Thursday, June 30, 2005


I once lost the diamond out of my engagement ring gardening at our daughter’s preschool. My husband was understanding: he just put his hand on my shoulder and said, kindly, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a ‘thing.’”

Well, recently I wrote about a happy young couple who got engaged on a Colorado mountaintop after the future bridegroom went through a Keystone Kops caper getting the ring from Omaha and so forth.

And wouldn’t you know it: his bride-to-be looked down at her hand the other day (engaged girls do that a lot!) and the stone was GONE!

Worse, she was on the phone with her future MOTHER-IN-LAW at the time!

It was just a “thing,” too, but only days old. But fortunately, she found it in a bathroom hand towel, and they’re going to fix the setting ASAP. Whew.

Coincidentally, I’m reading the Karen Hughes autobiography, “Ten Minutes From Normal,” about a top advisor to President Bush. She was in Seoul, Korea, not far from where her father had fought communists during the Korean War.

Her surroundings were vastly different from wartime: she was attending a reception at the presidential palace when she looked down and was “sickened” to see that her engagement ring diamond was missing.

While the two presidents were giving their toasts, her eyes swept all around the floor, trying to spot it, “but the room was huge and the carpet was light,” she wrote.

She showed her “empty” ring to the coat-check man, but he didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Korean, so she went back to her hotel, devastated.

Thirty minutes later, a message came over her pager: “STONE FOUND.”

The Korean workers had gotten down on their hands and knees with combs to find it.

She was blown away by that incident, and many others kindnesses, that she says demonstrate how grateful the South Koreans are to us for helping them maintain their freedom.

Liberty: it’s only a “thing,” too. But once you’ve had it, you know it’s even more precious than diamonds.

And that’s something to think about, this Fourth of July weekend.

Prayer request: We lift our hands to You, Father, to protect Amy, 45, during open-heart surgery today. She is so young, Lord! And her valve problem is so serious. Be with her two young children and husband, and strengthen the hands and minds of her medical team so that the surgery is highly successful. Most of all, draw her and her family to Yourself through this trial, and lend them Your heart, which is all any of us ever really needs. (Philippians 2:2-4)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Pharmacies are serious places, but every once in a while, you’ve got to liven things up. One day, my pharmacist friend finished a prescription for someone named White . . . and the wheels in her head engaged.

She printed reprint labels from several real customers who were in the pharmacy’s database, labeled a bunch of sacks, put an empty Rx bottle in each sack, and put them in the tote to be paged.

Everyone was busy, following proper workflow, when the cashier was caught up enough to page another batch:

"The following parties may return to the pharmacy at your convenience: White, Green, Gray, Brown, Blue, Black, and Reddish."

Oh, to see the look on their faces!


Prayer request: There’s a teenage “punk” named Kyle, the leader of a pack of about a dozen kids who hang on his every word and action. But somehow or another, he went to a Christian youth retreat, and has rededicated his life to Jesus Christ. We rejoice with You, Lord, and pray for dedication and success for Scott, the youth minister who has begun the process of discipling Kyle. Bless Kyle’s growth so he will use his influence for You, Lord, and allow Scott to get everything done on top of this exciting new assignment. (Philippians 2:2-4)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Here's an action pic of BEAMER!!! She's out with her team, the Firestix, at the Colorado Sparkler Tournament. Go, Stix!

Reports keep coming in of ways that other people have done themselves accidental bodily harm. Although of course I feel sorry for them, it also secretly makes me feel a little better that I’m not the ONLY klutz.

One fellow was engaged in horseplay with a larger friend, who tackled him, and knocked his breath away. But he went home and went to bed, and then played 18 holes of golf the next day – getting only about one-fourth his usual distance with each stroke. He finally went to the doctor and found out he had three cracked ribs.

An elderly friend confides that she was getting up from the “watercloset,” felt a little dizzy, fell back down, and struck the old-fashioned handle that stuck out from the side. She went to a dinner that night and couldn’t lean back in her chair. Finally, she sought a doctor’s advice: the Attack of the Killer Toilet Tank gave her a cracked rib.

Then there was the midlife crisis fellow I know who just HAD to get himself a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The same weekend I had my ill-fated foray into Minnesota indoor downhill skiing, he skidded on some gravel in Iowa, and shattered his ankle in several places.

And, waiting for my prescription to be filled, I ran into an old friend whose husband had played in a charity golf event that morning. His crazy-driver golf buddy was driving the car too fast. It started to tip over. My friend stuck his hand out in a goofy attempt to right the golf cart . . . and shattered his wrist in five places, will need surgery, has a long recovery ahead of him, etc. etc.

We all sing the Cingular dum-dum song: Doot doo! Doot doot doooo!!!


