Friday, May 30, 2008

And You Think Gas Is Pricey

Holy schmoly. It’s just coming in to salmon season, and I just got a load of the price of a really good kind at the local fishmonger’s:

Copper River King Salmon, $39.95 a pound!

Would love to know the “fish tale” of why that costs so much. Guess I’ll just have to drool for a few weeks ‘til the price comes down, and I can snap some up.


PRAYER REQUEST: Travel mercies, Lord, for a good friend who seems to be going through kind of a dry patch in his life, and suddenly decided to go on a trip to see if a change of scenery might help. I get the sense that it’s a little bit of a retreat or a self-banishment, more than a vacation. He’s not aware of You very much in his life, Lord Jesus, and he needs You very, very much. Come in to his heart and his life and let him know that You are real, and You love him, no matter where he is. (Isaiah 30:18)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Moment They’ll Treasure

Last year, Maddy invited a little girlfriend to come with us on a four-day vacation on Table Rock Lake in southern Missouri. It’s about a seven-hour drive there and back, towing the boat. We stayed in a great condo in a resort right on the lake, with a swimming pool with a waterfall. We went in to Branson for a couple of fabulous shows. We went tubing and swimming and picnicked on the boat. It was a wonderful time.

Well, we’ve let her invite the same little girl again for this summer. Yesterday, Maddy was rhapsodizing about it. She said, “Do you know what we’ll always TREASURE from the trip last year, Mom?”

I thought through all the wonderful (and expensive) things that we did. “No, what?”


A “Furberry” is a little furry toy, worth about 15 cents, heavily promoted on TV, and yes, they both got one shortly thereafter. So much for trying to build our children’s memories. . . .


PRAYER REQUEST: There’s a troubled teenager who ran away from home for four days over Mother’s Day and worried her parents sick. She’s a beautiful girl, but she lacks self-worth. Apparently, she has gotten in with some bad peers and may have gotten involved with drugs. Lord Jesus, send good guiding people into her life, who will teach her about You and how she can rely on Your love. Touch her heart with the certain knowledge of Your love and provision for her. Awaken in her a desire to live a holy and productive life. Her folks have found a good, small, Christian college for her, and we pray that she goes there with a determination to change, stay away from bad influences, use the many gifts You have given her, and get on with a happy life that honors You. (1 John 4:16)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Bride Gives Dad Credit

We enjoyed speculating on what the father of the bride said in a long whisper to his radiant daughter at a wedding last Saturday night. At the reception, she said it was “The Secret of Life,” and had something to do with how you use time. It was a very sweet moment.

Reminds me of another wedding with a little comedy right at that same moment, as Dad presented daughter-bride to knee-knocking bridegroom:

The bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand. The guests in the front pews responded with ripples of laughter. Even the priest smiled broadly. What was it? His credit card!


PRAYER REQUEST: We ask You, Lord, to protect the institution of marriage and remind couples how important it is to live up to their wedding vows. Lord, we stand against all forms of adultery. We pray for Your protection and guidance for married couples everywhere. May they be blessed and a blessing to all those who are learning about commitment from the way they live their lives. (Proverbs 5:18)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tsar-y to Make Such a Bad Pun

I bow at the feet of a reader, who liked the dancing Russian soldier videos and came up with this one-liner:

That’s better than “Dancing With the Stars.” That’s . . . “Dancing With the Tsars”!!!!!

Watch it again:

PRAYER REQUEST: Lord, we lift up a young couple who are about to get a divorce after just four years of marriage. We pray in one accord that You will intervene to preserve their marriage and spare them all the suffering and anguish that decision creates. In the absence of infidelity, You say in Your Word that there are no grounds for divorce. There’s none of that in this case, though the problems are difficult and numerous. But not too difficult and numerous for You! We believe You can do it, and we plead with You to move. Hear our prayer, Father, and revive their love and commitment. (Matthew 21:22)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day: Let’s Have a Cigar On It

For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
-- 1 Corinthians 15:22

They used to call it “Decoration Day,” since Americans would go to cemeteries and decorate the graves of those who’d fought and died for our country, to honor and remember them.

