Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Memorable Day

Today is a big day. Children around the world celebrate. Yes, it is the 495th anniversary of Martin Luther bravely addressing the corruptions of the church and posting his 95 Theses on the wall of the church in Wittenberg, Germany! He saw how far the church had strayed from the righteous, holy worship and sanctity of God. He posted his 95 Theses in a courageous attempt to bring the church back to a holy and pure relationship, not tainted by corruption, or rationalization that turned evil to good. He was not trying to start a revolution, though he became the father of the Protestant Revolution. All he wanted was to remind the church and its followers to stay true to the holy and pure life and practices God called them to, without greed or worldly values creeping in.
Happy 95 Thesis Day!

1 Timothy 1:3-5 (NIV)
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer [4] or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work---which is by faith. [5] The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Good and the Bad

Many of my relatives are in Sandy's path in the NE. I have heard from a few, but not all. I am praying all is well, though I know many have lost power. As is true with so many awful things, there are sometimes silver linings. Here in NC, the silver lining is snow in the mountains, and the ski resort having it's historic earliest season opening. Our favorite ski mountain opens Wednesday. Asherel just finished a massive art project for a contest that she has been working on for several months and countless hours. As a reward, I will take her for a half day of skiing Thursday if all goes well and she can get ahead in school before then. I warned our friend, Danielle, who is our best ski buddy that she and Asherel can go do crazy snowboarding things. I will be doing "senior citizen skiing" since I have now been diagnosed with brittle bones. I will not be taking any chances, so may just stick to the easy slope, at least this first time out.

If only the good could come with no bad. If only Sandy delivered snow to the resorts without lashing and flooding other cities on its path. If only salvation could be ours without Jesus having had to die such a gruesome death. But, that is not the way the world usually works. Usually, suffering is in the mix, and our hope is not in the perfection of this world, but in the next.

John 16:1-11 (NIV)
“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. [2] They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. [3] They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. [4] I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, [5] but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ [6] Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. [7] But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [8] When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: [9] about sin, because people do not believe in me; [10] about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; [11] and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

-save a dog-

Monday, October 29, 2012


Our sermon yesterday was about what a travesty of justice the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin was. The judge was biased, the witnesses were false, and Jesus was never given an opportunity to call His own witnesses. We had dinner with Mom K last night, and when I told her about the sermon, she said, "Life is unfair."
Ain't that the truth?
So why does every fiber of our being cry out for fairness, for justice? At least until we would prefer life BE unfair and that we DON'T get what we deserve. When WE break the rule, which we just broke a *little* bit, we don't want to bear the consequences when we get caught. Then, justice and fairness is decidedly not fun. Then we are big on MERCY.

I find justice and mercy a big balancing act as a parent. One needs both in raising children. Without mercy, children would be under constant house arrest. Without justice, the little heathens would grow up to become criminals.
Maybe some of you out there have perfect kids who never broke rules and never needed the strong arm of justice or the tender palm of mercy. But for most of us, I think we need to figure out how to balance the two. It is a skill I struggle to develop.

A friend told me recently that he has really begun pondering why our salvation had to be secured through violence. Jesus' death was unspeakably violent. No one, except psychopaths, want violence. Why did God decide to save us from the penalty of our sin, extend Mercy, with such a horrendous satisfaction of Justice? Sin must be punished. Any good parent knows that. But must the punishment be so...messy?

I don't know the answer. I just raise the question. I do know that the horror of the penalty for sin makes me think God REALLY cannot abide sin. And still, like any good parent, He doesn't want to condemn us to house arrest forever. And so He extends mercy, and all we have to do is accept it. It doesn't seem fair. It certainly wasn't fair to Jesus. Which makes me think something even greater than Justice or Mercy is preeminent.

1 John 3:1 (NIV)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

-save a dog-

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Growing Strong

I slunk into my doctor's office to hear what I knew she was going to do upon reading the new bone density scan. Since I was now officially in severe risk of fracture, I knew she was going to tell me I had to go on fosomax, or a drug of that ilk. She knows I hate drugs, and would always prefer a natural approach to health. She surprised me.
"I know you hate drugs and would prefer a natural approach to health," she told me.
I nodded.
"So, I want to give you a year to see if we can bring these scores up through other approaches."

How many people have doctors so in tune with what they desire? Lucky lucky me! She put me on mega doses of D3. I already take D3, but she said for people with osteoporosis, huge doses are often needed. I told her I had just started magnesium supplements and she told me that was her second suggestion. I am of course already on calcium supplements. And then she told me I had to start heavy weight bearing.
"I have been running miles a day since age 14," I told her.
"Well imagine how badly off you would have been without that!" she said, "But while that is good weight bearing, it is not the best. The one benefit of obesity is that the bones of heavy people are carrying around all that extra weight all the time. So they are strong. Obese people never have osteoporosis."
"So you want me to lift weights?" I said.
"Yes, if you carried an extra 100 pounds on your frame, you would not have osteoporosis. This is a thin person's problem."

So I left the doctor happy. I hate lifting weights, much as I love aerobic exercise, but I would rather lift weights than take fosomax. AND, it occurred to me that if carrying around extra weight would cure me, then what about wearing a weighted vest during the day?
I found many on line, though most are big and made for men. None looked like things I could wear during the day with any degree of comfort. However, on one site, I did read a testimonial by someone who said wearing the vest, "reversed my osteoporosis." I was not the only one who had thought of it.

I found a 15 pound weighted vest that boxers wear, at a nearby sports store. There was a long line to the checkout. I stood 15 minutes holding the 15 pound weighted vest. Normally, that might have bothered me, but in this case, I realized it was therapy.

When I got home I put on my vest. I was exhausted after wearing it in normal activity for just an hour, mostly just sitting and working on my book. How do heavy people manage to carry around all that weight? It is exhausting! I couldn't stand it after an hour and took it off. I will have to build up to wearing it for long periods.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
This is often true. And the idea that bearing weights can strengthen our hidden frame has many spiritual applications. One doesn't get stronger spiritually unless one spends time hoisting spiritual tasks. One's faith rarely grows unless we bear burdens we don't think we can bear, and find that God is there helping us. I think it will help me when I put on the heavy vest and think I could not possibly drag this weight around to remember that deep within, hidden from sight, I am growing stronger.

Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. [14] I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. [15] My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. [16] Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. [17] How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! [18] Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand---when I awake, I am still with you.

-save a dog-

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Angels in the Way

I have had a recurring dream that recurred again last night. I go to the ski slopes, all decked out in all my ski paraphernalia, and by the time I reach the top of the hill, the snow is rapidly melting. I can get in one or two runs down the hill, and then I start racing to all different parts of the resort hoping to find a section where the sun hasn't melted the snow. By the end of the dream, the snow is always gone, and I am left just cold and wet with no snow to ski on.