Prayer request: Lord, thank You for sending people to help me get through this recovery; their love and advice is most appreciated. Help me and my fellow “patients” who are struggling with pain and injuries right now to be a lot more “patient,” get more rest, and spend more precious quiet time with You. I read the Bible, prayed, and then took a two-hour nap yesterday. It did me a world of good, Lord. Help me adopt a slower, richer, more deliberate pace of life, which is so much healthier – and safer! (Proverbs 4:26)

Monday, June 27, 2005


I’m glad I wrote about my punctured lung and fractured ribs caused by rushing downstairs to catch a TV replay of a college baseball play. Several people have written me consolation notes describing ways that THEY have hurt themselves in similar dignified fashion.

My favorite is from a fun gal who was at a big Super Bowl watch party at the home of her brother-in-law. It made me happy to realize that at LEAST nobody saw my spectacular and goofy fall, and nobody got it on videotape, thank goodness. She tells her story this way:

“I took a rather quick trip down his stairs, but I landed on my tummy with my right foot pointing straight back. Unfortunately, your foot is not supposed to point straight back. I lay there for about 10 minutes and concentrated on not throwing up, it hurt so bad!

“My husband had the good sense to take off my running shoe. If he had not, we would have had to cut it off. (The shoe, not my foot!)

“After x-rays, it was determined that a tendon the goes between my big toe and the next toe had torn loose and taken the piece of bone it was attached to with it. Would you believe when they took the first cast off after a month, you could see exactly where the tendon went up my leg, by following the black and blue marks?

“So when I say I feel your pain, I REALLY feel your pain. It was downright embarrassing to do something so clumsy in front of everyone I know! And they still give me grief about it.”

Well, I don’t. Solidarity, my comrade in the . . . Ku Klutz Klan!


Prayer request: A young friend of ours, Jon, is home after military service in Iraq, and another special young man, Mark, is about to enter the Air Force. Father, we thank You for these brave and smart young men who are so willing to give of themselves for others. Keep them in Your special care and protection, and bring people into their lives who will help them develop themselves to be even more special. (Psalm 32:8)

Sunday, June 26, 2005


(H)e that hasteth with his feet sinneth.
-- Proverbs 19:2b

Last weekend, we went to the Twin Cities for our daughter’s softball tournament, and had to miss the University of Nebraska’s College World Series opener in Omaha.


The “oy” turned into an “uff da” in a hurry – which is what I was in too much of.

See, we also visited friends who recently moved up there to a southwest suburb, Chanhassen, which, prophetically, is Indian for “sap.”

Their TV was downstairs. We put on the baseball game. I was upstairs when I heard the crowd roar. We must’ve scored!!! I scrambled downstairs to catch the replay, exulting:


But my slick sandals, to the carpeted stairs, were like well-waxed skis to the slopes.

I did a soaring open pike into a full layout with an inward twist.

Artful, actually. But I didn’t get enough height on my dive, nor enough water under it. My heroically-proportioned corpus came down hard on my right ribcage:


My friend found me, speechless for once.

I sprawled flat the rest of the game, depleting my cell-phone battery with updates to my beloved, who was ‘way north of town with the softball team, TV-less. I mentioned my indoor dive in my final report about the Husker win.

“You might’ve bruised your ribs,” he muttered. “Better go have an x-ray.”

But this was the first sleepover for Maddy, 5, with her best friend Cissa and sister Sofia. You don’t haul kids to the E.R. at 10 p.m.

So I left her, and drove myself to the hospital in Waconia, 15 miles away.

They were astounded I hadn’t been rushed in by ambulance. It seems my right lung had been punctured by ribs fractured by my indoor dive.

On the x-ray, my lung looked like a balloon that had been run over and stomped upon. I must admit it was an ego boost to have all those handsome doctors looking at pictures of my chest and saying, “Wow!”

But once I knew what I had, the pain magnified. An old coot in the next enclosure was begging for “opium.”

I entreated the nurse: “I’ll have what HE’S having.”

Meanwhile, my husband got the motel manager to drive him the 45 miles to Waconia. He arrived just after they’d shoved a tube through my ribs into my lung to pump me back up, and the narcotics – not “opium,” but close – made me lose my Pizzaioli pizza and Izzy’s ice cream, repeatedly and with gusto.

Meanwhile, Maddy’s first sleepover was a holocaust. She kept popping up and declaring: “This isn’t going to work.”

Eventually, though, it did. And I saw once again that, whenever you fall, the grace you’re given while you’re lifted back up makes it well worth the pain.

Though I was hospitalized through Monday, my husband had a happy Father’s Day after all: he got to go on the log ride with Maddy at Camp Snoopy 4,000 times.

The doctors and nurses were all named “Larson,” “Olson” and “Hanson.” They treated me like a Valkyrie queen. The discharge orders said no cooking or cleaning for six weeks. Was this Waconia, or Valhalla?