I thought it was spooky to see cemeteries decked out with flowers and banners, and hoopla being made around all those names solemnly etched in stone. What good’s a party, for the dead?

Rejoicing doesn’t seem to fit this holiday very well. I’m thinking of the longtime friend, whose young-looking, fun-loving wife died of cancer this past year, and he sobbed through the funeral. I’m thinking of the family and friends of the joke-cracking, much-beloved young local girl who was killed in a freak car crash. I’m thinking of all those who gave their lives in military service to our country, and of so many others, young and old, who passed away in the last year. It must be hard for their loved ones to go to the cemeteries this weekend.

I used to hate going. I knew in my head, from reading the Bible, that believers would have eternal life. But I didn’t “get it” in my gut, that that was something amazing and worthy of joy. So, like a lot of people, I was a little freaked out by cemeteries and gravestones, and basically funeral-averse. And then I heard this crazy story, from a friend who, like me, had lost her dad:

He was in his 60s, same as mine, and died of heart problems, same as mine. She had been almost in a trance during the funeral and for a few months thereafter, going through the motions, receiving people’s condolences, helping her mother go through his things and so forth.

But it was as if she was in shock. She hadn’t really dealt with the fact that he was dead. She knew he wasn’t around any more, and wasn’t coming back. He was a believer, so she knew he wasn’t in hell. But this heaven thing. . . . What, did he float up there like a ghost? How could she be sure? It was all so confusing. Overwhelmed and still grieving, she back-burnered her questions for a while.

Then came Memorial Day weekend. She thought she’d go visit his grave by herself. She was whizzing along in her car, on the Interstate, almost there, when suddenly. . .

. . . she was overpowered by the aroma of cigar smoke.

Whaaa? She didn’t smoke. No other adults had even sat in her car for weeks. She cracked her windows, but the aroma remained. If it seeped in from a passing car, it would have seeped right out again. But it didn’t. Where on earth. . . .? Nobody smoked cigars any more.

And then it dawned on her:

Her father had been a cigar smoker.

As soon as that thought crossed her mind, the aroma was gone.

The incident lasted only an instant. But it was enough for her to perceive that it wasn’t just a coincidence. It was a message.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. She was laughing and sobbing and gasping.

Dad! Dad! You’re alive! You’re still with me!

She pulled off the Interstate, parked at the cemetery, ran over to the headstone, threw her arms around it, and laughed and cried and prayed for a good, long while.

Today, she tells the story, shakes her head, and smiles a big, beautiful Decoration Day smile. That smile of assurance and peace was all I needed, to help me understand . . . and finally do what I needed to do, which was to leave grief and numbness behind me, and finally, rejoice.

So now, when I go out to those cemeteries and see those names solemnly etched in stone on those graves, I put an imaginary cigar between my lips. I take a luxurious puff on it . . . and breathe in deeply the priceless joy of knowing that they aren’t really dead! Nyahh nyahh nyahh, Death!

Now, THAT’S something to party about.

You came close, Death . . . but no cigar.

And one day, oh, yes, no doubt, thank You, Jesus . . . one day my loved ones will cross back from just memories into reality again . . . because one day, thanks to Him, praises forevermore, I will see them again.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Those Russkies Can Dance

It seems some Russian communists are offended by the portrayal of, well, Russian communists as the villains in the new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. They’re even calling for it to be banned in the former Soviet Union.

Here’s a better solution: distribute this dance video far and wide. You can’t watch this and ever imagine yourself going to war against guys who can dance like this. Some creative genius put this vintage, black-and-white video together with a break-dancing standard, and it works.

Dance brings the world together. It’s like that!


PRAYER REQUEST: Thank You for the birth this past week of a big baby in Tennessee named Cohen. Lord, we seek Your TLC for him with a few possible health concerns. May they be minor, and may the joy of his parents and grandparents be major, as we all celebrate new life in this spring season that’s full of Your favorite thing -- new life! Most of all, May Cohen have a bright life in You. (Job 11:17)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Kennedy May Get the Will Right

We recently updated our wills. It’s kind of like flossing your teeth or doing maintenance on your furnace: it’s no fun and nobody gives you kudos, but you do it, anyway. Because of changing family circumstances, we altered a few things about what would happen to our kids in the event of our deaths. It felt good to be so diligent.

