Friday, August 25, 2006

PLEASE VISIT and for fresh material.

This blog contains the archives for the DailySusan humor anecdotes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Today is the first day of school for most of the schoolchildren in Omaha’s public schools. Have at it, kids! God bless you, teachers! OK, you moms, now join me in clicking your heels and high-tailing it to the nearest bar!

Just kidding.

Then again, a friend of mine used to host a “REAL MOTHER'S DAY” celebration coffee on the first day of school all the years her boys were in school. Everyone knew to just come, and often brought others. The noise level was high as all chattered about summer and the relief of having kids back in school with some semblance of order back to life.

But each year, there would be ONE mom who'd fall into the open doorway, sobbing, after she had just sent her last child off to the wild kingdom of kindergarten.

Everybody sympathized. But then my friend would serve her a mimosa – spiked orange juice – and voila! She’d be allllllllll better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Ooh! Talk about oddball college roommates struck a nerve. There was the guy who never slept on bedsheets in four years; he slept on the bare mattress with an old Indian blanket over him. Hence the nickname “Chief.” It made everybody else itchy, though.

There was the girl with feet so smelly, her roommate snuck baby powder into them at night while she slept. In fact, there was another girl with a bona fide skin problem who was so smelly, her roommate moved in with two other girls and let her have a single room. A rather . . . stinky . . . way to get some privacy, but oh well, and they stayed friends, too.

There was the freshman who got paired with the busy junior who was never there and interacted with her as much as with a hat rack. There was the serious scholar who got paired with the noise addict who couldn’t sleep, study or do anything without the TV blaring.

There was the orderly engineering major who studied at her desk every night until 10 p.m., even on weekends, and then went immediately to bed. Her schedule called for her to leave for class every day at 7:15 a.m. Her roommate, naturally, was the party hog type who came in late and slept in, taking classes not necessarily in her "bunny slope" major, but whatever was offered in the afternoon. Weeks went by and they barely saw each other, although relations were cordial when they did. They left notes about getting together to paint their room but could never find time. Finally, in mid-October, the future engineer went to the dorm office, requisitioned some paint, and painted . . . HER half of the room. Pea green, too. The party-hearty roommate came home from Homecoming festivities to see the line down the middle of the wall, and figured it was time to move out . . . for no other reason than that she HATED pea green.

They stayed friends, too. Sometimes it’s easier to be friends when you can’t even be in the same room . . . especially if it's pea green.

Monday, August 21, 2006


One of our young family friends freshly off to college is a girlygirl to the max. She loves to dress up, fix her hair, go out and be with people. She’s always bubbly and the life of the party wherever she goes. She signed up for a four-girl suite in the dorm with hopes of having a blast with other young women in wonderful new relationships and lots of socializing.

Alas! Two of her roommates are self-described “band nerds.” They wear the same athletic shorts, T-shirts and ponytails every day, never wear makeup, stay in the room except for going to class, and practice their instruments constantly.

The third is from a foreign country, and so far, no fun.

It seems like an impossible situation. But this young woman has red hair. Those people have irresistible charm. Sooner or later, she’s going to get her way. Prediction: by Christmas break, this foursome is going to be the talk of the campus. Party on!

Sunday, August 20, 2006


And God blessed them, saying,
Be fruitful, and multiply. . . .
-- Genesis 1:22a

They challenged us in church. Could we raise a million dollars this summer to help build a much-needed hospital for women and children in impoverished Mali, West Africa? Women still die in childbirth there; ‘way too many babies never see age 5. What could we do about it?

Could we pour out the love of Jesus Christ on the people of Mali half a world away, to show the largely Muslim population what Christians are really like?

Every once in a while, something like this breaks through to help us focus on how richly we’re blessed, and see what it’s all for:

To multiply our blessings for others.

Not just spend our money – invest it. Not just rear our children – love them. Not just give money to the poor – pray for them, serve them, protect them, heal them, teach them, create opportunity for them . . . invest in them, and love them.

And oh, the creative ways people found to raise money to do all that:

Among other projects, one family went “Dumpster Diving for Mali.” They retrieved a castoff bicycle, fixed it, and sold it.

A nurse who visited the Holy Land and had 600 pictures from her trip made and sold greeting cards.

A teacher who goes to “therapy” in the summer – on the golf course – donated $2 for every stroke over par.

A family whose boys play a lot of baseball sold ice-cold water bottles at sun-baked ballfields with no concession stands.

Another family took orders on where to plant their outrageous flock of plastic flamingoes in people’s yards as a fund-raiser. You could pay to “flamingo” someone, or pay to have “insurance” that no one would “flamingo” you.

Another delivered new phone books and donated their pay; another haunted thrift stores, bought underpriced treasures and made a tidy profit on eBay; one couple sold their old boat and raised over $1,000.

I set a goal of walking 56 miles in 56 days, and raising $5,600, a dollar a mile to bridge the gap between our home and Mali.

Thanks to prayerful prodding by my family, and a lot of generous friends, we made it. We’re contributing $5,600. Wow! What a blessing! I’m so grateful.

As usual, God did a lot more than I bargained for:

I started off as an extreme couch potato, a Poster Child For Pudge, barely able to walk one mile slowly in about 30 minutes. But now I’m jogging – OK, semi-staggering – able to go three miles in 45 minutes.

I have more energy, look better in my clothes, lost seven pounds, and two inches off my flabby waist.

Grim realities of childbirth in Mali refocused me on the blessings of great American health care. I had toxemia with our late-in-life baby, Maddy; if we’d lived in Mali, we’d both have died. A niece had a C-section a few weeks ago and developed complications; in Mali, she’d be dead today. But she’s here, and she’s fine. Gratitude is a blessing in itself.

Friends sent me neat cards and notes along with their donations, including one who sent Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters and some Freedent gum, which she said won’t stick to dental work, but will help me “stick with” my goal. I loved praying for each supporter. The time spent walking, away from duties and distractions, refocused me on others and revitalized my prayer life, which brought me closer to the Lord. That sweetened me up – for which my family gives thanks!

Finally, I’ve always crabbed that I’m fat, but I don’t have TIME to do an organized diet and exercise program. Yeah, right. Through walking, I found out there’s a Weight Watchers meeting at a little church a block away. Is THAT convenient enough?

So yes, I’m joining. And I’m going to keep on walking. I’ll be a babe in no time.

A “Dolly For Mali.”

And I thought the idea was to help OTHERS. Hah!

But that’s God. See how He multiplies His blessings? They’re endless. They boomerang. In His economy, the return on investment is always world-class . . . and downright heavenly. †


Miles For Mali Final Report

Goal: Raise $5,600 by walking 56 miles in 56 days, obtaining sponsorships to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in impoverished Mali, Africa, which is 5,600 miles from Omaha.

Three words: WE MADE IT!

Two more: THANK YOU!

All glory and honor for this “feat of the feet” goes to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s in His Name the miles were walked, and the dollars were donated. Who knows how many lives of women and children will be saved, or how many people will come to Christ when these blessings materialize in Mali?

As soon as the total amount raised in our church is known, I’ll pass word along. Prepare to be amazed! Thanks for your prayers, and please keep them up ‘til the mission is accomplished!

Thank-you notes and tax statements to our personal sponsors are on their way, but they’re inadequate to express our gratitude. You know who you are! And you know what a blessing you have been, to me, to Mali, and to God. Watch Him multiply His blessings to you!

Hope this little funny blesses you, too. I wish I were this graceful on the treadmill. Hope it makes you smile:

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Another sorority Rush Week has ended at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. More than 800 young women, mostly freshmen, got as gussied up as girls get today, and went from sorority house to sorority house in a series of parties that culminated with them selecting their sorority and vice versa.

I remember it well in my collegehood days, how smart-aleck fraternity boys would cluster their lawn chairs out in front of their houses as the rushees walked by, and “rate” them with cards similar to the ones held up by diving judges. You know: a girl would come walking along, thinking she was a “10,” and three boys would hold up a “6,” a “5” and a “7,” or whatever, to deflate her ego just when she didn’t need it.

I guess that kind of thing still goes on. The frat rats were playing on their Slip ‘n’ Slide outside their house this past week while ogling the girls, while others sat on their front stoops or hung out their windows, watching the stream of lovelies pass by on the sidewalks.

Their wolf whistles and catcalls got pretty intense. One girl made the mistake of looking toward them . . . and she ran right into a parking meter. WHAM! Then she got her heel caught in the vent around it.