Our friends brought me pink, fragrant, Paul Bunyan-size peonies, and tactfully stenciled “No Diving” on their stairway wall.

My mom was relieved to learn I had on brand-spankin’ new underwear.

Though I now know where every bump in the road is, back to Omaha, and the Huskers eventually lost despite my supreme zeal, my “Mother’s Little Helper” pills helped me not care.

Friends brought in dinners, I found a comfortable position to sleep – on my left earlobe – and the doctor says I’ll be pain-free in a month, as a long as I don’t talk, sing, sneeze, hiccup, have gas or breathe.

The doctor’s name: Olson . . . same as the motel manager who drove 90 miles round trip to bring my husband to the E.R. to say those three little words: “Nice going, Klutz.”

A Minnesota vacation: it takes your breath away.

Of course I’ll be back: in orthopedic shoes with rock-climbing cleats, a life preserver, helmet, choke collar, and a new tattoo: “Haste Makes Waste . . . You Dumb Chanhassen.”


Prayer request: The accident made me so grateful, Lord, that it wasn’t worse, and that I have good overall health so that I can heal fast. It was a unique chance to witness Your stupendous artistry in the way You made our bodies, since my lung healed itself almost immediately. It’s humbling to recognize that the pain I’m feeling now is nothing next to the pain another softball mom is feeling, in the murder of her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah Neal, this past week in Omaha. The recovery road ahead of me is short, Lord, but theirs is for a lifetime. We pray a mantle of protection, strength and peace over each of them. And Lord? I’m determined to live life by Your timing from now on, and not always be in such a rush! (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Here are three more of my favorite names:

-- The dictionary defines “degenerate” as falling below a normal or desirable level of physical, mental or moral qualities, or a sexual deviate. That’s why I’m amused by the name of the first openly lesbian woman on TV, Ellen DeGeneres.

-- Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian, physician and missionary, was noted for his philosophy of finding life’s purpose in service to others. So it’s pretty cool that the scientist who recently found red blood cells and blood vessels in a dinosaur bone in South Dakota, supposedly 70 million years old -- a highly effective bombshell against the myth of evolution and a great service to preserving people’s faith in God and the Bible -- is North Carolina State’s Dr. Mary Schweitzer.

-- Another beloved Christian missionary from Africa was Dr. David Livingstone, who courageously explored much of that continent and opened it up to bring the truth of the Bible to countless Africans. Today, we have Dr. David Livingston, an archaeologist, whose explorations into Biblical sites such as Jericho and Ai are proving once again the historical veracity of the Bible. See

What’s in a name? Hmmm. Maybe more than we think.


Praise report: We thank You, Father, for the gentle rains that have blessed the heartland this spring and summer so far. Driving back from Colorado a few weeks ago, we were amazed at how much better drought-stricken western Nebraska looks, and returning from Minnesota earlier this week, we were struck by the beauty of the green fields and the burgeoning crops. Thanks for Your bounty, Water of Life. (John 4:14)

Friday, June 24, 2005


Among my wacky hobbies, I collect funny names. That’s right: the old friend named “Candy Treat” . . . the OB/GYN named “Dr. Beavers” . . . the Chinese pilot named “Wang Wei,” pronounced “wong way,” whose navigational error caused his jet to crash into Nebraskan Shane Osborn’s aircraft over the South China Sea, causing the Navy lieutenant and crew of 24 to crash-land and be held captive by the Chinese for a few scary days. . . .

Well, I have a new favorite funny name. It appeared in a story about domestic-partner benefits being paid by Fortune 500 companies. The woman is a senior vice president at Prudential. The article revealed that she has been transgendered.

That means she used to be a “he.”

Her name? “Margaret Stumpp.”


Prayer request: A reader’s close friend Judy has requested prayer for herself and her family in a tragic turn of events affecting her husband, 51. He had a stroke in late May, a subsequent staph infection, and is now in a coma on life support. She said there is little chance of recovery, and they have already talked with her about disconnecting the machines. Father, we lift Judy and family up to You for tender comfort and loving guidance. We pray that they will discern Your will, and follow it, and be washed in Your peace. Give them strength, Lord. (Psalm 46:1)

Thursday, June 23, 2005


I really admire the work of education writer Joanne Jacobs of San Jose, Calif. I visit her blog,, regularly. The other day, I was doing some research on cities with several school districts because of the hubbub caused by an announced takeover of suburban districts by the Omaha Public Schools. I learned that the San Jose metro area has 36 school districts. I couldn’t believe it. So I emailed her.

She wrote back a lovely reply confirming that, chock full of facts, and also mentioned that her father went to the flagship high school of the Omaha Public Schools, downtown’s Central High, and her great-uncle, Morris Jacobs, once served on the Nebraska State Board of Education.

