Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Doris Knew the Answer

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be?... Words from an old, old, old song (Que Sera, Sera) sung by Doris Day, popular when I was a little, little, little girl. I used to think I'd like to be an archaeologist. But, anything short of a Doctorate in Archaeology was pointless, and I didn't want to pursue that. So, I'm not an archaeologist, but it still absolutely fascinates me; I love my Archaeological Study Bible. I read an interesting article on CNN.com this morning describing a village recently unearthed near Stonehenge, dating to around 2600 BC (about 500 years before Abraham).

As a child, Samantha, too, had a vibrant interest in archeology, but then again, she also said she'd like to be a jazz singer in a piano bar. When Leah was little, she wanted to be a combination preacher-fireman-baton twirler. Ashley didn't care what she'd be... as long as she and her husband and her kids could all live with us. Forever. :}

Leah, so far, has hit closest to her childhood aspirations. She's in full time ministry, as Director of Children's Ministry at a church near here, and prior to KiDZ, she worked with middle school students. She CAN twirl a baton, but to my knowledge hasn't yet used that talent as part of her job description; she and sister Sam did wow the middle schoolers once with a board-breaking Karate demonstration, tho'. She's almost finished with a Masters in Communications, and has probably set aside that fireman thing, I hope.

Ashley discovered that she could use her analytical mind and actually get paid for it! When she chose to go to Virginia Tech, we figured she had outgrown that 'I'll never leave you' syndrome. She got her B.S. and M.S. in Statistics; Virginia Tech actually recruited her to do her graduate work there. She now enjoys a very interesting career as an Analyst. Really. And, I do believe she and husband Nate are quite happy NOT living with us.

Samantha is still in college, with a dual major in Communication and French, and she, too, amazes me. She is fulfilling that aspiration to sing,.. not in a piano bar, but in venues such as a campus coffee house, a Government Prayer Breakfast in Rwanda, and as part of the Women's Worship team at Grove City College. She does a killer rendition of At Last (à la Etta James), ...and maybe she will yet get to a 'dig' in Egypt.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

For the longest time, unknown to me, my kids thought that once upon a time, I was a flower child... a "hippie". This is because they saw some old photos of my college days, and I had long straight hair, played the guitar, and wore paisley clothing. I was not a hippie; sometimes I even curled my hair. I became aware of this tidbit of information when I began teaching at the middle school two of my daughters had previously attended. One day at the lunch table, one of the other teachers said to me... "So, you were a hippie!" Seems that they had done a unit in one of their classes about drug abuse, and college students of the 70's ... ahhh, hippies... were apparently 'high'-lighted as the main event. Pictures in their text book showed students, sitting on the college greens, playing guitars, with their long hair and paisley clothing, and they deduced, incorrectly, "Hey! My mom was a hippie!"

I read an article today on the Follow the Rabbi website about the flood plain of the Jordan River during the period of time concurrent with the Book of Genesis. The article explains that the Jordan River cuts through the Great Rift Valley, where the soil is the sediment of an ancient sea that won't sustain vegetation and absorbs little water. Only the soil right along the river bank soil is suitable for vegetation, and a lush growth (the thickets of the Jordan (Zech. 11:3; Jer. 49:19) is found there, but doesn't extend much beyond the water. For this reason, an area that appears from a distance to be fertile is actually barren. With the exception of a few oases and the river bank, the plain wouldn't have been suitable for agriculture. From a distance, however, the area looked lush and well-watered (Gen. 13:10).

The article points out that when Abraham and his nephew Lot decided to part ways, Lot chose the Jordan plain, because of its appearance from a distance. When it couldn't support his crops or his flocks, he moved to the oasis town of Sodom, which was notoriously evil. It was a bad choice, and he eventually lost everything because of it. Lot didn't ask God which he should choose, nor did he consider Abraham's welfare. He made his decision based upon what his eyes could see. Appearances can be deceiving.

