament last weekend. Whiling away the hours at the field, I often get to sample a smorgasbord of childhood memories in the way of ballfield treats. You know, taffy . . . dots . . . hot dogs . . . seeds. . . .

Somebody offered me a piece of Bazooka Joe bubble gum yesterday. It had probably been 35 years since I had some. The double rectangle shape was the same. The pink color was the same. The sweet taste was the same.

Much to my surprise, though, the colorful cartoon inside is now BILINGUAL.

In fact, it takes up so much room to translate the cartoon captions into Spanish, they’ve apparently dropped my favorite part, the clever little pun, quote or joke at the bottom.

Now, I welcome immigrants and encourage them to hang on to their important traditions as they overcome the various language barriers and mix into this great culture.

But I draw the line at Spanish for Bazooka Joe. That’s tampering with the American way. Hate to . . . burst their bubble . . . but I say, if you want to chew American, you have to learn to speak it.


Prayer request: We praise You and thank You that the cute elderly father from last week’s prayer list has recovered nicely from his blood infection emergency and is out of the hospital. Way to go, Lefty! And way to go, Lord! (Matthew 5:12a)

Sunday, May 16, 2004


(T)hat their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. . . .
-- Colossians 2:2

He’s just out of college, eager to join the adult world . . . but his baby sister was killed in a car crash a few days ago.

What’s cruelest is the timing: right before his wedding, right before his graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with highest distinction, and right before Mother’s Day.

But Ryan Wilkins received a message the other night, one he shared at his sister’s funeral in a riveting account of the joy that often bubbles up like a well from the desert of unbearable grief.

Our community has been rocked by the deaths of Ryan’s sister Kayla, and her friend Nick Alfrey, both 15. They were tip-top students, talented singers, heavily involved in our high school, and beloved among their peers. Outpourings of sympathy have been flowing toward their families in acts of kindness, prayer services, candlelight vigils and two beautiful but sorrowful funerals.

Our community also is strongly supporting their 16-year-old friend Cori, who was driving, and, thank God, escaped serious injury. She and Kayla were cheerleaders and very close friends.

Kayla’s big brother, Ryan, is a young man with poise and purpose. He finished a term this spring as UNL’s student body president. He’s noted as a strong Christian with a great sense of humor. Kayla was to be a bridesmaid in his upcoming wedding. They had a sweet relationship, with lots of teasing, antics and love between them.

Then came the crash. Her shattered body was life-flighted to a trauma center. She clung to life, unresponsive, unable to talk or squeeze anybody’s hand. Family and friends held a vigil, praying for her, holding her, singing to her. But she died.

The big brother’s heart was broken. Kayla! Oh, Kayla! Questions swirled:

Did she know how much he loved her?

What would she have said to him, if she could, before she died?

Oh, God, is she in heaven? Let me have a sign!

Late that evening, Ryan, his fiancee and best friend went to the crash site. It’s the intersection of a sleepy side street and a fast-moving highway. There should have been a stoplight there years ago; everybody said so.

Already there in the gulley were memorials: white crosses, flowers and mementoes.

They got out. It was pitch black. Ryan moved about, choked up, alone in a raging storm of thoughts and prayers. He crouched down to write a note on Kayla’s cross.

All of a sudden, a cell phone rang.

It rang several times, then quit. A few seconds later, it rang again.

They had a flashlight in the car. They began searching through the tall grass and debris. Where was that phone? It would ring, but just when they were close enough to find it, it would quit.

Finally, it rang again, under an inch or two of leaves at Ryan’s feet. He picked it up.

It was Kayla’s. There was her name.

There were over a dozen messages on it from her friends, expressing their grief, saying they just wanted to hear her voice, one more time, on the outgoing message.

A wave of emotion washed over Ryan. Their parents had given Kayla that phone for her 15th birthday. It was his job to come up with a fun way to present it to her.

So he had set up a scavenger hunt. He hid it, then called it from the house phone while Kayla searched like wild. If she came close, he’d hang up so it’d stop ringing. If she wandered away, he’d call again. Finally, they connected, and she got that first call -- from Ryan.

Now he’d made a different kind of call: for assurance . . . for peace.

There was no doubt in his mind Who made sure his call was returned that night, in the darkness and sorrow and doubt and pain.

