Sunday, July 31, 2005


To him the porter openeth;
and the sheep hear his voice:
and he calleth his own sheep by name,
and leadeth them out.
— John 10:3

We just got back from the Land of Sky-Blue Waters, my favorite place. My family has been going up there for more than 60 years. Until recently, we had a wonderful white cabin, built by my grandfather, dad and uncles, that you could reach only by boat.

This pine-scented paradise is a chain of four big, deep, glacier-cut Minnesota lakes bounded by endless forests. There are whispering birches, soaring granite cliffs, chuckling falls, bad eagles, otters, bears, and beaver dams with so much life, they sing in the sun.

These lakes – Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point and Crane – are so big, it would take you most of a day to boat from end to end. Teeming with walleyes and bass, they’re so far north, half of the waters are actually in Canada.

The area’s a microcosm for current events. The land and water used to be spotless. But ever since the environmentalists started “protecting” it, there’s litter and giardia.

They say socialism spells the demise of private property, and indeed, the feds took away our land and demolished our cabin, using the power of eminent domain on us and other property owners to make a national park. It was an eerie precursor to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Now most resorts are out of business, private cabins are gone, it’s depopulated except for mosquitoes, and back to how it looked hundreds of years ago. All this was at taxpayer expense of millions of dollars, even though we told ‘em the waves of tourists they predicted would never materialize because it’s so remote. And we were right.

The whole thing made me so sad, I couldn’t go there for several years. But I yearned for it, desperately. So last week, we rented a cabin at one of the few remaining resorts on the south end.

And we got another shock.

One day, we wanted to boat to the Canadian side of the lake to fish. We purchased licenses, for nearly $20 apiece, to take two walleyes each.

But first we had to pass through a Canadian security checkpoint. The guard scowled at our documentation and searched the boats. Our guides were nervous; he could shut them down for any infraction.

The five older Williamses had our driver’s licenses, but the youngest – Maddy, 5 – obviously didn’t. We didn’t exactly have her birth certificate on hand, either. So she had no ID.

We told the Canadian official where our cabin had been, and named some familiar names and places. But Dudley Do-Right was on a power trip. He stood on the dock with his badge and clipboard, frowning, while we squinted up at him from the fishing boats in disbelief.

Was he going to jail us as suspected child-snatchers?

Was he going to strip-search us, exposing our naked hides to more mosquito bites?

Did he think we had nuclear detonators in the boat’s live well?

Did we look like terrorists, in our ancient fishing hats with pink blotches of Calamine lotion on our bug bites?

Four million illegal aliens sneak across America’s borders scot-free, seriously weakening our country in many ways . . . and yet we can’t do what our tax-paying, law-abiding, war veteran, job-creating, all-American family has done for 60 years, for which we paid $100 in licenses, without technically even setting foot on Canadian soil, since it would be 30 feet underwater.

Luckily, it came to me. Maddy has freckles across her nose and cheeks, just like me.

I put my face next to hers. “We’re mother-daughter freckle-faces. Isn’t that identification enough?”

Maddy gave him her most melting smile.

Dudley Do-Right softened. He waved us through. But next time, have your papers – or it’s the chair.

It ended happily: everybody caught at least one fish.

But geez. Betcha we won’t have that much trouble passing through the Pearly Gates.

‘Course, for that, we won’t need ID. The Fisherman knows who we are. We’re already on His stringer.

Know what, Dudley? That’s the only Homeland Security any of us really needs.


Prayer request: Grace, solace, tenderness and rest for a young new widow, Patti, someone I’ve liked and admired for many years. Her husband, 57, died suddenly of a heart attack on a day when the temperature in Omaha reached an astounding 107 degrees. Holy Spirit, find ways to remind Patti that she is not alone – never has been, and never will be – and reassure her that everything will be OK and she will see him again, with You in paradise. (Psalm 121:5-8)

Saturday, July 30, 2005


We drove down to the airport this morning at O Dark Thirty to send off our softball-playing daughter and her dad, along with her teammates and other parents and fans. This select summer team is winging off to Georgia for the national tournament of the American Softball Association, one of only three teams from Nebraska to have made it there.

The minute she gets back, she’ll be thrown into her high-school softball season for her senior year. She’s really looking forward to it, although her hopes of being an intimidating senior were dashed the other day when a gas station attendant accused her of not being old enough to drive by herself. Baby Face!

But she’s mature in the ways that count. For example, on the drive down to the airport this morning, I asked her whether she and her fellow seniors had come up with a slogan for this year’s high-school season. That’s a key senior prerogative for her team, the Elkhorn Antlers.

In the past, the slogan has been “Fear the Deer”.

Well, every single one of the girls on the team this year is a knockout. They are ultra-feminine even though they are the reigning state champions. They enjoy being girls – girls who can slug it to the fence and still fill out their Prom gowns nicely. So they are thinking about this slogan for their senior season as Antlers:

“Respect the Rack”


Prayer request: We pray for healing and serenity for the mother of our good friend Cindy, a former Omahan now of Kansas City. Her mother has undergone both a hysterectomy and a mastectomy in recent weeks. We praise You, Lord, for making Vance and Cindy so caring and responsible in looking after her, and covet prayers for their rest and reassurance as well, through this ordeal. (Jeremiah 31:12)

Friday, July 29, 2005


A young lady we know went on a fun date last night, downtown to the Jazz on the Green event by Joslyn Art Museum. As is the habit of young adults these days, they got a late start. Even though her friend drove up in a jazzy Jeep, the young lady drove down there in her car. Why? Because her hair gets messed up when she rides in his jazzy Jeep.

