Monday, January 31, 2005


Yes, there were palm trees, yes, she got sunburned, and yes, Eden played softball in Los Angeles this past weekend. What a cool memory!

She even got a neat memento: while a teammate’s famous father didn’t come to any of the games, his daughter was an adorable, fun-loving girl. It was a very pleasant surprise. And when Al Pacino’s daughter gives you a pair of batting gloves, you KNOW they’re going to be lucky!


Prayer request: Father, I’m so happy to hear of the engagement of a dear young friend Jill and her Colorado mountain man. She had moved there a few years ago, saying she just felt drawn there, and soon met him and fell in love. Thank You for giving her a heart to follow her dreams, and thank You for sending her the man of her dreams. Bless this marriage, Lord. Draw them both ever closer to Your heart. (Matthew 19:5)

Sunday, January 30, 2005


The aged women likewise . . . that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
-- Titus 2:3-5

A friend’s daughter is getting married. She wants to have the reception at a posh country club. The mother checked costs for a sit-down bridal dinner with all the trimmings.

Weeks later, her face still had shock-and awe burns.

“Too expensive?” I sympathized. “What are you going to do?”

She brightened. “We’re going to have stations.”

Ooh! Elegant! Chefs carving a big roast beef over here, and rack of lamb over there?

Well . . . not exactly.

She said, “At one station, we’ll have a lineup of toasters, with breads, and some Pop-Tarts and English muffins.

“At the next station, we’ll have waffle irons, with batters and syrups, and spray cans of whipped cream. . . .”

Here’s a mother of the bride who has it TOGETHER. How I hope and pray for that resolve, that strength, when it’s my turn on the chopping blo . . . I mean, when our four daughters plan weddings.

Ominously, it’s happening now to more and more of my friends. We have to face facts: it’s up to us older women (and our respective medications) to rein ourselves in, so we can rein our daughters in, from these ridiculously perfectionistic, fairy-tale weddings.

You know: the Mormon Tabernacle Choir . . . the ice sculptures . . . the beautifully-dressed Chihuahua as the flower girl . . . the hot-air balloon liftoff . . . the oysters on the half-shell . . . the release of butterflies as the happy couple comes triumphantly down the aisle, only you hope they haven’t died in mail-order transit, as you can’t quite get the desired triumphant effect from throwing DEAD BUGS on your guests. . . .

The more elaborate and expensive weddings become, the more “Bridezillas” go on the rampage with a maniacal need to overachieve and outdo. No wonder men have commitment phobia: weddings are getting to be scarier than marriage.

I’m afraid I went over the edge, too. My parents tried to keep me rational. But I had to have fancy-poo: calligraphy, caterer, champagne, Chapter 11. . . .

As Wedding War Room bills mounted, Dad dangled an alternative before my beloved and me, with increasing fervor and eyebrow action as the big day approached:

Two one-way bus tickets to Las Vegas and $250 cash if we’d elope, instead.

Now I realize (1) what a good deal that was, and (2) we NEVER should’ve had FOUR daughters. It’s in their DNA! We’re doomed!

You just can’t reason with a determined Bridezilla. Things must go her way, or . . . duck!

One dear, sweet girl I know wanted an outdoor wedding at sunset, with the gentle breeze of eventide wafting the scent of rose petals over the assembled guests, whilst tweety-birds chirped joyously.

Alas! It poured rain all week. That morning, they were turning back the truck delivering the folding chairs; no way could a wedding be held outside that day.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” screamed the bride, rising in height and menace to the size of a deranged Macy’s Parade balloon.

The father of the groom set a chair on the grass, and sat. Bloop! Bloop! Blooooop! All four legs sank into the saturated soil, his tush mere inches off the ground.

Got to move it inside, Sweetheart. It’ll be fine.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!” screamed Bridezilla, mushrooming to Stephen Spielberg alien monster proportions.

They meekly set up the chairs. And what do you know? The wind came up, the sun came out, the ground hardened up . . . and on with the show.

Now, that’s power: intimidating the WEATHER. Move over, King Kong.

Bridezilla came radiantly down the aisle, the moths flew out of her father’s wallet and frolicked with the tweety-birds over the designer bridal canopy . . . and I resolved to up the ante for our girls and their someday-fiances:

Two one-way bus tickets to ANYWHERE and $500 cash . . . APIECE!!!


Praise report: Colon cancer was caught in the early stages for my friend Lynne’s mom. The surgery went well. Thank You, Jesus, for this wonderful news. (1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer request: A different kind of colon problem and a different surgery have posed a huge challenge this past week for Connie and Randy. Father, it has been so hard on them both to go through this trial, but their faith, hope and love continue to shine. Cover them with Your strong Hand! Bless them with improved health this week, Lord, just as their solid representation as Christians has blessed Your name to others. (Isaiah 66:14)

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Some friends in Lincoln, Neb., have a grown son who gave them a scare: he came home from dove-hunting with what appeared to be a dead dove perched on his shoulder. He’s a bit of a comic, so they weren’t all that surprised. They were grossed out, though.

Their lips were just forming the syllable, “Ewwww!” when suddenly, the dead dove lofted its wings and catapulted itself right toward the husband!

Turns out the son had winged the bird while hunting, but picked it up, felt sorry for it, and decided to take it home, nurse it back to health, and release it . . . to scare some OTHER old bird out of his wits someday.


Prayer request: It’s the International Day of Celebration . . . my dear friend Cindy’s birthday. With all she’s gone through with her leukemia diagnosis, and all that she may be facing in the coming year, she grows ever more beautiful in body, mind and spirit, and ever closer to You, Lord Jesus. Wrap her in Your arms with love and comfort all year, and bless her and her husband and children in every way. (Isaiah 66:13)

Friday, January 28, 2005


I’ve been vacuuming, shoveling toys, setting up the pup tent for Maddy’s friend Andrew’s visit this afternoon, doing laundry, making a grocery list, preparing to battle sleet and snow this weekend . . .

. . . while our teenage daughter Eden is winging her way to sunny Orange County, California. She will be playing softball this weekend at a glamorous L.A. tournament in front of college coaches and other Southern California swells.

MAN! What’s wrong with this picture?

Actually, it’s a great opportunity. She’s traveling with a beloved summer teammate of hers and her dad. She will substitute for a fancy “Gold” team that features the daughter of the fabulous actor Al Pacino. Immediately, I exclaimed, “HOO HAH!!!!” from one of my favorite movies, Scent of a Woman.

My fondest hope is that he’ll be there and will give her his autograph to give to me – sight unseen – or scent unsniffed, as the case may be.


Prayer request: Safe travel for Eden . . . and on a much more serious note, Lord, we pray that You will lift the hearts of the family of a young woman in another state who recently had a baby and wound up with complications and emergency brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic. She’s connecting at a 10-year-old level. Not only that, but her husband had a severe seizure last week and was rushed to the hospital. Their children are 7, 2 and 7 months. Savior Lord, we ask for healing for both of these young parents, and that You will light the way for this family to pull together and get through this extremely difficult situation. (Proverbs 14:26)

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Mom went to New York with “the girls” (average age: 75) and saw some plays. The Producers was her favorite. So for Christmas, she gave tickets to the off-off-off-off Broadway production of it last night at the gorgeous Orpheum in downtown Omaha to my sister and me and our spouses.

