Thursday, September 30, 2004


Lassie was sad. Call her . . . ‘’melancholy.’’

Ba-bum crash!

Pun fumes are threatening to overcome our whole family. Two things have converged for truly corny humor. First, we have all these veggies, gourds and pumpkins coming out of our ears. And second, Maddy is in to telling jokes now. She is the only one who belly laughs at the punchline. The rest of us smile in pain.


Q. What do you get when the banana crosses the road?

A. More bananas come!


Our response: silent, painful smiling.

But this time, apparently inspired by our bountiful harvest, she told a truly funny one, whether she knew it was funny or not:

Q. What happened when the gourds crossed the road?

A. A car ran over them and turned them into SQUASH.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROBIN! My sister is being surprised today with a beautiful autumn wreath made by a DailySusan reader, whose happy customer I am. Email me if you’d like one, too, and I’ll put you in touch with the artist. May a wreath of happiness encircle you this year, BaBa.


Prayer request: A friend’s close friend, Pam, was diagnosed with a blood clot in the brain. Her pain has been excruciating. Now they have detected a second blockage that is inhibiting the flow of spinal fluid. They are going to put a ventricular drain through the skull. It's hoped this will relieve the incredible pressure and swelling. Complication: she’s been on blood thinners and her blood is too thin. So that’s a tall order for prayer. Oh, Lord, resolve this situation successfully for Pam and her husband Gary and children David and Amanda. You are our confidence and our strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


I was trying out my new wok. I bought it yesterday as Plan B for cooking dinner. I needed a Plan B because the electrician said he couldn’t get here for over a week to come fix our stove. I’d always wanted a wok, anyway, especially since it’s great for Atkins-style meals and can double as a skillet

Filled with self-pride over having put the wok together myself, even though I’m hardware-challenged, I told a friend on the phone about my new purchase. I was using it at that moment to prepare meat for dinner.

Suddenly, I was overcome by pun fumes:

“You’ve got to wok before you can run, much less fry,” I told her.

Hope she can wok off the pain of being punned.


Prayer request: We ask your blessing, Lord, on a weekend visit of a dear one’s daughter, Caroline. She is in Wisconsin ‘’meeting the parents’’ of her gentleman caller. May she be just as gracious and charming as ever, may there be love expressed for Jesus Christ in their home, and may the encounter be mutually delightful and rooted wholly in You. (Psalm 119:27)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I’ve been one-upped, bigtime. A friend read my story Sunday about the time my horse tried to get me off his back, literally, by crouching down low to the ground and hoping I’d jump or fall off. This friend has a much wilder, more colorful crazy-horse story.

First of all, it happened in Pakistan. That’s a lot more colorful than the grassy hills around Mount Laundry, Nebraska.

Second, he didn’t fall off, either . . . but his horse ran him into the middle of a lake, and then rolled so that my friend was underwater.

He wasn’t trying to buck him off. He was trying to DROWN him off!

To save his own life, he groped around, nearly upside down, underwater, and pulled that horse’s nose down under water, too. The instant the horse realized that the crazy man in the saddle was willing to drown him WITH him, he righted himself. They swam to shore. The kicker is, they became good friends and lived happily ever after.

I bow in the presence of greatness. Far be it from me to even try to top that one. Neighhhhhhh.


Prayer request: A reader named Bernadette had laser eye surgery last week, and it went well. She plans to have the other eye done this week. She asks for prayers for that, and for her daughter, who very recently had breast cancer surgery. ‘’We were praying that she would not require chemo, but I know we don't always get what we want,’’ Bernadette wrote. ‘’She will be having a port placed this Thursday, and starts chemo Friday followed by radiation. She and we, her family, are devastated.’’ Father God, comfort and sustain her in these trials, and remind her she can lean on Jesus, Who is with her always. (Matthew 28:20)

Monday, September 27, 2004


Our newborn grand-niece Paisley, born by emergency C-section late Thursday night because of oxygen deprivation from a prolapsed umbilical cord, was in a medical emergency worse than most of us will ever face. The negative factors included: gravely low on oxygen, gravely low heartbeat, grayish color, extremely acidic body chemistry, unusual neurological signs and no movement in most of her body. She didn’t even cry at birth.

Medical specialists were bookin’ it down the hall to the delivery room as Paisley’s new grandparents watched from the waiting room. Probabilities, including cerebral palsy and developmental delays, were discussed.

Literally hundreds of people prayed. And, miraculously, one by one the negative factors corrected themselves. The next day she began to feed. Yesterday, we got to hold her, and she’s beautiful, precious, and the spittin’ image of my late father, her great-grandfather, which makes me so happy.

She’s probably going to get to come home later today, too.

What an amazing outcome! But my friend, the philosopher, pointed out what the shape of the paisley is like: there’s an uplifting turnaround! With all the prayer support for the new baby, after all, what did we expect?

I asked the new grandfather, my brother, what he had gained from all of this. A highly-regarded internist who was well aware of all the scientific reasons why Paisley should never have recovered like this, he said simply:

‘’Renewed awe for the resiliency and strength of the human body, even in the littlest of us.’’

Amen! And ain’t it the truth?


Prayer request: Grant peace, rest and calm to Paisley and her parents over the next few weeks, Lord Jesus. Help them see how You delivered them through this crisis through Your amazing grace. It’s so wonderful to watch You live up to Your promises in Your Word, and Your billing as an all-powerful, all-loving God! (Romans 4:21)

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
-- 1 Corinthians 10:12

In my Great Moments In Dignity file, one page that’s missing is the day a horse tried to get me off his back.

Not buck me off like at the big rodeo in Omaha this weekend.

Not float me off, like a friend’s horse did by running her straight into a farm pond.

Not slide me off, like a bareback bronc named Apache did to another friend whose bottom slithered off him slick as stocking feet on a slippery solid-wood floor.

No, I mean this horse tried to get rid of me by holding still.

See, I was ‘’test-riding’’ Zippa Dee Dude, the wonderful quarter-horse we owned for a few years, or, should I say, owned us. He belonged to a horsewoman who was competing in the American Quarter Horse Association nationals on a super-duper new horse. A friend was selling Zip for her. Meanwhile, I didn’t know a stirrup from a spur. For poor Zip, moving from an expert rider to a nervous neophyte had to be the epitome of ignominy.

We were nearing the barn, though, after a long trail ride with some other people when, suddenly, BOOM!

Zip plunged to the ground . . . and squatted there, motionless, like a big, hairy bump in the road.

Was he hurt? No. Sick? No. He just hoped that geeky greenhorn on his back would take the hint, roll off and end the mouth-sawing, flank-stabbing torture.

Anyone with an ounce more athletic ability, sanity, or both, would’ve jumped off.

But I couldn’t . . . because my feet were tangled in the stirrups, or spurs, or maybe both.

