Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Yesterday the girls talked me into going to the swimming pool. I haven’t been in a swimsuit in public for years. I’m 105 years old, and look it, while all the other moms seem to be in their 20s, with six-pack abs.

“Come on, Mom,” the girls cajoled yesterday. “Get your suit on, and let’s go.”

“I don’t want to!” I whined. “I’ll look hideous!”

“Come ON!”

They won, although I wished I had a bag over my head.

The pool was absolutely packed. I was reluctant to take off my cover-up, but finally did.

Maddy, 4, instantly appeared by my side. She said patronizingly:


She’s just like her father; that’s his idea of a compliment, too.


Prayer request: Thank You for the kindness of our daughter Jordan’s co-workers, who gave her a darling balloon bouquet for her 21st birthday yesterday. They are adults and she is just “summer help,” but it is heartwarming to have her inauguration into adult life marked by thoughtfulness and encouragement to match her style, instead of hauling her to the bar scene to “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” They see You in her, Jesus, and that makes me glad. Prosper that restaurant, Lord, to reward them. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Former President Bill Clinton’s memoirs are filling the airwaves and news pages with a lot of despicable and sordid comment that, frankly, most of us just don’t want to hear again.

It’s really sad, right after President Reagan’s funeral, to know that young people are being exposed to the kind of stuff Clinton has pulled all his life, and the ‘’spinmeisters’’ are trying to make them think that he’s still someone to pay attention to and admire.

You know, once when I was working at the daily newspaper, a man called out of the blue and said that he had written a book that I just had to see. He said that he had worked as the golf caddy to the stars out in Beverly Hills for decades. It sounded pretty interesting. He said he had all kinds of great stories about Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and other big names and how he had interacted with them on the golf course.

I took a chance, set aside an evening, and started reading his manuscript.

He named about four stars he’d caddied for. His prose went like this:

‘’Then Clark Gable took out his 3 wood and hit a nice shot. ‘Nice shot, Mr. Gable,’ I said. ‘Thank you,’ he replied. On the next hole, he used his driver. ‘Way to hit it, Mr. Gable,’ I said. ‘Well, thanks,’ the star replied.’’

It went on and on like this for a couple of chapters. Absolutely devoid of anything that could be applied to anybody’s life, or do anybody any good.

And then the whole rest of the book was a bunch of sordid sex scenes from the guy’s own life.

And that was it.

That’s EXACTLY the caliber of insight and worthiness in the Clinton memoirs, and how I remember the Clinton presidency. Yet I’m sure Bill Clinton thinks HE has written a ‘’great’’ book, just like that crazy caddy. It’s almost kind of funny, if it weren’t so sad.

I wish I could do to the Clinton legacy what I did to the crazy guy’s manuscript: returned it to him with a smile, turned my back, rolled my eyes, and moved on to something more worthwhile.


Prayer request: A young husband and father has been electrocuted. Kenny is the son of a neighbor’s friend. He works for the power company and it happened on the job. They got his heart working again on the scene and rushed him to the hospital Monday. Oh, Lord, we pray for Your healing power to cover him and bring him back to full function, for Your glory. (Romans 13:1)

Monday, June 28, 2004


Our daughter Eden’s softball team won the Omaha softball championship this past weekend in the 18 and under bracket. They outscored their opponent Sunday by 13-0 in two games. It was especially sweet because the Firestix had been slumping over the past few weeks. But now, when it counted, they snapped out of it and played some great ball.

Their coach, however, had been kicked out for inadvisably overstating his case to an ump on Saturday night over a contested call. He was dead right, of course, though he let his belly bump the ump’s in his passionate appeal, and you can’t do that. His zeal inspired the girls, though. They won, and moved on to the championship round Sunday morning.

He was not allowed in the ballpark, though, for the two championship games. He had to content himself with standing in a ravine area a long way away, watching with binoculars and talking to the assistant coaches on a cell phone.

The girls love him. It was obvious that they were going to win and that he was getting excited. In the last inning, the players in the outfield decided to play a trick on him. When they got the second out -- not the third one -- they were going to jump for joy, as if in victory, to see what he would do.

The second out came. The girls leaped. ‘Way across the field, they could see their coach had gone for the bait. He was hopping, skipping and jumping . . . and boy, was he confused when the next batter came up to the plate.

But he could never be ‘’hopping mad’’ at them, not when they played so well.

Ah, youth: ‘’coaching’’ adults on having fun is one of the best things about sports. In fact, it’s the whole ball game.


Prayer request: A very beloved and talented preschool teacher named Jen lost everything in an apartment fire and has to start all over. She is a strong Christian. Oh, Father, thank You for sparing her life. Fill her heart with perseverance. Inspire those around her, including our family, with ways we can be of help. (Ephesians 6:18)

Sunday, June 27, 2004


And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
— Luke 12:15

Our first-born daughter, Jordan, turns 21 this week. It’s making me very sentimental, thinking back over her childhood and the privilege it has been to live with, learn from, and love this sweet human being. She’s been that way all along, right out of the box.

One incident stands out:

It was Jordan’s 8th birthday party. We had finished our games, had our ‘’hoggogs,’’ and now were ready for the cake with pink frosting, as pink and pretty as the birthday girl herself.

Jordan stood before the candles on her cake, about to make her wish.

Jordan studied the candles.

I studied Jordan.

She was one of those children who never asked for anything. That made you want to give her everything, from the moon on down.

The light from the candles shone in her deep blue eyes as she paused delicately before the cake. Her friends hushed. She seemed to be taking longer than usual, thinking of her wish.

As her mother, brimming with love, I tried to see into her heart:

What did she REALLY want for her birthday? What toy? What goodie? What gizmo?

What was she thinking about? What was she wishing for?

A new bike? Darn! We should have gotten her a bike.

A game she saw on TV? Sports equipment? Some computer program? Something one of her friends has? A fancy outfit? Art stuff? Electronics?

Too late. She shut her eyes, and blew, ‘’WWWWWHHHHH!’’

Her guests went home on sugar highs with chocolate milk moustaches. In the excitement, I forgot to ask whether Jordan got her wish in that colorful pile of presents that day.

Weeks passed.

Then one afternoon, we were at our family’s summer cabin on a northern Minnesota lake. It was one of those ‘’Seven Dwarfs’’ rainy days: you feel sleepy, dopey and grumpy, cooped up, reading books, playing cards and pinging off the walls.

When we were kids, my father used to try to give us hope on days like that by saying, ‘’Aw, it’s just a ‘clearing-up shower.’’’

Well, it had been ‘’clearing up’’ all day.

By then, it was nearly dinnertime. I had had it with kids underfoot. When Mom gets cabin fever, the kids get going. Outside with you! It was finally ‘’clearing up’’ for real out there, anyway.

