Monday, February 28, 2005


Our friends from Kansas City visited over the weekend and raved about our cute new puppy. They predicted she will be addicted to tennis balls the way their dog, Greta, is.

She also is likely to be a big eater, like Greta. In fact, one time, our friends’ teenager fixed herself a big sandwich, and set up her lunch on the coffee table in front of the TV. The phone rang. She left for just an instant to answer it.

When she got back, the tennis ball that had been in Greta’s mouth was on her plate . . . and Greta was just about done eating her sandwich.

Game . . set . . . match.


Prayer request: It is good to hear that a suspect has been arrested in the murder of the daughter of our friends’ good friends in Kansas City. She was working at a city pool two summers ago, alone before the pool opened, when she vanished. Her murdered body was found, but no one was arrested until recently. Reportedly, there’s plenty of evidence to nail this guy. Father God, we thank You that our criminal justice system follows Your prescriptions for our lives. Keep this family from bitterness and grant them peace, but if this man is guilty, let the full extent of the law be brought to bear. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Sunday, February 27, 2005


A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:
but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
-- Proverbs 12:10

Our dog Shadow was a reindeer for our Christmas card, posed as Dolly Parton in my cheap blonde wig, and served as Lady Godiva’s horse during the nudist phase of one of our children. She never chewed or wrecked a thing. A black Labrador retriever, she was the best dog ever.

When she died at age 12, I said, “That’s it. My heart is broken. It’ll never have room for another dog.”

Well, that was two years ago. Suddenly, there’s a blonde whirlwind in our house that barks and wags and chases her tail. Our new baby sleeps in Shadow’s old kennel in the laundry room, with the dryer for a lullabye and a rawhide bone for a pacifier.

Suddenly, there’s room in my heart -- plenty of room -- to welcome a dancing spot of sunshine who came to us on a drab winter day.

We’re calling her “Sunny,” because she’s a Lab like Shadow, only she has tawny golden fur, and a bright, happy personality to match.

Funny how a dog makes a family complete. Funny how sharing your life with an animal makes you a better human. Funny how day-to-day irritations and stresses melt away in the wriggling and licking, prancing and pouncing.

She fake-barks, investigates, worries a corner of the rug, and then plunk! She’s beat. She snuggles into your chest and falls asleep on the spot. You see those whiskers coming out of her eyebrows, pat that puppy tummy, smell that puppy smell and . . .

. . . you’re smitten. I’ve never known anyone who can resist.

My husband’s going to train her to be his bird dog for hunting pheasant, quail and ducks. Besides all the wacky hunting accessories he’s been buying lately, now he’s coming home with DOG accessories: a pistol that shoots blanks, to fire when she’s eating so she won’t be gun-shy (move over, Atkins; it’s the new diet aid: gunfire!) . . . special batons to throw into our neighborhood pond to train the dog to retrieve (like a stick won’t work) . . . a huge net bag of eerily real-looking duck decoys, two of which wound up in our tub (what’s a bath without a rubber ducky?) . . . and even a synthetic dead bird wing.

How have we survived this long without a dead bird wing in the house?

Also, he recently bagged 18 quail. I have been informed that I may have to keep one or more of them in our freezer for training purposes for this dog. You know, right between the popsicles and last month’s chili. Ewwww!

So she’ll be a fearless, well-trained hunter to make his four or five weekends per year as a macho man more productive and fun.

But most of the time, she’s going to be my baby, my companion, my best friend, just like Shadow. She already naps at my feet when I write . . . or do dishes . . . or try to walk anywhere. I’m the one who calms her when she’s yipping and holds her snout when she’s nipping.

If only it were that easy rearing teenagers.

Maddy, 4, is smitten, too. She carries Sunny around like a doll, chills out on her sheepskin with her, and runs to fetch her toys instead of the other way around.

We’re a dog family again. It feels good.

I was doing OK ‘til I found that Maddy had unplugged her nightlight from her own room, and put it in the outlet near Sunny’s kennel. “I didn’t want her to be scared in the dark,” she whispered with loving concern.

The nightlight is an angel. I got choked up, since Maddy always says Shadow is an angel now.

I think our faithful friend is watching us fall in love again, just like we did with her. And I know she’s thumping her tail.

This time, she doesn’t have a Dolly Parton wig or reindeer horns on her head, but a golden halo. And she’s singing . . . what else? The “Howleluia Chorus.”


Prayer request: We lift up to You a faithful and sweet believer, Barb, who fears that her marriage is in jeopardy because of her husband’s midlife crisis. There’s anger, self-isolation, a communication breakdown, and the absence of physical love between them. Barb is doing everything right: she has asked him to tell her what’s wrong, forgiven him and asked for his forgiveness . . . but she has hit a brick wall. Holy Spirit, break down that wall and let love and joy flow strongly again between these two precious people, who promised long ago before Your altar to love each other, no matter what. (Psalm 9:10)

Prayer request: If it be Your will, throw up a blockade around Your young servant Rodney, and keep him from getting mononucleosis so he can go to Thailand on a mission trip and spread the good news about You. But if he gets sick, help him to accept Your purpose and the “mission” You may have for him in this! (Psalm 34:19)

Praise report: Thank You, Lord, that so many people have come forward to join our e-baby shower for the unmarried young woman who chose to bear her child instead of having an abortion (Feb. 20, “The Mommy Ring”). May their gifts give her a supernatural boost of encouragement when she receives them on Resurrection Sunday – the day Your Son showed what happens when we choose life. (Psalm 105:8)

Saturday, February 26, 2005


My friend Sue has three sons and says her first two dogs and first two cats were all boys. It wasn’t by her choice, it was just the way it worked out.