The guys’ stoic frowns and sighs quickly turned into beaming smiles, the show was so funny and so good.

Best of all, we ran into my nephew’s in-laws and got some joyous news: Baby Paisley turned over! It happened on the morning of her four-month appointment with the pediatrician. After an extremely traumatic birth and touch-and-go first days, there were grave concerns that our grand-niece might have developmental delays or cerebral palsy. This milestone shows otherwise.

That’s better than a Tony, an Oscar and a Super Bowl ring to Paisley’s “producers” – her parents. And may her Heavenly Producer take a celestial bow.


Prayer request: The trial continues for our young Ben, the teenager with leukemia who had gone to Houston to await a bone-marrow transplant, but had come out of remission at the last minute. His transplant is being delayed for three months while a new chemotherapy is applied. Lord Jesus, help him and his family keep their eyes on You, help Ben be healed, and we’ll all give all the glory to You. (Revelation 3:5)

If you would like to send a message of hope and encouragement to Ben, please send it to and thank you very much.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I took two little girls to a snazzy mall with a beautiful indoor pond and waterfall. There were lots of shiny pennies on the rocks. Naturally, they wanted to make wishes. I figured they’d wish for a stuffed animal or a cookie. You know: doable stuff. I gave them each a penny, and assured them that wishes really do come true.

Before I could tell them the OTHER fact about wish-making, that you have to keep it SECRET, they crooked their arms back like major-leaguers, and hurled their pennies with gusto. Then Maddy blurted her wish aloud:

“I wish I could have a pet unicorn that flies.”

EEK! We’ll have to put that one in Engineering for a while. But that’s OK. I promised them that wishes come true . . . but never said WHEN.


Prayer request: Officer James Feltis of the Pentagon Police, gravely injured in the line of duty and the subject of Monday’s prayer request, is in very critical condition. Doctors amputated his lower left leg, which had extensive deep-tissue damage. His temperature remains at 103 degrees, his kidney and liver functions are waning, and his swelling has returned. Lord, we know You will help him be an overcomer, no matter what form that might take. Grant him rest, strength, peace and grace. (1 John 5:4)

Prayer request: Father, we lift up to You a friend’s friend, Diana. She has lung, breast, liver and bone cancer. She and her husband Jim are active Christians, and while she seems to have little hope for beating this, her faith remains strong and she keeps saying that God makes all things possible. Lord, grant her prayers to see Your Hand act on her behalf and feel gratitude for Your gifts, even in this toughest of trials. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Jim, the cave man, dragged home his hunting trophy for his woman, Chris. He presented his “kill” at the front door. It was marked “Williams-Sonoma.”

She asked, “What IS it?”

Jim beamed. (Yes, that’s a joke.) “Stainless steel.” Hardy har har.

She replied, "Yeah, Honey, I see that. But what IS it?"

Jim beamed again. "It's made in ITALY!"

Now she was thinking about some REAL Jim Beam. "Wowie -- but what IS it, Jim?"

"It's $149, but I got it for $36!!!"

"Great, Jim. WHAT IS IT?"

Victoriously, he proclaimed, "A fish poacher!"

The perfect straight line. She retorted, "I have never stolen anything before!"

He laughed, and they found a home in the pantry for it. They may use it once in a while, like an ice-cream maker, a waffle iron or a tortilla warmer.

Projected date of paying for itself ap-POACHes 2055.


Praise report: We’ve prayed before for Pam, a lovely nurse who remains on disability leave because of a huge blood clot in her brain. She was in terrible pain some days ago, graded at “Level 9” because she could not hold food down and so forth. But she’s been feeling much better lately, grading her pain now at a “4.” She was able to attend Bible study and go out to lunch with study members. One said, “What a gift to see her laughing!” Thank You, Lord, for giving her the power to overcome. Keep it coming. (Revelation 3:5)

Monday, January 24, 2005


Maddy proclaimed solemnly that an “earth cake” hit “Indy Nasia.” She gathered several stuffed animals to send over to children victimized by the tsunami, who must really need a hug and a friend right about now. It’s a nice project by her preschool.

In a story recently, I pooh-poohed the possible prophetic significance of the Dec. 26 disaster, since there have been many more deadly earthquakes recorded long ago. But comes now a report from the U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center. While it doesn’t have me shakin’ in my boots, it does paint an interesting picture:

In 1987, there were 11,290 earthquakes recorded worldwide, and 1,080 people died from them. But in 2004 through September, not even counting the big Dec. 26 tidal wave, there had been 29,189 earthquakes taking 22,908 lives.

I’m re-reading Luke 21, Matthew 24, Isaiah 24 and Revelation 16:18-20 in light of that. If another “earth cake” hits soon, might want to put the Red Cross and our local parson on speed-dial.


Prayer request: We ask for a successful outcome for colon cancer surgery tomorrow for my good friend Lynne’s mother. Lord Jesus, You promise in Your Word that you will be with us always. We pray that You will remind this dear family of that throughout this ordeal. (Matthew 28:20)

Prayer request: Father, do we thank You often enough for our police and fire protectors? One of them has fallen, but we thank You for sparing his life, and we pray for grace and strength for him and his family. He is Officer James Feltis of the Pentagon Police, a friend’s friend in the D.C. area. He was trying to warn a driver that he was going the wrong way on a one-way street when the driver inexplicably accelerated into the officer, throwing him 20 feet into the air. The driver was a fleeing felon in a carjacked Cadillac. Oh, Lord . . . why, Lord? . . . but we’ll understand someday. ‘Til then, we ask that You shower that officer and his family with Your love. (Hosea 13:14)

Sunday, January 23, 2005


If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.
-- Numbers 30:2

They were the boys of Old Rockbrook. It’s now a central Omaha neighborhood, but then it was a rural haven on the outskirts of town. My father-in-law, Hugh Williams, and Larry Donarico were friends from the time they were little kids. It was back when you could be gone all day and half the night, and your parents didn’t know where you were, but that was OK. You were safe. What a concept.

Hugh and Larry rode bikes, swam, played hooky from school, went on overnight camping trips, and ice-skated on the outdoor ponds. In the fall, they started vacant lots on fire for the great smell. They played football in a schoolyard full of cockleburs, and listened to baseball games on the radio on Larry’s second-floor screened porch.

They raided watermelon patches, tomato gardens and apple orchards. They caddied at the old Happy Hollow Club. They hitchhiked to town and back, staged BB gun fights, went fishing, joined Boy Scouts, and took in movies downtown. They hopped freight cars and slept out all night on the ground. They drank beer to see who could hold the most, and they held their breath under water ‘til they almost popped to see who could stay under the longest.

They were Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn one day, and Batman and Robin the next.

They played together, and they fought together. Boys will be boys, and they were feisty and competitive.

