Tuesday, November 30, 2004


One of our daughter’s friends attends Stanford University and got to meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger of ‘’Collie-forn-ee-ah.’’ He was very cordial and it was a nice experience for her.

I always planned on wrestling him to the ground and putting him in a half-Nelson if I ever got to meet him. Of course, I’d have to do a lot of advance diplomacy to get him to agree to do it, make sure his security people were informed, and keep me out of the pokey. But it would be a kick, maybe for both of us.

It must be a little boring for these big celebs to meet people from flyover country, and be treated so reverently, and never have funny stuff like that happen. They’re only human, after all. They need Vitamin Irony just like the rest of us.

One time, years ago, some friends of mine supplied some. Actor Tom Selleck was the hottest thing around, and two college girlfriends who are stunningly beautiful got to meet him. I mean, everyone at my sorority house was glued to the TV whenever he was on, including them. And here he was, in person.

He said ‘’hi.’’ They said ‘’hi.’’ There was a pause. I think he was expecting them to throw themselves at him or something.

Then one of the girls said, ‘’Well, we’ve got to go home and make POT ROAST.’’


Prayer request: A cute grandmother in Wichita named Pat has suffered some apparent strokes and kidney failure, but she is rallying now. Thank You for that hopeful development, Father. We pray that You will aid her recovery, quiet her husband’s fears, and bless her adult children and their spouses for their faithful vigil and loving concern. (2 Corinthians 4:8,9)

Monday, November 29, 2004


We knew it was coming. So we worked like dogs yesterday. We took down the cornstalks from the posts out front, and took in the gourds from our own garden that were still good. The hubby put his new snowblade on the pickup. We raked leaves in the gathering chill, blew out the barn floor thoroughly, and put Maudie the Tractor on blocks and under a tarp.

Then it snowed. Delightful! We all caught flakes with our tongues, and Maddy loved making impressions of her hands and bare feet in the slushy snow right outside the patio door.

Driving Maddy to preschool was a joy. She exclaimed at the way the snow bunched up here and scattered there.

She saw a vacant lot, with green weeds tall enough to stick out over the snow.

“Oh, there’s still some left for the ami-nals,’’ she said.

‘’Yes!’’ I replied. ‘’They have enough to eat. The bunnies and squirrels all have their cozy nests and homes where they can go to stay warm.’

She eyed the weeds. They weren’t THAT tall. She burst into tears.

“But what about the llamas?’’ she cried. ‘’Where do THEY go?’’


Prayer request: My Uncle Dave is battling emphysema, and was just not feeling well enough to join us for Thanksgiving. He was missed a lot. Oh, Father, giver of life and breath, comfort and sustain him through this trial. Send the Breath of Life into his lungs and his heart – Your presence and Your promises. (Isaiah 42:5)

Sunday, November 28, 2004


I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
-- 1 Corinthians 3:2

I visited recently with three young mothers who are breastfeeding for the first time. It reminded me of my four reigns as Dairy Queen.

It started off badly. Our oldest was a 10-pounder, and hungry. But early on, breastfeeding is far from fast food. It takes time to get production going.

Plus, I was clueless. I suddenly had these hot, hard dirigibles on my chest. But when I put the baby there, nothing happened. The nurses tried weird devices to train my dairies, including a plastic doughnut that reminded me of a petri dish out of the weird ‘60s movie Barbarella.

Didn’t work. In the middle of the night, a nurse brought the baby in to me literally hollering -- the baby, not the nurse. Our baby was waking up all the other babies in the nursery with her constant crying. I tried. No luck. I was a failure, and soooooo tired. I rang for the nurse to take her back.

She held her, and crooned, ’’Ohhhh, you’re so HUNGRY . . . so HOLLOW!!!’’

That KILLED me!

Next morning, I was determined. Two! Four! Six! Eight! Come on, dairies, let’s lactate!

They brought in The Mean Machine, an electric breast pump. They hooked my dairies up to two suction cups with long, clear hoses, and turned it on. There was an ominous whirring noise.

Suddenly, my dairies were being pulled three feet in front of me, rhythmically, first the left, then the right. It kind of hurt. I didn’t know whether to say ‘’Ow!’’ or ‘’Moo!’’

At least they pulled the curtains. But was I hallucinating, or was that ‘’Seventy-Six Trombones’’ on the hospital Muzak?

Suddenly, white liquid filled the tubes.

Brilliant scholar that I am, I asked, ‘’What’s that?!?’’

No one answered. Hoping to improve the decibel level at last, they’d already fled to the nursery to bring my squalling, starving baby to me.

Finally, success! Once I knew it was really milk in there -- nooooo! what’d you think? Jim Beam? -- I could relax, get a (excuse the expression) grip, and go with the flow.

Oh, I had my rough moments. You know how they say babies sleep 20 hours a day, and eat for four? Try the opposite.

I got up to speed fast on the soaps. I memorized the all-night song lineup on the radio. I stomped my feet in time to the music to get over the pain of those first few seconds of ‘’latch-on.’’ It seemed like they played a lot of songs like, “Baby, Baby, Don’t Get Hooked On Me.’’

I got what my husband delicately termed ‘’sore spouts.’’ Remedy: udder balm. You know, for mama cows and pigs. Smelly! And boy, did it work, along with tincture of benzoin, which smelled like root beer and caused the baby to make the funniest faces.

I had to wear weird bras with what my husband called ‘’bomb bay doors.’’ I got funny-looking spots on my blouses when the dairies ‘’jumped the gun.’’ I once shocked a restroom full of Husker fans at an away game. They were staring at the breast pump in my hand. I told them it was my ‘’sex toy.’’ They gasped! They would have called the cops if I hadn’t come back out of the stall with five ounces of the purest, most precious stuff in the world.

Because that’s what it is.

Straight from heaven. Proof of heaven, actually.

Breastfeeding is so miraculously complex and intricately interactive, it proves God’s design and provision better than anything else you can name.

It gave my children perfectly-balanced nutrition, vitamins and priceless immunities. It helped me lose weight, save money, and bond with my kids.

Most of all, it made me into a mother. There are other ways to get there, all good. But this was mine. Exactly as God planned.

