Saturday, July 31, 2004


Some so-called woman wrote an op-ed in a Texas newspaper recently that pretty much said motherhood was boring and hooray for day care, nannies and year-round school so that mothers can ‘’work’’ instead of doing all the dull, routine stuff that comes with rearing children.

Motherhood: boring. Riiiiiiight.

I was awakened at 2:30 a.m. yesterday by a ringing phone. It was my husband, calling from Beaumont, Texas, where our 16-year-old had just hit a home run at the national tournament of the American Fastpitch Association. They were playing at that hour because of a rain delay. The last time she made a home run, it was on a hilariously bungled bunt that the other team fielded like a bunch of Keystone Kops. But this was the real deal, and it was at Nationals. I guess she also made the final put-out with a missile-like throw from right field to first to seal the win. Her real name’s Eden, but we call her ‘’Beamer’’ because she smiles all the time. I knew she was smiling real big at that moment. It will go down in The Lore of the Beam.

Is that boring?

Then I’ve been bustin’ my buttons over the two weekends’ worth of garage sales put on my our two older daughters, Jordan, 21, and Neely, 19. They did well last weekend, but, using the principle of ‘’If at first you don’t unload, try, try again,’’ they reprised it. This weekend they have sold stuff I never thought would sell, with fun signs like, on the ancient vacuum cleaner: ‘’Ugly, but it works beautifully,’’ and on the aquarium, ‘’Everything you need but the fish.’’ We’re calling it the ‘’Yes, You CAN Get Blood From a Turnip Garage Sale.’’

Then yesterday I spent three -- count ‘em -- three hours catching our 4-year-old Maddy and her friend Kaylin at the bottom of a water slide. Now my face and shoulders are beautifully golden tan and everything from the chest down is mushroom white. But oh, well. Every time she came down, Maddy did something different: making rude bathroom noises on her arm . . . sitting ‘’criss-cross applesauce’’ . . . diving forward like a dolphin . . . I came home utterly exhausted but the two little girls could’ve gone on for 12 hours.

It was anything but boring.

Then the 19-year-old walked in, grinning from ear to just-pierced ear -- finally decided to get her ears pierced, and boy, did they look great on her.

Behind our backs, though, Maddy had tippy-toed back out into the garage sale inventory and ‘’rescued’’ a dinosaur stamp set. She took off her shirt and stamped black dinosaurs all over her belly, shoulders and somehow on her back. So now I had one child with piercings and another with tattoos.

Yeah, motherhood: boring. Riiiiiiiight.


Prayer request: There’s a youth minister in Missouri, Scotty, who has an old football back injury. He has had a couple of surgeries but still can’t pick up his two precious little kids. He is in constant, horrible pain all the time. Sometimes he’s afraid he’ll be in too much pain to stand and preach. Father, we lift up Scotty to You as an example of faithfulness through suffering. We ask for relief for him, and supernatural endurance. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Friday, July 30, 2004


I was on my way to a nearby city to take a dear friend out to lunch, tooling along on the Interstate, when something unusual caught my eye.


It was bouncing crazily from the eastbound lanes across the wide grass median, wobbling so much between bounces that its path was unpredictable.

Should I slam on the accelerator? Or the brake? I couldn’t tell, so I just steered toward the shoulder . . . and the big old thing whizzed diagonally about a car-length behind me, bouncing down into the ditch by the side of the road.

My heart was bouncing right along with it.

The tire was as tall as I am. I’m sure it would have been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad outcome, had it hit my car, even though I drive a big Battlestar Galactica.

In the rear-view mirror, I didn’t see a truck jack-knifed or pulled over. So I figure the tire must have been cargo, not attached to a vehicle, and it must have slipped off somehow.

At least it gave me some one-liners to tell my friend: I was nearly flattened by a tire. I was close to getting tired while driving on the Interstate. Survival: where the rubber meets the road.


Prayer request: A teenager in Springfield, Mo., named Justin has leg surgery this morning at 11. He is the surviving passenger in a motorcycle crash. He came to know Jesus as a result of being spared. However, the rod in his leg has broken and must be replaced. We pray for a successful outcome, for him to feel whole and well again physically, and for further spiritual growth. (Luke 8:50)

Thursday, July 29, 2004


My story of a gourmet dinner’s last course descending into a symphony of rude noises in the car on the way home reminded another mother of a similar experience . . . only she caused it.

‘’We had taken the boys, at about ages 7 and 9, to Davenport, Iowa. We stayed at a big old bed and breakfast, filled with antiques, high ceilings, old fancy plumbing, gourmet breakfasts, etc. It was really cool.

‘’There were two double beds in the room, about three feet apart. The boys were finally settling down in their bed, and Jim was drifting off, and it was SO civilized and peaceful.

‘’For some unknown reason, I decided it was a good time to play what my M.D. daddy called ‘the axillaphone.’ So, I slipped my right hand into my left armpit under my jammies, and started pumping my arm and playing away.

‘’Needless to say, in the darkened room, the boys were at instant attention. It was a great mother-son bonding/teaching time, something to pass on to the next generations. I talked them through the necessary skills from our bed, and pretty soon, the three of us were doing hand to armpit sounds that would make ANY man proud.

‘’Poor Jim. We three were laughing uncontrollably, trying to out-do each other. I can still hear Jim quietly say, ‘I can't believe this is happening. I can't believe you started this. I bet ALL the guests and half of Davenport are hearing this.’

‘’And I told him between guffaws that SOMEONE had to teach them this basic skill, and if he wasn't gonna step up to the plate, I would. With a sigh of resignation, he joined in.’’

What a family memory. Bed, breakfast, and ambience . . . compliments of an axillaphone quartet.


Prayer request: The mom in this story, Chris, says she feels overly distracted by life’s challenges, and distant from the Lord. She has already called a “time out” to just rest in Him and devote the whole evening to Him. We commend that discipline and seek it for ourselves, too. Lord Jesus, we pray that all of us, especially Chris, will make time in our busy schedules to just abide . . . pull in closer, bask in Your Word, and cherish some sweet and intimate moments in communion with You. (John 15:5)

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I have to own up to something. Our family’s full of nerds.

We went out for a gourmet French dinner the other night. Our 21-year-old has had a wonderful summer job at this great restaurant, and we wanted to support her.

We got a sitter for the 4-year-old, and it was my husband, myself, and our two middle daughters, ages 19 and 16. We got kind of dressed up for a change and were on our best behavior.

Our waitress did a superb job, enticing us to order hors d’oeuvres and dessert along with our extra-special meals. We watched her serve three other tables at the same time, and whisk the courses to and fro with style and aplomb.

The owner came over and told us all about the $26 bottle of wine we ordered. He used a lot of fancy talk. You know: “resonant,” “full-bodied,” “vivacious” and “finishes well.”

Ooh la la! What a beautiful evening. I was basking in the afterglow.

Then we picked up Maddy. On the way home, she suddenly started demonstrating her new skill: making rude bathroom noises with her mouth on her forearm.

Her dad couldn’t resist. “Vivacious!” he proclaimed after a juicy one. “Finishes well!” after a long, drawn-out effort.

He quickly chimed in with his own rude repertoire, keeping one hand on the wheel, of course.

Soon, her sisters joined the fray.

And I sat there, my sophisticated smile vanished, holding my head in my hands, listening to the chuckles and guffaws and wondering what happened.

So THIS is our REAL family lifestyle. THIS! Sigh.

Oh, well. Who could afford $26 bottles of wine all the time, anyway?