Comes now a friend with a copy of a Trusts and Estates magazine (there’s some fine poolside reading for you!), February 2007 issue. It indicates that Robert F. Kennedy died with a badly-outdated will and made no charitable bequests. That’s amazing, since he was the U.S. Attorney General – the nation’s top lawyer.

Bobby Kennedy’s assassination was in 1968, but his will was dated 1953. It named older brother John F. Kennedy as the co-executor, co-trustee and successor guardian for Bobby’s minor children, even though JFK was assassinated five years before Bobby was.

Even though it’s very sad that their brother, Massachusetts Sen. Teddy Kennedy, has been diagnosed with a very tough brain tumor, here’s hoping he can leave a better legal legacy than that.


PRAYER REQUEST: We praise You and thank You, Lord, that Cindy passed the math part of her teacher certification exam, and is now deemed totally ready to go! Thank You for making her such a determined, dedicated and decent teacher, and for planting her in the “field” of the school where she has found a job for next year. Hallelujah! May both she and her future pupils be blessed. (Jeremiah 32:41)

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Maddy was getting ready to take a shower but made a quick detour into the W.C. (water closet) first. On the way, she had to walk in front of me, buck naked.

She fanned out one hand behind her fanny as she scampered by, and called out: “Smear!”


“You know: like, on America’s Funniest Home Videos, they always have a SMEAR in front of anybody’s . . . well. . . .”

Hmm. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all put a smear in front of anything we don’t want others to see? My laundry pile . . . the dirty dishes . . . the mountains of glunk in my office. . . .


PRAYER REQUEST: It’s the last day of school! Let’s lift up our teachers for extra-special TLC from You today, Lord. They are so vital to our nation’s future. They need to know that lots of little people – including Maddy, last night – are crying because the school year’s over. That’s a good sign! Jesus, may every teacher enjoy the fruit of his or her deeds, now and always, and have a great summer. (Isaiah 3:10)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Swimsuit Season’s Almost Here

I wrote a story a while ago about a couple in Arizona whose home was inundated with 30,000 gallons of water when a pipe burst. They had to pay $6,400 to replace the plumbing in the whole house, and another $6,000 for the packing, moving and storage of the salvageables.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

They got temporary quarters in a motel, with indignations such as coffee, but no cups, and one fork for the two of them.

Then the man of the house, who’s in trouble with his doctor for being a 40-year letterman in varsity eating, was trying to fix his nightly Slim-Fast diet shake. But there was no blender, nor a big electric mixer. They were packed away with almost everything else.

For temporary use, they had purchased a cheap little hand-held mixer, and he was trying to use that to make his shake . . . in a cheap plastic bowl with no lid . . . and it was splattering out everywhere. . . .

But he stuck to his diet. After all THAT, he’s a hero. I think of him in these last few weeks before I have to appear in public in a swimsuit again. If HE can do it. . . .


PRAYER REQUEST: Lord, we are touched and humbled by knowing that a 70-something man, an Air Force veteran and retired National Guard officer, started crying yesterday when he heard that his wife could be transferred to an excellent rehabilitation hospital in Kansas City. It was something he had hoped and prayed for, because they are good at getting people off ventilators, and if she doesn’t get off the one she’s on, it’s a problem. Lord, thank You for this breakthrough. We join Hank in praying in one accord that Joan will be able to breathe on her own very soon. Grant it, Breath of Life! We know You hear the cries of the afflicted. (Psalm 10:17)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The More Important It Is,
The Faster You Can Say It

Keep this in mind if you’re listening to graduation speeches this month. Oy! They do tend to go on, don’t they?

