Sunday, March 26, 2006

DailySusan is scheduled to resume on Sunday, April 2,
after a refreshing spring break and Lasik surgery on March 30!
Your prayers are sought, and would be much appreciated!


I have set the Lord always before me:
because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. . . .
Thou wilt shew me the path of life:
in thy presence is fullness of joy;
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
-- Psalm 16:8, 11

She’s a beautiful woman in her mid-20s. Her two little girls are miniatures, with big, brown eyes and raven hair.

At first, I thought she was their babysitter. Now that I’m getting to know her, though, I can see the stress lines already forming on her face.

She was with a man for seven years. He fathered the two girls. But he won’t marry her and doesn’t want them.

Never should have gotten herself in this predicament? She knows. How well she knows! She loved him sooooo much. She thought he would take responsibility, become her husband, accept his family.

But he won’t. He is, in the words of the ancient scholars, a poop.

After a recent birthday party, in all innocence, a dad offered a silly party hat to one of the girls. “Take this home. I bet your daddy would put it on for you!”

She looked up at him solemnly: “I haven’t got a daddy.”

It was heart-wrenching. But it’s reality.

So now this single mother has full-time school and a part-time job, trying to make ends meet, with the girls in school and day care. If it weren’t for her mother and several faithful friends, she could never pull it off.

Her mother, her friends . . . and Jesus. She’s confused and afraid sometimes . . . but she has faith.

Every night, they have a quiet time, just Mommy and the two girls. They light a candle to make it special. They read a couple of Bible verses. They pray.

Privately, she is prayed out. Is He the one You have for me, Lord? Then why won’t he marry me? If He’s not the one, then why did You let me fall in love with him and have children with him? And if He’s not the one, where IS the one? I need him. We need him!

So far, no answer. It’s not time yet.

One night not long ago, during the family devotional, the older daughter asked, “Mommy? How do I know Jesus will always be with me?”

“Well, Honey,” she remembers saying, “I guess He’ll show you.”

They went to bed.

Long about dawn, the young mother was dreaming. She dreamt that she was walking down a sidewalk, and then started up some stairs. At the top of the stairs was a house. Inside the front door was the father of her two children.

She mounted the steps, but all of a sudden became aware that there was another man next to her, holding her hand. Her future husband? They stopped. She became aware that this was no mere man. This was Jesus Christ. She could feel His hand gently but firmly guiding her. With her hand in His, they turned and walked back down the stairs.

Poof! That was the end of the dream. She awoke, knowing that it was His way of showing her that He was with her. He would show her what to do. The father of her daughters was not going to be her husband. She should stop trying to make him something he was not.

She was free! Free to find her true love -- someone else.

It was 5:30 a.m., but she wasn’t a bit tired. Suddenly, she heard an immense amount of singing. Angels? A heavenly chorus celebrating her revelation?

No. It was just birds – lots and lots of birds in the ravine behind her apartment.

She smiled. Angels, nonetheless. They were singing, along with her heart.

Just then, her older daughter rushed in.

“Mommy! Mommy! I dreamed that Jesus was holding me! He showed me He was real! Just like you said!”

They hugged. Tears flowed.

He had made a promise, and He had kept it. And He always would. They needed to know that, so badly.

Hand in hand, feeling loved, honored and cherished, they faced the new day.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Maddy can’t wait for her big sister to come home for Easter and meet her new guinea pig, Fluffy. She was chattering away about how big our family has gotten. I was wondering if she was including boyfriends and extended family.

But noooooo. People are slowly becoming the minority around here. We are now a family of 10: six humans; one yellow Lab on perpetual happy pills; two fat and lazy barn cats, TiGrr and Louie, and now a pudgy, cuddly rodent not likely to do any tricks, but at least she stays put.

One of Maddy’s favorite birthday gifts was a frog habitat from one of her homies, Hunter. She is to send in a card to order a tadpole for it when warmer temperatures are reliable. That’s so that we don’t have a “frogberg” DOA in the mail. So we will have a pet frog soon, too.