Prayer request: We love how You work, Lord! An older woman in my summer Bible study is a missionary in Africa. Throughout her life, she has been working over there for four years, and then coming home to Omaha for one year to rest and rejuvenate. Well, this cycle, she only spent two years there, and came back for a 6-month rest. She recently had her customary hometown medical checkup, and they found ovarian cancer. It had just gotten started. They did a hysterectomy, and she’s going to be fine. But if she had stayed abroad the full four years with little or no medical care, she’d have been a goner. Praise You, Father, for You knew it all along, and You protected Your servant. (Psalm 73:11)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I don’t cuss any more. When you get born again, your vocab does, too.

But “stuff” still happens in life which requires, nay DEMANDS, a verbal rejoinder.

“Shoot!” just doesn’t get it. “Dang!” is old. “Phooey” is dated.

But I have a new one, and it’s Politically Correct, multicultural and celebratory of diversity.

It’s what was for dinner the other night at a fancy restaurant:

Bok choy.

Say it! It’s satisfying! Bold! Expressive! And, like all tasty Chinese veggies, it’s clean.

I can see the bumper sticker now:

“Don’t like my driving? Call 1-800-BOKCHOY.”


Prayer request: There’s a young man named Thomas who is suffering from sleepless nights and having a lot of worry and anxiety over his upcoming transition to a faraway college. Father God, teach Thomas that You can be His Father anywhere in the world, and that this change in his life is going to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Calm his soul and draw him closer to you, or else his mother is going to go crazy! (Philippians 4:6)

Monday, July 26, 2004


It reminds me of the morning after a party in one’s callow youth, when you’d have fur on your tongue, find spilled drinks everywhere, and a cigarette butt in the cheese ball you left out all night.

It’s like something from a Roy Orbison song: “the party’s ovvvvvvvver!”

The garage sale ended, and we are left with six tables full of unsold items and a garage full of hand-me-downs, curiosi and junque. Now we have to box it up and give it to charity, and it’s going to take forever. The pre-sale enthusiasm has decayed into the blahs and the s-l-o-w’s.

Except, of course, for Maddy. She keeps dashing out there and salvaging stuff. A Gund bear, a fuzzy puppy, a little gizmo to keep phone cords on a reel, a floral centerpiece holder that’s a football, a “Tip the Cows” game with only one cow but it’s a cute cow. . . .

I feel like Sisyphus, pushing the rock up the hill almost to the peak, only to have it roll all the way back down.

C’mon, girls. We have GOT to get RID of this stuff.

But wait a minute! That copper kindling pot! We can’t sell that! My grandpa used to put old newspapers in it!

And wait a minute! That electric frying pan with one leg missing . . . that was expensive! I bet I can get that fixed.

And WAIT a minute! That flannel shirt! It’s not so hideous! One of these days it’s going to be cold again and it’ll be nice and cozy!

A little hair of the dog that bit you never hurt . . . but it may lead to overstuffed closets again.


Prayer request: A friend’s niece, Allyson, is having a test Wednesday to determine if her twins can be delivered on Thursday. Lord Jesus, we ask You to keep her and her twins healthy and safe throughout the delivery, which will be by C-section. Give the medical staff a double dose of Your Spirit and wisdom to bring this double blessing into Your world safely and successfully. (2 Kings 2:9)

Sunday, July 25, 2004


But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.
-- 1 Thessalonians 2:7

I’m so accident-prone, our insurance company wants to chain me to a nurse.

My husband calls my car ‘’Battlestar Galactica.’’ While cooking, I’ve sliced into my hands with knives so much they look like crick balls. Last week, I nearly killed some baseball fans when I thought I could return a foul ball over a 35-foot backstop despite my old-lady weenie arm.

No wonder I like nurses. We’re on a ‘’need-to-know basis.’’

I’m always amazed at the things nurses know how to do, and how calmly they do them. I’ve heard three stories lately that show the nurse’s knack for gentle, quiet, miraculously-timed caring.

First, a few weeks ago, a family was camping in Truman State Park in the Ozarks of central Missouri. A thunderstorm blew a tree onto the camper, injuring daughters, ages 3 and 6.

The ambulance picked up the family and negotiated through downed trees and power lines to the local hospital. The girls were airlifted into Kansas City. The parents were left behind.

Imagine how they felt.

Suddenly, a nurse stepped forward. ‘’I’ve got a full tank of gas,’’ she said. ‘’Here’s my keys, here’s my credit card and here’s my PIN number. You go get your girls. Follow them up there.’’

The girls are fine . . . and the nurse’s caring was unforgettable.

Second, there’s an Internet story circulating about the July 19, 1989, airplane crash near Sioux City, Iowa, which killed 111 of the 296 people on board. Two brothers and a sister, ages 15, 12 and 9, were traveling without their parents.

Their part of the plane landed upside down in a cornfield. A passenger helped them outside, and they ran through the corn to a clearing. Someone got them inside a tent, so they never saw the gruesome crash site or the bodies.

Then a nurse from the hospital, who must’ve been exhausted herself, took them home for the night, ‘til their parents could get there. The passenger who’d helped them off the plane came, too. They played Nintendo, ate ice cream, and rode bikes, banned from watching TV, protected from more trauma.

They’ve kept in touch with that nurse ever since, thankful for how she and others preserved their childhoods that day.

‘Course, blessings are always equally shared between blesser and blessee. It happened again in Springfield, Mo., last week, with another nurse heroine.

A teenager, Justin, went into surgery after fracturing his neck vertebrae in a car accident. His parents and a youth minister, my friend’s son, were in the waiting room.

In walked a stranger. She said: ‘’I have not been able to sleep for two nights. I need to know how he is.’’

Turns out she’s a nurse, and she was the first person to happen onto the scene of the accident.

She saw Justin pinned in the car, his tall body curled up into a ball, his neck cocked so far to the right that his ear was on his shoulder. He could not breathe . . . so she moved his head just enough so he could.

Then she sat there holding his head stable with her hands, talking and soothing him so he would not move. Paramedics arrived. They wanted to pull Justin out and throw him on a gurney.

The nurse refused to let them touch him, convinced she was literally holding his brains together. There was blood and so much matter, she thought his skull had been fractured.

She held her ground until the life-flight helicopter came, and they stabilized his neck and removed him safely.

Turns out, if he had been moved at all wrong, the damage would likely have paralyzed him. Thanks to that nurse and the skilled surgeon, though, Justin is fine.

I mean, what are the chances a NURSE would be the first one there?

It wasn’t UP to chance, of course.

Justin knows now: He’s got the whole world in His hands. And sometimes, He uses the hands of a nurse to keep everything, and everybody, all together . . . so they can live happily ever after.


Prayer request: Father, we bow in grief for the family, friends and fiancee of Jesse Greise, 21, a star wrestler and all-around wonderful young man killed in a kayaking excursion in Omaha. His funeral is at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Ironically, a friend of mine knew Jesse, and bought vegetables from him at a roadside stand last week. She has been crying nonstop, because that day, when she got back into her car ready to drive away, she had a fleeting urge to talk with him about Jesus. She didn’t; she put it off ‘til next time. Now there won’t be a next time. Help us all to learn to speak boldly, in Your timing, Lord. And comfort my friend with the certain knowledge that she has helped many, many others strengthen their faith, has inspired all of us to act on those urges as they come . . . and most of all, reassure her that she’ll see Jesse again some day. (Acts 14:3)

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Our older three girls are putting on a garage sale. They did all the work and are reaping the proceeds. The sale went well for them yesterday and we’re hoping for a bang-up finish today.

There was one dicey moment yesterday. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying my darndest to keep Maddy away from the wares slowly accumulating in the garage. They include many of her old toys. I was afraid she would try to bring it all back into the house.