That’s why they call it “rush,” I guess – you just want to get through it as quickly as possible, with some semblance of self-esteem intact, and let some time pass, so you can look back on it with a smile.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I haven’t verified this, because my math skills are still on vacation. But it sounds about right:

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words

The Lord's Prayer: 66 words

Archimedes' Principle: 67 words

The 10 Commandments: 179 words

The Gettysburg Address: 286 words

The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words

U.S. Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was having trouble with my computer. So I called Harold, the computer guy, to come over. Harold clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

He gave me a bill for $75, the minimum charge for a service call. As he was leaving, I called after him, "So, what was wrong?"

He replied, "It was an I.D. Ten T Error."

Ooh! Sounded serious! Something to do with my identity? Was it a virus? "An I.D. Ten T Error? What's that, in case I need to fix it again?"

Harold said with a twinkle in his eye, "Write it down, and I think you'll figure it out."

So I wrote down: I D 1 0 T

I used to like Harold. . . .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


For some Equal Time:

Two blond guys were working for the city works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in.

They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, and then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest . . . one guy digging a hole, the other guy filling it in again.

An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn't understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole digger, "I'm impressed by the effort you two are putting in to your work, but I don't get it -- why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?"

The hole digger wiped his brow and sighed. "Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we're normally a three-man team. But today the guy who plants the trees called in sick."

Monday, August 14, 2006


Some people go to the lake in the summertime to enjoy family bonding activities such as boating, tubing, fishing and swimming. But a twisted few go there mainly to watch people in the worst possible circumstance of life: trying to pull their boat out of the water. It gets to be a spectator sport when they’re trying to do this in front of people, especially if 1) they’re brand new to the process, or 2) a heap big storm’s a-brewin’ and the wind and waves are huge.

Our particular twisted friend actually brings a lawn chair to the boat ramp when on camping trips to sit with his little buddies with a festive beverage at hand. They laugh their brains out at the antics of poor, unsuspecting, would-be boat loaders. You’d think at HIS age he could come up with a more constructive leisure-time activity.

On the other hand, he’s doing the same thing car-racing fans pay big bucks to do – hope there’s a crash and a lot of excitement – and what bird-watchers do – listening for telltale chirps and ruffled feathers. Only THESE “chirps” are usually long strings of words you don’t say in front of Junior, and THESE “ruffled feathers” usually shake out as hilarious arguments between a Mr. and a Mrs.

One time, the husband was navigating the boat toward the ramp while the wife was backing the car with the empty trailer down to meet him. He shouted at her to go left, and she went left – only the trailer went RIGHT. High winds were literally rocking the boat, the trailer was all crooked, people were watching, other boats were lining up behind his, and he was getting very frustrated.

“I SAID ‘left!’” he shouted.

“I TURNED ‘left!’” she retorted.

“You went the wrong WAY!” he raged.

“You TOLD me to turn that way!” she rebuked.

“Well, hurry up and try it again, and THIS time, do it right!”

She whipped that car into Park, yanked out the keys, marched to the water’s edge, hollered, “NO! YOU DO IT!!!” . . . THREW the keys at him . . . they promptly sank . . . and she stalked off.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
-- 2 Corinthians 10:17

My adorable, zestful friend Julie Erickson was facing The Big 5-0 this summer. People wanted to throw her a stand-up cocktail party with lots of black crepe paper, prunes and the Grim Reaper. There’d be lots of hoopla, lots of funny cards rubbing in her advancing age.

But that’s not Julie. She’s fun, but she runs deep. She hatched a big, fat, hairy wish: she wanted to share a concert on the beach with her friends, featuring songs that would glorify . . . not Julie . . . but God.

And that’s exactly what she got. By all accounts, it was the most fantastic 50th birthday party anyone had ever seen.

“It really wasn’t about me,” she said. “It really was for His overall glory.”

Eight couples came forward to co-host the sunset picnic and put on a beautiful spread for 125 people.

Instead of gifts, donations were encouraged to, which delivers girls out of international sexual slavery, one of Julie’s “heart burdens.”

Dear friends donated their longtime family cabin on a gorgeous pond outside the city. There was a picturesque fountain, the sprawling Platte River nearby, and most of all, the beach. It wasn’t fancy: the building was like an old sleeping porch, there was an old mossy staircase, tiki torches were stuck in the sand, and the electrical wiring was from the 1920s or so. But it was perfect: unique, private, and oozing with personality.

Her husband, Bill, put his back into the task. He rented thousands of dollars worth of sound equipment, and assembled a band with two vocalists, a keyboard artist, a bass player, and himself on drums. They worked up 12 songs by Julie’s favorite Christian singer, the incomparable Nichole Nordeman.

These lyrics had seen Julie through crises like the death of her father. They were precious. These songs told what she was feeling on this big milestone birthday better than she ever could. She was eager for her friends to hear them, knowing that many had never heard a note of Christian music outside church, or weren’t church-goers at all.

The day of the party dawned searing hot, eventually reaching 100 degrees, with 100% humidity. Bill built a stage, shoveling sand, laying in place big eight-foot by four-foot boards, stringing out a million miles of electrical cord, and adjusting the amps, instruments and lights right up to the start of the party.

Everyone went into overdrive doing last-minute tasks. Julie was stressed out, hot and sweaty. Would the wiring hold up? Would people get lost? Would they think the whole thing was weird, corny and colossally dumb?

Suddenly, a supernatural calm came over her. “It was like, we set the stage, and we could step back now and let the Holy Spirit work,” she said. “I knew it didn’t matter if my makeup was running off my face as if I’d jumped into the pond myself. He’d take it from there.”

Everything went beautifully. The lingering sunset gave way to darkness. There was soft clapping between songs, but otherwise, everyone just soaked it in. A sign-language interpreter stood up for a song about gratitude, and someone shined a spotlight on her. All you could see were her hands and her face; the song was about asking God for the simple things in life, and how He is so good at giving us what we need.

And then the finale, the song called “Legacy”:

I want to leave a legacy.

How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering:
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

When it ended, people rose quietly, hugged Julie, and filed out, as if they’d just been to a holy place. Which they had.

Happy birthday, Julie. Your wish came true. The light that shined that night outdid 50 candles by far, old girl. You left a legacy, because you took the priceless birthday gifts He gave you . . . and passed them along. †


Miles For Mali Update

Goal: Raise $5,600 by walking 56 miles in 56 days, obtaining sponsorships to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in impoverished Mali, Africa.

Second to last week’s report: 47 miles walked, $3,931 raised. Deadline: Aug. 20. Wow! The goal is in sight, and I’m excited. I hope some biggies roll in this last week. It has been such a joy, and so good for me, physically and spiritually, as the miles and the donations have piled up. It is such an encouragement to receive those sponsorship checks and know how much each dollar is going to mean!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please consider sponsoring me for $1 a day, to help bring decent medical care to nearly-destitute women and children in West Africa. Any amount would be greatly appreciated, of course! Let me know your prayer requests, too. Your generosity and kindness to people who are literally at the end of the earth will be noted in prayer, every step of the way.

DEADLINE FOR RECEIVING DONATIONS: I must have them by Saturday, Aug. 19.
Please send checks made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022.

Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files after the money is turned in next Sunday, Aug. 20. On the personal side, I’ll endeavor to thank our sponsors in a special way in next week’s story. I literally kiss your feet, but after putting in 56 miles . . . you won’t want to kiss mine! :>)

Learn more at: or

Saturday, August 12, 2006


A young blonde was on vacation, driving through the Everglades. She wanted to take home a pair of genuine alligator shoes in the worst way. But she was very reluctant to pay the high prices the local vendors were asking.

After becoming very frustrated with the "no haggle on prices" attitude of one of the shopkeepers, the blonde shouted, "Well, then, maybe I'll just go out and catch my own alligator, so I can get a pair of shoes for free!"

The shopkeeper said with a sly, knowing smile, "Little lady, just go and give it a try!"

The blonde headed out toward the swamps, determined to catch an alligator.

Later in the day, as the shopkeeper was driving home, he pulled over to the side of the levee where he spotted that same young woman standing waist deep in the murky bayou water, shotgun in hand.

Just then, he saw a huge, nine-foot gator swimming rapidly toward her. With lightning speed, she took aim, fired, killed the creature and hauled it onto the slimy bank of the swamp. Lying nearby were seven more dead ones, all lying on their backs.

The shopkeeper stood on the bank, watching in silent amazement. The blonde struggled and flipped the gator onto its back. Rolling her eyes heavenward and screaming in great frustration, she shouted out, "Oh, NO!!! . . . THIS ONE'S BAREFOOT, TOO!"

Friday, August 11, 2006


Whoa! The terrorism news was scary yesterday. We know lots of people who need to take airplanes in the next few days. This is not good.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going . . . for an hour-long spa pedicure complete with hot wax treatments, foot massage, and mango daiquiris (alcohol-free, of course, and to drink, not pour on our feet). Yes, it was a mother-daughter summer swan song, as our daughter is returning to college for her senior year.