I haven’t verified the following, but these totals sound about right. Here’s hoping your graduation speakers tend more toward the top than the bottom of this list:

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


Prayer Request: Dad-gum it, I've got dad-gum poison ivy on the insides of my forearms again. I wore long sleeves and gloves! But noooo. I'm super-sensitive to that darn stuff, and now am in for a couple of weeks of suffering. That gardening habit has its costs, Lord, but in Your economy, everything worthwhile usually does. Father, may the cream that I bought be highly effective, and may this bout be short-lived. May my garden beautify our little corner of the world and glorify You. Help me remember not to fear poison ivy; after all, we're not supposed to fear men, since they're just grass, too! :>) (Isaiah 51:12)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Reptile Raider

Police arrested a 21-year-old man who allegedly went into a pet store in Council Bluffs, Iowa, put a $32.99 iguana in a bag, put the bag down his pants . . . EWWWW!!!!! . . . and attempted to leave the store without paying.

An employee of The Birdcage spotted him. A fight started, and $1,300 worth of damage was done to the store before the alleged reptile raider was arrested and charged with second-degree robbery, presumably after the iguana was removed from his pants.

You heard it here first: now, THAT’S a cold-blooded criminal.


PRAYER REQUEST: A good friend and wonderful future teacher, Cindy, takes the math portion of her teacher certification test tomorrow. Math makes her nervous, and she missed passing by just a few points last time she took the test. But she didn’t give up! And we know You will honor that. She has studied very hard and diligently. Lord, we pray that she will pass that test and move on to a teaching job in which she will be Your hands and feet to some very deserving children. (Galations 6:9)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Greatest Graduation Gift

Give, and it shall be given unto you;
good measure, pressed down, and shaken together,
and running over, shall men give into your bosom.
For with the same measure that ye mete
withal it shall be measured to you again.

-- Luke 6:38

It’s graduation season again. You go to the parties, and con”grad”ulate the graduate for surviving chemistry class and Cafeteria Mystery Meat. You give an extra-knowing hug to the parents, a hug that means “you done good,” and that life will never be the same again. You cast around for just the right little gift for the grads, and maybe throw in an Andrew Jackson or an even niftier President, to go with your best wishes for a bright future.

Today I’m remembering the greatest graduation gift I ever saw. At this time of year, I wish that every young person could have the significant blessing that came with it.

She was a young beauty, a brain, too, an officer in the honor society who was going out of state to a good university. All her friends and family had gathered for a party. There were adorable kindergarten photos on a posterboard, and nibbles and music and laughter and cake.

She got picture frames and monogrammed towels and stuff for her dorm room. Some of the relatives gave her fat checks. Her folks gave her a microwave. There were umpteen cards and autographs, promises to stay in touch, and much, much laughter.

As the gifts were opened, the girl’s oldest aunt, a nun, sat with the rest of us, oohing and ahhing. A retired teacher, you could tell that her favorite thing in the world was encouraging young people. Then it came time for the honoree to open the gift from her.

It was a scrapbook. I remember thinking, now THAT’S a good idea. Our young graduate can put lots of pictures from her high school days to share with her new friends at college. She can look at it from time to time when she feels a little homesick.

But the grad was thumbing through the scrapbook, gasping and laughing. It was already filled up. But not with photos – with cards and letters in a little girl’s handwriting.

Hunh? What? I couldn’t understand.

But I saw the light shining in the graduate’s eyes, and she jumped up and ran over to her aunt, giving her the biggest, warmest hug of the day. I saw the graduate’s mother go misty-eyed and put her hand over her mouth in gratitude and emotion.

When I looked through that scrapbook, I saw why:

The nun had saved every little note, card and memento from that young girl throughout the years. The first ones were in large, misshapen letters, on stationery with duckies and teddy bears. Then the handwriting got more even, and the papers more sophisticated. It was a written record of that girl’s childhood through her senior year. It was also a written record of her good manners and her regard and respect for her elderly relative.

Every birthday card she’d sent her aunt . . . every thank-you note . . . every funny little crayon drawing . . . every postcard . . . every letter from camp . . . every message about babysitting or books or things they had in common. The auntie had saved them all, and now, at graduation, she was giving them all back. They both were greatly blessed.