Soon after the sale started yesterday, she dashed outside and snatched her yarn octopus off the top of the stuffed-animal pile, hugging it tightly to her chest.

‘’My octoputh!’’ she screamed. ‘’You can’t thell my octoputh!’’

Shoppers looked at me in horror, like I was a hard-bitten, materialistic Imelda Marcos trying to make a buck off my kid’s favorite lovey.

Well, an older sister had put it in the sale. She had no idea that a good friend of Eden’s had made that yarn octoputh for Maddy, and it was very thpethial to her.

Good thing it WAS so thpethial and Maddy ‘’saved’’ it . . . because the MOTHER of the octoputh-maker, a good friend of MINE, and a recent widow who needs all the encouragement and support she can get, arrived at the garage sale MINUTES LATER. She would have seen that yarn octoputh in the $1 pile.


And some people say the Holy Spirit only hangs out at church, not at mundane places like garage sales. As if.


Prayer request: Praise and thanks for the success of the girls’ garage sale yesterday, Lord. Special thanks for the cute gentleman who quietly handed us all the antique and collectible tools that we only placed in the 50-center bucket because we didn’t know any better. He could so easily have bought them and turned them around at a huge profit for himself, Father, but he didn’t. Bless him! Praise You for people like that. My prayer is that the girls make mega-profits and everybody goes away happy as the sale concludes today. (2 Corinthians 13:7)

Friday, July 23, 2004


Maddy’s preschool teacher is moving to Germany, and we finally settled on a parting gift -- a lovely bar of soap. Pink, of course. But Maddy also dictated this letter, which makes Germany sound a lot different than what I was picturing:

Dear Ms. Sandy,

I love you! You gave me pizza if I said ‘’Please.’’ You helped me do everything. You helped me a lot. You smiled at me.

Germany will be fun for you. Maybe it will have Care Bear buildings made out of clouds, and houses made out of clouds, and the one that’s jail is a big, huge Care Bear.

They eat Care Bear cake and they drink water made out of clouds.

People don’t live in Germany -- Care Bears do. But the Care Bears let persons in, ‘cause they’re loveable.

I wish Ms. Sandy and her husband will have a happy time.


Maddy Williams


Prayer request: People don’t often think of You, Jesus, as an excellent role model for business. But this weekend’s garage sale, which our older three girls are putting on, has followed Your leadings in many ways: order out of chaos, quality over quantity, the beauty and peace that come from living with a little bit less ‘’stuff’’ . . . while making “stuff” that others really need available cheap. What a great learning experience it has been for us all. Lord, bless the girls with big profits, and inspire them to tithe off their earnings. Teach them to be frugal and simple in their buying habits throughout their lives. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Whoa! Women’s athletics had a wacky day yesterday. First, a group of us met for coffee, and one of our number is a bicyclist par excellence. We didn’t know how determined she was, until she showed up at the fancy coffee shop with her bike, a Tour de France T-shirt, and a biking kerchief with chickens on it. She even wheeled the bike inside the restaurant to keep it safe.

When she left, we walked out in front of her, announcing: “It’s Lancette Armstrong! She’s taken a wrong turn in the Alps! Make way so she can get back into the race!”

It all worked out: we had depleted the oxygen in that restaurant with our gabbing, which perfectly replicated the biking conditions in the Alps.


But that’s not all. Yesterday also was a scrimmage between our daughter Eden’s team, the Firestix, and their 18-and-under rivals. The Firestix had beaten them in the metro tournament and went on to win it. At that game, though, one of the girls on the other team was a really poor sport, and called our girls a horrible name, a name that no girl wants to be called.


Instead of retaliating, our girls showed good character. But for this scrimmage last night, they had a lot of hilarious ideas:

They would change their team name from Firestix to “Firecrotches.”

They would wear dark blue eyeshadow up to their eyebrows, and lots of red lipstick.

They would tuck their uniform tops into their sports bras, and pull their uniform shorts down below their belly buttons.

They would wear leopard-skin sliding shorts.

Athletes to the end, though, they didn’t do any of it. They just showed up to play ball. And yes, they spanked them once again.

They’re not THAT kind of girls. They’re just first-class winners.


Prayer request: Safety and wisdom for a friend named Ellie, whose family feels threatened by an apparent mental illness in a family member. It could turn violent. Lord, protect them and restrain their loved one from hurting anybody, including himself. Surround him with people to restore his sound mind and set him back on a healthy course. (Philippians 2:5)

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


Had coffee with a friend who moved here to the Armpit of the Nation (well, Nebraska’s not THAT bad) from a place she really loved that sounds just wonderful: Tampa, Fla.

Her husband’s corporate. When he found out his family was being moved from sunny Tampa to the strange, foreign, snowbound, buffalo-bedecked, somewhere-out-there Omaha, Nebraska, beads of sweat popped out all over his forehead over how he was going to tell his lovely WIFE.

He solved it. Now I’m in his fan club for life.

He somehow got a hold of a corn cob, and some leopard-fur earmuffs. Don’t ask me how, in Tampa. But he did.

Here’s the kicker: he ALSO purchased some beautiful diamond earrings.

He stuck the earrings into the ends of the corn cob and covered them with the earmuffs. Then he gave her this strange contraption and explained what it meant.

The thrill of the sparkling ice, and the overall humor, charmed her into becoming a willing transplanted Cornhusker. They’ve been here five years.

I don’t want them to ever move away . . . but must confess I’d love to see what he comes up with next time.


Prayer request: It has been a full year since the death of my good friends’ and neighbors’ daughter, Cara. I dreamed about her the other night and still can’t quite believe she is gone. Lord Jesus, thank You for all the love You have bestowed on Cara’s family in the past year, and keep it coming. Help those around them continue to encircle them with Your grace and reassurance that Cara lives on and they’ll be with her again. (John 14:2,3)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


One of Maddy’s preschool teachers had an apartment fire, but now is back at work and doing fine. However, now the other one is moving to Germany. Her young husband is a junior executive going there for training by a multinational corporation. It’s kind of an honor and a fun adventure for them to live abroad for a year or two. But we’ll miss Ms. Sandy.

I asked Maddy what she would like to give her as a going-away gift. I was thinking along the lines of something Nebraska-y to share in Germany, such as popcorn, or maybe a picture frame or a bracelet, something like that.

But Maddy knew exactly what she wanted to give Ms. Sandy and her husband.

For her . . . a ROBOT FOOT.

For him . . . a CHEETAH shirt with CHEETAH pants.

What were they THINKING, to move over there without that stuff?

Hey . . . at least her gifts will be memorable!


Follow-up: REJOICE! Young Justin, yesterday’s prayer subject, did great through his neck surgery and will have full functioning, instead of being paralyzed. Thank You, Jesus, and thank you, prayer warriors.


Prayer request: A double dose of grace today for Linda, who lives in the Springfield, Mo., area. She and her husband are both cancer survivors and have lost an 18-month-old grandson to cancer. The trials have just made them more charitable. They give all they can to charities, including a home for severely handicapped persons where a cousin’s son lived for 30 years and has a wing named after him. Father, thank You for placing heroes like Linda in our paths so that our own burdens can be placed in perspective. Reward her for her faithfulness! And encourage us all to press on toward the prize that comes only from serving others with Your love. (Phillippians 3:14)

Monday, July 19, 2004


Our 16-year-old Eden is a good speller, a fast reader, and very imaginative. Sometimes, that combination spells trouble.

The other day, she saw one of those local family lifestyle magazines with a big misspelling on the cover, “thru” for “through.” It made her scan for more errors.

The cover photo showed girls doing ballet. There also was the text:

Helping baby sleep thru the night
Improving your baseball skills

Well, the font was skinny. She didn’t notice that the “I” on “Improving” was capitalized.