I've made assumptions. I've acted and reacted at times based upon what I thought I knew. I have a pretty active imagination, and have formed opinions based upon perceptions. I have found, however, that when I make decisions based upon prayerful determination of God's direction, even when things don't seem to go well, I can trust that He guided me and will bring something good of it all. And when they do go well, He gets the credit, not me.

Peace. Out.

"Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come." (Jer.33:3 NLT)

Friday, January 26, 2007

This Day In History

January 26th --
1784 Ben Franklin expresses unhappiness over the eagle as America's symbol
1837 Michigan admitted as 26th US state
1861 Louisiana becomes 6th state to secede
1952 Bruce Jon Edwards is born
1954 Ground breaking begins on Disneyland
1962 US launches Ranger 3, misses Moon by 22,000-miles
1986 Super Bowl XX Chicago Bears beat New England Patriots
1988 "Phantom of the Opera" opens at Majestic Theater New York City
1989 US computer security expert warns of catastrophic virus
1997 Super Bowl XXXI Green Bay Packers beat New England Patriots
1998 Intel launches 333 MHz Pentium II chip

Famous people born on January 26th
Douglas MacArthur
Paul Newman
Bruce Jon Edwards
Ellen DeGeneres
Wayne Gretzky
Jack Youngblood

Yes, today is my husband's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRUCE!

We're not having a party this year, but I thought I might post a few of his pictures from previous fêtes... We could always count on him to add some life to the party!!

Bruce the Birthday Clown

Bruce the jazz singer

Lobster Man

Mickey Mouse

Bruce as Art

Auld Lang Syne

Just like a mushroom... he's a fungi to be around!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Answer Is Blowing in the Wind

Last week at our church, we had special services each evening. The guest speaker, Greg Hubbard, said something that has stuck with me since, and has likewise impacted my prayers. He referenced the text in Acts 2:2, which says "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. " He then told of how he had witnessed first-hand the formidable effects of a violent wind -- a tornado. This is the statement he made that has stuck with me... "When the wind of God blows, things move!"

I was reading Exodus 14 this morning in my Bible. Verse 21 says, "all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land." When the wind of God blows, things move.

In both of those situations, the people who would benefit diretly from the effects of God's wind were waiting on Him. In the Acts passage, the disciples were sitting...and had been there for nine days. Jesus had told them to 'wait for the gift my Father promised' (v.4). In the Exodus account, the Hebrews were situated between the pillar of cloud and the sea, with nothing to do but wait. In fact, God had told them, "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

I've also been reading the book of Ruth. There's no wind involved in this one, but there is the waiting. Naomi told her daughter-in-law to "Sit still, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he finishes the matter today." Ruth had to trust that her kinsman redeemer would quickly seal the deal for his bride. He did.

So, I see a pattern emerging concerning how God may be speaking to me. Often, He directs and answers me through Scripture. While I've been praying that the wind of God would blow, and move things in the situations I've been praying about, I'm to sit still, to watch and see what He's doing. It's not profound, I know, but when I perceive God speaking to me, my expectations rise. I almost sense Him taking me by the shoulders, sitting me down, and saying... "Watch this!"

And hey, it's very windy here today!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I've mentioned our dog, Maggie, before, and told how the arthritis in her hips has caused her to no longer go down steps (she's 11). Because we live in a split-entry home, this is problematic. So, as my Christmas present this year, I just requested we build her a 'ramp' leading from our back deck, down to the back yard, so she could once again frolic in the grass, and sniff to her heart's content. Actually, Maggie hasn't frolicked for a long time... but it sounds so 'happy', doesn't it?