We discussed the latest terrorism news, and then the young pedicurist mentioned the most terrible thing that ever happened to her on an airplane:

It was a rough ride. She became nauseated. She reached for the paper bag. She shoved her hand inside to kind of pop it open.

It wasn’t empty.

AAAIIIEEE!!!!!!! It must have been used on a previous flight, and no one disposed of it. She was totally freaked out and couldn’t move ‘til they touched ground again.

If any al-Qaida or Hibz’allah dudes ever make it onto an airplane I’m on, I’m going to be hoping bigtime that the stew was a slacker like that, and they freak out and can’t go through with whatever their evil plan is.

If not, I’ll just kick ‘em where it hurts, hard, with my gorgeous, revitalized, all-American, pretty-in-pink piggies.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Maddy, 6, came home from a playdate with fake chicken pox spots all over her body. They were made with red magic marker. They were very funny.

However, we had somewhere to go yesterday and the spots were still there. I sent her in to the master bathroom shower for a Business Bath with soap and a washcloth, and instructions to Power Scour.

The clear glass shower door fogged completely up, and the shower was noisy. “How’s it working?” I yelled in to her through the foggy glass.

She rubbed a circle clean to reveal her smiling face.

Then she rubbed another tiny circle above it . . . to show her upraised thumb.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I can’t think of much else scarier than having a tornado roar toward you in the dark of night. Ooie gooie: if you can hear it coming, but can’t see it coming, you’re scared but you don’t know where to duck.

Here’s a picture of a nighttime tornado said to have hit Sedalia, Mo., this past March 10:

(photo available only to email subscribers)

It reminds me of my old newspaper colleague, who once came in to work and was assigned to report on a massive tornado that rammed through a small town in western Nebraska at o’dark thirty. It was so many hours away by car, he never could have gotten there in time to file a story for the afternoon edition. So he raced to our collection of small-town phone books, and started calling.

He called the grocery store. He called the church. He called people at random from the white pages. No one answered.

Ye Gods! Was the entire town wiped out?

Finally, someone answered at the post office. “Hallooooo?”

Phew! He went into overdrive. “Hello there! I’m calling from the newspaper in Omaha! We hear you had a tornado! Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad to find someone who can tell me what it was like! We have reports of massive destruction – buildings demolished – trees down. Are there people hurt? Anybody killed? What did you see? What did you hear? Tell me all about it! Tell me everything you know!”

On the other end, there was a long, long pause. Was this poor soul in shock at the trauma of it all, the utter chaos, or perhaps injured, unable to speak?

Finally, the reporter heard again: “Hallooooo?”

Turns out he’d reached the one person in town who was hard of hearing. The reporter went through his whole spiel once again, and the poor guy still couldn’t understand. They hung up in mutual frustration.

I don’t know what the paper wound up putting in the afternoon edition . . . but I think the reporter took a long, long, LONG lunch.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


My buddy arrived back in Jerusalem after a summer trip to the U.S.A. She was on the phone with her husband, who was still back in the States, when she heard a commotion down in the street below from her upper-level balcony.

There were tambourines and chanting, so she thought it was a parade. He was worried about her, and she wanted to reassure him that everything was OK that many miles from the fighting. She put the phone out so her husband could hear the parade and grasp how vibrant and beautiful the city still was, despite the nastiness of the war. Too late, she finally could make out what they were chanting:


Oops! She thought her husband might try to jump through the phone line when he heard that. It was a protest by an Islamic group outside a nearby Jewish seminary. They were soon dispersed without incident by Israeli police.

Yes, life goes on in the Holy Land, even though sometimes it gets wacky. For example, she attended a wedding of two Christian friends last week in Ramallah, the former headquarters of Yasser Arafat and now the home base of the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas.

It’s a long story: the bride is a Palestinian Christian from Ramallah with dual citizenship in the U.S. The groom has an Egyptian background and is a Christian, too. The bride’s family members in Ramallah don’t have a certain blue identity card which would allow them to travel inside Jerusalem for the wedding in the groom’s church. You have to have been born in Jerusalem, and be a resident there, to have one.

So the couple had to borrow a church in Ramallah to get hitched. That’s why it was a Coptic Christian service for two evangelical Christians held in a Greek Orthodox Church in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

They pulled it off, and then some. Look at the regal bride and groom in traditional garb:

Isn’t it nice to know that you can still find love, beauty and joy in the midst of war and hate?

Or are you just groovin’ on their crowns? I know I am. Think what happy marriages we all could have, if you start off thinking of yourself as a king and queen. Nothing could get in the way of your peace and happiness!

Take that, Hizb’allah!!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I will not leave you comfortless:
I will come to you.
-- John 14:18

It’s been an Alka-Seltzer / Tylenol / Maalox / Hot-Fudge Brownie Sundae kind of summer, news-wise.



Basket-case countries going “noo-coo-lar”!



Global warming!

Illegal immigrants!

And now Mel Gibson! (Sob!) Say it isn’t so, Mel! The hunkiest actor ever, in a drunken moment last week, revealed ugly, shocking anti-Semitism.

I cried out in agony when I read of my longtime crush’s freefall. I slumped, and my arm dangled down the side of the chair.

Suddenly, a cold, wet snout bounced my hand upward so that it landed on a warm, fuzzy head. It was Sunny Bone-O, our yellow Labrador retriever. She’d heard my cry, and in her doggy way, thought I’d feel better if I petted her a little bit.

Darn right I did. I think it’s in the Plan. I believe our companion animals are deputized from above. When people aren’t around to give you comfort and tenderness, animals are there to do it, and do it well.

One starry night years ago when I was sad and couldn’t sleep, I went outside to have a private little pity party on the back patio. Not too many tears had dripped down before Fat Louie, our often-AWOL and usually neglected barn cat, jumped into my lap, demanding to be petted, all warm and cuddly and purring. Isn’t it funny? Usually, he’d bolt away from anyone who tried to pet him.

We don’t speak of it; cats have their pride, you know. But he certainly made me feel better. Maybe it’s nuts, but I feel we’ve shared a special bond ever since.

How do animals know what we’re feeling? How do they know when we need them so much? It’s a great mystery, and a comfort. People who had rocky childhoods even say that the one who knew them the best and cared for them the most was the family dog. You feel sorry for them . . . but so glad they knew the true love of a God-given, faithful friend, four-legged or otherwise.

So in this summer of stress and anxiety, crisis and doomsday talk, I was delighted to hear about a dog named Hogan who’s gone above and beyond the call of Man’s Best Friend. Hogan, you see, has become a New Baby Nanny beyond compare for a week-old infant named Charity Rose.

Hogan is a 3-year-old, 80-pound, Great Pyrenees / Chow mix who belongs to Jeff Curtis of Omaha, and wife Beth McDaniel. Hogan’s been a playful companion for the blended family’s older six children, ranging in ages from 13 to 6.

But when Beth became pregnant, Hogan changed. His sheepdog lineage already made him protective, territorial and loyal. But through the pregnancy, he just went bonkers over Beth. He watched her like a hawk, following her from room to room.

“He slept on the floor on my side of the bed,” she said. He’d never done that before.

“Any time I had any kind of twinges or anything, especially as the baby got bigger and would kick me, he’d be right next to me. Maybe I would kind of wince, but I don’t know. It seemed like any time the baby would kick, it was like he could sense it.”

Charity was born last Monday, at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. The couple didn’t really know what to expect from the dog when they brought her home. Well, Hogan’s tenderness and concern turned him in to an adorable, shaggy Mary Poppins . . . heaven-sent, pure love.

“He always wants to be next to her,” Beth said. “He doesn’t care about me now – he’s completely bonded to her. He sleeps by her bed. If she makes a peep, he runs right over to her. He likes to lick her, too – Jeff says it’s his instinct to clean her – but I don’t really want her to be cleaned by a dog’s tongue.”

Jeff says it best: “If Hogan only knew how to make her a bottle and bring her a Binkie.” †

(If you’d like an update on Charity and Hogan, help this young family, and get some mighty nice, sparkling windows, note that Jeff Curtis runs Xtreme Glass Cleaning in Omaha, 208-9314)


Miles For Mali Update

Goal: Raise $5,600 by walking 56 miles in 56 days and obtaining sponsorships to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in impoverished Mali, Africa.

Fifth week’s report: 32 miles walked, $1,545 raised. Deadline: Aug. 20. Eek! I’ll be putting the pedal to the metal, or should I say the Reeboks to the pavement, bigtime, these last two weeks of the effort. But I believe!