I packed them off in their yellow raincoats and hats, with orange life preservers. They looked like three rubber ducklings. They waddled down through the mist and patches of sunlight to the lakeshore to skip rocks and hunt frogs and stuff. I went back to my cooking.

After a few minutes, Jordan’s urgent shout hurtled me out of the kitchen:


Oh, no! What was wrong? Had somebody fallen in? Was there a bear?

The three girls were standing in the shallows a few feet out from the big, flat rocks of the shore. Jordan stood, pointing joyously to the east. Pine trees blocked my view. I waded in next to her so I could see what she saw.

It was a huge double rainbow.

Awesome. Glowing. Resplendent. Radiant colors set off by dark purple clouds. Wow!

‘’That’s what I wished for on my birthday,’’ Jordan whispered. ‘’I wished that I could see a rainbow. Look! Here it is. And it’s a DOUBLE!’’

We joined hands and stood and looked, for a good, long time. I was humbled, and properly so.

I had been so wrong about her birthday wish. For crying out loud: what a crass, materialistic attitude I had.

She was so young, but she already knew that ‘’things’’ aren’t what you wish for, when you have a chance to wish big.

Moms should know better.

Luckily for Jordan, though, she has a Father in heaven Who heard her silent wish, when I didn't, and granted it, when I never could have.

He put a piece of His heart in the sky, big and bold, just for her.

And not only that: it was a DOUBLE.

Prayer request: We lift up to You, Father, another beautiful and talented young woman, Caroline. She has an important job interview coming up. We pray that her personality, achievements and charisma will overcome her lack of experience and win her that job. We thank You for using this and all other job searches as tools in helping bring people closer to depending on and trusting in You. (Proverbs 3:5)
(For Saturday, June 26)

The other evening, Maddy got a hankering to ride her Big Wheel down the hill the few blocks to our neighborhood pond.

At one point, she stuck her legs out sideways, as kids do, and let gravity roll her down the hill a little faster. A little TOO fast, too: she suddenly had to drag the bottoms of her shoes on the asphalt to slow herself down, curl in toward the curb and, eventually, stop.

“Woo Hoo,” she said. “That was COOL, with POTATOES on it!!!”

Now, I’ve heard of “pretty please with sugar on it” and “whipped cream on top.” But this was something new and different.

So was the sensation of lugging that heavy Big Wheel back up the hill after her adventure. My arm felt like a . . . SPUD.


Prayer request: We pray for protection from injury for a special young player on our daughter’s softball team. Her name is Ali and she is a better-than-4.0 student, a college-level athlete, and an awfully nice young woman. She is just coming back this week from six weeks out with a hand injury, and needs to “shine” over the next few weeks to impress college scouts. Lord, we pray for Ali’s continued healing and that she will stay healthy and productive for the rest of this summer. (Jeremiah 37:20a)

Friday, June 25, 2004


I’m going to get some blue stationery. Then I can follow the lead of the late Bob “Bull” Bullock, my new hero. He used to fire off blunt, snappy memos on blue paper that made people shake in their boots. They called them ‘’blue zingers.’’

Maybe that would get my kids to clean their rooms. It’s worth a shot.

Bullock was lieutenant governor of Texas and longtime comptroller of that huge state government. He also served in the Texas House of Representatives, was assistant attorney general and secretary of state.

He’s not my hero because of his career. I have no political aspirations. I just wish I could talk as straight as Bull Bullock. He was a graduate of Baylor University, where our daughter Neely goes. He donated his papers to Baylor for a special archive. A university publication shares some classic Bullock quotes:

‘’It’s no coincidence that a 16-foot woman with a sword stands atop the Texas Capitol. I’ve never doubted the message, and neither should any other man.’’ (in remarks to the Austin Women’s Political Caucus, 1992)

‘’I’m going next week to get my teeth cleaned and my eyes checked. That means I will be ready to chew someone out or look over their shoulder depending on what is needed.’’ (before the 71st session, Dallas Morning News, Jan. 9, 1999)

‘’All candidates for public office -- new or used -- ought to have to take truth serum before they get up to make a political speech and ought to have to take a lie detector test when they’re through.’’ (Texas Weekly, March 24, 1986)


Prayer request: Praise and thanksgiving in follow-up to a recent prayer request. Our high school friend Amanda was indeed elected president of Student Council. It is one of the most active and influential student leadership groups in the state. She is a strong Christian and a tremendous role model. Oh, Father, thank You for rewarding her faithfulness and giving her this opportunity to serve You and her fellow students. (Isaiah 55:4)

Thursday, June 24, 2004


Last weekend’s softball tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., had some down time for my husband and our 4-year-old. So he took her to the city zoo, which was adjacent to the ballfields.

Four times. Four times in two days, he took her to the zoo for a diversion.

On Sunday, the coach told my husband that they wouldn’t be able to visit the zoo that day, too.

‘’Why not?’’ asked my spouse.

‘’Because the duck died,’’ said the coach.

He was only kidding. Those South Dakota towns are . . . sitting DUCKS for Nebraska sarcasm.


Prayer request: I seek to be meek, Lord. It’s a stretch. You tell us in Your Word how to do it, but it’s hard. When conflicts arise, help me to lean on my sweet, meek Savior and follow Him. (Matthew 11:29)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


He’s in his 70s, widowed, and dealing with emphysema. So he has to stick pretty close to home, hooked up to oxygen.

His daughter is one of his faithful caretakers. When she comes by after a long day at her job, he urges her to peek in his fridge and fix herself something to eat.

His favorite food is barbecued ribs. Whenever the family would go out to dinner, he’d always order plenty, and bring the leftovers home. His daughter didn’t care one way or ‘nother about ribs. But because there were also two marauding teenage boys in his family who ate everything in sight, he’d always have to try to hide the leftover ribs ‘way back in the fridge. That way he’d at least have a chance they’d still be there the next night, when he got home from work.

So now, decades later, whenever his caretaker daughter opens the fridge, she calls out to him, ‘’Hey! Where are the ribs?’’

‘’Not telling.’’

‘’Come on. I want ‘em! Where’d you hide ‘em?’’

‘’Forget it! They’re MINE!’’

‘’Oh, yeah? I’m stepping on your cord ‘til you tell me where those ribs are.’’

‘’Go ahead. Those ribs are for ME. . . .’’


Prayer request: We lift up to Your loving hands all the caretakers who so faithfully carry out the exhausting duties of caring for chronically and seriously ill loved ones. It takes immense spiritual strength. Reward them with rest and the fulfillment that comes only from knowing they have served You, Jesus, with valor. (Judges 6:12)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Our 16-year-old, Eden, came home from a date last night shocked, disoriented, and still laughing. It seems she went to the fun new place, Cheeseburgers in Paradise, and they had karaoke going on.