Finally, when it came time for a new cat, she picked out a female. She bought her an adorable little pink collar and named her “Annie,” the name she wanted to give a daughter, if she had ever had a daughter.

However, the vet took one look and said, “I think you have an ‘Andy,’ not an ‘Annie.’” She bawled all the way home.

But there’s happy ending: today, she has an “Annie” after all. She’s a mixed terrier, almost 2, and she controls all the males in the house, four-legged and otherwise.


Prayer request: Lord, You are so caring and thoughtful about the details of each of our lives. Our neighbor has been sad because her late daughter’s 21st birthday would have been recently. Meanwhile, our daughter Neely has just made a new friend at the university to which she transferred in January. Out of more than 15,000 students, who do you suppose it is? A girl from another city who had been a close friend of this neighbor family. The parents had moved to a faraway state, and there’d be no reason for the daughter to come and see the grieving family . . . except that she has just become a friend of their neighbors -- us. She and Neely came home for a visit yesterday that meant a lot to our grieving neighbor. She gave Miranda a note her daughter wrote to her before she died, and they cried and smiled and reminisced together. Thank You, Jesus, for orchestrating that blessing. May it redound a hundred times to Miranda for her loving friendship. (2 Corinthians 1:5)

Friday, February 25, 2005


My good friend Holly was talking about a lovely practice her Brazilian in-laws started. They have a ranch with dairy cattle. Every time a new grandchild is born, they proclaim that the calf born closest to that birth date belongs to that child. The children come and visit them and it’s a fun, inter-generational thing for this large, active family.

Holly’s daughter Cissa, who is our Maddy’s best friend, named her black Holstein “Strawberry.” She talks about her all the time.

Holly was telling me that she and her husband were a little worried about this practice for Cissa and all the other cousins. She said, “You know, because one of them died giving birth, and another one fell into a hole and broke his leg and had to be shot. . . .”


. . . but of course, she was only talking about the Brazilian COWS. She and her husband just hoped the children didn’t get too attached to them, because things can be rough out on the range.

Nevvvver mind. Once again, we learn: Brazil isn’t the only place with nuts.


Prayer request: Thank You, Father, for bringing Holly and her family into our lives. We are sad that they are moving, but we pray fervently for the sale of their Omaha house, safe travel to their new home in the Twin Cities, and all the happiness and success they so richly deserve. We pray for their salvation and ever-present grace in their lives. Bless them abundantly, Lord Jesus, and reunite us with them in Your Kingdom one day. (1 Timothy 2:3,4)

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Everyone has supplied such wonderful suggestions for names for our new puppy, I’m stunned and confused, and the list is up over 20 names. Wednesday’s winners included “Happy,” which is certainly fitting for her personality, “Alley Oop,” very descriptive for an energetic Labrador, and “Quatro,” since we have four daughters and this will be our fourth dog.

I’m laying low, and hoping somebody else will choose the name and get it over with. Whatever they pick, I’ll love.

In the meantime, we have been advised of two pet names NOT to choose:

-- There was a 40-pound cat named “Snickers” who got loose in the neighborhood. The baby of the family, age 3, was going around yelling, “Nickers! Nickers!” which sounded suspiciously like a horrible epithet for persons of the African-American persuasion. The whole family is still embarrassed, years later.

-- There was a fuzzy little mop of a doggie brought home by a fraternity boy one summer. The dog was the boys’ mascot. One thing led to another, and the dog wound up staying with that family for a dozen years, a beloved pet. The puzzled parents thought she had an odd name for a fraternity mascot: “Chittette.” She must have a lot of French poodle blood; it must mean something in French, they reasoned. Years later, their son finally admitted that actually, the accent should be on the first syllable, not the second, and the ending sound was more like a “d” than “tte.” Ohhhhh. They finally got it! The best part is, their neighbors all figured it out years before they did, and played along.


Prayer request: A former Omahan named Cathy is in the hospital in Belgium with pneumonia. It came on her quickly, while she was skiing in Switzerland with her family. She has four children. Oh, Breath of Life, restore health to this precious mother, wife, daughter and sister. We know You see her plight and hear her cries for help. Use this illness to teach her to count on You to get her over the moguls of life! (Psalm 22:24)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


The new puppy is still unnamed, although suggestions are mounting: “Cuddles,” “Buttons,” “Shelby” and “Wagner” came in Tuesday.

She pounces on dry leaves out in the yard like a lion cub, and cuddles up against anyone who’ll hold her. Happiness really is a warm puppy!

Yesterday, Mom sprawled out on the floor for several minutes, playing with the little puppy. Maddy, 4 ½, joined in for a little bit, and then went across the room to do something else for a while.

Minutes later, still absorbed in the puppy, Mom was aware that glaring, ominous, laser eyeballs of jealous rage were trained on her.

“You love our new puppy more than you love me!” Maddy wailed.

Good thing the puppy’s so little, I had room in my arms for them both.


Prayer request: Cushion Penny’s intense pain, Lord, after her successful rotator cuff surgery Tuesday, and help her focus on Your love and provision . . . thank You that Paul, a local pastor, was able to go home from the hospital after being catheterized for spasms in his cardiac arteries . . . and thank You that Patrick is able to go back to work after his coronary bypass surgery. We praise Your faithfulness in caring for each of these believers. (Hebrews 10:23)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Mr. and Mrs. David W. Williams and the Four Twirlers are pleased to announce the arrival of an absolutely adorable, as-yet-unnamed, 7-week-old yellow Labrador retriever acquired from a terrific breeder south of Des Moines.

