Tuesday, August 31, 2004


Those who loved the movie “Meet the Parents” will appreciate my husband’s concern for our neighbors. Their daughter is getting married this weekend at our neighborhood pond a short block away. There will be lots of out-of-town guests from the groom’s family from California coming and going from the bride’s home across the street.

That’s why it was thoughtful of my husband to put off our major upgrade of our septic tank system ‘til next week. He remembered too well the pre-wedding scene from that movie where there was a lot more than rice on the ground and the scent in the air wasn’t just roses.

On the off chance that there’d be a catastrophe with the long-planned expansion of our 35-year-old system, he’s playing it safe and rescheduling the septic project ‘til the ink is dry on the marriage license, the wedding is safely over, and the new in-laws are gone.

Just to make it an even closer match with the movie, the last name of the groom’s parents is “Forquer.” (In the movie, it was “Focker.”)

To quote my most tactful friend, who delivers this line regularly with a bemused grin: I ain’t sayin’ a word.


Prayer request: Wisdom and compassion for the family of Regan, age 5, who is struggling with pneumonia and may have only days to live. She was born with a rare genetic disease, Aicardi Syndrome, of which there are only 300 to 500 identified cases worldwide. The Nebraska girl has no corpus callosum between the two hemispheres of her brain and has suffered seizures, mental retardation and near-blindness. She can’t speak and can barely see or feed herself. The parents divorced, in large part because of the strain, and now the father and brother live in another town while Regan and her mother are going through this. Lord, we pray for Regan to go gently into Jesus’ arms, for strength and stamina for her mother in these last days, for both parents and the family to be at peace, and for Regan’s short life to be a blessing and a witness to countless others. (2 Samuel 22:28a)

Monday, August 30, 2004


In a moment of temporary insanity, I promised our 16-year-old and three of her friends to take them on a Ferris Bueller-style road trip to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City yesterday. They all worked hard this summer in jobs and sports, and have difficult class work and important tests coming up. My husband desperately needed a day to himself to do back-burnered stuff he’d put off in order to serve all of OUR needs all summer. Plus, after an excursion to the local amusement park, I knew Maddy was old enough to enjoy Camp Snoopy down there, the kiddie ride area.

So we made a day of it. The teens acted like they were going to be tortured when Maddy insisted on playing her Muppets DVD in the car on the way down . . . but every time I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw brightly-smiling teenage faces. Busted!

We got there and split up. The teenagers did all the cool roller coasters and actually paid to make themselves into human yo-yo’s in the spectacular bungee cord stunt, ‘’The Ripcord.’’ Ah, youth.

Meanwhile, Maddy and I spent the day hugging Snoopy about 42 times, picking out the fastest horse on the carousel, driving the cars and boats and motorcycles and bugs, bouncing in the bouncy place and sliding down the magnificent slide. We did the tame stuff; even the kangaroo swings looked too ‘’dane-jrous’’ to Maddy.

Then we came to Viking Voyager, a water ride marked with a black double diamond for ‘’aggressive thrill.’’ Wouldn’t you know it? She wanted to try it.

Her shriek down the climactic last drop pierced ears all the way out to Johnson County as we got drenched . . . but all she would say at the bottom was, ‘’AGAIN!’’

So we did it . . . AGAIN . . . ‘til we had gone SEVEN TIMES, and looked like mother-daughter drowned rats. Smiling drowned rats, though.

We met back up with the teenagers at 6 for the three-hour drive home, and all decided that, like the Ferris Bueller movie, we had a happy ending.


Prayer request: A friend of a friend named Joni has been distressed because someone she really likes, a hairstylist, was going through a divorce. But she just heard that instead, he and his wife are reconciling. What great news! Wish we heard more like it. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being a great ‘’stylist’’ to reshape and restore this marriage. Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, our God of reconciliation and love. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Sunday, August 29, 2004


And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. . . .
-- Joel 2:28

Maddy dreamed I was a hen the other night, chasing around after her going ‘’Bawk! Bawk! Bawk!’’

That sounds more like real life than a dream. Yes, I’m an old mother hen, and she’s a cute little chick.

Funny how much dreams tell us what’s going on with us. That must be why we all love to talk about them so much.

But there’s another form of mental movie you don’t often hear about:

Visions. Waking dreams.

People who’ve never had one may think those who have are one Froot Loop short of a bowl, or ‘’on’’ something. But visions are real. They’re how you see with the eyes of your heart.

At our last summer Bible study session the other day, I was elated when two women told about theirs, boldly and matter-of-factly.

One had been at a low point in her life. She called out to Jesus in despair. Suddenly, it was as if she was in His arms, held over His heart, cuddled like a baby. Comfort and protection flowed through her. Then poof! The vision ended.

The other woman had just been given a big assignment. She didn’t think she was up to it. She prayed: ‘’Oh, Lord, I’m not able to do this, but I know You’re able. Show me Your strength so I won’t be afraid.’’ Suddenly, she saw an enormous pair of feet right in front of her, with a body stretching up into infinity . . . and then poof! It was gone.

Those women said they could never have crafted those images on their own . . . never expected them . . . never asked for them.

That’s how it is for me. Take the day it suddenly hit me how many people in my life don’t yet know Jesus. ‘’Oh, Lord,’’ I prayed, ‘’help me introduce them to You.’’

All of a sudden, I was standing in a bowling alley. On the other end were faces of people on top of bowling pins. In my hands was the Word of God. If I rolled it toward them, it would ‘’bowl them over’’ so they’d come to Christ.

Naturally, I had to ruin it. ‘’But Lord,’’ I whined, ‘’I’m a terrible bowler! You know that! All I ever get is gutter balls!’’

Poof! The vision changed.

Now I was standing in front of an archery target, holding a gigantic bow that stretched ‘way over my head. On the target were the faces of people I knew. The arrows I’d be shooting were messages from the Bible. Again, I protested.

‘’Lord! You saw the sorry results of my attempt at archery in Rocky Mountain National Park! The arrows fell, like, five feet in front of me! I SUCK at this!’’

Suddenly, I felt this immensely strong and calm power behind me, as if giant arms were wrapped around me, holding that bow . . . straightening the wobbling arrow . . . taking perfect aim . . . pulling the taut cord back effortlessly. . . .

. . . and all I had to do was stand there. He would do the rest. I was thrilled.

Poof! I ‘’got it,’’ and the vision was gone.

But not the meaning.

When you’re scared, overwhelmed or unsure, if all you have to rely on is your five senses, things will be tough. But if you can see beyond them, obstacles melt away.

How can the woman who was cuddled ever feel alone and afraid again?

How can the woman who saw His infinite strength ever doubt His power?

And I learned that it doesn’t matter if you suck. Just that you try.

