Sunday, December 18, 2005

PLEASE CLICK HERE for our family’s offbeat Christmas card:

DailySusan will resume on Sunday, Jan. 1. I’ll post Christmas stories from years past on the website over the holidays.

May all your Christmas dreams come true, and here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2006.

With love,



Furby Anne

(H)e hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him,
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
-- Isaiah 53:2b

Maddy, 5, has latched on to the latest Kid’s Meal prize at “Burber King” like a Skid Row bum on a bottle of Ripple. They’re putting a mini Furby in every bag of hardened cholesterol now.

You know the Furby: part Yoda, part hamster, part owl -- completely annoying. It swept the toy world several Christmases ago. By now they’ve sold 40 million of the moody weirdos with the Andy Rooney eyebrows and PMS. They talk, sing, tell jokes, have moving plumage, and even have a website:

The little freebie Furbys only move their ears. But Maddy has forced me at watergun-point to the “Burber King” drive-through twice recently so she could “collect” two of them.

One is a boy. He is green. She named him “Furb.”

The other is gray with a pink topknot. I’m cringing, because I think her name is “Furby Anne.”

So here we are, minutes before Christmas, and Maddy’s mesmerized. She’s been skiing them down the slanted top of our baby-grand piano. She’s given them hours of rides in her little red wagon. They’ve been pulled around on a little toy sled commandeered from our Christmas decorations, with a Beanie Baby cat instead of a reindeer in the traces, an old shoestring. She says innocently that they sleep together; I bite my tongue.

My countless hours of Christmas shopping for her are going up in smoke and flames, like the oil wells of Kuwait. Who cares about lovingly-selected, educational toys when you can cuddle with an ugly piece of free plastic? How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Fur-beee?!?!

They’re homely! What’s the attraction? There’s no accounting for people’s tastes, I guess. It’s kind of like Bethlehem: not too fab, on the surface. But in the end . . . who knew?

Years ago, our daughter Eden had a softball coach who resembled a Furby. That’s what the girls called him behind his back. He thought it was funny.

One weekend they traveled to Clarinda, Iowa, to play the softball team. They were vaunted. They were cigar-chomping and steroid-crazed. Our little girls beat them.

On the way out of town, the coach waved the caravan over to the local McDonald’s (sorry, “Burber King”). We all went inside. He was so pumped up, he grabbed the microphone:

“Hello, Clarinda!” he exulted to the restaurant full of slack-jawed Clarindanians. “How does it feel to know that your softball team just got its tail whipped . . . BY A FURBY?!?”

The longest few seconds in the history of the universe passed, until people finally laughed, mostly out of pity.

The Christmas they came out, the Furby craze was worse than “Tickle Me Elmo.” It was bigger than “Cabbage Patch” or any Play Station upgrade. Parents were hysterical to get one of the scarce Furbys under the tree that Christmas, or else.

Cooler heads prevailed at our house. We thought they were weird, ugly and expensive. We couldn’t believe the mass hysteria.

Then someone we know picked up some last-minute intelligence that one more shipment was coming in to a store an hour’s drive away. He got there before dawn.

A crowd formed. They were unruly. There weren’t going to be enough Furbys to go around.

The store personnel put yellow crime-scene tape around the Furby display, hoping for crowd control, and flung open the doors. There was a stampede. The clerk was supposed to hand Furbys out to people, one by one. But he feared he would be trampled – so he started just THROWING them up for the crowd, literally catch as catch can.

Our friend has a vertical leap like an NBA star, so he got one. He hugged it, and waited for the crowd to disperse.

He saw an older woman sobbing, rocking back and forth, Furby-less.

Geeeeeeez. Our friend did the unthinkable: he gave her his.

A touching Christmas story of sacrifice and compassion?

Nah. He just didn’t want to get mugged by the angry mob on his way back to the car.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: The Christmas baby shower for a young single mom, Michaela, and her six-month-old baby, Dylan, whom she almost aborted, winds up on Tuesday. Reply to this email with the message, “Baby shower,” if you’d like to contribute to a WalMart debit card for groceries and other necessities, or could get a gift or card to me by Dec. 20. Many, many thanks to our Christmas angels!

Today’s charity suggestion is to support Nebraska’s premier environmental organization, The National Arbor Day Foundation. Your love of trees can make a lasting difference. The foundation aims to Inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Your support can help forward this work and help create a healthier and greener world. "The best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago, the second best time is today." Go to to learn how you can get involved.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


The phone rang, just once. When it didn’t continue, I figured it was a wrong number.

Maddy, 5, had been playing on the other end of the house. A while later, she wafted into the kitchen and declared, “There was a guy on the phone.”

“A guy?” I reacted. “What guy? Since when do YOU answer the phone?”

“He said, ‘Susan?’ ‘Susan’? And I said, ‘No, it’s Maddy.’”

“And then you hung up?”

“And then I hung up.”

My mind raced between a telemarketer, an ambulance driver, a U.S. senator, or the local police. I hoped and prayed it was a telemarketer.

The phone rang again. This time, I snatched it. Whew! We’re replacing our worn-out stairway and railing, and it was the contractor, still laughing.

“Don’t worry about it; we have six kids. We know,” he said.

I’m hoping next time, it really is a telemarketer. I think they’ve met their match.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: There’s a neat nonprofit conference center in Colorado run by the Christian group, the Navigators, where people can go for a “pep talk” on all kinds of ways to make life better, or a guided marriage retreat, or a quiet time of contemplation and life examination. It’s called Glen Eyrie. The same organization brings inner-city youth out to nearby Eagle Lake Camp for a life-changing week of Christian fun, fellowship and, for many, their first experience totally immersed in nature. See for more information. Send donations to The Navigators, Glen Eyrie Group, P.O. Box 6000, Colorado Springs, CO 80934.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Today’s DailySusan is a video clip.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: There’s still time to reach out to help our service people in Iraq and elsewhere overseas, although your mailing most likely won’t arrive by Christmas at this point. But visit the grassroots website, for ideas of how to help. A great one: send gloves, shoes and socks, including children’s sizes. What the military people don’t use, they’ll share, and they’re finding plenty of native people who go barefoot even when temperatures hover around freezing.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Wednesday’s “elfabet” joke is only the beginning. Adults are getting in to the corny Christmas joke act:

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. ”In honor of this holy season," Saint Peter said, “you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven."

The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. It represents a candle, he said.

”You may pass through the Pearly Gates,” Saint Peter said.

The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, "They're bells."

Saint Peter said, “You may pass through the Pearly Gates.”

The third man started searching desperately through his pockets. Finally, he pulled out a pair of women's panties.

St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, "And just what do those symbolize?"

The man replied, "They're Carols."


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Some very special elderly people are being invited to a Christmas party from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Day at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church’s Suneg Center. It’s put on by the Omaha chapter of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, a nonprofit organization operating in nine cities. There’ll be entertainment and gifts. Volunteers are needed to escort elderly guests and host them at the party, as well as volunteering year-round to deliver meals and visit homebound senior citizens, advocate for them, and provide regular telephone calls. What a wonderful service, and not just at Christmastime! Please send donations to Little Brothers -- Friends of the Elderly, 5017 Leavenworth St., Suite 103, Omaha, NE 68106-1438.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The kids are ready for Christmas. They sing Christmas songs, bake Christmas cookies and decorate their rooms. They strap a little stool to the rocking horse and put felt reindeer horns on it, fashioning reins out of ribbon and wearing a Santa hat with a sack of their own toys slung over their shoulder, sitting there in the kitchen pretending to be Santa . . . yup. It’s that time of year, and they’re letting us know.

Here’s indisputable proof that it’s Christmastime: the awful, corny Christmas joke.

Q. How did Santa’s helpers learn to read and write?

A. First, they learned the elfabet.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Another important and effective inner-city social service agency that deserves financial support is the Boys and Girls Club of Omaha, They provide meals, homework help, life skills instruction, a swimming pool and other fun recreational opportunities. Most of all, they provide attention and firm guidance from adults who really know what these kids need: love. Send donations to the Boys and Girls Cub, 2610 Hamilton, Omaha, NE 68131.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Speaking of mispronounced words . . . I will never again think that pharmacy is a boring job. You have to be an English major, an FBI detective and a brilliant thespian in order to figure out and then not crack up over the things people say when they’re in the uncharted waters of health problems.