Real life is like that sometimes. In Richmond, while walking along the shore of the lovely James River, I wanted to get close to get photos of the most dramatic rapids, but there was an iron fence blocking me. Sometimes the most tantalizing tidbits of life lie just outside our reach. We do all the right things, show up at all the right places, and prepare with all the right equipment...but something blocks us from attaining our goal.

One of my favorite Bible stories is about Balaam's donkey. Balaam has been convinced by Israel's enemies to curse Israel, so he sets forth to the mountaintop. His donkey lies down along the way and refuses to budge. Balaam beats the donkey. Still the donkey won't move. Finally, the donkey speaks. He asks Balaam if the donkey was in the habit of shirking his duty. Balaam admits he was not. "Then doofus", says the donkey (paraphrase- doofus is not translatable from either Greek or Aramaic), "Why are you beating me? First of all, it is animal abuse, and secondly, did you ever stop to consider that a greater power than me is stopping us for a reason?"
And the donkey is correct. God did not want Balaam cursing His people, so it was God who stayed the donkey. Before their eyes, angles appeared then in the path, blocking the donkey's way, and admonishing Balaam that the donkey had saved him from doing a very foolish thing.

It is very hard to have clear goals frustrated. But it is wise to consider that perhaps it might be angels blocking our path for a purpose.

Numbers 22:27-34 (NIV)
When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. [28] Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? ” [29] Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now. ” [30] The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” “No,” he said. [31] Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. [32] The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. [33] The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.” [34] Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

-save a dog-

Friday, October 26, 2012


It is a day to rejoice. All days are, but this morning, after a year of working on the WWII book about my 93 year old friend, Comer Hawkins, the e-book just was published on Amazon. ( When I brought Comer the proof to review, he blinked back tears and couldn't speak for a moment. He flipped it over and read the back jacket about him, and with tears of joy, nodded at me. Then he slowly turned the pages, exclaiming, "Oh, there's Abo!" when he saw the picture of his WWII Aboriginal friend from Papua New Guinea where he served. He told me later when I called to see if he liked it, that he had read it three times already. And he remembered one more story he wanted me to add to it. So the publishing date was pushed back, and I added the story. The print book will be out soon, though I am not sure exactly when.

I hope the book sells and sells big. Like many in this economy of hope and change, we are struggling. But honestly, if I only sell the copies I myself buy to give to this wonderful hero of WWII whose efforts went largely unnoticed by all but the men he protected and commanded, it will be enough. If, after you read this book, you agree with me and my father that Comer deserves a medal and honorary promotion, please write to Senator Burr with that suggestion. I already have, just yesterday. I don't know if that is possible, but if you don't ask, you don't receive.

There are many heroes who live heroic lives doing heroic things that go unnoticed and seemingly unrewarded. The more I write books, and interview people, the more I realize that everyone has a story, and many people have stories of courage, selflessness, compassion, goodness, overcoming great obstacles, and living lives of love and faith. I wish I could write every story I encounter.

But at least I know that those stories are all read by the One to whom the stories matter the most. Our lives are open books before God, and He reads every word. And in the end, if we were not awarded a medal in life, we will receive something even better in Heaven. To all those who call upon His Name, the promotion to eternal life will not be honorary, but also not based on what we did in life. It will be based on what Jesus did, and our faith in that Gift. We will be promoted from mortal to immortal glory, seated in the presence of God, and the wars of this world will fade from our weary hearts.

John 12:44-50 (NIV)
Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. [45] The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. [46] I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. [47] “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. [48] There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. [49] For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. [50] I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

-save a dog-

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Perfect Fit

I can't divulge what I was researching in Richmond, as I don't want to put out any spoilers yet on my new book, but it involved a hard hat. The hat was borrowed, as I have not yet had occasion to use one on a regular basis. I asked if my bicycle helmet, or even ski helmet would be adequate but was told "no". So, I put on the hard hat. It was about ten sizes too big, or as some might point out, my head was about ten sizes too small. I have always had this problem with hats. My head was the smallest head in my entire graduating class of over 400 students in high-school. I know this because they actually told me that as they tried to get the mortarboard to balance on my pea skull. (Just as an aside, my husband had the LARGEST head in his graduating class of over 400. Fortunately, that means my children did not emerge with freakishly tiny skulls, but since I am all-over a small framed woman, it also means that childbirthing was NO PICNIC.)

So I put on the large hard hat which slid around on top of my head like a dripping egg yolk. Much of the day was spent looking up, and every time I looked up, the hat slid back and clanged against the base of my neck, ripping a few choice hairs out of my scalp in the process. Then when I would look down to take notes, it would smack against the bridge of my nose, sending sparks to the many nerves that transmit pain impulses.

What I won't do for a good story....Even with the anguish of the hard hat, it was a delightful day, and well worth it. So many things in life don't quite fit, and one must make do with what one is given. I don't mean physically, though as a child of an older sister, who was often clothed in hand me downs, that happened too. However, I mean circumstantially. We think we are destined for great things, and we strive for those, but then, somehow the great things don't seem to pan out, and we find ourselves in jobs we didn't quite want, with people we don't quite relate too, with accolades we never quite obtained, living lives that don't quite fit with the vision we once had. Some people grow bitter and some give up. Why bother if we can never find what really does fit perfectly, obtain exactly what we had hoped for?

Many of the Israelites wandering behind Moses on their trek to the Promised Land might have felt this. They were happy to leave the slavery of first...but then found out that the life of following God's plan was not always easy. It was not what they expected or hoped for. The continually groaned, and moaned, and rebelled. God did have a plan, and the end result would be worth the disappointments of the journey, but they often could not see beyond how badly it fit their vision of what should be.

So what is one to do? How does one embrace a life that seems tailored for someone else, for bigger heads? The Bible tells us over and over again. Hope in The Lord. Put your Hope in something that big and little heads can hold equally strongly. Look beyond the circumstances that threaten to destroy you and trust that His plan, in the end, will be exactly altered to match who you are in His kingdom. Notice the lessons along the way; the people that have been influenced or are influencing you that you would never have met had you traveled the path you once thought was the perfect route for your life. Hope in the love of God, in the perfect fit of His will, and the perfect and everlasting redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus. In the end, the hat will fit exactly as it was always meant to.

Job 30:26 (NIV)
Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.

Psalm 130:7 (NIV)
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Psalm 119:81 (NIV)
My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 130:5 (NIV)
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to Real Life

I returned late last night from interviewing the subject of a book I am working on. I had been gone four days, loving the freedom of traveling alone for the first time in at least 20 years. I spent the entire day Monday at a fascinating work site. Since the book is top secret, I can't tell you what I watched all day or the people that I met, but it was one of the most interesting days I have ever spent.