Ryan got the message:

His baby sister Kayla is A-OK.


Prayer request: An elderly mother in a distant state has had a health setback; her daughter asks for the situation to be resolved quickly and smoothly. Another elderly woman, who has Alzheimer’s, is gravely ill and hospitalized on the eve of her granddaughter’s wedding; the family asks for comfort and peace. (Matthew 6:8)

Saturday, May 15, 2004


A friend and I were out gallivanting yesterday and enjoyed a stop at the one-of-a-kind Les’ Deer Ridge Nursery in fabulous Elk City, Neb. Les is a friend of my cousin. She has the ideal business: she’s open in the spring for a little bit, and in the fall for a little bit, and that’s it.


In bad news, one of the greenhouses was collapsed by the heavy snowfall we had this past winter. But in good news, Les became a grandmother three weeks ago.

‘’I so, so DON’T want to be here,’’ she said at the cash register. She couldn’t WAIT to see the baby again and was itching to get over to her daughter’s house at quitting time.

As if on cue, he materialized, with his cute mama Jamie. Baby Myles looks a lot like Winston Churchill or some dignified CEO, closing his eyes a lot in thought as he presided at some important meeting of poohbahs.

‘Course, they probably didn’t have a mohawk, like Myles. Their loss.

But as Grandma cooed and we visitors melted, I got to thinking: how great would it be if, all over the world, everybody took a ‘’baby break’’ once a day? As we gazed at his sweet face and remarked on his eentsy fingers, the cares of the day really did vanish away.

I say let’s throw out the vending machines at work, replace coffee breaks, and line up a ‘’consultant’’ for your office, to bring a cute baby in once a day for your employees’ rest break.

A whole new line of work could open up for new mothers. They could quit their jobs and still bring in income by helping others relieve stress and get some much-needed perspective on what’s really, really important.

Think about it, Baybee.


Prayer request: A very popular restaurant broke a promise to a certain young lady about a certain job that had been promised to her for this summer. They reneged. She went over there to try to work something out. They were rude. Instead of making a scene or crying, she set her jaw, got back in her car and went to another restaurant . . . where she got a job that paid more money and offered her more hours. Father God, reward her self-control and diligence with a great summer. And in Your wonderful way, allow consequences to accrue to the first restaurant so that those renegers will repent and never do this again. (Proverbs 19:1)



A friend’s 3-year-old has already done a lot of traveling, so it isn’t surprising that her vocabulary is a little advanced. However, the other day, she pulled a stumper.

My friend was driving, and her husband was in the passenger seat. The little girl chirped up from the back, “Mom, you’re a pirate, and Dad, you’re the giver-outer.”

The parents both sat there, puzzled. Dad said, “Well, Honey, you’re right, I do try to give you things.”

Mom was sitting there trying to remember if her line was “Yo ho ho” or “Aaargh.”

But after a few more stream-of-consciousness comments from the child, they figured out what she meant:

Mom wasn’t a “pirate.” She was the “pilot.”

Dad wasn’t the “giver-outer.” He was the flight attendant, at least in this 3-year-old’s imaginary scenario.

Good. Mom wasn’t sure how great she’d look in a patch and peg leg, anyway.


Prayer request: Three dear ones have struggles today. We pray for Pastor Paul, who is very ill but wants to officiate at a wedding Saturday afternoon . . . for a dad named Lefty who’s hospitalized with a blood infection . . . and for a friend who seeks peace and hope in “a very unbearable situation.” Father, we lift them and their families up to You for Your loving response and care. (1 Peter 5:7)

Thursday, May 13, 2004


We stupidly built our new master bathroom with two doorways, one into the bedroom and one into the hall. That made it impossible to trap anyone inside. Then we even more stupidly put the coolest bathtub in the house in there, the one that makes great bubbles. This created a WONDERLAND for a rambunctious 4-year-old.

After her bath, Maddy insists on crouching down into a ball on top of one towel while I put another one on top of her so that she can ‘’play rock.’’ Then I have to spend the next interminable minutes making pretend-footprints on this ‘’rock’’ signifying every different woodland creature under the sun: hopping birdies, slithering snakes, scampering squirrels, a big bear paw . . . and if I miss one of her favorites, woe is me.