He’s not looking for All-Stars. He IS the All-Star. All we have to do is join the team.

And when you take aim with the eyes of your heart at a target that counts, He’ll help you roll strikes or hit the bull’s eye, every time.


Prayer request: We lift up to You today all those who are tired and hurting and afraid and confused. Oh, Jesus, it’s only because they haven’t seen You that they aren’t peaceful and content. Give them the incredible refreshment of a supernatural encounter – a vision – a touch from You – in a format that’s unique to them individually so that they know it’s You -- unmistakeable proof that Your Spirit is above, below, in front of, behind, alongside, and within, all those who call upon Your holy Name. Most of all, Lord, help all of us to be watching for You, now and forever. (Mark 13:37)

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Here’s a great email joke making the rounds:

A group of seniors were sitting around the pool talking about all their ailments:

"My arms have gotten so weak I can hardly lift this cup of coffee," said one.

"Yes, I know," said another. "My cataracts are so bad I can't even see my coffee."

"I couldn't even mark an 'X' at election time, my hands are so crippled," volunteered a third.

"What? Speak up, I can't hear you," said a fourth.

"I can't turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck," said a fifth, to which several nodded weakly in agreement.

"My blood pressure pills make me so dizzy I can hardly walk," exclaimed another.

"I forget where I am and where I'm going," said an elderly gent.

"I guess that's the price we pay for getting old," winced an old man as he slowly shook his head.

The others nodded in agreement.

"Well, count your blessings," said one woman cheerfully. "THANK GOD WE CAN ALL DRIVE!"

Prayer request: Praise and thanks to the Creator of all human relationships for the delightful outcome for a dear friend’s daughter, Maggie, a new college freshman. She pledged the same sorority that her mother and I are in, Kappa Kappa Gamma. I wrote her recommendation and feel pleased and proud that she will have this great group of friends and lovely experiences, as we did. May Maggie glorify You, Lord, as a loving friend to other Kappas, who reminds them of their ultimate Friend. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Friday, August 27, 2004


Football two-a-days are finally over, but the intensity at practice continues. On one practice field the other afternoon, there was an intrasquad scrimmage and the players were really mixing it up.

At one point, the ref became afraid for the safety of two boys on the line. He went over to the coach and said, “Hey, No. 53 and No. 50 are really going after each other!”

Irrational aggression due to testosterone overload?

Nah. The coach said, “That's because they’re brothers.”


Prayer request: A family with three delightful sons is moving into our neighborhood from Wyoming. The boys had their first day of school yesterday. At times, being a stranger was scary and overwhelming. Father God, put caring adults and friendly kids in their paths over the coming weeks. Give them confidence and courage by letting them know You are near. Make Ryan, Tyler and Jacob feel at home and fit right in, Lord. (Isaiah 51:5)

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Don’t come near our house, especially with your windows rolled down or any open containers in sight. You may be bombed with INCOMING ZUCCHINI!!!! We will get rid of them any way we can, including stealth and trickery.

We didn’t realize that the variety we put in to The North One-Fortieth is called “The Energizer Bunny Zucchini.” It just keeps growing and growing. . . .

We have had zucchini bread. We have had zucchini bars. We have had zucchini chocolate cake (not bad!). We have had grilled zucchini with olive oil and garlic. We have had braised zucchini with butter and Parmesan cheese. We have had zucchini in our scrambled eggs and salads, and on our veggie trays and snack plates.

What’s next? Zucchini toothpaste? Zucchini doorstops? A zucchini Christmas tree?!?!?

Don’t answer your doorbell. It might be a basket holding a zucchini with a baby bonnet on it, with a sign pinned on: ‘’ADOPT ME . . . PLEASE!!!!!’’


Prayer request: First, praise that my Cousin Roger has already been released from the hospital after heart surgery. Thank You, Lord! Also, a precious young lady named Jane is starting high school this week. Her mother prays that “angel mentors” will gather ‘round her and give her guidance and encouragement to make her education the best it can be. Mom also prays for “a boatload of wisdom” for her to be the best mother of a teenager she can be. Remind her there’s smooth sailing in the ship of God. Lord, you’re the Captain: full speed ahead! (Acts 27:31)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Our good friend, teammate and All-State pitcher had a nice story about her in the sports section of the local daily. It came with a good picture of her delivering a mighty fastball, only the byline under the picture was wrong. It said it was by newspaper staffer, but my husband recognized it as one of his snapshots that we gave to her family. Oh, well.

Her name is Jenna Marston, and she’s in the throes of being recruited by colleges right now, a heady experience going into her senior year in high school. She has already had some attractive offers and is looking for more. She was the pitcher for our daughter’s summer team, and I produced a media guide that several dozen college coaches picked up over the course of the summer, especially to look at Jenna. She’ll take all the media she can get, to increase her chances of more good offers.

I have a scheme for getting her the maximum amount of media attention: the David Letterman Show.

You know how they always have that “stupid headline” feature? Well, there was nothing wrong with Jenna’s story and headline. But right next to it, there was a giant ad for Creighton University’s new soccer complex. They wanted people to come and select where they would like their season tickets to be. But they came up with an unfortunate headline:



But if that crude and corny joke could get on national TV as David Letterman holds it up for the camera, and some coach somewhere would see Jenna’s picture taken by an unnamed but talented photographer, track her down, and offer her a full ride to come and play ball . . . it’d be worth the 37-cent stamp.


Prayer request: Lord, we lift up my mother’s adorable cousin Roger, who is recovering from triple-bypass heart surgery in an Omaha hospital. Lord Jesus, grant this kind, gentle believer rest and recuperation, and give his wife Linda peace and comfort. Inspire his countless friends to let him know how much they care. Help my famous home-grown pickled beets, the world’s best heart-patient medicine, be a big hit. (Isaiah 32:17)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Most of the glunk was uprooted from the bowels of our basement and pawned off on the unsuspecting public with not one but two garage sales this past summer. However, a few remaining useful items have been unearthed.

One is a blue plastic baby bathtub, the kind that fits in your sink. You cradle the newborn’s head with one hand while you apply soap with the other hand, squeeze out the washcloth with the OTHER hand, shampoo the little bald head with the OTHER, wrap the baby in a towel with the OTHER . . . those early months of motherhood make you feel like one of those Hindu goddesses, with all the arms coming and going.

Anyway, I had been meaning to drop it off at the home of our dear neighbors who are going to become first-time grandparents this fall. Maddy and I were out for a walk when this neighbor drove by, so we hurried back into the house for it, planning to walk over and present it.

“It’s for the new baby,” I told Maddy, who was looking at it inquisitively, obviously unaware that she used it for the first few months of her life.

“For the BABY?” Maddy scoffed. “A SNOWBOARD?!?!?!”