While I was in Richmond, both my new little illustrated books went live on Amazon. One must be selling because it went up to #37 as a e-book the first day. That one is called "The Illustrated 23rd Psalm." The second one is "The Good Parent" and is meant to read to children so that they will understand how good their parents really are, and also to send to our own good parents, and maybe even to remind us what it takes for us to BE good parents. I know I need continual reminders. That is why I write. They both are published as ebooks and print books, but I am not thrilled with how they come across as ebooks. Anyway, if you read them, and love them, please leave a glowing review on Amazon. Those reviews are what sell books.

Meanwhile, in Richmond, I was busy working on the book I started 8 years ago. I am closing in on the end, but it may be months yet on that one. It is a complex story. The WWII book I started a year ago is almost ready to roll out, however. It has been a very busy few months (years) of writing.

So of course I returned with a very sore throat. I could feel it starting as I drove home from Richmond. It was no surprise. The only surprise was I wasn't sicker. Traveling is so wonderful, but I sleep little, eat too richly, and am usually under unusual stresses. I always get sick when I return from trips. And then, no one ever returns home without a pile a mile high of things to do. I took a deep breath, smelling the rich smell of dogs, (note to self: wash dog covers tomorrow), swallowed with my sore throat, and marched back into reality.

1 Peter 5:10-11 (NIV)
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. [11] To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

-save a dog-

Monday, October 22, 2012

Joy in the Gathering and in Being Alone

I left my beloved son Matt and his adorable wife Karissa, after watching him perform flawlessly in his Appellate Moot Court Finals. It was the first time that I have traveled alone in.... I can't remember when I last traveled alone! It was a wonderful visit with Matt and Karissa, and I wish they lived closer. I left them to their studies in the law library and drove on to Richmond. I will be interviewing the main character in a book I am working on, so the trip is even a tax write-off. It is my first bona fide business trip as an author. That in and of itself made it momentous.

But even more momentous, there was not a soul with me that I had to cater to. I could stop every hour to look at the view or use the rest area. I could listen to talk radio, and then the Christian music station without anyone complaining. When I arrived, I could throw my suitcase in the room and dash out for a two hour walk along the river. There was no one else to moan that it was too far, or too fast, or too slow. I could go at just the speed I wanted, and stop to take photos without anyone complaining that I should hurry up. I could stop and read every historic marker, and marvel at the history this beautiful city possessed. I could veer off the path at every turn that interested me.

Inexplicably, I was not afraid as I crossed the very high pedestrian bridge that spanned the James River. I didn't worry about loved ones falling off, and all my fear of heights vanished! I walked another hour in the historic downtown, and got food to go from the restaurant of my choice, without consulting anyone but myself. And then, I sat in my room on the 11th floor with the lights off,eating contentedly. For hours,I watched the sun set over the James River and the lights twinkle on in the city. There was no TV or noise. Just the silence and the panorama stretched below me. As the night fell, I still sat quietly in a chair by the window, watching the lights and the sky change from blue, to orange, to deep blue, and finally to black. The moon rose higher, and the lights from the buildings on the distant shore of the James River cast shimmery yellow reflections.

I love my family. I would never give them up. But I cannot express how deeply peaceful and comforting it was to my soul to sit in front of the window watching the sun set and the night descend, all by myself. The silence and the beauty completely blanketed me with delight. I don't think it was selfish... at least not completely. God told Moses that he was to approach God completely alone. The people were to worship at a distance, but when God called, Moses was to enter His presence alone. I have a great need for solitude, for quiet. It seems that most people do not share, or even understand that need. I suspect that Moses, standing alone on the mountaintop in the presence of God would have understood.

Exodus 24:1-2 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, [2] but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.”

-save a dog-

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Small Towns

I love small towns. While my son Matt and his wife, Karissa, were studying in the law library, I went for a run through their little town of Buena Vista. The natives pronounce it "Buuna Vista", which ruins the whole charm of the lovely spanish meaning- beautiful view. And it is indeed a town with a beautiful view. Buena Vista is nestled in a valley with the Maury River running at the base of the mountains. There is a river walk alongside the river. From my walk on a raised grass path near the river, the mountains towered on all sides, covered with changing autumn leaves. No one else was on the path. Just me, and at one point, a groundhog. I saw a wood swing hanging from ropes looped over a tall tree's limb, overlooking the river. I wondered who put that swing there, and envisioned children swinging out over the water and then letting go, and splashing into the river below. A fairly active railroad runs next to the walk, and the cute historic town is just on the other side of the tracks.

It is a town that has seen better days. Many old buildings are empty, with boarded windows. Nonetheless, they have pieces of their old grandeur and charm still peeking through peeling paint and chipped bricks, and warped wood. On the side of one building facing the railroad, I could just barely discern an old advertisement painted on the brick, "Coca Cola, just 5 cents." Scrolled cornices topped some of the locked doors. One old home had a beautiful stone fence encircling the entire yard. A large Victorian style home was painted bright purple with a green roof. One small cottage tucked away on a side street was made of stone, and looked like it had been constructed for some fairy tale. I could almost picture Goldilocks playing in the yard.

I stopped in a little hardware store to make extra keys for my son. When I mentioned Matt's slow bathroom drain, the owner took me to shelves of products and then patiently explained exactly what I would need to do if I wanted to save $60 on plumbing and clean the trap myself. He smiled and told me to just call if I needed any help when I attempted the task.

As I meandered back to Matt's house, I thought how once this town had boomed. Many of the homes were large and elaborately constructed, with wraparound porches, white picket fences, and balconies facing the looming mountains. It is not booming now. It looks poor, many of the homes likely rented to college students, like Matt and Karissa. Some homes are crumbling into downright squalor. The few residents I saw were elderly. But it is a kind town, a peaceful place. Karissa told me there is almost no crime, and murder is unheard of. I felt safe all alone on the river walk path, though I always carry mace with me in case I meet a rabid chipmunk. As I waited at a crosswalk for a train to clatter by, I thought, "I could settle in a place like this, with the mountains standing like sentinels over me, and the river gurgling by, and the sound of the trains in the night."

In the Bible, when Lot is fleeing with Abraham from God's wrath upon the evil towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, he is an old man. He knows they have been told to flee to the mountains, but Lot is weary and finally begs Abraham to consider an alternative as they approach a small town. He asks to be allowed to settle in that small town, to be granted refuge and peace there. He is permitted to do so. He didn't end up remaining in that small town, but it was, however briefly, a place of respite for him. God seems to often pause our lives in the midst of catastrophe to give us a place to rest. He knows that sometimes we won't make it all the way to the mountain, not at first, and a small quiet place in the valley may be the place we need to settle for a time.

I wonder if Lot threw some ropes around an old tree leaning over the river, and then sat with a sigh on a wooden swing. Did he watch the clouds dance over the mountains for a while before traveling on?