Therefore, she thought that text was about ONE story, telling you how to do BOTH of those things at the same time. You know, practicing baseball while getting your baby to sleep.


Hooking up rocker legs on the baby’s crib to a bat, while you rhythmically practice-swing?

Throwing the baby up in the air repetitively and catching him or her in an oversized glove?

Whew. Was she relieved to look again and realize those are TWO different stories.

Parenting is tricky . . . but not THAT tricky.


Prayer request: We pray for successful surgery today for a young man named Justin in southern Missouri, a brilliant student set to start Wheaton College in the fall. He was asleep in the back seat of a car coming home from a kayaking excursion, not wearing his seat belt, when there was a terrible crash and he fractured three neck vertebrae. There is a chance he could become a quadriplegic or suffer compression problems. We pray that surgery will prevent that, that he will be more submissive to his medical team, that his parents will find grace and rest, and that he will come through this trial with his season of distance from You over, Lord, and inspired to dedicate his life to You. (Psalm 38:8)

Sunday, July 18, 2004


Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
-- Proverbs 8:18

I don’t know what it is with my husband and Automatic Teller Machines. When they first came out, we were teenage sweethearts. We went to a brand-new ATM.

He put his card in and requested his bank balance. It came back: ‘’$2,500.’’

WHOA! He thought he had, maybe, $25 in there. Obviously, they still had some bugs to work out.

He’s an honest guy, so we went inside and requested the balance again from the teller.

This time, it came back: ‘’$25,000.’’


Vice presidents’ heads popped out of offices. They gathered, consulted, and had the teller do it one more time.

It came back: ‘’$25,000,000.’’

My husband asked casually, ‘’May I have a withdrawal slip?’’

But darn, they straightened it out, and he really only had $25. He says now that it was all just a trick, to impress me with his dazzling resources.

But I got him back on a hot summer night years later.

We had loaded up the kids to go get ice cream cones. But we didn’t have any cash. So we went to the ATM.

What to our wondering eyes should appear in the slot but a $20 bill! The person before us must have left it by mistake. There was no one in sight. The bank was closed.

A little bitty white angel popped out on my husband’s right shoulder. ‘’Turn in the money to the bank tomorrow morning.’’

A little bitty red devil, though, popped out on his LEFT shoulder. ‘’To ____ with THAT! You snooze, you lose! Take the money and run!’’

He reached for it, gleefully.

‘’HEY!!!!!!’’ I protested. ‘’Let’s wait a minute and see if they come back.’’

We did. They didn’t.

I still protested: ‘’That’s probably some poor single mother’s grocery money for the week! Maybe it’s for her dying grandma’s medication!’’

He stuffed the $20 into his wallet. ‘’Naw, whoever left it there must be so loaded they didn’t even miss it. They’re probably on their way to the boats or something.’’

He zoomed off, whistling, ‘’We’re In the Money.’’

I kept whining, all the way. ‘’They’re probably back there right now, in tears, searching the bushes and the median!’’

He kept grinning. ‘’Naw, I just taught ‘em a LESSON. They’ll be more CAREFUL next time.’’

We got to the ice cream shop. He went in. I sat in the car with the kids and stewed. I watched him through the glass, all jolly.

An older lady pulled up in the next stall. She looked like a sport. We conspired.

She went in and stalked right up to him. He turned toward her, smiling pleasantly.

She said something.

I watched his jaw drop, his eyebrows rise, and his shoulders lean toward her in disbelief.

It was exquisite. Here’s what she said:


It took him a few seconds of high-speed brain processing to realize that she was 70 years old . . . with no baby in sight . . . and she was by now laughing hysterically.

He turned around to see us in helpless hysterics, too. He pointed, and grinned.

He paid for her cone, too, and left the change as a huge tip for the counter person. So everybody was happy.

That ice cream tasted like a million bucks. No, $25 million!

Now, I suppose a spiritual perfectionist would have left the money there. But he was an honest, hardworking husband and father. Who’s to say HE didn’t need that $20 boost more?

You never know, with God’s economy.

Maybe it was meant to be: a little reward, a double-dip of fun for a guy who could’ve been elsewhere, but he chose to be with his wife and kids that night.

That’s why the ATM camera always shows me smiling when I drive up. I’m ready for anything. You just never know when it’s your turn to get . . . pennies from heaven.


Prayer request: We are delighted beyond measure to learn that the beloved bride and groom for whom Maddy was the delirious flower girl are expecting their first child! Father, bless the health and fortunes of Jessie and Chad through this pregnancy, delivery and throughout their Christ-centered lives. (Psalm 127:3-4)

Saturday, July 17, 2004


One of Maddy’s preschool teachers lost her apartment and most of its contents to a fire a couple of weeks ago. But friends old and new came through.

The Red Cross put her up in a place to stay while all the clean-up, insurance and arrangements could be made. She was very grateful. She said she has been aware of the Red Cross all her life, but always just vaguely. She used to think of them as helping people not a bit like her and far, far away, like in Africa. Not now. The Red Cross is her hometown hero for good, after this.

Her coworkers and a number of preschool parents chipped in with cash donations. It made her cry.

She used some of it to buy two new lamps, since the temporary apartment has no overhead lighting. She made sure they weren’t halogen. Why?

The fire started in an apartment near hers when the resident left and forgot to turn off a halogen lamp. It overheated. The first thing everybody did after the fire engines left was to throw out their halogen lamps.

That was one lesson. But the wonderful way people stepped up to help was another.

It may not make the papers. But to my mind, that’s HOT NEWS.


Prayer request: An urgent prayer request has gone out for Darrell, the husband of my fellow BIble study participant, Marlene. Darrell is being treated for brain cancer. He had to be rushed to the hospital earlier this week for suspected meningitis. They’ve ruled that out but still don’t know what’s wrong, other than he’s gravely ill and in need of prayer. (Psalm 20:6)

Friday, July 16, 2004


We are crushed to report that the cheapo camera our two older girls took on their big New York City adventure didn’t work. So they have no pictures of all they saw and did. They went to Chinatown, Little Italy, Tiffany’s, the Plaza, a couple of museums, played football in Central Park, negotiated the subways like champs, and did all that wonderful first-trip-to-the-Big-Apple kind of stuff.

One thing stands out, though: the older one’s boyfriend is interning there, and he fixed the younger one up with a date for Saturday night, a fellow intern. He’s a native New Yorker, and his name is Vinny. Is that classic, or what?

What’s just as classic is that the four of them went out to dinner in a place where, after you dine, you have TANGO LESSONS!!!!!

Maybe they BROKE the camera so we couldn’t see the picture of them with red roses between their teeth, being bent over backwards on the dance floor . . . because wow! Wouldn’t THAT have had juicy blackmail potential!


Prayer request: Rest and comfort to the family of a dear friend up in Minnesota whose mother-in-law, Lois, died recently. It’s interesting to note that this faithful daughter-in-law named her own daughter Ruth -- the most faithful daughter-in-law in history! There’s a big void in my friend’s life since her caretaking duties are over, but Father, fill it with Your rewards of peace and rest for a job well done. (Ruth 1:16)

Thursday, July 15, 2004


All weekend in ‘’See the Rabbits, Iowa’’ (OK . . . Cedar Rapids), I was worried that Maddy, 4, would see the cross-dresser who had been frequently spotted in our motel. He/she was apparently staying a few doors down from our contingent of softball families there for a big regional tournament. He/she had conversed pleasantly with other members of our party, saying that he/she was in town for a ‘’recital.’’

I just didn’t want Maddy Motormouth to run into him/her and do what Maddy Motormouth does best -- say something hysterical and very loud -- and hurt the person’s feelings.