I loved being a Dairy Queen. And for that, I thank my King . . . with a ‘’moo, moo’’ here, and an ‘’ow, ow’’ there. . . .


Prayer request: Lord Jesus, bless those three young nursing mothers, Jana, Kerry and Jessie, and their darling babies, at this special time in their lives. Let their husbands see the beauty and majesty of Your plan for us women, and love and revere them even more. Keep them healthy, with a sense of humor, and appreciating Your provision more and more. We pray that Your Word will nurture and sustain all of us, like mother’s milk. (1 Peter 2:2)

Saturday, November 27, 2004


The Cornhuskers will not be playing in a football bowl game this holiday season for the first time in 35 years. That streak began ‘way back in the late 1960s, era of the Beatles and Vietnam and bell-bottom pants.

Tune in! Turn on! Go Big Red!

Well, the cynics have declared that there’s a new feature on the massive TV screens in Memorial Stadium that we call “HuskerVision.”

It will show fans, players and coaches weeping and gnashing their teeth, singing, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

WAH! But . . . wait ‘til next year!


Praise Report: Thank You, Lord Jesus, that buyers were raised up to purchase the home of our friends, who moved here from another state, so that they don’t have to do double house-payments one more month! They relied on You in prayer, and You made it so. We love You for the beginnings You bring in our lives, and also for the endings. (Psalm 131:3)

Friday, November 26, 2004


Thanksgiving table talk: two little kids were overheard at a preschool, and the childlike ability to tell the truth in a creative way came through:

‘’My dad has a hole in his hair.’’

‘’So does mine!’’


Prayer request: Lord, this Thanksgiving season, we thank You that You are a God who wants to be known and loved. We thank You that You are so faithful in granting all Your promises in the Bible to those who seek answers from You. You are God, and you complete us and make us whole. We pray that all those who have a hole in their heart because they don’t know You will realize that, call out to You, and be filled by the Holy Spirit for all time. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Happy Thanksgiving! Fond wishes that your feast goes fabulously and that you have a fun-filled, blessed time with people you give thanks for.

If you’re a Turkey Neophyte, relax. We’ve all been there. Those first big meals make some of the happiest, wackiest memories of a lifetime.

The first time Thanksgiving was my turn, dinner was mysteriously delayed. Hours passed. Drinks were consumed. More hours passed. More drinks were consumed.

The natives were getting verrrrry restless. But I didn’t see the little red thingie popping out of that bird, so I didn’t think it was done.

More hours passed. Faces plopped onto plates.

Finally, the Big Gun came into my little kitchen -- Mom -- and gently pointed out that the reason I couldn’t see the little red thingie, which had indeed popped out hours before, was that the bird was upside down.

Voila! It was the best Thanksgiving meal any of them had ever tasted, since it saved them from near-starvation, sort of like the first Pilgrims. And I learned that the combination of a looooong cocktail hour and an 8 p.m. dinnertime produces rave reviews.


Prayer request: Although we mourn the people who died this past year, and sometimes come nearly to despair over fear, hatred and war in the world, and ongoing, unrepented sin, oh, Father, this is still Your world, and it is wonderful. We focus today on all the people who DIDN’T die this past year, and all the love, peace and righteousness that still pervade our planet. Thank You for all that is good, and help us feel encouraged and strengthened for all that is to come. (Isaiah 35:4)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


A friend of mine is driving to Chicago today with her husband and teenage son. They’ve been going there for Thanksgiving over the past few years, to join their eldest. He’s single and working in the big city, and can’t afford to come home to Omaha very often. Even though his budget is tight, he loves hosting them. So that has been their tradition.

Actually, it sounded very refreshing, how they do their holiday meal:

He orders dinner ready-made from his local grocery store. By the time his mom gets there, all there is left to do is whip up a fresh hors d’oeuvres and stir the gravy.

They sit at TV tables in his tiny apartment.

He has so few kitchen implements, they share the forks . . . well, not really. But one year, she’s pretty sure she ate with a spoon.

Sounds terrible? Remember, the convenience and relative luxury in that bachelor pad make what the Pilgrims had look pretty sad.

And they’re making fun family memories to be thankful for.


Prayer request: Another friend of mine, Pat, has a mother with a tough cancer diagnosis: it’s in her pancreas, and it’s advanced. Oh, Father, grant that she can get out of the hospital and join her family for Thanksgiving. Give her that big blessing as she faces chemo and this big fight. Most of all, Lord, strengthen her in her faith, and give her the peace and joy that come from knowing that, ultimately, she’ll win. (Isaiah 33:17)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


We are profoundly pleased to announce that our first-born daughter, Jordan, is being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa today. That’s the oldest and best college honor society, reserved for the top 1 percent of students. Since she’s coming home for Thanksgiving, we didn’t go to North Carolina for the ceremony, though we probably should have. It’s a great accomplishment.

A great ego boost, too. That’s why I was humming in the grocery store this morning, feeling like I was the smartest smarty-pants around. Then I filled a bag with a bunch of green beans. I believe the technical culinary term is “a slugload.”

The beans could easily spill over into the cart, the bag was so full. But nowhere could I find a little twist-tie or plastic dealie to secure the bag. I pushed my cart hither and yon. Nothing like that in the entire produce section. I asked the deli person. She had nothing, either.

When I got to the checkstand, the guy took pity on me as he said, ‘’Here, let’s do this’’. . . and he simply and efficiently self-tied the bag. Voila!

Never thunk of that. Duhhhh.

Phi Beta Kappa? She didn’t get it from me. All I am is . . . full of beans.


Prayer request: We unite in prayer behind a reader’s beloved daughter, Donna, who is fighting cancer. She is having a challenge trying to keep her blood count up. Her white is low, and she is now anemic. She faces her last chemo on Dec. 3, and then will take on radiation for the aggressive breast cancer. Healer Lord, we remind You how in Your Word You promise to save us so that all can see Your mighty power. We plead for that power to flow into the bloodstream of this precious young woman and defeat her cancer, in the mighty name of Jesus. (Psalm 106:8)

Monday, November 22, 2004


Our preschool PTO board was having our first official meeting. I had been railroaded into serving as secretary and Grand Poohbah of the parents’ newsletter. A couple of staff members were there, including one from a foreign country whose English is pretty good, but not perfect.