Please consider sponsoring me for $1 a day, to help bring decent medical care to nearly-destitute women and children in West Africa. Any amount would be greatly appreciated, of course! Let me know your prayer requests, too. Your generosity and kindness to people who are literally at the end of the earth will be noted in prayer every step of the way.

Please send checks made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022.

Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files. THANK YOU!!!

Learn more at: or

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Our daughter Eden chose to stay in Nebraska and play in the high school all-stars softball game this week while her traveling team went down to Texas for the national tournament of the American Fastpitch Association in Beaumont.

She missed the first few days of the tournament, but after her game up here, they were still alive, with only one loss in the double elimination tournament. So the morning after her game, she and her dad arose at 4 a.m. to get her on a plane to join her team. She made it well in time for the 12:30 p.m. game.

That afternoon, her dad fielded the dreaded call:

“We lost 1-0 in extra innings,” she began, in a tiny voice wracked by sobs. You always HATE to lose those close ones, especially since it knocked the team out of the tournament, and now she would have a 19-hour car ride home with a teammate’s family.

“I’m almost afraid to tell you this, too, Dad,” she continued, sniffling, “but I didn’t get to play. I turned my ankle in warm-ups.”

The blood drained completely out of my husband’s body and pooled at his feet, as he contemplated the $350 he’d forked over for a one-way plane ticket.

Then she burst out laughing. “HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Just kidding! Actually, WE beat THEM in extra innings! And I wasn’t really hurt – in fact, I got two hits!”

She had him hook, line and sinker, the little stinker. Then he turned around and pulled the same stunt on ME, giving me a heart attack, too.

The team wound up respectably, but did get knocked out and got home early this morning. So she’d better look out: middle-aged revenge can be sweet!

Friday, August 04, 2006


Someone I know and love went to that exotic vacation paradise, Indianola, Iowa, this week to attend the National Balloon Classic and have her first ride in a hot-air balloon.

I had a maiden great-great aunt whose passion was going on a senior-citizen bus tour to the Tulip Festival in Pella, Iowa, every spring. We thought Aunt Nell’s annual adventure was the epitome of a nerd vacation. But balloons over Indianola sounded even worse than tulips in Pella.

Come to find out, Indianola’s balloon event ranks right up there with the New Mexico balloon lifts as a world-class showing of that special and beautiful hobby. It’s a hotbed of hot air! As Ron Burgundy (movie Anchorman) would say, it’s kind of a big deal.


But I’m stuck at home, and probably won’t even get a souvenir T-shirt out of the deal because I made fun of the excursion. All I can do is the next-best thing: a VIRTUAL balloon ride. Try it with this game. It’s kind of fun:

Thursday, August 03, 2006


There was a typographical error in this morning’s Omaha World-Herald. In an account of the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star softball doubleheader, held Wednesday at the sparkling University of Nebraska-Lincoln softball field, there was this sentence:

“Elkhorn’s Eden Williams also had a terrific defensive play and singled before Bryant singled home Columbus star Chelsey Woodside.”

Grammatically, it was correct. But typographically, it really should have been:

“Elkhorn’s EDEN WILLIAMS also had a terrific defensive play and singled before Bryant singled home Columbus star Chelsey Woodside.”

We are so proud of her: two amazing outfield catches, a double play and a well-timed snappy single in front of the largest crowd she’s ever played before, 875 people. They put up an enormous roar after her two catches that brought out that magnum smile. And her grandparents, two sisters, a beloved aunt, and friends were there to see it. For all the all-stars, it was fabulous icing on the cake for their high-school softball careers, and a great sendoff to college.

Here’s to Eden. You’ve come a long way, Baby.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Drove through the booming metropolis of Gretna, Neb., and was amazed at all the construction, new houses, and new businesses along the highway. Gretna used to be the sleepy little town ‘way on the outskirts of metropolitan Omaha that my dad held up as a threat to my mom. If she didn’t behave, he’d say, he was moving her to a trailer home in GRETNA! Ewwww! She would shiver, and toe the line. It was the ultimate scare tactic. Nowadays, though, Gretna has gotten all upscale, and it’d be a treat to live there, trailer home or no.

But my daughter Eden and I have decided that Gretna is Mean City, USA. Why? Because of the odd combinations of businesses that are near to each other. Tactless! Unfriendly! Nasty, even!

There’s a mortuary right across from a nursing home!

There’s an ice cream shoppe right next to a fitness center!

And the Tender Care Animal Hospital is next to a fast-food joint that sells barbecued wings. That can’t be very fun for the birds whose owners bring them there. So THAT’S what they call “tender care” in Gretna, eh? Chicken TENDERS, they mean.

Next thing you know, they’ll have a bridal shop next to a shotgun store on the other side of a psychiatrist’s office . . . and a jail next door to the high school. Then again, with the first day of school right around the corner, that might not be half bad city planning after all.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Forget the Interstate. We drove home on back roads from a boating excursion on the Nebraska-South Dakota border. We saw a gingerbread-y old house done up as an art school . . . a couple of junk yards that were textbooks of farm implements through the decades . . . lots of “beefies,” our word for cattle . . . and of course, miles of corn and beans in beautiful fields as far as the eye could see.

Then we got a surprising treat.

Just outside the town of West Point, Neb., nine elk were grazing in the late-day sun, with magnificent antler racks. Daughters Neely and Maddy check them out. Maddy was looking around for Santa Claus, because these were definitely reindeer on steroids.

It was better than Cabela’s, because they MOVED! We’ve traveled pretty extensively, but we’ve never seen elk. Best of all, we live in the town of Elkhorn, so now we have even more pride of place.

But the question was, why nine BOY elk? Where were the girls?

I googled a little bit, and found a possible solution: it seems that the 15 to 25 pounds of elk antlers each male sheds annually can produce a delightful income in this global economy. Turns out elk antlers are ground up for a hot-selling aphrodisiac in Korea.

Now we know why they call it “animal husbandry.”

Monday, July 31, 2006


Signs along the roads are always so darned bossy and negative. You know:





So I was pleased to see this kinder, gentler sign along a turning lane near our destination in northern Georgia last week:


Should make a copy and put it up in my home. It’s not a bad philosophy of life!

Sunday, July 30, 2006




As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
-- Psalm 42:1

Like most middle-aged married couples, we’re still teammates, on the same playbook page, still expecting to cross over the end zone of life together, spike the ball, and do an exuberant waggle.

But lately, we’d been outyarded and outgained by the cares and stresses of life. Our helmets were dented, our jerseys were torn, and our shoelaces were untied.

Don’t worry: there was no unnecessary roughness, no late hits, no talk in the huddle about The Big D -- Divorce. We had simply hit midlife: time to tweak the game plan, retape our sore spots, and get some spiritual Gatorade.

So last week, we staggered into a special kind of locker room for a halftime pep talk from some gifted coaches.

It was a Christian-based marriage workshop with several other couples at a mountain retreat in northern Georgia. It was stupendous – life-changing – and it involved lots of Southern cooking, from sweet tea to cream pie. Ahhhh! We came out of the experience more in love with each other and with God than ever before.

But before we got there, I was petrified. I sat in our hotel room in northern Atlanta, alone in the early evening quiet under rain-threatening skies.

God! Oh, God! What was I getting myself in to? Couldn’t we just do this on the phone? My throat tightened with anxiety.

Would they make me spill my guts? Would they think I was a rotten wife? Would they tsk-tsk? Worse: would they laugh?

I started to freak out. How could these complete strangers understand us, if we couldn’t?

My spouse came into the room. I’m not proud of it, but I began to cry.

The view from our fourth-story window was a dense, green swamp. A scummy pond meandered through thick bushes and stunted trees. The water was clear in a few places, and there were gorgeous white lilies here and there. But overall, it was a tangled, dense, sticky, swampy mess.

Just like our marriage.

I cried some more. We were stuck. Where was the way out? Even if we could see it, could we get there? Or would one or both of us stay stuck, struggling and thrashing?

Before our eyes, a beautiful doe appeared out of nowhere. She picked her way past the bushes to the water’s edge, lowering her graceful neck and delicately drinking from the pond. I held my breath, as if I would scare her away.

The humidity gave way to a gentle rain. Plop! Plop! The little ripples in the pond . . . the peace and stillness all around . . . the beauty of the deer . . . and slowly, I relaxed. Just as suddenly, with a flick of her white flag-like tail, she was gone.

A white flag: just like the one I needed to wave. Let go . . . and let God.

She hadn’t gotten mired. She hadn’t made a scene. She just got what she needed, and moved on.

So would we. God had brought us this far. He would see us through.

Fear and confusion were no match for our love and our Lord’s desire to lead us out of the swamp of midlife marital “stuff.” He’d restore the joy and fulfillment He’d planned for us from the moment we spoke our vows before His altar.

