Friday, October 31, 2008


There is nothing like the prayers and good wishes of family and friends to warm you up when you’re feeling cold and vulnerable. I’m truly grateful to everyone who responded to my moment of fragility (is that a word?) the other day. You have given me an immeasurable gift.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Time out

My mother’s cancer has returned. It’s still too early in the process to know what the final prognosis will be, but my heart is once again in my throat.

I don’t fear for her ultimate destination; I know that when she dies she will go home to be with the Lord. But I fear for her suffering at the end. And I fear missing her so much that it will be like a piece of me has died.

I know that my generation has reached the age when our parents pass on. I know that death is part of life. I know that God is good and that He has a plan – for Mom, for me, for the next generation. But knowing all of that doesn’t seem to help right now. Tonight I’m just a sad and scared little girl who wants her mom to be well. Even when you’re a 50 year-old adult, even when you've reached the point where you find you give more advice to your parents than you get from them, even when your own kids are adults – even then, you still need your Mom.

Prayers much appreciated……

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Travels to NJ, Part II

Just some ramblings:

I’m about 1/3 of the way through my trip. Today I was supposed to have visited my mother, but the weather was completely, totally, and unequivocally uncooperative. Snow, slush and high winds do not make for a safe scene on Interstate 80 through the Poconos -- so there will be no ‘over the river and through the woods’ to momma’s house this Fall. Bummer.

Had lunch instead with an old and very dear friend – a real treat since we seldom have the opportunity to get together. Our friendship began when we were raising our kids, and the bond between us remains deep and strong, even all these years down the road and across all the miles that now separate us. After today's lunch she sent me a text message saying that she misses US. Me, too, Trace.

Halloween will mark the end of this week, and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was on TV tonight, for what has to be the 40th or so time. Produced in the mid-1960s (I haven’t researched the exact date), this 30-minute Peanuts cartoon is a classic piece of nostalgia – from a time when Halloween really was just innocent fun and no one projected any dark, spiritual implications onto the bed-sheet ghost costume of a five-year old eager for candy.

We grew up on a farm, so were not able to walk through a neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. My parents took us in the car to the homes of their friends, instead. We must have driven our folks nuts, bouncing all over the back seat in our excitement (this was before seat belts, so we were very much “at large” in that enormous back seat). My very first Halloween costume was a pair of overalls, a short-sleeve shirt, a half-mask, and a straw hat – I was a four-year old farmer (I still have the photograph somewhere to prove it, too).

One year I was recovering from the chicken pox or German measles and had to stay at home. Dad took my brother out in the car and, since we trick-or-treated only at the home of friends, Ed took along my bag and asked for an extra piece of candy. So I still got my bowl of candy, but none of the fun, that’s for sure. Ed, if I recall correctly, wasn’t too terribly gracious about having to do this for me. Hmmmm… I’ll be seeing him this week and I think he may owe his sweet little sister an apology.

(to be continued)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Travels to NJ, Part I

Well, on Day 1 of this trip I am feeling somewhat better than I did on Day 0, thank goodness. Day 0 was pretty awful – stomachache, headache, exhaustion, etc. Coupled with flying (which is what one does on Day 0), this was not a good scene. I arrived at my hotel at a quarter to midnight (a.k.a. a ‘quarter to dead’).

Day 1 saw the return of the stomachache, although not as bad. No headache, thankfully. The exhaustion can be chalked up to jet lag now, I think. So I have high hopes for a good night’s sleep.

I’m driving a mini-van on this trip -- a whole mini-van for just li’l ole me. I’ve noticed that, with the gas crisis, the rental car companies seems to be running out of their inventory of smaller cars much sooner. So, even though I’d reserved a compact car, I was issued a “free upgrade” to a mini-van – because that’s the only class of cars they had left, quite frankly. I think that officially makes me a soccer-mom, even though I don’t have a soccer team to haul around.

Next door to the hotel is a small, exclusive mall with expensive stores like Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware. It also has a superior Barnes and Noble, and that is my mission for this evening – I want a book and I want to browse the bookstore for a long time.

On the way through the mall I am accosted by a young man from one of the kiosks. Brandishing a tray, he asks if I want to ‘have a taste.’ I do not. I’ve had a full day of work and I’m grouchy. I’m not interested in interacting with people one-on-one, tasting anything or, worse yet, listening to a sales pitch about whatever is the taste du jour. I vaguely and politely murmur, “no thank you,” and purposefully keep moving.

At the B&N, I skimmed through the companion book to the upcoming Twilight movie (what IS the attraction of that series?). I read parts of two small monographs about haunted places in New Jersey (we are, after all, just a few days from Halloween). I wandered around the book tables to my heart's content, gazing at the contents and looking for something that might pique my interest.