Genesis 19:20 (NIV)
Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it---it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

-save a dog-

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Reaching to Heaven

I wandered through the Washington and Lee campus while waiting for my son Matt's Appellate Moot Court finals. I arrived early enough so that I could walk for a while. I love the beauty and history of both that campus, and the adjoining VMI campus. Both have been around since the early 1800s, and both are magnificent. And it was a perfect fall day, with the leaves in resplendent hues of yellow, crimson, and gold.

I was so proud of Matt. He had advanced through several rounds against many talented law students, and now was in the finals. He presented his case in front of three judges, one of whom had been appointed by George Bush and was considered for the Supreme Court. I had not seen Matt speak publicly since he was 17 years old, in his high school debates. If you will forgive a proud mother a moment of boasting, I thought that he, of all the finalists, was by far the most convincing, intelligent, persuasive, passionate, and logical in his presentation. Unfortunately, the judge didn't agree and he didn't win, but I was blown away by how excellent Matt was, and so proud for how far he has come.

I know it is hard to work diligently towards a goal and not come away with the accolades you deserve and desire. But it is one of the realities of life. Hurtful as it is, learning to live with disappointment and continuing to reach as high as you can is worth the pain, even when your fingertips just scrape the edge. I thought of the beautiful historic chapels I had passed on my walk earlier. Their spires pierced the cloudless blue sky, reaching for but not quite touching Heaven itself. But I was so glad for the reminder of what we all should be reaching towards, knowing our faith in the goal is all that is required.

Psalm 108:3-5 (NIV)
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. [4] For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. [5] Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

-save a dog-

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Edge of Glory

I was drawing and editing and reviewing saved artwork like a tornado yesterday. I am in the midst of publishing three different books simultaneously, all with illustrations and pictures, and realized I need a much better publishing program for my computer. To prepare the files for the publisher is so difficult using the program I have. But it was a lot of fun, meandering through thousands of photos of my artwork spanning forty years or so. I have enough illustrations for thousands of books, I think.

There were many photos and drawings of my beloved children. I have always traveled a good bit with the kids. We regularly trek up to NY to see my parents, Boston to see my oldest son, and then all over the country to visit other relatives or attend some educational competition or another over the years. As I looked over the 8,000 saved photos on my computer, it was like my life flashing before my eyes. I have had a happy, full, and exciting life. And I have had the good fortune to have been surrounded by loved ones through all of it.

One artwork, the one on this post, exemplified what I hoped that all those trips to so many places meant to me and (I hope) to my kids as well. I always wanted to show them as many new horizons, beautiful views, and brilliant examples of God's vast creation as I possibly could. I wanted them to know that they truly sat on the edge of Glory at every moment in their pursuit of God.

I guess I won't know for sure this side of Heaven if I succeeded with them or not. But I have zillions of pictures that remind me that I tried.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (NIV)
David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. [11] Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. [12] Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. [13] Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

-save a dog-

Thursday, October 18, 2012

No Fear

Calls at 5 a.m. are never good. Mom K had fallen again, banged her head, hurt her back, and my tired hubby needed to take her to the ER. She was fortunate this time. No more breaks or stitches. Something needs to change. She can't keep falling, and ending up in the ER. And this is my third night of 5 hours or less sleep. I don't look so hot well-rested, so you can imagine what these consecutive sleepless evenings are doing to the raccoon circles around my eyes.

I have several book projects going on at once. One of them was near completion yesterday. It was very appropriate to life's circumstances. It is a little illustrated book of the 23rd Psalm. I am glad I was dwelling on that yesterday. It helps to keep me from overdosing on the Fine Chocolates my Dad bought for me to bring home to Arvo when we returned from NY.

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

This is the crux of the matter. No matter what darkness surrounds us, God is there. He is with me. He is with you. I would honestly prefer that He dispel the darkness, but for whatever reason, He instead tells us to trust Him, to know in our souls that He is greater than the darkness.

I was thinking about that while on a walk yesterday. I was thinking about why God does not reveal Himself physically, irrefutably. He certainly could, if He desired. So much struggle in life would be gone if He would just do that. All the religious wars would end. All the bickering over who has got His Revelation exactly right would be silenced. All the families grieving over lost loved ones who don't believe would be comforted. It seems to make so much sense for God to just materialize. So why doesn't He?

Of course, I don't know. However, it seems that one thing must be true. Faith, believing without seeing, must be of value in ways I cannot fully comprehend. And so God tells us that we will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and we will not touch His physical hand, but we will know He is there nonetheless. And something miraculous and critical must happen within us when His presence is felt, but not seen. Somewhere in that process, fear is cast out. The darkness may remain, but it will have no power over us.

Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV)
Psalm 23 A psalm of David. [1] The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. [2] He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, [3] he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. [4] Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,they comfort me. [5] You prepare a table before mein the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [6] Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rock My Spirit

I couldn't sleep last night. Asherel has an early morning group test so I knew I had to be up early...but I didn't have to be up at 3 a.m. Still, it was not awful. I keep my iPad by my bed, so I can easily read in the dark. I went to my online Bible and read Psalms. Nothing quiets my soul more effectively than reading the Psalms. They gently rock my spirit in a comforting embrace. They are not magical, but they produce a sense of calm and wonder and closeness to God like no other scripture for me. The ones I read spoke of God as a refuge. It was just what I needed to dwell upon.

Psalm 4:1-8 (NIV)
Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. [2] How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods ? [3] Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. [4] Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. [5] Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. [6] Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us. [7] Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. [8] In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lashed by Storms

Strange weather yesterday. One moment sunny, the next rainy. Light and then dark. It just couldn't decide what kind of a day it wanted to be.

I can relate.

Sometimes, you just have to test varying moods to decide which one exactly fits the occasion. I was elated to publish my fourth book, a little manual called, "The Good Parent." It is illustrated and in my humble opinion, charming. However, when I previewed how it would look on various devices as an e-book, the formatting was awful! The print book which comes out in a couple of days was fine, but the e-book, out as of today, not so much. I instantly plummeted to the depths of despair. Was it even possible to fix it? E-book formatting with illustrations is not easy over the range of devices to which it can be downloaded. One has to pick the device you most want to best showcase the book, and then try to format correctly for that device. I was like the sky, stormy and weepy over all the struggle. (There are other issues that caused the inflated response but I don't need to go into all that. Just trust me on it.)

In the best of circumstances, I am not an "even keel" kind of person. I tend to be like the capricious sky yesterday, sunny as the brightest day, and then storming like a hurricane. In the times of Isaiah, God showed both stormy wrath, and abiding sunny comfort as well. I love the chapter where Isaiah describes how God rebuked His errant people, seeming to disappear while the storms of life raged through the city. That part is not the section I most love, of course. My favorite part is when God assures His people that when they return to Him, He will be there, and nothing will ever shake them from His strong and eternal grip. The desolate, ravaged city will be rebuilt with sparkling jewels and peace will cover the land instead of the storms.