So they got down there, and she parked. She saw the “No Parking” sign, but they were late, and there were four or five cars already there in the enormous lot. It seemed to be OK. They went to the concert and enjoyed it immensely.

But you guessed it: they got back, and her car had been towed. Then they suffered the embarrassment of going to the only business that was open in the area – a motel – to get a phone book to call the impound lot. Not only was it late at night, but her date was carrying their picnic blanket and it was what they used to call a “compromising” situation.

Luckily, friends were available to pick them up and take them home. But on the way, a motorcycle gang of middle-aged nerds cut them off systematically on the Interstate all the way home. The last one even waggled his rear end at them in a surrealistic taunt.

To top off the evening, the fine is going to be $150, a huge bite out of the take-home pay of her summer job.

But here’s the thing: she is so gracious and sweet, and has such a good outlook on life, that she thought the whole thing was kind of funny. With all the seriously bad things going on in the world, in perspective, it really kind of was.


Prayer request: Father, thank You for making this young lady so mature and good-hearted, and thank You that her father didn’t go bananas and make her feel even worse than she already does. Instead, he wisely said, “These things happen. That’s how you learn.” May we all learn, and be able to laugh, eventually, when things go wrong in our lives. (Proverbs 8:32,33)

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I finally got over to the neighbor’s to pick up Speedy. The fifth-grader, Caleb, fish-sat for us while we were on vacation.

I was flap-doozled by how vivid the golds and blues were on Speedy’s little beta body. Maybe it was because I was up close and personal last week with bass and walleyes, which are dull dark green and brown, and forgot about the richer colors in a tropical fish.

But then again . . . did Speedy have that dark purple blotch on her head, before?

Did she really zoom to the food pellet like that?

Were her tail fins really that long and lustrous?

I accused the neighbor of discovering that the real Speedy had gone to her reward and, not wanting to give Maddy a complex, purchasing a replacement look-alike to give back to us instead of a bowl with a little floating tombstone, RIP.

She said that was ridiculous. But there was a little upward tug on the corner of her fish lips.


Prayer request: As our daughter Eden’s summer softball team prepares for their season finale, the Nationals in Columbus, Ga., we lift up to You, Father, the girls’ dedication with hopes that they will be rewarded and blessed. Eden, for example, has bloody blisters on her hands from extra batting practice and has been running in the heat of the afternoon to get acclimated to Georgia. Your gifts of athleticism and courage are automatic, Lord, but their hard work has taken them to a new level, and that surely is pleasing to You. Hear our prayer for success for these girls, Father. Play ball! (Psalm 37:23)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


A friend’s mother is 87 and in a nursing home in another city. One day, the friend called her mother to see how a recent doctor visit had gone.

Grandma said. "They changed the medicine on me again!"

“Really?” replied the daughter. “What did they change?”

“They put me on Levitra!"

The daughter, taken aback, said, "You go, Girl! I bet you are the most popular person at the nursing home!"

Grandma, confused, asked what she meant.

The daughter explained that Levitra is the medicine given to men who need a little help in the boudoir.

Very disgusted, Grandma rolled her wheel chair to the hall and bellowed to the nurse: "What did the doctor put me on again?"

Turns out to have been Lexapro, prescribed to relieve anxiety and depression.

The daughter deadpanned, “They either need to increase her dose or share it with me.”


Prayer request: Father, we lift up the family of Ben Mellor, who died of leukemia five days short of his 16th birthday after a courageous year and a half battle. His memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday. In a touching sidelight, the family has asked that teenagers in attendance may bring their skateboards to the service. We pray that Ben’s faith, courage and love will live on in the hearts of all who knew him and heard about him, for he was and is “the beloved of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


We were happy to take the whole family up to our favorite place, the Canadian border, last week, but especially Maddy, 5, because it was her first trip to the North Woods. She was at her wackiest, though, and I’m not sure the stoic Norwegians are going to get over her for quite some time. She kind of took the place by storm.

As we roamed around the resort restaurant, game room, trading post, dock, playground and beach on the last day, the older five of us were struck by how everybody said, “Hi, Maddy!” and “Bye, Maddy!” No one knew OUR names, or spoke to US. The kids hugged her; the grown-ups smiled benevolently. A little boy gave her the cherry off his Shirley Temple, the ultimate demonstration of esteem.

She does cut a memorable swath: all week, she was calling me “The Mother of All Lords.” No, she didn’t hear it on TV or some video game. She just made it up. Do you KNOW how it feels to have your child yell, in front of a beach full of strangers, “Can I swim out to the water trampoline, O Mother of All Lords?”

We had quite a Solitaire Smackdown going every evening in the cabin, but her grandmother brought a special kiddie card game for her along the lines of “Go Fish.” Somebody was always playing it with her so that she could partake in the card-o-rama. Every time her request for a card was rebuffed, or the game didn’t go her way, though, she would mutter, “Humpff!” Pretty soon, we ALL were doing it.

Then there was the tubing, being pulled around by the boat on a special inner tube. All week, she was afraid to try it. Too “dan’jrous.”

Then finally, on the last day, she relented. Tucked into the inner tube between two young-adult sisters, and pulled with utmost caution by her dad the boat captain, she beamed and chattered throughout the whole ride, screaming with delight at every bump and turn. Afterwards, we asked the sisters what kind of stuff she had been saying all that time. Here’s one example:

“Did I mention ‘fun’?”