My friend the pharmacist tells this one from a couple of years ago:

Neither the store cashier nor the pharmacy tech could perceive what an elderly gentleman customer wanted to buy. Both stumped, they came to the pharmacist.

She asked him, “What is it that you are looking for?"

"A noose!" He bellered, obviously hard of hearing and getting frustrated.

"A . . . NOOSE?" she repeated, equally loudly. Gee, she’d heard depression was on the increase among the elderly, but. . . .

"Yeah! A noose! My doctor sent me to get it!"

“Your . . . doctor?” She thought about sending him to the “Executioner's Supply” section in Aisle 5 . . . but tried one more time.

"What is it used for, sir?"

"A NOOSE! For rectal injection!"

She paused. "Rectal . . . injection?" He nodded, now obviously exasperated with her total stupidity.

She finally asked for his doctor’s name, called the office, told the nurse, and the nurse was stymied, too. So she put the pharmacist on hold and sought out the doctor.

She came back to the phone, and said, "He told him to get Anusol Suppositories."

Well . . . hang it! I . . . suppose so!


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: The Hope Center for Kids in inner-city Omaha has served 23,100 meals so far in 2005, providing social skills training for 326 young people and tutoring 30. Please consider a year-end gift to this crucial social service agency that does so much for kids. Send it to the Hope Center, P.O. Box 20143, 2200 N. 20th St., Omaha, NE 68120.

Monday, December 12, 2005


A certain teenage relative has a favorite Asian take-out place. She always goes there in person with her close friend. They go, not only for the great food, but for the pronunciations. They always order the same things just so they can hear the way the staff says them. Hey! At least they’re not amusing themselves with drugs, booze and raves. This brand of fun is cheaper, too.

Their two favorites:

Why Chair Pessy


Mao Doo

(Translation: Wild Cherry Pepsi and Mountain Dew)


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: According to the Center for Education Reform (CER), there are 1.25 million children around the country on waiting lists for private scholarships. The tax-deductible scholarships provide tuition assistance for low-income children to attend private schools instead of the public schools which their families feel are not serving them well. In our nation’s Catholic schools, for example, the graduation rate is 99.2%, according to the CER, vs. 74% in our public schools. There is ample evidence that minority kids do much better in private schools, where even though the tuition is much lower (average=$2,178) than what the public schools spend per pupil (average=over $7,000), the quality is better. I know a single mom whose two daughters got to go to a Christian grade school because of partial private scholarships they were lucky enough to win in the Omaha area lottery. But the waiting list is always long here. To help more kids gain this advantage, contribute to the Children’s Scholarship Fund Omaha, 3212 N. 60th St., P.O. Box 4130, Omaha, NE 68104-0130.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


The thief cometh not,
but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.
-- John 10:10

My good friend was an overworked, underpaid, fulltime mother with “TILT!” in her eyes over all she had to do that Christmas season.

She left work late one night, got into her vehicle in the icy parking lot, and thought, “That’s funny. It’s so cold and breezy in here.”

Yeah. Well, the passenger-side window had been bashed out. All of the Christmas gifts for her son’s first Christmas had been ripped off.

She had so carefully budgeted $200 for them. She had worked so hard to find each special bargain.

Not only that, but she had recently gone back to college to help make a better life for her son. Her expensive textbooks had also been stolen, as well as her leather briefcase containing homework and extensive research notes for her final paper.
So, too, was her daily planner. It was her command center, with all kinds of important information. With a chill up her spine, she realized that her family’s Social Security cards were also in there – ripe pickin’s for identity theft.

Their insurance wouldn’t cover the window nor the stolen gifts . . . this, on top of worrying about the quality of her son’s babysitter . . . and working overtime at a job with nasty people . . . and the stress of starting a new job for less money to get away from them . . . and she was nursing her seven-month-old and thoroughly exhausted. . . .

So she fritzed out. By the time she got home, her stress was planetary-sized.

She collapsed into the rocking chair with the baby playing on a blanket at her feet. Her eyes locked onto his toothless grin as he gazed up at her adoringly.

What was she so upset about? She hadn’t been mugged, the baby was OK, and at his age, playing with a few bows and boxes would be plenty of fun for Christmas, anyway.

Suddenly, he reached up for her, his smile widening even further.

It was like a neon sign meant for her, straight from heaven, straight from God: “Here I am . . . reach for Me!”

So she reached, both up and down. She leaned back, cuddling him and rocking, closed her eyes, and did what she wished she’d done right off the bat. She prayed. "Dear Lord, if you can do anything to ease my mind, just save my planner and Social Security cards. Everything else is replaceable. I give it to You, Lord.”

She felt a wave of peace. She said, “I had a handful, but He was saying, ‘I’ll carry you. Pay attention to what’s important.’”

Two minutes later the phone rang. It was the police. Someone in an apartment complex near her office had happened to look out their balcony and saw someone tossing a black briefcase into a ravine, then laying scratch out of the parking lot.

The cops raced over. One went into the icy water to retrieve the papers floating around. They got her research, the planner, the Social Security cards, the briefcase . . . everything except the gifts.

In another two minutes, brrrrring! Her mom called. She insisted on giving her another $200 to go right back to the stores and replace everything – just come straight home this time.

She brought the police a great, big box of chocolates, and prayed over and over for blessings for that Good Samaritan who spotted her stuff going into the drink, and didn’t just blow it off. What amazing luck. But she knew it wasn’t just luck.

What she found that night was worth so much more than what she’d lost. She said, “God was saying, ‘Just give it to ME . . . have faith in ME . . . let ME into your heart and life, and I will bring you comfort and peace.”

Those are this season’s glad tidings . . . that money can’t buy . . . and no one can ever take away.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Thank you to those who are participating in the Christmas gift shower announced last week for a young single mom and her six-month-old baby, Dylan, whom she almost aborted. Gifts and donations will be received through next Sunday. Just reply to this email if you’d like to contribute.

Today’s charity suggestion is to support Safe Homes, a project designed to help women and children escaping domestic violence. It’s operated by the Notre Dame Sisters and Associates in Omaha. The Catholic Charities shelter serves 175 women and 250 children each year, but has to turn away 2,000. Current transitional housing through the Family Passages program is 14 units, where women can stay for up to 18 months, paying about one-third of their earnings for rent. These units meet only a fraction of the need. It costs $835 per month for rent and utilities, plus day care, to help start a woman on the road to self-sufficiency. For more information, call Sister Rita Ostry, (402) 455-2994. Send donations to Safe Homes, Notre Dame Sisters, 3501 State St., Omaha, NE 68112-1799.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


The newest movie remake of the classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” is doing great at the box office. It makes it fun for our senior daughter’s honors English teacher, who doggedly teaches the classics while many of her colleagues have given in to today’s lesser literary tastes.

She still makes one nod to modernity, though: after her students have read a famous novel, she shows it on video so they can compare and contrast. The brand new “Pride and Prejudice” isn’t out on DVD, so she had to use an older version from some years ago. Apparently, the acting was bad, the dialogue was stilted, and the dance scenes were painfully sedate, at least to today’s teens.

Leave it to the class cut-ups. “RAVE!!!” someone shouted, jumping up and wiggling around crazily. Someone else noted that the heroine who was supposed to be pretty looked like a man in a wig with a five o’clock shadow. Another girl was said to have a unibrow. “Nobody had teeth that white back then!” a student remarked. When a romantic pair commenced their first dance and actually touched hands, someone shouted, “DIRTY DANCING!!!” even though the 1800s style was anything but. Other contrasts between then and now drew hoots and squawks.

Luckily, they have the kind of teacher who puts cognitive growth, even when it’s unconventional, ahead of strict classroom manners . . . or at least these kids can hope she does.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: It’s a privilege to be able to retrace the steps of your life and help someone make his or her dreams come true. Today’s suggestion is to donate money to a scholarship fund to encourage some student’s college or graduate school aspirations. My alma mater, the University of Missouri, has seen its tuition rise by 354% since I was in school. My sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, started a scholarship fund 20 years ago to help a few deserving and financially-strapped young women with their studies. They’ve distributed $150,000, which is inspiring. Only a few are KKG’s, and all are outstanding. I’m also proud of friends of mine who serve on the scholarship board and want to honor them. Join me in this endeavor, or contribute to a fund at your own alma mater: Golden Key Scholarship Fund, KKG, P.O. Box 30163, Columbia, MO 65205-3163.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Footnote to yesterday’s parody on how today’s often anti-American media would have covered D-Day on the shores of France:

I hosted our high school’s International Club for a special dinner last night after they went caroling to a local nursing home and Alzheimer’s facility. We joked that it didn’t matter if they sang the same song several times in a row at the latter place; all that mattered, anyway, was to see those shining teenage faces and feel those caring hearts.