I couldn’t get free. The other riders looked down at us, slack-jawed, as the frustrating drama panned out. He just wanted me, literally, off his back.

Ever hear the expression, ‘’Easier than falling off a horse?’’ Not for me. I couldn’t even fall off a motionless horse. No . . . nyet . . . neigh.

With a sigh, Zip stood again, and trudged dejectedly back to his stall, where he turned his rear toward me in disgust.

Fascinated, we bought him, anyway. Determined to improve, I rode him every day for a month. I was finally beginning to cowgirl up.

Well, one glorious fall afternoon, a bunch of us went on a trail ride. I was the only newster; the veterans promised to watch over me. One had to borrow a horse she didn’t know, Bugsy. His owner said he was ‘’fresh.’’ I thought, what? He wanted to make out with her? Nooooooo . . . neighhhhhh. It meant he was rarin’ to go.

That was sure dead on. Turns out he hadn’t been ridden for years.

We set out. The ride was going fine. Suddenly, though, a few horses bolted up a hill. Others started bucking. Riders were getting thrown off.

In my usual crisis mode -- lock-limbed panic -- I reined Zippy in. We just stood there. But next to me, Bugsy, the ‘’fresh’’ horse, was, in a word, ‘’’rarin’.’’

He bucked, and bucked, and bucked. The veteran rider, a pretty blonde, rode tough. Finally, though, she made a big ‘’O’’ with her mouth, shot high out of the saddle, and sailed backwards through the air, with a puzzled frown on her face, as in: ‘’How come I’m getting bucked off, and that clueless dudette next to me is staying on?’’

She landed with a THUD! on her bottom on the hard, dry ground. It had to hurt.

I raced to the florist’s, telling them the story. What would be good sympathy flowers?

Not red roses; they’re for lovers.

Not pink carnations; they’re for funerals.

The florist leaned toward me with a conspiratorial twinkle:

‘’Purple asters,’’ she said.

The poor, sore buckaroo loved them. We’ve since become close friends.

And we’ve both planted purple asters in our gardens. They’re mementos of the fall I didn’t fall, and she did, but it wasn’t a complete pain in the rear, because it got us started on the beautiful trail ride called friendship.

Heigh ho, purple asters . . . and away!


Praise Report: Thank You, Jesus, for the dramatic but ultimately exciting and wonderful birth of my new grand-niece, Paisley Elizabeth. It took an emergency C-section for this 9-pound, 6-ounce, beautiful bundle of joy to arrive. Thank You for making it all come out OK, Lord, and thank you for the prayer ‘’midwives’’ and ‘’-husbands’’ who surrounded that hospital room with prayers for deliverance, and continue to sustain the parents, grandparents and Paisley. Hallelujah! Amen! (Psalm 32:7)

Prayer Request: Last week’s story about a dog named Molly brought up a sad prayer request from a reader whose young relative, Mollie, was killed in a car wreck outside Kansas City earlier this month. The family is, of course, devastated that she has been torn out of their hands so young. The girl loved the Lord, though, and they all know she is with Him. Comfort and encourage them ‘til they day they’re reunited, Lord. (Colossians 2:2)

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Our first-born daughter was a big baby -- a whopper -- over 10 pounds. People came from miles around just to look at her in the nursery and make wisecracks about how she’d be palming a basketball in no time and driving the taxicab home.

Hardy har har. She’s now a gorgeous and slim young woman. What do THEY know?

Well, I’m pleased and proud to announce that we now have another big, beautiful, blonde baby in the family. My grandniece, Paisley, weighed in at 9 pounds, 6 ounces. It was a dramatic, complicated delivery, and we ask your continued prayers for the recovery of Paisley and her mama, who’s very petite and very sore today from an emergency C-section. More later on what happened.

I’m just remembering that, when news of our big baby spread in the family 21 years ago, Paisley’s daddy was then about 4. His mom explained to him what a big, bouncing baby his new cousin was, with chubby arms and legs and cheeks and chins.

He beamed at her with his well-scrubbed, cute, full-moon face. ‘’She’s got MY cheeks!’’

Well, guess what? So does Baby Paisley. Welcome, precious angel girl.


Prayer request: Lord, You know we had some very anxious moments over some birth trauma that Paisley and her mom went through, because You heard about it in fervent prayer all day. Our joy was unbounded when the turnaround came and the news was good. Thank You, Oh, God, for Your gracious answer. And I’m still smiling over how my Bible fell open to this verse about delivering Your beloved -- just as You delivered our beloved Paisley. (Psalm 108:6)

Friday, September 24, 2004


My adorable nephew and his adorable wife have been expecting a baby for nearly nine and a half months now. Everything’s fine; the baby is just not quiiiiiiiiite ready to come. The mom and dad sure are ready, though. She needs a CRUTCH to hold up her abdomen and he’s worried that the cigars he ordered are going stale.

They have been aware of this pregnancy since minutes after the first cells started dividing, in stark contrast to their ditzy aunt. I literally found out I was pregnant this last time when my belly moved and I hadn’t coughed!

Anyway, so we’re collecting surefire ways to get that baby to pop:

-- Call a painter. It’s a 100 percent certainty that, when he finally, FINALLY arrives and puts dropcloths down and so forth, you will go into labor.

-- Shovel out the ashes in your fireplace. Bend, stretch and make that baby yearn for a less vigorous environment.

-- Go for a long ride on a bumpy road; a motorcycle is not recommended unless you are three weeks overdue. If four weeks overdue, use a pogo stick.

-- Dismantle the nursery that you put together so diligently and beautifully. This baby will only come when you’re so unprepared, you have to use a drawer for the crib and tear up your T-shirts for diapers.

-- The No. 1, top secret, super sophisticated, failsafe method: CLEAN YOUR DRIP PANS. Works every time.

Stay tuned. One way or another, this baby is going to be here soon.


Prayer request: Lord, we are delighted to watch this dear young couple go through this beautiful time in their life. Thank You for making Chris such a strong, sweet and loveable husband and thank You for Jana’s good cheer and calm demeanor. Give them lots of sleep before the main event, and protect them all, especially the baby. They love You completely, and so will their child. (Psalm 115:14)

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A friend who’s a history buff went to the Nebraska-Pittsburgh football game last weekend, and decided to take a side trip to visit Johnstown, Pa. That was the scene of the terrible 1889 flood where more 2,200 people drowned.

He loved this story about a Pittsburgh Post-Dispatch reporter. He is supposed to have written his lead paragraph about the flood: ‘’God spread his wrath on Johnstown today.’’

An editor in Pittsburgh is supposed to have wired back: ‘’Forget the flood, interview God!’’

Back at the game, my friend reported that, on the scoreboard in Heinz Field, there are two giant bottles of ketchup. When Pittsburgh gets into the red zone, the tops of the bottles open and it appears as though ketchup is pouring out.

He said, ‘’I think some of it fell on my hot dog.’’