But you kind of couldn’t miss him/her. Our fellow travelers described him/her as being immensely tall, made taller by a Marge Simpson beehive, with a deep voice, wearing a really frilly red dress, and high-soled flipflops -- with hairy toe knuckles plainly evident.

I don’t even want to THINK what Maddy would have had to say. Luckily, we never saw the person.

Then a friend told what HER daughter said, at age 6, when she saw a cross-dresser in a downtown Omaha restaurant.

The child said excitedly:


Her mother cringed and wondered how she was ever going to be able to explain.

But then the child continued:



Prayer request: We praise You and thank You, Lord, for the recovery from a near-fatal electrocution suffered June 28 by a friend’s friend, a young father named Ken. Over the weekend, he came out of a coma, squeezed his father’s hand, and cried with his wife. We join the family in rejoicing, pray for full healing, and thank You so much, Father, for showing Your omnipotent power in mercy and healing. (Psalm 29:4)

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Today is Bastille Day, a big holiday in France. I used to be a big Francophile and studied the language for seven years. But now, French behavior over Iraq and other matters has me saying, “Sacre bleu!”

The irony was not lost on most Americans as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of D-Day. We saved their ever-lovin’ derrieres from the Germans in World War II, and yet the French have been so cowardly, craven and insulting to us lately in the war on terrorism and efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some friends THEY are.

The real reason: money. They’re entangled in Iraq. So France sold out.

We have this neat D-Day remembrance book by TIME that has lots of pictures of the 1944 deliverance of France that, today, are ironic indeed. When the Americans and British swept into Paris, the French jammed the streets shouting their joy and thanks to the Allies, who had spent an incredible number of lives and dollars to liberate them from their enemy.

The TIME reporter wrote, “I have never seen in any face such joy as radiated from the faces of the people of Paris this morning.’’

Sandwiches and champagne were shoved at soldiers; flowers and kisses were thrown. Frenchmen climbed on top of cars and jeeps, jumping for joy. The crowd made “a great mass cry of delight that swelled and died down and swelled to a greater height. . . . But one word repeated over and over rose above all the other words. It was ‘Merci! Merci! Merci!’’’

How quickly they forget.


Prayer request: Urgent prayer to spare the life of the husband of a fellow summer Bible study participant. Darrell was diagnosed with brain cancer and had just begun radiation therapy. He seemed to be doing OK, but his wife couldn’t awaken him Tuesday and he had to be rushed to the hospital. In such an emergency, all we can do is cling to You, Father, for strength, comfort and, if it be Your will, life for this Godly man. (John 10:10)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


One of my softball mom pals is a hilarious neighbor. She told of the time her across-the-street neighbors had a tree go bad. It was turning rusty orange from stem (get it?) to stern. Since it was relatively new, they called the nursery, and were happy to hear that they would replace it.

Well, it was a busy time of year, so the tree just sat there getting worse and worse. That’s when my friend was inspired to conspire: she and some other neighbors called the nursery to make sure what they had planned wouldn’t void the replacement.

Then they went out and bought a bunch of neon orange spray paint.

Then they went over there with ladders in the middle of the night and sprayed that tree from stem (get it?) to stern, bright orange.

THEN they hooted and giggled when the homeowners came out of their house the next morning. They went right up to that tree, literally scratching their heads in perplexity over how it could have gotten so much “worse” in one night.

Orange they glad the practical jokers came right at ‘em with cameras right then.


Prayer request: Safe travel for a dear friend Audrey, whose father’s twin brother died in Fergus Falls, Minn. Praise for Audrey’s obedience to you, Jesus: she felt a “leading” last week to take her parents up there to visit him, “just because.” The twins hadn’t seen each other for two years. People who stay tuned in to the Lord are people who lead happier lives, and we thank You for Audrey’s example. (Psalm 23:2)

Monday, July 12, 2004


The same-sex marriage controversy is raging this week in Washington, D.C. If you have any reason why authorizing homosexual relationships should not be joined with American lawbooks ‘til death do us part, speak now to your U.S. senators or forever hold your peace.

I think the strategy of the gay activists to make most Americans ashamed to voice their opinions on this issue for fear of being labeled ‘’intolerant’’ is just terrible.

They say that, because of the separation of church and state, all the religious objections to enabling and legalizing homosexual behavior should be censored.



The First Amendment says just the opposite. We’re SUPPOSED to encourage free religious expression, not try to squelch it to get our way. It’s far more constitutional and all-American to mix talk of God with talk of governmental affairs than to foolishly think you can keep them separate.

If you want to see a vivid example, buy a copy of TIME’s ‘’D-Day: 60th Anniversary Tribute: 24 Hours That Saved the World.’’ It should be on newstands into August.

Here’s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his June 6 radio address to the nation on p. 109:

‘’Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor. . . . Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them.’’

Ooh! He mixed church and state! Shouldn’t we exhume his body, dock his pay posthumously, and slap him for that? Weren’t those the public’s airwaves he was using? We should revoke those FCC licenses retroactively!

Here FDR is again on p. 93, having sent a letter to all service members “commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces.” What was he THINKING, to use government paper to issue such a narrow-minded, bigoted suggestion? We’d better sue his estate for damages, and to get back the cost of the paper he used for his letter.

Gay activists say they have no problem with religious expression as long as it is “ghettoized” in shut-in, shut-up churches, synagogues and mosques. But that’s far, far, far from the American way.

As the news of the Normandy invasion spread throughout the country on that day in 1944, as photos in the TIME book showed, factory workers took a moment to stop and pray, on their knees, in a Chicago manufacturing plant; racetracks called off their programs and stores closed at noon. Can you imagine? They let their spiritual feelings be known outside of their churches, in the public square! They should all be thrown in jail for violating the First Amendment!



Come on, you guys. Trying to squelch free religious speech with phony claims about ‘’intolerance’’ on this same-sex marriage issue today, is unfair, unAmerican and very dangerous to freedom.

This is another D-Day. Let the spirit of America muster an invasion . . . an invasion of truth . . . and storm the cliffs of people’s hearts.


Prayer request: Gratitude, Lord, for safe trips home for our family from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and New York City, as well as successful wisdom-teeth extraction this morning for our Jordan. Fill her with Your wisdom, Lord, and a double dose of Your quick healing would be nice, too. (James 3:17)

Sunday, July 11, 2004


A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
— John 16:16

My friend’s father-in-law was a paratrooper who landed at Normandy and won two Purple Hearts. He married, reared five children and worked hard, a stickler for being on time and giving your best every day.

An all-American kind of guy. The salt of the earth.

Widowed for more than 10 years and hard of hearing, he developed colon cancer. A few weekends ago, the call went out: Dad was in hospice and was not expected to live through the night.

The five adult children and their spouses rushed there, grateful to arrive in time to say goodbye . . . and to have one last chance to lead him to saving faith.

You see, Dad had had his share of ‘’stuff.’’ Although he was good and kind, he didn’t discuss spirituality. He wasn’t one for going to church. The kids weren’t sure that he was a believer . . . a Christian.

So there were a lot of Scriptures read and prayers said over him, as he faded in and out of consciousness, under heavy sedation for the pain.

They encouraged him to accept Jesus as his Savior so that he could be in heaven with their mother again. They weren’t sure how much he heard, though.

They told sweet stories about their childhood: how once this tough paratrooper had fallen asleep on the couch and his daughters wound his hair into pincurls and painted his toenails.

How, when his son announced at a family dinner that he had asked my friend to marry him, the old man’s immediate retort was: “What’d you wanna do THAT for?” They were shocked. Then they howled with laughter.