Did I mention what she said when she got a load of a huge wooden statue of a voyageur on the road in to the resort? You know, kind of a combination lumberjack, fur trapper and canoeist, with a plaid shirt and maximum facial hair? She proclaimed that it was:

“Tall Bunion.”

All we could say was . . . HUMPFF!


Prayer request: A grocery clerk in Orr, Minn., confided that his dream is to become a Christian vocalist. Nicholas had just returned from a big Christian concert, where he had been allowed to sing with a few bands and share his original lyrics. We exhorted him to have patience and to hang in there, because it’s a long, long road, but it would be so, so worth it just to try. Lord, we pray that Nicholas will continue to seek Your face and Your will for his life. We pray that his dream will come true and he will be able to sing far and wide, for Your glory. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Monday, July 25, 2005


We got back last night from a glorious week at a resort in northern Minnesota, an 11-hour drive. The further north you go, the funnier the signs get. Here are a few:

Stop in For Our Daily Specials: SMELT IS HERE!

Gordy’s Foods (right next to the newly-built Gordy’s Fresh Foods; hmm, which one should I go to?)

We’ve Got Issues (Mesabi Daily News)



Prayer request: An apartment manager friend of mine has asked for prayer for one of her dearest residents, a physician named Tom Hansen, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. She says he is a kind, gentle, and respectful man with no unhealthy habits, and his only symptom was swollen feet. As he proceeds through testing and treatment, O Great Physician, we pray for mercy and healing for Your servant, an early diagnosis which keeps this cancer manageable, and complete trust in You. Grant him the wisdom that comes from suffering which he can apply throughout his personal and medical life to come. (Psalm 125:1)

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5

I am thankful that we have a God with perfect understanding and listening skills. Otherwise, we’d be toast.

Here’s a little story to keep you . . . ahem . . . abreast of what I mean:

This friend of mine was driving her married son, 22, to pick up his car from the shop. It was a lovely summer morning. They had the windows rolled down in her car and the sunroof open.

They were going across a big bridge, so noisy in the rush-hour traffic they practically had to yell. My friend told about a former co-worker of hers, age 49, whom the married son had met, but didn’t know very well.

It seems this lady had had both of her knees totally replaced the week before. They had both taken a tremendous amount of abuse over the years, and arthritis had apparently finally finished them off.

She had wanted them done at the same time because she only wanted one insurance hassle, and she did not have enough disability time to have them done separately.

But it was really, really noisy on that bridge, in heavy traffic, with the windows down.

So when my friend said that the woman had had “double knees done," her son thought she said her friend had had . . .

. . . “double D’s done.”

As in breast reduction surgery!

But he didn’t say so, being a polite young man who loved his mother, even when he thought she was giving him just a WEE bit too much information about someone he barely knew.

And so the conversation continued, with the mother convinced her son was one of the most compassionate, caring young men in the whole world, asking all kinds of questions about the procedure.

He shouted back to his mom: "Really???? REALLY???? She had double D's? I did not know she HAD that problem. I never really noticed, I guess."

His mother shouted back, "Yes, and she did not have enough time built up to take two medical leaves. But she sure didn’t want to wait ‘til January for the second surgery. The pain would be the same, virtually, to have them done together."

"Gee, does insurance PAY for that, Mom?"

"Sure, Honey . . . but there was some talk that they might not if it was deemed 'a pre-existing condition.' "

"Well, wouldn't it be pre-existing? I mean, how could it NOT be?"

"Yeah, I sure would think so. She had scars on both sides already, so there has been one surgery already done. Sounds pre-existing to me, too."

As he absorbed this information, the mother continued. "She blew me away the other day when we had coffee. I couldn’t believe she had just returned from participating in a regional bowling tournament in Tulsa, had played golf, and had walked to the tennis court to play a few games with her daughter . . . all just before the necessary surgery!

“And when we walked to our cars, HERS was in a handicapped stall! I challenged her parking there, and she only shrugged. Those activities HAD to be harder on her knees than walking into Panera's for a bagel."

"Yeah," the son agreed, although his perplexity was mounting. "So . . . the weight of her double D's was too much for her knees? Yet she could swing a golf club, serve a tennis ball, and BOWL around them?!?"

The mother stared at him. "What are you saying? Her knees ALWAYS hurt. That’s why they just REPLACED them."


“Double KNEES?

“Did you say KNEES?!?

“I thought you said 'double D's' way back there on the bridge in the noise!!!”

They laughed ‘til they cried. As they replayed the conversation with the double entendres, it became even funnier.

All I can say is . . . I’m thankful God always hears us perfectly, and never misunderstands. Otherwise, my prayer life would probably get me in . . . double trouble.


Prayer request: I hope this one comes in loud and clear, Lord. I am so grateful for the past week’s wonderful family vacation in that beautiful slice of heaven known as northern Minnesota, where Your beauty is all around. Thank You for blessing our family and my mother with great weather, great fishing, great boating, great tubing, a great blueberry harvest, and lots of family laughs. After spending time in that glorious place, nobody could ever misunderstand Your love for us and the perfection of Your creation. You want us to share Your joy. We are so thankful! May each of us see Your beauty in a fresh, new way this summer. (John 15:11)

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Be not overcome of evil,
but overcome evil with good.
— Romans 12:21

There’s a charity golf tournament next weekend that strikes a deep, mellow chord in my heart. It’s for a 3-year-old girl whose mom called her “Missy McGoo.”

It’s a fund-raiser for leukemia research – because that’s how Omahans Dan and Rhona Yetts are dealing with the death of their daughter, Marissa Ranee. They’re striking back at the disease by raising money to find a cure.