I’m sure he wiped it off, good Republican that it is. The Heinz that field is named for is the late first husband of the ultra-rich Mrs. John Kerry. You know, the one the Swift Boats veterans are calling a . . . WIENIE MAN.

Well, that wasn’t the end of the fun. He also sent digital pictures of expensive pleasure boats and yachts, most of them tied to docks, that had broken off from their moorings in the flood. They were floating and careening down the flooded river in plain sight of the stadium’s higher seats, all through the game. It was pretty alarming and hair-raising to be that near to a violent flood.

Now my friend wants to be known as a ‘’Swift Boat Veteran.’’

Oh, brother. Please pass the ketchup!


Prayer request: We pray for safety and an anointing of the Holy Spirit as a new friend Pam goes over to Kenya on a mission trip next week. Lord Jesus, protect her and let Your light shine through her as she serves as Your ambassador to that beautiful continent. (Matthew 28:19)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


One of the reasons I wanted to go to the University of Missouri for journalism school is that big shots like Dan Rather went there.

Come to find out, they said he had barely scraped by, making ‘’D’s’’ through school. Hunh. And here I am, a washed-up, cheesy housewife in Flyover USA with no audience ratings except for my newfound favorite, tomato pie, and yet I got almost all A’s down there. Wuzzup wit DAT?

Now that Rather is in so much trouble for flubbing the journalistic dub so badly on the forged National Guard documents, among other iffy and downright dumb stories and slants he’s had in the past, we should all know why.

He didn’t pay attention in class, and this is what happens.

I suppose they’ve taken his bust down from the Mizzou Hall of Fame ‘’for cleaning’’ or are turning it into a dartboard or something.

All things considered, I’m sure he’d . . . RATHER be a washed-up, cheesy househusband nowadays. More fun, less pressure . . . and there’s that home-grown tomato pie that makes your family BROADCAST it all over the neighborhood how yummy it is. Hmm. Now, there’s a newscast I’d like to see!


Prayer request: We offered prayer last week for a businessman named Bruce who collapsed of an apparent heart attack and was in critical care in a local hospital. Since then, a mutual friend has alerted us to an ongoing report on his condition written by his college-age daughter at It is heartwarming to read, although sad and scary, too. Thank You, Jesus, for the many acts of kindness that are being extended to the family in this ordeal, and continue to strengthen and comfort them. And keep up the prayers, please, for there’s still hope. (2 Corinthians 1:7)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Maddy was on the trampoline and I was spotting her while trying to read the paper. So I was using just one hand and half of one eye to catch and roll back her blue rubber bouncy ball.

She was trying like heck to get my full attention, but it wasn’t working, until she exclaimed:

‘’Mommy! Mommy! Did you know balls lay eggs?’’

Hunh? They do?

Then I saw, laying on the grass near us, a golf whiffle ball and a softball -- much smaller than the ball she was playing with. Ah HA!

Now that she has discerned where little baby BALLS come from, can ‘’The Question’’ be far behind? Lord, give me strength . . . and the resilence of a room full of bouncy balls.


Praise report: Thanks to all the prayer warriors who have held up the shield for a little girl named Regan (Aicardi Syndrome, Aug. 31 prayer request). Regan's pneumonia has been resolved and she is well enough to go back to ‘’school.’’ (James 5:14-16)

Prayer request: An attorney named Dennis has a very rare cancer that has moved to his liver. He is on an intense chemotherapy regime and had to be hospitalized for transfusions last week. Now his wife Elaine has to be tested, for it is believed that this form of cancer is environmentally-caused. They are devout Catholics and he has been anointed. Father, be with them, and help the doctors detect the cause so that others might be protected from further harm. (Jeremiah 17:14)

Monday, September 20, 2004


Our daughter Eden’s high-school softball team has won 20 games and lost only 2. They have just four more regular-season games before the conference, district and state tournaments. Their spirits are high.

The varsity girls were on the bus at an away game last week whiling away the time while the JV played. They watched their beloved coach, the dignified father of two, go inside the porta-potty next to the bus.

Naturally, they talked one of their number into racing over there and rocking the outhouse back and forth a few times just to give Coach a little jolt.

She did it, with style, to the hysterical laughter of her teammates. She came racing back to the bus and slid into her seat with more fervor than you’d slide into home plate in the last inning of a tight game.

Coach came stalking out a second later, in mock fury, demanding to know who had done such a thing.

They blamed it on their All-State pitcher, an absolute angel, who has never done anything wrong in her entire life. The jokes and laughter continued for quite a while.

Eden said it was the funniest thing she has ever seen and the highlight of the season, and that’s saying something, since she has hit a triple and a ground-rule double in the last few games.

Even though we want her to work hard in school and do her best in sports, we are happy that she will have a few crazy memories like this to look back on and smile. You may not always be 20-2 in ‘’real life’’ . . . but you’ll always be a winner if you remember to have some fun.


Prayer request: A new friend, Janet, has shared that housework is getting to be very difficult drudgery. The endless, mundane tasks and routines are really getting on her nerves. Can you relate? Father God, renew her spirit of adventure for her everyday life. Bring joy, music and surprises into her life, and an Attitude Adjustment for all of us about how lucky we are to have nice homes, and how we can glorify You by keeping them neat. (Titus 2:7)

Sunday, September 19, 2004


(T)hey shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
-- Mark 16:18

Some friends of a friend had fallen on hard times. The dad was working two jobs and really struggling.

Meanwhile, the mom was juggling a tight budget with the needs of three small children. There was a lot of mac ‘n’ cheese being served, not many toys being bought, and not much relief in sight.

But everybody was healthy, and the kids were happy, because they had a wonderful golden retriever named Molly -- love and joy in a blonde fur coat. In their world, all was well.

Then one busy morning, the mom packed the kids into the car in a hurry. They had to be somewhere. The garage door creaked open. She gunned it, backwards, out of the dark garage and down the driveway.


She ran over Molly.

The dog ran a few steps and slumped to the dirt, yelping and whining in pain. The kids screamed. The mom’s heart plopped into her guts. She jumped out of the car and saw the blood and the crumpled body. She knew it was bad.

“Don’t look, kids,” she commanded, tears streaming down her face.

She ran inside to call her husband, choking out what she had done. “Oh, Honey,” he said, “we can’t afford vet bills right now. Where are we going to get the money? We just can’t do it.”

“Well, what do you suggest? The kids are hysterical!” she shot back, throat tight.

“You just go on ahead to your appointment,” he said calmly. ‘’Don’t let them look. I’ll take care of it.”

All sobbing, they drove away, the kids with their heads in their hands, and left Molly by the side of their driveway.

A short while later, he pulled up. Heart pounding, he walked up to the dog, by now breathing rapidly and shallowly. He’d picked her out of the litter, and it was love at first sight. Now, he couldn’t even look at her.