We are dickering over her name. It was supposed to be “Sunny,” a nod to our beloved 12-year-old black Lab, Shadow, whose death nearly two years ago left us dogless and downhearted. We knew we were getting a “she,” so our sentimental favorite, “George Tirebiter,” was out of the question. So were other nominees, including “Charlie” and “Ralph.”

So we thought the forecast was to be “Sunny.” But everything around here must be by consensus, and one of our number is holding out. Not me! A Twirler.

First she wanted “Riley,” but then she remembered that a friend’s dog has that name. Then, “Puttsy,” but that seemed undignified. The man of the house suggested “LaFawnda,” after the mysterious Amazon-like girlfriend in the inexplicably-popular movie, “Napoleon Dynamite.” Nothing doing. Also nominated: “Maisie,” “Lucy,” “Tootsie,” and several others.

The leader in the clubhouse, at least at this moment, is “Daisy.” Seems to suit her. At least she hasn’t made many . . . whoopsies . . . in the house so far.

If you have any suggestions, fire away. Otherwise, stay tuned for the final decision, and more dog tales as our adventure begins with a new four-legged family member.


Prayer request: Be with Penny, Lord Jesus, as she undergoes surgery today for a painful rotator cuff injury that has been plaguing her for some time. Oh, Lord, make it a swift, successful surgery, with as easy a recovery as superhumanly possible. She looks to You for everything she needs, Lord. So stretch out Your strong arm to heal hers, and reward her faith with a quick return to her daily routine. (Psalm 89:13)

Monday, February 21, 2005


Our daughter Eden was among 300 outstanding high-school students from around the country who attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law in Washington, D.C., last week.

They got to do all kinds of great things with mock trials, presentations, speeches and tours of everything from the U.S. Supreme Court to local law schools and courthouses with all their cool, high-tech tools of justice. They got to see some inspiring memorials and museums, including a look at the nation’s very first flag. It was awesome. Eden was fairly levitating.

But as usual, she came home with some stories. First, nobody called her “Eden.” They called her “’Braska.” Other kids were instantly dubbed “Pretty Boy,” “Killa,” “Oprah” and “Stank.”

I know they were just bonding and kidding around. But I kept getting these premonitions that some of these kids are going to end up as governors and congressional representatives and judges and stuff, and with names like those, I fear for our country.

Then she said, “Do you know what else I learned?”

Something to do with Latin, litigation or our legal system? Noooo.

“If you lick a Gummy bear and stick it on your forehead, it’ll stay there forever.”

God save the U.S.A.


Prayer request: A preschool chum of Maddy’s named Natalie is struggling with bad allergies. She has real trouble getting to sleep and is vomiting and generally having a very rough time. Lord, we lift up Natalie for Your soothing touch today. Thank You for being her parents’ refuge, as the strong believers they are. Thank You for her medical team, who are doing everything they can. Help her exhausted parents persevere in finding ways to make her breathing better. (Psalm 46:1)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Mommy Ring

(T)o give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
-- Isaiah 61:3

She was 23, and on birth control pills. But she came up pregnant, and her boyfriend bolted. “I don’t want ‘it.’ Get rid of ‘it,’” he said, or something to that effect.

She was horribly deflated, terribly confused, and time was running out. Her friends were no help. She never really had a mother she could turn to. She had a little money, but boy, not much.

She made the appointment to have an abortion.

But she let it slip, at church, to an older friend who’d been kind to her. The abortion was set for just a few days away. Her mind was made up.

Instead of condemning her or withdrawing icily, though, the older friend asked her to think about it a while longer. Then she raced home and called every prayer warrior she knew, asking them to go to battle for the life of that unborn child.

One of them, my friend, prayed that God would bring babies into the young woman’s path. Try resisting the awesome power of God’s favorite thing, new life. Those chubby cheeks! That soft skin! Those baby-elephant hairdos!

Lo and behold, a coworker popped in with her new baby the very next day. The young woman held the baby . . . and the rest is history.

She canceled the abortion. Then she called her mentor friend and admitted that she needed help – lots of help.

She came over. They cried and talked through the night. Next morning, they went to church together. Gradually, she shifted gears. OK. I’m scared and alone. But I can do this.

Suddenly, friends and comfort surrounded her like a living wall. People all over the country were praying for her. They sent Bible verses with God’s promises of peace and happy endings. They encouraged her that, with Jesus in her heart, she will never be alone, and her needs will never go unmet.

Two ladies, complete strangers, sent her a card. She opened it in the home of her mentor. She screamed, “Come quick!” Her mentor thought she was miscarrying.

Inside the card were five $20 bills. She had JUST been worrying and praying about her finances when she opened it.

Here’s the part I love: she put one $20 in the collection plate that next morning, and spent the rest on a ring with a beautiful, dark pink stone.

Now, a lot of people would have saved that $100, or spent it on practicalities. But she needed that ring as a symbol of her relationship with her true Husband, the One Who gave her the precious life of her baby, the One Who will be with her every step of the way.

She calls it her "Mommy Ring."

Today, she’s at peace. She goes to a top-notch obstetrician because her uterus is misshapen, so she is a “high-risk mother.” As close as her baby came to being aborted, the terminology is humorous, but compelling.

She just found out: it’s a boy.

She moved into a friend’s house, and has two bedrooms, one for her and the other for the nursery she is free to decorate however she desires.

Her friend from church will be with her in the delivery room.

And the father of the child? He’s still around. She’s letting him select the baby’s first name. Two other men who have expressed caring for her, too. And at Christmastime, here came some more anonymous gifts.