They could wallow. They could get bitter. They could turn their backs on God.

Instead, they’re staying positive. “I just feel closer to God, and that makes me feel closer to Marissa,” her mother said.

It was Christmas Day, 2000. Santa was bringing Marissa a pink hula hoop, her dream gift. But she didn’t rush to the tree. She climbed into her 6’6” daddy’s lap, and stayed there, listlessly, all morning.

She had a fever, and a red spot on the back of her neck. As the morning wore on, she developed more red pindots. A cool bath and medication did nothing. So the pediatrician told them to take her to Children’s Hospital.

The ER doctor felt underneath Marissa’s ribcage. Her liver and spleen were sticking out.

“I hate to tell you this, especially on Christmas,” he said, “but I think she’s got leukemia.”


The rest of the day, they began discussions with medical staff on testing and treatment regimens. Everyone thought she had a common kind, with an 86% cure rate.

Rhona said, “We thought, ‘Next Christmas is going to be better, because she will have beaten this thing.’”

Late that night, Dan stayed at the hospital. Rhona went home to sleep, and relieve relatives caring for the couple’s 10-month-old twins, Ranee and Ryan.

At 4 a.m., Dan called. “Marissa wants her mommy,” he said. She raced there, and cuddled her 30-pound daughter.

Marissa started having “accidents.” Then they couldn’t draw blood from her and suspected sepsis – blood poisoning. Finally, she quit breathing. She had gone into cardiac arrest.

They started CPR, and worked and worked. The parents stood at the foot of the bed. Rhona started “losing it,” so they ushered her into a room and put a sheet up.

Rhona thought, “Oh, my God, it took me eight years to have her, and now You’re taking her away, in 24 hours?”

They went to the ICU. Shortly, Marissa was gone.

Visitation took 13 hours. For the funeral, they dressed her in a blue velvet dress with a pink bow. A friend sang “Glory Baby.”

The Yettses are big Omaha Lancers hockey fans and have hosted Lancers from out of town. The night of her funeral, the team mascot put pink balloons on center ice for a moment of silence, and put them on Marissa’s seat.

Rhona said, “I was really angry at first, but I had taught her Sunday School class, and she knew all about heaven and Jesus.”

She and Dan went to Living With Loss counseling with several other parents. They were advised to do something tangible with their grief.

Dan came up with the idea of a spaghetti dinner and sports auction, and golf tournament. So the Marissa Yetts Foundation was born.

Come see: and note that hole sponsorships ($150) and greens fees ($75 per person) are accepted through Thursday, and donations any time, for the golf tournament next Sunday at Tregaron in Bellevue, Neb.

The foundation has raised more than $48,000 for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and other children’s charities.

Life has gone on. Little touches of tenderness have meant a lot. Every July 22, Marissa’s birthday, Rhona takes the twins to Marissa’s grave. They kiss pink balloons, and send them up to heaven.

Recently, Rhona ran into one of Marissa’s old Sunday School chums, Nicole. She got goose bumps to learn that, every time Nicole is offered a balloon, she picks a pink one . . . and kisses it . . . and sends it up to heaven . . . to Marissa.

That’s no coincidence.

That’s God.

That’s a reassuring link between a bubbly little girl nicknamed Missy McGoo . . . and the loved ones she’ll see again someday.


Prayer request: There was a long article in this morning’s Omaha World-Herald about a professor named Wally who is “transitioning” into becoming “Meredith.” Christian principles which clearly define transgendering as against God’s will were not included in the article. Father, come into our hearts and lead us to Your wisdom in verses such as these: Gen. 1:27 (God made males and females; can He make “mistakes”?); Deuteronomy 22:5: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God,” and 1 Corinthians 11:14: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Lord Jesus, detach this person from “enablers” of sin, and surround this person with Godly friends and advisors, who will compassionately, but truthfully, point the way toward Your will and support healing and grace. Let each of us joyfully accept how You made us. Empower this person to reverse course and find peace and Godliness, for Your glory.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


We have this worldly friend who was in Shanghai on business. His host suggested they go to a businessmen’s spa. Don’t worry, it was all on the up and up.

Except for some weird things going on, on the down and down. A guy grabbed a hold of his feet and was massaging them and squeezing them. Every once in a while he would POP! them, hard, right on the soles, and scare our friend half to death.

He bore his fingers into one particular spot on one foot, and then demanded: “You got stomach ‘probrem’?”

That was reflexology, which a lot of people think is bunk. But it so happens that our friend does have such a “probrem,” so that was weird.

But what was weirder was, while this rough foot-mashing was going on, a female attendant came up and asked, “You want ears ‘creaned’?”

He didn’t immediately say no, because he was wracking his brain for what that might mean. So she came at him with what looked like an X-acto knife and commenced “creaning” the outside of his ears by shaving off the little tiny hairs. She was very skillful, and he relaxed and began to enjoy it.

Eventually, though, the knife began its work on the INSIDE of his ears – which was very disconcerting, because he felt that he had to sit very, very, very still. But that was hard, because the OTHER guy was still down there, yanking and rubbing on his feet, and giving them a solid POP! every once in a while.

He survived. But somehow, it makes me grateful for my harmless foot cream and my nonviolent Q-tips. May not be as glamorous. But hey – no ‘probrems’!