He picked her up and carried her into the shed. He went to get the shotgun.

His hands shook as he loaded it. He turned and aimed.

He aimed.

He aimed.

He couldn’t do it. He lowered the gun, then let it slide to the ground.

He’d never done anything like this before. But somehow, he was thinking of his childhood Sunday School stories about Jesus laying His hands on sick people, and making them well.

He knew it was the power of faith . . . the power of love.

He knelt by the dog, and firmly placed his hands on her shivering sides. “Jesus, I don’t know what else to do,’’ he whispered. ‘’We all love her so much. I haven’t asked You for much, but I’m asking You now: let her live. Let her get better.’’

Nothing happened. She continued to whimper. He went inside, got an old blanket and a pan of water, and left. What else could he do? She would have to be on her own.

Days passed. The kids weren’t allowed in the shed, but they prayed as hard as they could. Only the mom and dad came and went.

And Molly hung in there . . . and got better.

I never would have heard this story, except I shared with a friend recently how much I missed having a dog. Our beloved black lab Shadow died nearly two years ago, and the aching gap in our lives needs to be filled. Best bet: a puppy . . . love and joy in a fur coat, brightening our lives again.

That’s when my friend told me about Molly, and how she had not only recovered, but she had recently had puppies!

Oh, to have one from such a special dog! But they were all spoken for.

But that’s OK. One of these days, we’ll get one of our own, and we’ll give our hearts again, completely.

And when we put our hands on that sweet dog and look in to those big, brown eyes, we’ll think of Molly, and the heart that couldn’t shoot . . . and the hands that could only love.


Prayer request: Father, we are excited to start a Bible study in our home tonight based on “The Purpose-Driven Life” book by Rick Warren. Thank You for this precious chance to meet new believers and help each other discover Your plan for our lives. Let Your light shine in all our hearts over the next six weeks. (Ephesians 2:10)

Saturday, September 18, 2004


Here are two fun recipes to help you handle garden excesses:

Tomato Pie

One 9'' pie crust
2 or 3 medium tomatoes, sliced thick, with skin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dried or fresh basil
1/4 C. chopped fresh chives
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake empty pie crust for five minutes. Take out. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Layer tomatoes in crust. Sprinkle with the rest of the ingredients, except the mayo and cheese. Mix the mayo and cheese, and blob on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Butternut Squash Soup

One 2-lb. butternut squash, peeled and chopped into medium chunks
Two T. sugar (or Splenda)
5 T. butter
One small onion, chopped
One quart water
One cinnamon stick
2 oz. heavy cream
White pepper

Our butternut squash was huuuuuuuge, so I tripled this recipe. Be awfully careful cutting it, too. In a soup pot, “sweat” the squash, sugar and some salt in the butter, covered for three minutes. Use low heat; you’re not browning it, you’re softening it. Add onion. Sweat 10 minutes more. Add water and the cinnamon stick. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon. Puree soup in a blender for at least one minute per batch. You can strain it (I didn’t). Finish with cream, salt and white pepper to taste. Sprinkle on some nutmeg to serve.


Prayer request: An old friend named Tom has had the Week From Hell . . . he just moved and his last two paychecks are being held up at the post office, so he’s strapped for cash . . . his garage door broke . . . while fixing it he sliced open his knee and had to have nine stitches . . . Lord, keep his sense of humor intact during all these trials, and grant him peace, rest and happiness NEXT week. (Psalm 103:4)

Friday, September 17, 2004


I had a nightmare about my lack of home ec stewardship. The amazing bounty from our garden is quickly outstripping my ability to cook and freeze what we’ve grown. I’ve let a few luscious tomatoes and cucumbers rot, and some corn got wormy waiting to be husked.

The horror of that waste haunts me. On the first day of Bible study, instead of bringing my teacher an apple, I brought her four zucchini. I ignored the funny look on her face. I gave away two sacks of cucumbers to my buds, too, avoiding eye contact so they wouldn’t make me feel guilty for pawning them off on them. I leave anonymous sacks of veggies at friends’ doors, ring the bell, and run for the hills.

The fear of wasting food was ingrained on my psyche by my Depression-era ma and pa. No one in my family ever left food on our plates; if necessary, you could slide brussel sprouts into the napkin in your lap, but that was about it. We always turned out lights when we weren’t in the room, and sometimes when we were. Even though we were relatively rich, we all wore hand-me-downs if at all possible, in every category except, thank God, underwear.

I guess that’s why my subconscious mind is worried about this garden excess. Here’s what I dreamed they engraved on my tombstone:

Here Lies a Recipe Weenie;
She Threw Away a Lot of Zucchini.

Tomatoes? Cukes? ‘Twas All a Wash;
She Let ‘Em Rot, Along With Squash.

It Made You Wince, Like Graphic Porn
To See Her Wasting All That Corn.

But at least, I’m trying to fight back. Tomorrow, I’ll share two great veggie recipes that have saved the day, or at least, helped me sleep better.


Prayer request: We lift up a Scout leader named Bruce who collapsed while running, and may have brain damage. Lord, be with his wife and children, and bring forward friends and neighbors to help this good Scout and his family in every way possible. Remember how good and true Bruce has been, Father; be merciful to him. (Isaiah 38:3)

Thursday, September 16, 2004


I love prestige license plates. They’re funny. And one of the best belongs to Nebraska’s best-known son, multizillionaire investor Warren Buffett.

One of my friends is working alongside “The Oracle of Omaha” to fight off expanded casino gambling in our state. She hates it for the moral damage it causes, and he hates it for the economic harm. They got along great.

They had their picture taken next to his car yesterday. The license plate:



Prayer request: Lord, there’s an amazing array of people united against this hateful gambling expansion on the November ballot. Bless their hard work and long hours with a victory. Confuse the opposition and expose their deceptions and cover-ups. Convince the public to do things Your way, which is to keep our money on the straight and narrow, helping ourselves and the needy, not frittering it away. (Proverbs 22:2)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Footnote to last week’s report on a very creative lady, longtime actress and storytelling artist Nancy Duncan of Omaha, who enjoyed seeing a magnificent rainbow the evening before she died.

Her funeral was creative, too. Someone she mentored wrote:

‘’Due to the extended nature of her dying, Nancy had the opportunity to plan her own funeral, which was pretty cool for a storyteller/director/actor. In addition to Bible readings and songs from the church hymnal, there was poetry, dance, and of course -- stories.

‘’I thought I wouldn’t cry, but I did, freely and gladly.

‘’Instead of the traditional funeral lunch, her family provided a build-your-own-ice-cream-sundae buffet.

‘’And they spread out her tchotchkes, brick-a-brack, knick-knacks, and ‘stuff’ on tables for all of us to take.

‘’People went to the open microphone to tell stories of Nancy and (I thought, not appropriately, but Nancy would have approved) just to perform other stories.

‘’I hope my funeral is as cool!’’