Then she usually ‘’plays nudist’’ and runs around and around that bathroom interstate we accidentally made, through the two doorways in a circle, always just a hair’s breadth beyond my grasp.

The LAST test in this decathlon is getting her to put on her bedtime undies and jammies. Usually, she gets to pick them out. But the other night, I grabbed a pair of plain white undies for her. I had to buy them because all of her brightly-colored, patterned ones would have shown clearly under the delicate fabric of her Easter dress. It would have caused a scene.

But who likes plain white undies? Not Maddy. She wanted to wear her ‘’Hello, Kitty’’ undies, instead.

She ran and ran around the bathroom interstate again, refusing to put on the substandard, booooooring ones I’d brought up. I sat on the dressing bench, a broken and defeated woman.

Our older daughter came in with a phone. Her boyfriend, back in North Carolina, wanted to talk to me. He is 21. He is a very nice guy. I poured out my tale of woe to him as Maddy shrieked and thundered in the background. ‘’She refuses to wear anything but her ‘Hello, Kitty’ underwear.’’

The boyfriend replied solemnly, ‘’Well, I’m the same way about mine.’’


Prayer request: A good friend who’s a good Christian is being bothered and bugged by a very unkind person who keeps popping up into her life and saying nasty and untrue things. Oh, Lord, use this holy one of yours to respond with grace and kindness to this troubled woman. Turn her behavior around so that it is more pleasing to You and less troublesome for our friend. (Luke 6:35)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


The daddy of one of the players on our softball team works as an emergency medical technician in a nearby city. He told this story:

He was called to a construction site, where one worker had accidentally driven a nail from a nail gun into the skull of another worker.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, another worker who had been carrying some big pieces of drywall on a ledge 25 feet off the ground saw it happen -- and he fainted.

Down, down, down he fell, onto a pile of rubble.

Ironically, it seemed that the guy with the nail in his brain was in better shape than the guy who fell.

Our friend was constrained by privacy regulations from following up on either of their conditions, but since nothing dire has been in the newspaper, we’re figuring they’re both going to be OK.

Now, we’ve all heard of hitting the nail ON the head. . . .


Prayer request: Safe travel for a beautiful young lady named Neely returning from her freshman year at college in Texas. Thank You, Father, for making her transition year away from home so wonderful, just like her older sister’s at North Carolina: a perfect match of student and school. (Rev. 15:3)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Postscript to yesterday’s funeral for 15-year-old Kayla Wilkins: her older brother Ryan, who just graduated with highest distinction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was one of several engaging, impressive family members to speak.

He told a sweet story that Is typical of big brother / kid sister pairs. Years ago, Kayla was taking piano lessons and learning musical notation and so forth. Ryan had no use for that. But he loved music. Once he sat down at the piano and pecked out the tune to “You Are My Sunshine.”

He got a hold of a book and some musical notation paper, probably swiping Kayla’s, and wrote down the notes and other symbols for the song. He titled it “You Are My Sunshine, By Ryan Wilkins.” He played it one more time and then stuck it in the piano bench.

A while later, he heard Kayla playing the tune. He was filled with pride that his kid sister was using his work. But then he checked.

It was entitled “You Are My Sunshine, By KAYLA Wilkins.”

She had copied his work onto her own paper, and thrown his version away.

Everyone laughed. They also laughed when Ryan told what he had found in Kayla’s Bible. A subheading was starred and bracketed:

“Dealing With a Sinning Brother”


Prayer request: There’s a very sweet, very talented daughter-in-law named Suzy who is struggling right now with a shock: her mother-in-law, Lois, has to go into a nursing home unexpectedly. Suzy was in an Andrews Sisters singing group with me in high school and was our school’s ace actress and a popular and beloved comedienne. Oh, Father, blanket her and her husband with Your grace and peace, help Lois adjust well, and let Suzy’s creative heart find ways to help everyone through this storm. (Ruth 1:16)

Monday, May 10, 2004


All of us mothers got beautiful Mother’s Day cards yesterday, praising us for things such as our beauty, grace and strength.

But I saw the true spirit of motherhood embodied this morning at a wonderful, wonderful funeral.

It was for Kayla, 15, a friend of my daughter’s killed in a car wreck last week. Yes, right before Mother’s Day. The outpouring of love has just been tremendous, but it’s still incredibly hard to take.