I went her one better: the College World Series is under way this week in Omaha – probably our neatest event of the whole year – and guess who was one of the two co-founders of this marvelous sporting event?

Morris Jacobs!

He was an advertising industry legend and helped found Bozell & Jacobs, a longtime staple in the Omaha ad world, now an international star.

I sent her the page from the CWS website mentioning him, and told her that his name is still revered in the Omaha area. She was delighted. It’s a small world, and often, a wonderful one.


Praise report: Thank You, thank You, Lord Jesus, for the great medical news received by pro-life warrior Julie. Her symptoms do not add up to multiple sclerosis. Praise You for this encouraging news. Tests continue, and her condition still remains diagnosed. We pray that You will guide the doctors to a mild and gentle conclusion about a relatively minor malady, and heal it forthwith. (Hebrews 10:23)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

DailySusan resumes today after an unfortunate weekend mishap. Three hints: “clumsy oaf,” “hospitalization” and “narcotics are our friends.” I’m on the comeback trail now, feeling much better, and will tell the whole embarrassing story on Sunday.



Over the weekend, Maddy, 5, got to go to Camp Snoopy, the wonderful indoor amusement park at Mall of America in the Twin Cities.

Her favorite was the log ride, which got her and her daddy wet approximately 4,000 times, a great memory for a Father’s Day spent out of town.

Maddy may grow up to be a tax auditor or government official, however. She is quite the sober-sided realist. Asked whether she would like to go on the roller coaster, she looked it over, and said:

“No. That could be a ‘frow-up’ situation.”


Prayer request: There’s a 13-year-old boy from Blair, Neb., who has had a stroke. He has partial paralysis on the right side and no speech. The 100% blockage of an artery in his head means that surgery is not an option at this time. The family must decide by Friday where to have him placed for long-term rehabilitation. They have asked for as much prayer cover as possible. Father God, this is not what summer is supposed to be for a boy of 13! This is not how parents are supposed to be feeling! Oh, Lord, have mercy, and show us all Your power and love with a healing and restoration that is clearly from You. We are destitute, Jesus, and You are our only hope: hear our prayers. (Psalm 102:17)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

DailySusan will resume on Monday, June 20. Happy Father’s Day, all you daddios!



In the “Whatta Woild” department, a friend sent this anecdote collected from a student newspaper at Oxford University in England:

It seems a local college student was arrested and jailed for a night after he “verbally abused” a police horse. He was fined for "causing harassment, harm or distress," after he repeatedly called the officer's horse "gay."

The student, Steve Brown, asked one officer, "How do you feel about your horse being gay?" while declaring that a second officer’s horse was clearly not gay.

This apparently went on for a while. Eventually, Brown's offer of an apology to the horse was rejected. He was handcuffed and taken by the officers to the police station.

A police spokesman said the "homophobic comments" were offensive to the policeman and his horse, as well as the general public.

Is this made up? Neighhhh. But I say: horsefeathers! If everyone concerned in this incident hadn’t acted like . . . the other end of a horse . . . life would’ve galloped along a lot more smoothly.


Prayer request: Our longtime dentist, Greg, is so worried about the cancer that his wife Linda is battling. He’s such a gentle and sweet man, and did such a whale of a great job on my new crown! Lord Jesus, crown HIM with Your peace and remind him that while life here on earth is fleeting, our life together with You is eternal and permanent. Bless his efforts to make Linda comfortable and enjoy their time together, cherishing every day as a gift from You. (Psalm 125:1)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


They just HAD to go. It was only in the 70s, and a cold front and storm clouds were a’comin’. Even so, the kids of the household wanted to go swimming, and nothing could stop them.

After a couple of hours, they were back, exhausted and happy that they got a little pool time in before the winds picked up. The little one, blue-lipped, wrapped herself up in her towel, shivering pitifully.

“What’s the matter? Are you cold?” I asked.

“Even my EYELIDS are cold!” she wailed.


Prayer request: The new baby, Dylan Michael, who belongs to the courageous young single mother, Michaela, is having some tests regarding a possible health problem. Oh, Lord, may it be nothing, may You comfort and quiet Michaela’s heart, and may Your guiding Hand be with the doctors and nurses as they investigate their concerns thoroughly. (Psalm 46:1,2)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Just another reason to raise the flag today:

A few months ago, readers reached out to a pregnant young woman who was on the verge of having an abortion, but then decided to bear the child and brave the storms of single motherhood. In an impromptu baby shower via emails, cards, money and baby gifts, we showed her God’s love and support in a tangible way.

It’s my distinct pleasure to report that on Monday, Dylan Michael arrived, in perfect health, weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and measuring 20.5 inches.

His mother, Michaela, is doing great, too, as is her mentor from church, Joan, who served as her Lamaze coach and has been literally with her every step of the way.

It’s such a privilege to be able to stand up for life and encourage this young mother. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep it up!