Prayer request: Thank You, Jesus, for inspiring Nancy and her loved ones with this fabulous rebuke to death. It points the way toward a joyous, creative view of heaven for all who believe. We heard the ice-cream sundaes there have no calories, too! (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


A dear friend’s son Chad and his family have just moved to St. Petersburg, and she’s asked for prayer.

Why? Because his name is CHAD and he moved to FLORIDA right before the ELECTION?

No! She wants us to ask God to help him do well in his new job and that Hurricane Ivan would stay far away.

She’ll give us an update. She won’t leave us . . . DANGLING about Chad.


Prayer request: Besides Chad & Co., I’m praying today for an old friend named Fritz, and his family and friends, who live in the Tampa area. I hope the hardships are at a minimum, that Ivan isn’t so Terrible, and that Fritz knows how precious he is to the Lord and his old buds back in Omaha. (Matthew 10:31)

Monday, September 13, 2004


I either have M.S., or my eyes are bleary because it was a busy weekend and I stayed up too late doing laundry, and my hands are stiff because I peeled and cut a gigantic butternut squash from our garden for my favorite soup yesterday, and it took some doing.

Ooooh. Monday morning. Ooooooooooh.

Got Maddy in the carseat, finally, and was hurrying her to preschool, but before we left, I made sure to microwave myself up a cup of hot c for the trip.

We hit the road. I had just lifted it to my lips for a big gulp and a big “Ahhhh!” and was holding it aloft with my right hand when Maddy piped up:


Now, there’s a Monday morning eye-opener. I mean, literally!


Prayer request: Along these same lines, a reader has offered a prayer request on behalf of all those people out there who are struggling with addictions of all kinds. She works in a health-related field, and knows the extent of this problem in our society. Lord, Lord, we call upon You to free Your children and turn their hearts and minds only toward You. (1 John 2:16,17)

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The OTHER Other Woman

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
-- Matthew 6:12

I was trapped at a party with someone who had recently been The Other Woman, but now was The Wife.

I knew how she had stuck that knife into the first wife’s back, and sent her floating downstream on the bloody river of d-I-v-o-r-c-e, taking the air out of the kids’ water wings in the process.

But it was all water under the dam now. I had prayed for them all, hoping God would make The Other Woman see what she had done.

So we chatted, though on my end, it felt pretty awkward. Then here came a friend of mine.

Good. She didn’t know this Other Woman or the whole sordid story. We could have a light, party conversation.

This friend, another First Wife, is gorgeous, with a face like Bambi: huge eyes, delicate features. She has great kids, and a popular, successful husband. They’d been married forever.

To my shock, she said, ‘’My husband and I are in the process of a divorce, and it’s really, really hard.’’

I was having an Out of Body Experience, since the The Other Woman Now Wife was right there.

Then my friend said, ‘’I’m pretty sure there’s another woman.’’

It moved to an Out of Planet Experience.

She continued, ‘’They work together. He’s gotten an apartment and he won’t give me any money. The kids are really suffering. My life is a mess. I can’t believe this is happening.’’


Our eyes locked in solidarity. I’m pretty sure my OTHER set of eyes locked onto that Other Woman Now Wife:

‘’See how you hurt nice people like this, and their kids?

‘’See? See?!? SEE!?!?!”

Suddenly, though, I knew God had placed me between them for a reason.

Not for them. For me.

Inwardly, I was like one of those lizards which, when riled, erects a sheath of warty skin around its head and shoots poison out of its eyeballs!

I wanted to yank The Other Woman’s upper lip over her head and twist it into a tight knot!

Judo chop!

Powerful knee into overactive groin!

I was like that cartoon character in MAD Magazine, who acts normal . . . but his SHADOW is doing all sorts of antisocial things to show how he REALLY feels!

Suddenly, I stopped short. Where did all these ugly thoughts come from? How rotten my heart was. My anger, resentment and unforgiveness were dirty and sinful . . . just as repugnant to God as adultery.

I was the OTHER Other Woman -- in rebellion to God just like the adulteress. I’d sinned plenty in my time; I’d just done a better job of hiding it.

Confused and ashamed, I hugged the First Wife, made an excuse, and escaped.

A while later, I attended a Bible study on King David, and finally ‘’got it.’’

We learned how the adulteress Bathsheba went on to have a son by King David, and that son, Solomon, became king . . . the richest and wisest man ever . . . an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Well, this First Wife in our group spoke up. She had recently been jilted by an adulteress, and lost most everything in the divorce. It was hard for her to see this Biblical adulteress living on Easy Street.

She snapped, and went off on God.

‘’How COULD You? Why should SHE live happily ever after, while the GOOD women like ME get the SHAFT?’’

She raged on in anger and pain.

Finally, a strong, authoritative and incomparably tender Inner Voice spoke to her:

‘’Child, which of YOUR sins should I not forgive?’’

She stopped . . . and thought . . . and bowed her head.

As she finished her story, I bowed mine, too.

Judo chop . . . on myself, Lord. People get themselves into enough trouble and anguish all by themselves. They don’t need me to ‘’pile on.’’

No more reptilian venom spurting out of my eyes on someone who’s sinned a biggie.

From now on, Lord, let it be Your grace and forgiveness coming out of my heart and through my eyes, instead.


Prayer request: The real work of the Cross is being done for us by the Red Cross serving hurricane victims in Florida, Father. In honor of them, and remembering 9/11, let us offer our prayers and our donations in outrageous generosity. All that we have is Yours in the first place, and ours to share, to glorify You. (Psalm 30:12)

Saturday, September 11, 2004


We’re all thinking about the people who died in 9/11 and wishing none of it had ever happened. We’re not alone in wishful thinking, you know.

I never met her and never saw her work, but Omaha storyteller Nancy Duncan died at 67 the other day, and the creative community is hurting. How they wish she’d never gotten breast cancer, because she had so many more stories to tell. People she entertained and people she mentored in the dramatic arts and storytelling joined with people she loved to mourn her and also celebrate her life.

I was touched by the fact that she saw the same giant rainbow on the last night of her life that we saw from the balcony of a dear neighbor’s wedding reception. She thought it was for her, the way we thought it was for them. Of course, it was for all of us.

In memory of Nancy Duncan and the 9/11 victims, I played and sang Kermit the Frog’s famous song on our piano the other day. The lyrics mean a lot to me. Hope they do to you, too:

The Rainbow Connection
By Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher

Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.

So we’ve been told, and some choose to believe it;
I know they’re wrong; wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection;
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

Who said that ev’ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it;
Look what it’s done so far.

What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection;
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

All of us under its spell;
We know that it’s probably magic.

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m s’posed to be.
Someday, we’ll find it, the Rainbow Connection;
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

Farewell, Nancy Duncan. Thanks for the love and the dreams. Like the rainbow and the memories of the loved ones killed in 9/11, your story never ends. That’s all you ever wanted. That’s all any of us ever needs.