Both our families go to one of the largest churches in Omaha, and it was completely packed. Kayla’s mother is one of the soloists there. The family is well-known and very beloved.

My daughter and Kayla’s other fellow high-school chorus members filled the risers, dressed in cheerful spring colors at the family’s request. Among the flowers was a megaphone of red and white carnations, the school colors, because Kayla was a cheerleader. It was especially meaningful that the girl who was driving the car that night, Cori, and Kayla’s boyfriend, Ricky, both sat in the front row with the family.

Kayla’s sunny, loving personality was evident everywhere, from the touching slideshow set to her favorite Christian music, to the fact that her fuzzy mop of a dog, Toby, was in attendance.

What was breathtaking and astounding to me, though, happened at the beginning. Kayla’s mother, Shelly, although obviously beset by grief, still got up there to sing.

She sang a love song that ends, ‘’So I’ll say goodbye for now.’’

It was absolutely beautiful. Everybody just wept.

What power! What strength! To be able to get up there when your baby is dead, and sing a lullaby of hope and faith that you’ll see her again . . . to hit every note . . . and capture every heart for the kingdom of Christ.

It was beyond awesome. Shelly used the gift of music, that she shared with Kayla, to help others . . . and herself. There’s a Bible verse on this exact point: ‘’(I) will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.’’ (1 Corinthians 14:15b) Our pastor had just gone over that chapter a couple of weeks ago.

Shelly understands. And now countless others will, too, through her example.

What a tragedy, but what a Christian. What a mother. What an inspiration. What a message.


Prayer request: A friend named Karen who recently lost her mother had a very hard time at this funeral. Her son is getting married in a short while. Lord, bless Karen with the strength of Kayla’s mother, so that the joy will overtake the pain. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Quilting Bee Called ‘Motherhood’

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things. . . .
-- Titus 2:3

My mother-in-law is coming home soon, after wintering in California. I was thinking of her return as I served breakfast the other day to Maddy, 4.

‘’Gammy’s coming home in a few days,’’ I said.

‘’I NEED A DRINK!!!’’ Maddy exclaimed.

She seized her cup of milk and took a mighty swig.

I sat shocked, then laughed. I bet Gammy’ll think it’s as funny as I do.

We’re pretty typical. We’ve motored quite a ways on the road of life by now, and we’ve had some blowouts. A few filter changes and lube jobs have been required en route.

But I can’t imagine life without her.

It’s the same with my husband and my mother. Once, Mom had a dozen golf balls made for him with a photo of her face. My husband loved taking out his biggest, baddest driver and whacking ‘em with glee.

Another time, Mom wrote home from a trip to Europe that she had visited a ‘’medieval torture museum,’’ and Dave said knowingly, ‘’I bet she gave them LOTS of ideas.’’

This high humor goes both ways, too. Our mothers-in-law would claim honorary degrees for ‘’Lifetime Achievement in Tongue Biting.’’ They’d say they’ve used up several blindfolds, corks and earplugs apiece.

The thing is, they love us. They help us. That’s what counts.

They’re older women and they’re indispensable.

Their advice, their remedies, their recipes, their babysitting, their gifts . . . where WOULD we be without them? Their admonishments and criticisms, too. We often need them even more than the goodies.

When you’re rearing children, it’s like an old-fashioned quilting bee. Just as a woman would invite friends over to work on a quilt together in the olden days, a mother invites certain people -- many of them older women -- to help her ‘’work on’’ herself and her children.

Sometimes, yes, the needle goes in a little deep. But sometimes, it has to, to bring things together.

Each person is like a quilt patched by many hands. You supply the raw material, and the older women supply knowhow and a few deft stitches. Each adds some direction, some flourish, color, the patching of holes, a little lace, interesting patterns, the mending of what’s crooked.

It’s amazing how much better the task goes when you accept help and diverse ideas.

Best of all, the finished product -- quilt or person -- is better, stronger and more beautiful because of so many helping hands. Especially older, wiser ones.

So now, all of a sudden, the mirror says I AM one of those ‘’older women.’’ I can either drive younger people to drink . . . or help them make a masterpiece out of the fabric of their lives.

I hope it’s the latter. That’s what the world needs. A beautiful example of it unfolded before my eyes in a west Omaha home last week.