‘’Guess what? This really, really old man got up there, Mom,’’ Eden said. ‘’He was the funniest and the best I’ve ever seen! I laughed my guts out.’’

Oh. That’s nice. HOW old?

‘’He had to have been 60 or 65,’’ she said.

Oh. THAT old.



Prayer request: We lift up a young husband and father named Jeff who has suddenly lost his job. His wife is pregnant and their son is 1. Oh, Father, use these trying circumstances to work Your Spirit into Jeff’s heart. Let him know You haven’t abandoned him, but are preparing a new place for him. Lead him to a lucrative and fulfilling new job just as soon as possible. (Psalm 23:5)

Monday, June 21, 2004


The hubby took Maddy to fabulous Sioux Falls, S.D., for a long weekend while our third daughter, Eden, competed in a softball tournament. She had a double and a triple . . . but Dave had a home run by giving me a much-needed break from daily care of a very active, imaginative and challenging 4-year-old.

Did I go to the casinos and bars? Did I lay in bed 20 hours a day, sleeping, drooling and eating bonbons? Noooooo. I cleaned the basement to a fare-thee-well. Might not sound too glamorous. But boy, does it feel good.

They came home last night. Maddy was pretty clingy and teary, even though she had been an angel while she was gone. We snuggled for a couple of hours. She play-acted a torrid tale of separation anxiety between two stuffed animals, a ‘’mother lamb’’ and a ‘’baby lamb.’’ It was obvious she had missed me.

And I had missed her. At bedtime, I leaned in close for our customary four kisses, which she delights in counting, one for each year of her age.

But she had added a new wrinkle. This time, she grabbed her ears with both hands, and yanked them down while thrusting her lips outward, dramatically, for the kiss . . . 1,2,3,4. It was all I could do to keep a straight enough face to pucker.

Welcome home, Maddy. And pass the tranquilizers . . . for Mommy.


Prayer request: A friend’s sister and four young children are flying today to Europe. They will be separated from their father for a long time. Please pray for them to be good travelers for the sake of the nerves of their mother and fellow passengers, and to arrive safely and be accepting and patient about the separation. (Romans 8:38,39)

Sunday, June 20, 2004


A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
-- Proverbs 15:1

My dad was a wonderful man, smart and funny. He worked hard and played hard. He could really wallop a golf ball off the tee. I mean, cream it.

‘Course, sometimes it landed a fairway or two over from where he was aiming. But man! He could hit it far.

I loved how he would turn around, make an extreme muscleman pose so that his bicep would bulge, and gloat:


You know: the baking soda logo.

Everybody would roll their eyes at his corny joke. But that’s just the way he was.

My chin gets a little wobbly on Father’s Day, these dozen years since he’s been gone. How I wish he could be around, still advising me and teasing me and loving me.

Now, he wasn’t perfect. He had a temper. He always said that he had a pointed head. Well, when he yelled at us, red-faced with steam coming of his ears. he reminded me of a volcano.

But the dust always cleared quickly and the sun came out again.

He was intense, that’s all. He wanted the best for us and from us. You always knew where you stood, and you always knew what he thought. People trusted him because of his honesty and insight.

Anyway, one day, I was walking for exercise with someone I love who is a lot like my dad. Smart, funny, loving and giving. But she does come on awfully strong sometimes.

She would kill a gnat with a brick . . . or a sledgehammer . . . or a tank. . . .

She was describing a difficult problem she was having with someone in her life. This other person was hurtful and in the wrong repeatedly, and not a bit sorry about it.

Well, my friend had finally lost her cool. She ‘’went off’’ on the other person in an angry tirade. But now, she had made things worse. And she knew it. She was devastated.

‘’Why do I keep doing this?’’ she asked. ‘’Why do I always escalate conflicts?’’

I didn’t know. But she was in pain. Oh, man. What do I say?

By then on our walk, we were cutting through a schoolyard. The grass had just been mowed. I tripped on a dark gray metal object. I picked it up.

It was a golf clubhead -- a driver. It had been shredded, perhaps by a big mower. It looked as though it had exploded outwardly, with a great, big, jagged hole.

I suddenly had this blast of insight.

I grinned, and held it up to her. ‘’THIS is what you’re doing wrong. You’re using your driver when you should be using a nice, soft pitching wedge, or a putter.’’

She stared at me, frowning.

‘’When you react to people so strongly, you’re using ‘too much club.’ That’s why you’re not connecting with them. You’re ‘overshooting the hole.’

‘’Go back to the person you had the fight with, and use a gentler approach with more finesse. Think of your conversation as a four-foot putt. Concentrate, take it easy and . . . in the hole!’’

That’s exactly the kind of thing my dad would have said. I got choked up over finding that clubhead at that moment. That was no accident.

She still stared at me, only her frown had softened to a half-smile.

‘’Oh, Susan,’’ she said. ‘’You and your corny jokes. OK. I’ll try it.’’

I couldn’t stop myself. I made an extreme muscleman pose, and gloated:


She frowned some more. ‘’I don’t know WHERE you get this stuff. . . .’’

But I do. It comes by way of my heavenly Father, who gave me a humdinger of an earthly one.

Now he’s up there caddying for Jesus, and still helping me, through the amazing power of the Holy Spirit.

I always knew you were in heaven, Dad. But now I know you can still hit the long ball . . . the really, REALLY long ball.


Prayer request: Praise and joy for a good friend, Vivian Trowbridge of David City, Neb., who has just become a great-grandmother. Christian Michael Stahl arrived last week, weighing in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Best of all, on this Father’s Day, it’s fun to report that the baby was named after Vivian’s father, his great-great grandfather. Lord, thank You for inspiring that meaningful bridge across the generations. May Christian be a wonderful Christian, like his great-grandmother. Help us to remember that generations of fathers come and go, but God the Father is with us always. (Acts 24:14)

Saturday, June 19, 2004


I’ve been writing the last few days about nicknames, and then yesterday, I finished my Father’s Day story. It’s about my beloved Dad, who has been gone for a dozen years.

I got in the car and was riding along in this teeming metropolis, minding my own business, when here came a car with this license plate:


I had to laugh. Dad was a CPA. That was his nickname!

What are the odds? Too big to count!


Prayer request: Praise for the good result of Karen’s heart procedure, yesterday’s prayer request. She feels tons better. Thank You, Father! Today we pray for a breakthrough in the weight battle that another friend, Jean, is having. Her clothes don’t fit! Help her discover why . . . and how to slim down to where she wants to be . . . but remind her that she’s very beautiful any old how. (Job 40:10)

Friday, June 18, 2004

S.D. the D.S.

I suggested that girls don’t have nicknames as frequently as boys do. Boy, did I get hammered for that . . . especially by females who went to all-girls’ schools.