Maddy wasn’t satisfied. “We need one more ‘aminal,’” she said. “How about a GRASSHOPPER?”

Yumpin’ Yiminy! No wonder it seems like a three-ring circus around here. . . .

Friday, March 24, 2006


Today's DailySusan was a Power Point presentation available only to email subscribers.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


(Today's DailySusan is a photo of a bunch of hairy, bearded geeks in early 1970s clothes; the photo is available only to DailySusan email subscribers)


Check the guy in the lower left . . . that's Bill Gates.

Paul Allen, the owner of the Seattle Seahawks with a net worth around $20 billion,
is on the far right, lower corner.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


(Today's DailySusan is a series of new-product pictures from Japan, including a baby outfit for crawling-age babies that doubles as a mop, and tiny twin umbrellas for your shoes. The photos are available only to DailySusan blog subscribers.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Our daughter was a backup dancer in a talent segment of a beauty contest the other night, and her candidate won “Mr. Congeniality.”

That’s right: eight senior guys were vying for the title of “Mr. EHS” at Elkhorn High School. They were being judged for swimwear, talent, formalwear and interview. It was a fund-raiser for scholarships, and the winners got cash prizes and NEW CARS!!! Well, they were Matchbox cars – but they were new.

In the talent section, we saw everything from a ukulele player, to a nightclub-style singer, to a Star Wars-style laser gunfight, to a “Lord of the Dance” presentation that was really good. Our daughter’s friend dressed up like Richard Simmons, complete with outrageous wig and fake chest hair, and he and four pretty girls did an aerobics workout with amazing energy.

During the interviews, the boys all looked so smashing in their tuxedoes. They all answered different questions. Here was my favorite answer:

Q. What was your favorite childhood memory?

A. Is this still my childhood?

Monday, March 20, 2006


The highlight of Maddy’s Sponge Bob Square Pants extravaganza birthday party on Saturday had nothing to do with Sponge Bob. It was the sight of her encircled by her little friends on the floor of her room, passing around her new guinea pig, Fluffington Van Chocstraw. They were so careful and so gentle with the little thing. It was sweet.


Older daughter Neely and her friend raced to the scene, expecting to see an ax murderer or at least some blood and gore, based on the volume of those shrieks.

But nooooo. It was just that Fluffington Van Chocstraw had done her thing, twice, there on the carpet . . . and the little girls had instantly shrunk away like the Red Sea of kindergartners parting in shock and awe.

And I stood there and contemplated the irony of it all: they won’t remember the cake, they won’t remember the games, they won’t remember the goodie bags or elaborate decorations or any of the gifts.

It’s tough to be upstaged by a little rat in a wig . . . but I have to say, it WAS funny.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord,
that He might be glorified.
-- Isaiah 61:3

A teenager we know was relaxing at one of those picturesque summer bonfires. It was at a rural firepit with a couple of families and lots of other teens.

All of a sudden, a swirling wind whipped up a cascade of sparks and flames. She was the closest. Her pants legs caught fire.

Two big boys raced to her rescue. They rolled her and put out the fire. But her legs were badly burned.

They rushed her to the hospital, where she was stabilized. And then the burn unit people described the long road back: skin grafts, a lot of pain, and a long, boring summer flat on her back.

Poof! Her dreams of summer fun were literally up in smoke.

It wasn’t fair! To be cut out of life, out of the action! What bad timing, too: she was sad and depressed about her parents’ recent divorce, and struggling to deal emotionally with the aftermath. Now this! Her situation was as black, dry and ugly as burned-out logs.

But you know what? God has a way of kindling sparks of life from dead ashes.

She realized how lucky she was to be alive. She now knew that, in an instant, you can die. She realized how very special everything is, especially family.

Her relationship with her mother improved drastically. Post-burn care is very hands-on. There was no mistaking the love and concern in every gentle touch – every bandage applied -- every meal tray carried in – every joke and conversational tidbit offered to pass the dreary days.