Prayer request: I was talking to someone the other day who believes in necromancy – “channeling” dead loved ones through a medium. She attended the New York City TV show of a person who does that. Lord, forgive me for not being bold enough to warn her that that’s condemned in the Bible. Give me another opportunity to gently talk with her and show her the Bible verses she needs to know. (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6,27 and Deuteronomy 18:11 and 1 Samuel 28:3,9)

Friday, July 15, 2005


(Today's DailySusan is a humorous cartoon of Sesame Street characters revealing their psychosocial difficulties)


Prayer Request: Lord, we place our hearts in Your hands for healing in the outrageous shooting death of a darling, precious 5-year-old girl in Omaha this week. Teach each of us how we can radiate peace wherever we go, and successfully push back the wave of hatred and violence that washes over our cities and towns. Grant comfort to the family of LaSandra Coleman, and let us never forget her sweet smile. (Psalm 103:17)

Thursday, July 14, 2005


My friend and I were discussing a house that had just been sold for an exorbitant amount of money. We were dissing it because we couldn’t buh-LIEVE it brought more money than we could ever dream of getting for our own, far superior, houses.

Talking trash on the telephone with my dear bud was also a good way to distract myself from the fact that my diet has been less than whiz-bang successful in recent weeks.

“It’s basically a three-bedroom ranch with a huge lower level,” she was saying. “Everyone KNOWS it’s not ATTRACTIVE to have most of your square footage on the LOWER LEVEL.”

Gulp. That one hit home. Today’s menu: celery and bouillon.


Prayer request: We ask that a skin lesion removed from a friend’s dear daughter-in-law named Chris would prove to be nothing, and the threat of cancer would pass from her forever. Lord, thank You for making our skin such a wonderful and complex covering for our bodies. May each of us take better care of it and not take it for granted. (Ephesians 2:10)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


My friend the pharmacist got a call from an elderly customer originally from Sweden. She spoke with a thick accent:

"Yah, dis is Missus Olga Johnson, oond I vaunt a rrrrrrefill."

"OK, Mrs. Johnson. Do you happen to have the prescription number?"

"Yah, I dooooo.” In very long, drawn-out, heavily-accented clips, she read the number: "Vun . . . sevun . . . sree . . . sero . . . sero . . . TWO."

After a long pause, she suddenly added:

“Oond . . . I vaunt a hoo nurt."

The pharmacist was puzzled. A hoo nurt? Is that a laxative, or a back plaster, or some kind of a brace?


Ohhhhhh. Suuuuuure. You betcha.


Prayer request: Lord, Jesus, we thank You for sparing the life of Frank, a friend’s friend who severed two tendons on the back of his leg, including the main Achilles, in a chain-sawing accident. We know You made sure that his wife Patty was right there and able to tourniquet the leg with her knit tank top, get him to the car, and race him to the hospital, or he would have bled to death. Lord, their friend said they have been drifting away from church, and that Frank had prayed that You not take him yet, as his daughter is getting married in two months. Thank You for granting that prayer, O God of second chances! We pray that Frank and Patty will see this as a “wake-up call,” a warning that they were coming close to getting “cut off,” and that they’ll never stray again. (Luke 21:34-36)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Here’s another anecdote from The Imogene Hub:

A woman from Shenandoah, Iowa, moved to a nearby big city and started job hunting. She had been a medical secretary for 22 years, so she started her job search at a hospital. She passed the initial hurdles, and was sent to see a high-ranking official on the fifth floor for the final interview.

Knees shaking, she shook hands with the big shot, who said that she had been born in Shenandoah. The woman asked who her parents were . . . and then her jaw dropped.

“My God!” she exclaimed, “I’m your godmother!”

Turns out that, when the woman was a teenager, she used to babysit for the executive’s older siblings. The father was out on the road, trucking, when the mother went into labor. So she called her teen sitter to take her to the hospital. When the baby was born, they asked her to be the godmother.

Needless to say, she got the job. If that’s nepotism, I’d say it’s not allllll bad.


The Imogene Hub is available for subscriptions for $12 a year. Contact Veronica Keasling, 1485 390 Ave., Imogene, IA 51645


Prayer request: A 51-year-old husband and father who was the subject of a June 24 prayer request has died after a stroke, a staph infection and a coma. His wife and two children were blessed by the miracle of his awakening from the coma before he died, but his body had just been through too much. We lift his survivors up to You for comfort and sustenance, Lord. Help them cleave into You and feel no fear. (Proverbs 1:33)

Monday, July 11, 2005


I read in my favorite little monthly paper, The Imogene Hub, about a family with a young yellow Lab like our Sunny Bone-O. They also got an invisible shock fence for him, as we did for her. He seemed to be catching on, ‘til late one night, his owner let him out, and he raced away.

They were out looking for him ‘til midnight. The next morning, the dog catcher called.

It seems their Lab had scooted through a neighbor’s doggy door and ventured upstairs. The man of the house was out of town. The dog crawled into his space in the bed, presumably circled, and plopped down and fell asleep.

The lady of the house woke up to the worst morning breath ever.

Now, there’s a howler of a way to start the day.


The Imogene Hub is available for subscriptions for $12 a year. Contact Veronica Keasling, 1485 390 Ave., Imogene, IA 51645


Prayer request: We mourn the senseless death of an Omahan who was a medic in the Iraq war. He was mowed down on the road over there while aiding another soldier. Eric Paul Woods, 26, will be greatly missed. His life is lifted to You, Lord, as a sacrifice for the freedom of the rest of us, and the Iraqi people. Be with his wife, Jamie, who works in the preschool of my former church, and 3-year-old son. Thank You for giving us young people determined to be a positive force in our world, like Eric. May he rest in Your tent ‘til he’s reunited with his loved ones. (Psalm 91:9,10)

Sunday, July 10, 2005


God also bearing them witness,
both with signs and wonders,
and with divers miracles,
and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will. . . .
— Hebrews 2:4

I have this neat friend who tells an amazing story that may be a comfort to others who get divorced, and then wonder if they did The Right Thing.