One of them asserted that her group handed out nicknames like Army gear. If you didn’t have one when you met one of them, you had one within the hour.

Here are some of the ones she remembers for girls: Bong, Bony Legs, Melvin, Kenny, Ralph, Moo, Sandy, Booda and Boots.

I guess I do remember one more good girl nickname from my salad days: a wonderful girlfriend whose last name was Roberts. She was, as a matter of course, dubbed ‘’Bobs.’’ She grew up to be an attorney and educator.

It’s pretty funny to run into these distinguished women, at the top of their game, and call them a pet name which, if they’re lucky, they haven’t heard for decades.

Which reminds me of one of my very own. I’d forgotten this -- not surprisingly. My initials in high school were ‘’S.D.’’ The wiseacres I worked with and supposedly bossed on the high-school newspaper instantly changed that to ‘’S.D. the D.S.’’

You can figure it out. I finally did.


Prayer request: A good friend of a good friend had to have an angioplasty early this morning after many weeks of less-than-good health. Oh, Father, thank You for Your servants, the smart medical team surrounding Karen. Thank You for the wonders of advancing technology that are helping her today. Let the results be clear and the solution simple, successful and quick, we pray in Jesus’ name. (Luke 12:37)

Thursday, June 17, 2004


My hubby has been reuniting with several of his old chums recently. I still don’t know exactly what some of their names are. That’s because they all have crazy nicknames. They signed our wedding guestbook that way, and that’s all he ever calls them. It’s the same thing with my brothers and their friends: every guy seems to have a nickname.

You know: ‘’Star,’’ ‘’Face,’’ ‘’Nose,’’ ‘’Buddha,’’ ‘’Hairhead,’’ ‘’Crack,’’ ‘’Hack,’’ ‘’Chief,’’ ‘’Load,’’ and so on and so forth.

I was kind of sad, because that’s one form of fun we girls didn’t much have. Looking back over my childhood and younger adult days, I can’t remember too many of my girlfriends having nicknames. Madeleine, for whom our Maddy was named, was ‘’Mads.’’ But that was about it.

But then I heard from a friend whose friend had a truly, truly great one. So maybe there’s hope.

She was very well-endowed. Her maiden name was McManus.

Hence the nickname: ‘’McMammoths.’’

She may or may not have been relieved when she got married and changed her name. Just hope she didn’t marry someone with the last name of ‘’Knockers’’ or ‘’Rack.’’


Prayer request: I had what they call ‘’a divine appointment’’ yesterday. My relationship with somebody had been weakened by a difficulty and I hadn’t talked to them for several weeks. My heart was softening, and then boom! I ran into them at a store yesterday and had a nice, comfortable talk. This is a teeming metropolis, and neither of us go to that store very often. So it was You. Thank You, Jesus, for weaving the tapestry of our lives so that threads that should be together can be together. (2 Cor. 5:18)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Maddy and I were out horsin’ around yesterday. There was a big horse show at our neighborhood’s twin arenas. So we went down there to see what was going on.

It was the regional qualifying competition for western-style horseback riding events. Take first or second, and you get to go to State. There must have been 50 teenagers with their horses and entourages from all around eastern Nebraska.

We watched the pole racing. The kids in their starched white shirts and fresh jeans, and the horses all groomed to a T . . . it was beautiful.

‘’Ooh!’’ Maddy said. ‘’There’s a DALMATIAN!’’ It was a speckled Appaloosa, black on white.

‘’Ahh!’’ we all exclaimed, as a skinny girl of about 14 skillfully stayed on her fiery black mount, who reared back twice.

You could tell who was a novice: leads flailing, horses shaking their heads in confusion and changing gaits from a trot to a gallop and back, poles missed and knocked down, times with big numbers.

Those who won were as one with their horses. They raced as one unit to the poles, wove smoothly in and out, in and out, ‘round the big turn, and in and out, in and out, ‘til they raced again as one creature all the way back to the finish line. They were making times of 23 or 24 seconds. It was awesome.

Just as there are soccer moms and baseball dads, the parents filled the sidelines and yelled their hearts out.

‘’Leg! Leg! Leg! Leg! Leg!’’ they yelled, meaning, use the nonverbal pressure of your legs to get the horse to turn faster, and don’t just ‘’neck-rein.’’

‘’Cue! Cue! Cue! Cue! Cue!’’ which means, communicate to guide your horse, don’t just sit on there like a stone.

Hmmm. Awfully good advice for parenting, too. Ride ‘em, Cowgirl: never say ‘’neigh.’’


Prayer request: I’ve been working on a fellow named Duane for some time now, to come to know Christ. He doesn’t believe in prayer and isn’t even sure there’s a God. Let’s train our spiritual sights on him today, and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to Duane in a wonderful, unmistakeable way. We seek Duane’s conversion, Father, for your greater glory. (Daniel 2:28)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Friends were sharing some of their college hijinks the other night, and one of them is still making me laugh.

Mike is big, tall guy. Naturally, his car in college was the biggest, longest Lincoln Continental on the planet. It took up three parallel parking places. It was lime green.

It wasn’t a car. It was a RIDE.

Well, one football Saturday, this University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior parked a carload of students in the alley behind a certain well-known bar in downtown Lincoln several hours before the game. You’re not supposed to park there, but things are different in Lincoln on a football Saturday. So they did, and left the keys with the bar owner.

They became very festive, if you catch my drift. Hours later they walked to the game, leaving the extra-long car parked in the alley, where it wasn’t supposed to be.

They came back after the game, somewhat sobered up. But the car wasn’t there. The bar owner said the police had towed it away.

Towed it away? On a football Saturday? That had to be against the law!

So the whole bunch walked over to the police impound lot. There was the lime-green Lincoln, parked right in front of the office, where a number of police officers were visible through the glass.

Our friend didn’t really want to get a ticket or mess with the authorities in his current condition. But he could see that the keys were still in it. The door must still be unlocked. He walked up to it, bald-facedly, and opened the door.

They all piled in . . . and boldly drove away, back to Omaha.

I just don’t know if I could be that brazen!

They kept looking back over their shoulders. Nobody chased them! Surely the police had recorded his license plate number. But, as the miles and hours passed, and nobody arrested him for the 47 felonies he surely had committed in that one act of rebellion, he finally realized that, for one brief, shining moment . . . HE HAD GOTTEN AWAY WITH SOMETHING!!!

He bragged about it for 30 years.

Finally, a few weeks ago, he ran into an old college chum, who was a year older. Turns out he had taken his first job as a police officer . . . and was in the group of officers who had watched our friend get in the car that day and drive away, without batting an eye.

The other officers all wanted to chase him down and book him. But this old chum said, ‘’Nah! Let ‘em go. They’re just dumb college students, and it’s a football Saturday.’’