Praise report: Yet another flag-waver, Lord, is Your servant Cecilia, whose birthday is today. She works as a teacher of children, and a dedicated one at that, enlightening and inspiring young minds with a dedication toward excellence and encouragement. Thank You for teachers like her, and bless her on this special day by fulfilling the desires of her heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Monday, June 13, 2005


One of our favorite softball dads on our daughter’s traveling team is a high-ranking firefighter. This past weekend at a tournament in Tulsa, he and his wife were in their motel room watching a movie when the phone rang.

It seems one of the softball moms had had too many margaritas . . . and had passed out on the floor of the party room downstairs. Since he was a big, strong firefighter, could he come down and help the girls carry her upstairs to her room?

One can only imagine what he was thinking as he came off the elevator and saw her feet sprawled out on the doorsill of the party room. Tsk, tsk!


It was just a ruse to get him to come downstairs for his surprise birthday party. He was met with a tiny plastic toy firefighter’s hat, a cake with lots of candles, and lots and lots of jokes and good wishes.


Praise report: We are elated, O Lord, to learn that Andrea, the girl with the head injury from last Tuesday’s prayer request, has come through surgery with flying colors. Doctors are amazed, and the family is praising You and the power of prayer. Thank You, Sweet Jesus, for being so worthy of our trust and so willing to act upon our stated needs. (1 Peter 5:7)

Sunday, June 12, 2005


There be three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yea, four which I know not:
The way of an eagle in the air;
The way of a serpent upon a rock;
The way of a ship in the midst of the sea;
And the way of a man with a maid.
— Proverbs 30:18,19

You already know it’s not your typical engagement story: he asked her dad for her hand at “King Kong Gyros.”

Then he found the perfect ring, but when he came back with the money, it had been sold to someone else.

He found another one with an even bigger stone and better clarity for only $30 more. He ordered it.

But there was a snafu with his credit, he couldn’t get a hold of the salesperson, and the order was delayed.

They had to fly in the setting from California, set the stone, and overnight-deliver it to him so that he could propose on the day he had planned.

But Rodney and Alisha are college students, working in Colorado this summer, without a mailing address. The store won’t mail to a post-office box.

Sooooo . . . Rodney, who works for the local police department, asked the wife of another officer to receive his ring at her house.

But the store, trying to be helpful, sent it a day EARLY. So she missed it.

The Fed Ex doortag said they’d be back at 4:30 p.m. the NEXT day . . . too late for Rodney’s plan to propose on a mountaintop, like a line in a song they loved by Christian singer Bebo Norman, “The Turning Point.”

He HAD to get that ring. He searched frantically for the Fed Ex phone number. No luck.

A fellow officer said police dispatch had access to numbers not available to the public. Great! But wait: Alisha works in that office!

Rodney snuck in. Alisha’s computer and the other dispatcher’s are back to back. Alisha didn’t see him. He presented a note to the other dispatcher. She located the number of the Fed Ex manager who would be called if the store were burglarized.

Based on the tracking number off the doortag, he told Rodney the truck would be at a store in the next town, seven miles away, in a half-hour.

His sergeant gave him time off to fetch the ring. Unable to take a patrol car because it was out of the jurisdiction, he biked home, got in his truck, and rushed over there.

The Fed Ex manager said the store was on the right, so his eyes were glued there. Suddenly, though, he saw the Fed Ex truck coming TOWARD him.

Screech! He cut people off, made an illegal U-turn, got the bird from a passing car . . . realizing too late he was still in his police uniform . . . but caught up with the truck at the store a distance back, on the OTHER side of the road.

He ran in, exclaiming: “You have what I need!”

Everyone stared . . .

. . . but the deliveryman said, “You must be the one looking for me. What is it you can’t wait for?”

“My engagement ring!”

Everyone cheered. He handed it over. Rodney peeked. Yes, it was amazing . . . perfect.

Next afternoon was dark and stormy, but Rodney and Alisha set off on their hike, 2 ½ hours to the top. The 360-degree views were incredible.

They sat on a log. Rodney read a Bible passage about the Last Supper. They shared bread and grape juice, and prayed.

Rodney had Alisha stand, and gave her a card. While she read it, he pulled out the ring and knelt.

"Alisha, will you be my Queen?"

The answer was a resounding yes.

After all that . . . it had BETTER be! Talk about irresistible.

Rodney says that, since they took communion and invited God to be with them, the skies above them opened to a crystal blue and the sun shown right on top of them, all the way back down the mountain.

May their whole marriage be like that.

Because boy, does that bridegroom deserve to live happily ever after.