The Bible says divorce is only OK if adultery is involved. Even then, you’re supposed to do everything you can to save your marriage.

Well, years ago, my friend was the mother of four, with a big problem. She was terribly unhappy. She agonized about getting divorced.

She was only a teenager when she got married. Because her own home had been dysfunctional, she’d had very little guidance and didn’t communicate well. Deeply unhappy, she numbed herself, drowning her emotions in unhealthy ways.

Finally, her husband chartered a sailboat down in the Caribbean. He had a pretty good idea how she felt. This was their chance to get away, once and for all, and make some decisions.

There was a skipper and his wife. The four of them enjoyed the azure skies, white sands and crystal waters. One afternoon, they looked up and started discussing cloud shapes.

Suddenly, my friend experienced what they call “hyperfocus.” She was mesmerized by the surrealistic images she saw in the clouds.

She saw a basket, and out of it came a genie. The genie turned into a snake. Gradually, the snake turned into a dove of peace with an olive branch in his mouth.

She swears she wasn’t going crazy and there were no drugs or alcohol involved. All four agreed that those were the shapes they were seeing.

She thought, but didn’t say, that it was a “storyboard” for her marriage.

When she got married, she thought it would be the “magic” that would make her happy. But she was wrong – and she had married the wrong person. There was fear in her marriage, and deception, and mistrust . . . like the snake.

But the dove in the clouds was a sign of peace. She was struck powerfully by the thought that everything was going to be OK.

She didn’t say a word about any of this.

But when her husband stood up, he fell right back down.

He stood up again, and fell right back down again.

She, too, was floored – literally.

“It was as if the energy and life had been sucked right out of him,” she said. “He was realizing that he couldn’t be who he wanted to be.”

Next morning, he threw his wedding ring over the side. Again, no one said a word.

She crawled up to the top of the boat and dove off into the shimmering, clear water. She saw that the coral formed a distinct shape:

A cross.

Her heart nearly burst at what it represented: Forgiveness. Understanding. Peace.

She saw a glimmer down on the bottom, and dove to investigate. It was a gold necklace, stamped “Italy.” A piece of treasure, there for her especially to find.

A gift – another sign – that she was God’s treasure. Though her future was hidden from her now, He would make sure she discovered it, and ultimately was blessed.

The real treasure was the reminder that, with God, there is liberty and grace for us, no matter what. Of course He doesn’t want us to break our marriage vows. But if it comes down to sink or swim, if we’ve tried our very best and still can’t make it work, He doesn’t want us to sink.

He wants us to swim.

She took that risk. She got that divorce. She dove back in to life.

Now, she says, “I never would have believed that my life could be so incredible. I have a great life. This is where I’m supposed to be.”

She’s remarried. He’s her perfect soulmate. She and her ex handle the child-rearing responsibilities admirably. The kids are all doing well. They all get along.

It’s all OK.

Just as she knew it would be – because of those signs she read on the beach, written with all-powerful love, by the Author of peace.


Praise report: We rejoice over answered prayer in the miraculous recovery of an in-law’s father, who had to be air-ambulanced from an Alaskan cruise back to a hospital in Lincoln, with a poor prognosis, but he’s doing well. (July 1 prayer request) Thank You, Lord Jesus, for blessing this family with Your healing power. (Isaiah 30:18)

Saturday, July 09, 2005


I’m letting my doctor off the hook for being on vacation when I punctured my lung and fractured my ribs. That’s because he and his family went through a tornado the same week.

They were on a lake a couple of hours north of where I was, in Minneapolis, and it happened the day I was released from the hospital. It was, as they say, a dark and stormy day.

Well, up at the resort where my doctor, his wife and three teenagers were, the owner suddenly started throwing stuff furiously into the boathouse, and told them they’d better go get in their cabin. Across the lake came what looked like a huge, dark thundercloud – but by the time they got to their cabin, they could see branches, dirt and particles of who knows what swirling all around inside it.

The winds were horrendous. Hundreds of trees were uprooted and slashed. But the five of them and everybody else at the resort were fine.

For the next three days, they were REALLY roughing it, as they had no electricity or other amenities. No TV! No laptops! But that was OK: they spent the days on the water, and the nights inside, playing cards by candlelight.

On the third day, as the lights came back on, the doctor’s foster daughter sighed, “Awwwwww.” She’s 14. Turns out those were the sweetest moments of family togetherness she has ever experienced.

Sometimes there’s a calm before a storm. Sometimes, it comes after.


Prayer request: How would you like to be out of town, with a wedding to go to and a carload of people, and have your car die at the order window of McDonald’s on a Saturday morning? That’s the plight of our sister in Christ, Penny. Father, we lift her and her car to You for the ultimate “service station.” May her car get fixed promptly, and may she be a blessing to all as she remains calm and sure of Your oversight in this current pickle. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Friday, July 08, 2005


Our daughter, 20, is working as a receptionist at her dad’s steel fabricating company this summer. She’s doing a whale of a job by all accounts. She adds some much-needed class to the front desk as she answers the busy office phone.

Most callers are very nice. But yesterday, some woman on the phone demanded to speak to “the lab.” There’s no “lab” there, and our daughter thought she had misunderstood the caller.