It was a thick scrapbook, and it bore a precious record of a loving and sweet relationship that was now graduating to one between equals. Through the years, the nun had savored the thoughtful contacts from her niece, and hung on to the tangible evidence that her positive influence on the girl, her loving attention, her “being there,” was making a difference.

And now, the graduate was living proof that, yes, indeed, this was a young woman who had been loved and disciplined and taught manners and reared right. Something tells me she’ll be that kind of aunt, too. Nothing could honor her own aunt any more.

As we celebrate our graduates, let’s celebrate aunts like that, too. And uncles, and grandparents, and teachers, and family friends. All the people who helped “bring them along” share the joy of these days. Theirs is the greater gift: helping to grow a person.

If you’ve made a difference in the life of a child, there’s a record of it in the most important Scrapbook of all. And when you “graduate,” once and for all, and “commence” heavenly life, you’ll finally get to see your influence on others here on Earth, clearly and completely. May we all be Phi Beta Kappas . . . of love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Now, THAT Would Be Bad

Maddy didn’t want me to start the shower for her just yet. She issued this dire warning:

“You will be like a leaf on the road to despair.”

O . . . K. Don’t want to go there! She has a style of exaggeration that . . . well . . . LEAVES me laughing.


PRAYER REQUEST: There’s a mother of five, Kirsten, who is forced to go back to work because of a divorce situation. Her youngest child is very upset. She cries in the car on the way to school, and steps backward into the building, looking mournfully back at her mother as she endures another day of separation. Lord, we mourn along with this family about the terrible ravages of divorce. Grant this beleaguered mother and daughter Your peace and comfort these last few days of school. Favor the mom with a job that pays well and allows her some flexibility to take care of her kids’ needs. Give them assurance and hope that things will be better soon. (Psalm 31:24)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Opretty Opositive About That
Our dog Sun Bun was barking like crazy out at the barn the other night. It was late, and you couldn’t see a thing, but she wouldn’t quit. Once before, we had an opossum in there, going after the cat food. So I thought maybe that was what was up.

Yesterday, I ran into a neighbor and told her of my concerns. She is about five feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds. Here’s what she said:

“If it was an opossum, you gotta kill ‘em. . . .”

WAIT A MINUTE! They’re, like, a cute Disney character!

“. . . and they, you know, play dead, but you gotta take a pitchfork and stick ‘em in the neck. . . .”


Turns out her violent approach was justified: horses can catch a very bad disease from opossums. She has four or five horses, and we have our Teddy.

But still . . . I don’t think I could do it. We’ll just be more careful not to leave food out day and night for the barn cats. And if one did come, I’d jump out and yell “boo!” ‘til he played dead, and then put him in a nice box with air holes and a supply of cat food, and mail him to PETA headquarters!


PRAYER REQUEST: Lord Jesus, show Your loving Presence for the family and friends of a 2-year-old who was run over and killed by a truck in Santa Paula, Calif. Also be with the truck driver and family. May this episode draw them closer to You for solace and peace. We can’t begin to know Your sovereign purposes and planning when things like this happen. But we trust You that in this case, what happened will be for the greater good. (Acts 17:27)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yarn Not Serious?

Having snorkeled off the coast of Maui this past winter, I gained a new admiration for the amazing diversity of underwater life. The shapes! The sizes! The colors! The weirdness!

But ‘way up here, above sea level, there’s a sight that’s even more amazing. There’s a lady who makes realistic-looking coral reef type critters with knitting needles and yarn. Blimey, Cap’n! They’re so intricate, so textured . . . they’d “pass.”

But let’s think this over: where would you display such knick-knacks? I mean it. Out of the context of the ocean floor, don’t they just look like there’s been some extra wear and tear on your kitchen sponges and winter gear?

On the other hand, I think she’s on to something big: a whole new line of products in the fashion world – a combination scrub sponge and earmuffs?!?!