The abortion appointment now seems like a bad dream. She feels blessed. She feels loved. She feels ready.

She’s got a Mommy ring. It’s a token and pledge of the constant faith and abiding love of the One who loves her . . . for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health . . . for as long as she and her son shall live . . . and forever and ever after that.


Prayer request: You are invited to a Radiant Beams Baby Shower for this little boy and his young mom. To participate, reply to this email with the message “RSVP Yes to the Baby Shower” and I’ll send you details. It’ll all be done by U.S. mail and anonymously, and you can give tangible gifts or gifts from the spirit. If you’ve always wanted to fight abortion and support an unwed mother, now’s your chance. Remember, God has called us to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives. Let’s join together in a song of praise and thanksgiving for this young woman’s choice. Hers is a choice we ALL can live with – especially her baby! (Isaiah 61:1)

Saturday, February 19, 2005


I was telling someone that one of our daughters wants to become a trust attorney, handling wills and estates. I was about to say how booooooring that sounds to me, although of course it is a wonderful public service, very necessary, and probably quite lucrative.

This person ‘bout blew a gasket saying she wished our daughter was already practicing, because SHE would NEVER have made the boo-boo’s that her stepfather’s attorney recently made. It’s a hair-raising tale.

It seems the stepfather was really sick in the hospital, and called in his attorney to change his will. It was done, and he signed it.

Then eureka! He miraculously recovered, and went home. Six months later, though, he died in his sleep.

Out came the new will. Oops! It contained the right person’s name in the first paragraph as the executor – but erroneously kept the original executor’s name through the rest of the will. Plus, the original executor was cut out of the new will.

Another oops: the new will divided the stepfather’s IRA into four equal portions; previously, it was to be split in half. Clear as a bell on the will itself – but the attorney forgot to change the names of the beneficiaries on the existing IRA documentation.

Yowsa! What a muddle. I guess I’ll shut up about my daughter’s career goals. Looks like the trust attorneys could use a little fresh, new blood to help them build up . . . trust.


Prayer request: We join in one accord with the Capitol Prayer Walk at 10 a.m. CST led by the Nebraska Family Council. Lord, we pray for Your family values of Biblical propriety and order to be upheld by our legislators and government agencies. We pray for the abortion law based on Roe v. Wade to be overturned, as the original “Jane Roe” of that case is now requesting. Hear us, Father God, and grant our requests, for You are holy, and we want to be like You. (Isaiah 6:3)

Friday, February 18, 2005


A friend named Holly was an exchange student in Bolivia. She paints an interesting picture about village life down there. In some ways, they’re just like us, but they do have their quirks.

They have a village square, just like our small towns. Where she lived, there was a church, a government building, a popular restaurant, and a museum on the four sides. Everybody hung out down there, from old geezers to new babies. There were always people strolling the circuit around that central plaza.

Here’s what’s different: the women walked clockwise around that circle, and the men walked counter-clockwise.

It was kind of like a mobile meat market, only not that crude. It was just the way they did it.

If a guy and a gal ever hooked up, then they walked whichever way they wanted.

If I never learn anything else about Bolivia, I still know enough now to like it.


Prayer request: We lift up a lovely mother of three, Diane, who had rotator cuff surgery Wednesday and is having trouble with simple tasks like dressing herself, much less caring for her kids. And we pray for a loving father, Charles, whose fourth-grader Justin can’t read, and he’s trying to find a tutor for intensive help for him this summer. Both of these parents need Your touch, Your strength and Your sense of humor to get through these trials, Father God. You are Jehovah-Rophe – God heals – and we know You will. (Exodus 15:26)

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Continuing education: it’s a constant in many people’s lives. We all try to educate our bodies, though mine is currently sitting in the corner wearing a dunce cap eating dark chocolate, but anyway, we know we should go to exercise classes. There are all kinds of inservices and training workshops to fine-tune occupational prowess, and all kinds of classes to enjoy new leisure-time pursuits. But whoever thinks about continuing spiritual education?

Thousands of people! And two of the neatest opportunities for faith growth are being offered in eastern Nebraska soon:

-- Stonecroft Ministries, a Christian women’s group, has a national conference tour at the Cornhusker Hotel in downtown Lincoln next Friday through Sunday, Feb. 25-27. Around 400 people are expected, and the music is expected to be fabulous. There’s a Saturday night dinner for friends and husbands featuring a Texas rancher/bull rider said to be a fabulous speaker. Saturday workshops center on friendship, family life, prayer, evangelism and more. It’s kind of last-minute, but if you’d like to go and would like information on rates and so forth, call Valerie Jantzen in Lincoln, (402) 423-3227.

-- A marriage conference I’ve heard great things about will be going on in downtown Omaha the same weekend, and also March 4-6. It’s the “Weekend to Remember” event put on by Family Life Today at the DoubleTree Hotel, 16th and Dodge. You’re supposed to stay in the hotel and have a date night and so forth, but I suppose if you live in Omaha you could skip that part of it, and go sit in a corner TOGETHER and eat dark chocolate. It’s $99 per person. Visit their website,


Prayer request: Father, we are sad to hear of the death of Officer James Feltis, the Washington, D.C., police officer we’ve been praying for, the friend of a friend who was struck by a car driven by a fleeing felon. He leaves his wife Mary and daughter Mary Elizabeth, 6. We praise You for this fine man’s life and sacrifice, but we are troubled by the purpose here. Nevertheless, not our will, but Thine, be done. We trust You, Lord, and know that one day, all sin and crime will be arrested . . . and we will be able to thank James in person for protecting us while he was here on Earth. (Revelation 21:7)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


An older gent has been collecting keys, buttons, marbles, seashells, coins, costume jewelry, feathers, pocket knives, old watches, harmonicas and wooden nickels for years.