Then they and their teacher sponsors came here for international cuisine to match their studies. I can’t pronounce the Japanese dish, but it didn’t look too deadly. A teacher brought an outstanding Mexican spiced hot drink, and a local Mexican restaurant catered “La Ensalada de Salud, Felizidad y Prosperidad.” The kids loved being introduced to weirdo foods such as jicama.

But since I took French in school, and our daughter is now in her senior year on that language track, I made the main course and I wanted it to be French.

Remember yesterday’s email message? Get a load of what I made: coq au vin. FRENCH CHICKEN!!!


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: I really admire the kids at Omaha’s Grace University. Many of them are planning to be missionaries. I heard about one senior, Anna, who was born on a fishing boat on the South China Sea, where she lived with her parents and four siblings, hiding from China’s one-child-per-family rule. Somehow or another, she made it to Grace, where she is getting trained as a teacher with hopes of returning to China to teach. Support this awesome university with money for scholarships, and make dreams like this possible for more young people: or Development Office, Grace University, P.O. Box 3725, Omaha, NE 68103-0725.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


There’s been a lot of talk that today’s mainstream media is so, so, so biased. Here’s an email with a take on how they’d report D-Day:

NORMANDY, FRANCE (June 6, 1944) -- Three hundred French civilians were killed and thousands more were wounded today in the first hours of America's invasion of continental Europe.
Casualties were heaviest among women and children. Most of the French casualties were the result of artillery fire from American ships attempting to knock out German fortifications prior to the landing of hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops.

Reports from a makeshift hospital in the French town of St. Mere Eglise said the carnage was far worse than the French had anticipated, and that reaction against the American invasion was running high. "We are dying for no reason, "said a Frenchman speaking on condition of anonymity. "Americans can't even shoot straight. I never thought I'd say this, but life was better under Adolf Hitler."

The invasion also caused severe environmental damage. American troops, tanks, trucks and machinery destroyed miles of pristine shoreline and thousands of acres of ecologically sensitive wetlands. It was believed that the habitat of the spineless French crab was completely wiped out, thus threatening the species with extinction. A representative of Greenpeace said his organization, which had tried to stall the invasion for over a year, was appalled at the destruction, but not surprised. "This is just another example of how the military destroys the environment without a second thought," said Christine Moanmore. "And it's all about corporate greed."

Contacted at his Manhattan condo, a member of the French government-in-exile who abandoned Paris when Hitler invaded, said the invasion was based solely on American financial interests. "Everyone knows that President Roosevelt has ties to 'big beer'," said Pierre LeWimp. "Once the German beer industry is conquered, Roosevelt's beer cronies will control the world market and make a fortune."

Administration supporters said America's aggressive actions were based in part on the assertions ofcontroversial scientist Albert Einstein, who sent a letter to Roosevelt speculating that the Germans weredeveloping a secret weapon -- a so-called "atomic bomb.” Such a weapon could produce casualties on ascale never seen before, and cause environmental damage that could last for thousands of years. Hitler has denied having such a weapon and international inspectors were unable to locate such weapons even after spending two long weekends in Germany.

Shortly after the invasion began, reports surfaced that German prisoners had been abused by American soldiers. Mistreatment of Jews by Germans at their so-called "concentration camps" has been rumored, but so far this remains unproven.

Several thousand Americans died during the first hours of the invasion, and French officials are concerned that the uncollected corpses will pose a public-health risk. "The Americans should haveplanned for this in advance," they said. "It's their mess, and we don't intend to help clean it up."


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Health starts with food, especially for children and the elderly, and so today’s charity nod is for the Omaha Food Bank, I didn’t realize that 46,500 people live below the poverty line in the Omaha metro area, and 40% of them are children. The Food Bank gets food to pantries, meal providers and soup kitchens to fight hunger. They are efficient: a $1 donation distributes $18 worth of food. Besides giving money, you can organize your own food drive and they’ll help you, or you can have their adorable, giant piggy bank brought to your company or church. Address: Food Bank, 6824 J St., Omaha, NE 68117.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Our friends have two beautiful little girls. Last weekend, their dad sat down with them to take dictation on their letters to Santa Claus. Cissa “got it” immediately, as the old veteran, nearly 5, and rattled off a number of wishes. Sofia, 2, was charmingly confused.

Her dad asked, “What do you want to say to Santa?”

Sofia replied, “Happy Halloween?”

She really, really liked Halloween this year, especially the candy.

Her dad continued, “Well, what do you want to ask for from Santa?”


“OK. Anything else?”

“A big yellow cat!”

“A big yellow cat?”

“With candy inside!”

Short, sweet and simple: that’s the best Christmas wish of all.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Early in my Christian experience, I learned a lot about the faith through Christian radio in general, and the Texas-based radio ministry of the late Brother Lester Roloff in particular. Radio teachers can be the only way to learn about God for the unchurched, truck drivers, and weird housewives who spend a lot of time gardening, like me, with Christian radio on the headphones. I’d recommend an encouraging donation to the Roloff organization or any other Christian radio ministry or station. Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises, P.O. Box 1177, Corpus Christi, TX 78403.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I really liked the Mel Gibson movie, “Braveheart.” I do love to see men in skirts, and . . . what can I say? Mel! Oh, Mel! He wants me, you know, but I’m trying to be strong and resist his advances. What advances? Are you blind? Haven’t you seen the way he smiles at me, from the big screen?

Anyway . . . the movie is about Scottish patriots who fought off corrupt British oppressors. In my favorite scene, a whole line of Scots, dressed for battle in their fanciest skirts, suddenly whip around and moon the other side before they rush down there and club them into submission. That’s spiritual warfare at its best.

There’s another scene where Mel leads them all in raising their clubs, fists, and bows and arrows skyward, yelling proudly, “FREEDOM!!!!!”

Well, a meek office clerk in Omaha who’s an old friend of mine had a moment like that last Friday. She works for a huge corporation which at times can be oppressive, kind of like the old Brits. But she stood up to the office politics like a real Braveheart, and in a skirt, too. It might have been a bit of a career risk, but it was worth it. Here’s how she tells it:

“Rebel that I am . . . I am in charge of our company's phone messages. When doing the phone recording for the whole office last Friday, since we were closing early for our party, I specifically said:

"Our office will close at 1 today for our CHRISTMAS party and regular hours resume on Monday."

None of these Politically Correct, prechewed, sanitized “Happy Holidays” apple-butter euphemisms for HER. No, Sir!

Let’s moon the bad apples who are trying to censor Christmas. FREEDOM!!!!!


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: A local school has developed a neat project over the last few years. They raise money to buy Christmas gifts in the form of $5 gift certificates to Burger King for children who are Sudanese refugees living in Omaha. Apparently, last year, Sudanese families filled the Burger Kings of Omaha on Christmas Day for their Christmas dinners, and it was a rare and exciting treat for them. This is extremely humbling to see how little it takes to please these very special, Godly people. But it’s exciting to be part of making something special happen for people who have faced great dangers and deprivations for their faith and families. To participate, send a note labeled “Sudanese Christmas Gift” and your check made out to Trinity Christian School, 15555 W. Dodge Rd., Omaha, NE 68154.

Monday, December 05, 2005


We got one of those 10-foot Christmas trees that leans a little north and then a little south and then a little north again, or maybe it’s a tad west. It’s a balsam, my beloved’s favorite, and so fragrant I even enjoyed vacuuming around it last night. Yes, it leans, but that’s the bad news. The good news is, it leans in so many directions that it looks like it’s perfectly straight.

Our other big project this weekend was putting up the enormous light-up, blow-up snowman in the front yard. It’s not so big that it would hurt anybody if it got away, a la the Macy’s parade, but it’s sizeable. It leans, too. It looks like it has had a few too many spiked eggnogs, or is trying to pick up an extra handful of snow to enlarge his pecs or something.