PRAYER REQUEST: We lift up Ron M., who is hospitalized and taking an incredible amount of drugs, fighting Stage IV malignant melanoma in Bethesda, Md. He is cheerful and obedient, and a favorite of the nurses. He’s a believer and a wonderful guy by all accounts. But Lord, he’s in a tough situation: only 18% of the people are helped by this rigorous treatment. We pray that You will make Ron one of them. Grant him healing, Sweet Jesus. (Hebrews 11:6)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sending Kathy S.

I was having mega-maxi computer problems on Sunday morning, and was pitching a hissy fit. Half the people on my bulk email list hadn’t been getting my Sunday columns for quite a while. They thought it was their breath. But it wasn’t! It was a mysterious computer snafu. Their names were still on my bulk email list; they just weren’t getting the stories.

Then there was a lady who wanted to unsubscribe. Even though I had deleted her name and email address from my address book, and it appeared expunged from my records, she kept getting my Sunday stories anyway, week after week. She was getting a little huffy about it. SHE thought it was MY breath!

So those who wanted the stories weren’t getting them, and the one who didn’t want them, did. Oy!

Then my website gurus, who were supposed to have a new subscription feature up and running by Sunday that would solve these problems, either didn’t get it working correctly or failed to teach me how to post correctly. It looked like I would have to type every individual email address and send out every story one by one from now on. Yikes! Maybe I should quit. This is far more stress than it’s worth.

Thankfully, the hubby is a lighthouse in the storm. I told him of my woes, sobbing. We held hands, bowed heads and prayed. Should I quit? Or should I just keep my head down and keep working on my swing? Show me, Father.

Then we headed off for brunch with the fossils. We had no sooner sat down than an old friend of mine, Kathy S., came bouncing up to our table . . . and went on and on and ON about how much she loved my Sunday stories and how she forwarded them to all her friends and family, yadda yadda yadda.

I looked at my hubby. He looked at me. We both just laughed.

We knew Who was sending Kathy S. on a special-request, reinforcement mission. It’s His way of doing CPR when a saint’s about to faint. Thanks, Coach. I needed that.

PRAYER REQUEST: Another saint who needs reinforcement is Joan, who underwent a tracheotomy this morning and is in an ICU in Kansas City attempting to get her strength back so that she can have a quadruple heart bypass. Lord, be her strength. (Psalm 46:1)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fire-Breathing Soccer Player

Maddy is having trouble being intimidating on the soccer field. Some of the other second-graders are a head taller. With freckles and a ponytail, she’s not very threatening looking, and sometimes when she kicks the ball, she emits an adorable combination of a grunt and a squeak.

So she has a plan: she is going to stick BABY POWDER into her nostrils next game.

Then, when the time is right, she is going to SNORT IT OUT . . . and make them think it’s SMOKE!!! No doubt they’ll all fall down in a faint, and she’ll get an easy score.

Ah, the things in these young athletes’ heads. . . .


PRAYER REQUEST: Lord, there’s a very nice older man named Philip who has just discovered he has an aneurysm on his brain, and also has to undergo a tricky surgery on his jaw so that he can open up his mouth wide enough to eat without pain. Father, grant Philip protection, healing and comfort so that he can enjoy his grandson’s wedding this summer, and remind all of us never to take good health for granted. (Job 8:20,21)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wrapped In Mother Love

For thus saith the Lord,
Behold I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream:
then shall ye suck,
ye shall be borne upon her sides,
and be dandled upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforteth,
so will I comfort you;
and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

-- Isaiah 66:12,13

I saw a young mother embracing her newborn son this past week. He was brought to her squalling, but in an instant, as her arms gently encircled him and her face hovered right over his, murmuring softly, his little puckered-up Winston Churchill face went quiet and content. Everything else fell away – the headlines, the weather, gas prices, politics. The two of them were enraptured and complete.

It brings a lump to your throat, that pure, simple and beautiful thing called mother love. None of us can ever quite get enough, and there’s nothing more pleasurable to give. It’s how God wants us to feel when we spend time with Him – warm and wrapped up, safe and sound, held close and tended to. No wonder the nickname of God’s Holy Spirit is “The Comforter.” That’s just what He’s like – soft and yet firm, warm and yet light, like a comforter. Like a mother’s arms.