Prayer request: Speaking of an elder loved one, there’s a house back in Virginia that’s been empty and for sale for a year. The aged owner, Nell, is in assisted living. The very sweet and diligent daughter back here would love to make that checkmark on her ‘’Sandwich Generation Things to Do List.’’ Lord Jesus, she has been so faithful to Your commandments regarding elder care, and she is so worthy of financial blessing. We bow before You because we know you’ll make it happen. (Psalm 41:1)

Friday, September 10, 2004


We went in to pick up my husband after Lasik surgery. Maddy had insisted on wearing her bunny costume. So the first thing he saw was her beaming freckled face framed by white furry ears. He must have questioned whether the surgery ‘’took.’’

I brought along a tin cup and a cane, just to be hilarious. The office staff thought Maddy was a lot cuter. I would have brought my friend’s German shepherd on a halter leash too, but thought that would be just a little too over the top. Not that the bunny costume was subtle.

The surgery was a huge success. Dave was marveling about being able to see so well, so soon afterward. Even though he was supposed to rest in a dark room, he insisted on going down to Nebraska City for our daughter’s softball game. Of course, I drove. Within the first few miles, I was kind of wishing the surgery HADN’T ‘’taken.’’ He was criticizing my rate of speed, my lane-changing, and the distance between me and the car ahead.

Near-sightedness has its joys. But I’m just kidding.

This eye surgery is an absolute miracle, and we’re extremely grateful for the prayers and medical knowhow that combined to make it such a success.

But now I’m envisioning the next step: he was the guinea pig. Since it worked for him, we’ve already agreed . . . I’m next.


Prayer request: I’ve met a wonderful father named Randy, whose wife went off the deep end with a gambling addiction. There’s been a divorce and there is ongoing conflict over interactions and custody matters, though the kids are doing great in school and appear to be adjusting well. I promised to pray for him and his two children, a boy who’s 14 and a girl who’s 8. Would you join me? Savior God, thank You for Randy’s strength and integrity. Envelop them with Your grace and protection. (Psalm 41:12)

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Remember how we all pulled together after Sept. 11? Remember how we all sent money and letters and prayers, and helped any way we could?

The same things are going on for our fellow Americans in Florida, sucker-punched by two big hurricanes in a row.

Former Omahan Jane Gilbert is a big cheese with the Red Cross in Raleigh, N.C., and she’s been sending me heartwarming stories of how the Red Cross has been helping people in need:

-- A woman walked in to a Red Cross office in Georgia and brought with her a newspaper clipping from May 1929. It seems that her home was destroyed by a tornado that touched down near Catlett, Va. Her father was killed. She was pulled from the rubble clinging to her mother, who was hospitalized for months. They lost everything, but the local Red Cross gave her family $5,000. She apologized for ‘’being late’’ in paying them back double and asked that her $10,000 be donated to Florida for the victims of Hurricane Frances. She said she understood how they feel and wanted to help.

-- Retired nurse Kellie Mendenhall is on her 15th Red Cross disaster relief tour out of Sarasota, helping pack a 150-truck caravan with food and medicine to distribute to hurricane victims with a cup of coffee and a smile, the way she helped families cope in the aftermath of the 911 assault on the Pentagon.

-- The Red Cross replaced the trailer home of a 73-year-old man who lost his wife six months ago and, in the hurricane, lost his home and his memories . . . but at least, through the Red Cross, he knew he hadn’t lost hope and love.

-- The Red Cross also helped a lady who asked only for a tarp to cover the part of her trailer that was wrecked, since her neighbors’ homes had been hurt far worse. It turns out she needed, and received, a lot more help than that: she also lost her job when her citrus processing plant was damaged and she had no money for her child’s asthma medication.

The stories go on and on. I didn’t realize that the vast majority of people working down there are volunteers. More than 5,000 people are taking time off from work and personal obligations to go down there and help their fellow Americans.

They are computer maintenance people and accountants, housewives and attorneys . . . and they sleep on the floor in shelters alongside disaster victims, with infrequent showers, on a ‘’Bring Your Own T.P.’’ basis.

It sounds difficult.

It sounds wonderful.

It sounds like a worthy destination for any excess money and as many words of prayer as possible.

Remember 911. Remember Florida. And remember the Red Cross . . . our hands, feet and hearts doing what the One on the first Cross asked us to do.


Prayer request: My beloved has Lasik surgery today. Please pray for a tremendously good job through the wonders of modern medicine, straight from Your Hand, Father God. See Your way clear to grant David the blessing of great eyesight for the first time in decades. And keep his vision squarely on You and through You, for all time. (Ezekiel 40:2)

Prayer request: As tired as she is from working 24 / 7 on Red Cross work during this tough hurricane season, my friend Jane from the story above also had to put her darling bichon, Griffin, to sleep after 18 years of companionship. She writes, ‘’I’m sure he’s running in the fields on high like a mad-man, jumping over logs and barking -- all things he hasn’t been able to do for a very long time. He is certainly gracing Someone’s heavenly home -- that I know!’’ Lord, thank You for love. Thank you for Jane. Thank You for Griffin . . . and grant both of them Your rest. (Numbers 10:33)

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Our daughter Eden’s name is in the paper this morning for hitting a game-saving triple in last night’s softball showdown with our school’s arch-rival.

It was a huge blast, over the centerfielder’s head by a mile. I mean, HUGE!

But nobody knows the real spiritual victory behind it. See, she had a pretty good summer with her select softball team, the one that won the metro championship and finished 19th at Nationals. But for a variety of reasons, since the high-school season opened 10 games ago, she hasn’t batted all that well.

Then, night before last, some poisonous gossip was passed on to her, and it cut her to the quick. An adult -- who shall remain nameless and who definitely should’ve known better -- had spread it around that Eden didn’t care about her high-school team as much as her summer team, and that’s why she was in a slump.

Didn’t care?!? As if!!!

Passionately upset, night before last, she asked me to go out to our barn, the upper level of which her dad fixed up for her and whatever team she’s on as a batting cage and practice facility. For a half-hour, she had me fire practice balls at her in the pitching machine, help her use the soft-toss machine, and throw little bitty golf whiffle balls at her . . . which made the real softballs last night look as big as the moon, and easy to hit.

Presto! The big triple, which hopefully shut up the nasty gossip.

But here’s where she made a real hit: she has forgiven the person, sworn us to secrecy over who it was, will never do anything to retaliate, took the insult as an opportunity to rise above negativity and do something positive, and views the whole thing as a learning experience to help her grow and be a better person.

THAT’S what’s sweet. Thank You, Coach Jesus. What an RBI!