As if that’s not enough variety, he has recently added doubloons from Mardi Gras celebrations and old bar tokens for free or discounted drinks.

He says he has room to accept donations from anybody who’d like to add to his collections. Two conditions: you have to be ready to discard it, and it must have some sentimental value. However, he cautions, “no in-laws accepted.”


Prayer request: A hedge of protection, Lord, around our precious daughter Eden. She was selected for a wonderful experience in Washington, D.C., to learn about law and government at the National Youth Leadership Forum. She’s there now, preparing for a U.S. Supreme Court simulation. Father, may it instill in Eden a deep love for our country and its Godly principles of truth, liberty and justice. May she see You in the provisions and protections of our laws. (James 2:12)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Remember the irony of the old cigarette ad slogan, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel?” Well, I have a deranged but health-conscious friend in Minnesota who has gone on a diet and is “web walking” across the United States in order to lose weight.

She got a pedometer that measures her steps and is shooting for 10,000 steps a day, though she rarely hits it. But it has made her much more aware of how sedentary she has become, and she has lost a little weight. Hallelujah!

She logs her progress daily on a website that takes you on a “cyber walk” from Delaware to San Francisco, with fascinating scenery and trivia as you go.

In four weeks, she has made it into Indiana. Not bad.

But this is bad, very bad: her reward, after 504,800 steps from cyber coast to coast, is an Egg McMuffin. That’s what she craves more than anything else, with all this dieting.

Sheesh. It’s the age-old question of teenage boys: I wonder how far she’d go for a big box of Godiva?


Prayer request: A DailySusan reader just returned from Baton Rouge, La., where she bowled with her son in a National Special Olympics event and got a bronze medal in their division. What thrilling news! Thank You, Father, for providing such a neat experience for special children and their families. This compassionate reader asks for prayer for the family and friends of an outstanding Nebraskan, Linda Halford, 55, who was killed in a car accident on Friday. The funeral is today. She was a tremendously good influence in her town, Fort Calhoun. For an idea of the character she developed, see her son’s website, Survivors include four young grandchildren. Lord, we pray that many people will be led to a closer walk with You through this tragedy, for we walk by faith, not sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Monday, February 14, 2005


Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
My husband is sick
And that’s P.U.

He coughed and he snored
All through the night.
I got little sleep
And I look a fright.

At least I can get him
What he needs today:
An over-the-counter
Medicine bouquet.


Prayer request: Lord, we lift up baby Lauren, born prematurely a week ago Sunday at 2 pounds, 8 ounces and 15 inches. Today she will be having surgery for a heart murmur. She is the great-granddaughter of some very dear friends of a DailySusan reader. Father, Your favorite thing is new life, and You are rich in mercy. We thank You for Lauren’s life, and pray that she will heal and grow, and one day brag that she had heart surgery on Valentine’s Day! (Ephesians 2:4)

Sunday, February 13, 2005


O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
-- Psalm 69:5

Ah, romantic attraction! Ah, thrilling infatuation! Around Valentine’s Day, it’s fun to mimic the timid woodland creatures in Bambi getting “twitterpated.”

Just don’t let it get out of hand. A powerful crush can cause you and your friends to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Things that could get you arrested and thrown in the clink for the rest of your life. Not a bad way to get out of housework, but still. . . .

Here’s my embarrassing story: my young friend had taken a shine to a police officer in our town. He looked good in his uniform, I guess.

Her hints at wanting a date were too subtle. She wanted a way to get his attention, short of speeding through town at 110 mph or robbing a store.

It was almost Christmas. So she hatched this scheme:

She talked a friend of hers, a macho man with a barrel chest and lots of muscles, into posing for a picture in a Santa Claus teddy. That’s right, ladies’ lingerie.

Red velvet, white fur and all.

Not only that, but he was in cowboy boots, holding a horse whip. She took the picture in his back yard. It was the fastest photo session in recorded history.

She drove far away to get the film developed anonymously.

Then she came to me, which is a worry. What? Me diabolical? She wanted a picture of the police officer’s face. No problem! I went to work. Presto! It was right there on the police department’s website. That’s a small town for you. We printed it out.

Then we carefully cut off the other guy’s head – from the picture, with an X-acto knife, of course – and replaced it with her crush’s. Perfect! Counterfeiters couldn’t match that patch job.

Beads of remorseful sweat suddenly formed on my brow. What were we doing? This could scar him for life! This could destroy his career! AND HE’S GOT A GUN!

I tried to talk her out of it. But she was on a twitterpated toot.

She got some jolly Christmas paper and had the image photocopied with the message, “Ho Ho Ho!”

Then she talked the weekend police dispatcher into putting copies in everybody’s briefing book for Monday morning.

Legal concepts from my days as a courthouse reporter jammed my mind and kept me sleepless:

Intentional infliction of emotional distress!

Accessory to the felony of ridiculing law enforcement!


Impersonating an officer!

Impersonating an officer as a female impersonator!

The next thing I knew, he was driving by my house regularly, reaaaal slow. I couldn’t tell if he was smiling or frowning. I knew I’d really be in for it if I went to get the binoculars and got caught looking back. Looking . . . guilty!

Meanwhile, my friend wouldn’t return my increasingly-desperate phone calls.