About 2 weeks ago, the ramp was finished! Did I mention that Maggie is a goofy Sheep Dog?? True to form, she was afraid of the new ramp and wouldn't go down to frolicdom. So, we began to 'teach' her how to do it. This involved putting her on a leash, and forcing her to go down. That worked. :) But, as you may have already guessed, goofy Maggie would not go back up the ramp. So, we literally had to coerce her by pulling her up, and then rewarding her when she came back to the kitchen, with a 'doggie treat' and a litany of praise. After 2 days, she was cooperating, and last week, she actually went down, and back up, all on her own! ...followed, of course, by a 'doggie treat', and a litany of praise. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Maybe there's still a chance to get her on Letterman!

You may remember that I had complained about her sleeping patterns, or lack thereof, back in December. Well, since she's been back to exploring the yard, she's been sleeping at night again. Until last night. :# Around 1:00 A.M., she started the barking and pacing routine. I tried the old, 'lie down' command, but that's never worked, so I sat in the living room, hoping she'd lie down and go to sleep. When she went to the door leading to the deck and barked, I thought, 'Oh good, she just needs to go out...', so I opened the door to accomodate her. She walked out, did a head-fake at the ramp, turned around and walked right back into the kitchen, awaiting her 'doggy treat' and litany of praise, of course. I tried to ignore her, because I didn't want to reward her faux nature-walk. But, she kept barking, and cocking her head... so I gave in. I gave her the 'doggy treat' to shut her up.

It could've been my imagination, I know, or maybe the glimmer of moonlight in the darkened kitchen, but I swear she winked at me! She was no doubt thinking... ' You CAN teach an old people new tricks!' ;)

Monday, January 22, 2007

What I Learned in Driver's Ed

Last evening we had to take Samantha back to Grove City College. She had a nice, long term break, and I had gotten accustomed to having her sweet, smiling face around. We knew that the drive could be tricky, due to what the weather-people call "wintry mix", and that stretch of I-79 North is notorious for weather related problems.

The road surface had been wet, but as the sun went down, it got icy. I was driving. Shortly into the drive, we noticed a car along the right shoulder of the road, but I was looking at its headlights instead of its tail lights... a clue that something was up. Over the next 5 miles, we came upon 5 major multi-vehicle pile-ups, with cars upside down, smashed, and/or in the grassy median. Police were on the scenes, but emergency personnel hadn't even arrived yet. It was a very sobering experience. With the exception of, "Oh, my..." or "I hope there's no people still in that car...", conversation in our car ceased, and prayer increased.

One of my biggest challenges was keeping my focus on the road and the cars immediately ahead, rather than on the scene of the wreckage to my right and to my left. I was tense enough as it was, without allowing all the bad news around me to increase my fear. And the distraction of even a moment or two may have caused me to make a mistake or to lose control of my car, adding to the mayhem. There is a phrase in scripture, 'without turning to the right or to the left'. It's used in many places to describe doing something with concentration, purposefully adhering to a prescribed precept (ex: the Book of Law of Moses). It involves deciding ahead of time principles you will live by and sticking to them when faced with an opportunity or a coercion to do otherwise.

I had Drivers Ed many, many, many years ago. Yesterday, I remembered what I'd read in my driver's manual about driving on ice and keeping my eyes on the road, and I've practiced it. We made it to Grove City, and back again, without incident. May I apply the same constancy to my daily journey as a Christian!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Recompense [ˈrekəmpens] noun - payment or reward (as for service rendered),the act of compensating for service or loss or injury

All three of our daughters are talented musically. I can brag because I'm their mother, and because that particular talent didn't come from me! When Leah was a senior in high school, she had one of the leads in the school musical. She was the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I had never seen that particular musical before her involvement with it, but it stands out as one of my favorites. The song lyrics are clever and funny, and it's a very uplifting production.
This came to mind this week as I've been reading Genesis 37-50 because the musical recounts the story of Joseph.

Something I often pray for is God's perspective on a situation confronting me. That's one of the things that Joseph seems to have picked up somewhere along the line. As a young man, he was either very naive, or maybe a bit egotistical. We're told that he was very handsome, and, uh... 'well-built' ... and he was a flashy dresser. But, he shared his dreams with the wrong crowd... his jealous brothers ganged up on him and sold him into slavery. Humbling experiences can lead to humility, or to bitterness, and it seems that Joseph chose the high road.