This morning, I was able to deal with the formatting issue, rising early while the sun was deciding to shine on a peaceful, and lovely day.

Isaiah 54:7-8,10-11 (NIV)
“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. [8] In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer. [10] Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. [11] “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli.

Isaiah 54:13 (NIV)
All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.

-save a dog-

Monday, October 15, 2012

Heavenly Womb

It was nice being pampered in NY by my Mom and Dad. I came home to a world of worries and piles of work. Crawling back in the womb would be highly popular if it were possible. I am sure that is why God makes us grow bigger. None of us would ever pop that amniotic sac if we knew what lay ahead. If we knew when the waves of adversity would be washing over us, we could just scramble back into that peaceful, quiet world where all our needs were cared for, I wonder if we would ever leave our parents' side? The only downside I see is we would have to give up our cute shoes and perfectly fitting jeans.

But instead, God brings us trials so that we can grow up with character. He doesn't want us to remain little babies, tucked safely in the womb. He wants us to depend less on our parents, less on the things of this world, and more on Him. He wants us to examine what really matters in life. Pain, tears, suffering, struggle, despair, confusion, and fear are often the only things that make us loosen our grip on our childish and useless desires, our wanton waste of time and talents, our selfish and arrogant sense of entitlement. We came with nothing, and we will leave with nothing, except for one important thing. By God's will we emerged, and by God's will we will depart. He is all that matters, and if all our trials remind us that our hope rests in Him, I think they will have served the best purpose. And Heaven is bigger than the womb.

Acts 2:25-28 (NIV)
David said about him: “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. [26] Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, [27] because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. [28] You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

-save a dog-

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rest for my Soul

Traveling home today, through the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. I have found the recipe for pure delight- love of family, beautiful view, delicious bread and coffee for breakfast. Pure contentment comes when God is added to the mix.

Lucky me, I will be out as far as Lexington again in a few days. Matt just found out he made the finals of Appellate Moot Court, which is a big deal in law school. So I am scrambling to arrange rides for Asherel to her classes so that I can be here for Matt's moment in the sun (one of many, I am sure.) Fortunately, I have an interview I need to do for my book not far from my son's home, so the trip was already partially planned anyway...and it is a write-off!

There are not many mornings in life when it is easy to lay aside the troubles. And there are always troubles. But sitting in this hotel right now, on a balcony as high as the hawk riding on thermals, watching the clouds kiss the mountains good morning, all is right with the world. It is God's reprieve, granted me for a few moments before the earth starts spinning again.

Psalm 62:1,5 (NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. [5] Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

-save a dog-

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Colors of Home

I don't agree with Thomas Wolfe. I think you CAN go home again. However, I do agree with this quote from his book:
“Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away."
Jesus says a similar thing, in John 16:33 :
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I love going home again, to the place where I spent so many years of my childhood, the land of mauve hills, brilliant fall leaves, carousels, and beautiful country vistas. And I love my parents. They are quirky, and fun, and smart, and generous. We all drive each other crazy at times, but I always enjoy my visits. As we all get older, it seems new troubles and concerns always dance on our horizon, if not right on our doorstep. Still, I went on a run yesterday, and the sun poked through the rainy day and the autumn colors sparkled. I could not help but say aloud, "Thank you Lord for this blessing!", for the colors of home that I always carry in my heart. I thanked Him for the home where I grew up and for the Home He has prepared for me when my growing is all done.

John 14:27 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

-save a dog-

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gone Home

My sister Wendy and I went on a walk and I showed her the little graveyard in the park that adjoins our parents' neighborhood. It is an ancient plot, with graves dating back to the early 1800s. We examined each marker, reading the names, births, and dates of each deceased buried there. The saddest were the many young people and babies who had barely lived before dying. My favorite headstone was the one for Jane, which had a carving of a hand with a finger pointing upward and the words, "Gone Home."

We found that the little cemetery was the Broas family plot. All we knew of the Broas from the marker was that they were a pioneer family that gave Endwell its shared history. Endwell is my parents' little community. We also noted that 1853 was a very rough year on the Broas family, with many deaths.

When I went home, I got on the internet to see what I could learn of the Broas, and why they were credited with the start of Endwell. It took a bit of digging, but finally I did find a little information from a great great great great grandson of Peter Broas, the patriarch.

Peter Broas came to the town of Union, present day Endwell, in 1816. He was a Quaker, and I found it endearing that his family was described as always cloaked in Quaker clothes, and living in great comfort with his family all their lives. They always practiced Quaker "principle of peace with all men." They settled to farm the land. The description of their farm by the descendent, D.W. Patterson is quoted below:
"Their house and barn were shingled on the sides as well as the roof, with good pine shingles after the fasion then common in Eastern N.Y. and SW Connecticut, a fact that made their buildings as noticeable as their garb."

The Broas had purchased their land through "the Boston Purchase company", which was a group of Massachusetts investors. This Boston group had travelled to upstate NY and negotiated with the Oneida Indians to buy their land, all the way to the town of Owego, some twenty miles distant. That is where my brother John lives. The Boston Purchase bought half of Owego. The other half had already been wrangled from the natives by James McMaster. My brother lives on McMaster street! How strange the many links that connect us are!

Then I researched what happened in upstate NY in 1853, that might have caused so many deaths. There were three major epidemics raging in 1852-3: thypus, cholera, and diptheria. I was sad for the Broas, losing so many children that year. But apparently despite it all, they thrived and continued to live in their quiet Quaker home with the beautiful pine shingles. Most comforting, they found peace in knowing that Jane, when she was buried, had "Gone Home."

Ecclesiastes 12:5-7 (NIV)
when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. [6] Remember him---before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, [7] and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 (NIV)
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. [12] I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. [13] That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil---this is the gift of God. [14] I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

-save a dog-

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spitting Alpacas

We all went on a long drive through the Endless Mountains to one of my folks favorite lunch spot. While the NY hillsides are subdued in their fall colors, the Pennsylvania hills were brilliant. It was a beautiful ride, with the added attraction of a stop off at the Alpaca farm. My sister Wendy didn't dare get out of the car because she said, "They spit."

When the Alpaca owner came out, I pointed to the car and said, "We brought my sister to see your Alpacas but she wimped out. She's afraid they will spit at her."
"They only spit if you say something really nasty," the owner assured me.

I find this amusing. Wendy is fearless- will cross country ski alone in wilderness populated with cougars, climb a mountain in winter and sleep in a snow hut, travel glacier fields with crevasses, but won't get out of a car because an alpaca might spit, that fearsome alpaca with its fluffy tuft of hair atop its head and huge doe brown eyes. Finally, Wendy ventured forth and we all gazed rapturously at the adorable little newborn baby alpaca.
"See," I told Wendy, as we returned to the car, "No one spit on you."