One day, though, when they were about 9, they made a solemn pact. Never, they said, not ever would they ever fight again. But they would always stick up for one another.

Then they shook hands, very solemnly. It stuck.

Oh, the years went by, and they hung tight at University. But then Navy service kept Larry from being Hugh’s best man, and Army service took Hugh to Japan. Wives came along, and children, and careers, then grandchildren. They stayed in touch with phone calls and such. But you know how it goes.

Larry retired and lived in San Diego, and Hugh retired and lived part-time in the Palm Springs area. Right before this past Christmas, Hugh got a call: Larry had been diagnosed with cancer, and it was advanced. He’d kept it from him because he didn’t want sympathy. Typical.

Hugh and Larry talked on the phone for 15 minutes, Larry whispering as loud as he could because his voice box was gone, Hugh’s heart pounding, his throat choking up. Larry told Hugh he wasn’t giving up, that he had faith in God, and that he would whip his cancer.

Hugh had arranged to drive over the mountain to see him the day after Christmas.

Late Christmas Eve, Hugh was having trouble breathing and couldn’t sleep. He said he must have shot a whole bottle of saline solution into his nostrils. It had no effect whatsoever. He’d always gotten immediate relief before. It was strange.

Finally, he got up at 3 a.m., and worked crossword puzzles. By 5 a.m., his nasal passages cleared. He went to sleep.

It turns out that, over that mountain that silent night, it was the same story. Larry hadn’t been able to breathe or fall asleep on Christmas Eve, either. He also got up. He also worked crossword puzzles.

And in the morning, Christmas morning, his wife Pat drove him to the hospital . . . where he died later that day.

So both old friends were doing crossword puzzles that sleepless night, a strangely beautiful coincidence. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit was showing Hugh that the bonds of friendship are eternal. That boyhood promise, sealed with a solemn handshake? It’s still in force. Vows that are kept are vows that never die.

And someday, a long time from now, I hope, there will be two carefree rascals playing and exploring again in the fields and valleys we can’t yet see. The boys of Old Rockbrook . . . together forever.


Prayer request: An Omaha teenager and faithful Christian, Ben, has come out of remission from leukemia and is awaiting a bone marrow transplant at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. His leukemia is very rare and manifests itself as extreme pain. A “10-on-10” donor has been found in Germany for the Feb. 3 transplant. But Ben is in excruciating pain and has just learned that he has 7 percent blast cells in his marrow. He may not get to have that transplant after all. His family is asking God for a miracle. He has more tests Monday. If you will join them, please email a prayer and note to Ben via his Omaha friends, Here’s mine: Father, Ben and his friend Evan deserve to have a lifelong friendship like Hugh and Larry did in the story above. It would be such a witness to so many people if You would grant a miracle cure and long life, to glorify You, our matchless Friend and blessed hope. (Psalm 119:49)

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Comes now a doctor’s significant other to inform me that the hilarious hijinks of our dignified medical professionals that I described Friday were, in truth, “really tame.”

In fact, it seems one august Omaha physician was actually a juvenile delinquent. He used to blow up neighborhood mailboxes with cherry bombs. Upon detonation, the gang would then scatter and wait for the uproar.

This physician-to-be at least had a conscience, and it bothered him so badly he confessed. He then fingered the other kids involved. They were all appropriately punished and there were no repeat incidents. And so was born . . . the HMO.

Aha! No doubt he’s now an expert witness against his brethren for those ever-popular malpractice attorneys?

Methinks nada.


Prayer request: We may kid about them, but we really are grateful for the medical professionals and technology at work today to relieve the ulcerative colitis suffered by a good friend, Randy. If his surgery results in a permanent colostomy, so be it. We just ask for relief, peace and renewal for him and his family. Lord, use this trial to teach them Your ways and show them how much You love them. Extra-special touches of grace for his wife, Connie, too: she’s a wonderful servant of the Savior. (Psalm 119:28)

Friday, January 21, 2005


My big brother has been getting a lot of “props” lately (that’s the new teen slang for “attention”) as the Poster Child of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

They like to feature one physician every now and then in their ads to show that the Med Center eggheads are people with hobbies and families. My bro, who I bald-facedly declare to be the best internist in the region, loves to sail on his rare off hours. So the TV and newspaper ads show him in his white coat, looking dignified at the hospital, and then out on his boat on a lake north of the city, with his smiling mug facing into the wind. It’s a nice, warm “feel,” though he comes off as an excellent professional, too.

Oh, if they only knew: when we were teens, he was a member of the “Darst Trio.” We played a Strauss waltz in simulated and rather inappropriate body noises. He “poinged” his hollow cheeks with his fingers, I “played” my clasped hands, and my little brother “trumpeted” his armpits. It’s embarrassing, but there you have it.

He’s not the only health-care professional with a past. A certain pharmacist I know has admitted to setting up imaginary ant hospitals on the sidewalk when she was about 3. She would break the legs of the ants so that they’d stay put in the little holes in the pavement designated as "hospital beds.” The ants would then be medicated with sugar water.

And now this deranged person may be the one dispensing YOUR medications.

Umhh HMMMMMMMM. Maybe it’s best that we NOT ask what they used to do, before they went into the health biz. It could be bad for our health. Our mental health!


Prayer request: Ellen, a friend of mine with nonstop energy, has been tired and quiet these past few months. Turns out she has been battling a bad case of sinusitis. She was to have outpatient surgery yesterday. Oh, Father, clear those passages and restore her pep and zest so she can get back to doing so many good things for other people. We need her back in the pink, and she needs to feel Your healing touch. (Proverbs 14:22b)

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I’m co-chairing the entertainment committee for our high school’s Post-Prom event. It’s a party at school from midnight to 5 a.m. to keep the kids from doing scary things out on their own. To make it exciting, we’re adding a Fear Factor event – you know, where contestants do incredibly gross or frightening things in order to win cash.

We parents are planning the most spectacular, hilarious and scary events we can think of, to keep those kids’ attention. We’ve had five hours of meetings so far, but it has seemed like only five minutes. That’s how much fun this is.

To break the ice and start the brainstorming, I suggested that we go around the room and tell what we’re not afraid of, but other people are. I thought it would all be pretty tame stuff, like my “baiting a hook.”

But nooooo. One woman said she wasn’t afraid to . . . PARA-SAIL! Another has CHOPPED CHICKENS’ HEADS OFF! Another, a retired police officer, said he was never afraid to bust down a door into a meth lab or whatever, as long as he was FIRST in line, not second, since by the second officer, the bad guys often have their wits about them and start shooting.

These kids don’t have a prayer . . . because we parents have no fear.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for giving us a good, Godly leader in George W. Bush. Bless his inauguration today, and his second term. Hold him and his family close to You and safe and well. May our nation continue to give You glory and try to spread Your ways of liberty around the world. Thank You, too, for helping orchestrate free elections in Iraq at the end of this month. Place a hedge of protection around all the American military people who will be delivering voting machines, since the insurgents will be trying to kill them and prevent that from happening. Oh, Father, we know freedom and peace are always at the center of Your will. Grant them to the Iraqi people, in Jesus’ Name. (Hosea 14:6)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


My husband was out of town for the weekend, hunting, and I was martyring out running the vacuum cleaner. All of a sudden, I heard a “rattle, rattle, rattle,” and figured the machine must have picked up a screw. But then:


It was the loudest gunshot I have ever heard.