Prayer request: Let’s pray for the person who said the mean thing. Lord, You know full well that I have said more than my share of mean things in my life. I totally repent of them and will strive to say only things that are true and positive, from now on. Thank You for the example of how my darling daughter was hurt, but rose above it. Help bring this other person to that important standard of behavior, too, Father God. (James 3:6)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Two news items converge:

1. Torrential rains flood Florida.

2. Western Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy may dry up in drought.

The solution is obvious. Nebraskans should take off now for Florida with trucks and pickups full of empty stock tanks and coolers, empty ag tank trucks, empty kiddie wading pools, and anything else they can think of, and take a fun, pre-harvest road trip down there to collect that excess water and bring it back up here to dump in and save Big Mac.

Or . . . .

We’re a state with a whole lot of cattle troughs. If you laid them end to end, I bet they would stretch all the way from Florida to western Nebraska. We could put the first few miles of them on books so they’d be uphill.

Then we could send the excess water from Hurricane Frances by the world’s longest sluice all the way into Nebraska’s premier lake.

It’d be a sluice coup!

Or do you think it’s an idea that won’t . . . hold water?


Prayer request: On a serious note, Father, we lift up to You the people suffering in Florida from this latest weather onslaught. Touch people’s hearts with mega-doses of brotherly love to give big bucks to the Red Cross to help put lives back together. (Romans 12:9,10)

Monday, September 06, 2004


Happy Labor Day! Take a minute to pat yourself on the back today for all the work you do throughout the year. Be happy for all those who are happy in their work.

But remember, just as the grass is always greener on the other side, the BEETS are always bigger.

My big work project this summer has been “The North One-Fortieth,” my first big vegetable garden. My brother-in-law has been coming over and doing most of the work, but I did have say-so in a few of the things we planted. And I wanted beets.

So we had beets, lovely beets, lots of beets, enough for three or four nice batches of pickled beets with lovely cinnamon and other secret spices. They were a hit.

THEN I looked in the small-town newspaper that I get because they run my columns. My balloon was busted by a lady holding a THREE-POUND BEET. It was as big as her head!

It was 10 times the size of any beets from my garden. Not only that, but the caption under the photo said that the world’s largest beet was grown in Alaska and topped the scales at more than 42 pounds.

I’ve been left in the dust! I’ll just have to work harder next year – better soil, better seeds, better agriculture – better beets.

Women’s work and gardeners’ work is never done. Why is that? Beets me.


Prayer request: Even though it was rainy and yesterday’s special wedding in our neighborhood had to be moved inside the church by our pond, it was a beautiful ceremony for Raquel and Frank. Best of all was the enormous double rainbow set off by purple clouds, captivating from the veranda of the reception. You don’t get a rainbow on a sunny day! That’s something to remember in marriage: things don’t always go the way we plan, but sometimes, what looks like a negative turns into a really big positive. Lord, thanks for blessing us all with Your incomparable beauty in such a meaningful way. Rainbows come when the Light of the World waters our souls with the Word of Life. It doesn’t get any better than that. (Genesis 9:13)

Sunday, September 05, 2004


And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
-- Galatians 6:9

Farmer Ernie and I are almost done with our harvest. The fruits of our labors are spread out among friends and neighbors far and wide. This summer, we made a garden out of what used to be a weedy, dusty paddock behind our barn. It has been a joy.

Farmer Ernie is my brother-in-law, Ernie Hanus. Born a farm boy, he’s ‘’gone condo’’ with grown children, but wanted to go back to his roots -- literally. So he provided the muscle and the knowhow, and I provided the comic relief. All summer, he paid regular visits to what we called ‘’The North One-Fortieth,’’ and we had ourselves a time.

We had the thrill of victory:

-- So many zucchini to cook and eat, my sister and I thought we were sprouting green freckles. One was so large, we said, “Get a saddle.” A friend promised to send a menu for “The Last Zucchini Dinner Party” using every imaginable dish made from you-know-what.

-- Perfectly-shaped, rich-tasting tomatoes to eat sliced, in salads, in salsa, in tomato pie, and chopped up into freezer bags for a blast of flavor in wintry dishes.

-- Delicate lettuce that melted in your mouth.

-- Green beans with satisfying snap and flawless texture.

-- Enough cucumbers to provide my friend pert, pretty Penny plenty of produce for her perky peppered pickle relish.

-- Squash and ornamental gourds so healthy that vines have burst out of the paddock, are climbing up the pine trees, and ringing the neighbors’ doorbells.

We also had the agony of defeat:

-- The Great Flood: I forgot to turn off the sprinkler once. Forty-eight hours and one real rainstorm later, we had drowned roots, mushy potatoes and the untimely deaths of our cherry tomato crop. Ernie wasn’t mad, but bet he wished he’d planted UMBRELLA PLANTS out there.

-- The Freak Hurricane: the same day Hurricane Charley was pounding Florida, winds here took out 50 percent of our sunflower crop -- one eight-footer -- and also gave us a whole row of left-leaning corn, which was highly disturbing to us Republicans.

-- Pestilence: one evening, we saw hundreds of squash bugs massing all over the ends of our Big Max pumpkins. So we had the Squash Bug Holocaust -- a totalitarian wipeout of mostly (sniff) young nymphs. How? How else? We squashed ‘em! Hope People for the Ethical Treatment of Squash Bugs don’t find out.

-- Wild Beasts: we are literally racing the coons for the last of the corn. They take an ear; we take an ear. I’m sure we all go home and complain about those OTHER guys ripping off OUR corn.

Overall, though, it’s been great. We mailed tomatoes to New York for BLT’s for the city slickers, and pickled beets to a beloved cousin recovering from a triple bypass.

Maddy got a new doll -- a gourd she dressed in pink jammies. Great future blackmail material there.

Ernie’s sister, a wonderful nun, will receive armfuls of gourds as autumnal table decorations in the nuns’ retirement home.

Our neighbors will smile this fall driving by the unique pumpkin snowman we’re going to make.

I adopted a G-rated swear word: ‘’bok choy.’’

My party conversation now consists of lectures on topics like overplanting hairy vetch -- ‘’the Mercedes of cover crops’’ -- for nitrogen boost and great tomato production.

I’ve enjoyed cooking unusual new dishes like butternut squash soup. Did you know one mustn’t merely bake or roast a butternut squash? That ruins the color and texture. Instead, one places the pieces lovingly in a pot with some broth, turning the heat on oh! so gently, and one SWEATS it. That way, it keeps its rich orange color and indeed, positively glows.

This summer’s garden has taught me so much, I swear it was Someone’s plot -- a garden plot -- to remind me to have fun, work hard, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

But do sweat the squash. It’s just better that way.


Prayer request: Lord, bless the wedding today of our beautiful neighbor Raquel and her sweetheart, Frank. Grant them grace to deal with a rainy day, if that’s the way it goes, and a chance to cherish the warm wishes of their friends and family. Jesus, unite them forever, as we are united with You. (Ephesians 5:31)

Saturday, September 04, 2004


I just love my monthly Imogene Hub. That’s the southwest Iowa publication that’s full of funny anecdotes and my favorite column about the ‘’PMS Club.’’