As if that isn’t embarrassing enough, our blonde dog Sunny Bone-O was napping inside while my beloved put up the Leaning Snowman, and didn’t see it for a couple of hours.

Then she came around to the front, saw the Leaning Snowman, went on the alert, crouched down into her Snarling Nazi Guard Dog stance, which isn’t real believable in a yellow Lab but oh, well, and commenced barking at the poor guy. She had him cornered, but good.

I went out there and praised her and told her she was so intimidating, he was frozen with fear. Literally stiff! Look at him leaning – he was just about to attack us when you courageously jumped in there to protect us. Good blonde dog. Let’s have a cookie: one for you and one for me.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: You can be a stand-in for Santa for the children of someone in prison with a contribution to the Angel Tree project of Prison Fellowship Ministries. For $11.20, you can provide presents for two children, and the number multiplies the more you give. See for more information. The mailing address is Angel Tree, PFM, P.O. Box 1550, Merrifield, VA 22116-1550.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


(I)nasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me.
-- Matthew 25:40

My husband’s company just had their office Christmas party. It’s so much fun to put names with faces, share office lore with unsuspecting newcomers, and watch the two oldest employees unexpectedly leaving the whippersnappers in their partying dust, impersonating Elvis on karaoke and Patrick Swayze on the dance floor while everybody roared their approval and raised their lighted cellphones on high.

You see people in a whole new light at office parties like that. And that’s a good thing.

When I was fresh out of college, I attended my first office party in the summertime, around an Olympic-size swimming pool. I had done some competitive swimming and was in pretty good shape. A co-worker at least 40 years my senior – the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s grandpa in swim trunks -- challenged me to a race. I didn’t think he could make one length without having a heart attack. If I held ‘way back, I could at least grant him a gentleman’s tie.

As if. He shocked me with an incredibly strong racing dive and was two body lengths ahead of me within the first few strokes. I ‘bout bust a gut and he still beat me by a lot. Everybody laughed and clapped, including me. Who knew? As I watched him high-five the other office fogies over beating the flat-bellied young cub reporter, I realized I had a lot to learn about the adult world.

I saw him in a whole new light. It was nice.

A few years later, at another job, I worked with an older woman whose personal life was somewhat of a mystery. She was short and lean, with big, expressive eyes and a beautiful, deep voice. She had a lot of wrinkles on her face. I wondered if she used to be a drinker, or if she had had a lot of problems that showed up, not in her conversation, but on her face.

Her only indulgence seemed to be the nuclear-strength coffee at the downtown cafeteria where we had lunch. We had a nice friendship, even though she wouldn’t let me in very far to know the real her.

Years later, I learned she had a habit of picking up bums off the street downtown, one at a time. She would take them to a fleabag hotel, pay for a few months’ rent, set them up with sacks of groceries, and arrange for cab fare to and from the employment office.

Then she would check on them every so often. No lectures, no sermons: just friendly visits that proved she believed in their worth. When the time was up, she would find another poor soul, and do it again. She must have helped dozens of people in this personal, compassionate and private way.

She never went to church and didn’t talk about religious matters. She wasn’t high and mighty. She never said a word about this quiet charity, in all the years I worked with her. She never got her picture in the paper or a plaque, nor did she want that kind of attention.

I sensed it was a “there but for the grace of God go I” type of deal. Truly beautiful.

You know, our society casts the spotlight on celebrities, millionaires and big-shot philanthropists, but never on everyday people who quietly, steadfastly do things like that, just because it’s the right thing to do. Lots of times, they’re the people at the next desk or in the next car . . . everyday heroes . . . low-key saints.

We all need to see each other in a whole new light, the way she did, and treat each other accordingly, as if there are special things about each person that we don’t know yet.

Because there are.

This Christmas season, let’s all do it: walk around in a whole new light, and share that light with others.

You won’t get applause and accolades here on Earth – but they’ll be singing your praises up at the heavenly karaoke bar, and that’s the one that counts.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: has been suggesting ways to help others each day during Advent. Today’s suggestion is to bless a young single mother named Michaela, who very nearly aborted her son Dylan but was guided away from that by a wiser, older woman in her church. What a beautiful testament to life, and the courage it sometimes takes to sustain it. She now is struggling to make ends meet on her small salary, but is doing a beautiful job with her adorable baby son. readers gave them a baby shower earlier this year. Let’s do it again! Contact Susan at if you would like to send Michaela some Christmas cheer and will join the prayer chain for her and Dylan to live happily ever after.


PRAYER REQUESTS LINK: It’s finally fixed on Click on the rainbow over at the right. Be sure to send your prayer requests and praise reports to me at, and check in regularly to pray for others.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


My dad had his own language, which we struggled to translate. He had three compliments for people: they could be a “good looker” if handsome or beautiful; “good feeler” if they were fun to be with, or, the ultimate praise, a “keeper.” That last was from his many decades of fishing in the waters of northern Minnesota, where they throw back fish as too small that would be lauded as monster-size in lesser fishing holes.

Well, I’m glad to report that his youngest grandchild, Maddy, is carrying on his ways. We just had the seats on our six heavy iron kitchen barstools recovered. They had been redecorated by Kool-Aid spills, cat scratches and various other assaults over the years, so it was time.

As I was hosting a Black and White formal dinner for Eden’s friends last night, I made my beloved leave work early to pick up the new seats and rush home to screw them back in place by the 6 p.m. arrival time of the teenage guests.

In his haste, he must have installed one of them backwards. The only way you can tell is that there’s a crossbar about eight inches from the floor that’s a footrest, and on one of the six chairs, it was on the back.

Maddy spotted it right away.

I complimented her. “My goodness, but you’re observant.”

She beamed. “Yeah. I’m a GOOD LOOKER.”

She’s a keeper, too.


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: We got our first dog Budge from the Humane Society. She was a German shepherd / collie mix. Since she was more or less free, we called her “Budget Dog.” We loved her a lot, and what made it more special was that she had been a homeless puppy with discolored teeth, a sign of poor nutrition for her mother while she was pregnant. We were happy to give her the very best of doggie health care throughout her life. Budge needed us! And many, many animals are needy this Christmas season. Today’s charity suggestion is to help the Nebraska Humane Society, a 130-year-old organization that saves thousands of pets every year. Average new contribution: $21. Learn more on Address is 8929 Fort St., Omaha, NE 68134-2842

Friday, December 02, 2005


Here’s a funny cartoon: (it showed four pairs of underwear up on a clothesline, from a 1920's BVDs to a 1950's boxer shorts, a 1980's pair of briefs, and a 2005 thong)

TODAY’S CHRISTMAS KINDNESS SUGGESTION: Sacred Heart School is doing a tremendous job in inner-city Omaha with strong academics, a sensible life skills program, and an emphasis on Christian values and discipline. Its fund-raising unit, CUES (the Christian Urban Education Service) is seeking donations that could make a real difference in children’s lives. According to a CUES Christmas appeal, two sisters who are students at Sacred Heart had been late to school a few times, and the principal asked why. It turns out the girls’ mother had had to move three times since the beginning of the semester , which has been very unsettling, and now is working three jobs to make ends meet. Between her exhaustion and a car that keeps breaking down, she is having trouble getting them to school. But she told the principal that having her daughters at Sacred Heart was a top priority for her because she knows that going to college, as many Sacred Heart graduates do, is the way out of poverty. Find out more on

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I have a beautiful Concord watch with a dead battery. Tired of being late and never knowing what time it is, I took it to one of those mall fix-it kiosks. Handing the clerk the watch, I tried out one of my corniest lines:

“Time stood still. Can you help?”

He stared at me, popping his gum.

Finally, he asked in a monotone, “Dead battery?” I nodded.

He said if I would come back in 30 minutes, they would have it cleaned up and a new battery in it for $24.95.

I tried again, even cornier. “But without a watch, how am I to know when 30 minutes is up?”

Again, dead stare and gum-chewing. At least this time he shrugged.

I tried one last time: “So if I count to 60 thirty times, and come back, and you haven’t cleaned my clock yet, does that mean I get to clean YOURS?”

I don’t think he understood me. He looked like he was in pain.

Then his older co-worker helped me out. He was ringing up another customer. She handed him exact change. He exulted, “Good. Now I don’t have to take off my shoes and socks to make change.”

We three old fogies laughed – he meant he didn’t have to count on his fingers and toes.