You see, two teenagers from our high school were killed in a tragic car accident. A third, the driver, is OK, thank God. She is a dear friend of my daughter, and her mother is a dear friend of mine.

It was a chance to coach Eden in how to respond to life’s traumas. We went over there with cookies, flowers and letters of love. What did we find?

A human quilting bee. I mean, the place was softly buzzing with love and support. Older women were encircling the grieving family, encouraging them, hugging them, listening to them, loving them . . . taking shattered shreds and piecing them back together into a strong, new whole.

Mothering them.

That’s love. That’s how it looks and sounds.

It was as if a giant human comforter of caring friends was softly enfolding the whole house, expanding as more and more people came forward to help any way they could. I’m sure it was the same way in the other two homes -- blanketed with compassion.

Older women, doing what they do best:

Sharing the Father’s love . . . with a mother’s beautiful touch.


Prayer request: Lord, we lift up mothers who have lost their children, and children who have lost their mothers, in the past year, for Your special love and grace this Mother’s Day. We thank You for the long, happy lives of two special grandmothers, Esther and Blossom, who recently passed away. We ask for comfort for Brenda and Mary, who lost their mothers recently. And we join in prayer for the mothers of these teenagers who have passed away recently in our community: Cara, Nate, Nick and Kayla. Be with those dear women, Lord, and thank You for sending them comforters and encouragers. (1 Peter 1:6,7)


Susan Darst Williams,, is a writer, wife and mother of four who lives at the base of Mount Laundry, Nebraska. Copyright 2004.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


We went to my nephew’s graduation party at a lake house last night. He finished magna cum laude in computer engineering. So yes, he’s the ‘’go-to’’ guy in our family when you want a tight jar opened and so forth. You know: the smart one.

Well, there was talk of some celebratory sunset skiing among the happy party guests. We had Mark all set up to ski in his wetsuit with his mortar board on his head, holding his scrolled-up diploma in his right hand, like the Statue of Liberty.

It would have been a memorable sight.

Fortunately for Mark, the boat wouldn’t start.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for helping these thousands of graduates devote themselves to their studies and make the grade. Bless their diligent efforts as they fan out to go make a better world. (Proverbs 22:29)

Friday, May 07, 2004


The emotional devastation in our town continues. Two darling teenagers were killed in a car crash and a close friend of our daughter’s was the driver, who was fortunately only slightly injured.

The school chorus is going to sing at a service this afternoon for the young man, Nick. Our daughter said in class Thursday, many students had to go stand behind a partition to cry privately because they were too choked up to practice the song. She said only four or five kids could even get any sound to come out of their throats.

I must have been on the phone several times that day, telling the story, receiving comfort from friends, and trying to give it, too.

Then Maddy, our 4-year-old, did her thing.

She wanted to go outside, but her shoes had gotten muddy on ‘’The Farm’’ -- that’s our new vegetable garden -- so I’d swished them out in the sink.

‘’You can’t put them on, Maddy,’’ I said. ‘’They’re sopping wet.’’

Somberly, she said, ‘’Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.’’


Prayer request: Lord, keep those teenage singers in the cup of Your hand today as they sing so that they can lift up to Your ears and ours the most beautiful testimony possible to the gift that was Nick. Thank You for giving them so much compassion and teaching them how to share it. Thank You for being with Nick, Kayla and Cori’s suffering families and friends in so many ways. (Colossians 3:12)

Thursday, May 06, 2004


You know how they have to crush flower petals to make perfume? Well, it’s the same thing with people. And we’ve had a crushing experience in our neighborhood that is bringing that truth home again.

Cori, a close friend of our 16-year-old daughter Eden, missed a stop sign Tuesday night while driving kids home from a Youth For Christ event. An oncoming truck broadsided Cori’s car on the passenger side. The two teenage passengers were killed. They were not wearing seatbelts. Cori was wearing hers, and was only slightly injured, thank God.

This carload of kids was comprised of two popular sophomore cheerleaders and a handsome, friendly freshman boy who had just performed with JV Show Choir at the vocal music concert the night before: all honor students and all outstanding young people without a care in the world.

Now two of them are gone, Kayla and Nick. And the third -- Cori -- will have to live with this for the rest of her life.