As a slave, Joseph made the best of a bad situation, and he excelled. Imprisoned for false accusations, he opted to move on and helped the jailer succeed. Forgotten by those who promised to remember him, he stayed the course. And finally, after 13 years as a slave, he was exulted to governor over all of Egypt, the world's superpower of his time.

Recompense. I like that word. It's used by Isaiah in conjunction with the word, reward (Is.40:10, 62:11), announcing the good news that God is delivering the goods... bringing His plan together. Joseph got his recompense. Perhaps what carried him through those years in the 'dark' was the dream God had given him in the 'light'. And somehow, in spite of the injustice and the hardship, Joseph was able to see God's Hand in all of it. His trust that God's plan for him would prevail enabled him to thrive in his on-the-job training, which ultimately played a role in his success as Pharaoh's right-hand man. Joseph saw the big picture, God's perspective, and he was able to forgive his brothers and testify to them that what they intended for harm, God used for good... for Joseph's good, for the preservation of His people, and the continuation of His plan. Joseph got his recompense and he got the reward of being used as a tool to accomplish God's purpose.

The story of Joseph is another opportunity for me, and maybe you, to remember that even when we can't see it, He is working, and that if we do our best to stay His course, to listen for His voice, to hold fast to the promises and dreams He has breathed to us, ...the reward and the recompense is sure.

Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them, and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Arkinsaw Ra-zor-backs Go!

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. That's God talking, in Jeremiah 29, from The Message. I think that I've heard/read that so many times that I'm almost desensitized to it. But, as I was telling someone the other day about my first job, I remembered how true that word is. Getting my first job was one example of how God's plan was very different from mine; but of course His was better.

I graduated college with a B.A. in French. MY plan was to teach high school students. MY plan was to live 'at home' for a while, save some money, eventually get married and live happily ever after. After Part 1 of MY plan didn't pan out, and no French teaching positions opened locally, I sought employment in the corporate world. I said that I'd take just about any position, as long as I didn't have to relocate, and as long as it wasn't in sales.

About three weeks later, I was packed up, and on my way to Little Rock, Arkansas, to train for my new job... in sales. I actually had to look on a map to even see where it was, and what's a Razorback, anyway? It wasn't what I'd planned, but I thought it would somehow work out.

After four months of working in a tie plant (as in railroad cross tie), and many weeks of travel around the country for more training and field experience, I 'd learned LOTS about the pressure treated wood industry, and ... I was ready for my first assignment as one of the first two women hired by Koppers Co., Inc. as a sales rep for Pressure Treated Lumber Products. While it was my hope to be assigned to an office at company headquarters in Pittsburgh, I said I'd take an assignment anywhere, as long as it wasn't Houston, TX.

So, as I was moving into my new apartment in Houston, TX, in February 1974, I was thinking maybe MY plan wasn't coming together. Still with me?? No one was more surprised than I that I quickly grew to love living and working in Houston. In fact, I got very 'full' of myself, my independence, and my fun social life. Maybe God's plan was alright!

Until, my stay in Houston was cut short by an unexpected need for a sales rep in Nashua, NH, and they picked me. And, I hated Nashua, NH. Whereas I had lots of friends in warm, friendly Houston, I was hard-pressed to connect with anyone even near my age in cold, unfriendly Nashua. And it looked like I'd be there a while. I was alone. I felt abandoned. I was unhappy. I was exactly where God wanted me.

There I turned to spiritual things and prayed, a lot. I began to read the Bible. And late one night, the apartment I hated became the altar where I turned my life, and my plan, over to Jesus Christ. I discovered that He was right there with me, and that He had been actively participating in every aspect of my life. In an instant, like a movie on fast rewind, I saw how He had orchestrated the previous 11 months to bring me right to that moment, when I was ready to see with new eyes, and to embrace a personal relationship with Him. His plan for me was good, in so many ways. And it still is.