Well, the father is a Husker football player, and the mother is the record-holder for 3-pointers in the Nebraska State Girls Basketball Tournament . . . you figure any child of theirs is bound to be a good athlete. . . .


Prayer request: A mass was recently discovered in one of the ovaries of Michelle, a wife and mother of two small children who has a heart of gold. It has grown from the size of a pea to the size of a baseball in just five weeks. She will have surgery this afternoon to remove her ovaries and determine whether cancer has indeed invaded her precious body. Savior Lord, we lift up her husband and children to You for tender care, and we pray for the best possible diagnosis and treatment plan to preserve Michelle’s life in abundance. Most of all, we pray that Michelle will have the faith to trust You. (Matthew 9:20)

Monday, August 23, 2004


I’m pooped this morning. My dad always called it ‘’burnt dessert.’’

The reason: we hosted our 16-year-old’s softball team and families for an end-of-the-season finale party last night. The girls made their coach a scrapbook that made him cry. He gave a beautiful speech that made everybody cry. We had more than 35 people, which I know because we ran out of the aluminum campout plates that we love to use for barbecues.

It was potluck, everybody’s favorite because of the variety. We had Julie’s famous pickle wraps. We had Lori’s creamy taco dip. Everybody loved our crazy ‘’chicken men’’ -- whole chickens massaged with barbecue rub, set on a spit, and grilled vertically over a marinade of beer. For dessert, Lil brought chocolate ice cream cake from Maggie Moo’s, and there were mouth-watering cookies and fruit pizza.

So no, our dessert wasn’t burnt. And I’m only slightly singed. After childbirth, final exams and big parties, you never truly feel exhausted -- just toasting in the accomplishment and happy memories.


Prayer request: Our coach’s wife Kerry is seven months’ pregnant. She’s busy with their 1-year-old son Kemper, just finished a 40-page paper for her studies, works hard full-time, and is trying to complete some redecorating before the baby arrives. She’s feeling ‘’heavy laden.’’ Oh, Lord, carry her around on a feather pillow these last few weeks. Inspire those around her to baby her. Send help, comfort and reassurance that she is a daughter of the King and this, too, shall pass. (Matthew 11:27, 28)

Sunday, August 22, 2004


And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
-- 2 Timothy 2:2

The first day of school! The smell of freshly-sharpened No. 2 pencils! The sound of three-ring binders stiffly snapping shut! The sight of burned-out parents clicking their heels! It’s a wonderful time of the year!

Yes, I was a class clown and yes, my parents thought about sending a case of Jim Beam on Teacher Appreciation Day instead of an apple. I was ‘’challenging.’’

One morning, I kept ‘’talking out’’ and was really bugging our teacher. She had been reading Johnny Tremain to us. At one point, she groped around for the name of the King of England during the pre-Revolutionary War days in which the book is set.

‘’This happened in the time of King . . . uhhh . . . King . . . let’s see, King. . . .’’

I interjected: ‘’King KONG?!?!?’’

The class erupted in laughter. It was the last straw. She whisked me to the principal’s office.

‘’Tell him what you said!’’ she commanded. Then she whirled on her heel and went back to class, stopping, no doubt, in the teacher’s lounge for a belt of that Jim Beam.

I was scared. The principal had spectacular hair. They said he had a Spanking Machine with thousands of turbo-powered paddles. Maybe nuclear. His eyes pierced my skull. I spilled my guts.

His eyes pierced my skull for one more second . . . and then he slapped the desk, fell back in his chair, and howled with laughter.

Then he said kindly, ‘’Now you go back in there and behave. I don’t want to see you in here again.’’

No Spanking Machine?

No flaming phone call to the FBI, CIA . . . or worst of all, D.A.D.?

I was so grateful, I was good for the rest of the year.

Thank God for smart and kindly educators. Where would we be without them?

I’m thinking of one of them who retired this past May, the longtime principal at our nearby grade school. He’s a happy, hard-working guy who’s so much fun, even his name rhymes: Larry DeBaere. No child ever feared that he had a Spanking Machine. He was authoritative, but friendly.

When we moved here, he made sure our daughter Eden felt welcome. He called the friendliest girl in her class to invite Eden over to play, a few days before school started, and get her plugged in.

He was always standing in front of school at dropoff and pickup times. He knew everybody’s names. He high-fived the boys and shoulder-hugged the girls. He joined in games at recess, and attended all the after-school events.

After he retired, I heard a sweet story. When he started as principal, he found out about another little girl who was transferring in and feeling anxious. On the first day of school, brrrring! The phone rang at her house. It was her new principal, Mr. DeBaere. Usually, you hate it when the principal calls. But not this time.

‘’Kelsey,’’ he said, ‘’happy first day of school. You’re new here, just like me. I hope you have a wonderful year.’’

The two of them bonded. From then on, every morning on the first day of school, he called her. She’s a college junior now, on course to become a doctor. Who knows how much of her school success is due to Mr. DeBaere’s faith in her, and friendship?

We can’t ask for anything more than what the Mr. DeBaeres of the world give our kids: solid academics delivered with a gentle smile . . . always another chance . . . a little signal that you’re special.

If I know Kelsey, the phone is going to ring this Thursday morning in the home of a certain retiree, who won’t be in school on the first day for the first time in a very long time.

But a familiar young voice will say, ‘’Mr. DeBaere? This is Kelsey. It’s the first day of school . . . and I hope you have a wonderful year.’’


Prayer request: Thanks and praise for the 22 years of excellence in ministry given to our church by Pastor Bob Thune. Though we’ll miss his terrific teaching of the Word, we rejoice in all that he is going to be able to accomplish in his new church in Indian Wells, Calif. Join us in prayer for a great new pastor for us, and much Kingdom success for the Thunes on the Desert. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Saturday, August 21, 2004


I told a friend of mine who’s the consummate Southern belle that I took Maddy and a little friend to ‘’FunFlex,’’ their pronunciation of ‘’FunPlex,’’ the local amusement park.

She instantly said that she would do anything -- ANYthing -- ‘’even put on a hoop skirt and crinolines again’’ – rather than spend all day putting two little hyperventilators on the cheesy little 4 mph circus train, the gator roller coaster, and the fake hot-air balloon ride that Maddy calls the ‘’Fairest Wheel.’’

Wait a minute -- a hoop skirt? Crinolines? Turns out she really did wear that kind of fancy regalia to the school dances, down South, ‘way back when.

It instantly brought to mind a fascinating change of scene for ‘’Gone With the Wind II: The Sequel.’’ Tara could be turned into a post-war amusement park! Scarlett O’Hara could have a mullet! Rhett Butler could have tattoos! Instead of the carpetbaggers ripping off all the beat-down landowners, they’d sell $3.50 hot dogs!