“Who?” she asked politely.

“The LAB!” the woman retorted, obviously thinking, “. . . you idiot.”

Our daughter, ever gracious, calmly explained that the lady must have the wrong number, but got no apology, just a slammed-down phone.

If it’d been ME, I would have said, “Ohhhhh, THAT lab . . . the one where they make a PILL . . . like the one YOU need to take. . . .”


Prayer request: Father, we lift up to You for encouragement and sustenance the Pentagon Police Department, which has suffered the slaying of an officer, the murder of an officer’s wife on vacation in Panama, the death of another’s wife, two car accidents that left one officer's stepdaughter partially paralyzed and another officer seriously injured, one female officer’s son shot on the streets of D.C. and nephew murdered because he spoke to the wrong girl, and yet another officer temporarily paralyzed from the neck down after a freak accident while wrestling with his brother. That’s about as much as any of us can take, Lord. We are grateful to hear they have a small prayer group that meets each day immediately after roll call. Hear them, Lord, and protect them. Let them know that those of us they, in turn, protect are very, very grateful. (1 Peter 5:7)

Thursday, July 07, 2005


The local paper had a big banner headline about the rapid growth of what used to be a tiny little town southwest of Omaha: “Gretna feels population boom.”

They think that town may someday have 100,000 residents, which seems incredible. Throughout my lifetime it’s been considered, well, pretty podunk.

In fact, my dad used to tease my mom that if she didn’t straighten up and fly right, he’d move her out of our fine suburban house in west Omaha to “a trailer court in Gretna.”

Gee. The way it’s sounding, that might not be half bad.


Prayer request: Today my friend and strong Christian sister Carol faces a court hearing on child custody and child support regarding her two younger children. The finances have been a mess throughout her divorce. Oh, Lord, we just pray that Your order and truth will prevail, and that justice will be done for this faithful mother, who works so hard and is so honest and true to You. (Psalm 125:1)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


A young man who’s going into officer training in the Air Force was home for a few days seeing family and friends. He did a lot of “Honey Do’s” for his parents before he left, including washing his mother’s car.

She wrote him a long, enthusiastic note with her thanks for his thoughtfulness and diligence.

He wrote back:”You’re welcome, Mommy. Note to self: wash general’s car.”


Prayer request: My neighbor Norma had a high temperature, body aches, a horrible headache and other serious symptoms over the weekend, and is afraid it could be West Nile Disease. Lord Jesus, protect her and heal her body. Calm her fears and help her doctor figure out what’s wrong. Point her attention toward the help and concern that’s coming her way, instead of the pain and fear she’s been suffering. Help her remember that You’re with her, always. (Psalm 42:11)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


My nephew Mark is a computer engineer, and he’s beginning an exciting career with the Air Force this week.

It all started with his first computer. He bought it with his lawn-mowing money, and his mom chipped in halfsies. It was the hottest machine around, though we now laugh at how weak it was compared to today’s models: 64 megabytes of RAM, 2 megabytes of video memory and so forth. He was the envy of his school.

Well, recently, Mark built himself a new computer. It has a processor that is 10 times faster than his first machine of just a few years ago, with 1 gigabyte of RAM, 256 megs of video memory, a CD-burner, a DVD-ROM, DVD burner, two hard drives of 80 gigabytes and 40 gigabytes, plus seven fans to cool all that power. And all that in a case of his own design.

I forgot to ask him, but I bet it was cheaper, too, than his original hot machine.

Thank goodness the human race doesn’t come with rapid improvements like that. I’d be worse than a white elephant. I’d be an antique!


Prayer request: We lift up this wonderful and intelligent young man, Father, for Your “inspection” as he begins his officer training. We rejoice that he has chosen to share his gifts with his country through the Air Force. We pray that his time in the service will be fulfilling and exciting. Bring him home to us often, and keep his heart at home with You always. (Philippians 4:9)

Monday, July 04, 2005


Today's DailySusan is a musical email with a series of pictures from small-town Texas that showed about a thousand people standing along the route between a church and a cemetery for the funeral of a serviceman killed in Iraq. They held their hands over their hearts, and silently held up American flags, in a moving tribute.

It made me realize that the soul of America is beautiful, because it is rooted in Jesus Christ. But we don't show our true soul all that often.

My Fourth of July prayer is that the fruits of the Spirit, which have been so lavishly endowed upon Americans and our country, would blaze to the fore in the coming year, and overcome the evils and problems which beset us. These fruits -- evidence of God's influence in our hearts -- are listed in Galatians 5:22,23: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

If everybody would try to model those, we really would crown our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

Have a great day, everyone.


Sunday, July 03, 2005


Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,
and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
-- Galatians 5:1

We went over to a nearby country club to see the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show. We sat there in the car in the dark, Maddy in her Winnie the Pooh jammies, and me barefoot-casual. What a show!




In Maddy’s joyous shrieks and gasps I heard the music of America. All the color and sparkle of our amazing country were reflected in her dazzled, uplifted eyes.

This is freedom. This is how it feels. This is what God wants for us -- the peaceful, prosperous lifestyle He ordained.

Everybody honked their horns when it was over. Hey, Maddy, how was that for a birthday celebration for ‘Merica? She replied: “Humungously great!”

That’s what our country is, and that’s how we want the Fourth of July to be. We want a worthy observation to remember all the wonderful things our predecessors fought to create and sustain . . . their blood, sweat and tears . . . their battlefield valor.