I heard a story recently that illustrates this. It was told by a friend who attended a quilt show in another city, and was fascinated by a story about a half a quilt. A half a quilt, you ask? Therein lies the tale:

It seems there was a young mother, many years ago, who died giving birth to her second child, a daughter. The father became despondent that the infant would never know anything about her mother other than the few pictures and mementoes he had. How would this child feel her mother’s love? How would she experience the closeness and comfort of her mother’s touch?

So he had a wonderful idea: he brought his late wife’s wedding gown to a quilter, and asked that she make a comforter out of it. Nothing represented her beauty and essence better than that gown. It was what she wore on the day she was at her very best. That’s how he wanted to remember her, and that’s how he wanted her children to think of her. They could wrap up in it, and know what she was like.

So the quilter pieced together a crazy quilt with all different shapes and sizes of fabric. It was all in white satin, with lace and beading left in place for beauty and sparkle. The quilter added light and warm cotton batting inside, with a soft and plain underside. It formed a beautiful, warm and airy comforter, just the right size for a young child’s bed.

But then the unthinkable happened. A few years later, the little daughter got sick and died, too. It was so hard for that father to bury the poor little motherless child in the cold, hard ground.

But he had an idea: why not bury her in the quilt? It was beautiful and suitable. But what about the older daughter? Didn’t she have a right to the heirloom as well?

So he did the only thing he could: he cut the quilt in half. Half was wrapped lovingly around the little girl going into her grave so young. The other half stayed with the older daughter, to sustain her through the rest of her life. She would live it without her mother or her sister – but still connected with them both, through the quilt.

You can imagine the joy in heaven when they were all reunited. What was cut apart was complete again. They were all reunited in the ultimate comfort of their heavenly home.

No wonder people are so touched by the display of that half a quilt. As with any work of art, it’s not the thing itself that has meaning and beauty: it’s what it stands for.

Mother love, pure and simple.

When you wrap yourself around a child, God is wrapping Himself around you both. Lightly, firmly and warmly, you’re covered, safe and sound, held close and tended to . . . forever and ever.

Special Mother’s Day prayers for all those mothers who are separated from their children,
especially because of military service on behalf of your fellow Americans.
May you feel the Comforter’s arms encircling you both, today and always.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I’m back on my diet, seeing this. My “statue” has gotten a little excess “stature,” too.


PRAYER REQUEST: We pray for hope and comfort for a 14-year-old girl who became despondent and tried to kill herself this past week. Her mother is dead, her father is aloof, and she desperately needs to know her Lord and Savior, to replace her despair with joy, and give her a purpose and a future. We pray that she will look for Him with all her heart, and if she does, she’ll find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Didn’t the Greatest British Novelist
Know About ‘Haircut Guys’?

I read the classic Charles Dickens tale, Oliver Twist, to Maddy, age 8, while she was home sick with the flu. Don’t get excited: it was a $1.99, dumbed-down, cheapo, condensed version with big type. I like buying “classics for kids” because the stories are great and, in this format, the vocabulary isn’t too tough to understand. So it’s a win-win.

There were a few old-fashioned pen-and-ink drawings illustrating the text. They showed the poor, bedraggled orphans, beggars and pickpockets of dreary 19th Century England.

At book’s end, I turned to Maddy, wondering what her final comment would be. How bad the poor had it, back then? The sociocultural implications of the workhouses of the Industrial Age? Child labor? How they all survived without (gasp) cars and (horrors!) cell phones?

Noooooo. Apparently thinking only of those illustrations, she asked with a frown:

“Didn’t they have ‘haircut guys’ in those days?”


PRAYER REQUEST: Safety for a newly-pregnant young woman who is going to Israel for a month with the Denver Theological Seminary . . . safe delivery of a healthy Cohen Michael, expected any day now . . . a great sales price on a “Granny Cottage” in Tennessee.