Mother and daughter fell back in love at a stage when many teens are running away and not looking back. It was as if the mother had a chance to heal the daughter from the burns left by divorce. It was nice.

During her recovery, she had time to think about how it felt to grow up in an unhappy home, even though she loved both her parents very much. She thought about the things she overheard them say to each other. She thought about the anger and sadness that now pervaded their lives like smoke.

That’s not how things are supposed to be!

But then she realized: her life was in ashes . . .

. . . but she didn’t have to stay there.

So she made some resolutions. She still believed in love. She wanted to get married. She determined to do everything she could to make her marriage a joy and a success.

She also decided that her life’s work would be to help other people make their marriages come alive and stay alive. How? By becoming a psychologist or a marriage counselor, helping prevent divorce whenever possible, and protect kids from being singed and scarred by it.

By the time she could walk again and go out, the idea was firmly in place. There’ve been bumps in her road. But every time she sees her scars, she remembers that God saved her life for a reason, and assigned her to a special calling. She sees that, in an unexpected way, God was at work in that fire. And now she’s on her way.

That’s the thing about fire. Although it’s dangerous and can harm and destroy, fire also does good. It can reveal things, and clean away what’s blocking the air and the light.

I’m sorry that our young friend got burned. But I marvel how the experience turned out so productively for her. She’s going to help a lot of people in her life. I sense God’s holy timing and purpose in this. Her future is bright.

Beauty for ashes: that’s what He offers. That’s what He gives.

You can get knocked flat by the fires of life that unexpectedly swirl up and burn you. But hold on to hope. You can come up out of the ashes . . . and know where you stand. †

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Maddy got a “Grammy” award! That is, a birthday gift from her grandmother, which are the best kind. One of the grammies got Maddy a cute little shirt for her birthday. It’s hot pink. In sparkly rhinestones, it spells out:


When her father drove into the driveway the first day she wore it, though, she raced down to her bedroom. “I’ve got to change!” she announced.

“Whatever for?” I asked, mystified.

The suddenly sensitive clothes horse neighed, “My shirt would make Daddy feel sad.”

Friday, March 17, 2006


There once was a miser named Clarence
Who simonized* both of his parents;
"The initial expense,"
he remarked, "is immense,
But it saves on the wearance and tearance."

-- By Ogden Nash

(*to “simonize” is to polish, as with wax)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, to all my fellow Blarney Stone-kissers,
and may the coming year put minimal wearance and tearance
on your wee bod!

Thursday, March 16, 2006


A writer friend of mine just spent several nights camped out in the desert of southern Israel with a group of about 15 strangers from all over the world. The experience thoroughly beats our typical family vacations for multiculturalism and unconventional adventure.

She wrote about eating Shayah, a Bedouin bread mentioned in the Bible as a “cake baked on ashes,” and it was – dough thrown right on the campfire ashes with two handfuls of desert dust tossed on top, then embedded in sticks and brush. I’ve had days like that, when I was pretty . . . burned out . . . on cooking. But, she said, it was amazingly delicious.

A sandstorm forced them to camp in a remote wadi basin deep inside a canyon by a dry riverbed. Let Cindy tell the rest:

A lunch table was spread in the wilderness under an acacia tree.

“After-dinner campfire stories had the effect of weaving our group together in the flicker and flare of lanterns. Amid the jumble of sleeping bags, windbreakers, and layers of clothing . . . we were building new layers of community which would last in our memories years after this blustery beginning. We slept completely enclosed in our downy burrows to fend off the winds whipping around us. The haze cleared to reveal a stellar expanse punctuated by a nearly full moon that danced off the desert terrain. This was the ‘Million Stars Hotel.’