The kid, on the other hand, just kept chewing his gum and went to work on a watch. I guess life must be boring when you watch the clock all day. . . .


CHRISTMAS KINDNESS: Today’s suggestion for a good cause to support this Christmas is the Nebraska Special Olympics. This year it served close to 1,500 people with intellectual disabilities, mostly children, in a series of fun sporting events. Tax-deductible donations go for year-round training, uniforms, food and communications costs. Learn more on

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Little old ladies are often depicted as feeble invalids with barely enough energy to knit booties in their rocking chairs. So it is fun and refreshing to ponder what 76-year-old Pearl Fritts of Lincoln did after a would-be car thief bashed her head against a dumpster:

She whirled around, put up her dukes and stood her ground.

According to, she was behind a nursing home on the way to visit her 95-year-old mother when a teenage girl assaulted her, leaving a gash of several inches in her forehead. When the teenager realized the little old lady in glasses would put up a fistfight rather than surrender her car, the girl fled.

A suspect matching that description who was a runaway from Omaha was picked up an hour later at a nearby restaurant.

So what I want to know is:

Why doesn’t Pearl start a self-defense course for grannies and grampies who want to be elder-buffs like her? She could be a personal trainer for the denture set! She could dispatch legions of elderly vigilantes out there crime-fighting away their golden years!

Whipping up on these whippersnappers would go a long way toward restoring law and order in our mean streets. And it’s GOT to be more fun than endless hours of bingo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005



DRILL PRESS: A tall, upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted airplane part you were drying.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say, "Ouch!"

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion. The more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket for which you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.

PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbors to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog **** off your boot.

E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool 10 times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn't use anyway.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the tensile strength on everything you forgot to disconnect.

CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16 INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large prybar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end opposite the handle.


TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt, but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last over-tightened 58 years ago by someone at ERCO, and neatly rounds off their heads.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50¢ part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to cut hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts.

DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling "DAMMIT" at the top of your lungs. It is also the next tool that you will need.

EXPLETIVE: A balm, usually applied verbally in hindsight, which somehow eases those pains and indignities following our every deficiency in foresight.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


(We) have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty,
not walking in craftiness,
nor handling the word of God deceitfully;
but by manifestation of the truth
commending ourselves to every man’s conscience
in the sight of God.
-- 2 Corinthians 4:2

I have this adorable red-headed friend with an unusual Christmas story. Let’s call her “Abby.”

Abby found herself with a baby daughter and an unhappy marriage. She got a divorce.

Maybe it was immaturity, or maybe the sudden freedom. But boom! She married again, quickly.

Like her first husband, this one was handsome and well off. They lived in a gorgeous home. He bought her a lot of bling. Things looked great.

But soon after the ink dried on the marriage certificate, what she thought was his sophisticated, discerning attitude about life was revealed as . . . well, what’s the male version of rhymes-with-witchiness?

He criticized her spending. He criticized her taste in furnishings. He criticized her clothes: “Oh! You’re NOT wearing THAT!?!” He criticized the way she disciplined her daughter, and how loud she laughed, and how one of her nostrils flared out a little wider when she breathed. . . .

OK, I made that last one up. But you get the drift. She was in a trap.

She found herself the victim of verbal abuse and emotional torment. But she didn’t think she could afford to leave him. It was bad, but not enough to have him prosecuted. Worst of all, she knew she was setting a terrible example for her daughter.

On a cold Christmas Eve some years ago, things culminated in a very ugly argument. She says he threw her violently over a couch. There were other ugly things that happened that she won’t even tell. Bottom line: she had had enough.

She moved herself and her daughter out that same night. Yes, it was Christmas Eve, so she could relate to the plight of Mary and Joseph.

On shaky ground, she cried a lot, hugged her child a lot, and told her she was sorry. She found a place to stay, got a job and started the long process of putting her life back together.

Naturally, she had signed a prenuptial agreement. She got next to nothing in the divorce. Men like that always work it that way.

But she coped. Almost a year passed. She hadn’t seen him. She avoided the places he liked. It was better that way.

Then one busy Saturday at a sandwich shop in mid-town, she was with her daughter on a Christmas shopping excursion. They had just paid for their order at the counter when her ex came in and saw her.

Frowning, he focused his laser-beam eyes on her, and started walking toward her, a little menacingly.

Her heart was pounding. Her mind shifted through half-forgotten scenes of abuse, treachery, pain and confusion. She told the clerk, “Would you make that to go? I don’t feel like eating here any more.”

Her ex stood there, furious, as she and her daughter grabbed their sacks and rushed for the door.

Over the din of the lunch-time crowd, he yelled sarcastically at her retreating back:


The crowd hushed. Borsheim’s is Omaha’s world-famous jewelry store. Ooh! A scene! Why WOULDN’T she? People stared.

She stopped cold . . .

. . . and turned dramatically, pulled herself to her full height under that magnificent crown of red hair, pointed her beautifully-manicured forefinger at him, and yelled back:


The room went dead quiet, in the solemn way it does when everybody knows they’re just heard the truth.

Yeah, it was gutsy and over the top. Give her a break: she’s a redhead.

He stood there, slack-jawed.

Her daughter beamed up at her. They linked arms and left.

As the door closed behind them, you’d swear you could hear merry jingle bells.

Merry? Sure! Because that’s the Christmas message. You don’t have to live with evil and abuse. You don’t have to keep it a secret. That’s why we had Bethlehem.

Go tell it on the mountain: we’re free. And you know what? You can’t beat it.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Please check in regularly to my new prayer blog, Please send any prayer needs that you have, and updates and praise reports, too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Happy Thanksgiving! We have sooooo much to be thankful for, including our friends – and things that make us laugh. Enjoy your day and rock Heaven with the sound of your praise and thanks.

DailySusan will resume on Sunday, Nov. 27.

(A graphic came with today's email that showed a baked turkey with bikini lines)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes."
-- Mark Twain

“I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.
– Gen. George S. Patton

“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

"As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure."
-- Jacques Chirac, President of France
"As far as France is concerned, you're right."
-- Rush Limbaugh

“The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee."
-- Regis Philbin

"The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore. True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whisky I don't know."
-- P.J O'Rourke (1989)

"You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it."
-- Sen. John McCain

"You know why the French don't want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and wears a beret. He is French, people."
-- Conan O'Brien

"I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get Hitler out of France either."
-- Jay Leno

"The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag."
-- David Letterman

"It is important to remember that the French have always been there when they needed us."
-- Alan Kent

French Ban Fireworks at Euro Disney
(AP) Paris, March 5, 2003
The French Government announced today that it is imposing a ban on the use of fireworks at Euro Disney. The decision comes the day after a nightly fireworks display at the park, located just 30 miles outside of Paris, caused the soldiers at a nearby French Army garrison to surrender to a group of Czech tourists.

Monday, November 21, 2005


OK, it’s true, I fell off my diet some decades ago. But I don’t need any reminders besides my mirror and my bathroom scale.

Meanwhile, Maddy has been enjoying demonstrating a kid-control technique she picked up in her carpool to kindergarten:

“This is what you’re doing” (fingers of right hand mimic a talking puppet)

“This is what you NEED to be doing” (five fingers touch as if the puppet has shut up)

We kind of like it. We use it on each other.

Well, yesterday, I was having lunch with Maddy and Eden. I guess at some point I must have complained about being fat for the upcoming holidays, when Maddy looked at me impishly and burst out with:

“This is what you’re doing” (two hands alternate rapid stuffing of imaginary food in her mouth)

“This is what you NEED to be doing” (arms cross)

Think of the millions that could be saved in Weight Watchers, Atkins, hypnosis, stomach-stapling and all the rest, if people would just heed that simple advice.

The little stinker.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


For I was hungry,
and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty,
and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger,
and ye took me in;
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
-- Matthew 25:35,36

Even though it has been a crummy year – the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the Huskers’ disastrous lack of blocking – I’ve loved seeing the wonderful variety of ways that people are reaching out to those in need.

How many pancake feeds and golf tournaments? How many hours of volunteer service, and millions in freebies for those with no way to pay?

The neighbor kids collecting spare change in Hello Kitty purses for hurricane relief . . . the coloring books for children in shelters . . . the beautiful soup bowls raising $10 each by pottery students at my alma mater, Mizzou.