This preschool is peanut-free because of one child’s severe allergies. She can’t even be in the same building with peanut oil. So we’ve all become diligent label-readers and are careful when we pack our child’s lunches and bring treats.

Well, we were talking about what we wanted in the newsletter, and I said, ‘’We could put kudos in there. . . .’’ I meant thanks and praise to people who help the preschool.

But the staff member went absolutely bananas. ‘’NOOOOOO! We can’t do that! No kudos!!!’’

Whyever not?

‘’They have PEANUTS!!!!!’’

I’m glad she’s so focused, but sometimes, meeting every child’s individual needs will drive you . . . NUTS.


Prayer request: A young man named Ben, 15, is undergoing cancer treatment at the famous M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. He’s there with his mother and one sibling, while three others are being cared for in friends’ homes back in Omaha. Father, we lift up Ben for Your complete, covering consolation and healing, and we lift up his family for Your touch. Also, Father, bless these host families for pitching in at such a busy time, and sharing their homes. (Isaiah 35:3)

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
-- Romans 2:2:21a

The man of the house went hunting last weekend. He liked it so much, he came home with a brand-new gun.

I immediately worried about safety. So did Maddy, 4. Her freckled face contorted:

‘’He’d better not shoot that in the HOUSE!’’

Guns? Hunting? What do you expect, for a man who lives with five females in a house with appliances powered by estrogen gas? He has to do SOMETHING macho.

Anyway, our daughters are getting to be of marriageable age. It’s time to display a shotgun over the fireplace, for the benefit of those young gentlemen callers.

I think he’s looking forward to some male-bonding experiences with his future sons-in-law. It’s about time there were males around to do stuff with. His boxes of ammo have long languished high on a storeroom shelf, while the Barbies, Lite Brites and My Little Ponies took center stage.

His weekends have been spent at the zoo, looking at animals, instead of shooting them. He’s been a polite spectator at the girls’ recitals and games, instead of actively out in the hinterlands, burping and scratching and doing all those other constructive guy things.

But now the girls are older, and he has time. At last, he can be a teacher of men in the manly arts of manhood. But first, he’ll have to teach himself. Unlike his new gun, he’s pretty rusty.

The best thing about being away from hunting all these years is that, in the meantime, everybody ELSE has made all the mistakes imaginable. He can use OTHER people’s blunders to teach his future sons-in-law what NOT to do:

1. The Tender Heart.

A man we know couldn’t bring himself to shoot any timid woodland creatures. So for years, he just walked around with his gun on his shoulder, Everyone ribbed him. Finally, one day, a pheasant flew up right in front of him. He fired. Wouldn’t you know: he ‘’stuffed’’ that turkey up the proverbial whazoo, making it inedible, and relegating him to the Grossout Hall of Fame.

2. Bad Aim.

A workaholic business owner, this occasional hunter wasn’t used to being out in the fresh November air for 12 hours, followed by fresh brewski’s around the poker table. So he awoke in the middle of the night with an urgent need out both ends. He staggered to the necessary room, took aim, felt faint . . . and fell and conked his head, bad. He had to be driven a long way to the nearest medical facility and bandaged profusely. Then someone else had to drive his car home. It was hard to explain his ‘’hunting accident’’ to his family, especially since, in the confusion, he forgot to bring home his pheasants.

3. The Hunting Safety Teacher.

Another man we know has taught a lot of gun safety classes. He’s quite a preacher on it. Well, a while ago, he was hunting with his teenage son. He was using a borrowed gun, which he KNOWS you’re not supposed to do, but he had the safety on. How was HE to know that it didn’t work? And then the son drove over to another location in the ATV and left him alone, which you’re ALSO not supposed to do . . . and . . . you KNEW this was coming . . . while he was just sitting there, the safety slipped, the gun went off, and a bullet took away some of his pinkie toe and the surrounding hide, and most of his pride. Oh, it hurt, and not just the owie. You can just imagine the jokes from his longtime hunting buddies, because he literally shot himself in the foot. Teacher, teach thyself!

Armed with these lessons, a-hunting my Elmer Fudd will go. I hope he has fun. I hope he knows how much he is loved and appreciated, whether he comes home with dinner and pretty feathers or not. Most of all, I hope Elmer will be ‘’vehhhhwy, vehhhhwy carefuww’’ out there . . . and like everything else he does in life, give it his best shot.


Praise report: My beloved marks his 50th birthday this Wednesday. Yes, his gift is going to have something to do with hunting. No, I’m not worried he will have a midlife crisis and turn that gun on ME. He’s in a very good place, at midlife. I praise You, Father, for my match made in heaven – my keeper, my servant, my leader, my love. I pray for the rest of his life to be filled with fun, friends, and an even closer walk with You, ‘til the day You ‘’bag’’ him for his heavenly reward. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Prayer request: Here is a wonderful idea that I tried, and it worked, so I’m passing it on. Rebekah Tauber is a 15-year-old from Houston who is presently undergoing cancer treatment. She is a fierce Christian who attends Memorial High School. She is wearing a ‘’prayer pager’’ sponsored by Second Baptist Church in Houston. Please take a minute to say a quick prayer for Rebekah, her family and her doctors -- asking that God's guiding hand be with them through this ordeal. Then please call the toll free pager number (1-800-250-6939). You do not need to put in your name or phone number -- just your zip code. The pager will vibrate, letting Rebekah know that someone has just prayed for her. (Romans 10:17)



Saturday, November 20, 2004


I have a new friend who is warm, vivacious, sociable and outgoing. She is married to a man who is very smart and very handsome, but basically a pretty cool customer -- pretty much the opposite of all of the above.

I smiled to find out that she was born on a winter day back in the 1960s, the coldest day on record . . . and HE was born that same year, only it was on a summer day, and it was the WARMEST day on record.

They’ve been having a few problems in recent years as their opposite personalities clash. This is one of those times. I’ve been praying for them both to remember to give a little, and to respect and appreciate their differences.

There’s no doubt: she was put into his life to warm things up a little, and he was put in her life to help her cool it, sometimes.

Marriage: for better, for worse, for richer, for poor, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others . . . and most of all, living by the marital thermostat set by the Homebuilder above.