“Stealthy furry raiders pillaged the camp that night and made off with a small backpack containing a jar of peanut butter, honey, M&M’s, and a pair of expensive Maui sunglasses. Gary awoke to a clanging clatter of cookware at 3:30 in the morning and sat bolt upright. Before he could aim a flashlight at the source of the racket, a shadowy blur the size of a German shepherd rocketed over the end of our sleeping bag into the darkness of a nearby ravine. . . .

“Some foxy wolf must be sporting the backpack and the Maui sunglasses among his desert canine crowd.”

Now, that’s a picture, isn’t it? They say the desert attracts real characters. . . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


The little old lady was on a three-day cross-country car trip, all by herself. After a full day on the road, she was bone weary. She pulled over at a nice-looking motel somewhere in Arizona that was attached to a restaurant.

The dinner menu looked OK. The waiter arrived, a teen with tousled hair.

“What’s the soup today?”

“Bean soup.”

“Is it any good?”

“I don’t know what happened . . . but today, it is.”

No, she didn’t order the soup, and she kept all 10 fingers and all 10 toes crossed when her entrĂ©e arrived. She doesn’t know what happened . . . but it was good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The college daughter is home on spring break. She takes a lot of very tough courses and is very involved on campus, so surely she was looking forward to a week’s rest and relaxation at home. Best of all: sleeping in.

Not so fast. There’s a young’un in the household, an afternoon kindergartner who’s usually bored stiff every morning, with nobody to play with. At an hour most spring-breakers would consider “the crack of dawn,” the little one opened the big one’s creaky door and walked right up to her bed.

The big sister heard the munchkin footsteps and knew who had come into her room without knocking. She opened her eyes.


Now, I’m sure there are college students on spring break at Daytona, Padre Island and Palm Springs who have awakened to weirder sights. But at least this one’s legal, and doesn’t involve wet T-shirts.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Now that everything’s digitized, why can’t we have some variety and diversity in our car horns? Everybody should have about 10 different sounds to use in various situations instead of plain old honks. It would make motoring so much more creative and fun.

A daughter and I thought of this as we listened, transfixed, to Maddy running across the yard looking for Sunny, our dog, and loudly singing this cheerful little song. In her high-pitched voice, she sounded just like a car horn on happy pills:


When somebody cuts in front of you in traffic or fails to use a turn signal, you can give them a hostile one-fingered salute, yell “YEW MORON!!!” out the window, or the more sophisticated, 21st Century approach would be to play them THAT song . . . which would certainly cause them to grip the wheel with both hands and keep their eyes on the road, fearing, as they might, an alien invasion.

To deny access to this important new technology by those who might ruin it with expletives or nastiness, I will patent my new invention, even before I make up a prototype. It may be the first time in history anybody has ever gotten a patent who doesn’t know a screwdriver from pliers. But it’s early . . . Sweetkin.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


(A)nd as many as He touched were made perfectly whole.
-- Matthew 14:36b

My friend Jeannie and I were on our cell phones. She was off to a grocery store miles away to get her granddaughter’s favorite premade hamburger patties. I was going to the post office.

It’s a movie star lifestyle around here.

I whined about my dry eyes. Every morning, they hurt a lot. I stagger out of bed and grope stiff-legged to the bathroom like Frankenstein. I feel for the eyedrops, which I leave on the counter in the exact same place every day, like a blind person, so I can find them immediately.

I do a desperate backbend, eyes wide open, mouth gaping like a dead fish. I squeeze a few soothing, life-saving drops in, blinking and grunting in relief.

TOLD you it’s a movie star lifestyle.

Well, Jeannie had just gotten back from an eye appointment. She was all excited about the new eye massage techniques the doctor had taught her.

“You get in the shower and hold a nice, warm washcloth over them, and hold it there for a while and just let the warm water wash over them. It feels awesome! Then, slowly, with gentle pressure, rub from the inside out, a gentle caress. . . .”

“SHHHH!” I interrupted. “What if Homeland Security or somebody is listening in?!? They might not have heard you say this is about our EYES! They’ll think we’re in some kind of a SEX RING!!!”