I was peeling myself down from the cathedral ceiling when I remembered a few evenings before. My husband had been playing with his new hunting toys . . . uh, I mean, inventorying his hunting accessories . . . and he showed me a pistol that shoots blanks. He’s going to use it to train our future hunting dog so he or she won’t be gun-shy.

Ironic, isn’t it? Well, I wasn’t shy about giving him a pep talk about not having that dangerous hunting stuff in the house, even if the bullet WAS only a blank.

And I declared that, according to the Second Amendment, vacuuming is hereby in violation of my constitutional rights. I have a right to keep and bear arms – my left one and my right one!


Prayer request: Three couples need the gifts of the Spirit: courage for Wayne and Connie; he was just diagnosed with brain cancer at age 62, ready to retire . . . loving Christian friends to surround Barb as her husband Roger, a new believer, succumbs to melanoma . . . and a miracle for Chris, age 47, who is undergoing another round of radiation fighting his end stage of cancer with the hope of living to see his son’s graduation from pharmacy school. Spirit of Jesus, we lift these people to Your heart for love, joy and peace. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


One of the bigwigs in our church denomination came to town Sunday to speak at our mission festival. We go to a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. It’s not a big denomination, but what there is, is choice. Our main thrust is sending missionaries hither and yon, and he’s in charge of it.

Well, he told about how, a short while ago, he found himself in what he called “the ends of the earth,” a tiny hamlet on the Bay of Alaska. He said it was really odd that he was there at all. Well, he met a commercial fisherman. Turns out he was a former Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary to Indonesia.

A few years before, the man’s mother-in-law had gotten very sick, so he and his wife left South Asia, came up to Alaska, nursed her, and she had just passed away. So now he was free, and wanted to go back.

The bigwig sent him back to Indonesia, and got him plugged in with a neat job: equipping the impoverished natives with boats and motors.

So what do you suppose is just about the No. 1 need down there, after the tsunami? Boats and motors! Many people’s livelihoods were swept away by the tsunami as their fishing equipment vanished. American dollars are literally keeping them afloat. And, while he has to be careful, that missionary can help their practical needs as well as do a little “fishing” on his own.

He’s a Matthew 4:19 kind of guy.

Don’t ‘spose God knew the underwater earthquake was coming, and what people’s needs would be in the aftermath? The bigwig is pretty clear on that.

You just never know, when you find yourself at the ends of the earth, why you’re there . . . but I guarantee you, somehow, some way, it’s for a good end.


Praise report: All who prayed for Cindy, my dear friend who is battling chronic leukemia, join in the glad tidings that she does NOT have to start chemotherapy, as feared, but can wait at least another month. Her doctor’s appointment Monday went very well and she is feeling so much better. Father, with prayer support such as she received, she is going to be able to face anything, because You and Your people are there, and she knows it. (Galatians 6:2)

Monday, January 17, 2005


Footnote to erratic visits from Aunt Flo in midlife: a friend said Aunt Flo had been absent for years. She thought she was “done.” Then she went horseback riding in the wilderness in New Mexico for four days with an Apache Indian guide.

They were roughing it, bigtime. And – you guessed it – here came Aunt Flo.

What was she going to use? CACTUS?

Never underestimate the ingenuity of a woman. She tore her bathtowel into little strips. Yippee ay oh ki ouch!


Prayer request: We ask for blessings on a meeting my good friend Cindy is having with her doctor today, to talk about her leukemia and set out the treatment course of action. If it be Your will that she undergo chemo, we ask that she and her family would be strong, that the treatment would go well, and that she would be cured. We pray without ceasing, Father, that You will restore Cindy’s health. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Sunday, January 16, 2005


And behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: . . . But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.
-- Matthew 9:20,22

I had this college philosophy professor who was going through menopause. She told us so we’d understand her freakish behavior. We knew all about freakish behavior. This was the 1970s.

But this was scary: she would be rattling on about Kierkegaaaaaard or somebody else too smart to understand, and we knew it’d be on the test. So we’d be leaning forward to try to perceive something, anything, faces puckered, pencils poised.

All of a sudden, she’d stop talking. She’d just stand there, staring off into space, her face bright red.

This went on for several minutes, as if she were pondering some imponderable of philosophical magnitude in the fourth degree.

I worried that we were all so dumb, we were literally driving her stone bonkers. MY face usually went totally red, too, as all the blood in my body rushed to my brain to try to help it understand what in the SAM Hill she was TALKING about.

Now I get it: she was having a hot flash.

Menopause: it happens.

I have a friend who just went through it. Her husband came to bed in his Nanook fur-lined hooded sweatshirt, because she’d get so hot that she’d throw open all the windows, even on a Nebraska January night.

THAT kind of stuff was never going to happen to MEEEEE.

No. Mine was WORSE.

I didn’t have meno-PAUSE. I had meno-NIAGARA. My Aunt Flo went ‘way out of control on her monthly visit. She overstayed her welcome, bigtime.

I ought to shut up; she might come back. But I think I’ve had my Last Hurrah. Menopause, for me, didn’t take years. Just four intense weeks.

I mean, it was a gusher that would have made a Texas oil man’s cigar explode.

I was riding a cotton kayak, needing a new one every hour on the hour.

I went to the doctor and great, big gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts cascaded all over the exam table, making us both look like something from a “B” horror movie.

I couldn’t go anywhere and was chained to my cotton kayak supply. I had PMS: Perpetual Menstrual Syndrome. It was terrible, horrible, no good and very bad.

Everybody knew somebody who’d had it, only of course, theirs was worse. One businesswoman wore black pants to work for 3 ½ years; her co-workers thought she was “fashion-impaired.” Another had what she described as “a soldering iron” fry off all the blood vessels down under. Sssssssss!

Naturally, I talked to somebody whose best friend’s hairdresser’s sister-in-law had the same thing, and it turned out to be . . . ENDOMETRIAL CANCER!!!


I went in for a scope, planning my will. My tech was from the former Soviet Union. It’s scary to have someone with a thick Russian accent putting what looks like a Russian ICBM up your whazoo. To top it off, she said she could see my THYROID from down there.

How rude! We fought the Cold War over less than that!

Overall, I really suffered and, yes, I prayed for relief.

Then one day, poof! It stopped. And stayed stopped.

Hallelujah for a heavenly cork! But I’m stuck with mass quantities of cotton kayaks that I don’t think the Goodwill wants, either.

It has been three months. It suddenly dawned on me that the LAST time I went three months without Aunt Flo, it was because I was . . . you know. . . .

And, yes, there is soon to be a NEW BABY at our house!!!

But relax. It’s a yellow Labrador retriever puppy for my husband’s new hobby.