It is a funny thing- fears. So often we are not afraid of the things that really could hurt us, but we tremble at claps of thunder. I think the irony of this human conundrum is not lost on God. He often reminds us that we worry and fret over so many things we cannot change, things that really have no power. Yet, we scoff at His own outstretched hand, as though it could not squash us or gently scoop us up, as though it did not hold eternity in its grasp.

A gentle alpaca approached us and I reached out and touched its muzzle. The other alpacas did not come near. I suspect they had heard rumors that humans spit.

Proverbs 14:26-27,32 (NIV)
Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. [27] The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. [32] When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Following the Path

It was only 60 degrees and cloudy, but my adventurous sister Wendy and I decided to kayak up the Susquehanna to Hiawatha Island. Hiawatha Island used to have a swanky resort hotel that was reached by wealthy patrons ferried across the river. Later, in the early 1900s a farm was built on the island, with the advantage of no fences needed to keep the sheep on the grounds.

Though the water was cold, we managed to stay dry except for our feet when we waded in just a little to get in the inflatable kayaks. We skimmed upstream against a gentle current, passing scores of Great Blue Herons. There must be a rookery on the island. No one but us and the birds were on the Mighty Susquehanna that blustery day. It would have been perfect except that the river snakes alongside the busy interstate. Trucks rumbling and clanging past along with the dull roar of cars whizzing by distracted from the otherwise primeval setting.

We moored at the deserted island shore and hiked along a well kept path. Asherel and I had discovered the old outhouse and abandoned sheep farm on the last visit to my folks, but we hadn't had time to explore more. Wendy and I took many photos of the early 1900 farm house and rusted farm equipment on the grounds. We examined the carcass of a very old car, and finally found a faded plate that identified it as a Buick. We traveled on along the path and came to the ruins of an old milking barn. We were told the barn had been built from rafters of the old hotel. So we continued on the path, hoping to find the hotel site. We passed a large open grassy area that was labeled "Helipad." Now I doubt that was here in the 1800s!

So we were deep in discussion about what a heliport was doing on a deserted island when we heard a rustle and saw a whole flock of wild turkey rushing down the path before us. We put our cameras on 'shoot', and scurried after the turkeys. Wendy wondered about people hunting on the island, and I asked, a bit tremulously, "It isn't hunting season is it?"
She thought it was too early for that but I still wished I had been wearing something other than a tan outfit, just the color of a nice juicy deer.

The end of the path brought us to the other side of the island, where a little ferry was moored. We guessed that brought guests to the island...when they couldn't catch the helicopter. There were more paths that went up the island, but it was getting late and we had to get back. It had been far more exciting than we had thought it would be, and there were still unexplored trails. Somewhere on that island, a splendid hotel had once stood. We passed an old rusted bathtub on our way back to the kayaks. Sometime long ago, a wealthy patron from the 1800s had perhaps laid down in that tub, its porcelain white and unmarred.

I had almost nixed the whole kayaking idea. It was cold and cloudy, and the weather in upstate NY can turn in a moment. I am so glad that I let my sense of adventure win. Life should be an adventure. There should be a sense of mystery and wonder waiting around our corners. I think that may be why God only gives us glimpses of His presence, as He rustles in our peripheral vision like the flock of turkeys. It keeps us moving forward, looking with anticipation to the morning when we will follow a different trail to find the goal that seems to be just around the next tree.

Psalm 25:4-5,9,12 (NIV)
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. [5] Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. [9] He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. [12] Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Trees of the Forest Sing

I love the drive to NY. I haven't driven in the fall in some time. The leaves were maybe a touch past their peak, so it wasn't spectacular, but it was pretty. It was about 3 hours too long for my bruised coccyx, but always worth finding my folks on the other end of that long journey. Usually, when I come back home, I awaken before everyone else, and sit in the living room with my coffee.

This morning, I did something new. I threw all caution to the wind, and had breakfast in the sunroom. The sunroom wasn't here while I was growing up, so it doesn't enter my ritualistic behavior yet. However, just as I was about to settle into "my spot" in the living room, I thought, today I should sit in the sunroom.

It was a little more arduous a journey, down the stairs with my coffee and iPad, but I made it safely. Then I sat in a nice comfy leather chair with an ottoman on which to stretch my legs. I sipped my coffee and looked around. The trees here in my parent's yard do appear to be at peak. The colors all around me are brilliant, and the sky is grey and still. Not even the squirrels appear to be awake yet. A thick coating of leaves cover the yard, like a full bag of M&Ms exploded- red, orange, green, brown, and golden. The foreground trees still have a lot of green. Twinkling between them like treasure are the bright orange and yellow maples in the background. What a gift it is to be alive to see this.

I think this will be my new spot.

1 Chronicles 16:27,33-34 (NIV)
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. [33] Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. [34] Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

-save a dog-

Monday, October 8, 2012

Breaking Through

We drove just a few hours en route to NY yesterday. My tail bone did notice. It was fine, but was happy to get out of the car. My favorite hotel is the cheapest one in Lexington, coincidentally, and overlooks the mountains. We were meeting my beloved son Matt and priceless daughter-in-law Karissa for dinner, but we arrived about an hour or so before they were available. So I sat in a comfy chair looking out the window at the view and thought there is nothing more splendid on earth than seeing the sun break through clouds. On both a symbolic and literal level, it is nothing short of magnificent.

We met them at a truck stop diner for dinner. Nothing but the best for my boy and his wife! It actually was his suggestion, and is apparently famous for its meatloaf ( a food I personally feel is the spawn of Satan) and its collection of riding toys, and old tin toys. Who would have thought a truck stop would have so much charm? My guess is it was the company I was with, but it felt a little like heaven, sitting in the truckstop while the frigid night settled over the mountains.

They were full of hopeful stories and growing feathers in their caps. They both are traveling a difficult, but diligent road in law school. It has not been easy, but I think they are seeing bits of sun shining through, themselves!

As I travel on today to NY, my prayer to all my family, friends, and fellow sojourners is that the Son will break through the clouds and like me, you will gaze in awe and wonder and delight.

Deuteronomy 33:13-16 (NIV)
...“May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; [14] with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; [15] with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; [16] with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush.

-save a dog-

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Good and Bad

It is twenty degrees cooler today than yesterday. Good. Yesterday was a little hot on many levels. Poor Mom K fell again, and this time did some damage. She fractured her shoulder, though the X-ray showed only a minor fracture and they felt they could just have her use a sling and it will heal. Poor Arvo spent his birthday with his mom at urgent care most of the day. I suppose there is some justice in that. She spent his original birthday all day in the hospital birthing him. Perhaps it was a fitting setting after all.

On my walk today, I saw a newly dead squirrel in the road. A dark shadow passed between the sun and me and flashed across the road. I looked up. A turkey vulture was circling. I knew that as soon as I passed by, it would swoop down upon the squirrel.