And that’s exactly what happened. The swamp is behind us now. We’re in the clear.

The retreat grounds were crawling with deer, and that put me at ease right off the bat. Those “strangers” were so loving, understanding and insightful, they helped us see how we were missing the mark, yet left us feeling good about ourselves and our marriage, better than we have in years. Confusion is gone; hope and excitement are back.

We went in there like lowdown swamp rats. We left feeling like an intrepid buck and a graceful doe.

That’s what happens when you trust the One who holds marriage so “deer” . . . and guides you along the trail, every step of the way. †


Miles For Mali Update

Goal: Raise $5,600 and collect 5,600 miles of walking, running, biking and swimming in 56 days to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in Mali, Africa.

Fourth week’s report: 24 miles walked, $469 raised. Still ‘way, ‘way behind schedule, but getting ready to lean into the tape. Won’t you help? Deadline: Aug. 20.

Please consider sponsoring me for $1 a day, to help bring decent medical care to nearly-destitute women and children in West Africa. If you can’t spare $56, I understand, and God bless you. But if you can . . . woo hoo! God will honor your commitment, and I’ll sing your praises to Him.

Please send checks made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022.
Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files. THANK YOU!!!

Learn more at: or

Friday, July 21, 2006


See you Aug. 1. Happy summer!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I parked in a midtown strip shopping mall the other day in front of a store next to my destination. I did a double take over a seeming contradiction between a store sign and the display in the front window.

It was a bridal shop, and there was a lovely wedding gown and veil on the mannequin.

The problem was, the sign painted on the glass to the side read:


Talk about a specialty store!?! Nahh. They just happen to have both kinds of apparel, for brides and mothers-to-be. Or maybe both at the same time. You know that old kiddie song: “Here comes the bride . . . all fat and wide. . . .”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Grandma served as pet sitter for her small granddaughter’s guinea pig only after ascertaining that the coloration of the guinea pig was fairly common. That’s in case it kicked the bucket while under her care and she had to rush out to every pet store in town to find a dead ringer; otherwise the kid might be scarred for life by the tragedy of premature furry demise.

Everything seemed to be in order for the pet-sitting job, including a full page of instructions in formal script type befitting the solemnity of the task at hand.

But one thing went wrong: the heavy, 30-gallon aquarium that was the guinea pig’s domain had been placed on a table in the spare room. The edges were mighty high off the ground. But the guinea pig’s owners were long gone by the time the diminutive grandma tried to feed it and clean its W.C.

She could dump the alfalfa, gourmet seeds, and little orange wedge in there all right, but she couldn’t reach her arm inside deeply enough to clean up the leavings. It wouldn’t do, at her age, to stand on a stepstool and risk a fall.

So she used her heirloom soup ladle – the only tool with a long enough handle to do the job.

She made sure to emphasize this ingenuity when the guinea pig’s owners arrived home, adding coyly, “Oh, and I’ve made some soup to send home with you, too.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


My family will never let me live it down. We were driving in northern Minnesota past a large forest of narrowly-spaced, towering pine trees. You know the kind: tall, skinny trunks all the way up to the top 25% or so, and then dark green pine boughs up high. Makes for the kind of a dense, dark forest it’d be hard to hike through if your diet wasn’t working.

Well, I waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of that scene. “Look at Nature!” I exclaimed to my beloved and our four kids. “Look how perfect it is! The same kind of trees crowd together to make a uniform height and maximize the growing space above and underneath.”

Silence in the car. “Uh. . .” my beloved responded, finally, with great tact, “noooooo, the fact that the trees are all exactly the same height and spaced exactly that far apart is evidence that they were planted that way. It’s a tree farm.”

Silence . . . then RIOTOUS LAUGHTER!!! Mommy goofed again!!!

What made it really sting was, a few days later on a lovely wilderness golf course with emerald-green fairways cut into old woods, our third and sassiest daughter waxed rhapsodic herself:

“Look, Mom! Look how Nature just HAPPENED to conform into a beautiful 18-hole golf course here! Rolling meadows with no trees were perfect for the fairways, and small sand pits formed right next to circular meadows with the shortest grass of all! Isn’t Nature wonderful?”

Riotous laughter from the other golfers. Heyyy! Isn’t the best thing about Nature that it’s mostly QUIET?!?!

Monday, July 17, 2006


We just got back from a family vacation, where the fun included shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. We stopped at the food court for a quick meal. I stepped up to place our order.

The clerk repeated everything I said as he punched it into the computer. He had a lisp.

“Cheeseburger, hold the pickles,” I ordered. “Cheethburger, no pickleth” he repeated.

“Side salad with ranch dressing.” “Thide thalad with ranch drething.”

“Chicken fingers” . . . “chicken fingerth.”

“Sierra Mist” . . . “Thierra Mitht.”

This went on and on. Everything we ordered had s’s in it. I was afraid the young man was going to get upset, or think I was making fun of him. I mean, you couldn’t have put more sibilance into words if you tried.

But when the order was complete, he gave me a warm smile and a quick wink. I was so glad: “hold the pickleth, hold the lettuth, thepethial orderth don’t upthet uth. . . .”

Sunday, July 09, 2006




The way of a fool
is right in his own eyes:
but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.
-- Proverbs 12:15

Didn’t I clamber all over hill and dale at kiddie camp, and never got poison ivy?

Didn’t I hike all over the back trails of northern Minnesota picking blueberries, and fishing along the creepiest, crawliest, back-woods shores?

Didn’t I cavort at “woodsies” out in the boondocks in college, and on camping trips, and while gardening? Haven’t I spent more than my share of time in the “cabbage” of the deep rough on golf courses near and far?

And in all that time, I never got poison ivy, or its evil twins, poison oak and poison sumac. Never! Others itched . . . but I remained Dermatologically Unprovoked.

Until last week, that is. Oooh! I got it . . . BAD!

The red-speckled undersides of my arms look like the Tattooed Lady! From ankle to knee, it looks like I got in a knifefight with a near-sighted midget. I even had it on the tips of my ears and down both sides of my neck, apparently from fussing with my hair.

It’s my own darn fault. I knew there was poison ivy among the weeds around those grand old cottonwoods ringing our neighborhood pond. A neighbor had to be hospitalized with an extreme allergic reaction after a workday down there; my beloved had gotten a touch of it, and it wasn’t fun.

But I was immune! I was SuperWeeder!

Hundreds of people were coming there for our neighborhood’s annual fireworks show. That’s why I wanted to weed under the trees, even though people wouldn’t even get there ‘til it was too dark to see.

But my perfectionistic streak forced me to ignore these warnings, and go down there and spruce things up.

Did I wear long sleeves and long pants? Nah. It was hot!

Did I let my rake and other garden tools make the contact? Nah. I got right in to the piles, scooped ‘em up and stuffed ‘em into bags. Hey! I HAD on GLOVES!

I threw my work clothes immediately into the washing machine, and took a sudsy shower. No spots! No itching!

Next day, I strutted around, the intrepid garden Goliath.

But at 3 a.m., I awakened with RAGING VOLCANOS ERUPTING FROM THE CROOKS OF MY ELBOWS DOWN TO MY WRISTS! Before my eyes, ominous pinnacles of pink skin peaked, then oozed, and transformed my bed into Camp Itchipoogottascratchit.

I made a beeline for the Caladryl lotion. Better! Kind of!

Two hours later, the volcanos were back, this time on my legs. I woke up like a contortionist, my body shaped into the letter “O,” my nails scratching my ankles into a bloody pulp. Then new volcanos erupted on my arms. Back and forth it went.

Call your doctor, friends advised. Nah. He’ll get really mad.

Instead, I got online and started reading the scariest and most confusing amateur medical advice imaginable. Rub 100% Clorox on it with a washcloth until it burns.

No, Clorox will scar – use brake cleaner!

No, that hurts too much. Apply a thick coat of white shoe polish!

No, just take a shower in the hottest water you can stand, to literally scald your skin so it can’t feel any more. Bite down on a rolled-up washcloth when you really “get cooking.”

No! Cold water! That’s the ticket! With Fels Naptha laundry soap.

No, no, no. You put 20 tea bags in a hot bath, soak for 20 minutes, pat yourself dry, and blow-dry yourself on the highest setting. Talk about hot air!

My favorite advice was to use alcohol. Not on your itchy, owie skin – but to drink yourself into blissful unconsciousness. If you’re conked out, you won’t scratch.

A week’s gone by, and the volcanos have finally calmed down. Now I just look scabby and icky.

It would have been sooooooo simple to heed the warnings, and not even go around known poison ivy in the first place.