Come to think of it, FunFlex beat me to it on that last one. Oh, well. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a _____. We had a ball anyway.


Prayer request: Yesterday’s prayer for a woman whose husband is embroiled in adultery brought advice from another woman, who’s been there. She said the best thing to do is to pray for spiritual rebirth and repentance for Michelle’s husband, and reconciliation of the marriage, and that the church would be pro-active in meeting the woman’s needs in the meantime. Lord, hear our prayer. (Malachi 2:16)

Friday, August 20, 2004


We got a whole bunch of kiddie books at a garage sale and have been enjoying new topics and new storylines in our evening cuddle with Maddy, 4. Last night, it was a book about dinosaurs.

Near the end, it got into speculations on why dinosaurs became extinct. A lot of smart people think it was Noah’s worldwide flood. But many others think there were drastic climactic changes ‘way back when, and that’s what this book indicated.

“They think maybe the weather changed from summertime all the time, to having lots of ice and snow, and the dinosaurs just couldn’t adjust to wintertime,” I told Maddy.

She looked exasperated. “Couldn’t they just SKATE?”


Prayer request: A new friend, Michelle, has shared the anguish she has gone through from her husband’s adultery and subsequent painful divorce. Lord God, comfort and sustain her and show her friends how to “love on her” during this difficult time. (Malachi 2:14)

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Have you been enjoying the Olympics? Since I used to be a swimmer, I’ve loved those races, though I realize that, in the time it would take me to come out of my initial dive and start my first stroke, they’d be ‘’touching end zone.”

I’ve also loved watching Paul Hamm, the baby-faced gymnast with the sides of hams for arms. I had to smile when I heard him speak: for all that musculature, he sounds as though he’s been inhaling helium. But boy, what an accomplishment, coming from 12th place to the gold medal with two fantastic routines.

I’d have been right there with him if it hadn’t been for the bent-arm hang. That’s right: in grade school, all you had to do was grasp an overhead bar, pull your chin over it, and hold it there, with your arms bent, for, like, two seconds. Along with several other phys ed stunts, if you could do the bent-arm hang, you could win a Presidential Fitness Medal or something like that.

I could never do the bent-arm hang. I could only do the hang. It changed my life. I made sure to choose a career that had NOTHING to do with arm strength. I basically took my place with the wussies of the world.

On the other hand, if they’d had the ‘’bent-finger typing’’ award, I’d have been RIGHT in there. When it comes to typing, I’m a JOCK. But that’s about it.


Prayer request: We joyously report that both our daughters arrived safely and happily in their college apartments, and also that our friend Betty got good results from her lymph node test that we prayed about last week. Thank You, Jesus, for this good news. (Psalm 128:5)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Maddy, 4, doesn’t quite get it that her two older sisters will be away at college for the next few months. When we told her that they were leaving for school, she acted like it was no biggie. She must have it mixed up with her regular trips to preschool.

At the grocery store, I let her pick out two going-away cards for her sisters. Then she dictated messages:

‘’Hug the Baylor Bear for me,’’ she instructed Neely. The school mascot’s hijinks with Maddy at a baseball game was a highlight of her visit there last year.

‘’Have a good day at school,’’ she dictated for Jordan.

Wonder when she’ll start missing them? Best bet: bedtime. She’ll be down two hugs. Come to think of it . . . so will Mom!


Prayer request: Praise, Father, that Jordan arrived safely in Chapel Hill, and her roommate even washed her sheets for her first night’s rest. Thank You, Jesus. We lift up Neely, driving over 12 hours today to Texas, for Your tender automotive care. We’re grateful, Lord, for their level-headedness that we know comes straight from You. (Psalm 92:4)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


We are all tee-hee’ing over the prospect of one of the most adorable young men we know having the tables turned in a few weeks, when he becomes a father. That’s because Chris was the most TALKATIVE little boy in the universe . . . constant cheerful, chipper chit-chat . . . and ‘bout did in his mom and dad by expressing his never-ending stream of consciousness.

We feel sure that any child born with half his genes is bound to be mega-chatty. It’s a girl, too, so that’ll just increase the verbal barrage.

Chris remembers his mom sometimes staggering in to the kitchen and setting the kitchen timer to ‘’5.’’

‘’Now, Chrisser,’’ she’d say, ‘’while this is ticking, nobody can talk! You can’t say a word. Mommy really needs you to help me in this. OK? Think you can do it?’’

Eyes like saucers, he’d comply. And she’d get five blissful minutes of peace and quiet.

I already know what to give the young couple as a baby gift. That’s right: a kitchen timer, with a big, pink bow . . . and maybe another one on a bottle of Jim Beam for Mom and Dad.


Prayer request: I’ve now heard of two Florida homes owned by friends of friends that were wrecked in Hurricane Charley. Several other people I know have been at least temporarily displaced by it or are without power. To think of starting my household all over, or even of a massive cleanup effort right now . . . oy. All we can do, Lord, is pray down Your supernatural strength, endurance, hope and good humor for all those dealing with the aftermath. Father, stir up mercy and compassion in people’s hearts, and stir those hands to write checks to the Red Cross. (2 Corinthians 4:1)




The Olympics are cool. To celebrate, we served Greek salad last night. It had endive, lettuce, olives, artichoke hearts, chopped tomato, feta cheese and a wonderful Greek vinaigrette.

One of our number had been to Greece in recent years. Thinking of gorgeous seascapes, fascinating ruins and lots of drinking parties – OPA!!! -- we asked what it was like.

“It’s a smelly country,” she said, instantly. “Nobody bathes. You stand in these long lines with people pressing in all around you, and you feel like you’re going to pass out.”

You mean . . . Zeus had B.O.? Helen of Troy was actually The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships in the OTHER Direction?

I don’t know. Smells fishy. “That, too,” she said.


Prayer request: Speaking of beautiful places to visit with the sea all around, we join in prayer for Florida and the Carolinas. As people deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Charley, we pray that disaster relief will be swift and that Americans will give money to the Red Cross to help. A special prayer for my husband’s aunt and uncle, Janet and Eddie, in Orlando, who are without power. Keep their fantastic sense of humor intact, Lord, and use this trial to draw them closer together and to You. (Psalm 55:8)

Sunday, August 15, 2004


That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
-- John 17:21

I fear for the country. The next generation bathes with ornamental gourds.

Maddy has been taking her pet gourd from our backyard garden into the bathtub. It does swan dives and rides down an imaginary waterslide.

Not only that, but she got her father to draw a face on the gourd, and she got her MOTHER to help her dress it in doll jammies. She made me kiss it goodnight and tuck it in with her. Now she’s going back out to ‘’The North One-Fortieth’’ to pick out adoptive parents and siblings.

You knew this was coming: we’re all out of our . . . gourds.