We’re both having midlife crises, but he gets to go hunting, buy 10,000 jazzy accessories, and have a ball. I get the ignominy of Aunt Flo out of contro’.

Oh, well. If she comes back, we can always teach our new dog to fetch me a kayak.


Prayer request: Two very special people fill my heart this week, Lord. My good friend Randy is hospitalized with ulcerative colitis and has lost a lot of weight; he needs Your grace cushioning his body and his family, Father. Then my very best friend, soulmate and sister in Christ, Cindy, is apparently going to have to start chemotherapy for her chronic form of leukemia. We lift these two dear ones to Your Throne for healing and comfort, strength and peace, in the strong Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. May their faith make them well. (Matthew 9:35)

Saturday, January 15, 2005


She’s 6’2”, and she’s beautiful. She’s been a good friend and softball teammate for my daughter since middle school. But she’s moving away to Texas. She’s sad. But she’s excited about the change and its bonus: since they play softball in the spring in Texas, she’ll get two seasons in this year.

Because she’s so tall, they sometimes call her “Ogre.” She loves my chocolate raspberry dessert. I’m going to miss her sooooooo much, too.

In my day, I would have bought her a card, and that would have been it. But these are high-tech days.

So my daughter made her a slideshow on the computer with about 80 photos of their escapades with shaving-cream fights and making funny faces and softball championships and just hangin’ around. She scanned them in and set them to two of her friend’s favorite songs, with cool effects like dissolves. Just as the music is ending and the lyrics say something like “we’ll be friends forever,” my daughter scanned in a postcard from Texas with two armadillos, side by side.

I’m no armadillo. I’m far from thick-skinned. It made me cry.

But it made me smile, too, to think how special Ogre will feel, having that DVD. We may rage about the misuse of media by today’s teenagers . . . but here’s an example of why it can be wonderful, too.

Prayer request: One of the reasons my beloved got back into hunting was that he missed being out in Your beautiful nature, Lord. Even when it’s frigid out, it’s refreshing for the spirit to be kissed by Your wind and blanketed by silence and peace. Grant him a great time and a safe return, Lord, and maybe a couple of quail . . . but then I’d have to figure out how to cook them! (1 John 5:14)

Friday, January 14, 2005


A friend’s college-age daughter is on a whirlwind trip through England “studying” the theatre – tough duty! – but her favorite thing so far was a tour of an old church in London.

They had on display the names of all the Americans who were killed defending England in World War II. There was also a moving letter from Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister and a gutsy friend of the Yanks if ever there was one.

These memorials have been up for nearly 60 years. It was pretty cool for this young American to see the caliber of their gratitude and friendship.

Hail, Brittannia! You’re welcome, dudes.


Praise report: Thank You, Father, that my friend’s brother Patrick is recovering amazingly well from his serious heart attack. Things were scary when his body practically slid off the sled on which they were rushing him to the ambulance. The blockage was huge. But he’s full of vim and vigor, and we are grateful, O Great Physician. He’s a good servant of Yours, and You blessed him. (Hebrews 6:10)

Prayer requests: We pray for JoAnn, whose mother passed away although JoAnn had lots of time to be with her through her last days, which was wonderful . . . for my Uncle Dave, hospitalized with emphysema complications . . . for friend Penny, who has an MRI this afternoon . . . for an older friend GiGi who had a cancerous bladder removed . . . and for another older friend Bob who is battling a weird infection that entered his bare feet on the Galapagos Islands. Now, THAT’S one you don’t hear every day. But Lord Jesus, You HAVE heard it all. We pray in Your Name for Your mercy and healing power, and that You will hear our cries for these dear ones. (John 14:13,14)

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Does the Dec. 26 tsunami mean this is the End of the World? The whole planet is said to have “vibrated” on its axis, changing the geography of South Asia permanently. Sumatra, one of the largest islands in the world, moved 100 feet. Time is said to have stood still for three microseconds. The impact of the 500 mph waves was like one million atom bombs.

Put that together with what happened on Dec. 26 the year before, in Iran – another deadly earthquake, taking 25,000 lives, in “Bam City,” of all places – and you can see how some people believe there’s an “intensification of the birth pangs” leading to the Great Tribulation, Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ.

Then read earthquake talk in Matthew 24:7, Luke 21:11, 25, and tsunami-sounding passages in the “little apocalypse” of Isaiah 24. The Lord turns the world upside down in v. 1 and, like we’ve seen on TV lately: “. . . and the foundations of the earth do shake; The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage.” (vv. 18b-20)

These phenomena are predicted to bring “perplexity” (Luke 21:25) to all who see them. So, I was, like, buying all this, especially since the Huskers had such a terrible football season. That brought “perplexity” and turned OUR world upside down, all right.

But then, researching the recent tsunami, I came upon several other earthquakes that were much more severe and happened long ago:

Earthquake, Jan. 23, 1556, Shaanxi and Kansu, China . . . killed 850,000.

Earthquake, April 4, 1905, Kangora, India . . . killed 370,000.

Earthquake, July 28, 1976, Tangshan, China . . . killed 400,000.

Ohhhhhh. Nevvvvvver mind.

I’ll still be wearing a helmet next Dec. 26, though. How ‘bout you?

One last piece of evidence sealed my conclusion that it’s not yet The End: I heard about a little boy who was riding in a car on the way home from church and tried to squeak out the Hallelujah Chorus . . . on his ARMPIT.

That is . . . earthshaking . . . evidence that God isn’t through with us yet. He has a whooooooole lot more work left to do before we’re fit for halos and harps.

Praise report: Thank You, Father, that my friend’s son David did NOT have a brain tumor or something terribly wrong with his vascular system. They were in the emergency room after the teenager suffered a severe headache and dizziness. He couldn’t even walk. Diagnosis: a really bad sinus infection. Whew! (Hebrews 10:35)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Ah, the mind of a 4-year-old. Her sister has transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “U.N.L” for short. But Maddy informed us that her sister goes to “U.N.Elf.”

It makes kind of a fun picture: an avuncular dwarf in a colorful hat standing on a box so that he can be seen over the podium for his lecture class.

Then she told us that she thinks Santa doesn’t really use reindeer with his sleigh, but dinosaurs. They’re bigger and stronger, and Santa can get down those chimneys a lot faster by sliiiiiiiding down the long neck of the Brontosaurus.

Ah, but think of polishing all the jingle bells for those enormous behemoths!


PRAYER REQUEST: A friend named Mike will begin treatment again next week for a recurrent cancer. He has a cheerful attitude but requests prayer. Oh, Lord, grant Mike a heapin’ helpin’ of love as he undergoes this trial. As author Gary Chapman puts it, the five love languages are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. May Mike bask in all of those as he battles that cancer en route to total healing, Father God. (1 John 4:8)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


When my husband set up our first home computer and printer. I was at home with little babies, trying to do some free-lance writing and PR. I spent all weekend emptying a Brach’s candy bag learning to use these new machines. It worked slick: after you ate all the candy you could HYPERVENTILATE in the bag!