It’s almost eerie how my Sunday story, ‘’Not By Accident,’’ which Cori’s family receives, described a similar sudden tragedy and its aftermath. It covered the fact that God always has a purpose and a plan for everything that happens, and will turn what seems very, very bad into something very, very good. Now that has hit extra close to home.

Cori’s parents and family are fantastic Christians. They’ll get through this. But how to help?

Fortunately, Eden is a powerful young writer with a ‘’voice’’ that reaches out and grabs you. She wrote a beautiful note to Cori on the first page of a journal, saying that she couldn’t love Cori more and she would always be there for her. She asked her to use the journal to write down her thoughts and all the kind things people will be saying to her over the next few days, and the scriptures they share, to read and re-read and help her through the tough days that will be ahead.

We took it over to her with a big bouquet from our garden and the ultimate comfort food, oatmeal scotchies.

Cori was nested in her parents’ bed, surrounded by friends. When Eden came into the room, her face just lit up. I was really choking back the tears as they hugged.

She loved the flowers -- an armful of bleeding hearts, vivid pink tulips, purple iris and bachelor’s buttons. The scent filled the room with a quiet beauty. I told Cori about the Bible verse that I had learned earlier that day in Bible study, and how appropriate it is for times like these. As trials big and small come into our lives -- and they will -- to the point where we feel absolutely crushed, through the Word and the caring comfort of friends and family, we can sense the “fragrance of the knowledge of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14) that will get us through anything -- ANYTHING!!!!

Even this, Cori. Even this.

I saw so much love being poured out at the prayer service yesterday, attended by 600 people, and I can imagine that the funerals will be even more awesome. I heard that at least one boy, 16, gave his life to Christ as a result of what he saw and heard. Apparently, at the Tuesday night Youth for Christ event that the teenagers all attended, the topic was, ‘’If you died tonight, would you be ready?’’ Amazing, isn’t it? Everyone is taking great comfort in the knowledge that both of those killed were believers.

Our daughter is still devastated by this loss, but said thoughtfully, ‘’I guess when really good people die so young, they just accomplished their mission early and got a head start on the rest of us.’’

Yes, she’s crushed. But can you sense it? That’s the fragrance of Christ. May it spread far and wide, for Cori’s sake, and in loving memory of Kayla and Nick.


Prayer request: We pray for a endless supply of kindness, mercy and love to pour out over all of the families involved in this, Lord. We especially lift up the parents of the two children who died, and Cori and her parents, for Your supernatural touch. (Luke 6:36)

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


A friend brought over some Pop Rocks yesterday. They’re those tiny pebble candies that are processed with carbon dioxide. When they melt in your mouth, you get the sensation of an exciting mini-fireworks show.

The crackly, fizzy sound is funny, too. These were strawberry flavored, and one little pinch on my tongue fulfilled the day’s allowance for carbohydrates, no doubt. But it was worth it.

Maddy is 4. The look on her face when she tried Pop Rocks was just priceless. She opened her mouth as wide as it would go so she could hear the popping better.

If only we were always that conscious of the reactions that are caused by the sounds coming out of our mouths . . . and if only the sounds coming out of our mouths always made people smile the way Pop Rocks do.


Prayer request: Yesterday’s subject, Josiah, the young man who had been in the accident, has died. All of his organs were donated. Lord, we continue to uphold his family, and those whose lives will be touched by the gifts of a new heart, corneas, kidneys, and other precious life-savers and -givers. Bless this Godly kindness, and grant Josiah’s family Your peace. (Colossians 1:12)

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


A law just passed in Canada that makes it illegal to quote the Bible to point out that homosexuality is a sin. The politician who led the charge for this ‘’chill bill’’ is openly homosexual.

That’s not so surprising. Homosexual politicians and their special-interest financial backers have been making headway in the States bigtime lately, too.

But here’s what is surprising, but then again, is not:

That politician, Svend Robinson, 52, is under criminal investigation for stealing a $50,000 ring.

He did it at a public jewelry sale on Good Friday, knowing that there was electronic surveillance. If you didn’t read about in your daily paper, go to and see the April 16 article that shows a photo of his tearful confession before a nationwide TV audience.