PRAYER REQUEST: We lift up to You, Lord, a good friend, Julie, who is searching for a passion in life. She is an excellent wife, mom, daughter, employee, friend and sister, but wants to have a strong direction in life that she knows is Your will, and to feel the excitement and purpose that comes with that certainty. Savior, what a worthwhile quest. Grant her heart’s desire, we pray. (Deuteronomy 13:18)

Saturday, June 11, 2005


One of the softball dads on our daughter’s traveling team was watching the televised NCAA softball finals, UCLA vs. Michigan. He noticed a freshman girl for the Lady Wolverines who smashed an RBI single and a 3-run home run to basically win the national championship for her team.

And he looked at her . . . and looked at her . . .

. . . and did a little checking, and finally, he recognized her: she was the player who homer’ed against our Nebraska-based traveling team last summer in the American Fastpitch Association national tournament in Beaumont, Texas. They beat us, 1-0, sending us back to Nebraska out of the running. Her team wound up second.

Heyyyy! Suddenly, we don’t feel so bad about that loss. Not so bad at all!


Prayer request: A dear friend and faithful pro-life warrior named Julie is facing a possible diagnosis of multiple sclerosis after a lesion was discovered on a brain scan. Then again, it could be something minor. Father, we pray for mercy and healing for Your loyal and loving servant, and comfort for her husband and children. Let this be a “close shave” and through their faith, let this trial remind them of Your goodness and glory. (Jeremiah 17:14)

Friday, June 10, 2005


Here’s a T-shirt I’m going to get:

I'M NOT 50! I'M $49.95 PLUS TAX.


Prayer request: Father, there’s a push toward making children in Nebraska attend government preschool and all-day kindergarten at taxpayer expense. It must make You sad to see moms and dads so willing to abdicate the responsibilities – and joys! – of rearing their own precious children for the lion’s share of the day, just because it’s convenient and somebody else is paying for it. We come up against this proposal, which has been shown to not help children academically anyway, and plead for the truth to come out so that these plans won’t materialize. Help parents be more faithful, like You. (Psalm 9:10)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


We have that wonderful kind of neighborhood where everyone knows they’re welcome to borrow stuff even if the owner isn’t home, and the item will be back in place at the earliest possible moment with a pan of brownies or whatever as a thank-you.

Until my neighbor let me know she’d borrowed it, I never missed it and didn’t even know we owned such a thing as a pry bar. She is demolishing her kitchen this summer, and had a bunch of teenage boys removing the floor tile. I was gone for most of the day, so when she couldn’t raise me by phone, she popped over to our barn on a hunch, and found the tool with no problem.

She emailed what she had done. I emailed her back a little quiz on what we use our pry bar for:

A. To take my hands off chocolate.
B. To take my hubby’s hands off the remote.
C. To take our older kids' hands off their cell phones.
D. To get Maddy out of bed in the morning.
E. All of the above.

On second thought, we’d all be happier if she’d just keep it, and we can hang on to our favorite hobbies with no interference.


Prayer request: It has been an extremely difficult year and a half for Nick, 24. First, his fiancée died in a weather-related car accident. Six months later, on the day before his
sister’s wedding, doctors diagnosed a cancerous tumor on his upper arm. He has withstood months of chemo, had surgery with a rod replacing his bone, and then chemo again, all in the past year. Nick was doing so well . . . only to have a spot show up on his lung this past week. Lord, we are glad to hear he has a large family of believers praying for him. We pray in one accord that it will turn out to be benign. Revive Nick’s hope and purpose, and save him, for Your glory. (Psalm 138:7)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


We were standing on the back patio visiting with some neighbors who’d dropped by, while Maddy held court in her kiddie wading pool.

All of a sudden, here came our long-haired, orange and white, extremely lazy and relatively fat feline – we call him “Fat Louie” – high-tailing it down the steps from our barn’s upper level. He was being hotly pursued across the back yard by these neighbors’ equally fat but also fleet female black Labrador, Bo.

Fat Louie scrambled around the wading pool and up the beam holding up our patio roof. Then he scampered down and around, and plunged into the wading pool – oops! it’s wet! – thought better of it, and dragged his drenched fur back out. He zoomed over to the house and clambered up to the top of our brick Texas barbecue, clutching the top of it and hissing downward at the panting, ecstatic dog.

All this transpired within the blink of an eye. We couldn’t believe what we saw. Fat Louis is like a Burgermeister. He doesn’t move much all year. In fact, that was as much as we’ve seen our barn cat move in the five years he’s owned us. It’s good to know he’s still got it if he needs it. Whew!


Prayer request: Lord, we ask you to be with my friend Kathleen, who has lost her godson to a mental illness and the sickening downward spiral of despair. He was only in his 20s, and such a child of promise and leadership. Let her know how much he loved her, and let her know that You are there for her and for the family at this painful and difficult time. (Isaiah 30:18)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Speaking of under-the-radar big, bad birthdays, a friend named Fred tried to avoid the traditional hazing from Executive Row the day he hit the Big 5-0 by quietly scheduling a business trip to South Carolina.