Prayer request: Oh, Lord God, regulate the temperature in that marriage. End the fiery battles and the icy silences. Unite husband and wife under the light but warm blanket of love and grace of the Holy Spirit, the ultimate marriage Counselor. (James 4:1)

Friday, November 19, 2004


Maddy, her friend Cissa and I took a walk in the rain yesterday. We waddled down to the duck pond with some stale bread and enjoyed hearing them tell us, “Quack you very much.’’

We strolled around the park collecting fall ‘’leafs’’ and other curiosities, including mushrooms, thorny weeds and tree bark.

We watched the little raindrops form circles when they dropped into the pond, then quickly disappear. We tried to blow away the puffs of dandelions that had gone white. But they were cold and wet, and wouldn’t ‘’blow.’’ We laughed at our efforts.

It’s important to see the world through a child’s eyes every once in a while. Boy, they’re smart.

It was foggy when we took Cissa home. I pointed out the little bitty drops of rain on the windshield. Maddy was a total expert on them.

‘’They couldn’t make up their minds whether they were air or water, and when they finally did, they fell down -- splat!’’

What insight on the decision-making process! Better keep that one in mind . . . for a rainy day.


Prayer request: We lift up the granddaughter of a friend who has come down with an unknown viral infection and is hospitalized in Virginia. Her name is Timoni Marie, a recent college graduate. Lord, lead her medical team to a solution and bathe her in Your grace and healing. We claim the healing You promise in Your Word. (Hebrews 11:6)

Thursday, November 18, 2004


My friend’s friend’s husband dumped her, forcing her to sell her house after she had JUST finished remodeling and redecorating it.

Unfortunately, the buyers are very pushy and have been rudely criticizing her design choices right in front of her.

They asked if they could do a little planting in the back yard before they took possession in mid-December, so they wouldn’t have to wait ‘til spring.

The lady said OK. But the next morning at 8, on what was supposed to be a peaceful Saturday, she called my friend in tears:

‘’Do you know what they’ve brought into my back yard this morning? Hoes!’’ she exclaimed.

‘’Whaaaaat?’’ my friend replied. ‘’How do you know?’’

‘’Hunnnnh? What do you mean, how do I know?’’

‘’Well, like, are they wearing, like, hot pants and boots and stuff?’’

There was a long pause.

Finally: ‘’Not ‘ho’s,’ you moron! HOES! BACK-HOES! For PLANTING!!!’’

They both burst out laughing . . . and . . . you knew this was coming . . . the ho’s did them both a lot of good . . . ho, ho, ho, ho, ho.


Prayer request: On a serious note, a mother of two must undergo brain surgery this afternoon. Double vision, headaches and nausea caused her to seek medical attention. A tumor that is three inches by four inches was found. The medical team is upbeat, since it seems to have been growing from the outside in, which is a good sign. Oh, Father God, we plead with You that the surgery will be a complete success with minimal disruption of her brain, that the growth will turn out to be benign, and that she will have a complete recovery. Christ, our Head and our Cornerstone, we turn to You for leadership in this crisis. We pray in Your Name for strength and consolation for her husband and children. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


I had coffee yesterday with a friend who used to work in scientific research.

What was the subject of this research? Brine shrimp.

Specifically, she told me, she was helping to study the reproductive cycle of the brine shrimp -- its sex life, in other words.

I was in the process of digesting this information and wondering what on earth was the practical application, and whether she knew how weird and boring that sounded, when she added:

“I was in charge of making their little teddies. . . .’’


Prayer request: Today we lift up a beautiful but weary widow who is really struggling with all the feelings and problems that come with widowhood. She says in all honesty that you just can’t know what it’s like unless you’ve been through it yourself. How true that is. Her husband was such a darling, and they were so much in love. The pain of her loss, and a certain heaviness, is so apparent. It’s so hard to see Your perfect timing in situations like hers, Lord. But, oh, Jesus, we know You are there for her. We praise You for the encouragement and help that You are already sending, and we ask for her Thanksgiving and Christmas to be filled with honor, loved ones and sweet memories. (1 Timothy 5:3)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Blip! Blip! Blip! BOOM!

That’s our four daughters, in terms of temperament. The first three were and are angels: easy-going, obedient and sweet.

Then came Maddy. BOOM!

My plea yesterday for prayer support because her creative but challenging behavior was dividing my skull like a buzzsaw brought several good pieces of advice. We instituted it all, including the old ‘’three strikes’’ disciplinary system. In Maddy’s case, it’s three pretty marbles. Behavior infractions now cost her a marble. When she’s lost all three, that means Mommy has lost HER marbles, too, and consequently Maddy’s bedtime is moved up a half-hour earlier.

That was a terrifying prospect for her. So guess what? We had a lovely, peaceful, well-behaved evening. All three marbles remain in her possession. It was just like in the olden days with our first three ‘’blips.” Maybe there’s hope for the ‘’BOOMS’’ of this world after all.

It’s funny how even an old pro like me can occasionally get frozen and forgetful about how to parent. Fortunately, I have friends with challenging, strong-willed children, too. One told this gem: her son’s teacher used to say that he was often wrong . . . but never in doubt.

Sounds like the opposite of most mothers I know.


Prayer request: Praise, honor and thanks that Maddy is behaving 100 percent better, Lord. Oh, the power of prayer -- and a few good, practical pieces of Motherhood 101 advice. Father, we pray that all of us will reach out when we can to young mothers and fathers all over this land. We need to be encouraging them, and working together with them in love to correct this epidemic of bad behavior that we see all around us. Let peace begin with me! (Psalm 102:28)

Monday, November 15, 2004


I had on my Iowa sweatshirt, a memento of the college-shopping trip I took to the beautiful University of Iowa with our first-born, Jordan.

Maddy, now 4 1/2, loves to call out alphabet letters wherever she sees them. So she laboriously read off H – A – W – K – E – Y – E – S.

‘’Wuzzat spell?’’ she asked.

‘’Hawkeyes. Their sports team is called the Hawkeyes,’’ I told her.

‘’The ‘HOT GUYS’?’’ was her reply.

Hmmm. Maybe Jordy missed the boat by not going there. Though I’m sure nothin’ could be finer than the guys at Carolina. . . .