A friend’s church, Omaha’s Dundee Presbyterian, adopted some evacuees from New Orleans. There was a reception for them in between services. About 50 people came.

It was uncanny: each Omahan found a unique way to help. An attorney who could go pro bono . . . a title company employee who could resolve issues with the title to what had been their home . . . an educator who could track down academic records and arrange for the transfer of credits to a university here . . . someone with an extra car to lend so that the newcomers could apply for jobs. . . .

So it went, like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle of love. It all fell into place. And all were blessed.

Forgive me for being irreverent, but I can’t help imagining our Savior seeing this and pumping His arms, jive-dancing, and thundering joyously, “Woo Hoo!”

Nothing blesses Him as much as our active responses when His Spirit moves us, literally. You find yourself answering prayers you’ll never hear and blessing people you may never meet.

Take my friend Lin in Montana. She used to have 1,000 toothbrushes in her basement. Yes, she’s finicky about dental hygiene . . . but not THAT finicky.

See, she’s a good Christian, and had begged, badgered and groveled for medical supplies for a mission in Belize some years ago. A children’s dentist donated countless colorful kiddie toothbrushes. She passed out lots down there.

The rest sat in boxes in her basement for years. Her husband grumbled, as husbands do. Every once in a while, she wondered if she should just drop them off at the local women’s shelter, or some other worthy cause. But she would always get the feeling that no, that’s not the need right now. Not yet.

Then boom! She was watching a news report about Hurricane Katrina, and they were talking about people who fled their homes without so much as a toothbrush. . . .


She joyfully handed off those boxes into a semi in Billings, joining all kinds of people bringing things . . . kind of like the first feast of Thanksgiving, and every one since.

I think of those toothbrushes as bringing back smiles to people who really needed to smile. Even when you’re a kid, you can only go so long brushing your teeth with your finger.

It’s just such a privilege to meet a need like that. Lin says, “It’s a connecting. I think we feel it in our spirit. We feel the need, but we don’t know how to go about it. We need to pay attention to what’s pulling at our spirit.”

So I’m smiling, too. Why? Because I’ll never feel bad again about all the junk down in my basement.

It’s not junk!

It’s inventory for future spiritual blessings!

Stuff someone can use!

And when the Lord Jesus signals me that it’s time to. . . .

What’s that, Lord?



I’ve just been reminded that it’s more blessed to give . . . and when I’m through, our basement won’t look so much like it’s been in a hurricane any more.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


PRAYER REQUESTS: Please check in regularly to my new prayer blog, Please send any prayer needs that you have, and updates and praise reports, too!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Our little town has a very good library, and our library director was just named the state’s outstanding librarian for this year.

Naturally, our city’s quarterly newsletter trumpeted that honor.

But then they “rooned” it. The headline on a story about the library spearheading efforts to send holiday care packages to local military service members in Iraq proclaimed:


Friday, November 18, 2005


(Today's email was a photo of a relieved-looking guy holding a dead nine-foot snake found south of Amarillo, Texas)

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Today's DailySusan is a series of visual puns that can't be displayed on this blog, but was available to email subscribers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


We were finally getting around to cleaning Maddy’s room. She was distracted by the pile of Halloween costume rejects that she had tried on and dumped in a corner weeks ago when she decided to be a cowgirl.

But oh, the contenders. She sorted through them wistfully. There was the cheery red felt ladybug costume. There was the mousie with the long tail and gray mittens. There were the clown shoes and the Viking hat.

Maddy, clad only in her Care Bear undies, picked up a feathery pair of white angel wings and slipped them on. She picked up the little zither that was to be her “harp.”

“Heyyyyy!” she exclaimed. “Next year I could go as a NUDIST ANGEL!!!”

I can just IMAGINE what they’ll put in her trick-or-treat bag . . . as they’re calling 911.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


There I was, at Parents’ Weekend at our daughter’s sorority house, trying to be on my best behavior. All the OTHER parents were charming, intelligent, sophisticated and gracious, and I was doing my best to try to fit in and make a good impression.

But I forgot about Maddy the Social Atom Bomb. Immediately, she was surrounded by a dozen laughing co-eds as she pulled her shirt sleeve up, applied her soft little 5-year-old lips to her forearm, and started making very rude, very loud noises, to gales of laughter from her appreciative fans.

The room went quiet and all eyes were on this coarse bathroom humor and the shocked but entertained laughter of the college girls.

I was doing my best to frown and sigh and throw up my hands in despair, scandalized over this unruly daughter’s uncivilized, immature behavior.

We had to leave. We called for Maddy to hurry up. All eyes were on us now. And then Maddy, bursting with pride over her hilarity and fame, said:


Monday, November 14, 2005


Ninth Street in downtown Lincoln is the feeder street for University of Nebraska stadium traffic on a football Saturday. There must be five lanes full of rushing, eager, red-clad fans straining to get to their parking places to make it to their seats by kickoff.

This past Saturday, a jaywalking man with a lady in tow popped out right in front of us, zigzagging across the street in and around the rushing cars. My mouth dropped as we swerved by: it was Johnny Rodgers, the N.U. running back sensation and Heisman Trophy winner of a few decades ago. He’s a real-life hero around these parts.

“We nearly hit him!” my husband exclaimed. “We would have been Public Enemy #1!”

Now, we were really only going about 10 mph. In his prime, Johnny could have dodged through traffic going 65 mph with no problem, thanks to his darts and spins. Now that he’s 50-something, at least he has an excuse for being a little slower, unlike the Huskers, who are really going through some tough times.

Actually, we re-thought it. The relatively new athletic director, Steve Pederson, is the hands-down Public Enemy #1 around here for making a lot of sudden changes that a lot of people feel have led to the Huskers’ current woes. So even if we had taken out Johnny Rodgers, our ranking could never have been worse than #2. Some consolation, huh? But we still have hope for you, Stevie P: there’s always next year.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Blessed is the man whose strength is in You;
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca
They make it a spring. . . .
-- Psalm 84:5-6

Our daughter Neely turned 21 yesterday. We gave her a pristine string of pearls. They suit her. She was one of those wonderfully clean children: she never got dirt on anything.

But one time, she got stuck. She was about 3, and had on brand new saddle shoes. She was soooooo proud of them.

Her dad was building a deck off our kitchen. At the moment, it was edgeless. All around it, three feet down, was a quagmire of deep, stiff mud. The unfinished deck made a great raceway for Neely’s Big Wheel, though.

Except that Neely plunged off and her front wheel plonked vertically into the mud, leaving her upside-down and hopping mad. All that was visible were those brand new saddle shoes waving to and fro.

To free herself, she had to step in that mud. She sank into it, shin-deep. By the time I lifted her to the deck, the saddle shoes were concealed in huge blocks of mud, like the Mafia’s concrete boots.

And she was mad. Boy, did she cry!

But she doesn’t even remember it now. So we can laugh about it.

Getting stuck is no fun. But getting unstuck can be. Eventually.

A friend’s son Rodney was riding his tricycle around in the house during a major remodeling. He was one of those go-getter kids, always into things. Well, his foot slipped off the pedal, and he got his chubby little leg stuck, bigtime.

He tried to wriggle free, but his leg puffed up like a toad. It’s lucky carpenters were on site, for they dismantled the tricycle with him on it while the plumber held him up, and he and his mother both bawled.

Again: horrible then, funny now.

And you know, it’s not only kids getting stuck. Last week, I got myself into a pity party over something that hurt me. I cried for hours. I thought I was hopelessly stuck in a tough situation with no way out. I was soooooo mad, I could only cry.

Then I worried over what people would think when they saw me the next day with my puffy red eyes. I got madder still, and cried myself to sleep.

Well, in the middle of the night, our juvenile delinquent dog Sunny was throwing herself against the laundry room door. I stumbled downstairs to let her out . . . unable to unstick my eyes.

I had cried them shut! Well, almost.

I stepped outside in my ancient flannel nightgown as she ran around the corner. Blinking stupidly, I looked up at the night sky.

It was the most beautiful and brilliant thing I had ever seen.

I rubbed my cried-out eyes with both fists, and gawked upward.

I didn’t hear a Voice, but thought this Thought:

“Don’t stay stuck in your grief. Trust Me. I made these stars. Can’t you trust Me?”

Dang it! That just caused MORE tears.

I slept like a log, and the next day, I turned to a comforting book, “The Stronghold of God” by Francis Frangipane.