This year, I want an especially great one, because I’m bustin’-buttons proud of my nephew Mark, a computer engineer who begins officer training in the U.S. Air Force this week in Montgomery, Ala.

Whenever I watch fireworks, I think of and pray for our military all around the world, for my dad and other relatives who fought for our country, and all the patriots going all the way back to our founding. They did what they did so that a little girl in her jammies and her sleepy, barefoot mom could enjoy the splendors of liberty on a dark and starry night.

‘Course, there was one celebration I heard about that didn’t quite fit the profile of an all-American great time. Guess it’s the exception that proves the rule:

It was at a country club, and in those days, the price was staggering: $13.98 per person. But you got a lot for that: fun and games in the pool, an all-you-can-eat buffet, and then that club’s signature fireworks show.

The first few pool games went fine, and then . . . disaster. They had ordered hundreds of live goldfish, and dumped them into the pool so that the kids could swim around, try to catch them, and have a whee.

Trouble was, they didn’t realize what chlorine would do to those poor little goldfish.

They died instantly, and all the giggling little kids found themselves in a watery grave with hundreds of disgusting, dead fish!

They screamed, and scrambled out of there as if escaping the “Baby Ruth” in that crazy “Caddy Shack” movie.

Then it was dinnertime. The crowd lined up for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Trouble was, there were more diners than expected. The lavishly-prepared food disappeared. A lot of people had all they could eat, all right – of cocktail olives, parsley, roofing tile and whatever else the harried chef could round up.

Oh, well. Who cares about fancy food on the Fourth of July, anyway? Fireworks are the main event! The party-goers expectantly awaited the show. Daylight turned to dusk, dusk to dark, dark to pitch dark . . . but still no show.

Finally, ‘waaaaay off in the distance, if you had binoculars and squinted really hard, you could see the orange poofs of a few pop-bottle rockets going off. I mean, like 27. And a few Roman candles. And that was it.

It seems the stand out in the country where this club had always bought the fireworks for their signature show hadn’t opened up that year. The club employee in charge thought it would be easy to find really great fireworks at half price at a roadside stand on the afternoon of the Fourth.

But noooooo. They had hardly anything left. So that was it.

The good news is, the kids had a great time just being together, anyway, and the cash bar stayed open the whole time, so lots of the grown-ups had a bang-up Fourth after all.

Is this a great country, or what?


Prayer request: I’d like to dedicate this week’s story to the memory of Brandon Orsborn, an outstanding young man from our town who served with distinction in the fight against terrorism in our military efforts in the Middle East. He had returned home after serving all of us, and tragically was killed in a traffic accident. Oh, Lord, we thank You for Brandon’s life – he was handsome, he was kind, he was diligent, he was admirable. Someday, we’ll understand how this tragedy fits Your purpose for his life. In the meantime, we honor his memory this Fourth of July. Thank You for seating him for eternity at the feet of the Prince of Peace to watch as You defeat the forces of evil. We ask Your solace and blessings to be poured out on his parents and family, now and always. (Psalm 110:1)

Saturday, July 02, 2005


There’s a certain business office near a certain large pond in a certain city, where a certain person I know works. It seems that every day, a gaggle of several dozen geese walk across the busy street there from their wooded home to the pond.

They are so stuck up and sure of themselves, they don’t punch the “Pedestrian Crossing” button, or stay within the white lines, or anything. Consequently, traffic often goes “SCREEEEEECH!” as unsuspecting motorists brake, to avoid making pate right there on the busy intersection. It’s like the beloved children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings,” on steroids.

Finally, it got so bad that someone called whoever is in charge of such things – wildlife or traffic safety officials – and someone came and rounded them up. Word around town is that they were relocated, but no one knows where.

Well, a lady who works with this certain person went ballistic. She is an animal lover to the extreme. Her position: those geese chose to live on that pond, so it is THEIR pond, and no matter how we humans might be inconvenienced or endangered by their daily foray into that busy street, we shouldn’t have removed them.

Well, there have been some hijinks in response. Someone put a recipe for “Goose Soup” on her chair. Someone else found a bunch of goose feathers, put them on a piece of paper with some ketchup and a taunting message along the lines of “I’LL BE BACK!” and put THAT on her chair, implying a goose homicide.

I know what she should do in retaliation: put a sign up where the geese used to walk, with the message: “Honk if you miss the honkers.”


Prayer request: There’s a young cashier where I buy groceries who is struggling with carpal tunnel syndrome. Lord, Brenda is so young to have pain like that. We pray that this trial will draw her closer to You. We praise You for giving her a mother who is leaving no stone unturned to find her treatment and relief. Grant her healing and an end to her suffering, for Your glory. (2 Peter 3:18)

Friday, July 01, 2005


I’ve been waiting for new cushions for our patio furniture. I picked out a great fabric and sent in the order more than a month ago. They were supposed to be in place for Father’s Day, and now here it is the 4th of July, and no cushions.

I called the store to inquire. The lady said she’d have to call the manufacturer. I smiled at the implications of what she said:

“Well, I’ll give Paradise a call, and get back to you.”

‘Course, if she asks Paradise how much longer it’s going to be for me, I’m not sure I want to know.


Prayer request: The father of a relative of mine was stricken with either a stroke or a heart attack while just beginning a dream trip to Alaska. He had to be air-ambulanced back to Nebraska for long-term care. It has been several days, and his speech has not come back. O, Lord, send Your Holy Spirit to envelop and comfort Brad’s family. Give them endurance and reassurance of Your presence through this trial. Keep their faith steadfast and strong. (1 Corinthians 15:58)