You know, being in the public eye can be scorching enough as it is. But he’s on a broiler, and this time, the smoke just might open people’s eyes. Canada never, ever should have passed that law, and hopefully, the U.S. will get a clue and not follow their lead.

Robinson is now undergoing counseling for exorbitant stress, as well he should be. He thought he successfully slammed the Bible and negated the Ten Commandments, especially the one about adultery. Now he’s in deep, deep doo doo for breaking the one about stealing. See what happens when you try to pick and choose which of God’s laws you’ll accept, and which you’ll try to ignore?

It’s hard enough to understand how British Columbia could keep sending him back to Canadian Parliament, since Robinson is so flagrantly anti-Christian and anti-American, too. He’s a socialist, is pro-Castro, pro-Arafat and pro-Saddam Hussein, if you can believe that. Recently, there was a push to proclaim Sept. 11 as “America Day” in Canada, for example. He opposed it, sarcastically saying that date should be called ‘’Chile Day,’’ since on that day in 1973, Marxist dictator Salvador Allende (who was a rotten egg and I know that because we had an exchange student from Chile back then), was killed in a U.S.-backed military coup.

Now, that’s somebody to ‘’celebrate’’ who’s more important than 9/11, which happened to Canada’s best friend.

Like almost all homosexuals, Robinson has ‘’issues’’ he’s refusing to deal with. The REAL issue is spiritual health, obviously.

Robinson’s excuse for stealing the ring? ‘’Something just snapped in a moment of total, utter irrationality.’’

No kidding. You can only wish him well, and that someday, he’ll know the love of Jesus Christ.


Prayer request: A young man named Josiah who’s a friend of a friend has been in a terrible traffic accident. His parents were to meet yesterday with a neurologist. The situation is very grave. We pray for a miracle for Josiah if it’s within Your will, Lord, and for peace and supernatural strength for his parents and friends. The Josiah in the Bible was a man after Your own heart; bless this Josiah, too, we pray. (2 Kings 22:2)

Monday, May 03, 2004


Four of us hosted a bridal shower Saturday for the beautiful 21-year-old daughter of a dear friend. We held it at Lady Caroline’s Tea Shop in Dundee, a gracious old neighborhood in midtown Omaha.

The invitations were teapot cutouts with an overlayer of vellum. The centerpieces were colorfully decoupaged watering cans with beads and ribbons. The tea was hot and the luncheon was gourmet: quiche, scones and, for dessert, little cream puffs shaped like swans.


My favorite part was the game we played. We spelled out the bride’s and groom’s names down the left-hand side of a piece of paper. In teams of two, shower guests thought up little pieces of advice and blessing for the happy couple that started with the letters in their names. We read them aloud and the couple will keep them in a lovely scrapbook for future reference as long as they both shall live.

For the “J” in “Jessie,” for example, one pair put: “Jewelry! Jewelry! Jewelry!”

For the “A” in “Chad,” another put: “Alcohol is GOOD.”

It was a lot of fun, especially for those of us who were honored to have been given bridal showers long, long ago. It’s pretty neat to be able to return the favor in this generation . . . and to make the same happy memories and heartfelt wishes for a young bride that our mothers’ friends created for us.

She got a lot of beautiful presents, too. We all wanted to go home and run a TANK through all the old stuff we have to accidentally break it so we can “re-load.”

After the shower, we four hostesses huddled up and put our hands together, like a team. Old Wives Rule!


Prayer request: One of the shower guests is beset by a horrible case of shingles on her face. Sharon is on medication but needs prayer to keep the virus away from her eyes. The pain and itching are very difficult. Lord, we lift up this Rose of Sharon to You for healing and peace. (Song of Solomon 2:1)

Sunday, May 02, 2004


And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
-- Romans 8:28

A friend’s son is graduating from a Bible college down South. Timothy* has interned for two years as a youth pastor at a large church there, and is coming on staff full-time. Something very cool has happened to make it clear that he’s in the right line of work in the right place at the right time.

Last summer, he got an emergency phone call. A friend asked Timothy to pray for his wife’s teenage brother, who had been in a terrible accident.

He was a passenger on a motorcycle going more than 100 miles per hour when a car pulled out in front of them. The motorcycle rammed it.

The driver flew high into the air, slammed into a traffic pole, and was instantly killed.

But the rider, Daniel*, 18, was alive. Barely. So his family called Timothy to pray. And pray he did, for months.