So whenever you’re asked to give thanks for our law enforcement officers and all they do for us, don’t forget him -- he let our friend take his ride for a ride, and think he was pretty cool, for 30 years.


Prayer request: An Omahan named Marlene has a husband who will undergo brain surgery for a tumor next Wednesday, and a son who doesn’t yet know Jesus. She asks for prayer for her husband’s healing and her son’s spiritual awakening so that he can be a source of special strength for her and her husband in this trial. Spirit of Jesus, descend on them in power. (1 Samuel 16:13)

Monday, June 14, 2004


Happy Flag Day! Our neighbors erected a new flagpole in front of their house. On the first day, they displayed the American flag at half-mast because of the death of President Reagan.

I’ve always wanted a flagpole. We had a wall-hung one out front, but the wind whipped the flag so much it practically pulled it out by the roots. So over the past few years, on certain days and for a long time after 9/11, we’ve hung our flag from the high roof of our porch. It hangs down sideways and anybody over age 12 has to duck their head to walk under it.

I have a thing about the flag. I love it, and go bananas when I see one that’s tattered, faded or dirty. The one outside our kids’ old grade school was like that for months. I complained a few times, and finally, it was replaced. I wished I’d just gone out and bought one.

Years ago, I was driving through a city park late at night when I spotted an American flag on a stick, stuck into the dirt next to the dark roadside, tattered and dirty. It so happens that at the same moment, a John Denver song about a soaring eagle was on my car radio:

“And all those who see me, and all who believe in me, share in the freedom I feel when I fly!”

I couldn’t just pass by that symbol of our freedom, forlorn and forgotten by the roadside – somebody’s idea of a joke, I guess, or a really cowardly flag desecration. I braked my car, got out, picked up that flag, and disposed of it properly.

Would that all the assaults on what America stands for could be handled that easily. It was only a tiny gesture . . . but it was something I could do.


Prayer request: A neigbbor’s friend just had a baby, but has been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer, and probably won’t live. Oh, Father, grant a peaceful, painless passing for Angie, and help her husband Jimmy find a nanny quickly for their children, ages 5, 3 and infant. We don’t understand how a tragedy like this works into Your perfect plan, but we accept that You know best and all will be well. (James 1:3)

Sunday, June 13, 2004


A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:2

I live in a farm state. ‘Course, you’d never know it. I’m totally Agriculturally Incorrect.

Oh, I’m motivated, all right. I love veggies and want that incomparable home-grown quality.

Every spring, I get a good start on a garden -- but then lose interest and peter out. Like, on Day Two.

There isn’t much “-culture” in my “agri-.” If it were up to me to feed my family, we’d be skinny enough to walk sideways through the bunny fence.

Which we have to have -- a bunny fence -- because I’m a wussie. Rabbits eat my lunch. Literally.

Now, I tried to fight back. I got a pellet gun, striding like Rambo out to the back yard for target practice on an orange-juice can. Deadeye! Then a bunny came into view. Arm shaking, I raised the gun and aimed. He had half a hosta plant already in his mouth, munching placidly.

Suddenly, my husband appeared. He said, “You’ll probably just wing him. You’ll have to finish him off. You know, go up to his wriggling body, grab a hold of him by the ears, and. . . .”

He coldly demonstrated a neck-wringing action.

I lowered the gun, tears plopping onto my half-hosta as the bunny placidly munched the rest. Haven’t touched the gun since.

So I’m a “conscientious objector,” unwilling to defend my garden soverignty. I’m also clueless. Once, I planted radishes. The leaves grew elephantine. I was thinking State Fair. Then I pulled them up. Each radish was the size of a freckle. I don’t know why.

I planted leeks. They sprang some, I guess, and never came up. I don’t know why.

I planted carrots, but didn’t cultivate the compacted soil under the seeds. Instead of plunging downward, the carrots spread out broadly, several inches wide and one inch tall. Carrot bricks.

My self-esteem . . . wilted.

Then, like a prince on a white charger, or maybe it was a green tiller, my brother-in-law Ernie propositioned me.


He and my sister are empty-nesters in a townhouse now. But he’s a longtime gardener. He asked to start a vegetable garden in the weedy, unused paddock behind our barn. If we’d supply the space and the water, he’d do the rest, and share the harvest.

So we have a farm now, and Ernie’s our tenant. We call it “The North One-Fortieth,” since it’s about 1/40th of an acre. It’s on the west, not the north, too, but we like to be cute.

First, he tilled. Then, he built a fence, Stalag Ernie.

Then he planted cucumbers, beans, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes and corn. We have a pumpkin patch for Maddy, and zucchini, squash and gourds.

It’s primeau. The tomato cages would withstand a nuclear blast. The watering system is like something at EPCOT.

My husband’s gotten into the act, adding a rain gauge, harrow, and steel rebar for the fence.

We’re having fun. Ernie pops radishes into his mouth with dirt still on them, but he doesn’t even care, they taste so good.

I wilt with pleasure over Wilted Lettuce Salad, minutes after harvest, ladybugs left in because “they’re OK on Atkins.”

Our neighbor, Steve, put in two tomato plants, too. He got a later start, so our plants dwarf his. Now, he and his wife are coming over tonight with two other couples. I’m sure we’ll tour the garden.

I don’t want him to feel bad. So I’m sneaking out there first with some store-bought grape tomatoes to wire to Steve’s plants, as if his mysteriously eclipsed ours overnight.

I can’t wait to see the look on his face. It’ll be better than an ad for Miracle Grow!

That’s what we’re growing out there, anyway: miracles. Of life. Of growth. Sowing and reaping, nourishing and sharing . . . having fun and enjoying the process . . . it’s how the Gardener plotted it all along.

And those bunnies can’t do a thing to stop us.

Nyahh nyahh nyahhhh! Hoe, hoe, hoe!


Prayer request: A fond farewell today and tomorrow as the memorial services proceed for a beloved mother of a beloved sister-in-law. Marilyn was a teacher and in her courageous battle with abdominal cancer, she taught her loved ones well. Thank You, Father, for this gentle, good life, and bring rest and refreshment to her family this week. (1 John 5:13)

Saturday, June 12, 2004


I promise, this will be the last garden pun story for a while. We have a schizophrenic hydrangea bush right beside our front door.

After admiring a neighbor’s resplendent blue hydrangea blossoms for years, I finally went out and got my own hydrangea bush. The neighbor and the guy at the garden store both told me that the secret to big, blue blossoms is to have acid in the soil. Not too much or you’ll burn the roots, they said. But some.

I had some composted manure, so I dug the hole and started throwing in handfuls. Then, I guess, I must’ve been interrupted . . . phone call, Maddy, FBI, I can’t recall . . . and came back to hastily dump the bush in place and tuck it in.