Anyway, he had left for work when I tried to get an agenda printed out for a meeting I had scheduled for 9 a.m. From the upstairs bedroom window where my puny office was located, I could see the clients drive up, get out of their cars, and come up the walk . . . while I was fumbling around trying to get the printer to work. It wouldn’t even come on. I was on the phone with my husband and he was trying to trouble-shoot it, when they rang the doorbell. I was stressing out with no agendas in hand.

My lips were snarling, “You bought me a piece of JUNK!” when suddenly my eyes beheld the problem: the power cord was not plugged in to the wall outlet. MINOR DETAILS! But I had my pride. I sniffed haughtily, “Oh, I’ll figure it out mySELF, SOMEhow!” and hung up. I printed out the agendas in nothing flat. Didn’t tell him for a long, long time: discretion is a lady’s prerogative. Or something like that.

But I’m coming clean now, for a friend revealed her technical incompetence the other day. Here’s her true confession:

She emailed her young-adult son to complain that her Palm Pilot would not turn on. It was on the charger. He wrote back, "Mom, is it plugged in?" She replied, "I assume so; why would anyone UNplug it?" He said to check it, and let him know. Here’s her eventual reply:

“The little dealy-bob with the one-hole plug from the adapter jobbie was not connected to the doohickey -- you are GOOD! I am HotSync-ing now!”

You can HotSync . . . if you defrost your brain.


Prayer request: Health and breath for little Gus, who might have Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV) disease, a serious diagnosis which can be life-threatening for a little guy. Give his parents something to rejoice about, with his quick recovery, Father God. (Psalm 107:8)

Monday, January 10, 2005


Nasty atheists went to court to force the city government of LaCrosse, Wis., to sell a little piece of park land to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Why? Because it had contained a Ten Commandments monument for years and years. After the sale, a fence and signs indicated the monument was on private property. But the Freedom From Religion Foundation kept its suit going, demanding that the monument be taken down, anyway.

They lost, last week in federal appeals court. The court relied on a related case from Marshfield, Wis., stating that "the fence and signs noting the monument site is private property are sufficient for a reasonable passerby to differentiate it from public property." In Marshfield, a statue of Jesus Christ donated to the city by the Knights of Columbus and placed in a city park was challenged; the sale to a private entity was arranged to keep it standing.

Everybody knows what this is about: the atheists are trying to censor God. As if.

I think every town should grant a few square feet of public property for a new monument, which should be called “Nothing Park.” Pour concrete over the ground, put up a cyclone fence, and add a sign, which indicates that this is a monument to . . . nothing . . . which is what the atheists worship.

There wouldn’t be any picnics there, or sports leagues, or lovers snuggling, or flowers blooming, or Frisbee-chasing dogs passing over. And that’d be fine, because that would show the contrast between what they stand for . . . and real life.


Prayer request: We lift a shield of prayer today for Judy, who has made a plan to end her life after her husband has left her and their four children and moved to another state. This man is apparently a pedophile and has taken up with a woman who has a 9-year-old daughter, so they need prayer, too. What a sad crisis. Father, in this broken world, only You can piece together a strong, sure picture of future happiness and wholeness. Hold Judy today, Lord, and lift her eyes and heart so she can see that future, today. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

Sunday, January 09, 2005


And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.
And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains,
and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord;
but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake;
but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire;
but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire
a still small voice.
-- 1 Kings 19:11,12

I’m hardware-impaired. Totally intimidated. If I need a thingybob or a dealie, I go to the hardware store and survey the 5,023,742 bins and drawers containing thingybobs and dealies of every size, shape and mysterious purpose. I burst into tears, go home and use duct tape.

I’m so dumb about these things that I once took a camera in to be fixed. “I think you have a screw loose,” the counter guy said. I replied, “Yeah, but what about my camera?”

My beloved, in contrast, is Hardware Hank. He goes to the hardware store regularly to escape the shrieking in our estrogen-laced household, and to find the thingbobs and dealies to complete his Honey-Do List. Peace and parts: he finds them in the hardware panorama.

For us city folks, hardware emergencies are no big deal. But for a friend of mine who lives ‘way out in the sticks, things are different.

Rolly is a farmer. He’s frugal and can’t waste time. Well, one winter day, he was home alone running wire for the stock tank heaters. Rolly jokes that he knows as much about wiring as the next man knows about filling out a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System report. But at least he tries.

Well, he went inside the chicken coop where the fuse box was, and studied the wiring. He walked to the power pole, then back to the coop to rearrange some things. Then back to the pole, and back.

All along, he was careful to not lose any screws. If he dropped one, he quickly watched it so he could pick it back up. He had no replacements and didn’t want to go all the way to town for a ten-cent screw.

Then, trying to bend taut wire, he dropped one.

He knew he’d never find it in the soft dirt of the chicken coop floor.

Ohh, Lord. Ohhhh, help me learn my lesson. Ohhhhhhh, well.

He made do without the lost screw, finishing the 20-minute job in an hour and a half. But at least it worked perfectly. Well, 90 percent.

He made a mental note to pick up a pack of those screws next time he went to town.

Two days later, on his land nearly 2½ miles away from the house, he was walking along fixing fenceposts when he looked down . . . and there on the ground was a screw exactly like the one he’d dropped.

Now, to most folks, that would be just a coincidence. But how many other little thingybobs or dealies could it have been? 5,023,741?

To Rolly, it was evidence of the power of God – a reminder of His faithfulness – proof that He is able to meet all our needs. He provides the Earth and the tides, the sun and the rain . . . and the little things, too.

If He can provide a stinking little screw, He can provide anything.

Rolly thought back to the story of Elijah, looking for God in the earthquakes, hurricanes and fires . . . like the tsunami of a few weeks ago . . . but that’s not where Elijah found God. He was in the still, small voice.

People often see God for the first time in awesome, spectacular displays. But it’s in the quiet, little miracles, like that screw at Rolly’s feet, that those who already know God see Him every day.

That’s how to live: with the certainty of His presence and provision for all your needs, large or small.

That’s what holds a well-built life together.

‘Til you have that simple, strong connection, you can only go around with a . . . spiritual screw loose.


Prayer request: Lord, there’s a faithful daughter of yours who apparently is getting a raw deal financially in a rocky divorce that is not of her making. We thank You for providing for her and her children. We pray in Jesus’ Name that you will remind the ex-husband of his promise before You to love, honor and cherish her. Work a supernatural change in his heart so he’ll honor that, Lord. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Saturday, January 08, 2005


It was our 27th wedding anniversary. I got to sleep late, and spent a happy morning at the computer writing, with Maddy ensconced at preschool.

In the afternoon, I went to the fanciest beauty shop in town for my first pedicure, a Christmas gift from my mom. That was the good news. The BAD news is, with cotton between my beautified toes and my pudgy, white feet in the world’s cheapest plastic flip-flops, I was informed that I could not put my socks and shoes back on for at least an hour, ‘til the toenail polish dried.

So I had to toddle out to my car all the way across the slushy parking lot in bare feet and cheap plastic flip-flops.