He was gruff. But when they messed up, he always went ‘way out of his way to show them he loved them, and that everything would be OK.

And now he lay dying. Would everything be OK . . . for HIM . . . eternally?

About midnight, he woke with a start, feverish, struggling to breathe. They assured him they were there and they loved him.

A nurse gave more IV morphine. It knocked him out.

Everyone stretched out with a jacket or blanket over them. Most dozed.

The TV was on, very low, tuned to a “Bonanza” rerun. My friend, a nurse, periodically took her father-in-law’s pulse and monitored his breathing.

At 3:35 a.m., his eyes popped open.

“Dad,” she said, “we are all still here with you and we love you. Why don’t you just walk right on into Jesus’ arms?”

The others gathered near. Realizing it was the end, they touched him, saying “goodbye,” weeping. One said, “We want to see you in heaven, Dad.”

Suddenly, the TV blared out very loudly, with someone singing:

“Amazing grace / how sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me. . . .”

The song continued. As they watched, the old man closed his eyes and breathed his last.

They knew it was no coincidence.

The TV’s loud message was audible to a hard-of-hearing man at his moment of greatest decision, his last chance to take that leap of faith -- the one that can make a paratrooper’s leap look easy.

They were sure he took that leap and believed, in the end. They rejoiced.

Was lost, but now is found.

Was blind, but now he sees.

They’ve tried to track down a “Bonanza” episode with that song. They can’t find it, although they all remember Lorne Greene, “Pa,” singing on that show. You don’t exactly hear that kind of song on TV any more, but then again, this was the middle of the night.

What a deathbed scene: an all-American kind of guy surrounded by loving children, while the all-American father figure on America’s favorite show sings everybody’s favorite song of faith, not at prime time . . . but right on time.

They suddenly realized something. It was Father’s Day.

And, like Dad always said . . . everything was going to be OK.

Prayer request: We leap for joy on behalf of this dear family and their late father. It was a life very well-lived, and the adult children’s loving care of their father in his final hours shows what a harvest he had in this life. Thank You, Father, for the example of this man and so many other wonderful fathers that You’ve given us. (Luke 6:23)

Friday, July 09, 2004



Maddy, 4, is excited to go out of town with us. We’re going to yet another softball tournament for our 16-year-old daughter Eden’s team. This time, we’re going to that exotic vacation paradise of the ultra-fab jetset, a town in northeast Iowa.

In Maddy’s fractured vocabulary, we’re going to “See the Rabbits.”

I’m sure she’s imagining thousands of bunnies of all descriptions to hug and play with. If that vision will keep her quiet in the car for nearly five hours, I’m for it.

Now, I was whining to a friend about how our two older daughters would be in New York City this weekend, tripping the light fantastic, going to a Broadway show, taking in some museums, dining out at fabulous places, and just being totally cosmopolitan and cool.

Meanwhile, WE would be in “See the Rabbits, Iowa,” going to endless softball games in 96-degree heat and humidity, sitting on metal bleachers so that our shorts get stuck, staying in a motel with the added feature of COLOR TV (not just black and white), and dining on seeds and drive-through slam-dunk whatever all weekend.

My friend consoled me with the claim that in downtown “See the Rabbits” they have the world’s best poppyseed kolaches.

Hope we see ‘em before the rabbits do.


Prayer request: We ask for safe travel for all those on the road this weekend, Lord. Keep Your strong hand on us. (Ezekiel 3:14c)


You had posted six questions about the Bible's handling of polygamy, concubinage, divorce and other light-hearted, poolside topics on, an online publication which occasionally runs my stuff. I posted answers today. See the June 29 article, "Religion: A Force for Good, or For Evil?" and my answer dated today.

Cheerio, and God bless!


Our two older daughters, Jordan and Neely, are in New York City this weekend, having the first of what we hope are many great experiences in The Big Apple.

My first trip there was as a fashion reporter for my hometown newspaper. I attended a week of style shows at the fall fashion press previews at the Plaza Hotel. It was a little different than the courthouse beat, although I still saw crimes and misdemeanors among the fashions. I had a marvelous time.

My favorite memory was an early-morning trade-show breakfast in the fabulous ballroom. It was sponsored by the Pearl Institute. Naturally, there would be modeling of pearl jewelry while the reporters ate. It was shameless promotion. But it was also free breakfast. So we all went.

I, however, had been partying the night before, and overslept. I barely combed my hair, had my big thick glasses on, and wore a frumpy Nebraska-y outfit, the last one I had left, since it was the last day. I hurried down to the ballroom. I was the very last person to arrive, among hundreds.

The only seat left was ‘way up at the front. Mysteriously, there seemed to be 18 “suits” there, and one voluptuous young woman in a slinky azure gown with a plunging decolletage, showing off some gigantic pearls . . . around her neck and wrist, that is, and pearl ear-boulders, too.

I sat down. Suddenly, spotlights whirled around the room. The person at the mike said, “And now . . . introducing . . . the most beautiful woman in the world . . . the one . . . the only . . . Miss Pearl!”

The spotlights zeroed in on our table. The 18 “suits” looked over at the beauty; they were apparently the Pearl Institute executives who were paying for all this.

Well, I couldn’t help myself. Basking in the spotlight, I got up out of my chair . . . and waved to the confused crowd . . . in my uncombed hair, thick glasses and Nebraska-y outfit . . . with nary a decolletage nor a pearl in sight.

I was the only one in the ballroom who laughed at my little -- very little -- joke. But at least I had fun.

New York! New York! If you can make it (as Miss Pearl) there, you’ll make it anywhere . . . if you can make it out of the ballroom before 18 furious Pearl Institute “suits” beat you up.


Prayer request: We lift up to You for protection Jordan and Neely during their exciting adventure in New York City, Lord. Thank You for making them so level-headed and strong-spirited, and let them have fun! (Haggai 2:4c)




Had a nice note from a new reader, a resident of a beautiful town in California who grew up in Nebraska’s Buffalo County. He says he’s still a Cornhusker.

It’s the same way with my brother Danny. He’s a longtime California resident who has now lived in Boston for several years. All along, this University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate has worn his Nebraska pride on his sleeve . . . or up a 30-foot pole, which is where he flies his gigantic inflatable Herbie Husker on game days.

He used to run Herbie up that pole outside his house in Orange County, Calif., since he lived near a big Interstate. It was amazing how many people honked.

He happened to live next door to another transplanted Nebraskan, who had worked for legendary N.U. strength coach Boyd Epley and had moved on to the Anaheim Angels. The two of them conspired on many N.U. hijinks and enjoyed the company of Nebraska-generated pro baseball star Darin Erstad, among others, rooting on the home team whenever games were televised, which was often.

But you have to be careful when you marry out of the family. Danny’s lovely wife is a Massachusetts product. While she’s supportive of his fervor for his alma mater, she doesn’t quite understand it.

One time, she raced upstairs, screaming bloody murder. “DANNY! There’s a MAN in the downstairs shower! He’s got a KNIFE!!! RUN!!!”

Shades of “Psycho”! REET! REET! REET! REET!

It was just Danny’s inflatable Herbie Husker, holding aloft -- what else? – an inflatable corn cob. Danny had stashed him in the never-used downstairs shower in between games, because he was too lazy to deflate him.

What’s really crazy is that SHE was the one who felt SILLY and DEFLATED about it. That’s the Brotherhood of the Corn for you: pride and chutzpah that refuse to be husked.