He smugly boarded the plane and arrived in the insurance field office half a country away . . . only to find that they had been tipped off! They had decorated the office with black streamers, and had a black cake with white icing and an old buzzard on it.

He was subjected to all the nasty insults and good-natured ribbing that he thought he was avoiding with his tricky gambit.

They wouldn’t let him eat the cake ‘til he went home with the boss and had the boss’ four grandchildren sing "Happy Birthday to Old Fred" in a wonderful southern drawl, amazed at the amount of flames that 50 candles put off.

When he got back, no one would admit to a thing. It was a “coup de fogie.”


Prayer request: A friend’s co-worker has a daughter Andrea who was hit in the head on Memorial Day and is going into surgery Wednesday morning to drain the water that has accumulated on her brain. The surgeons don't have a good outlook, but Father, we know You are able. We plead with You on this precious family’s behalf for a miraculous cure, but if it is not to be, we praise Your name even still for her sweet life. (Isaiah 48:9)

Monday, June 06, 2005


Is it too much to ask for old friends to cushion the blow of a big, bad birthday with tender words of encouragement and warm wishes of happiness?

But nooooooo. My friend the nurse told me breezily that it’s time to schedule my first screening colonoscopy.

Some birthday greeting, that!

She added, “The Versed is a wonder drug but the prep to get clean is a killer.”

You know, I really, REALLY hate the word “prep” as used by medical personnel. I guess I’d rather have my birthday spankings after all.


Prayer request: Safe travel and a great time, Lord, for our daughter and her softball teammates at a hitting camp in Dallas for these few days. Help us teach Eden better organizational skills for her college search, and give her a determination to practice, too, so that her dream of playing college ball can come true. (Deuteronomy 11:19)

Sunday, June 05, 2005


And even to your old age I am he;
and even to hoar hairs will I carry you;
I have made, and I will bear;
even I will carry, and will deliver you.
— Isaiah 46:4

One week before a big, bad birthday, you should go to the storm cellar with dark chocolate, a soft quilt and several junk novels, and stay there ‘til it alllllll blows over.

Wish I’d done that last week. Instead, I turned 50 in the harsh light of day, beset by constant reminders of my advancing age. With no recourse, I now become that “f” word . . . a “fogie.”

My only-slightly-younger brother proclaimed that I was passing the HALF-CENTURY mark – hahahahaha – asking with imitation compassion whether this birthday marked “the ultimate f-word.” He urged me to have Lasik eye surgery “so that we can compare our corneal flaps.” Sheesh. We USED to have FUN conversations. Now we’re down to cholesterol counts and dental work?


We went to the zoo. We saw the elephants. I stared at the deep grooves and ruts, the hardened rivulets and fossilized canyons, the alligator patches and dry, scaly plateaus. I just KNEW, next time I looked in the mirror, that’s what I’d see . . . ON MY FACE.


My mail was cruel. Guess what: “nifty” and “fifty” rhyme! Hahahahaha. And why, this week of all weeks, did I have to receive my redrafted Last Will and Testament? Doesn’t our overpriced law firm, Low & Blow, have any tact? “The party of the first part, dating back to the prior mid-century, whose crib is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, shall hereinafter not buy any green bananas. . . .”


Even at the grocery store, I suffered. I got in line behind a little old lady with white hair. She wrote a check. It took forever. She was trying to get cash back, but miscalculated. “Do you have a dime?” the cashier asked loudly. “I’d have to give you $29.90 in cash, the way you wrote this check. But if you’d give me a dime, I could give you $30 even.”

“Ohhhhh!” the she replied, confused. Hands shaking, she fished her wallet out of her purse. It had 14 rubber bands around it. Something in me snapped.

I plucked a dime out of my own wallet and handed it to the cashier. “Here! Here you go!”

The little old lady turned to look at me with gratitude . . .

. . . but the world stood still . . .


My eyes locked onto it. My entire being clenched.

THAT’S what’s next for me? Too old to do simple math, but with facial hair that’s the envy of teenage boys coast to coast?

You see, our third daughter is working this summer at a laser hair-removal salon. With my big birthday coming up, everyone has been kidding me about the possibility of getting a niiiiiice discount.

Eyes still riveted on that moustache, I listened as the cashier asked if I had a store card. No, I didn’t.

The old crone leaned over: “She can use mine!” She grinned, hairily.

Turns out, with her card, I saved $9.70! Not bad, for a dime’s investment.

I got to thinking: that’s how old age is. You just don’t know it while you’re getting there.

You put so much effort into rearing your children, you pucker your face. But you wind up with wonderful children. Good investment.

You try your best, for decades, to focus on the important people in your life. What do you get? Worn-out eyesight. But luckily, hindsight’s 20-20. Look back, and you’ll see: it was worth it.