But next morning, I tried it. And she was right. It felt great.

Ah, massage. There’s just something about touch that beats everything else. It’s always been that way. In fact, one of the greatest signs of Jesus’ divinity and yet humanity is how He healed people with just a touch. His disciples could do it, too. Today, we hug and pat and high-five, and those actions have healing power, too.

But when we get really serious, we go have a massage.

It’s nice to be kneaded!

However . . . for stressed-out stiffs like me, it can be highly embarrassing.

My first one was during a trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., that I took with another harried mother of young children. We left our husbands in charge of the thundering herds for some desperately-needed girls-only R&R.

We called it our “Take This Job and Shove It Victory Tour.”

For the first two nights, we stayed in a cheapo hotel.

But for the grand finale, we checked in to a really ritzy resort. We made the most of it, swimming in its series of fabulous pools, walking its manicured grounds, dining alfresco . . . and capping it off with massages.

I didn’t want to go. She made me. She said I would feel like a “noodle,” the perfect ending for a relaxing, refreshing trip.

They said to disrobe to the point where I felt comfortable. “OK, then, I’m ready,” I said instantly.

(They call customers like me “noncompliant.”)

They told me to put my face in this padded toilet seat. It was to relieve pressure on my neck as I lay on my tummy. But it’s hard to keep your face straight when it’s surrounded by a toilet seat.

The masseuse must’ve thought my shoulders were shaking because I was nervous. She asked if I wanted a massage that was “gentle” or “intense.” INTENSE? My eyes darted to check if she had leather boots, fishnets and a whip. But the toilet seat blocked my view. Cringing, I said “something kind of in the middle.”

As she started bending, folding, spindling and mutilating, she tried to put me at ease with cheerful chitchat:

“I just did (strrrrrrrrrrretch) Reba McEntire!”

You know, the country and western singing star.

My shoulders started shaking again:

“Are you going to brag to the NEXT customer that you just did aging matron Susan Williams of Omaha?”

She laughed politely, and completed the massage in silence. I can imagine what she was thinking.

But what a massage! It was great. I emerged, just as promised, a complete “noodle,” with my hair in a towel, and toilet ring around my face.

It is, as they say, a movie star lifestyle. †

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Cheerleaders have cheers. Advertisers have slogans. But I have little sayings that I like to use whenever I’ve done something dumb.

I get a lot of practice.

For a while, it has been the “dumdum” song from the Cingular ads. You know: “Doot dooooo! Doot doot dooooo!”

But now my teenage daughter has taught me a new one. It reminds me of a happy, clueless little song a Southern animal character in a Disney cartoon movie would sing as he walks down the road, probably with a bucket stuck on one foot and his shirt buttoned up wrong:


It’s so, so “me.”

Friday, March 10, 2006


For our mega-lived-in living room, we are getting new carpet, a new couch, a new Daddy chair and ottoman, and best of all, an elegant new chaise. In Victorian days, the one-armed lounger used to be called a “fainting couch.”

Yes, you guess right what it’s being called instead, by persons unnamed in our cornpone household. But we’re having none of that in my new living room. It will be a place so uncharacteristic of me: it will be clean, it will be sophisticated, and it will have TASTE. Nobody’ll believe I live here.

I’m afraid I’ve passed my undiscerning eye for fashion on to my poor little daughter, though. As I was musing over the fun of having remodeled every room in this rambling house in the last six years, except her 1980s-looking bathroom, it suddenly hit me: now that everything ELSE looked so nice, the NEXT project would have to be Maddy’s bathroom. New paint, new fixtures, new tile: the works!

I told her so. She leaped in the air, arms forming a cheerleader’s “V” for “Victory.”