Well, the first year we didn’t get any blossoms, which is normal. Last year, we got a few small popcorn balls you could barely see. I was perplexed and started babying it with top-secret, extra-special attention.

And this year . . . THIS year . . . we had big, huge hydrangea buds up the whazoo. I was so excited to watch them develop and get ready to blossom. Finally, they did . . .

. . . and sadly, strangely, they are HALF blue and HALF . . . pink!

The only thing I can think of is that I put in acidic compost haphazardly instead of mixing it in really well, so only some of the roots got the benefit.

Woe is me! What do I do next? What a fate, to discover that your beloved hydrangea is . . . BI!!!



Prayer request: We thank You and praise You, Lord, that our good friend Audrey and family are back from an exciting vacation in Costa Rica with many happy memories and not a single “clank.” You are so good and so gracious to provide for and protect families so far from home, Lord. We bless You! (Hebrews 6:14)


FOR FRIDAY, 6/11/04)



Speaking of garden puns, as we were the other day, a friend of mine is married to a wonderful gardener. She loves to show her friends all the interesting plants and flowers she has going.

One day, though, she wasn’t outside when a lady friend of hers dropped by. She was on her way out, and the friend was chatting with her husband. She started exclaiming about the pretty flowers.

So the man of the house was attempting to show her around. A garden neophyte, he knew only a little bit about the species planted. But he gave the tour the old college try.

At one point, remembering the name as best he could, he said to the guest: "Did you know that Cynthia and I have chlamydia?"

The clematis of the story is that they’re all still laughing about it.


Prayer request: She’s in the Army now! Well, our darling neighbor girl Kelsey is at Fort Knox, anyway, for a month-long U.S. Army ROTC Leadership Training camp. We seek prayers for Kelsey’s safety, and mental and physical stamina. Lord, use this experience to develop her into more and more of a person after Your own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14)





A local teacher’s retirement story in the newspaper brought a fond, but odd, memory to our teenager’s mind. Last year, in that class, there was a student who dressed a little bit like those Columbine kids, kept to himself, and sat in the back.

A little scary. I guess they call kids like him “Goths.”

Well, this teacher was once telling the class that their assignments were due. They weren’t tests or papers, but something else, like posters or presentations.

She was struggling for the right word, so she said, “OK, then, class, at the end of the period, I’m going to collect your . . . collect your . . . uh . . . .”

Just then, from the back, the Goth interrupted:

“Collect our SOULS?”

First, there was shocked silence. Then, everybody turned around to look at him.

Our daughter said he shot everybody the biggest, goofiest grin . . . and from that day forward, he was a welcome and integral part of the class.


Prayer request: Speaking of souls, today we mourn the passing of a beautiful one -- my sister-in-law’s dear mother, Marilyn Larsen. She fought abdominal cancer with such courage, and lived five times as long her initial dark diagnosis, six months to live. We pray today for strength and stamina for my brother Don and sister-in-law Janet, and their family, as they complete this long journey of lovingly helping her through this process. As they lay her to rest, remember them, Father, that just as You were reunited with Your Son, they’ll see her again one day. (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Everybody knows there are plants in a garden, and bugs in a garden. But did you know there are CORNY JOKES in a garden, too?

There are, if you are twisted like a clematis vine, like yours truly. I’d forgotten my secret puns of last season, when I remodeled both sides of our front porch with some of my favorite perennials.

As the mother of four daughters, I got a big yuck out of putting these three plants together:

Maiden grass


Bridal veil spirea

Hardy har har.

Boys, beware: it’s not just a garden. It’s a PLOT!


Prayer request: A young friend named Amanda is up for the presidency of her high school’s Student Council. The election is today. She is a fantastic young person and a committed Christian who has done a lot to build Your kingdom. Oh, Lord, reward Your servant and bless her classmates by working to grant her this high honor and much-deserved responsibility. (John 12:26)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


I got engrossed in my book last night while Maddy was taking a long bubble bath. I looked up in time to see her doing a magic trick for the four rubber duckies she had lined up on the tub surround.

First, she filled the palms of her hands with suds, and showed the “audience.” They grinned their approval.

Then, she doused her hands in the water, and lifted them again -- this time, magically clean.

The ducky audience couldn’t take their eyes away. They were pinned to their seats. They grinned their approval once again. They thought her trick was just . . . ducky.

How come I’ve never had an easy-to-please audience like that?

Then again, why would I want one?

It struck me that that’s why God made us with free will, free choice, and the ability to slip into sin just as easily as Maddy’s pink little whirling dervish body slipped out of my hands when I tried to shampoo.

It’s because we’re REAL . . . just like He is.

God doesn’t want to do His stuff for an audience that’s grinning, senseless and optionless, even though cute. The point is that we CAN turn away from Him -- like the partial-birth abortion crowd and the gay marriage crowd.

Since the rest of us DON’T turn away, it makes what God is doing all the more enjoyable for both Him and us.

You’ve got to be QUACKED to turn away from an act like that.


Prayer request: A friend’s cousin named Jenny is having surgery today at 10 a.m. She has a cyst and a large lymph node in her uterus. She has not been in good health for a long time; this is just one more thing. Father, through this trial, draw Jenny and her family closer to You. Reward their perseverance, because that’s one of Your favorite qualities. Grant her complete healing and restored health. (Ephesians 6:18)

Monday, June 07, 2004


John McCaslin of The Washington Times had a disturbing item in his column last week about a fudged-up quote on the new World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

It seems four words were left off a plaque quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stirring speech the day after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The quote reads: ‘’With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph.’’

But there’s a problem. They left off FDR’s last four words: ‘’so help us God.’’

Nasty! Deceitful! Makes you mad, doesn’t it? Makes you want to fire off a letter to your senators and congressional representatives, no doubt.

Letting that quote stand, incomplete, would be like teaching schoolkids that Patrick Henry said, ‘’Give me liberty!’’ and leaving off the ‘’. . . or give me death.’’

It’d be like quoting Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s ‘’D-Day’’ sendoff, June 6, 1944, ending with:

‘’Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.’’

Look how completely the meaning and tone of that is changed when you include Ike’s real ending:

‘’Let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.’’

It’s time to fight back. Let’s not take one more instance of lying, radical leftists trying to rewrite history, and expunge God.

A new engraving should be put in that WWII Memorial, right next to the erroneous one, with the names of those responsible for leaving God’s name out of it, quoted as saying, ‘’Because we hate God, we left off these four words from FDR’s statement, ‘so help us God.’ We’re sorry. We were wrong. And as long as we’re confessing, we hereby admit that our mothers wear Army boots and we all wear purple polka dotted underwear.’’

Once stuff like THAT gets etched in stone, maybe the boneheads would start getting things right.