One thing that secured my notice was the plethora of Jane Austen ‘sequels’ now available. Good heavens! – a whole lot of people are tapping into the Austen-mania market and trying to write plausible sequels to Austen’s real works. Now, as much as any other Austen lover, I always feel let down when I get to the end of her last completed novel. She was such a great writer and her life and career were much too short! I always, always wish for more. And I will admit to being amused and entertained by the Austen mystery series written by Stephanie Barron – Barron writes well and constructs a good story with Jane Austen as the protagonist. She uses many historical details from Austen’s life in order to give authenticity to her tales, and she has found a good echo of Austen’s literary style.

But the rest of these pretend sequels are just too much. They all seem to be just this side of pulp romance novels, which Austen’s works were most decidedly not (however much Hollywood would like us to believe that they were).

In the end I pick up an Agatha Christie mystery that I haven’t read yet. And that’s okay. That’s the beauty of a protracted browse through a bookstore. I had hoped to find something new, but I also was quite sure there would be another Hercules Poirot saga that I could just as happily sit down with.

(to be continued)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Loving the Sinner, Hating the Sin

As I said a few days ago in this blog, I have been musing a lot lately about intercessory prayer -- which has inevitably led to some musing about loving the sinner and hating the sin. It's so very easy to let our anger about sinful behavior spill over toward the person, instead of stopping just at the action.

Jesus calls us to love. The Bible calls us to love (see 1 John 4:7-8).

Hate the sin and love the sinner. But we don't. We accuse, we label, we call people names (like we're still on the grade school playground), we condemn them to hell, we threaten them with bodily harm -- all in the name of Christ!? It's sick. And completely un-Christlike.

People engage in sin -- every last one of us does it -- but people are still God's creation. To diss on them personally is to diss on God. (And I mean all people are God's creation - not just believers.)

There's a line -- and it's not all that hard to see, actually -- between hating the sin and hating the sinner. Think about the words and descriptions that you use when you talk about others. It's perfectly possible to come out against sin and still love the sinner (and sound like you do!).

Another interesting John Fischer article can be found at:

Sorry if I sound a bit snarky today. I'm fed up with the uncivil discourse that passes for discussion in this culture. We have become a hateful people. And we demean ourselves every time we demean someone else on a personal level. Go ahead and decry the sin -- but remember that the sinner is still loved by God.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

According to whom?

I loved John Fischer's "Catch of the Day" entry for today. For reasons of copyright, I can't reproduce it here, but you can find it by clicking on this link: Here's a little taste: "We get into a lot of trouble when we use our culture's definition of fulfillment and apply it to our understanding of God's purpose for our lives."

It goes along with something that I once read by Anne Graham Lotz: "Are you interpreting His love by your circumstances instead of interpreting your circumstances by His love?”

Tim and I were talking last night about how the Christian culture has done a disservice to believers when it promotes the "gospel of prosperity" or the notion that God yearns to bless us with all our heart's desires. God is not a Fairy Godmother. He has a purpose for each of our lives that is perfect, but it doesn't always look like the things our selfish hearts want. We need to look beyond our own whims and remember to seek first His kingdom -- because what the Lord wants for us is much, much better than anything we could imagine.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Traveling to Omaha, Part II

Arrived in Omaha safely and made my way to the rental cars to pick up my reservation. The girl behind the counter said “I’ve got a Kia Rio for you. Whaddya think?” Unfortunately, I’d no idea WHAT to think about a Kia Rio, not having consciously seen one before, so I merely muttered that it would be fine. She handed me the key and said “Space H-51. Straight-back-on-your-right.” I wheeled around and noted the H row ….and that it started with space… #.... 1. Yep. Had to truck my luggage down past 50 spaces to get to my car. The good thing is that the car was parked so far out in the lot that it was next to the exit.

After a long day of sessions today, we were treated to a reception of finger foods. Not bad for a Holiday Inn, I thought. The foods were pretty tasty and were decoratively presented. And each offering sported a small tent card in front of it, identifying the contents of the chafing dish, which was quite helpful. Bacon-wrapped scallops, teriyaki chicken satays, cocktail shrimp, spring rolls with sweat chili sauce…. Wait! sweat? Yes, indeed. That’s what it said. Not “sweet chili sauce,” which I’m pretty sure is what they meant, but “sweat chili sauce.”

Someone on the banquet staff wasn’t paying attention.

I didn’t try it.

Tomorrow’s our last day of sessions and then I get to go home. Amen to that.

Traveling to Omaha, Part I

I’m sitting in the Idaho Falls airport, waiting for the first leg of my trip to Omaha. Yes, Omaha. I’ve never been there and, given the agenda of the conference I’m attending, I doubt I’ll have much chance to see anything except the airport and the Holiday Inn. But, to Omaha I am going.