I think I’m in trouble. Oh, well: decorated in Early Hideous, we’ll all feel right at home.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Take a break when you can, and have your sound on if possible, to watch this amazing juggler. It takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it. If you have dial-up service, you probably won’t be able to see this. Yes, he’s that fast!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


We have had our new guinea pig Fluffy for three days. She is the new best friend of our youngest, Maddy, who is turning 6 in a few days. She got Fluffy as an early birthday present, and has really been giving her a workout. Fluffy has already:

-- surfed our maple floors on a skateboard;
-- been pushed around in a grocery cart nestled in an old tea towel;
-- driven (!!! well. . . she WAS in FRONT) a blue plastic Volkswagen bug;
-- faced off with a tiger – thanks goodness it was only a Beanie baby;
-- ridden around inside Maddy’s shirt, perched on the counter and on the couch, and been carried around in a basket. The only activity I’ve firmly put my foot down about was the wished-for ride on a plastic boat in the whirlpool. I just don’t believe whitewater is appropriate for a junior rodent. Not to mention what such a sight would do to my nerves.

That poor thing has been hauled out of her aquarium home and the sanctity of her purple plastic igloo so many times, I think she’s getting pretty stressed out. We’ve had to insist that Maddy put her in her home for an hour at a time just so that Fluffy can have a chance at some food, water and rest after all that excitement. We’ve had visions of her anorexic, dehydrated body on some TV tell-all show put on by People For the Ethical Treatment of Cute But Basically Pointless Pet Rodents.

Last night, Maddy was cuddling Fluffy while watching TV. It was Maddy’s bedtime, but she was wide awake, energetic, giggling and playful. The guinea pig in her hands, however, was literally nodding off. Her eyelids drooped, half-shut. We could tell she was yearning for the privacy of her purple igloo boudoir. Just like Maddy’s parents!

Maddy’s having a ball. But Fluffy must think she’s on some kind of “Rodent Survivor” show. Let’s just hope she doesn’t vote herself off the island, and wander our home’s ventilation system in search of peace and quiet.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Why is it that no one ever tells you these horror stories about certain types of pets until after you’ve bought one? By then, getting rid of your new pet before these things can happen to you would cause lifelong emotional scars in your child. Now that we have a new guinea pig, Fluffy, the horror stories are coming out of the woodwork . . . literally.

Take the saga of Edwina, the hamster. A friend’s daughter was rushing off to a weekend away, and got Edwina all ready to “batch” it in her cage except for one minor detail: she forgot to put the lid on. She slammed the door to her room and left.

The mother only had to do one thing all weekend: go in on Sunday morning, add a little food, and check on Edwina. Naturally, this adult woman was terrified of rodents. But anything for the cause, and it would be over in two minutes.

EXCEPT . . . the cage was empty! AAIIEE!!!

That awful little rodent could jump out at any moment and give this poor woman a heart attack! Did it escape through the vent and was it going to plop down on the woman’s FACE that night as she SLEPT? You know that skin on the back of your neck? Well, it was CRAWLING with imaginary Edwinas!!!

Worst of all, that busy little Edwina had gnawed all across the bottoms of two solid-oak closet doors, in just that little bit of time that she was free. They were going to have to be taken off, sanded, restained and refinished. It was going to be expensive.

But if the mother did what she was thinking of doing – putting on her 1970s waffle stompers and making a FLAT Edwina – her little girl would be permanently scarred. That would happen, too, if the little girl came home and Edwina was MIA.

So the mother did the best she could: she got the big sack of hamster food, and tossed little handfuls along the perimeter of the room: “Here, Edwina! Come here, Girl! Nice hamster! Where are you, Edwina?”

Fearing the onset of a nervous breakdown, she finally set the container of hamster food in the center of the room, ran out, slammed the door, and went somewhere to cry.

When she came back in, she still didn’t see Edwina. So she went to pick up the container of food . . . AND WAS STARTLED TO SEE THAT INSIDE WAS EDWINA, UP TO HER SNOOT IN SEEDS AND NUTS!!!

The mother screamed and screamed, but got Edwina back in her habitat and got the lid on securely. Like, with 17 big rocks on top.