Prayer request: Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Father, help us to teach the next generation of children all about that day, what led up to it, and all the good that came out of it. Help us to foster a lot of honor and attention in our children toward American veterans, especially those who fought in WWII. Lead us to the day when we won’t have to ‘’learn war any more.’’ (Micah 4:3)

Sunday, June 06, 2004


For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
-- Isaiah 25:4

It’s storm season on the Great Plains. We peer suspiciously at the sky a lot. Been there, done that, bought the radio batteries.

A guy from our church was nearly killed by a million-volt bolt of lightning last weekend, and his son was gravely injured. A small nearby town lost its beautiful school and most everything else in a recent tornado; the pictures just make you wince.

Weather talk is everywhere. Even Maddy, our 4-year-old, is drawing pictures of ‘’whirling, squirreling tor-ma-toes.’’

My old reporter friend tells of a deadly nighttime storm years ago that wiped out a town hundreds of miles away. Next morning, before the dispatched reporters could get there, he had to find someone with a working telephone to get the story for an immediate deadline. He must have tried 50 numbers. Finally, someone answered.


‘’Oh, thank goodness there’s someone there! I’m from the daily newspaper back in Omaha. I need you to tell me everything you saw and heard, and everything you know, so I can meet my deadline in five minutes. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are very worried and concerned about your town. Yours will be the first word of the tragedy that will go out. Can you help me? What can you tell me? What happened? What was it like?’’

On the other end, silence.

Finally: ‘’Halllllooooo?’’

Wouldn’t you just know? The only person with a working telephone within miles of the epicenter was hard of hearing.

That’s how it is, with storms. Things get fast and furious, and there’s little you can do. You’re on your own. It’s never tidy. When Mother Nature gets PMS, ain’t no chocolates gonna calm her down.

But then again, she can be overruled.

My friend used to live in Houston. It seems they put up a lot of houses there in a short amount of time, as the city grew really fast. Construction quality, consequently, is not always tip-top.

That’s no problem most of the time. But then there’s the exception: hurricanes.

A hurricane is like a ‘’tor-ma-to’’ with PMS, hemorrhoids and really bad gas.

A hurricane that came through Houston once was so fierce, my friend thought for sure they were all going to die.

She and her husband and children were huddled in a small room of their house for hours as the storm raged. The winds were horrific. The house shook. As good Christians, they.prayed and prayed.

Suddenly, my friend got a vision of a hand, up on its fingertips, over their house, as if encircling it. Just as soon as she ‘’saw’’ it, the vision disappeared.

She blinked, but then went back to worrying and praying.

The family was so cramped that they decided to take their chances and wait out the storm in their family room.

Several more hours passed, including a loud BANG! overhead, followed by a lot of BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!’s. They were amazed that the roof didn’t collapse. Not even a drop of rain leaked in.

When they finally got outside, they saw that a huge tree had fallen on their chimney. Tons of bricks had been knocked backward explosively onto their roof -- right on top of the family room, where they’d been huddling.

When a contractor could finally get up there to see about repairs, he came down shaking his head.

‘’Lady,’’ he said, ‘’do you know that you have not one, but TWO, steel I-beams over your family room? I’ve never seen that before, in all my years in construction. Double beams! That’s what saved your house, and saved your lives.’’

She immediately thought back to the vision of the hand covering the house.

The clouds parted, and the light broke . . . and through her tears, she basked in the incomparable calm that comes AFTER the storm . . . when you know He had you covered, safe and sound, literally under His hand.


Prayer request: We ask your blessing on the Saturday wedding of our dear friends Steve and Cheryl. It was memorable for many reasons – they’ve been sweethearts for many years, it took place outside their wonderful new home, was full of joy since Steve survived an aortic aneurysm a few months ago, and accented with mystery and excitement, starting an hour late, because Cheryl’s wedding dress got locked up accidentally! Lord, only You can weave together a love story like this. We pray that their marriage will honor You and they’ll live happily ever after. (John 17:24)

Saturday, June 05, 2004


When you think of saints, you think of incense and bandages, inspirational speeches and great acts of bravery.

You don’t often think of pizza. Maybe you should.

I know this Christian lady who has a number of stresses of her own, who still is reaching out to a troubled teenager she knows, and giving him a 16th birthday party in her home.

His dad is angry, abusive and abandoning. His mom is overwhelmed, depressed, and barely keeping her nose above deep water. Divorce is imminent. There is no money, certainly none for parties.

My friend realized that she has the ideal, time-tested location for lightening that load, and giving the boy a golden memory: her family room.

An empty-nester, she has been sad recently that no one is using the pool table, the big-screen TV, the computer games and the stereo system. But now the troubled boy and seven friends are going to get to.

She’s ordering a mess of pizza for them, too.

When the saints come marchin’ in, I don’t think they’ll be carrying golden harps. I think they’ll have hammers and saws and duct tape and . . . pizza. Whatever builds people up and makes their lives a little better, they’ll use. Now, that’s a saint.


Prayer request: Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold. My husband and his college roommate are traveling today to a 101-acre bit o’ heaven near Kansas City for the wedding of the third person of their college hijink triangle. It’s the birthday of both bride and bridegroom, too. My hubby has been the bridegroom’s “best man” for more than 45 years, through thick and thin. Make it a golden day and a safe day, Father, for Chief, Hack and Berg (who’ve grown up to be a doctor, a business owner and an attorney, of all things!) and all others who gather to share in the hope and excitement of an outdoor wedding in Kansas during the June tornado season!!! (Proverbs 18:24)

Friday, June 04, 2004


The good news is, the Louisiana state legislature passed a ban on human cloning on a 97-2 vote. When it comes to human beings, ‘’parts’’ is NOT ‘’parts.’’ Scientific experimentation to create new human beings, even the smallest of their ‘’parts,’’ is creepy.

The bad news, however, is that yesterday, on the International Day of Celebration for my birthday, before I could renew my driver’s license, I had to sit on the floor outside a government office for a half-hour waiting for the bureaucrats to finish their lunch break.

It was enough to make me favor cloning -- of government bureaucrats, so the lines wouldn’t be so long.

I had arrived at 1:30 p.m., feeling clever for avoiding the lunchtime rush, only to find the lights off and the door locked, with a sign: ‘’Closed for Lunch, 1:30 to 2.’’ A veritable crowd of other taxpayers and citizens, likewise miffed, lined up behind me. There were no chairs, so we sat on the floor.

Could they NOT have THOUGHT of STAGGERING the employee lunch breaks to keep the office open like private businesses do? Is that too . . . STAGGERING a notion, to provide good public service to the people who are PAYING you to provide it?

Come to think of it . . . if we cloned bureaucrats, we wouldn’t have to pay the clones a salary, because they’d have the same Social Security number as the bureaucrat from which they were cloned. Therefore, we’d improve government service without increasing the cost. A human two-fer!