You throw in a little kindness now and then, “just because,” not expecting anything, and you get a spectacular return, like 970 percent.

Getting old . . . is fun and easy and pays dividends!?!

Yep! Because you have Help. He’s with you, all the way. Talk about old . . . He’s the ULTIMATE Fogie!

Anyway, that $9.70 is a nice down-payment on my first hair-removal.

Maybe old age won’t be so hairy after all!


PRAYER REQUEST: Lord, there’s someone very special whose 50th birthday is right after mine. Steve has had an incredibly difficult year. But he’s still a very, very precious friend and someone I hope will be making me laugh well into the denture years. Lord Jesus, pull him close and grant my fervent birthday wish for us both to finish up strong, with happy, healthy, Godly “second halves.” (Psalm 71:17,18)

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Someone who shall remain nameless, in case she ever wants to try this again, had a special first date last night. She concocted a fun scheme based on an old cartoon we all used to enjoy. In the cartoon, a character talks about dating, and says, “When they go to a restaurant, he orders (in a deep, manly voice) a BIG PIECE OF BEEF . . . she she gets (in falsetto) . . . a sallllllllllad!”

So this nameless teenage girl and her date were going to a restaurant last night, and this was her plan: he would expect her to order something light, feminine and delicate. She planned to smile demurely as the waiter approached the table, and then when it was her turn to give her order, she was going to drop her voice two octaves, and rasp:


Wish I could’ve been a little bird to see the look on her 17-year-old date’s face.


Prayer request: Father, bless this new relationship with Your tender protection and encouragement, and use this beautiful, one-of-a-kind young lady to draw this nice young man closer to You through her bubbling humor and grace. (1 John 4:7,8)

Friday, June 03, 2005


We have been enjoying the antics of the new family fish. She swims left. She swims right. She swims up. She swims down. That’s about it, antics-wise. But it’ll do.

Her name has undergone a mutation, since the 5-year-old fish wrangler didn’t think “Sally” was tough enough. Now she is “Speedy.”

One can only hope that she is speedier than the other betta that Maddy has known. His name was “Cool Dude,” and he was the preschool pet for many months. But one Monday morning, the kids all came in to their room, and Cool Dude was . . . GONE!!!

Of course I had visions of a protracted deathbed, or death-aquarium scene, and heroic measures by the preschool staff involving fish CPR, somewhat complicated by litsy bitsy gills . . . but I was wrong.

Maddy informed me: “He ran away.”


Prayer request: Lord, help me to think of You and put You first all day today, and to concentrate really hard on how much I love You and how much You’ve done for me. Create in me an “attitude of gratitude” and help me to love others more fully and more like You. (1 Peter 1:22)

Thursday, June 02, 2005


We have a new pet. It is a Japanese fighting fish. It must come from the Amazon, because this fighting fish is literally an amazon – it’s a “she,” according to the resident expert, Maddy, age 5.

Her name: Sally. The reason: threefold. First, the older girls had a fish named Sally for three years in the first wave of childhood that swept through this family a dozen years ago. Although they are now nearly 22, 20 and 17, the girls remember Sally fondly and were proud of her relative longevity, which beat the pants off their friends’ two- and three-day wonders.

Secondly, we got Sally from a girl named . . . Sally. We innocently went to a graduation party tonight, and the honoree’s older sister, a law student, had purchased a number of fish in small aquariums as table decorations. Offbeat and charming, to be sure – but to the horror of the parents, including ourselves, Sally thrust the fish onto unsuspecting guests, or should I say their children, as they left, as “party favors.”

Hmmm. I’ve got another name for Sally . . . and it ain’t Miss America.

Just kidding. Got a new fishie. Gotta love her.


Prayer request: We open our hearts to a girl named Michaela, whose mother committed suicide some years back. Michaela struggles with depression and a lot of those questions we just can’t answer. Why, God, why? We can only rest in the knowledge that someday, Michaela will understand. ‘Til then, Lord, we ask for consolation, rest and peace for Michaela’s young heart. (Psalm 27:4)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Maddy, 5, and I were snuggling on the porch during a torrential rainstorm. We gasped as the gusts of wind swept across the driveway onto our faces through the screen. We counted the seconds between lightning flashes and the boom-booms of thunder.

Suddenly, Maddy revealed to me some profound weather insight:

“When it rains, the clouds are going potty,” she informed me.

“They wipe with a rainbow . . .”

“. . . and they flush with a great, big tornado!”

Those cleaning chores in the W.C. won’t seem so boring and routine, now that I’ve got the big picture.


Prayer request: A reader named Karen is moving with her family to California today. Bless them and keep them safe as they travel, Lord. Give them many opportunities during this move and settling-in time to display their love for You and who they are because of You. (Matthew 5:16)