Simple . . . smart . . . and so out of character. But if it’s the way to stay out of Camp Itchipoogottascratchit, maybe I’ll wise up at last. †


Miles For Mali Update

Goal: Raise $5,600 and collect 5,600 miles of walking, running, biking and swimming in 56 days to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in Mali, Africa.

Second week’s report: 14 miles walked, $273 raised from people in Nebraska, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Still ‘way, ‘way behind schedule, dollar-wise. But still planning to meet it!

Renewing the challenge, far and wide: why not sponsor me for $1 a day, to help bring decent medical care to nearly-destitute women and children in West Africa? If you can’t sacrifice $56, I understand, and God bless you. But if you can . . . woo hoo! God will honor your commitment, and I’ll sing your praises to Him.

Please send checks made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022. Deadline: Aug. 20.
Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files. THANK YOU!!!

Learn more at: or

Saturday, July 08, 2006


My beloved and I are on a walking program. It’s a great time to reconnect while enjoying the great outdoors. Except that it can also reveal that one’s spouse is deranged, odd and totally whacked out.

Or at least, I THOUGHT he was, when he started exclaiming what a GREAT idea “pods” were, how well they worked for “storage,” and how he’d been noticing them around town.

Pods? There were seed pods hanging from a nearby tree as we walked by. I peered at them as I listened to him rave about them. “Storage”? Of seeds? Whaaaat? Was he losing his mind, going on and on about pods? I wish I had a picture of my face, screwed up in confusion, next to his, rapt with enthusiasm.

Was this his idea of some kind of a prayer, thanking God for one of His designs in nature? Was he mixed up and thinking of iPods? Or had he been SMOKING pods and losing brain cells rapidly? Had he suddenly become a . . . “pod head”?

Then I finally saw what he was talking about: two large storage boxes, labeled “PODS,” sat alongside a remodeling project going on, one house over from the tree with the seed pods.

The storage pods held the homeowner’s furniture and stuff while the remodeling was going on as an on-site solution. Ohhhh. THAT’S what he meant by pods being “a great idea for storage.”

You knew it was coming. I said, “Pod’n me.”

Friday, July 07, 2006


Our driveway looked like a three-ring circus of machinery, as my husband had hooked 1) our broken-down lawn tractor onto 2) our ATV’s winch to pull it up the ramp onto 3) our trailer attached to 4) our pickup truck.

My job was to sit in the ATV and run the remote control for the winch, which was supposed to pull the tractor right up the ramp onto the trailer. All I had to do, literally, was lift a finger.

But twice in a row, mysteriously, when I operated the winch, it just pulled ME in the ATV toward the TRACTOR.

Actually, it was good for my self-esteem: maybe I’m not so heavy after all. . . .

My husband adjusted this, and tried that. Finally, he asked in afterthought, “You DO have your FOOT on the brake, DON’T you?!?!?!”

Oops. I acted nonchalant. But once I made that little change, the ATV stayed braced, and the winch pulled the tractor right up the ramp as fine as you please.

He knew . . . he just KNEW . . . that he’d better not say anything . . . be a mensch, not a grinch, and don’t make your wench flinch while running a winch. . . .

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Heard about a middle-aged menace at a lakeside community near our town who was out boating while drunk. He reportedly ran his speedboat aground onto a beach at about 40 mph, horrifyingly near some kids and a dock.

The homeowner called police first, and the lake association president next. The drunken captain was ticketed for B.U.I. – Boating Under the Influence (of alcohol). He was banned from boating on that lake ever again.

Except . . . he was right back at it on the Fourth of July.

When homeowners confronted him, he had an amazing excuse. “Oh, that was another boat,” the culprit explained. “I’ve got a new boat now.”

If it’d been me, I’d have gotten . . . stern . . . and set sail to his . . . rudder.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


An avid hunter in our neighborhood is teaching a bow-hunting class. He went all out and got realistic, life-size targets of a deer, a bear, an antelope and a big-horn sheep. He set them up in the neighborhood park in a place that he thought was ‘way out of the way of everybody else.

There were about 20 men gathered around him, getting ready to try shooting at the targets, when all of a sudden, off in the distance, here came a woman. She was sneaking up on the deer target with a body language that signaled she was excited and delighted. Slowly, carefully, sneakily . . . she came closer and closer, and that deer stayed perfectly still!

Finally, the woman stood straight up and put her hands on hips. She had finally realized WHY the deer stayed so still.

It might not have been so bad, except that she finally saw the men and heard 20 outbursts of very loud, very hysterical laughter. Her expression could only be described as . . . a deer in the headlights.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


A thought-provoking multimedia presentation for Independence Day. Have a bang-up Fourth!

Monday, July 03, 2006


Here’s a lovely tribute to our country:

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,
all the earth: make a loud noise,
and rejoice, and sing praise.
-- Psalm 98:4

We used to live close to a big park where there’s always a huge Fourth of July fireworks show. We loved strolling over there as dusk was falling, and getting back home before most others had even reached their cars.

‘Course, the fireworks were so close and so loud, we’d get home and find the dog cowering in the bathtub, ears pinned back, all shook up.

It was about the same with our small children. We tried to explain the connection between Independence Day, the Revolutionary War, the Star Spangled Banner, celebrating freedom, and fireworks. But the significance was . . . ahem . . . over their heads.

No wonder. What fireworks represent -- rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air -- isn’t exactly the stuff of Sesame Street. Fireworks aren’t really for kids, anyway: they’re for those old enough to take fierce pride in the passions of freedom and the struggles that have preserved this God-given land. Struggles that, yes, have been noisy.

But one year, it got so loud, we had to leave the fireworks show early. They had introduced those big, big ones. You know them: you see the white ball flash high in the sky, and one heartbeat later, the world goes


. . . and boy, it’s a thrill. Except for little kids.

Our NeeNee, about 2, maxed out at the first big one. She leapt into my arms, burying her little blonde bowl-cut in my chest, nearly strangling me with her frightened hug.

“Oh, Mommy, Mommy,” she moaned. “The firecracks! The youd ones make my ears cry!”

She started to wail. It spread to her sisters. We high-tailed it out there, watching the show over our shoulders as we carried the sobbing children home.

But, you know, freedom isn’t quiet. It’s anything but. From the wars fought to win it, to the babble of the marketplace of ideas in our free society, freedom is a cacophony. Obtaining it in the first place is hard. Preserving it for ourselves and others can be chaotic. It’s scary. People get hurt. People get killed.

That’s the price of it. That’s the reality.

But oh, the fruits of freedom: being able to say what you think . . . worship as you please . . . elect leaders whose decisions affect your life . . . to protest and dissent as well as cheer and applaud.

You can live a quiet life in a peaceful country, alert but unafraid, thanks to the sweat and sacrifice of the generations of brave folks who earned it for you, in the noise that gives birth to liberty.

That’s worth more than a sedate prayer, as at Thanksgiving, or a sweet song, like a birthday party. That’s worth a


. . . or maybe 76 of them, in a row.

I’m sure the muskets were “youd” at Concord and Lexington and Bunker Hill.

The naval cannonball fire must have been deafening over Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

Thundering cavalry at Bull Run and Gettysburg . . . the early machine guns in the Argonne Forest of World War I . . . the hellish assaults of D-Day and Iowa Jima, not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki . . . those were all “youd,” too.

And the bombs that won Inchon in Korea . . . the choppers and air raids over Vietnam . . . the thundering jets of Desert Storm . . . the enormous engines of the B-52’s and sizzling F-18’s over Afghanistan . . . the laser whoosh of the cruise missiles and explosions of the minefields of Iraq . . . all these were “youd,” indeed.

But thank God for the noise. Thank God for the joy we have in our blessings, represented by the loud and colorful fireworks going up all over our country right now.

Yes, fireworks make your ears cry.

And your heart sing.

God bless America . . . say it “youd.” †


Miles For Mali Update

Goal: Raise $5,600 and collect 5,600 miles of walking, running, biking and swimming in 56 days to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in Mali, Africa.

First week’s report: seven miles walked, $156 raised from people in Nebraska, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Thanks, guys! Much appreciated, and I’ll be praying for you and yours as I walk.

Eek, though! We have a long way to go. But I’m excited, because I have some plans for multiplying the receipts that I think will work. And I know kind and giving hearts are out there and are going to come through for the women and children of Mali:

Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase. – Job 8:7

Won’t you sponsor me for a dollar a day? Give up a candy bar or a cup of coffee each day so that women in Mali won’t die in childbirth as often, and their kids will have a better chance to live past age 5? Since I’m walking 56 miles, a dollar a day comes to $56 over eight weeks. Think back on childbirth experiences you or a loved one had, and decide if you want to express your gratitude for the blessings of good medical care by helping to provide it for the poorest of the poor in West Africa.