But at least having a bumper crop of them is helping me teach Maddy about diversity and unity. You know: there are green gourds, yellow gourds and orange gourds; tall ones, striped ones and two-toned ones; white ones with spikes, orange ones with warts . . . but they’re all gourds. They each look a little different, but they’re all about the same.

And it’s the same thing with people. That’s one of the most important lessons of childhood, one that ought to be taught sooner rather than later.

A friend of mine took her young daughter to a fancy buffet. They were in line behind a woman of heroic proportions. Before my friend could react, her daughter said, rapidly and loudly:


(Why does the number of times your child calls you ‘’Mommy’’ in public increase exponentially when the child is saying something like THAT?)

My friend attempted to sink down to floor level like the witch in “Wizard of Oz.” Then she stared away vacantly, pretending not to have heard. Finally, she glared at the 80-something stranger behind her, hissing, “Can’t you control that kid?”

You have to have a sense of humor. At Omaha’s College World Series one year, our toddler spent the entire game gaping, and I do mean bug-eyed, slack-jawed GAPING, at two African-American guys sitting right behind us. They were good sports about it.

We’ve tried to teach our kids that people each look a little different on the outside, but we’re still all basically the same. Don’t stare, point, frown or say anything when you see someone a little different. Just ask Mom and Dad about it later, in private.

And we moms and dads need help. Some lessons take a lot of “reps.’’

At our local swimming pool the other day, Maddy was cavorting in the baby pool next to me, when here came an amputee.

He was in his 30s, on crutches, in swim trunks, with one leg ending just above the knee.

To my horror, Maddy pointed and hollered:


(There’s that “Mommy” tag again.)

The pool population hushed.

My face flamed. The guy had probably lost his leg in Desert Storm, Bosnia or Iraq, fighting for our freedom, only to be treated like THIS . . . when, whether it was Maddy’s adorable sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose, or the anguished look on my face, or the ironic humor of the whole situation . . . whatever it was . . . the guy stopped and gave Maddy a great, big smile, and then looked over at me and gave me one, too . . . and a wink.

My heart melted in gratitude.

I could see Maddy beam back. The man’s sweet, tender reaction taught her more about unity than a million words from Mommy ever could. I’m sure it made Jesus smile big.

That guy must have guessed that there was more diversity going on with Maddy than meets the eye, too. I mean, how much more diverse can you GET than having an ornamental gourd for a best friend?


Prayer request: We praise You, Jesus, for productive summers for our two college students. Grant Jordan and Neely safe travel and lots of endurance as they set up their first apartments in the coming week. Send them good and wise friends and counselors this year. May they continue to develop their grasp of Your purpose for their lives as they complete their senior and sophomore years, respectively. And ditto that prayer for every student throughout the land. (Proverbs 20:18)

Saturday, August 14, 2004


I helped someone dear with a garage sale yesterday, taking cash while she ran around half-pricing things and carrying the “must sells” closer to the curb.

It was sad, because these were her mother’s things. Her mom died a few months ago. Even though many keepsakes were set aside, it was hard to see many things go.

Since she had been a teacher, and an excellent one, I was happy to buy many great books for our 4-year-old from her teaching supplies. And we were honored when a nice lady bought all kinds of school supplies – pencils, rulers, paper clips and so forth – to donate to the back-to-school drive for disadvantaged children run by the Open Door Mission.

We had a moment of levity when a man brought over the kitchen TV. It had been a Christmas gift one year from daughter to mother. The daughter had made a big deal out of the fact that there weren’t any ridges or grooves on the remote keypad.

That way, the daughter said, it was perfect for the kitchen, because it was “gradoo-free.”

Gradoo? What’s gradoo? We teased her long and hard. Yesterday, we laughed heartily at the memory.

The customer smiled and said, “That’s why I go to garage sales. You always learn something new.”

Everything that went out the door had a special memory attached to it . . . all totally gradoo-free.


Prayer request: There’s a heart-broken sister named Kathi who is grieving the loss of her brother. She really needs prayers for her peace of mind and comfort during this rough time. Thank You, Lord, for the tenderness and sweetness of sisters, and bless this dear one over the coming weeks. (Proverbs 7:4)

Friday, August 13, 2004


A funny friend is back from a long car trip with her daughter and three very tall and very tired teenagers, who were at summer camp in the North Woods for a few weeks. They had all their dirty laundry with them. She’s absolutely sure of that. In fact, she wrote:


Still laughing, I opened my mail. A friend had mailed me a book. However, for the moment he believes he’s an atheist, and this book was about a Christian minister who ‘’deconverted’’ to atheism. It opened to a page with a photo of the guy with his cute daughter. The caption read: “Who needs heaven?”

My first thought: “Oh, yeah? Who needs HELL?”

I’m pretty sure hell is a lot like a long, long, LONG car trip . . . that literally lasts forever . . . with three cranky teenagers and some really, really bad smells that you can’t get away from.



Prayer request: On a very serious note, we pray today for Rita, whose son committed suicide. She feels absolutely terrible, though she is glad for the consolation of her granddaughter and about 30 of her friends who came to the funeral in support. Adonai, cushion this blow with the knowledge of Your salvation for ALL believers, no matter how they die. Send people to this precious woman’s side to remind her that life is good, and full of Your love, and that You are there, even in the worst of times. In her sorrow, restore her life. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Praise God, our daughter’s beloved softball teammate, Crystal, is going to be OK after being in a car crash Tuesday night that took the life of one of her best friends. Her poor mom got to the scene in time to watch them take Crystal’s bloody, battered body out of the car and rush her into an ambulance. It was thought that Crystal had very serious internal injuries and that Wednesday would be “touch and go” for her life.

Crystal had been a passenger in the back seat. Inexplicably, for someone ranked very near the top of her high-school class, she apparently wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. It just isn’t like her. But it shows once again the aura of invincibility that our teenagers think they have. It needs to be addressed, bigtime, in every household in the land.

Fortunately, though, once they got the internal bleeding slowed down, they were elated to find that her injuries, while painful, aren’t life-threatening. Her jaw is broken in three places, she has lost some teeth, she has broken ribs, some minor issues with internal organs, some mildly damaged vertebrae, and a lot of horrendous bruises.

She has to have jaw surgery soon and will wear a neck brace for three months. But otherwise, it’s a downright miracle that she wasn’t killed. The ICU waiting-room vigil with her parents turned into a one of the most moving moments of my life. Tears streamed down all our cheeks as the doctor described how all the “worst-case scenarios” had improved to “doable scenarios.”

Thank You, Jesus! We need all the happy endings we can get.

I was also elated to have been present at the moment Crystal came to. Her softball coach, a wonderful and funny young man, went in to look at her with me. There were tubes and machines all around her. The neck brace was enormous, and her gorgeous raven hair was spread out all over the pillow.