Her face still twitches as she retells the tale. I just hope Fluffy doesn’t get any big ideas.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I’m surprised and honored. A friend involved in politics in Lincoln encouraged me to write an op-ed opposing the spread of all-day kindergarten across the state and send it to the Lincoln Journal. They ran it today! It’s a hot potato, because a lot of parents like the “free day care,” and many people think it’s academically better for today’s kids. But the evidence shows that it’s not. And it costs a ton. Come see what you think:



The older three girls criticize us as being ‘way, ‘way, ‘way too permissive with Maddy. They say the thought of a new toy or possession no sooner pops into her little pea brain and out her cupid’s bow little lips, than we run out and buy it for her.

It must come with senility, now that we’re raising a tail-ender in our old age. We were physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight enough with the first round of children to have disciplined them moderately well. At least, THEY remember us saying “no” a lot. They say we’ve forgotten how.

Well, now we’ve done it again. Meet “Fluffy,” our new guinea pig, an early birthday present for Maddy. She is little, cuddly and quiet, at least so far. It was love at first sight; Maddy was jumping up and down as rapidly as a pneumatic drill when she first cast eyes on her in the pet store.

Fluffy is a calico: white head and shoulders with a dark patch over one eye, very movie-star like, and then a dark brown section and a tan section, and then some more white. She reminds me a lot of Neapolitan ice cream. That’s why her formal name is “Fluffington Van Chocstraw.”

At least we recycled an old 30-gallon aquarium for her home, and didn’t have to buy a lot of accessories for this new pet. But, as the older three would say, it’s early, and we’re wussies.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler. . . .
-- Psalm 91:3a

Our friend Bob has an unusual hobby: he’s a falconer. He knows how to go out and trap a prairie falcon, and then practically shack up with it for a few months to get it to trust him so that it’ll fly for him.

It’s a timeless, fascinating skill. He uses a jess (leg strap), gloves, hoods and leather pouch lures with meat inside. He gives the bird lots of attention, grooming and of course, great food.

He has built a cage that’s more of a luxury habitat. And yes, after the training and togetherness and fulfillment and fun, he eventually retrains the bird NOT to trust him so much, and releases it back to the wild.

It never ceases to amaze me, though, how a bird of prey can get tricked into falling for his initial trap. I mean, aren’t they supposed to have eyesight that’s lots better than ours? Don’t they see what they’re getting in to? Aren’t they smarter than that?

But then, look at our own lives. Don’t we fall for traps ourselves, all the time?

I think it’s because there’s a Fowler – the Enemy of our souls – who likes to “fowl” things up for us and keep us from God’s best.

He knows us very well. He knows our weaknesses and what’ll grab us. He’s got his obvious traps, of alcoholism and drug addiction, murder and sexual immorality.

But for those of us who can resist the National Enquirer type sins, he’s got more subtle kinds of traps. Not as flashy, but they get us into bondage nonetheless.

For me, the temptation has always been to take on too much. I would get exhausted and cranky, and my family would go without sweetness and light. What kind of a Christian example is that?

Turns out a friend of mine battles workaholism, too. Last weekend, she spilled her guts about it. She works full-time, has a husband and two kids, keeps a spotless house, is good about visiting her older relatives, and does all kinds of volunteer work besides.

Her weekends have gradually gotten completely eaten up by obligations. She shared that she was about to go “TILT!”

So I was glad to be able to tell her this story:

Years ago, a wise friend suggested that I make a list of all the things that were stressing me, and get rid of the things that weren’t absolute “musts.” It came to almost 90 items. I pared it down to 30. I made call after call to cancel various promises and projects, and not a single person squawked. They all understood. It happens. I resolved to never let myself get so tied down again.

Years later, someone I hadn’t heard from in years called to ask me to ghost-write a book for a corporate leader. The project would be time-consuming, but it would pay off very well.

The only problem was, the subject was not all that interesting to me. OK, it was a SNORE! And I had committed myself to writing only to glorify Jesus and His principles. This would be a puff piece. It would divert me from my main Christian calling.

