Friday, October 29, 2010


Sometimes I wish things wouldn’t change.

I recently saw a photograph of the Iowa farmhouse my Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill lived in when I was growing up. Back then, it was a simple, two-story brick house, with an insanely steep staircase going from the main floor to the bedrooms above.

The house sat across the road from the cornfields my uncle farmed with my grandfather. A pair of binoculars sat in the living room windowsill so we could track Uncle Bill and Grandpa in their day’s work, or watch the storms coming in, at times welcomed, at times not.

There was a porch with a swing in the front, and an enclosed porch on one side next to the kitchen. I loved that house.

But in time, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill needed a place without an insane staircase, and they moved into town.

A few weeks ago, one of my sisters traveled through Iowa and she drove by Uncle Bill and Aunt Betty’s old house, stopped the car, and snapped a photograph.

When I saw the photo I was shocked—and a little horrified. The new residents added a whole wing onto the old farmhouse. In fact, it’s like two houses, joined with a window-lined passageway. Very modern. Lovely. But wrong.

I liked it the way it was. With the porch and the swing.

And Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill.

And that’s the point, really. I miss knowing Aunt Betty is bustling around kitchen making Rice Krispie Treats. I miss seeing Uncle Bill on his tractor, or rubbing the head of his favorite dog.

The remodeled house is just another reminder that time is marching on, that nothing stays the same. Except our unchanging, eternal God. And that’s where I need to place my hope and my joy. Yes, houses come and go. Even the people we love come and go. But Jesus? The same yesterday, today, and forever.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stories from the ER

One of my friends works in a local emergency room. Every once in a while she will pass along a story about some strange case she encountered—usually involving a lot of blood. But today I heard about a 20-year-old patient who died and whose parents chose to donate 17 organs and other tissues from their child’s body to that many sick, suffering strangers.

I don’t know what 17 things were donated beyond some of the obvious ones—eyes, kidneys, heart. During the surgery there were 17 medical professionals on hand to receive a particular body part for a needy recipient. My friend observed that each of the people transferring the body part to its destination paused to thank the donor before leaving the room.

Can you picture it? I’m sure each person knew the urgency of handling the donated item quickly. But they acknowledged that each organ, each piece of tissue, had come at the cost of a human life.

My mind went quickly to Jesus. He died so that I might know life. His back bled, His joints popped, His eyes closed, His heart stopped. For me. For you. For the world he loved.

So I pause . . .

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weight Control

I blame my mother. And why not? Isn’t that how we all explain away our various phobias and addictions? She once admitted she’s probably to blame for my dislike of cats. It’s either that or the fact that cats are self-absorbed, boring, redundant little creatures. But I digress.

As the title of this article suggests, I’m blaming my mother for my issues with weight control. I don’t blame her for my weight problems, mind you. My propensity for carrying a little too much cushion around the middle could have just as easily come from my father’s side of the family. No, I blame my mother for my preoccupation with diets and weight control.

Mom was a beautiful woman who apparently thought she needed to shed a few pounds. I confess, she wasn’t svelte, but she certainly wasn’t heavy. But from the time I was old enough to notice, I noticed Mom was always on some kind of diet. I can picture the little BBs she lined up on the kitchen windowsill to reminder her to drink eight glasses of water a day. I remember the cartons of cottage cheese that she ate because they were low in calorie (and because she genuinely liked cottage cheese, especially with a canned peach on top).

I also remember the time she told me about my father’s weight loss plan. If he thought he had put on a few pounds, he’d cut out the graham crackers and milk he ate before bed. And sure enough, that brought his weight back down to where he wanted it to be. And I assume he reinstated the crackers and milk. That’s so not fair.

I recently heard of a diet plan that even I am unwilling to try. It’s the Dixie Cup Diet. (Don’t Google it. You’ll discover a very different, very gross diet plan that involves spitting out your masticated food into a Dixie Cup. There. I just told you the gross version so now you really don’t have to look it up.) The Dixie Cup Diet I recently heard about is this: Eat only three Dixie Cups of food a day.

Yes, the little cups. Yes, three. Yes, a day.

Apparently, that’s how much food a person can eat who has had their stomach stapled.

When that diet plan seemed a bit out of reach, I decided to see what was recommended for people who have diabetes. I Googled “Diabetes Diet.” In addition to suggesting the eater avoid sweets, red meats, fried foods, fast foods, and a few other fatty things, the website I selected offered the following meal plan:

  • One serving of protein (3 oz of chicken, lean beef, or fish)
  • One serving of bread (whole grain roll, tortilla, or ½ cup pasta)
  • One serving of dairy (cheese, milk, or low-fat sour cream)
  • One serving of vegetables (fist sized portion or a small bowl of salad)
  • One serving fruit (tennis ball sized or ½ cup sliced)

I interpreted the above diet plan to mean I could eat one of everything. Now that is a diet I can live with.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Trouble with Texting

I should give up texting altogether.