Please send checks made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022. Deadline: Aug. 20.
Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files. THANK YOU!!!

Learn more at: or

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Click on this link, scroll down to the photo, and click to see and hear an amazing video that involves Diet Coke and Mentos. If you’re . . . bubbly about America, you’ll love this:

Friday, June 30, 2006


Herein is truth. In recent days, I’ve especially been affected by the first two, only instead of grease, I’m plagued with poison ivy. Itchy poo all over, and not supposed to scratch. Oooooh!

I’m also suffering from the universal truth of the last law: my very favorite spray fragrance, from Aromafloria, ran out after three years of happy usage out of the same big bottle. Come to find out, they don’t make it any more. WAH! That stinks . . . and, without my daily spritz, I probably do, too.

Which of these “get” you?

Law of Mechanical Repair:
After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch or you'll have to pee.

Law of Biomechanics:
The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

Law of the Workshop:
Any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

Law of Probability:
The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

Law of the Telephone:
If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal.

Law of the Alibi:
If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

Variation Law:
If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will start to move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

Law of the Bath:
When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

Law of Close Encounters:
The probability of meeting someone you know increases when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

Law of the Result:
When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

Law of the Theatre:
At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle arrive last.

Law of Coffee:
As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold.

Murphy's Law of Lockers:
If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

Law of Rugs/Carpets:
The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

Law of Location:
No matter where you go, there you are.

Law of Logical Argument:
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

Brown's Law:
If the shoe fits, it's ugly.

Oliver's Law:
A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Wilson's Law:
As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


(Today's DailySusan, available only to email subscribers, shows a photo of a European-style home with an inner courtyard. All the way up the overly tall walls are hung dozens or even hundreds of potted flowers.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A neighbor is making a dry stream bed to accommodate drainage. He said the project reminds him of the first landscaping project he ever attempted. He went to the lumber yard to buy rocks. Once he saw the wide variety of shapes and sizes to choose from, he realized he was in over his head. He stopped, looking to and fro in perplexity.

An old timer came by. He was unshaven. He wore overalls. He whistled his “s’s.”

“Hiya, Sssssonny,” he said in a friendly manner. “First time buyin’ rocksssss?”

“Well, yes,” the younger man said.

“Well, let me tell you sssssomethin’,” the old timer said. His pupil leaned forward, anticipating great wisdom and rock-buying lore passed down through the ages.

“You’ve got to buy rocksssssss that are too big to move,” the geezer said.

“Too big to move?” the younger man wondered.

“Yeah, ‘cause if you buy rockssssss any ssssssmaller than that, your wife will have you movin’ ‘em every year to sssssomewhere elsssssse,” he said. “If they’re too big to move, you put ‘em down one time, and you’re ssssssafe.”

They never teach you that in Husband School. Maybe they ssssshould.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The hardest-working person at the College World Series in downtown Omaha this year, who did the most running, will not get her name in the paper or an interview on ESPN, although she handled more adversity than anything anybody was up against on the ball field.

A friend of our daughter’s, she got a job helping out with the press conferences after each game, a hectic and stressful hour. She didn’t have to be there ‘til late in each game, so finding a parking place anywhere near the stadium was a trick.

One day, there was a doubleheader. She drove all the way downtown to the stadium, parked miles away, worked the first press conference, raced back to her car, and drove all the way across the city fighting rush-hour traffic, arriving just in time for her other part-time job, teaching ice skating. Just as she pulled up to the rink, though, her cell phone rang: there was something wrong with the rink that day, and lessons were canceled. O . . . K.

She drove all the way back across the city, and once again arrived in mid-game, so lots were all full and she had to park several blocks away. She legged it back to the press conference room. There was a one-hour rain delay that evening, so post-game festivities went late, and she didn’t get done working until after 11 p.m.

Then she had to walk all by herself in the pitch black back to her car. Naturally, it wouldn’t start: dead battery. So she called for help, trying not to get mugged in the meantime, and by the time she got on the road to go home, it was after 1 a.m.

But hey! She loved the job. She got to meet a lot of baseball players – and they were cute!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Truly Is the College WORLD Series

We’ve attended two thrilling games in the final series of this year’s College World Series at Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium. Tonight’s game will determine the champion. But last night’s game revealed just how much of a “world” event this really has become.

All I did was say “hi” to the lady next to me, and found out the following:

She’s from San Diego, but flies to Omaha once a year to attend the entire Series as her annual vacation. She used to be in the Navy and has been all over the world, but was born and raised in upstate New York. Most of the jobs in the signature industry in her hometown – apples – have now been taken over by migrant workers flown in from Jamaica. They are put up in barracks with free room and board until the apples are picked, send every dime they make back home to Jamaica each week, and are flown back home when the harvest is over. It makes her very mad to see American jobs lost and the revenue leaving her old hometown . . . but that’s why the best college baseball in the world is such a great diversion.

Can’t wait to talk to her again next year. Mom might have told you not to speak to strangers . . . but you’re pretty safe at an all-American baseball game, and you just never know what in the world you might learn if you do.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


But if we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship one with another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin.
-- 1 John 1:7

Our church is raising $1 million for a maternity hospital in one of the poorest countries in the world. Mali is ‘way over on the other side of the planet, on the edge of the Sahara Desert in northwest Africa. We always think of Timbuktu as being the absolute end of the earth; it’s just up the road from where this hospital is going to be.

Church leaders challenged each of us to help. They showed pictures of a dusty, desolate terrain, with gray soils, few trees and shacks that passed as homes. There’s never enough to eat. AIDS is rampant, malaria is out of control, and per-capita income is just $250 a year. Most everyone is Muslim; Jesus Christ is mostly unknown.

As a mother with four stripes on my maternity letter jacket, I was particularly grieved to learn that as many as 10% of mothers die in childbirth there, and one out of every four children dies before reaching age 5, largely because of malnutrition and lack of medical care. There are hardly any obstetricians, gynecologists and pediatricians in the whole country.

(Photo from

The problems are enormous. What could WE do to help?

We drove home in our air-conditioned car on Omaha’s wide streets, past spacious homes, lush gardens and tall shade trees. My tummy bulged over my belt, compliments of the abundant good food available around here. No one in my family is sick in any way right now, and while we’re not exactly sitting on a mountain of money, we’re in the foothills.

Our way of life is probably as different as could be from the lifestyle of a family in Mali.

Most of all, I thought back over the great prenatal care I received for each of my four pregnancies: the many tests, the ultrasounds, the nutritional advice, the high-tech delivery rooms, the neonatal intensive care.

It never even crossed my mind that I or any of my babies might die. Yet that’s a constant concern over in Mali. If things go wrong, they bleed to death or their uterus ruptures. The nearest full-service clinic is hundreds of miles away . . . but we could have gotten to three in the time it took to drive home from church.

Timbuktu was no longer out of sight, out of mind. It was in my heart. We had to help. But how?

Our daughter Neely piped up.

“You and Dad are always complaining about how out of shape you are and how you never get any exercise,” she said. “Why don’t you go on a walking program, and get other people to walk with you? Get sponsors, and raise money that way?”

Perfect! We loved it! And that’s what we’re going to do . . . starting today.

It’s 5,600 miles to the town in Mali where the hospital is going to be built, Koutiala. We have 56 days until the fund-raising deadline, Aug. 20. We have set an impossibly high goal, $5,600.

And we’re getting the ball rolling by committing to walk one mile a day. That’s 56 miles. Now we’re seeking sponsors who’ll walk alongside us by donating money toward our goal.

Won’t you sponsor us for a quarter or a dollar a day? Or more?

Better yet, won’t you get your own sponsors and walk, run, bicycle or swim as many miles as you can by Aug. 20, and contribute your proceeds to this cause? You can use the chart, attached.

Won’t you tell your co-workers and neighbors about Mali, and enlist their help and donations?

Donations are tax-deductibile. Checks should be made out to Christ Community Church and sent to:

Susan Williams
P.O. Box 995
Elkhorn, NE 68022

Thank you! We’ll pray for everybody who helps as we go along, and keep you posted with our progress. Let’s walk 5,600 miles together this summer . . . and may our feet help bring a miracle to Mali. †

Miles For Mali

Goal: Raise $5,600 and collect 5,600 miles of walking, running, biking and swimming in 56 days to help build a much-needed maternity hospital in Mali, Africa.

Please print out, fill in, and send with your check made out to Christ Community Church to:
Susan Williams, P.O. Box 995, Elkhorn, NE 68022. Deadline: Aug. 20. Donations tax-deductible; you will receive a letter for your files.

Pledge for the Williams Family’s 56 miles: $_____ per mile

How can we pray for you as we walk? ___________________________________________________


Multiply the fitness and the fund-raising!