This month, there are stories about a bat swooping above a funeral service out of the reach of ushers with long-handled collection plates . . . a 5-year-old who thought a family friend named ‘’Darwin’’ was named ‘’Darling’’ . . . and news about the bicycle ride in Iowa, only this one’s not the ‘’RAGBRAI,’’ but the ‘’Ragweed.’’

But my favorite was about a bride who told her daddy she wanted to be married in the gazebo at their home. ‘’But we don’t have a gazebo,’’ he told her.

‘’And so it began. . . .’’

This dad was practical. A large oak tree with a 15-foot trunk had been knocked down by a storm. So he decided to load it up for a trip to the saw mill to get freebie gazebo material. The story continues:

‘’It was finally loaded and he drove a couple of blocks before it rolled to one side in the back of his dump truck, taking the truck with it. As Bill sat in the truck, now on its side, he began to think that a simple trip to the lumber yard might have been easier.’’

But everybody lived happily ever after, and the gazebo got built after all.


To subscribe to the Imogene Hub, send a check for $12 to Veronica Keasling, 1485 390 Ave., Imogene, IA 51645


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for giving us the game of football, especially its most enjoyable form, the college game. Today marks the start of the Husker season and a new chapter in the Nebraska football story. Grant a great day for fans, players and coaches, Lord. Protect Chad Sievers in particular and give him success. And be with former coach Frank Solich, a man of high character who is still loved from the Missouri River to Fort Robinson. (Isaiah 33:2)

Friday, September 03, 2004


Maddy was coloring pictures to send to her college sisters. She drew a set of amoebas which was, of course, our family, and then a single amoeba that was, of course, her sister ‘’NaNa’’ under orange, blue and yellow lines that were slightly curving and were, of course, a rainbow.

She dictated the title to each work of art, which I duly signed for her and dated. For posterity, you know.

Then she handed me one ‘’for Daddy.’’ It was a blank piece of paper. I handed it back. ‘’Here, you need to put the picture on it first.’’

‘’NOOOOO!’’ was the artist’s temperamental reply. ‘’It’s already done!’’

‘’It’s done? What is it?’’

She looked exasperated. ‘’AN INVISIBLE CASTLE!’’

Of course! How silly of me! That’s how it is when ignorant laymen try to appreciate modern art. We don’t always know what we’re seeing, after all.


Prayer requests: Adonai, Lord of lords, we lift up to you a mother-daughter combination which is at times angry and other times too distant. The daughter, Whitney, has been fighting since before she was born. In large part, that’s good. But she’s grown now; she needs to learn temperance. Her mother is tired; she needs more tender treatment and better listening from her first-born. We pray that wise and kind mentors will surround Whitney and guide her to a better relationship and better goal-setting skills. (Isaiah 5:21)

Praise report: We praise You, Jesus! The heart surgery of the father-in-law, Dwight, whom we prayed for yesterday, went very well. The surgeon said it was almost fun! Thank You, Lord. (Proverbs 3:25,26)

Thursday, September 02, 2004


I had just returned yesterday from a wonderful reunion luncheon with my Bible study friends. I had made our reservation. They had two groups of 10 arriving at 11:30 a.m. and mistakenly wrote down that one was the “Susan Williams Bible Group” and the other was the “Susan Williams Book Club.”

It was an ego boost, to think I was THAT busy and popular. Good thing I didn’t get the bill for both tables!

Anyway, I was standing on our front step with a departing lunchmate when my neighbor, Dan Dixon, dubbed “Mr. Dixie” by our 4-year-old, zoomed his pickup into our driveway, honking his horn and waving his arm.

“Congratulations!” he shouted. “I never even see you work out! And here you win the bronze medal in the triathlon!!!”

Hunh??? Turns out an American entrant in that Olympic event really did win the bronze in the swim-cycle-run. Her name: Susan Williams.

She also had a “whoopsie” pregnancy just like me, causing her to skip the 2000 Olympics, which were held in Sydney, Australia. She brought her daughter – Sydney -- to Greece for these Games. She also overcame a crash in a tight turn during the cycling and came in third anyway. Susan Williams, SuperWoman!

And to think, all I do to train is SWIM across the master-bath tub to grab a hold of Maddy to shampoo her hair . . . CYCLE through the washing machine’s operations so I can throw Beamer’s softball sliders in before the rinse cycle . . . and RUN from the treat cupboard to the TV, where I have won the bronze medal for three Olympics in a row in my best event, the Couch Potato Snooze-a-thon.

Fame: fleeting, but fun.


Prayer requests: Father God, we lift up to You a dear father-in-law named Dwight who is undergoing triple heart bypass surgery this morning in Sioux City. He’s also diabetic. Oh, Jehovah-rophe -- God, Our Healer -- let Your healing flow through his body from his head to his feet, in the lovely name of Jesus. (Exodus 15:26)

Master, we also pray urgently for an excellent job to materialize for a wonderful softball coach and expectant father named Jeff. He’s so neat, and so deserving! Put people in his path who will see what our daughter sees in her beloved coach: someone who is pure gold, tested by pressure and fire, Your best handiwork. (Rev. 3:18a)

Praise report: Follow-up to our July 27 prayer about a young man from west Omaha who was very anxious about going all the way to Davidson College in North Carolina to play soccer. Thanks to all who’ve been praying for this young freshman. Now hear this: Thomas set up the only score in a big 1-0 victory over Marquette yesterday, and was named the second of three Most Valuable Players in the game. Thank You, Lord of hosts, for sending Your angels to protect and encourage him, and give him success and confidence as he adjusts to his new setting. (Psalm 91:15)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


A friend was expressing her envy of how, at my advanced old age, I still have a precious little preschooler to hug and nurture. Her youngest is now 14. She says she thinks occasionally of how great it would be to have a baby again.


Just kidding. But she shared something sweet: her 14-year-old son kisses her goodnight every night, and lets her tuck him in, just as she has done every night of his life. It’s been a long, long time since he thought there were monsters in the closet and strange noises down the hall. But he tolerates her full-force mothering all the same, as long as it’s totally in private.

“He knows he’s the baby, and it’s the baby’s job to be babied,” she says.

Not a bad deal at all, for either of them, I’d say.


Prayer request: Our neighbor boy’s dad has died of a heart attack at the age of 41. The neighbor had just praised her ex to me as a very friendly, sociable guy. Oh, Lord, the sadness they feel, and the empty spot Caleb will have in his heart through the milestones of his life. Help them to accept this as Your perfect plan, even though we may never understand while we’re still here on Earth. Send Your sweetest angels of comfort to surround this dear family in their loss. Remind Caleb that he has a heavenly Father Who’ll never be taken away, for sure, for certain, forever and ever. (Psalm 119:111)