This coach, Jeff, always calls her “Queen Nefertiti,” because of that raven hair, her half-Chinese heritage that gives her elegantly darker skin, and her expert hand with eyeliner. In that neck brace, with her dark hair all spread out, she looked even MORE like it.

“Crystal, this is Jeff,” he began, in a coach-to-player lecture, as if he was recording a message for someone in Alaska . . . not realizing that she had regained consciousness and heard every word he said. Then she began blinking and trying to pull out her ventilator. We gasped, grinned and ran for her folks.

They were mad that she hadn’t responded for THEM, of course. But they’ve always just referred to her as their princess. He, on the other hand, calls her a QUEEN.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Praise for Crystal’s wonderful news, plus comfort and peace for the family of Grace, the girl who died in the crash, along with the other three girls and their families, who will be dealing with this for the rest of their lives. We also seek safe travel for the son of a good friend who’s coming home to the Omaha area from Springfield, Mo., today. (Psalm 91:15,16)

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Yesterday was Old Home Week at the softball fields. Our daughter plays on a summer team with girls from six different high schools. They finished 19th at Nationals and had a week off, and now they’re all back at a pre-season tournament at Creighton University in Omaha, only this time they’re all playing for different teams.

So I had fun trash-talkin’. I got my belly right up to the belly of the dads of our teammates now on opposing teams, and hurled the two trash-talkin’ epithets I know:

“Yo’ Mama!”


“We gonna bring the WOOD!”

When Eden got up, I did my Egyptian dance right and left to taunt the opposing crowd. True to form, she got hit by a pitch twice — it’s her secret weapon; she crowds the plate — and they taunted me back that next time I should put SADDLEBAGS on her.

Anyway, we came home and remarked at how much we loved these other families and how we would miss them in the fall softball season.

Well, we got the news this morning that two of our girls were in a bad traffic accident in west Omaha last night. One, thank God, was treated and released, but the other, Crystal, is in critical condition with a ruptured spleen and liver, and a broken jaw. I’m on my way down there right now to hold her adorable mother’s hand and try to pass on the Savior’s strength and peace to her. I’d ask you to pray for Crystal, too. I’m centering on Psalm 107.

We need your prayers because, in and out of softball, we are family. And this is a beautiful young Christian girl who needs her family around her today.

Thank you.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Two other matters seek prayer. A good friend from Bible Study Fellowship had a lymph node removed from the front of her neck yesterday. We pray that Betty’s results will come back normal, in the lovely Name of Jesus. And another Godly woman, Karen, has two sons en route today to the Olympics in Greece. Karen raised her sons beautifully and at Christmas Nick, 30, gave this trip to Michael, 23, for a special time together. We pray for safety for their travels, and peace of mind for their mom. (Psalm 107:21)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


A wryly complaining email from a friend reminded me of my husband’s two past caulk jobs. One was in the master bathroom of our first house, and the other was on the driveway. Both jobs looked exactly the same: big, thick, icky blobs of tar-like goo that you just didn’t even want to come near. Instead of a straight line, it looked like fossilized throw-up from a deranged giant squirrel. Or something.

Well, this friend is going through the same thing. Here she is with a brand-new back deck. I mean, minutes old. And he goes out there and makes a six-foot caulk line right down the side of the house, where the deck begins. We’re not talking just a small bead down the side of the door -- but six feet of what she describes as “looking like it came out of the behind of our 110-pound dog.”

She added, “Good thing the neighbors couldn't hear my expletives.’’

So, as she has to do with anything that involves fine-motor skills, she did it over . . . and it looks nice.

This is one of those husbands who is meek and mild, yet is well-muscled, with practically superhuman strength. He owns all kinds of boy-toys and tools that he’s constantly out messing around with. I swear there’s a testosterone cloud over their house.

But I have to agree with her: real men don’t eat quiche, and they CERTAINLY can’t caulk.


Prayer request: I’ve just heard about someone I know whose new granddaughter was born with Down’s Syndrome. Father, equip me to be a source of love and strength. Teach me how to be a blessing as Your messenger to this family, as this precious baby grows. (1 John 3:11)

Monday, August 09, 2004


Just when I was thinking my lifestyle was humdrum and workaday, an opportunity for excitement comes my way: a pasture tour is scheduled for this evening in Washington County, just north of here. You know how they decorate swank mansions for Christmas and have house tours to raise money? Well, these are pasture tours. To the discerning eye, they’re just as exciting.

According to an item in the nearby small-town paper, some folks have planted a cross between turnips and rape that’s just the in thing in midsummer forage.

(That’s “rape” as in the mustard-type plant, not “rape” as in that terrible thing.)

The next pasture tour will show cool and warm season grasses in a rotation grazing system.

Both pasture tours remind me a lot of what happens in our kitchen on these summer weekends with four children all on wacky schedules. Foraging and grazing. Unh HUH.

Next week they’re touring a sod farm. Be still, my beating heart.


PRAYER REQUEST: Thank You, Father, for bringing my mother, daughter Eden and niece Nikki home safe and sound from their Caribbean adventure so far away. Thank You that the girls were obedient, that they avoided all forms of trouble, that the ship staff were so pleasant and helpful, and that Eden did, too, get a little homesick near the end of the trip. Grant Mom rest and the knowledge that she has given those two teenagers some wonderful lifelong memories. (Proverbs 25:25)

Sunday, August 08, 2004


But godliness with contentment is great gain.
-- 1 Timothy 6:6

More, more, more is the way of the devil. The older I get, the more, more, more I believe that.

Take chili powder. Once I was making some chili. We were having someone over for dinner and to watch a big Husker football game. I put in the chili powder and noticed I had some left in the jar. It was more than a pinch or a dash. But what’s a little more? The more, the merrier! I dumped it in.

Now, our guest had just been through a divorce and hadn’t had a square meal for a while. He took his tray eagerly and headed to the TV room. We could hear the kickoff as we loaded our trays to join him.

When we rounded the corner, he was sitting with his head down over his tray, his face bright red, dabbing at his eyes with his napkin. My husband, Brain King, immediately demanded, “Did they run it back and score on us, right off the bat?”

Noooo, he wheezed, we held them inside the 20. With my superior powers of compassion, I realized that he was just having a “personal moment,” with the divorce and all. We sat down quietly and took our first spoonfuls of chili.


We hurled our smoking spoons down and glugged down our beverages as if they were fire hoses.

“I’m so sorry,” I told our guest. “I guess I put in ‘way more chili powder than usual. I’m sure our insurance will cover your surgery.”

“That’s OK,” he wheezed back. “I thought you ALWAYS had it this way.”