I kept expecting a SWAT team in hooded sweatshirts to break down my door, screaming, “Freeze! Up against the wall!” I would mistake them for our teenagers and their friends, who all wear hooded sweatshirts 24 / 7. I would bark orders for NO ONE to go up against ANY wall because it’s SOOOOO hard to clean those pesky fingerprints. And then they would machine-gun me for resisting arrest. And THEN how would the wall look?!?

Finally, two of our kids were stopped outside a neighborhood t-p job. Habitual lawbreaker that I am, I knew about it. I even lent the getaway car. They’d found out a neighbor girl who’d been sick all her life had never gone t-p’ing. That couldn’t stand. Naturally, they all got caught. By you-know-who.

But you know what? He let them go, with a warning, and a wink.

Shortly thereafter, my friend fell deeply in love and got married . . . to someone else. Someone ELSE?!? After all THAT?!?

No hijinks involved. The cop just wasn’t “the one.” Sigh.

But he still drives around my house sometimes, reaaaal slow. I may have gotten away with some criminal mischief on the romance beat . . . but as far as he’s concerned, I’ll be on probation for life.


Praise report: It is with unbounded joy that I can pass along the good news of reconciliation between two women. It’s a goal that several of us have been praying for, for months. The mother-in-law, Bonnie, is one of the sweetest, kindest, most open and welcoming people I’ve ever met. Her face just glows with the love of the Spirit. It has been perplexing to us to learn that she and her daughter-in-law have clashed, but we know it takes two to tango. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for working in both of their hearts to break the dam of icy misunderstanding so that love can flow, now and always. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Saturday, February 12, 2005


You’ve heard of the DeanDome and the SuperDome. Well, when Maddy’s telling stories, this house becomes . . . the RanDome.

Maddy has been dictating Valentine’s Day epics to go with her original artwork of red and pink paint, glitter and stickers. Two blobs fall in love and get married; one blob was trapped in a cage but found a heart key and got out; two other young lover-blobs go to the playground together. It’s formula romance, a genre that works this time of year.

Well, my favorite is the saga of Jack and Daisy. This time, they’re monsters, not blobs. Well, actually Jack is a monster and Daisy is an alien. Jack has one eye and eight noses, and though we’re spared details of Daisy’s visage and fashion choices, I’m sure they’re monstrous. Everyone else is afraid of them, but they’re not afraid of each other. They fall in love and walk home. The End.

If that’s not an allegory for every love story I’ve ever heard. . . .


Prayer request: Today is “Darwin Day,” the birthday of Charles Darwin. It’s marked by atheists and evolutionists who rely on that Godless theory of the creation and development of the universe and the Earth. While evolution is being increasingly debunked by scientific findings, they cling to it, and it still provides a framework for people to deny God. Lord Jesus, we lift up to You a few special people who need to know You and feel Your touch. Send Your Spirit to lead them to make that leap of faith toward You, and leave behind this satanic deception. We pray for Duane, Les and PZ. (Gen. 1:1)

Friday, February 11, 2005


Did you take French? Then you’ll remember the nonsense line about your aunt’s pen. It helped you learn articles, but otherwise, it was straight out of the Kingdom of Random.

Well, our 17-year-old can now go that one better. In French class yesterday, she and a partner were supposed to tell each other things they would do if they could, and then explain why they couldn’t.

You know: “I’d give you the pen of my aunt but I haven’t got an aunt.”

Well, our daughter got into the spirit of the thing when she said, “I’d put on my black pants but I haven’t got any legs.”

Her partner returned, “I’d take you to the movies but I don’t have any eyes.”

They didn’t get much French learned, but they sure had a good time.


Praise report: Joy, joy, joy. Our friend Callie came in second in the district diving meet yesterday and was named an All-American. Your gifts to her of talent and dedication have paid off beautifully, Lord. We praise You for this glorious outcome, and are happy for her parents and grandparents as well. (Titus 3:14)

Prayer requests: Patience and rest, Lord, for the family of Claudia, who is struggling in a Kansas City hospital after surgery for colon cancer . . . may our dear friend’s brother-in-law George get the job that will bring him and his family closer to loved ones . . . and healing and strength for Arturo, the boy who had a bone-marrow transplant. We pray, too, that he will be inspired to open his heart to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, as he has been hearing the Gospel from visitors through his ordeal. (1 Peter 1:5)

Thursday, February 10, 2005


One of my favorite commentators, Britain’s Mark Steyn, recently reported on Richard Kral, a Slovak gent. He was driving in some European mountain range when all of a sudden, his car was hit by an avalanche.

He frantically tried to dig his way out, but saw that the snow was sure to stay ahead of him.

He glanced the large quantity of beer that he happened to have in the car because he was off on holiday: 60 half-litres. Eureka! A survival strategy popped into his head.

He made like an American college student, and drank mass quantities of the beer. A short while later, he did what comes naturally when one has consumed mass quantities of beer. It melted a little snow. He drank some more. The natural consequence melted some more.

He drank and natural-consequenced his way all the way out of the snow pile, to life-giving air above.

He says his kidneys and liver hurt. But it’s better to be alive and royally P.O.’ed than not alive at all.


Prayer request: A young friend is competing in the district diving meet today. Lord, give Callie the dives of her life! Augment her natural athletic ability and beauty with grace and confidence, and reward her efforts with great scores. Let her know that it is You who gave her that skill, and when she develops it to the best of her ability, You are blessed. (2 Timothy 3:14)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


We were outside the post office. I was strapping Maddy in to her carseat. Suddenly, sirens sounded.

Maddy got a stricken look on her face, and thrust both her hands skyward. As in . . . look, Officer, I have no weapon.

I think someone’s been watching a little bit too much TV.