Prayer request: Father, I come before you a broken woman with regard to child discipline. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat – Maddy whined all through dinner, and got out of bed time after time for two hours’ straight last night. There doesn’t seem to be a darn thing I can do to stop her bad behavior. I am weak, Lord Jesus! Give me Your strength, so I can stiffen up my backbone and teach her to obey, which I know is Your will for all parents. (Luke 22:32)

Sunday, November 14, 2004


The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
-- Proverbs 15:2

As a teenager, I once swan-dived off a cliff into a lake in the Missouri Ozarks. Highly inadvisable. But what a rush! What a feeling! What a miracle, to still HAVE feeling, and not to have broken my neck! Later, I was telling somebody about it, and my mom overheard.

“You did WHAT?!?!?!’’ she exclaimed.

‘’Ohhhhhh,’’ I replied in my fake Southern accent. ‘’Di’n’t ah tell yew that?’’

Some things, it’s just best they not know.

Another time, we got pinched by a Mississippi state trooper. There’d been complaints about a car from Nebraska returning from the Sugar Bowl with the occupants MOONING everyone they passed at a high rate of speed. We talked our way out of the ticket. Whew! Later, though, word of our exploit spread:

‘You were almost ARRESTED?!?!?!?!’’ Mom exclaimed.

“Ohhhhhh,’’ I replied, eyes wide. ‘’Di’n’t ah tell yew that?’’

Don’t get me wrong. We got along great. I could tell her anything. Sometimes, though, for strategic reasons, I kind of saved stuff for later.

And so the dead-battery-in-the-heart-of-the-big-city story never got told. And the unexplained markings on the car . . . the wacky ways I lost my contacts . . . the ‘’F’’ on the Econ final . . . all these extraneous facts somehow got left by the wayside of the Information Superhighway between Mom and me.

Years went by. I thought ‘’forgetting’’ was just something daughters did, to spare their dear mothers the pain, the sorrow, the unnecessary worry.

But now that my friends and I have daughters of our own, we’ve learned something:

MOMS do it, TOO!

What would the world be like if we didn’t? One thing’s for sure: NOBODY would have babies, if we blabbed everything we knew about childbirth.

Our dear friend Jeannie Runty’s daughter Jessie had one this past week. Jaci Jean may never know that the real reason her birth was calm and peaceful was that her grandmother was wise enough NOT to tell the expectant mother her childbirth horror stories beforehand.

You know: how they LIE and tell you that what you are feeling are ‘’contractions’’ and not ‘’MIND-BENDING, LIP-CURLING PAIN!!!’’ . . .

. . . how the gorp that comes out after the baby is so gross . . .

. . . how a friend who’s a dairy farmer and first-time expectant father had birthed 50-some babies, to that point all bovine, and he hoped he didn’t have to take a hold of THIS young’un by the legs and YANK . . .

. . . how immediately after giving birth you want your husband to sign a paper that he will NEVER come near you ‘’that way’’ again, the pain was sooooooo bad. . . .

You don’t TELL them this stuff.

You don’t TELL them about the lady whose labor was so intense, every blood vessel in her face and eyeballs BURST, and her hair stuck out in all directions like Medusa. AAAIIIEEE!!! No WONDER her baby is crying so hard in those first pictures.

You don’t TELL them about another friend who delivered her baby this past Halloween night, with the wind and rain howling outside, and an inexperienced med student who had never seen a natural childbirth before white-knuckling it, and her elbow kept hitting the light button at her side during her contractions, so that the lights would inexplicably go:

BRIGHT . . . DIM . . . OUT! (SCREAM!!!)

BRIGHT . . . DIM . . . OUT! (SCREAM!!!)

THESE are things that women in childbirth just shouldn’t KNOW.

Afterwards, when Jessie said what new mothers have said from the dawn of time – ‘’I had no IDEA it would get so INTENSE!!!’’ -- her mother could reply in all honesty, well-coached by her adoring and somewhat devious friend:

“Ohhhhhh! Di’n’t ah tell yew that?’’

Sometimes, it’s just better if you don’t . . . especially if you want grandchildren.

She can tell little Jaci Jean allllll about it . . . someday, later, strategically, when the time is jussssssst right.


Prayer request: Father, we are so grateful for the well-timed, healthy arrival of Jaci Jean Sievers this past Wednesday. Thank You for granting our prayer that the delivery wouldn’t interfere with her father Chad’s play in the Oklahoma game. Your timing, as always, was perfect, and so is the love that’s surrounding this young family. All glory, honor and praise are Yours, and we will make sure little Jaci Jean comes to know You and tells YOU everything! (1 John 5:4)

Saturday, November 13, 2004


You know the new movie that’s out about the cartoon superhero family, ‘’The Incredibles’’? Well, it’s darling. You should see it.

That’s one of the best things about having a late-in-life, whoopsie daisy baby -- great cover story for going to kiddie flix, which I like better anyway.

But it reminds me of another set of superheroes -- my family. They are ‘’The Impossibles.’’ By that I mean they have EVERYTHING and it is IMPOSSIBLE to think of great Christmas presents for them.

EXCEPT . . . there’s a fun website for household organization with a promising section on ‘’Clutter Free Gifts’’ for all ages, including those hard-to-buy-for grandparents. Check it out:


Great ideas! It’s incredible! Who knows? This year, I might accomplish ’’Christmission Impossible’’!


Prayer request: When Bryan told his parents he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Stevi, I hope they didn’t panic and think Stevi was a GUY. She’s very much a girl -- a gorgeous girl -- and today’s their wedding day. Father God, bless this dear, sweet neighbor with a joyful, fulfilling marriage. Keep her eyes on You and on all you’ve done for her, and will do. Bind their hearts to You so that they grow closer together and closer to You throughout their lives. (1 Samuel 12:24)

Friday, November 12, 2004


The Lunch Bunch was ogling a beautiful diamond ring that one of our number had on. It had swirling gold all around the huge stone that dwarfed all of our engagement rings and then some.

She had saved for literally years to buy it. Yes, she bought it for herself. it’s her ‘’AHA!’’ ring:


Should have been an emerald. You know: for ‘’YEAH, BUT THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER!’’