Prayer request: Two extra-special people -- Caroline and Jeff -- have job interviews today. Thank You for these opportunities, Father. We pray to You, Jehovah-jireh (the Lord will provide), to put the sparkle in their eyes and the words in their mouths that will make the best possible impression. And if it be Your will for them to land these jobs, we pray that everything will fall into place so perfectly that they’ll know Who the real recruitment director was, and praise You for it. (Gen. 22:14)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


Is it movies? TV? The culture? All I know is, man! Kids are growing up fast these days.

At a wedding reception Saturday night, our 16-year-old looked beautiful in a red sparkly dress. Well, the “ringman” – as Maddy called the 5-year-old ringbearer – came up to her – came up to her waist, that is – and asked her to dance.

“Come on! Let’s go!” was his line.

O . . . K.

But then guess what happened? After a while, he said, “We could go to my hotel.”

Our daughter just burst out laughing . . . and assumed there must be a great indoor waterslide at the pool there or something that he wanted to show her.

We hope.


Prayer request: A very nice father in his early 70s named Dick has just been diagnosed with cancer. He will have to undergo chemo. Among his adult children, one daughter lives in town and has carried the load of his care and so forth, despite her own recent messy divorce and many stresses. Lord, we pray for Dick’s healing and for his family to provide lots of help for the local daughter in this trial. Also strengthen her faith, which has become wobbly through all this, Jesus. (Rev. 2:10)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


This is ‘’Adult Competence Summer’’ for our two college girls. They have had sewing lessons and mower maintenance lessons. They have seen how to sharpen knives, store winter clothes and, everybody’s top priority, dust the refrigerator motor.

Hey! These are things you’ve got to know. When I was their age, I thought I was too cool for ‘’household arts,’’ and so we had mysterious ‘’chocolate chip pancake cookies’’ because I didn’t think baking soda was essential, and we had his-and-her pink undies as newlyweds when, to save time, I washed a bright red rug with our whites.

I vowed that my daughters would be better equipped for the stresses, strains, challenges and puzzles of adulthood. Largely through their own can-do attitudes, I think they are.

Now they are getting ready for a long weekend trip in New York City together. So they’ve been learning about airline schedules, making hotel accommodations, plotting itineraries and scoping out subway routes.

Part of this trip is a gift marking our oldest daughter’s 21st birthday, but we’re making them earn the rest by putting on a gigantic, long-overdue garage sale for us. That process has also been a great learning experience for them, in everything from advertising to pricing to, best of all, cleaning the garage.

One other key item in ‘’Adult Competence’’ has been recipe management and cooking. Neely has been my Recipe Czar. She has taken all my age-old newspaper clippings, scrawled recipes on backs of envelopes, typed notes, and stained and spattered cards, and put them into two beautifully-organized, color-coordinated three-ring binders in about 15 categories. It’s heaven.

For our 4th of July cookout, Neely scored big with the relatives for her twin loaves of zucchini bread. Her choice was born of necessity: the zucchini crop from ‘’The North One-Fortieth,’’ our vegetable garden, is loading us up with Incoming Squash faster than we can keep up. But this bread tastes great, and is healthy to boot.

Since Neely’s nickname is ‘’NeeNee,’’ we’re calling this bread ‘’Zucchini NeeNee.’’ Here’s the recipe:

3 eggs
2 C. sugar
1 C. cooking oil
2 C. shredded unpeeled zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. chopped nuts
3 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Grease and flour two 2-quart loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat. Add oil slowly and beat. Add vanilla and zucchini and mix thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to zucchini mixture. Mix in nuts. Pour into pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pans 5-10 minutes, then turn out on racks. Cool. Freezes well.


Prayer request: We have a concern about a friend’s daughter Molly and whether she is about to lurch into an engagement ‘way too young. Maybe it’s Your plan for her life, Lord . . . but maybe it’s not. We throw ourselves on Your throne of grace for gentle but firm guidance for her. Let her know ASAP whether this young man is the one You’ve sent for her, or not. (John 4:34)

Monday, July 05, 2004


Reading a small-town newspaper over the weekend, I learned that Nebraska has proudly sent many competitors to a big farm machinery show in Louisville, Ky., which was defined as “the Super Bowl of tractor pulls.”

That event just has to go on my list of things to do and places to see before my expiration date, right along with Hawaii, Paris and the Masters at Augusta.

I was wondering if maybe our antique tractor, Maudie, might qualify for some kind of an event down there. You know, like masters swimming has a fogie bracket and big prizes for senior citizens who participate, like a lifetime supply of denture cream or whatever.

Somehow, I doubt Maudie could cut the mustard there, though. Maudie, a 1948 International Harvester Farm-All Cub, has 9.4 horsepower. The pro stocks in these tractor pulls can put out anywhere between 600 and 1,200 hp, the article said, with the modifieds generating up to 3,000. Wow! Imagine that power.

I don’t know, Maudie. ‘Course, you could always try for Miss Congeniality.


Prayer request: Lord, thank you for inspiring my brother Danny and family to come home for a weekend visit from Boston for a family wedding. Grant them a safe return and a suitcase full of good new memories. Families may be separated by miles, but we are grateful that in Jesus, we are all in one. (John 10:30)

Sunday, July 04, 2004


Happy 4th of July! Today’s the day we celebrate our freedoms, including one of the most precious ones, the freedom to have fun. Despite all the tough things that face us, we’re a nation that gives the pursuit of happiness a high priority. And that’s good. Here’s to United States of America . . . one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice and humor for all. – With love, S.


A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
— Ecclesiastes 3:4

Worked on one too many charity fund-raisers lately? Goodness gland squeezed dry? Find yourself a little burned out on do-goodism . . . or maybe FRIED to a CRISP?

Then you may like this account of an all-American table display and wine-tasting party that got a little out of control.

I love their name: “The PMS Club.” They held their fund-raiser in an Iowa workplace on a recent Saturday, as reported in The Imogene Hub.***

Quoting from that newspaper:

On the day of the event Kim was the first to have her table set using an old plate that she accidentally spilled paint on. She called it “hand-painted china.” She described her silverware as being from the WalMart Collection, and had it wrapped in a rubber band. Her goblet was chipped glass and her centerpiece was weeds from her back yard, or in her words, “native grasses.”

Maureen Campin chose to set her table in what she called “mid-century.” Her main focus was a turquoise Melmac plate from circa 1958 and a red aluminum drinking glass. She said all they ate in the ‘50s were sandwiches, so she didn’t have silverware.

Mary Ellen King showed creativity with a paper plate and a goblet created from an Old Style can with the top cut out. Her setting was completed with a knife, fork and spoon individually wrapped in plastic that she saved from her last stay at the hospital. A plastic ashtray with Emerald Isle advertising on it served as her centerpiece.

The only person presenting genuine china was Ver Keasling. She said it was Japanese Fukagawa and admitted that it was an ugly pattern but said she bought it because she liked to say the name. Her centerpiece was a spray of plastic flowers with a “Rest in Peace” ribbon that she salvaged from the cemetery after Memorial Day.

Other tables were set with various patterns of Corelle and featured humdrum centerpieces like Kleenex carnations and faded Veteran’s Day poppies.

Therese brought wine from the vineyards of Kellyo and Patio Hugheso in the Farmer City Valley. Next to the wine she stacked little pointy Dixie cups she ripped off from a hotel bathroom. Before the doors opened Kay O’Connor added the finishing touches with her napkins and as she placed a Kotex on each table she apologized for their being yellowed from age.

The mob outside numbered two. Among the crowd were Kim’s husband Gil and the McNeilly shop foreman, Gary Bosley. Kim failed to mention the PMS Club project to her husband and the men were there to work. They refused to pay to get in but reconsidered when they saw the wine table.

The first wine that Therese offered was from the 2003-04 vintage and was called “Chateau Traileur Parc.” She described it as tart with lush aromas of vinegar. She said if one didn’t like the taste, one could always use it for making pickles or cleaning glass.