Prayer request: A friend of a teacher has passed along this call for help for a 12-year-old boy, Arturo, who had a bone-marrow transplant last week. His 4-year-old sister was the donor. Lord, we know that Your favorite thing is to surprise us and delight us by granting our prayers. We pray that Arturo’s body would not reject the transplant, and that the brother and sister will have a long, happy life together, praising Your name for a cure and an answer to prayer. (Psalm 37:4,5)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Monday’s discussion of nerdy ways to hurt your neck has a capper: our daughter Eden went to her friend’s neighbor’s house over the weekend because he can do superb card tricks.

While they were there, they learned that he had recently suffered a concussion while merely sitting on his couch in his family room. It seems he dropped something, bent down to pick it up . . . and simultaneously, his 120-pound Doberman raced across the room, ducking under the coffee table, and coming up for air on the other side – right where the man was bending down.

Kaboom! They butted heads. The knot on the head of the big Doberman plunged into the man’s cranium.

The poor guy got nauseated and dizzy, had to go to the emergency room . . . and then got another headache trying to ‘xplain it all to the doctors, insurance people and co-workers.



Prayer request: I didn’t realize that another person I really admire had a birthday Monday. Keri owns the preschool we take our Maddy to, and does a fabulous job. Her first year of business has had its challenges, and she’s balancing a husband and two young daughters on top of it all. So Lord, we lift up Keri for Your special attention, love and grace in the coming year. Show her Your beauty, O “fairer than the children of men,” and bless her for all that she does for children and their families. (Psalm 45:2)

Monday, February 07, 2005


Someone I know had a tragicomical episode over the weekend. She put a painful crick in her neck . . . by pulling off a hooded sweatshirt the wrong way.

No, it wasn’t me. But I’ve done stuff like that. Someone else I know put a painful crick in HIS neck by merely standing in the shower and lazily moving his cheek to get water on it. We called him “Turkey in the Shower,” a takeoff on that all-American folk song that you just HAVE to whistle to, except you can’t, if you have a painful crick in your neck.

Turns out we aren’t the only ones dealing with this. We heard about a guy named Nick with the nickname “Nick the Neck.” He has a longstanding neck injury that requires someone else to sit in the passenger seat whenever he drives, and be his “neck” – his peripheral vision.

Gee. With that nickname, I thought he was a really good kisser.


Prayer request: Warm-hearted birthday greetings today to my friend Ann, who marks the Big 5-0. She is a shining example of success in single motherhood, despite all the obstacles. She works hard at a full-time job, and is caring for a parent with a tough, chronic illness. With her sense of humor, though, she has been a blessing to family and friends and has honored Your ways. Lord, hear our prayer to draw Ann close to Your heart and strengthen and encourage her for the road ahead. (Psalm 103:1)

Sunday, February 06, 2005


In the day when I cried thou answeredst me,
and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.
-- Psalm 138:3

This Wednesday, a girl I loved should be turning 21. She should be in college, making plans for spring break, and toasting her friends with her first champagne.

But Cara was born with an incredibly difficult heart defect. Although her family and medical team did a heroic job of extending her life ‘way past the initial prognosis, a year ago summer, she died.

She had one of the biggest funerals in Omaha history. But I couldn’t go. So my friend Chris, who’d prayed hard for Cara, went in my stead.

She sat with her husband in the second to last row. As the service was about to begin, Chris became aware of someone getting seated behind her. She sensed that she should turn around.

It was a woman, looking at the funeral program with a picture of Cara holding a yellow rose.

Chris asked softly, “Jenny?”

The two women’s eyes locked. Jenny smiled. “Hi, Chris! How’s Trevor?”

You see, Chris’ son Trevor was born, four months before Cara, with a serious heart defect, too . . . and Jenny had been his cardiology nurse.

Through the years, Jenny had remained Trevor’s nurse, so devoted that she was like a second mother to him.

It finally dawned on Chris that both must have been patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Had Jenny been Cara’s nurse, too?

She nodded, eyes filling with tears.

Chris knew just what she was thinking: Why did Cara die, God? How did we fail? We did our best! We fought so hard!

Chris realized that she and Trevor must have sat in medical waiting rooms alongside Cara and her mother a number of times, but they never knew it. Now here they were, connected once again, through Jenny.

The service began. It celebrated Cara’s life, how much she had touched everyone she came in contact with, how many souls she had led to Christ, and how many hearts she had cheered with her sweetness and strength.

Everyone felt better. Everyone said it was the most beautiful funeral they’d ever attended.

Then it was over. People filed out, row by row.

Chris noticed that Jenny held back in the pew, overcome. She went to her. They hugged, tight.

Chris suggested that Jenny read Psalm 139. It reminds us that God knows each of us before we are born, and has His hand on us through all of our days.

Seeing the yellow rose in the picture with Cara and wanting to cheer up Jenny, Chris told her how much he loved flowers when he was little, and how the doorbell would ring, and it would be him, holding a dandelion in his grimy fist for her.

Jenny smiled through her tears.

Chris could tell Jenny needed some good news. So she told how Trevor was tall and strong now, his heart in good shape in more ways than one: he was in love and was getting married.

Jenny smiled again.

But why, God? Why did Trevor live, and Cara die? The question pounded in both their hearts.

Chris told Jenny this: we can water the flowers God entrusts to us, and weed them, fertilize them, mulch them -- but when God chooses to pick a beautiful and fragrant one and bring it close to enjoy, it is His choosing and His timing. And we must trust Him in that. Have to. Can.

Chris knew why she, of all people, was sitting in front of Jenny at that funeral. It was God’s way of telling Jenny: no, you didn’t fail. You did your job beautifully. You were My hands, for Cara. You were part of a great plan, an eternal success.