Prayer request: Twenty years ago on this day, You gave us Neely Susan, our beautiful, sweet, brainy daughter who is so beloved among her family and friends, especially her baby sister Maddy. As her life unfolds and her obvious love for You deepens, we give thanks for her. We offer her to You once again to do Your will and serve You however she can. Happy birthday, NaNa! (1 Peter 3:4)

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Jaci Jean Sievers was born at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Her big, strong father Chad bounced down the hall like Tigger to tell his parents and in-laws of her arrival. A second later, they heard her beautiful, lusty cry.

Both brand-spankin’ new grandmothers immediately burst into tears.

They’re good friends, and I just know they will avoid that unhealthy competition and jealousy that can crop up between grandmas.

You know: ‘’Duelin’ Grandjo’s.’’

They compete with each other, taking turns giving gifts and providing services, with maneuvers, manipulations and escalations that make the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union look like Sunday School:

Grandma A: Here’s a sleeper!

Grandma B: Here’s a bunny!

A: Here’s a bib! It’s appliqu├ęd!

B: Here’s a bath towel – with her first monogram!

A: Here’s a week’s worth of dinners for your freezer!

B: Here’s a year’s worth of maid service!

A: A pair of booties – I knit them myself!

B: An afghan – I made it myself out of the very best South American llama wool. I paddled there in my own canoe to gather it myself and spoke lovingly to the llamas as I sheared off their wool.

Getting the idea? Whoaaaaaaaa.

But that won’t happen with Jaci Jean’s grannies. They’re going to work in tandem . . . a perfect duet. Why? Because Jaci’s daddy is a great athlete -- a Cornhusker football player who now can play in Saturday’s Oklahoma game without worrying about the impending birth. He’s a linebacker, and he doesn’t let any strife and trouble get past him.

And Jaci’s MOMMY is a ALSO a star athlete. Not only that, she lifts weights. She was strong BEFORE childbirth. Now, she’s going to be INVINCIBLE, even to the craftiest of grandjo’s. She won’t put up with stuff like that.

Jaci will probably do her share of droolin’ – but among her grannies, there won’t be any . . . duelin’.


Praise reports: Thank You for the happy, healthy births of TWO baby girls, Lord! Bless little Margaret (Meg) and bless Jaci Jean. Give their moms and dads comfort and strength, and show them how to lead their precious children to You. (Psalm 121:5)

Prayer request: Another precious girl, Cori, is struggling right now, Father. Six months ago, she was driving a car which got in a wreck and two of her best friends were killed. Such a brief, momentary lapse . . . and yet a lifetime of sorrow and pain. Lord God, Father of mercy, we plead the Blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth over her head and heart, reminding her that You are within her and living through her. We know You will not allow the spirits of accusation, isolation, depression and self-loathing to linger in her person for one more instant. In the Name of Jesus, toss them out, and replace them with peace, comfort, patience and love as You send loving friends and good experiences her way. Restore her weary parents and family, and point them toward the future with hope. (Matthew 11:28,29)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Today’s the day! Today, Jaci Jean Sievers is set to be born. Please join me in knitting spiritual booties in prayer for her today. Her mother Jessie and father Chad are the children of some of my dearest friends, and Maddy was the flower girl in their wedding.

Guess now she’ll be the ‘’flower aunt’’ of this baby, and I’ll be the dotty old friend of her dotty old grandmother, the ‘’Jean’’ honored in the baby’s middle name. Dotty!?! Check. Old!?! Well. . . . Better get some lace doilies and tea cozies out so I’ll look the part.

The name ’’Jaci’’ is pronounced like “Jasey.’’ It stands for J.C. – Jesus Christ – as well as Jessie and Chad. We think people might mispronounce it as ‘’Jackie,’’ but we’re not worried enough about it to put one of those French circumflexes underneath the ‘’c’’ to signify that it’s a soft sound. I think people will figure it out pretty fast.

And this young lady ought to be pretty fast. Her dad’s a Husker football player and her mom was a Husker basketball player and I believe still holds the all-time record for three-pointers in the Nebraska state basketball tournament. Plus she has all kinds of other athletes in her family tree, including Runtys, Sievers and more.

Because her parents are students, she has some of Maddy’s gently-used things. So if you showered Maddy a few years ago, you might be showering Jaci now.

Thanks for then, and thanks for now. And Jaci -- get ready. There are a whole lot of people just itching to get their hands on you, and SOME of them are DOTTY!


Prayer request: We fuse together in prayer, like spiritual armor, protecting the safety of all coalition forces as they move into Fallujah for the final assault on the terror camp there. Pray for legions of guardian angels to surround them and bring them all home safe, alive and healthy. We especially lift up to you a young Navy media named Andrew, moving in to Basra to get into place for expected casualties. He has been the best friend since kindergarten of a dear friend’s son. Father, we pray Psalm 91 over Nick and all those over there. We pray that it be a swift victory with minimal casualties, and let the people rejoice to be free of those wicked mobs, and drawn to their liberators and to You, the One who sets us all free. (Proverbs 29:2)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


It seems First Daughter Jenna Bush had a nightmare some time in the last year. In it, her dad lost re-election. She woke up determined to throw herself into his campaign so that her bad dream wouldn’t come true.

Both Bush daughters were a lot more visible this time around than last, observers said, adding a lot of humor and sparkle to the campaign. Who knows how many votes they gained for their dad? Maybe a lot. The dream tidbit is apparently part of an upcoming article in Newsweek.

Our daughter Eden is fascinated by dreams and psychology. She’s has a couple of books on the subject. She said she heard that Abraham Lincoln dreamed about his own assassination, although usually dreams aren’t predictive: they’re mostly to show you what your subconscious mind is thinking.

We decided it would make a cool research paper to link dreams and history, to see how lots of things might have changed as a result of somebody’s “interior movie” that compelled them to act in some way.

Come to think of it, you know those exit pollsters who took so much heat last week for being so wrong? Maybe they shouldn’t have been asking voters who they voted for. Maybe they should have laid them out on couches and asked them about their dreams. You know: “Vatch zee vatch.”