That’s what you get for dabbling with more, more, more. It’s the way of the devil, I tell you.

And it’s the same thing with grass carp. Yes, they correlate. Work with me here.

See, we have this close friend who once got in on a neat deal with about 20 other families who owned a private lake together. You could drive a little way out of the city, plunk down some fishing poles in the lake with your kids, maybe go out in a paddle boat or canoe, and have a weenie roast on shore. Beautiful.

Well, our friend, who is terribly efficient, was put in charge of maintenance. There had been some agitation about the amount of algae and glunk that had been building up in the water.

So he did some research, and came up with the idea of stocking grass carp in there -- nature’s janitors, without the stogies and union overtime.

He called around to find a primeau grass carp “breeder.” They chatted.

The breeder dutifully told him how many he should get to keep a lake the size of theirs clean. They were only about a buck apiece, too. Perfect! But our friend is a master salesman, and he can sell anybody on anything -- including himself.

If a few grass carp were GOOD, MORE grass carp would be GREAT!

More cleanliness! More efficiency! More fun for families on their precious weekend outings!

So he got about 15 . . . and released them, feeling terribly efficient.

A while later, he got a call. “Those grass carp of yours have been really busy,” his co-owners said.

“Great!” he replied, pridefully. “They’ve really been eating that algae and stuff, huh?”

“Yes, and all the other fishes’ food, and all the other fish. And they’ve gotten so gargantuan, the little kids are scared to swim. They’ve stripped all the grass around the lake and are halfway up the trees. And now one of the picnic tables is missing.”

He has taken a lot of . . . carping . . . about this over the years. Good-natured, of course. But it’s still a fish story that everyone loves to tell on him.

Older, wiser and somewhat chastened, our friend was recently put in charge of maintenance at our lovely new neighborhood pond. This time, he decided to buy ONE lone grass carp. A dwarf variety, I believe. With anorexia.

Just to make sure, I periodically walk around the shore sprinkling some of my famous chili powder on the grass, trees and picnic tables.

More, more, more is the way of the . . . grass carp.

‘Course, with our luck, he’s probably a Mexican dwarf anorexic grass carp . . . and likes his food spicy.


PRAYER REQUEST: A very wonderful man named Ted has recently been informed that he has lost his job. He’s not all that far from retirement, but he has lots and lots of knowledge and skills to share. He’s feeling pretty bad and is looking back, not forward. Lord Jesus, we ask for You to bless and guide this believer into an even better job and an even closer relationship with you and his loved ones. Help him realize that what he does is not what he is, but because of Who You are, he has eternal “job” security as Your child. (Luke 12:15)

Saturday, August 07, 2004


I had coffee with some fun old friends, one of whom is in her 70s and a wonderful gardener. She shared that she finally broke down and bought herself a GUN to deal with those wascally wabbits.

Not only that, but this meek widow bought a laser scope to help direct her shot. It goes something like a thousand feet per second . . . faster than a speeding Bugs can possibly evade Granny's deadeye.

Not only THAT, but she bagged EIGHT rabbits last summer and is closing in on that number this year.

And her garden has never looked as beautiful.

Don't tell PETA . . . but go Granny, go Granny, go Granny, go.


Prayer request: The State Capitol Prayer Walk is scheduled for 10 a.m. next Saturday, Aug. 14th. Four topics will be the focus: the Defense of Marriage Amendment, the partial-birth abortion ban, the prevention of casino gambling in Nebraska, and the upcoming state and national elections. The group will pray through Psalm 80 and has urged all others to join them privately throughout the month on these four topics, basing prayer on that chapter. (Psalm 80)

Friday, August 06, 2004


From "Deadpan Humor" by Stephen Wright:

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once -- maybe twice.

Photons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove money can't make me happy.

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

They told me I was gullible . . . and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to edge his car onto a freeway.

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.

One nice thing about egotists . . . they don't talk about other people.

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.


Prayer request: I got a chance to visit one of my oldest and best friends the other day. We were in her adorable home, seeing her adorable mom and sister for the first time in years, and enjoying the next generation in that wonderful family and their scrapbooking, coyote-petting and frog-collecting capers. Thank You, Lord, for weaving our lives together across the decades. Of all the joys You give, few compare to the face of a beloved friend. (John 15:13)

Thursday, August 05, 2004


I was reading a fun little magazine, “Country Lanes,’’ that’s circulated locally, and read a dramatic childbirth story from Kelly Acorn, manager and trainer at Sweet Tomorrow Farms near our home.

The “child” in this story is a Longhorn calf named “Hilda.”

It seems her mama, “Frosty,” had a heck of a time in labor. She stalked all over the farm for hours. People were worried about her, because her last calves came “like giant spitwads shot at your least favorite teacher.”

What a picture!

Mrs. Alcorn called the vet on her cell. He told her to “reach inside and see what was going on.” Mrs. Alcorn replied, “Oh, sure! This cow has 70’’ horns and is in acute pain!”

Well, one thing led to another, and they thought the calf was dead. They delivered her anyway, using chains and a metal bar.


But guess what: there was a slight movement of the calf’s nostrils. So the vet jumped on her, rubbed her face, gave her oxygen, and watched her for a while to make sure she wasn’t a “dummy” (a vet term for a brain-damaged animal that won’t nurse or function on its own).

Mrs. Alcorn said she prayed and prayed.

And Hilda is just fine!

Best of all . . . from her tired mama’s perspective . . . and this is ANOTHER picture . . . she didn’t have any horns.


Prayer request: Lord, Thank You for those rare times when adult children and their parents can be together, just like old times. A good friend and her daughter are traveling this week from Kansas City to Duluth and back to pick up three grandchildren at camp and visit old friends in the Alexandria area. Bless their time together and use it to draw them closer to each other and to You. Bring them home safely, with a minimum of mosquito bites! (Matthew 18:38a)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


An old friend in the broadcast business told a sweet story about the time his longtime employee moved to a faraway city to set up his own recording studio. He had always wanted to run his own business. But he underestimated how much work it takes to set up a studio. He kind of went into panic mode.

The day he took possession of the building and surveyed all the boxes of technical equipment he had to piece through and put together, he made a beeline to the phone . . . to call his old boss ‘way back in Omaha and whine about it.

“I wish you were here!” he said into the answering machine. “There’s so much to do, and so little time to do it!”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his girlfriend walk in . . . and then his jaw dropped, because she had his old boss at her side.

As if on cue!

The boss had arranged to fly in and surprise him, spending a week of his own vacation to help him set up his dream studio.

The boss said the whole thing was worth it for that exquisite moment of utter surprise, when, for once in his life, his ex-employee was speechless.

That, and listening to the panicky message on his answering machine when he got home. It still makes him chuckle.