I trust you remember the “hat feet” fiasco. (If not, read the blog post from September 17, 2009.) Since that experience I have learned how to form coherent sentences when texting, complete with proper punctuation. Just when I thought I’d mastered the whole texting thing, I got a phone call from a Colorado Springs homicide detective.

Let me explain. This week, my 19-year-old daughter, Abby, has been taking care of some friends' cats and zucchini while said friends are out of town. I should just trust that said 19-year-old is on top of things, but I’m a mother, and sometimes I don’t do so well with the whole “keep-your-nose-out-of-it” thing.

I was a little worried that our friends would come home to feline fatalities, so before settling in at the office one morning I sent Abby a friendly—okay, motherly—little text: Did you feed the cats yesterday?

Everything was spelled correctly; it was a full sentence, proper capitalization and punctuation—good to go. I went to select Abby’s phone number. There were two very similar numbers in my “recently used” list. At one time in the past I misdialed her number and now both numbers are saved on my phone. Was Abby’s number xx7-xxxx or xx9-xxxx? I know I’ve selected the wrong one a few times. I held my breath and selected xx9-xxxx.


A few minutes later I got a call on my cell phone. The phone number on the display screen was a little odd. It wasn’t a standard seven-digit number. Maybe it’s the phone company, I told myself and answered it.

“Hello?” I said.

"Hello. Is this 5xx-xxxx?” a deep voice asked, reciting my phone number precisely.


“This is Detective Howard with the Colorado Springs Police Department.”

My mind raced. Eric is on a camping trip—did something happen? Did someone break into the house? Has my car been stolen?

“Yes . . .” I responded tentatively.

“My phone number is xx9-xxxx. I’ve been receiving some unusual texts from this number. Can you explain this?”

Flooded with both relief and embarrassment, I began to babble. “Oh, I’m so sorry. Your phone number is one digit different than my daughter’s. I texted your number by mistake. I had both numbers on my list and I wasn't sure if she was 7 or 9 and I chose 9 when I should have chosen 7. It will never happen again. I'm so sorry—”

Officer Howard chuckled. “Oh, that’s a relief. I’ve been known to get harassing calls from people I’ve worked with as a homicide detective. I’ve had to change my number more than once.”

“I’m so sorry,” I continued, my heart beat back to normal. “I’ll be more careful.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it. Now that I know it’s not a disgruntled citizen it’s okay. Text away.”

Feeling comfortable with the friendly homicide detective I asked, “So, did you feed the cats yesterday?”

Anyway, like I said, I should just give up texting altogether. Or at least be sure of my phone numbers. In the future I’ll be sure to use xx7-xxxx. Or is it xx9?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paonia, Colorado

I'm going to set aside any attempt to write a clever or well-crafted post (which is probably evidence of my prideful nature anyway) and give you all a quick update on our missions trip.

For the uniformed, I am with our church's youth group on a service project in a small western Colorado town, Paonia. We're leading a Vacation Bible School in the mornings and doing community outreach in the evenings in the park.

A couple quick impressions. The first morning of VBS, Pastor Rob closed in prayer and said, "Thank you for sending your Son to earth." When Rob finished praying, one little boy asked in a loud voice, "God sent His Son to earth?" I realized then and there we had our work cut out for us. Some of the children are from the church, but obviously some have no knowledge of Jesus.

The other thing is, we have a great group of teens. These students genuinely love the Lord. Three of them share their testimony each night at the park and it has been terrific. They each relate their story of how they met Jesus, a bit of the gospel, and how God makes a difference in their lives today. The first night Pastor Rob followed up with some comments and last night J.D., another of our adults, made some closing comments. The Good News is being clearly presented in beautiful Paonia.

I'll try to write more later. Thanks for your support and prayers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words

The other day I received some terrible news at work. (No, I’m not going to tell you so don’t ask.) My friends could tell something had happened by my conversation—cubicles are unforgivingly public.

One friend called over the cubicle wall, “Everything okay?”

“No,” I replied, “but I don’t want to talk about it.” Nice, huh?

I was so glad he asked, even though I didn’t want to talk about it. Especially to a “guy.” Sorry, Randy.