Praise report: The Lord has moves, doesn’t He? He granted Monday’s prayer request, that a young Navy man named Nick could get time off from a rather skeptical superior to take a special test for his future private-sector job. Thank You, Jesus! Bless that officer for his gracious permission, and let this young Navy man know that the power of prayer can torpedo any obstacle to God’s good will for our lives. (Philippians 2:13)

Prayer request: A friend’s sister, Janet, was to have a baby by C-section yesterday. Father, keep them in Your peace and protection. We pray that it all went well and that she’and the baby are healthy, happy and ready to come home soon. (Psalm 121:5-8)

Monday, November 08, 2004


This idea gets the Frugal Housekeeping Seal of Approval:

Two longtime friends went to a furniture store together, both complaining that they were sick and tired of their kitchen table and chair sets. Neither one of them had anything more than minor scuffs and dings on them. There was nothing really WRONG with them. The women just wanted a change.

Well, neither one had shopped for casual dining furniture for many years, and when they saw the pricetags . . . whoa.

So they cooked up one of the nicest solutions I’ve heard: they swapped.

Both are happy. Oh, that the State Departments of the nations would adopt that model of compromise and cooperation. That’s a kind of wife-swapping that we all can live with.


Prayer request: A young Navy man named Nick needs a break today from his commanding officer to get a couple of days off to take a special test for his future private-sector dream job. The powers that be aren’t very open to the idea so far. Oh, Lord, You command us in Your Word to be giving and gracious to one another. Soften the heart of his superior officer in the meeting today so he’ll change his mind and let Nick have this chance. (Matthew 5:42)

Sunday, November 07, 2004


But exhort one another daily. . . .
-- Hebrews 3:13a

Our second baby was due on the day of the 1984 Oklahoma game. For Nebraska football fans, that’s like scheduling your wedding on Christmas morning. Ewww!

We were ranked No. 1, too. My doctor, my husband and I all wanted to go to the game. Here was our plan:

If I didn’t get stuck in the turnstile, I could lumber up to Row 1,502 inconspicuously practicing my Lamaze breathing: ‘’Hoo! Hah! Hoo! Hah!’’

If my water broke, relax: the floor’s concrete.

If contractions began, I’d fit right in: everybody ELSE would be red-faced and screaming, too.

At two minutes apart, my fellow fans could Pass the (Huuuuuuuge) Bod to get me over to him.

At halftime, he could deliver the baby and wrap her in a Husker program.


We lost that game, 17-7. But then again, we’d already won, because our beautiful Neely was born a few days early.

Perspective, sports fans.

The Huskers are now having what they call a ‘’character-building year.’’ Again, perspective. There’s a lot more to them than what we see on the field. They’re winners. They really are.

We’ll be thinking this week of our favorite Cornhusker, senior linebacker Chad Sievers, No. 54. He’s been honored lately as the team’s verbal sparkplug.

He radiates enthusiasm, running on and off the field like a little boy playing ‘’Airplane.’’ He pounds on the coaches’ backs and bruises his teammates’ arms. Once, he tossed a huge glass of water in his own face, and shook himself: ‘’Brrrrrr!’’

His teammates call him ‘’Psycho.’’ But he’s just a solid Christian with the ‘’spiritual gift of exhortation.’’ He’s a natural-born encourager. This gentle son of sweet Karen and nice Scott prayed about how to help his team. The answer: fire them up! So he did.

Chad is no psycho in real life. He’ll graduate soon with a 4.0 GPA. He was a poised, handsome groom when our daughter Maddy was a flower girl in his wedding. He’s been a caring, protective husband for Jessie, daughter of our dear friends Steve and Jeannie Runty.

And he’s going to be a father any day now -- maybe even during the O.U. game in Norman Saturday.

I hope it’s before or after, so he’ll be home to use his special gift of exhortation during labor.

Don’t worry, he won’t toss a glass of water in HER face! He’s ready for mature fatherhood. Here’s how I know:

Chad mentors an 8-year-old boy in Lincoln. Isaiah’s parents were drug addicts. His foster mother adopted him. He’s happy in her home. But there’s no man to rough-house with, to discipline him, to model manhood.

Chad volunteered through church to work at a special camp. They met. They bonded. Now Chad, Jessie and Isaiah are a team. Isaiah goes to Husker games. Afterwards, Chad comes out, Isaiah rides on his shoulders, and they all go to dinner.

Not to the bars with Chad’s buddies . . . to dinner, with a lonesome little boy.

Chad’s family knows he’s ready to be a father, too. They had celebrated together after the first game, but it was time to take Isaiah home. The crowded car was driven by Chad’s father-in-law, Steve, himself a former Husker quarterback. Isaiah sat on Chad’s lap. Steve saw how Isaiah was reveling in the closeness -- the love.

Steve watched Chad take Isaiah’s hand and walk him up to his door, jostle around with him, then give him a parting bear hug. Tears filled Steve’s eyes. He saw what was in store for his grandchildren:

Godly, manly love.

That’s character, sports fans.

Look beyond the end zone and the scoreboard. Young people today, like Chad, have character. Because of that, we’re all going to win, in ways that really count.



Go get ‘em!

Go Big Red!!!

Go Big Daddy! Go, Jessie, too! Have a great baby! And when you do, we’ll all be red-faced and screaming . . . with joy.


Prayer request: Joy also fills my heart, Lord Jesus, over the outcome of the election. Special thanks for the victories for President Bush and the new U.S. senator from South Dakota, John Thune, as well as the defeat of those gambling proposals in Nebraska. Send a tidal wave of better communication about Your values from the red states in the heartland to the blue states on the coasts. Unite us once again as Your people and brighten our light in Your world. (Revelation 2:26)

Saturday, November 06, 2004


I saw the green smears on the wall behind Maddy’s bed. I knew exactly where they came from, and what she has been doing in those few minutes in the dark of her room before she falls asleep.

Ewwww! MADDDDDDDD-dy! How COULD you?

‘’But Mommy,’’ she protested, achingly sincere, brown eyes wide. ‘’It keeps the spiders away!’’

We have a few itty bitty beige ones that have snuck inside and taken up residence in the corners of the rooms on our lower level. It happens, this time of year. They’re harmless, but she hates them. So she took action. Works for her.

Think of all the pesticide pollution we could have avoided, if we’d only known what REALLY keeps the spiders away.