“White Trashfindel” was the next sample that Therese described as wet, yet dry. She said that according to Patio Hugheso, “White Trashfindel” is the wine of choice to be served with Velveeta cheese.

“Chef Boyardeaux” was the third bottle Therese uncorked. She sniffed the cork, licked it, then took a drink straight from the bottle before proclaiming it to be a full-bodied wine with a helluva kick. She said Patio told her “Chef Boyardeaux” is excellent paired with pasta, and Kellyo suggested Spaghettios.

As her finale Therese brought out the sample everyone had been waiting for, called “Chateau des Moines.” Vinted and bottled right there in Farmer City Valley, the taste was the perfect blend of corn and alcohol with yeast accents.

As the program was ending, two more men arrived and again refused to pay admission. The man doing the talking kept shouting, “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms!” Kim thought one of the club members ordered supplies but when she didn’t see a truck, she pushed the button on her McNeilly Garage Door operator and shut the door in their ugly, screaming faces.


***Reprinted with permission. I highly recommend you subscribe to The Imogene Hub. Its motto: “Lighten up & laugh.” AMEN! It comes monthly for $12 a year. Send checks to 1485 390 Ave., Imogene, IA 51645.


Prayer request: America’s greatest power comes from her dependence on God and His principles. One of those is balance, as shown in our Constitution’s Bible-based, three-estate system of executive, legislative and judicial branches. Father, we praise You for this perfect system of government. We pray for strength to continue to build and sustain freedom in this not-so-perfect world. (Isaiah 33:22)

Saturday, July 03, 2004


Our globally-aware, multicultural society assures us that it’s never a dull moment here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Somewhat Deranged. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let’s celebrate America’s sometimes funny interaction with the rest of the world.

A friend said she’s glad that we invaded Iraq to settle things once and for all. No, not to stop the torture and oppression of the people and institute a democratic society. She’s just glad that country is in the news a lot. She hopes her family will finally start saying ‘’Ear-raq’’ instead of ‘’Eye-raq,’’ the way they finally learned that it wasn’t ‘’Viet NAAAAAAAM,’’ but ‘’Viet NAHM.’’

Meanwhile, my friend the 49-year-old lifeguard says she had better find another summer job soon, or she may develop skin cancer. She’s a redhead, and she describes herself as having ‘’cheap Irish skin.’’ That means it freckles. There goes 25 percent of MY self-esteem, since that’s about how much Irish I am; my skin is cheap, too.

Speaking of Ireland, another friend’s dad just got back from a big trip over there. But he was mad because his suitcase didn’t make it back. He thought it had been stolen. He had purchased a lot of expensive Irish clothes, too. Then all was well: the suitcase arrived. Turns out he had packed a pair of scissors, and put them right on top. Of course the airport scan had revealed them, resulting in the quarantining of his stuff as suspected terroristic tools.

He’s not a terrorist. At least, not THAT kind of a terrorist. Why did this Omahan have to have scissors on his trip to Ireland?

Because his wife had insisted that he trim the nose hairs from his ‘’Bohemian schnoz.’’

Gee, that’s not very nice to say. Bet she has cheap skin.


Prayer request: Today is the wedding day of two beautiful young Americans, who have neither cheap skin NOR remarkable nose hairs. They’re also quite intelligent, so get this: they’re smart, and they’re blonds! There’s some ‘’diversity’’ for you! To my wonderful nephew Jeff and to his lovely lady, Aly, may the Lord shower your marriage with the light, power and pizazz of a lifetime of fireworks, the kind that only true love can make. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Friday, July 02, 2004


We’re getting ready to celebrate Independence Day. But if you read the ideas of America’s founders, you’ll see that this nation is not about independence at all. It’s about dependence -- on God.

I’m getting concerned about how history is being rewritten or heavily edited to expunge the truth. Kids aren’t being taught any more that most of our greatest moments as a nation, including our discovery, our founding and our toughest trials, have revolved around our faith in God. Schools aren’t teaching the truth: that this is a nation founded and maintained on explicitly Christian principles.

A while ago, I passed on a story from The Washington Times that implied that the phrase ‘’so help us God’’ which ended a key speech right after Pearl Harbor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt was left off a World War II memorial. Later, I received word that those four words weren’t left off and the rest of the speech quoted; instead, only a sentence or two from the entire speech were displayed at the memorial and those four key words, which people well remember from the speech since they were its climactic ending, simply weren’t among what was displayed.

So it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. But leaving the ‘’send off’’ exhortation off that speech still vastly changed FDR’s point.

Bottom line: you can lie just as much with omission as by commission.

How to expose this and fight it?

I receive a weekly email from a neat Christian group ( which featured this mini-history lesson. It would be well worth sharing, especially with young people. Quoting, now:

Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers of ‘’The Declaration of Independence’’ were orthodox, deeply committed, Christians? The other three all believed in the Bible as the divine truth, the God of scripture, and His personal intervention.

It is the same Congress that formed the American Bible Society, immediately after creating the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress voted to purchase and import 20,000 copies of Scripture for the people of this nation.

Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, ‘’Give me liberty or give me death’’; but in current textbooks, the context of these words is omitted. Here is what he actually said:

‘’An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.’’

These sentences have been erased from our textbooks. Was Patrick Henry a Christian? The following year, 1776, he wrote this:

‘’It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.’’

Consider these words that Thomas Jefferson wrote in the front of his well-worn Bible: ‘’I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator."’’ He was also the chairman of the American Bible Society, which he considered his highest and most important role.

On July 4, 1821, President Adams said, ‘’The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: ‘It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.’ Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States reaffirmed this truth when he wrote, ‘’The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.’’

In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: ‘’The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.’’

William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963. President Lincoln called him the ‘’Schoolmaster of the Nation.’’’ Listen to these words of Mr. McGuffey:

‘’The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our nation, on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free Institutions. From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible, I make no apology.’’

Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number 1 was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the Scriptures: ‘’Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies, is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, John 17:3; and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation for our children to follow the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.’’

James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: ‘’We have staked the whole future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.’’

Today, we are asking God to bless America. But, how can He bless a Nation that has departed so far from Him? Prior to September 11, He was not welcome in America. Most of what you read in this article has been erased from our textbooks. Revisionists have rewritten history to remove the truth about our country's Christian roots.

Ask God what He would have you do. Then do it . . . for His glory!


Prayer request: Lord, help us to correct these enemies of the truth so that they will stop trying to slant our history and deceive the American people. Let freedom ring in our classrooms, our courts and the marketplace of ideas. (James 5:19,20)

Thursday, July 01, 2004


I’m a chatterbox. Always have been. I talk a mile a minute. The few times in my life I’ve had larangytis, my loved ones have fallen to their knees in thanksgiving.

Well, everyone says Miss Maddy, age 4, is just like me. She also gives a running daily commentary on the passing scene, only hers is complete with adorable lisps (“May I pleathe have thome muthtard?”) and at times, deep insights.

She has developed a summer cough, though. She wasn’t feeling well last night in the car on the way home from a shopping expedition. Uncharacteristically, she fell silent. But not before she said:

“Ooooh! I need to rest my words.”

Thinking of certain situations I’m dealing with right now, that’s about the best possible advice.


Prayer request: We continue to pray for Kenny, who is in a coma after being electrocuted on the job . . . for Peggy and coworkers in an office where the manager committed suicide last week . . . and for Janet, balancing a light heart with a heavy heart as she feverishly puts the finishing touches on a wedding this weekend while grieving for her mother, who died recently. Lord, give them all strength and sustenance. (Psalm 55:22)