Please let us know as soon as possible what your mileage goal is, and how much money you hope to bring in, by emailing Print out and post this chart to keep records of miles you’ve logged and sponsors who are helping, and you’re on your way! Send checks to the post office box so that they are received by Aug. 20. Thanks! You are Mali-velous!!!

Week of . . . # of Mile $ per mile, all sponsors Weekly Total

June 25 $ $

July 2 $ $

July 9 $ $

July 16 $ $

July 23 $ $

July 30 $ $

Aug. 6 $ $

Aug. 13 $ $
TOTAL: _____ miles $______________ $___________

Learn more at: or

Saturday, June 24, 2006


We’re going to the finals of the College World Series tonight, North Carolina vs. Oregon State. We’re wearing Carolina blue: big fans. It’s the first time our eldest, Jordan, a University of North Carolina graduate, has missed the Omaha-based national baseball championship in her entire life. Where is she? In her new home – North Carolina. She’s beside herself to be missing this year of all years, with her team in the finals.

She wasn’t even 1 her first CWS game. I remember it distinctly, because a very nice, very dark-skinned African-American gentleman sat right behind us. Jordy spent the entire game over my shoulder, GAPING at the poor guy’s skin with surprise and delight. It was a blast of diversity for the playpen set. What a great sport he was, laughing over her funny expressions.

I was just as good a sport during last year’s series, although I was not in control of my behavior, so can’t really take credit. I was on MORPHINE LA-LA LAND, big-time, in a suburban Minneapolis hospital. We were visiting friends up there, and missing Nebraska’s CWS game. I was watching it on TV downstairs in their home, but went upstairs for some water. I heard a big roar from the crowd – did we score? -- so I rushed down the stairs in my slick sandals to see what happened. Key word: “rushed.” I made like a trick skier in the Olympics . . . triple gainer, double pike . . . and landed with a WHOMP! on my side. Punctured a lung, cracked a rib . . . but ohhhhhh, was that morphine delightful.

So far, this year’s series has been peaceful, pleasant and quiet. But with baseball, as with life, anything can happen.

Friday, June 23, 2006


We’re on a “home and away” play date schedule for Maddy and her friend Andrew, both 6. Yesterday, we got the “Cars” cars at McDonald’s, did the monkey bars, went to the read-a-story-to-a-dog activity at the library (and fell in love with a “retired” greyhound and a fuzzy white Labradoodle), and then motored down to the Children’s Museum for a full, fun-filled afternoon.

In the car, Andrew regaled us with his big plans to become a football star. “You know Coach Callahan?” Yes, I knew of the University of Nebraska football coach. Andrew continued, “He’s going to be MY coach some day. I hope my team wins!!!”

I asked, “What position would you like to play?”

Details, details. “I just like to spike the ball!”

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Our daughter Eden is going to be a symphony debutante this coming Christmas season. It’s a dress-up affair, a bit out of character for our family. But oh, well. It’s for a good cause.

Everything has to be done months in advance, which is also unusual for us spontaneoids. She has already chosen her long, white gown, but the intricately beaded hem needed to be shortened. We made an appointment with a seamstress. We were running late.

But Maddy was lollygagging. “Hurry up and get in the car!” I urged her. “Beamer has an appointment for the Deb Ball!”

Maddy looked at me, perplexed. “THE DEAD BALL?!?!?”

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Our neighbors have a swimming pool, and they are worried about a shortage of a certain kind of pool chemical right now in our area. You can’t find a bag of it anywhere in town, they said.

I guess when you put in this product, you “shock the pool.”

My neighbor was really concerned that she won’t be able to have her pool open over the Fourth of July if some of this chemical doesn’t materialize on the market.

I tried to cheer her up, pretending to lift up my shirt and expose my pudgy nakedness. “Here!” I offered helpfully. “Maybe THIS will shock the pool!”

Maybe she should flash it her property-tax bill. Now, THAT’S shocking.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


. . . or, actually, his. By popular demand, here’s how our girls’ offbeat Father’s Day present for their dad turned out. Also by popular demand, we are not making him model these for the picture. No, I just folded them and scanned them. It is the first time I have ever scanned or photocopied a pair of underwear, regardless of what past bosses might have put in my evaluations in terms of my on-the-job time management.

All we did was buy a pair of white boxer shorts -- WalMart cheapies -- and have them embroidered at a monogram shop that’s inside our local WalMart. We used our family’s sentimental nickname for the unmentionables of choice of the man of the house. You can do something like this: oh, the possibilities! And oh, to be a little bird in the locker room when they’ve all got their novelty box panties on. . . .

(Scanned photo of "Daddy's Box Panties" available to email subscribers only)

Monday, June 19, 2006


I suppose you thought of something wonderful and macho for your dad for Father’s Day: a camouflage hunting jacket . . . tickets to the Stanley Cup . . . a little red sports car. . . .

Well, the dad in OUR house got three new pairs of box panties.

See, many years ago, he was standing in line with our two oldest daughters, then probably 3 and 4, at the busiest McDonald’s in the middle of the city, at rush hour. There were five lines across, five people deep. You know how sometimes, in situations like that, everybody suddenly goes silent?

That’s right when one of the girls whirled around and asked, at the top of her voice:


He had tried to answer their question about why his unmentionables looked so different from theirs . . . and that’s what he got.

But it’s one of those beloved stories of family lore. And now he has three new pairs, all white: one has a monkey embroidered on it, one has “HUSKERS” . . . and one has “Daddy’s Box Panties” in pink writing, with a red heart.

So next time you see him, be sure to ask.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


And I looked, and, lo,
a Lamb stood on the mount Sion,
and with him an hundred forty and four thousand,
having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
-- Revelation 14:1

Two years ago, there was a wedding down at our neighborhood pond, uniting the daughter of some dear friends and her sweetheart, a strong, tall football player. His dad, equally tall and athletic, sets a wonderful Christian example of soft-spoken kindness.

For the wedding, the bridegroom and his dad built a big, beautiful cross out of sturdy wood. The ceremony wasn’t going to be in a church, but these families wanted to make it clear what the marriage was going to be based on.

A few days before, several guys erected the cross, making sure it was level. The father of the bride, the father of the groom, my husband and another neighbor held it aloft with the utmost care, like the statue of Iwo Jima, setting it in concrete.

Some ladies added a long white strip of sheer fabric that gracefully waved in the breeze. The effect was breathtaking.

It was the prettiest wedding ever. They left the cross up for weeks afterward, for another wedding was coming up. The land belonged to our neighborhood association, and they had permission. Whenever I passed by, I gazed at it. The cross made me feel good.

Then one terrible day, it was gone.

Someone had come in the night, and chain-sawed it down.

Reportedly, an angry person had called the local police three times to complain about the cross, and were told it was on private property, out of police jurisdiction.

So the person had just gone in there and cut it down, a couple of feet above the concrete base, leaving an ugly stump. The cross lay on the ground.

The father of the bride and the father of the groom were shocked. How could anybody feel that way about a cross? How could anybody mutilate such a positive, uplifting statement?

I wanted to organize a mob, like in the movie Frankenstein, march on whoever did it with torches and pitchforks, and make them glue it back together and apologize.

God! How could you let Your Son’s Cross be humiliated like this?

But the two fathers decided not to make a stink. They picked up the cross, took it to the bride’s parents’ nearby home, and erected it in their back yard.

A darling granddaughter has been born of that beautiful wedding, and she had her first Easter egg hunt around that cross this past spring.

The two dads and everybody else felt sad that somebody could harbor so much hate over something that was all about love. I was still mad that the vandal didn’t get punished or made to pay restitution for the property damage. But oh, well.

All of us had looked at the stump of the cross down at the pond 100 times . . . maybe 1,000.

But recently, the mother of the bride looked a little closer, and saw something:

There’s a heart in the wood!

It’s a natural knot on the corner of the stump. A heart! Plain as day!

It must have been there all along. But nobody saw it, ‘til now.

When I saw it, a thrill ran through me. I recognized our Father’s signature. All my anger at the vandal was wiped away. Here’s why:

You can criticize the cross. You can file a lawsuit against it. You can complain to the cops. You can cut it down. You can burn it, mutilate it, stomp on it, break it into a million pieces.

But you can never wipe away its true meaning. It’s the Father’s heart – the Father’s love.

On this Father’s Day, I hope all dads remember that. Nothing can ever stop your love for your children. Not trouble, not pain, not even death. It’s permanent. It’s forever. That love is a part of you, and a part of them. Nobody can ever take it away.

The same thing goes for our heavenly Father and His Son, despite the Cross, and because of it.

It was there all along . . . and it’s there to stay. †