If not, then at the very least, we should clone Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and a selected number of other good-looking people to serve as stand-ins for the driver’s license photo.

Ought to be SOME kind of reward for waiting in line that long.


Prayer request: An elderly couple, Andy and Edie, are suddenly having to sell their house and move far away to be closer to their adult children, because of poor health. Father, speed the sale of their home. Protect them en route and as they settle into their new environment. Send new friends into their path, and keep them close to their old ones, too. Their lives have honored You, and for that example, we’re grateful. (Titus 2:2,3)

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Yes, it’s my birthday. Around the globe, untold masses are streaming out of their homes and joining hands in the streets, singing for joy, as bands play and there are ticker-tape parades. . . .

Suuuuure. Actually, so far I have unloaded the dishwasher, fixed my own breakfast of a scrambled egg and an Oreo, and listened to Maddy proclaim that her birthday wish for ME is that SHE would get more Care Bears.

But things really been delightfully international around here lately. A daughter’s college friend has been emailing from her trip to Paris, our neighbor is going to China on business, and the other day a new friend’s daughter came to play with Maddy and I learned all about their former home: Brazil.

Finally, I could answer my burning question about South America. No, nothing about politics or the economy. It has to do with a hand gesture. I’ve wondered for years if this is an urban myth: when Dan Quayle was vice president, I heard that he went down to Brazil for a formal visit, and they set him up with a ticker-tape parade. Everyone lined the streets, waving American flags. He was sitting on the seatback of a convertible limousine, waving to the crowds. It sounded a lot like my imaginary annual birthday celebration, in fact.

Then Vice President Quayle made the ‘’OK’’ sign. You know: thumb and forefinger meet in a circle, and other three fingers are held off to the side.

The crowd hushed. Faces contorted in disgust. Women screamed. I may exaggerate a little on that, but it was a bad scene, and Quayle had no idea why.

The story was that, down there, the all-American ‘’OK’’ sign actually refers to a certain body part on which you sit, if I can put it delicately. Making that gesture signifies that, in your opinion, the other person is, indeed, that particular body part. It’s the supreme insult. And here was our American vice president, smiling broadly and giving that hand signal to thousands of confused Brazilians. THAT’S not very NICE, I’m sure they were thinking.

Finally, I met someone who could confirm or deny it. And yes, the other mother had to say, that was apparently a failure of the first magnitude for the American diplomatic corps, for not cluing in the VP on what’s nice and what’s not.

So let’s have a Politically Correct International Day of Celebration this birthday, shall we? No hand signals . . . just join me in a little birthday prayer that we can have world peace, human understanding, and a sense of humor in the coming year.

That, and an Oreo for breakfast. Life’s little treats: they’re what make the world go ‘round.


Prayer request: Speaking of international celebrations, there’s a reunion this week in Costa Rica for the family of my Bible Study Fellowship leader, Audrey, and her eldest daughter, who is studying there. We pray for safe travels for them in their rented van, and that each family member would have a cheerful attitude: it’s the rainy season, you know. We also pray for Audrey’s grandmother, 103, who is ailing, and that they can be reunited one more time before the Lord takes her home. (Genesis 10:5)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Postscript to Maddy’s fairy-tale princess experience as a flower girl in an elegant wedding: what did she like best about the whole thing?

‘’The lemon.’’

We pondered. Maybe she saw a lemon artfully garnished on the mountain of shrimp at the reception. Or something.

Then she clarified: nooooo, she had liked RIDING in the lemon.

Ohhh! THAT lemon!

The LIMO!!!

Figures. That other fairy-tale princess, Cinderella, rode around in a PUMPKIN. . . .


Prayer request: Glory to God! Praises and thanksgiving! The nice Christian fellow who was struck by lightning Saturday night, John Reimer, has had a near-miraculous recovery. According to a radio report, he was sitting up in his hospital bed and talking to people. Doctors are amazed; he wasn’t expected to live. Surgery and recovery still loom for his son, who was injured in the same incident, but the community’s prayer warriors were mobilized bigtime on this one, and the power of prayer has been displayed once again, like a mighty lightning bolt, for all to see. Thank You, Jesus. (Matthew 6:13)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


We are trying to figure out what to do with Maddy’s beautiful, beaded flower girl dress from last weekend. One idea is to keep it for when her three big sisters get married; maybe a new litlte niece or family friend will come on the scene by then to wear it. Another is to give it away, or sell it at a garage sale. Still another is to cut off the bodice and some of the tulle and put it in a shadow box with a photograph and the little white mini-roses she wore in her hair.

So many people said she was the most beautiful little girl they’d ever seen, I’m afraid to do anything to break the spell. Usually, we refer to Maddy as a ‘’hanyack’’ -- best spelling I can come up with for an old-country term for a wild, out-of-control gypsy. It’s what my paternal grandpa always used to call us kids when we slid down the banister at his house.

Anyway, so her lovely dress lays here on the dining room table as we all savor our memories of a beautiful wedding.

Maddy’s already off on her next toot. The demure little flower girl has transformed into her old self: howling with glee at the movie ‘’Shrek,’’ hanging upside down on her swingset, and lining up her MicroPets on the stairs and bossing them: ‘’Guys! Look, now, guys. . . .’’

But she was a mini-princess Saturday night. I’ll not soon forget the picture of a hulking Husker football player, one of the bridegroom’s friends, bending down and posing her for a picture on his newfangled cell phone. He showed it to a couple of other hulks. They all melted. You’d think most young men like that would have Britney Spears or somebody like that on their cellphone picture window -- not a 4-year-old flower girl.

The other sight I’ll not soon forget is her white tights. Unbeknownst to me, she had kicked off her shoes when the dancing started. She had twirled and jived and danced the night away (well, ‘til 10:45) in her stocking feet. It sprinkled a little bit through the evening, and we were down on the bride’s family’s asphalt basketball court. It was pretty wet. Even though her dress was miraculously unspotted when we got home, her tights were practically black to the knees, and sopping wet.

That’s the REAL Maddy -- beautiful and ladylike, but underneath . . . 100 percent hanyack.


Prayer request: A friend’s friend took a direct hit from lightning while walking with his son around a west Omaha lake on Saturday night. He is in critical condition in a hospital burn unit. The lightning hit him at the top of his head and exited through his feet. He is said to have a fourth degree burn on the bottom of his feet. John Reimer is a wonderful man, executive director of the local office of the Christian Business Men’s Club, a national organization which is Omaha-based. Father, we lift John up in prayer as well as his wife, Linda, and family, and son John, 30, who also was injured. May they recover and heal, and may this incident strike us all like a bolt of lightning: how much we love the people in our lives, and should pray for their well-being always. (Zec. 9:14)