Jenny smiled once again, this time with acceptance.

They walked out of the church arm in arm . . . not one nurse, but two . . . both completing their assignments of loving and caring . . . one for the body, the other for the soul.


Prayer request: We pray for health, life and laughter for Chris and Trevor and all the ones they love, Lord . . . and for those things, and beautiful memories, for Cara’s family this week, too. Send them the gentle rain of Your tender mercies, and the sure knowledge of Cara’s happiness and wholeness at the side of her Savior. Jesus is the Heart of all that is good and true and beautiful, as Cara was and is and always will be. (Psalm 138:8)

Saturday, February 05, 2005


A friend tells a quaint story about how her father asked for her mother’s hand in marriage: it seems her maternal grandfather was a Southern gentleman all the way, very courteous and respectful of ladies in general, and very protective of his daughter in particular.

When her suitor made the appointment to ask the big question, he was really nervous. He blurted it out. The imposing Colonel graciously gave permission.

The suitor was from wild and woolly Wyoming, and not given much to the niceties. Still pretty nervous, he thought he’d make a little joke.

“Well, I’ll give her a try, and if she doesn’t work out, I’ll bring her back,” he told the Colonel.

Dead silence! Smoke started coming out of the Colonel’s ears. It was like firing the cannons on Fort Sumter. That marriage almost got stopped before it ever started.

Years later, the Colonel still wasn’t quite sure about this Yankee carpetbagger . . . but glad to report they lived happily ever after.


Prayer request: Peace and strength to our friend Lynn, who lost his wife Lynne this week to brain cancer. Lord, we are so thankful for the family and friends You have placed around Lynn. He has been a beautiful example of faith and support during this long trial. Bless him with rest and renewal now, ‘til he sees her again. (Jeremiah 31:6)

Friday, February 04, 2005


In gardening season, I happened on a tremendously satisfying new cuss word: “Bok choy!” It suited every occasion.

Now that it’s the dead of winter, though, I needed a new one. And here it came, courtesy of an old, old and I do mean old friend:

“H . . . E . . . Double Hockey Sticks!”

I think that’s where hockey players exhort each other to go when they’re engaged in those altercations and fisticuffs at the rink. Or something like that.


Praise report: We are thankful that President Bush had a peaceful, productive visit to Nebraska last night and today. We bless You, Father, for giving us a man of God as our leader. We’re thankful for his desire to fix the Social Security system in a way that won’t hurt our seniors today, nor the seniors of decades to come. Continue to give President Bush wisdom and grace, Lord. (Romans 13:1)

Prayer request: In reading the obituary, I was struck by Bob’s large family: the grandchildren whose names I knew from office parties when he’d recite what they were up to with pride and joy . . . the many brothers and sisters and spouses . . . I got a glimpse of his well-rounded life that went far beyond work. Oh, Lord, reward his faith in You and welcome this son of Yours into his heavenly home. Remind his loving family that there’ll be a place for them with him, too, if they only believe. (Matthew 6:13)

Thursday, February 03, 2005


How I love receiving my monthly Imogene Hub. The February issue reminds us of careful we must be when city folks marry country folks. I’ve heard of farmer’s daughters who bring home city-slicker boyfriends who make everybody laugh with how fancified their shoes and socks are, and or urban girlfriends who raise a ruckus on visits out to the sticks in their flashy jewelry and black spaghetti strap outfits.

Well, according to the Hub, an Iowa farm girl married a boy from the teeming metropolis of Omaha, and soon thereafter, there was trouble. The bride’s mother said to her father, “Phillip never saw a live pig before he married Theresa.”


(A subscription to this crazy little monthly newspaper would make a fun Valentine’s Day gift. $12 a year. Write to: The Imogene Hub, 1485 390 Ave., Imogene, IA 51645)


Prayer request: Roger, the father of a friend’s friend named Pam, has been battling esophagus cancer for about a year. He had to have his throat stretched again yesterday and they are really struggling. Father, there’s a sad beauty in the fact that the source of our literal inspiration, the throat, where we take in air, is where this disease is. Send Your most precious inspiration – Your Holy Spirit – the Breath of Life – to this precious family. (Acts 17:25)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Some people are just born to be medical doctors, caring and compassionate ‘way beyond us normal mortals. For example, one beloved internist had a long, white scar on the back of his hand. It really showed up in the summer when his hands were tanned.

Turns out that, when he was a little boy, his friend had gotten a long earthworm, placed it on a brick, and raised a hatchet to bring it down and cut the worm in half.

The kindly future doctor could not bear that. At the last instant, as he grabbed the worm, the hatchet came down on the back of his hand.

The worm survived unscathed, never knowing the sacrifice that was made on his behalf.


Prayer request: I have three friends named Holly with daughters Maddy’s age. You know which Holly I mean, Lord, when I ask that her house sells quickly, and for a good price, as her young family moves to the Twin Cities. Keep our soul ties close forever, Father, and use them to draw both of us closer to Your heart. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


(Unable to display pictures: a public toilet on a busy street corner in Houston which is mirrored on the outside, but from the inside looking out, looks like clear glass.)

I think my answer is “no.” But it’s remarkable. Whoa!


Prayer request: We lift up to You for Your matchless grace and encouragement a dear one named Melissa, who has a birthday today. She is somewhat estranged from her father. But Lord, we pray that the bonds of old “stuff” will fall away and the two of them will feel free to embrace and really relate to one another, as in happier times. Master of reconciliation, here’s a twosome who need You. Hear our prayer, dear Lord. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)