Oh, the ignominy.

But then my beloved came home with a huge spray of wed, wed woses . . . and there was another rose at our table at the fabulous French restaurant, Le Voltaire, where my beloved’s parents treated us for the evening. Our daughter Jordan works there on her college breaks, anyway, so it was a delight to have her as our waitress.

The manager went all out planning and preparing the most elegant meal imaginable: six courses . . . a different delicately-flavored wine with every course . . . rich hors d’oeuvres . . . creamy, dreamy onion soup . . . blackened salmon with petite bok choy; the latter used to be my favorite swear word but not any more . . . buttery sliced lamb with spicy potato casserole . . . the second-to-last course was salad with fabulous cheeses to cleanse the palate; how posh! . . . and finally, a dessert built on Bananas Foster and stupendously sensual dark-chocolate cake with whipped cream, ice cream, and festive dots of raspberry sauce. . . .

Oh, the luxury!

If only marriage had a few more moments that were like that dinner, and a few less that are like that barefoot dash across the slushy parking lot. On the other hand, it’s the up’s and down’s that make a good ride.


Prayer request: It’s a weekend of transitions, Father. Safely guide our daughters back to college, and bless the last playdate of our youngest with her best friend Cissa, who is moving to the Twin Cities. Be there as a comfort and a reassurance in the partings as You always are, and bless friendships new and old. (2 Thessalonians 2:17)

Friday, January 07, 2005


You know the children’s book, Imogene’s Antlers by David Small? The little girl wakes up one morning and has grown enormous antlers. Her mother keeps fainting, and they keep trying all kinds of things to get rid of them or cope with them, ‘til she wakes up the next day, and . . . well, I won’t spoil the surprise.

Here’s a real-life parallel: I take the Imogene Hub, a little monthly newspaper out of southwest Iowa, because it has the corniest, silliest anecdotes around. On p. 1 of this month’s issue is a story about a 33-point, record-breaking buck that was bagged near Imogene by Travis Smiley of rural Emerson.

Oddly, the buck had three antlers, with 16, 14 and 3 scoreable points, making that unusual tally. The Hub pondered whether it had been part of a certain flying team that might have passed by around Christmas. The local daily later showed a photo of it that can only be described as “gnarly.” The locals dubbed it “Deerzilla.” I’m sure a new legend has been born in that neck o’ the woods.

Move over, Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot and Sasquatch! Meet . . . Imogene’s Antlers!


Prayer request: Patrick, a funny, honest, beloved big brother of a friend of mine, suffered a heart attack yesterday. A devout Christian, he told the cardiologist he is ready to go Home. But the doctor said, “Not this trip!” Lord, You’ve already been glorified in the relative mildness of this attack. We pray for more glory for You in a happy ending: that Patrick’s cath site will heal, that the damage will be nonexistent, and that there will be no complications. (Philippians 4:19)

Praise report: Today is our 27th wedding anniversary, and we’re going out for a fancy dinner, compliments of my in-laws. Lord Jesus, thank You for the never-ending feast of love that You cook up for us in the form of holy matrimony. Our compliments to the Chef! (Psalm 66:10)

Thursday, January 06, 2005


My nephew is a pediatrician in his residency at a children’s hospital in a faraway state. He has a droll sense of humor. He reports that, night before last, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit babies were in a terrible hubbub all night long.

A diehard Nebraska football fan, he wrote, “I attribute this to the fact that I turned on the Orange Bowl in the Unit, and they were all appalled to the point of intubation at Oklahoma's impotence.”

It was indeed breathtakingly embarrassing. Oklahoma looked so bad that it made Nebraska look even worse for finishing so far down in the Big 12. Next season may not be a lot better, either. Maybe we all should be intubated to get through it.

There might be a lot of tangles and traffic jams next year, as 78,000 fans try to make it to their seats in time for kickoff, trailing long tubes and oxygen tanks . . . or maybe there’ll be “recipe” flowing down those tubes, to kill the pain if next season’s like this last one.


Prayer request: Father, we lift up our friend’s brother-in-law Jim, who got a nail in his eye and has had two surgeries. Now he is in tons of pain, to the point of crying in front of his wife, which is a drastic change. In the midst of this, they live in Kansas City and are battling ice storms and power outages. Lord, send Your angels to grant relief from the pain. Protect him from infection, and let him know You are with him through this trial. (Psalm 55:16,17)

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


My beloved has been paging through an immense catalog of hunting accessories. It’s been hard to keep a straight face as he exclaims over the wide, wide world of available hunting stuff:

A goose decoy with a magnet in it that makes it wobble as if swimming!

A fake haystack in which hunters can hide! How did we ever get along without one?

A duck blind that looks just like a camo coffin; the lid flies off and the gun-wielding hunter erupts out of it, like a ghoul in a “B” movie.

With all this gear, I believe we could win the war on terrorism, oppression and world hunger in one long weekend. We’d just fly in all these hunters and their accessories to war-torn, Third World countries and the bad guys would lay down their weapons. Not because of fright – because they’d be laughing so hard.

You don’t need all those dang accessories for hunting success, anyway. One time, the husband of a friend of mine went hunting with his buds for the day. She and their son drove down to her parents’ farm near Syracuse, Neb. On the way, a pheasant flew out in front of their vehicle and "poof!” Feathers everywhere.

She told her hubby about it when they got home and . . . you guessed it . . . she was the only one who got anything that day.

Who needs accessories? We ladies can bag ‘em without even trying.


Prayer request: There’s a very sweet daughter caring for a very sweet mother, nearly 90, who is in ailing health. We praise You and thank You, Lord, that they were able to spend a lot of the Christmas and New Year’s weekends together, just being close. Gently lift Helen to Yourself in Your good timing, Lord, and thank You for being JoAnn’s stronghold for the parting that is soon to happen. (Nahum 1:7)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


My story Sunday about my husband’s new hunting hobby brought a couple of anecdotes from the “setters” saying the “pointers” aren’t the only ones in the forest and far afield. Heigh ho, the dai-wy oh, the wadies are out there, too.

Most love hunting, but one recalled the time her husband took her with him, and it ended like Hansel and Gretel without the breadcrumbs. “I have no sense of direction,” she wrote, “and the straight line I was supposed to be walking turned into a circuitous route. I found myself hopelessly lost in deep woods – the kind where they find huge, aged antlers and bones in the brush in the spring.

“I stood up on a tall stump and hollered for my life. I was answered. What relief! ‘Where are you?’ I yelled. ‘West, Stupid!’ came the reply. ‘Where's west?’ . . . Well, you can be sure that any deer for miles around were l o n g gone, and the gun that weighed about eight pounds when we started in felt more like 30 pounds when I finally walked out. Never again.”

Bet you a . . . buck . . . the “deer” one means it, too.