What do you suppose it flipped open to?

Psalm 84:6, about the Valley of Baca – “weeping” – that each of us passes through, when we feel hurt and hopelessly stuck. If you trust God, then you have the “highway to heaven” already in your heart – the way out – which is to trust Him.

Your tears can become a spring of refreshment: the lubrication for a new attitude, a new start.

I’m still stuck in the same situation, but now I know it’s not going to last forever. There’s Someone ready to wash the mud off my saddle shoes and dismantle my trike to set me free . . . when it’s time.

Someday, I’ll look back on this, and realize that I looked ridiculous crying about it. ‘Til that day comes, I’ll just have to dry my tears, and enjoy the scenery while I’m waiting to get unstuck, and back in the saddle, riding my trike off into the sunset.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Please check in regularly to my new prayer blog, Please send any prayer needs that you have, and updates and praise reports, too!

Saturday, November 12, 2005


There was a man who lost one of his arms in an accident. He became very depressed because he had loved to play guitar and do a lot of things that took two arms.

One day he had had it. He decided to commit suicide.

He got on an elevator and went to the top of a building to jump off.

He was standing on the ledge looking down when he saw this man skipping along, whistling and kicking up his heels. He looked closer and saw this man didn't have any arms at all.

It was a revelation. “What am I doing up here feeling sorry for myself? I still have one good arm to do things with. There goes a man with no arms, skipping down the sidewalk, happy and going on with his life.”

He hurried down and caught up with the man with no arms. He told him how he had saved his life, because he had lost one of his arms and felt ugly and useless and was going to kill himself, but he knew he could make it with one arm, if that guy could, with none.

The man with no arms began dancing and whistling and kicking up his heels again.

He asked, "Why are you so happy, anyway?"

The man replied, "I'm NOT happy! My BEHIND itches!”

Friday, November 11, 2005


With profound thanks to all those who served our nation and the cause of freedom throughout the generations. We salute you!

If you're looking to make a Veterans Day Resolution, how about visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.? It's an incomparable stop on any tour of Washington, D.C.

Here are some facts about it from an Internet item that's making the rounds today:

The guard takes 21 steps on one leg of his patrol, an allusion to the 21-gun salute, the highest honor in our land.

The guard also hesitates after his about-face for 21 seconds.

His gloves are moistened so he can keep a tight grip on the rifle.

Guards are changed every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A guard must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" with a 30" waist or less. He must commit two years to this duty, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol, swear in public, or do any fighting for the rest of their lives, for that would disgrace the tomb.

Only 400 "alums" in the U.S. are now wearing the wreath pin signifying their duty.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV.

All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, boxer Joe E. Lewis and Medal of Honor winner and movie star Audie Murphy.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching, Congress took two days off to avoid the storm, but the Tomb of the Unknowns guards declined the offer. Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain and high winds, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, but the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Speaking of fractured scriptures: when a friend’s father was a little boy growing up in Omaha, his mother asked him what he had learned in Sunday School that day.

"Jesus sneaks in Hummel Park," he replied happily.

She was puzzled by the reference to one of the city’s most popular picnic spots.

After checking with his teacher, the mystery was solved: the lesson that day taught that “Jesus seeks the humble heart.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Lincoln, Nebraska (AP) - A seven-year-old boy was at the center of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Nebraska Cornhusker football team, whom the boy firmly believes is not capable of beating anyone.

- - - - - - - - -

A Nebraska sports reporter did some in-depth statistical research at a local pub, and came up with these amazing stats:

Nebraska’s average rushing gain per attempt in the last three games: 16.8 inches

That equals:

-- 6 medium lemons (end to end).

-- 37 beer nuts (end to end).

-- 5 sheets of toilet paper.

-- 5 1/2 bottles of Yukon Jack (upright).

-- 7 1/2 tooth picks.

- - - - - - - - - -

At a wedding last Saturday, as lowly Kansas was demolishing the once-vaunted Huskers, one wedding guest couldn’t help text-messaging his son in a faraway state, surreptitiously, of course, so as to not hurt the feelings of the bride, groom and priest. He wrote:

“XXXX is married . . . service very nice . . . Huskers lost . . . played like bridesmaids. . . .”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Everybody in our musical family can play at least one instrument. For the boys in our family, the louder, the better. My little brother Danny especially liked the drums and got an elaborate drumset one Christmas.

My dad’s friends thought it was fun to come over to our house and try it out. Midlife crisis, I guess. They thought it was great; of course, they didn’t have to live with the noise 24/7. Well, one friend in particular was annoying about it, until one night when up his driveway came a moving van . . . and in the back was Danny, seated at his drumset, playing it for all he was worth!

I think Dad’s attempt to adopt Danny out during his drum-playing phase came to naught. But I was reminded of the strong connection between little boys and drums yesterday while volunteering in the kindergarten classroom.

Buck, who is all boy, was making his “I” book with icicles, ink, an inchworm . . . and instruments. There was a drawing of a saxophone, clarinet, trumpet and such for him to color. I asked him what instrument he would like to play someday.

“I’m going to play CONCUSSION,” he replied.

You got that right, kid.

Monday, November 07, 2005


We are very happy to have Maddy in Christian school, where she is memorizing Bible verses and free to talk about God and Jesus throughout the school day.

However, we’re not always sure she’s getting the lingo down pat.

The other day, she informed me, “Jesus diapered our sins.”

Well, in a way, she’s right . . . we CAN be stinkers.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
-- Matthew 10:30

It’s a good thing we have a perfect God who can keep all of us straight and know who’s who ‘til we get up to heaven. It’s not quite that way here on Earth.

Take what happened last week to my beloved. He’s a conscientious, law-abiding captain of industry. That’s why it was a surprise when one of his employees burst into his office and exclaimed, “There’s a cop downstairs looking for you, and it sounds serious!”


It seems his red Durango SUV had been spotted bashing into a mailbox on 29th and Douglas Streets in downtown Omaha a little over an hour earlier. The business manager had jotted down the license-plate number and called 911. A policeman had tracked the car to my husband’s company. Now he wanted the facts. Just the facts.

“But . . . but . . .” my husband sputtered, “I wasn’t anywhere NEAR there today. I know I’m getting old, but I THINK I would have remembered running over a mailbox.”

The policeman asked, “Could someone have been using your vehicle?”

“No, I was in it all through the lunch hour, and parked it back here just about 20 minutes ago.”

The policeman squinted at him, no doubt thinking: “Suuuuuuure. We’ve got you dead to rights, you closet vandal. You’re goin’ DOWN!”

They looked at the Durango. There were a few chinks on the driver’s side door that the cop said would be consistent with the mailbox caper. “What?!?” my husband protested. “Those are consistent with the fact that this car has 80,000 miles on it!”

Sigh. Law enforcement can be tedious when dysfunctional suspects live in a world of denial. “OK, then, let’s go to the scene,” the policeman said, adding silently, no doubt, “you lying scumbag.”

The . . . SCENE? This cop was serious! My husband was perplexed. Was he going crazy? Was this some kind of practical joke?

Upon their arrival, a bunch of people came out to glare at the dirty, rotten scoundrel who had viciously attacked their poor, defenseless mailbox and snapped that $10 post in two.

They were lining up the crunched mailbox with the tiny chinks on the driver’s side door, and my husband’s out-of-body experience was at its peak, when the business manager came out and said:

“No, that’s not the guy. The driver was Hispanic-looking.”


Could a Hispanic-looking guy have stolen his car, rushed over and bashed this mailbox, and then returned the car, leaving without a trace?

And if so, WHY?!?

It was an orgy of head-scratching. Finally, the breakthrough came. The business manager had jotted down the license plate number on a scrap of paper. She read it off for the cop.

Eureka! Two of the digits had been accidentally reversed! The 911 operator must have recorded it wrong.

Dyslexia happens . . . but what a coincidence! What are the odds? That meant there must be ANOTHER red Durango SUV in town with a license-plate number nearly IDENTICAL to my husband’s.

Nevvvvver mind. My husband joked with the policeman that, if anything ever happened to HIS mailbox, he’d know who to call. Off the cop went on the fresh, new trail.

The afternoon was uneventful until the drive home. My beloved was stopped at a red light, ironically just a few blocks from “the scene.” Suddenly, he heard the sickening sound of brakes squealing. WHAM!