Prayer request: We join in prayer for Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Vice President, John Edwards. Father, You knew she had breast cancer, and You provided for her care and treatment with Your exquisite timing, so that the announcement of her disease coincided with the nation’s eyes upon her. That did a tremendous amount of good in terms of prevention and awareness for other women. We praise You for Your loving concern, and pray for her complete healing and happiness. (Psalm 91:3)

Friday, November 05, 2004


Maddy, 4, threw back her head and screamed out some numbers:




I mean, the floor shook and the drywall cracked. ‘’MADDY!’’ I commanded. ‘’Quiet down! Why are you yelling so loud?’’

‘’I was just trying to make big numbers, Mom,’’ she answered.

She must’ve heard some post-election report on TV about ‘’big numbers’’ for the candidates.

Somebody should’ve told those high-paid political consultants: THAT’S how you make your numbers big.


Prayer request: We lift up a wonderful young man named Scott, who has been having some disturbing heart rhythms and high blood pressure. He has always been the healthy one, and his brother’s the one with the serious congenital heart problem. Their mom wants Scott to have an echocardiogram to check for structural abnormalities. Father, we want Scott to have the wisest medical team possible, and to have this solved soon. We plead the Blood over their fear, in Jesus’ Name. (Psalm 46:2)

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Election Day has certainly changed from past years, with issues such as casino gambling and same-sex marriage on the ballot -- topics that wouldn’t even have been spoken of in polite company, a generation or two ago.

You’ve heard of changing your mind on who you’re going to vote for, or changing your address, or changing your political party. But on Tuesday, a southwest Omaha poll worker handled a situation involving an unusual kind of change.

A man came up to her and said he used to be a woman. He was registered under his old name.

She called election officials and processed the records change with no problem.

It was either a very nice encounter . . . or the wackiest case of voter fraud on the books.


Praise report: Our friends have a new baby! Meet Tiege Jefferson Petermann, son of Jeff and Kerry and brother of Kemper. He was born at 11:11 p.m. Sunday with a head of black hair. Kerry made up the first name, pronounced ‘’Teeg,’’ and everybody thinks it’s cool. Thank You, Jesus, for this precious new life. Surround this young family with a mountain range of blessings and protection as they raise their sons to live for You. (Proverbs 14:26)

Prayer request: We ask You, Lord, to cleanse Donna of cancer after her completion of chemotherapy and radiation. Give her parents, siblings and friends strength and encouragement to always support her through this chapter in her life, and theirs. O Lord, ransom her from the destruction of cancer and defeat it, for Your glory. (Hosea 13:14)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


The attached picture might not be in the best of taste, but it makes me laugh. (NOTE: a little pug dog was "visiting" a Kerry/Edwards yard sign.) Apologies to readers who were John Kerry supporters. So many of his positions on the issues were so contrary to God’s principles, I can’t help but be grateful and relieved on this Day After Election Day.

Congratulations to all who won, and for all who ran, accept our thanks. Hope you’ll stay active, keep learning, and keep trying to make America a better place.


Prayer Request: Lord, You reign so majestically and yet practically. We are so grateful that the election went relatively smoothly, with a clear margin of victory and a majority mandate for President Bush. Heal the divisions in our land, Father, and bring us closer together in pursuit of Your will for our country. Honor and glory to You, too, Jesus, for the election victory for Your servant John Thune, the new senator from South Dakota, who is from a fabulous Christian family and will represent You well. Last, but certainly not least, my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for touching the hearts of a majority of Nebraskans to defeat the gambling measures and keep casinos and slots out of our fair state. Father God, we praise You for the peace and joy of this day. (Romans 15:13)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I dearly love a little monthly newspaper, the Imogene Hub, the funniest thing to come out of southwest Iowa. This issue’s story, ‘’PMS Club Has Presidential Debates,’’ gave me a much-needed laugh this Election Day.

Now, if you believe life is totally serious and we have to be absolutely reverent at all times, change the channel. For you NORMAL readers, then:

In this crazy debate to determine who would be the next president of the PMS Club, the question was asked, ‘’Do you think the term ‘Towel Heads’ used in reference to Islamic terrorists is politically correct?’’

One candidate answered no. Why?

“The item they wear on their heads is actually a small sheet and, therefore, they should be referred to as ‘Little Sheet Heads.’’’

She got a standing ovation.


Prayer request: We come before Your Throne, oh, King of our hearts, to plead for the election of Godly people today. We especially lift up John Thune in South Dakota, the younger brother of our longtime pastor. And we lift up the gambling issues on the Nebraska ballot, praying for their defeat. Holy Spirit, open people’s eyes and hearts to vote for those who turn to You for guidance and accountability. In Jesus’ Name, give us leaders who please You. (Philippians 3:17)

Monday, November 01, 2004


Last night, we had the last session in our Bible study on the book, ‘’The Purpose-Driven Life,’’ or PDL for short. ‘Course, in our group, we changed it to the ‘’Pregnancy-Driven Life,’’ since one couple was expecting their second child and, indeed, may have delivered him in the last few hours. We’re waiting to hear and are upholding Kerry, Jeff and their baby in prayer.

So they weren’t there last night, but we had fun, anyway. The DVD that comes with the Bible study lessons got stuck on a couple of occasions. It froze the speaker’s mouth in funny positions, with an awkward, dead silence. Then, with no intervention, he’d start speaking and moving again.

The third time this happened, our friend Dawn quipped, ‘’Well, it IS Halloween!’’

Everybody laughed.

We laughed harder a few minutes later, when the DVD was over and we were discussing it. Her husband, Sid, suddenly stopped talking in mid-word, and froze his expression and posture, just as had happened to the guy on the DVD.

What a trickster. Laughter is a treat any time. Best of all, it’s a lot less fattening than Halloween candy.

Prayer request: Father God, guide voters tomorrow to think of Your will first in deciding for whom to vote for President on down the ballot to dogcatcher. We cry out for righteous leaders! Help those of us who are fasting and praying today for this big event in the life of our nation. The war of words is over after this long campaign season. Now, in the Name of Jesus, let wisdom and grace prevail at the polls, for our good and Your glory. (1 Peter 2:15)