Prayer request: Oh, Lord, You know exactly where that important manila folder with my friend’s important financial papers is located. It isn’t where it’s supposed to be. But Father, if it be Your will, we pray that you’ll reveal it to her ASAP so she can carry on with her important meeting this Friday. She’s going bonkers! She depends on You utterly, for everything. Help her find it, Lord! (1 Peter 5:7)

Monday, January 03, 2005


Turnabout is fair play. I mentioned the sarcastic “Mr. Wonderful” doll Mom gave me last week. Turns out there’s a “Mrs. Wonderful,” too. Coworkers of a friend who works in a large retail operation let her try one last week. She pushed the tummy, and the wife doll said, "Oh, NO, Honey, I don't mind if you don't stop and ask for directions. That's perfectly fine with me."

She laughed, and then, as they knew she would, she put it on the store paging system as a gag. Before Christmas, she had put a little stuffed cow up to the speaker so it could moo “Jingle Bells.”

She thought the wife doll repeated the same line over and over. So she put it next to the device, squeezed it, and it said, loudly, clearly and patiently, "That's right, Honey. I don't mind if you leave the toilet seat up."

Talk about a nonsequitur for the unsuspecting shoppers!

She dropped the doll like a hot potato and snuck away, red-faced and laughing, waiting for the manager to come gunning for her, since she is “the usual suspect” in that work group.

I don’t think she’s incorrigible. I think she’s wonderful. More humor in our workplaces and our marriages: that’s a two-fer we all want.


Prayer request: A friend named Richard goes back to the hand surgeon today. We pray for sufficient healing for him to be able to have the heavy splint off some, and be able to start to do physical therapy that will restore the grip and strength to his hand. Also, Lord, we pray that all infection has been resolved and will not return. (Psalm 118:16)

Sunday, January 02, 2005


I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number. . . .
-- Job 5:8,9

I thought he was into Internet pornography and carrying on a torrid affair. He’d be online for hours. But when I’d come near, he’d shield his computer screen and divert my attention by saying something like: “Your hair’s on fire!”

Then I’d overhear him on the phone, urgently asking, “Where can we go?” and “How long can you be out?”

Sniff, sniff. And all these years, I thought I was married to a straight-shooting, G-rated guy.

Then I learned the truth: he’s straight-shooting, all right. But he’s H-rated . . . for “Hunting.”

That’s right: the midlife crisis of my beloved has taken shape as an obsession with guns, ammo, fishing poles, the out-of-doors . . . and all the gear, boy toys and accessories that go with.

I guess I started it. This past fall, he’d gone hunting with his best friend since kindergarten. They’d had such a great time that he bought a shotgun on the way home. He was cleaning it on the porch when Maddy, 4, happened by, and frowned: “You’d better not shoot that in the HOUSE!”

So for his 50th birthday, to encourage him to get back into hunting as a hobby, I gave him a Rhino. Not the horned animal . . . the Yamaha all-terrain vehicle. It looks like a little camouflage Jeep with a cute little cargo hold and snazzy-looking roll bars.

The Rhino goes fast. Too fast. Therefore, he loved it. He immediately went out and got a camo hunting cap to match. Then an orange one. A friend gave him camo gloves, toe warmers, and some hunting-blind hors d’oeuvres. He got duck calls and ammo.

He went online and got a gun rack for the Rhino, a storage box and who knows what all else. He had an old plastic windshield for a golf cart, and rigged that up, too.

Then he started going crazy. He got a 72-part hunting outfit, with layers, zippers and secret compartments enabling him to tough out the weather on six different planets. He got longjohns, liners and socks, mysterious clip-on dealies, and a hunting-dog kennel liner even though we don’t have a hunting dog. But I assure you, that’s next.

The girls got him hunting and fishing gear for Christmas with tantalizing titles like “Walleye Patterns” and “Crappie Wisdom.” I got him a couple of hunting and fishing magazine subscriptions and even found myself wrapping his gifts in hunting-theme giftwrap.

He’s just like a little girl with a Barbie doll. Accessories: it’s alllllll in the accessories.

It’s ruining our lives. We have one decent family picture: everybody’s dressed up with no visible stains or rips. But now it’s wrecked. We don’t recognize Daddy without his camo hunting cap on anymore.

The accessorizing obsession deepens: now it’s a duck boat, Global Positioning Satellite technology, trap and skeet ranges, and endless phone calls arranging weekend jaunts with his old mutt friends.

He’s addicted. They say the wife is the last one to know. But believe me, I know. And so do the timid woodland creatures. He clanks and rattles so much with all that gear, they know he’s comin’ miles before he gets there.

Recently, he went to his friend’s acreage outside Kansas City to duck-hunt and goose-hunt with all his new glunk. They ATV’ed to a primeau spot, laid out all their decoys, and hunkered down in their super-secret blind. Now, how many shots do you think they got off, in two days?

Not one.

All that equipment, and the critters still won. Why? Because God gave THEM accessories, too. Nanny, nanny boo-boo.

So he was loading his gear back up to come home, when one of his friend’s pet geese waddled right up to him . . . and bit him high on the back of the thigh. Right where he sits down.

Oh, the irony! The poetic justice! The mighty hunter gets a . . . goose!

At least he looked cool. It’s alllllll in the accessories, you know.


Prayer request: Robbie, a sweet and caring relative from North Carolina, sent along this resource for those who wish to help with the disaster relief of the horrible tsunami last week. The Red Cross is a great resource, too, but please visit, make donations online at http://www.CAREusa .org or mail to CARE, Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund, 650 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016. Father, stir our hearts to dispatch an enormous tidal wave of love and compassion to shine the floodlight of Your love on that part of the world. Let them see that You are the one true God, the One who provides. (Genesis 22:14)


Copyright 2005 • Susan Darst Williams,, is a writer, wife and mother of four who lives at the base of Mount Laundry, Neb.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


Happy New Year! May each day of 2005 give you blessings and joy, encouragement and humor.

I gave away one of my favorite Christmas presents yesterday at a New Year’s mother-daughter catch-up lunch with two good friends. I thought it should be passed around among wives to spread the fun. It was a ‘’Mr. Wonderful’’ doll from my mom.

You squeeze him, and he says stuff like, ‘’You go ahead and take the remote, Honey. As long as I’m with YOU, I’m happy!’’ and ‘’I’m not sure where to go, so I’ll just turn in right here and ask for directions’’ and ‘’Let’s just cuddle tonight.’’

Get it? Dolls are for pretend play. We girls understand that.

Well, my New Year’s Resolution, besides exercising three times a week and cleaning out all our closets, is to be more like Mrs. Wonderful for my beloved. So I asked him this morning what kinds of things I would have to say and do.

He’s a longtime husband. So he murmured, ‘’Oh, you’re ALREADY Mrs. Wonderful. You don’t have to change a thing.’’

Girls aren’t the only ones who can pretend.


Prayer request: Father, I pray that this year, everyone makes a New Year’s Resolution that focuses on You and Your will for our lives. I know it would be pleasing to You if I took better care of my aging bod, and modeled better household organization to our daughters. Most of all, I know it is Your will that I be a better wife for the one You gave me. Stand with me, Lord, and strengthen me. Help me keep these promises, for my good and Your glory. (2 Timothy 4:17)