Daniel nearly died several times. He fractured ribs and bones. He had a punctured lung. He underwent three surgeries the first night, requiring 21 pints of blood. Later, he sustained a major infection in his leg.

He spent 80 days in intensive care. The first 60 were under medically-induced sedation. Otherwise, the pain would have been intolerable.

Now fast forward to a few weeks ago. Timothy’s church was having a huge outreach event with nearly 1,000 kids.

At one point, there was an altar call, an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior. Twenty-six teens came forward.

Timothy didn’t usually ‘’work’’ the altar room . . . except that night. He chose a couple of kids at random to lay hands on and pray with. He asked one where he went to high school. By coincidence, Timothy already led a group from that school. He rejoiced that he would get to disciple this young man.

Then he asked, ‘’What is Jesus speaking to your heart right now?’’

The boy broke down in sobs.

He told Timothy about a horrible motorcycle accident he had been in, how his best friend had been killed, but for some reason he had been spared, how nobody could believe he had lived much less had no brain damage, how he had spent weeks in the ICU, and how Jesus had been drawing him ever since to the point of surrender . . . which he’d reached that moment.

Timothy’s heart soared.

‘’You’re DANIEL? The Daniel I’ve prayed for all this time?’’

Their eyes locked.


He led him in the prayer of salvation. Some people live a lifetime and never have a moment like that.

But there’s more.

Daniel is very intelligent and enthusiastic . . . full of life. Daniel wants to become a doctor to pay back society for saving his life. Medicine was Timothy’s original career choice, too. Now can encourage a younger person in that difficult endeavor.

There’s more. Back in Omaha, my friend, Timothy’s mom, found an old snapshot from a family canoeing vacation they’d taken near that same faraway city. Timothy and his brother were little kids, standing knee-deep in a clear, shallow river.

The church where he now ministers is named for that same river.

Then a child, now a man . . . standing knee-deep in living water. Cool!

So I told another friend of mine, who lives in the same faraway city, about the coincidences. Who do you suppose is in her Bible study?

Daniel’s grandmother.

She loves him very much, and enlisted everyone she knew to pray for him.

So my friend also has been praying for Daniel’s recovery for months . . . and for him to come to know the Lord.

We got goosebumps on top of goosebumps: Daniel and his younger brother were baptized on Easter Sunday.

There are no accidents.

Everything is part of the whole.

We can’t understand why. We’ll never know how.

But for every event of our lives, for every person, God has a plan . . . and weaves us all together to work all things for good.


• For privacy considerations, these are not their real names


Prayer request: Between this story and a special wedding in Hawaii today for my husband’s young cousin Jeff and his adorable Jamie, my heart is full of joy, Lord. Help us pour out our whole hearts to you Thursday in this coming National Day of Prayer. Prayer really does work wonders . . . because of Who’s on the other end, and how much You want to do for us! (James 5:16)

Saturday, May 01, 2004


The parents of a good friend of mine own part of a horse that’s running this afternoon in the Kentucky Derby.

The horse is named ‘’Borrego.’’ He’s a long shot.

Although I’m totally against gambling, I plan to tune in and root for that horse to win. It would sure pay them back for some feed bills they’ve sustained over the years. Besides, my inlaws used to live in Borrego Springs, Calif. What a beautiful place!

‘Course, our friends are only part-owners. They say they probably just own the tail. But if that pony wins the Derby by a nose, you can bet that everybody in Omaha will say THAT family owns the NOSE!

Ah, Derby Day. Takes me back to my horse-crazy girlhood. The song they play at posttime still gives me chills. In my 20s, I lived in an older house that had a lot of catnip growing around. The leaves were like mint. We always made mint juleps and sat down to enjoy America’s favorite horse race.

They’re off! . . . in the backstretch . . . comin’ round the turn . . . at the wire . . . it’s Borrego, by a nose -- a nose that belongs to a very proud Omaha family!


Prayer request: We thank you for the beautiful sport of horse racing, Lord, and pray for the safety of horses and riders, and the loving and humane treatment of animals everywhere. Help us to appreciate horses as gifts from You that show Your beauty and grace in a special way . . . but help us remember, too, that You’re our only “sure bet.” (Psalm 20:7)