We had a nice dinner out celebrating Arvo's birthday. We sat outside in the still warm evening, while little white lights twinkled in the trees by a fountain. It was not how we would have planned the day, but it was a nice ending. Sometimes one has to take the good with the bad, remembering that God is sovereign through smiles and through tears.

I did not begrudge the turkey vulture his meal, but I still felt bad for the squirrel.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

-save a dog-

Saturday, October 6, 2012

King of the Road

I was walking Honeybun yesterday and we converged with two other dogs at the same moment. One was a dachshund, and the other was a Great Dane. The little dachshund began barking and lunging, in his attempt to intimidate the gentle giant. The Great Dane pranced a bit, but made no offensive moves towards the little warrior. He outweighed the 3 pound dachshund by some 125 pounds. Had he desired, he could have crushed the little yapper with one enormous paw. And oblivious to the ludicrous futility of his bravado, the dachshund acted as though he were king of the road.

Human beings are a lot like that dachshund. We yap, and challenge, and confront, and belittle the strength of the Almighty God, the One who has the power to crush us should He desire. We think that if we deny His strength and bark with enough bravado, He will forget that He is bigger than we are. We think we can bend Him to our will.

I guess in some ways we are even worse than the dachshund. At least he didn't pass the Great One by and pretend that He wasn't there, that His presence was not obvious.

Titus 1:16 (NIV)
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

Deuteronomy 4:39-40 (NIV)
Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. [40] Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.

-save a dog-

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Yesterday was my giving day. I think it is a good idea to have a full day of giving. Moms of young kids do it every day; they have no choice. Rescue farms filled with crates of dogs that need to be walked and fed have no choice as well. The rest of us can take time off from giving now and then. I visited two nursing homes and then took Asherel and Josh out for frozen yogurt in gratitude for them changing my flat tire a couple of days ago. My whole day Thursday was spent trying to bring cheer and joy to people. I'm exhausted.

Thursdays are normally our catch up day. We don't have to be anywhere on Thursdays. I love to just sit home, drink tea, and take my time with Asherel's homeschool. Sometimes I even teach on Thursdays, the way good homeschool moms should. But this Thursday, my old senior friend Comer called to see if my tailbone was healed. It is, unless I sit down too hard on it. I had urged Comer long ago to start writing his poetry again. He had written poems as a young man, but then stopped when life's busy-ness got in the way.
"I have a pile of over 60 poems here," he told me.
"Wow!" I exclaimed, "Are you writing day and night?"
"Yes," he said, "I wrote the last one at 2 a.m."
"Well how about if I come visit? And if you like, I will type those up and publish book 2 of your poetry. I can come collect them now!"
"Well, that would be grand!," he said.

I spent the morning with Comer and then dashed on to Mom K's nursing home. We sat on the front porch and I told her my plans for the upcoming visit to NY. I reminded her that her first grandchild, Karli, would be coming in two weeks to visit with her only great grandbaby. Karli and little Jack will stay with us for a couple of days and we will smother Mom K with joy. The newly washed borrowed car seat and crib are already set up in our extra bedroom.
"Oh my!" said Mom K, "I will have to get ready."

Then Asherel called, and asked as long as I was out, could I pick up some yummy lunch for her? Sure, I texted back. Giving days have a way of snowballing. I came home with the yummy lunch, and finished the last edit of the WWII book I have been working on for a year. With great satisfaction, I sent the proof off to the publisher.

The final cap of the day was the trip out with the two teens for frozen yogurt. They filled their cup of healthy yogurt base with mounds of candy toppings. Then they sat in comfortable chairs and it took them some time to reach the bottom of the cups. Several thousand calories later, Josh read my blog post about how he helped change my flat tire and noted an omission-
"I notice you didn't mention that it was YOU and ASHEREL that told me to put the tire on backwards," he said.
"Yes...I thought you might notice that," I said.
So now the record is corrected, since giving days have a way of creating expansive good will towards all.

This is the way giving works, when it is giving of love. I tend to be stingy with giving, forgetting that I do not have a limited supply. God promises that the more we give, the more we will have to give. I think Thursday proved that.

2 Chronicles 25:9 (NIV)
Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” The man of God replied, “The Lord can give you much more than that.”

Acts 20:35 (NIV)
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Jude 1:2 (NIV)
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

2 Corinthians 8:2-3,12 (NIV)
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. [3] For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, [12] For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

-save a dog-

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I stepped outside in the early morning and saw Orion in the sky. Orion! Already? Orion is a winter constellation, and coincidentally, the only winter constellation I know and recognize. When Orion is in the sky, it's winter. When he is not, it is summer. It is a simple clue and easy to spot. It is still hot here in Charlotte but I checked the weather expected next week both here and in NY. The times, they are a changin'! It is going to be chilly, especially in NY where I will be visiting my folks. The lows are expected to go down one night into the 30s. Brrrrrrrrr!

But Orion? Already?

I love winter. I love to ski, I love that the snakes are hibernating, I love to wear boots and coats and bright sparkly hats. I love to be able to put my hot flashes to productive use. I love the crisp clear air with stars so brittle and bright in the sky. I would not love winter if there was no summer however. So much dies away in winter. The only thing that makes that bearable is knowing one day it will all return in an explosion of magnificent renewal. How could God paint His comfort to the old and infirm any more clearly than with the seasons?

But Orion? Already?

Psalm 56:10-13 (NIV)
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise--- [11] in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? [12] I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. [13] For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

-save a dog-

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Thwap, thwap, thwap.
"What's that noise?" asked Asherel, as I pulled away from retrieving her and Josh from Gavel Club.
I stopped the car with a sinking feeling in my already overloaded heart.
The kids tumbled out too. Fortunately, we were still in the church parking lot as we surveyed the completely flat tire.
"I know how to change it," said Asherel, "I had to in Driver's Ed."
"They taught you that in Driver's Ed?" said Josh.
"Well they didn't want to...but our car got a flat while we were driving. We had to."
"I haven't changed one yet," said Josh, "But I've watched twice in the past couple of weeks."
And, I thought, I had changed one a couple of years ago when my good friend Nicole
called me a wimp when I told her I'd be late to her farm as I had to call the motor club to come change the tire.
Between the three of us, surely we could do it!

So, the kids quickly found the tools and the spare and went to work. They did an admirable job and the rain didn't start till the moment we finished. We noticed we couldn't open the sliding bashed against the little spare, but decided that MUST be normal. We piled back in the car, and as I began to move, there was a terrific grinding.
After much consultation and perusing the owner manual, we saw we had put the spare tire on backwards. A quick fix to flip the tire and I drove on to BJs for the repair.