A truck rear-ended a car, which rear-ended him!

The damage would be slight, but he still sat there for an instant in shock. Then he smiled.

What if the policeman who came to THAT “scene” was the same guy?

And what if. . . .

He was almost afraid to turn around.

If it was a red Durango with a strikingly familiar license plate and a Hispanic-looking guy at the wheel. . . .

Theme song: “Twilight Zone.”

But whew! Different car. And new cop. This time, it was clear he was the innocent victim, not the perp.

It wasn’t any fun, either. But at least it wasn’t so embarrassing.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Please check in regularly to my new prayer blog, Please send any prayer needs that you have, and updates and praise reports, too!

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Today's DailySusan is a series of funny photographs from the Internet, available only to the email list.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I think it was the lady with Farrah Fawcett “wings.” You remember: sweeping clouds of bangs teased up and all around your face, like a lioness. It stuck out so far, it would clunk going through doorways. So, so early ‘70s.

I saw her the other day, and a chill ran up my spine. Was my hair that unfashionable? I’d been wearing my hair essentially the same all my life. It was just parted on the side, and hung down. That was about it.

So I sought the sage advice of the hairdo swami, and got a new ‘do.

Now it’s angled longer in front. And they chopped off some at the sides so that it has more “movement.” And I can pull up a few sections at the crown and tease them with a comb if I want more height.

Movement? Height? This isn’t a hairdo! This is a basketball team!

But since quite a few people have noticed, and complimented it, it’s not just basketball hair – it’s a slam-dunk!

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I watched an old movie on TV last night, “Sunset Boulevard.” It stars William Holden and Gloria Swanson. You know, the down-on-his-luck Hollywood writer turns into a driveway seeking help for his sputtering car. He becomes a gigolo in a creepy household that’s a mausoleum for an old silent-movies star intent on making a comeback, and her creepy bald butler.

I’d forgotten how much personality and over-the-top stuff there was in this movie: the leopard-skin car seats . . . the bed shaped like a boat . . . the pipe organ that played by itself in the wind . . . the fan letters mailed in secret by the butler to keep her thinking she had fans . . . the dozens of pictures of herself, 30 years ago, that the lady of the house kept around everywhere.

In the last scene, everyone is saddened and shocked when she comes down the stairs, a murder suspect surrounded by cops and press. She pretends to be the temptress Salome and fawns into the news cameras in a hideous parody of glamour, imagining herself back in the silent movies on the set again, and drips narcissistically, “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

It’s soooo sad when people don’t realize they’re weird and out of date.

Then I remembered that my 17-year-old daughter advised me recently that my hairdo was “dated” – basically the same style I’ve worn since my wedding day, pretty much -- and when I went to the upscale beauty salon and repeated the story, expecting a laugh, the hairdresser didn’t blink an eye, but started suggesting changes I could make. Indeed, should.

Gulp! But I love my new ‘do. So . . . “Mr. DeMille . . . NOW I’m ready for my close-up.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


We have a teenage softball friend named Abby who was honored to be asked to do some baking for a family get-together. She had spent a lot more time on the softball diamond than in the kitchen, though, so she needed a little hand-holding.

Her assignment: bake brownies for 24 people.

Instructions: double the recipe.

OK. Fine. Abby prepared two 9” x 13” pans, opened two boxes of brownie mix, and doubled the eggs, oil and water. So far, so good.

But this logical young lady figured that doubling meant doubling. So . . . she also doubled the oven TEMPERATURE. Hmm. There was no 700 degrees on her oven dial, so she turned it to “Broil.”

She also doubled the amount of TIME for baking, to nearly an hour on the oven timer.

Heyyyy! They SAID “double.”

It didn’t take that long for the smoke alarm to go off and the pans of hardened charcoal to be rushed outside, setting off gales of laughter from her not-so-supportive family members. And new family lore was born, signaling lifelong mirthful reminders about “Abby’s Blackies.”

Alas! That’s what you get for dutifully following instructions!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Best pumpkin: “STATE CHAMPS” carved by our high school team’s All-State pitcher.

Best trick-or-treater conveyance: a lawn tractor and trailer arrived with all kinds of decorations and lights, and a bunch of beaming kids hopped off the back of this Halloween hayrack ride.

Best kid costume: a little boy was in a homemade winged dragon costume in a shimmering green fabric that a mom or grandma must have put 100 hours into making.

Best adult costume: a friend is a teacher, and the kids at her school weren’t allowed to dress up this year for some strange reason, but the teachers were; one of her co-workers came as “The Unhappy Camper,” with torn jeans, burnt marshmallows in her hair, and a snake wrapped around her leg . . . she didn’t need a Hershey bar in her trick-or-treat bag; she needed a margarita.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Footnote to Sunday’s story about the Pumpkinheads and the sleepy med student:

It was a Halloween night long, long ago. The ghosties and goblins were out in full force. One group in particular featured two tall dads and four little kids. It had gotten very cold and icy.

When they went up the steps of one small porch and rang the bell, the master of the castle opened the storm door outward, and the wind must have caught it.

It banged into one little ghost and knocked him all the way into the snow below.

Not a very nice trick . . . but it sure provides a funny treat in the telling, years and years later.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


(H)e hath no form of comeliness;
and when we shall see him
there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men. . . .
-- Isaiah 53:2b,3a

A bunch of us new college graduates had gathered at a local establishment which served festive beverages. We had pretty much taken over the place, which was all decked out for Halloween.

I must admit, I had overimbibed that night. No, not on festive beverages: on helium. I loved nothing better than to grab a balloon, suck its contents deeply into my lungs, and then, in a ridiculous Munchkin voice, say something rapidly, like:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . .”

You get the idea. We were young, we were nerds, and we were up to no good.

Well, my beloved, his ex-college roommate and some other guys had grabbed the jack o’lanterns that had been carved for the occasion. It was long after midnight. They didn’t think the business establishment would mind if they took a few souvenirs.

I am relieved to report that they DID think to remove the candles. What they did next was inexplicable, unless you know guys: they cut a hole in the bottom of each jack o’lantern, and wore them out of the place.

Pumpkinheads, walking tall.

In perfect late-night logic, we then proceeded in a caravan of cars to the quiet home of another one of their ex-roommates. He had not joined us for the revelry, because, unlike us, he and his dear wife were serious persons, and in medical school. So they’d skipped the party.

Their relative maturity drew the ire of the Pumpkinheads.

While we embarrassed wives and girlfriends slumped in the cars, holding our heads in our hands, the Pumpkinheads staggered boldly up to the door, hung on the bell, knocked loudly, and shouted “Trick or Treat!” and other things that only sound funny when it’s 2 in the morning and you’re up to no good.

The popular movie of the day, which dates me, but it was a good movie, was “The Elephant Man.” My beloved staggered about on the porch, quoting the movie’s key line, “I am not an animal. I’m a human being!” while the other Pumpkinheads howled similar epithets.

A light snapped on at the back of the house. Then the porch lights. Then the door burst open. There was our med school friend in his T-shirt and jockey shorts. (Yes, I was peeking.)

We forgot he was a redhead, and gets mad easily.

Thinking they were rowdy vandals, terrorists or psych ward escapees, he PUNCHED the nearest Pumpkinhead, who flipped backwards over the iron porch railing onto his hands and knees on the lawn below, continuing to mutter, “I am not an animal. I’m a human being!”

His pumpkinhead split in two. At that instant, the med student realized who he had just punched – my beloved -- his close friend.

Did he come down off the porch, throw his arm around him, and apologize for the mighty blow which would have surely broken his nose, if not for the two-inch pumpkin shield in front of it?

Did he laugh appreciatively and remark that he should have known who Jack O’Lantern and his friends really were, enjoying the practical joke in the spirit of fun?


I think he and his wife, also in med school, were tremendously annoyed because they had an enormous test the next day. So his heartfelt message to them was something like this:


Like, “You guys are out of your . . . gourds!”

That’s the thing about Halloween, and real life, too. You never know who it REALLY is behind that mask. And that’s bad, both ways.

Best to make sure people know who you are before you ring their doorbell at 2 a.m.

And best to hold your punches ‘til you find out for sure whether it’s a monster or a friend under there . . . before you turn their brains into . . . well . . . squash.


PRAYER REQUESTS: Please check in regularly to my new prayer blog, Please send any prayer needs that you have, and updates and praise reports, too!