Prayer request: We join our hearts in prayer for a friend of a friend, Pat Stringfellow. Her back has hurt her for months and now, of all things, they think it may be broken. She may need surgery. She has been suffering and not herself for so long, Lord. We pray that this is the answer and that relief from pain and other symptoms will come swiftly. (Psalm 80:18)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


My good friend’s daughter had been waiting to hear back about a job she really wanted. It paid peanuts, and she’s a bit young for it, but it sounded perfect for her. She’s eager to get started with adult life, and it seemed like a great launchpad.

She nailed the interview.

Sound effect: creaky hinge on a door opening wide.

She went out to dinner with her family, and who sat at the next table but a family friend they hadn’t seen for a while . . . the boss of an organization that is very similar to the one the young woman was hoping would hire her.

He asked for her resume, just in case. Meanwhile, they kept waiting for “the call” about the job.

Her mother prayed fervently for a sign.

A few days later, “the call” came – and the answer was “no.”

Sound effect: door slams!

But the mom and dad ran into the long-lost family friend again, at the grocery store. He said he had emailed their daughter about a possible job and was anxious for her response. The mom rejoiced: this was a sign!

Sound effect: creaky hinge. . . .

Oh, the excitement in the produce aisle! Look what prayer can . . . produce.


Prayer request: Savior, we pray for the right job for the young lady, and we have a more urgent request: a pastor named Paul had to be rushed to the hospital Monday with symptoms of heart-related problems. He’s wholeheartedly for You, Lord. Please direct his medical care toward full healing, for his flock’s good and Your glory. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Monday, August 02, 2004


Two weekends in a row with a garage sale at our house have left me worn out, and I didn’t even do the work. Our two older daughters are now broken in to this all-American art. They said they had fun, but they’re beat, too.

Their favorite part was when little kids would come up with a 25-cent item and fumble around with a coin purse or dig deep into their jeans pockets for an agonizing few seconds, ‘til they came up with the quarter. They’d complete the purchase and stride off proudly, holding their prize like an Oscar. Making your child use his or her own money to buy something special but cheap at a garage sale is a great lesson in economics and capitalism. Those parents are smart.

My favorite customer was the little boy across the street, Caleb. I thought it was a little odd that he was inspecting the baskets we set out. He bought a sturdy one with a tall handle. Then his mother told me why:

Our basket is now his “elevator” at the treehouse at his summer cabin in northwest Missouri. It’s on one end of a rope pulley, and Caleb’s on the other. All weekend, it transported hot dogs and cans of pop up to Caleb, king of all he surveyed from his treehouse lair.

That’s an all-American childhood . . . with style.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for the safe return of the man of the house after a week in Beaumont, Texas, where our daughter’s softball team came in around 25th place at Nationals. He withstood a week of sizzling humidity, boring nights in a motel room, and teenage chatter and antics . . . but as always, he wanted to be there in support of Eden and her teammates. Thank You, too, for the safe transport of Eden, all by herself, all the way to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a long-awaited Caribbean cruise with her grandmother and beloved cousin. Oh, the places they’ll see! What a wonderful husband and father You have given me and my daughters. What a wonderful mother and grandmother we have. And what a wonderful world You are sharing with us, Lord. (Psalm 50:12)

Sunday, August 01, 2004


For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
-- Isaiah 55:9

My friend C.J. said:

‘’Now I know why I broke my leg and my kid totaled his car.’’

I took the bait. OK. Why, and why?

First, her leg. That summer, C.J. didn’t have to work. She was eager to spend it with her husband and two boys.

They had arranged to go on a big vacation for three weeks in a van out to Wyoming, to visit his sister and do all the Wild, Wild West stuff.

What’d she do? She broke her leg.

She was working in her yard and walked over to the faucet. She slipped on some damp mulch.

She did a funky pirouette . . . and landed, kerplunk! like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, with her ankle twisted ‘way over THERE, and her hip twisted ‘way over THERE.

Nobody came. She tried turning the faucet off and on, off and on. She beat on the side of the house with her watering wand.

Finally, her husband stalked outside, mad about the noises ‘til he saw her . . . and then they were both sad. She couldn’t go on the trip. She lay on her couch, growsing and complaining, feeling sorry for herself. . . .

. . . when she got a bright idea.

‘’Why don’t you take your mother?’’ she suggested to her husband. ‘’She could take care of the boys.’’

She gladly agreed. And it was a wonderful trip. The boys still talk about getting chased by a buffalo and how the younger one ordered chicken nuggets and fries, morning, noon and night, the whole three weeks.

C.J. got a long rest, a busy mother’s dream. Her husband spent quality time with his mom. The grandmother felt needed and cherished. The grandsons developed lifelong memories.

A while later, the grandmother died.

And C.J. knew why she broke her leg.

‘’I couldn’t have known how precious that time together would turn out to be,’’ she says now. ‘’You don’t recognize God’s intervention at the time.’’

Same thing with her son’s crash a few years later.

It was his first car. Boy, was he proud. He had just gotten new tires, too.

Well, he took two girlfriends out one night, and was stopped at a traffic light at a busy intersection. Because of his new tires, he didn’t want to drive on the muddy shoulder to turn right. So he just stayed put.


A car rear-ended them!

He’s a strong young man. He clung to the wheel and kept his foot firmly on the brake. Otherwise, his car would surely have rammed into the little bitty car in front. . . .

. . . which was holding a little bitty old man and his little bitty old wife. They’d have been killed had they been pushed out into the intersection.

The dad was speechless. As a law enforcement professional, he’s seen many crashes. He knew there was no reason the gas tank hadn’t exploded. You could see it, right there. It wasn’t even cracked.

There was no reason, too, that the whole back half of the car had been smooshed into smithereens . . . right up to the very edge of the back seat, where one of the girls had been sitting. The car was perfectly OK from that point forward. The kids, all seat-belted, were perfectly OK.

So the car was totaled in a way that minimized the maximum damage. Their son is out some money, but he now knows how it feels to pretty much save people’s lives.

C.J.’s not exactly looking for more trials. But when they come, she just waits for an answer to that question we all ask: ‘’Why?’’

She’ll get the answer someday . . . because God knows.

That’s good enough for C.J. And though I do my share of funky pirouettes in the meantime, it’s good enough for me.


Prayer request: We fall before Your Throne, Lord, on behalf of a marriage that is in trouble. We lift up Ken and Joyce, who refuse counseling but appear need it desperately. There are reports of verbal and emotional abuse, multiple personalities, and estrangement with Ken’s own adult children. Ken was once close to You, and wants to honor his wedding vows. All the family can do is ask others to help pray for a breakthrough and to fight for them until they are strong enough to fight for themselves. Holy Spirit of Jesus, come to Ken and Joyce, and help them save their marriage. (Ephesians 6:10-19)