But then Kris came over and offered a hug. I took it. Didn’t say a word, but boy did that hug help.

Then today, I heard sniffles coming over the painfully public cubicle wall. “Tina” was on the phone, obviously upset about something.

In times past I might have been concerned, but unsure what to do. But today I knew exactly what to do. When Tina got off the phone I walked over and gave her a hug. I knew Tina well enough to do so, of course. I wouldn’t hug just anybody. (She and I had a conversation a while back about being “criers” so I knew it was okay.)

She didn’t speak. She just cried. And I just hugged. And somehow that said everything.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Friends

One Wednesday evening not long ago, I was watching television when the doorbell rang. I turned off the TV and made my way to the front door. I opened it, and there stood a middle-aged man with a half grin on his face. He said nothing.

“May I help you?” I asked him, more than a little suspicious.

After a slight pause, he told me his name.

Recognition overtook suspicion. He was an old friend from our days in Illinois—going back to college, in fact—someone I hadn’t talked to in years. He was in town on business and decided to look us up.

“Doug,” I called to my husband. “Look who’s here!

Our friend said, “My wife and I always like it when people drop by, so I figured you’d like it, too.”

To be truthful, I was self-conscious about the papers spread across the coffee table and the blanket thrown a little too casually across the couch. But our friend didn’t care. So I tried very hard not to care with him.

I introduced our children—teenagers now. Then we three middle-aged friends sat and caught up with one another.

We reminisced a bit, us remembering his children as pre-schoolers running through the halls of their old house. But now he was showing us wedding pictures of those same children, cute little girls grown into beautiful brides.

Our friend was open and honest with us, recounting business failures, children who didn’t believe in God anymore . . . We brought him up-to-date on us, too, though we had no real adventures to report.

“This is so great,” he said, “sitting here looking at the two of you.”

When he left to return to his hotel room an hour or so later, I was glad he’d gone to the effort to look us up, drive through an unfamiliar town, and ring our doorbell. I’ll remember his visit next time I consider calling up an old friend. Instead of assuming he or she won’t want to hear from me, I’ll assume my friend will enjoy hearing from me as much as Doug and I enjoyed visiting with our old friend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death

When my daughter Kate asked about my day at work I told her, “It was pretty good, until the end of the day.”

I explained that I was in a meeting and someone told the story of a young woman in another country who had been killed by her father and brother because she decided to leave the family’s religion and follow Jesus. There are other details to the story that I can’t share publicly, details that brought the story close to home. Some mistakes had been made that compromised this woman’s safety, mistakes that I could have made as easily as anyone.

The thought of this young woman losing her life left me stunned and almost unable to concentrate on the rest of the meeting. I still feel a heaviness as I write this.

“We have it so easy here,” Kate said.

She’s right, of course. Believers in the United States are not usually tortured for following Jesus. Some people are shunned by their family. I was not. Some of us might experience teasing. I have, but just a little. Discrimination on the job? I’ve only worked for Christian organizations so I’ve never been passed over for a promotion because I was a Christian. I’ve had it easy. Maybe too easy.

What have I sacrificed for following Jesus? Virtually nothing. I’m asking myself some hard questions tonight. I don’t want this young woman’s life and death to pass by my consciousness without changing me somehow. If nothing else, I want to live more courageously. I want to be more bold in declaring that I am a follower of Jesus. It is a truth worth dying for. And a truth worth living for.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Year, Old Ways

For the last few years I’ve used an electronic calendar device (an old Palm Pilot the office had laying around) rather than a printed organizer. It has its advantages. Primarily, I can update it electronically with the push of a button. Meetings that have been added to the calendar on my work computer through e-mail are added to my hand-held device with the touch of a button. It will also buzz to remind me of things. Plus, it doesn’t suffer from my messy handwriting or from things being crossed out. It’s very tidy. And it has fun games.

Even so, I found myself longing for my old notebook. The tabbed dividers, the pen holder with its sleek Parker, the pretty paper. So this year I’m going back to it, back to the old way of doing things.

One advantage of the notebook is that it gives me a place to write notes to myself, to track ideas. Yes, I know, I can do that on the electronic calendar, but I didn’t. Plus I can tuck pieces of paper in this notebook—receipts, announcements, . . . . I also have a few address labels, a gospel tract, a ruler, and other goodies stashed in the back. And I can’t do that with an electronic organizer.

I know some of you live completely in the electronic age, and my hat is off to you. But I guess my love of pens and paper and all office supplies has won out.

How ‘bout you? How do you keep yourself organized? If you have a good idea, I’ll write it down in my notebook.