The auto technician wet down the tire, trying to find the source of the flat. He spent a half an hour with soapy water on its surface but could not find a puncture, and the tire was holding the pressure.
"Someone must have let the air out," he said, "I cannot see what else could have happened. Even a slow leak would bubble the soap I put on it."
"But I don't see how anyone could have let the air out," I countered, "I would have noticed that sound and that it was flat driving to get the kids, and I stayed in the car while waiting for them."
"Still," he said, "All I can figure is it must have happened where you were parked before getting your kids."

I had been parked at Mom K's nursing home, and was helping her and the other residents turn to the right hymn int heir hymnals as we sang with some sweet old church volunteers. It just didn't seem the type of crowd for malicious pranks.

The mechanic told me he would put the tire back on, replace the one lug that was ruined by our backwards repair, and we would be on our way. But he looked perplexed.

And I worried. I knew no one had let the air out of the tire. How had it gone flat? And then he came back to the waiting room twenty minutes later.
"I found it!" he said, "I just figured it must be punctured somewhere, so I submerged it, and went all along the tread, pulling apart the treads. I came to the slash that way. It was holding air until I pulled on the treads."
I was thrilled. I didn't want to have to get a new tire, but much better it happen here rather than a thousand miles away on my journey to NY Sunday. It was an old tire with worn treads and it was wise to replace it anyway. It could have been a disaster had it blown at night on the interstate, far from home. Who would think a flat tire would be evidence of God's providence?

And the puncture would likely not have been found had I not stopped to sing church hymns with my mother in law. Both the mechanic and I knew that the parking lot of a senior home filled with people singing with old, tired voices to God was an incongruous place for purposeful deflation by someone.

I was not at all upset by this derailment of my day's plans. I had hoped to visit Comer, another senior friend, but fortunately, had not yet called and thus disappoint him when I could not go. Instead, Asherel and her friend learned a valuable skill, and a potential disaster was dealt with at minimal cost and inconvenience. And infused in the humorous memories of watching the little spare go on by two of my favorite teens on earth, was the sweet image of Mom K with her lovely voice unrestrained by the tumult of her years singing, "amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!"

Job 10:12 (NIV)
You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.

-save a dog-

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just Around the Bend

The dogs, Asherel and I will be heading to NY to visit my parents next week and the car is packed to the brim with kayaks. My crazy adventurous sister Wendy will be visiting from Seattle as well, and so we intend to explore the Susquehanna River in my inflatable kayaks. I can't wait to see what lies beyond the turn I explored with my brother John on that river a few months back.

I love adventures and get a little antsy when I don't travel. Something unusual is always waiting to be seen. I am one of those people who can't stand NOT going around the next bend in the trail. My family says this leads me to propel them on marathon "forced marches". I do find it hard to turn back when there is a hidden curve ahead that maybe hides something beautiful I must see. The problem for me is that almost every road has bends ahead that hide what comes next. I can't stand not to keep moving forward and take a peek.

Sadly, it is rare in life or circumstances that we get to keep moving forward. Almost always, something forces us to retreat, turn back, only glimpse the tantalizing bend in the distance that we may never be allowed to reach. I always felt sorry for Moses, when God told him that after all those years of leading his people through the desert, he would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. He was only allowed to stand atop a mountain and see it in the distance. His people would enter, but he would have to content himself with knowing he had brought them there safely. Right on the brink, he himself would be turned away. He would not drink the milk and honey of the land he had been told to journey towards for forty years.

It seems cruel. The Bible doesn't record Moses as ranting, raving, mourning, arguing, or complaining. He just looks out over the land at journey's end, and then he dies. We are told that he is not allowed to enter the land because he disobeyed God long ago on the journey across the desert. After all Moses did, he is being punished for one act of angry insubordination!? His life's goal is severed from completion just as he is on the cusp of grasping it? Why why why!

Well, one thing is certain- God takes sin very seriously. But I think another point is being made. Moses is an encouragement to us. We may journey a long way, always hoping to reach the lofty and magnificent culmination of our mortal travels when we close our eyes for the final time. And sometimes, we won't make it. Some of us won't even come as close as Moses did.


In the New Testament a few thousand years later, guess who stood atop the Mountain with Jesus Himself? Moses!

So be faithful, be obedient, trust God, and don't give up even when you know you will not succeed. In the end, you will stand atop the world with God Himself and all Heaven will be open to you.

Deuteronomy 32:52 (NIV)
Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”

Matthew 17:1-3 (NIV)
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. [2] There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. [3] Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Deuteronomy 30:4,8-14 (NIV)
Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. [8] You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. [9] Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, [10] if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [11] Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. [12] It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” [13] Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” [14] No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

-save a dog-

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dreaming of Streets of Gold

I was sitting with Mom K in front of the nursing home a couple of days ago, when one of the aides came out and asked how she was. Mom K reached out her hand, and told me, "She is one of the good ones."
Angela patted Mom K's hand and said, "I always want to treat them the way I hope someone will treat my own mother one day."
This struck me as a very nice way to live. Always treat others the way you hope others will treat the people you love. Treat your mother in law the way you hope your future daughter in law will treat you. What goes around, comes around.

We had Mom K over for a simple dinner last night- ham, sweet potatoes, and fresh broccoli. Rhubarb pie for dessert. Nothing fancy. I swept the floor to get the big hairballs out the door. The dogs greeted her, not minding her wheelchair at all, and she enjoyed petting them. I took Honeybun's cone off her head and watched her like a hawk to be sure she didn't reopen her dew claw scar. We played a game, but we had to move all of Mom K's pieces for her. She kept apologizing that she couldn't understand the game. She won.

During dinner, we talked about how she used to ice skate down the road several kilometers to go to school each day in the winter. She was born and raised in Germany. She told me her grandparents owned a large farm, and in the summer they had to go work and help out on the farm. As a girl, she also had to help wash the clothes by hand, hang them to dry on a clothes line strung in the attic in the winter, boil the water over an open fire to wash the clothes, for hot baths, or for dish water.
"I would have liked to live then," I said dreamily, thinking of the horses she owned, and of skating down the street to school.
"No you wouldn't have," she said, "It was very hard."

Honeybun's wound looks almost completely healed. She licks it when I take off the head cone and I am still afraid she might break it back open, but for now, I give her several hours a day cone-free. More good news: my bruised coccyx barely hurts at all. It took a decided turn for the better yesterday, and now I feel almost normal. I suppose that my melting bones are still melting, per my bone scan results, but somehow, I don't feel as worried about that right now. It seems there are so many more important things in life to fill one's head with.

Right now, I just feel grateful. Grateful for kind people who work at nursing homes and treat their charges with dignity and gentle respect, grateful for healing dew claw surgeries, and for a coccyx that doesn't ache with every move, grateful for dogs that lick and comfort old people, and grateful for visions of young girls skating to school on streets that shimmer like diamonds who will one day walk again unencumbered on streets of gold.

Revelation 21:21-27 (NIV)
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. [22] I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. [23] The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. [24] The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. [25] On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. [26] The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. [27] Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

-save a dog-