But the guy who asked me was sooooo persuasive and made it sound sooooo enticing, flattering me that it would get reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and stuff. Whoa!

I told him I’d have to think about it.

You knew this was coming: I picked up my Bible that night. It flipped open to Psalm 91:3, which I didn’t remember reading before.

A slow smile spread across my face. The name of the guy who had asked me to do the book? Fowler.

Next morning, I called him: thanks, but no thanks.

I escaped the trap of busy work! I was free to write what I wanted! I felt so light, I could fly.

Yeah, well, until the next trap is laid for me. You know, Satan is an odd bird, strangely persistent. You’ve got to watch him like a hawk. †

Saturday, March 04, 2006


1. Money isn't made out of paper, it's made out of cotton.

2. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

3. The dot over the letter “i” is called a “tittle.”

4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

5. Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller.

6. 40% of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals.

7. 315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.

8. The “spot” on 7-UP comes from its inventor, who had red eyes; he had albinism.

9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents, daily.

10. Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister.

11. Chocolate affects a dog's heart and nervous system; a few ounces will kill a small sized dog.

12. Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.

13. Most lipstick contains fish scales.

14. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.

15. Ketchup was sold in the 1830's as medicine.

16. Upper and lower case letters are named “upper” and “lower” because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the upper case letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, “lower case” letters.

17. Leonardo Da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time.

18. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

19. There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.20. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan; there was never a recorded Wendy before! The History of Wendy

21. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver.

22. Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors. Also, it took him 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips.

23. A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death.

24. The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was a Captain Kirk's mask painted white. 25. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar (good to know.)

26. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand (and you thought this list was completely useless).

27. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

28. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.

29. Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. It's the same with apples!

30. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying!

31 The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.

32. Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.

33. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a space suit damages it.

34. George Carlin said it best about Martha Stewart "Boy, I feel a lot safer now that she's behind bars. O. J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant are still walking around; Osama Bin Laden too, but they take the ONE woman in America willing to cook, clean, and work in the yard, and they haul her fanny off to jail."

Friday, March 03, 2006


OK, after yesterday, now I’ll shoot myself in the OTHER foot. Then I’ll have a matched set. Hi, Honey! Hope you like this one, too. Remember . . . parody and exaggeration are FUNNY! Right?!?!? What’s that you’re getting out? What do you need duct tape for. . . .

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Now that they’re pushing all over the world to let you marry someone of the same sex, or maybe your dachshund, or your bowling team, or a chair leg, or all of the above, it’s time to take a stand for traditional marriage. We need to celebrate the timeless, unique, and perfectly-balanced relationship between one man and one woman that forms the core of traditional marriage.

So it is about time someone came up with a simple, recognizable symbol for traditional marriage that we can all relate to. And here it is:

(graphic of a man on his knees, handing a credit card up to a woman with her hands on her hips)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I was asked to work with a group of fifth-graders who are involved in the Destination Imagination creativity competition. They wanted me to help them with teamwork and short-term problem solving activities.

I gave each youngster a piece of aluminum foil, told them it was a two-part problem, and then told them that in the first part, they were to make something out of their foil.

Their solutions were creative:

A wig

A two-headed baseball bat

An airplane

A hot-dog wrapper

Mount Everest and two sets of “finger skis”

A swimming pool

A “shrink ray gun”

Those were about as random as you can get! I was worried about how they would respond to Part II: now they had to take those seven objects, and in two minutes, work them into a skit that they would act out.

They were ready in about 20 seconds. They said it so fast, I’m not sure this is exactly right, but it was something like this: a hot-dog vendor at a ball game got hit with a two-headed baseball bat and developed a huge bald spot, so he required a wig, which he took off when he went swimming at the foot of Mount Everest, which made front page news when a space alien’s shrink ray gun minimized it down to the size of a mouse.

It makes you wonder just what they’re putting in kids’ Cheerios these days. . . .