The first leg is Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). The Idaho Falls Regional Airpot (IDA) is a two-gate facility, with probably only one gate in use at any given moment. The security line opens 45 minutes before the flight and then shuts down again until the next flight.

I’m an old hand at airport security lines now. Remove the laptop and the cell phone, take off the shoes, the belt, the jacket or sweater or sweatshirt, etc. As Dave Barry once noted, it’s like some weird adult pajama party with people dressing and undressing at either end of the line.

I duly removed the all important plastic baggie of liquids and aerosols from my luggage and placed in the bin on top of my jacket. Gone are the days when they would mistake my asthma inhaler for some kind of weapon buried in my purse. Now it's all out in the open for easy identification.

Just as I walked through the security portal, however, I remembered that I’d left my 2.3 oz. bottle of moisturizer in my makeup bag – which was nestled inside the carry-on luggage that was currently making its way through the screener’s xray machine. Oh, shoot. But either they missed it or they recognized what it was and let it go, because no further searches were ordered and I didn’t have to explain or, worse yet, lose my little bottle of rather expensive moisturizer. I'm very grateful. Note to self: put the darn moisturizer in the baggie unless you want to risk your $20 purchase!

On this Sunday afternoon there is a football game thoughtfully provided on the TV screen in the gate (Gate 1). I opted instead to call my mother.

Mom is fine.

From the terminal you can see the planes as they land, and so far, the incoming flight hasn’t landed. So we don’t have a plane to get on at the moment even though it is only 20 minutes until flight time. I fervently hope it arrives soon because I have only 30 minutes in Salt Lake for my connection to the Omaha flight. Granted, the flights will arrive and depart from the same terminal in SLC, but, still, it’s a bit nerve wracking to run that close.

I will need time in SLC Int'l in order to hunt down some food for the next leg of my trip because, as usual, there will be no food service available on the flight – just snacks and beverages. Sad that you can fly most of the day and never be served anything close to a meal – or even have enough time to actually find food when you’re in between connections. A person could starve to death in this country just trying to get from Point A to Point C.

(to be continued)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hometown, homegrown, Homecoming Parade

I got a little sidetracked today. My 'to do' list, in fact, went out the door when one of my daughters called to remind me that today is ISU's Homecoming (ISU is our local Idaho State University).

I immediately shifted gears for the day.

The big deal, of course, is that our three-year old granddaughter was to be in the Parade, on the float for her tumbling school. I got lots of pictures, but that's the one I missed. She was seated on the side of the float opposite to where we were standing (something we would have had no way of knowing ahead of time, unfortunately).

But today was a gorgeous, Fall day and the Parade is always fun. Below are some pics.

The color guard, followed by the ISU Marching Band, opened the Parade.

This is the Bengal's mascot, Benny.

Our niece, Jordi, is on the Highland High School cheerleading squad.

Now that the parade is over, I'm back on track for the day, although we will move dinner ahead so that we can attend tonight's Homecoming Game (kick-off at 6:35 p.m. MDT).

Fall is a special time -- football, parades, warm sun, potato soup in the crockpot and Rosemary Chicken in the oven.

See ya!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thinking Deeply

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, in the mountains of Idaho:

It’s October. Leaves are turning colors and the green plants of summer are dying. The familiar smell and feel of Fall is most definitely in the air. Today it’s raining, with that delightfully musty fragrance of wet leaves everywhere. We have so few ‘rainy days’ in the Intermountain West that I am relishing every sodden moment of it.

We’re camping this weekend – the last time that we can before we winterize the RV and put it away until next Summer. But this weekend isn’t actually about the camping experience so much as it is about just getting away from everyday life for a couple of days. We needed some time. Time to dream, time to chill, time to be together with no external pressures and no expectations of a schedule. Time to write. Time to talk. Time to play video games (well, we do have our 12-year old son with us!).

Time to “think deeply of simple things” (nod to the late mathematician, Arnold Ross). That’s a luxury in this day and age: mulling over at length one simple concept, finally grasping its essence and then working outward to practical application. What heaven! This rain-swept morning provided ample opportunity, for a change.

The topic that captured us is the concept of bearing each other's burdens, and what that really means. It’s one “simple” point of a spiritual walk with Jesus, but to really grasp what it means takes some thought. The way it connects us to each other and to God is actually quite complex.

And that’s where I’m ending today’s blog post because I’m STILL thinking about this concept. When I’ve got more to say, I’ll continue. In the meantime, if YOU’ve got something to say, please post your comments!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Civil Discourse 101

Call me naive, but this warms my heart:

Whatever we think of the policies of one President or the other, it heartens me to see that people CAN put aside their differences and work together for good.

If we as a society can't do that, too, then we're doomed, quite frankly.