And Hey!...among other things, I got to experience an Arkansas Razorback football game... nothing can compare to being surrounded by 50,000 people relentlessly callin' the hogs... "Pigs! Soooooooooey!"

Jeremiah 29 continues..."When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Best Medicine, Usually

Did you ever find yourself in a situation in which you begin to laugh uncontrollably, and it's completely inappropriate? (Think: Mary Tyler Moore in Chuckles Bites the Dust if you're old enough to remember). I have, and usually everything I do to make myself stop only makes it worse. Much worse. Recently.

I've become aware of a website called wikiHow.com. It refers to itself as The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit. It's similar in nature to Wikipedia.com, the collaborative online encyclopedia. Anyway, I found an article entitled, How to Stop Laughing When You Laugh at Inappropriate Times. Some suggestions:
  • Remind yourself not to laugh (not gonna help me...)
  • Pinch yourself (don't think so)
  • Hold your breath (so you can burst out with a huge laugh when you can't hold your breath any longer)
  • Try physically pulling the corners of your mouth down into a frown (come on!)
  • Clamp your teeth together. Hard. (maybe)
  • Bite a pencil (???)
  • See a neurologist; you may have Pseudobulbar Affect (not likely, funny name, tho')
  • Just go ahead and laugh; apologize later if necessary (yep!)

So, I haven't solved anything, and I apologize that this posting has no redeeming value. But I'm going to remember these helpful hints next time I'm laughing inappropriately. Maybe even try one or two of 'em.

There are other interesting articles on the website, should you care to check it out... some of them no doubt helpful: How to Escape From the Trunk of a Car, How to Catch a Greased Pig, How to Cook Spleen, and How to Be a Diehard Penn State Football Fan (really).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

NOT Another Cow Story

Last week, Samantha was visiting some of her friends who live near Lancaster, PA. She was there at the same time as the Pennsyvania State Farm Show, so, of course they went! She described the day as blog-worthy, so I've asked her to share her day here:

Last weekend I spent a few days in Lancaster, PA visiting some friends from college. I’ve been to Lancaster several times before, so I was already aware that central Pennsylvania is very different from the Pittsburgh region. On Friday, 3 of my girl friends and I decided to try out the Pennsylvania Farm Show. I have to admit, I scoffed at the idea at first. I’m not exactly a huge barnyard enthusiast, and honestly had no clue what the farm show was all about. I pictured a typical state fair: a conglomeration of smelly animals, hay barrels, pie baking contests, etc. Boy was I mistaken…

The experience of the farm show was, in a word, surreal. My suburban upbringing and even having grandparents that lived on a farm could not have prepared me for this. When we arrived we had to park and ride a shuttle bus to the large indoor convention center. This 91st annual agricultural event lasted for over a week and hosted some 10,000 animals, 8,000 competitive exhibits and 270 commercial exhibitors. And cows. There were lots and lots of cows. Exhibits featured everything from dairy cattle judging, to circuit rodeos, to cooking demonstrations, to “PA’s greatest Shoo-Fly Cookie Contest,” and countless others. I didn’t need an Aunt Em or Toto to remind me that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (or was I???). The ever-present scent that some might call “rustic” was overpowering at first, but I got over it eventually….kind of.

We got there around noon and the place was hopping with families, classes of school field trips, and cows. Did I mention there were cows? I like to think that I’m the kind of person who can make her own fun, which is precisely what my friends and I intended to do. While we did take the time to peruse the enormous convention center and its many characters, we pretty much went with the intent of viewing one major event: The Tractor Square Dance. What a peculiar concept, I thought….they couldn’t actually have tractors doing aoh yes they could.

There were two “teams” of tractors lined up on either side of this huge indoor arena (it reminded me a lot of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena). Each team had 4 “couples” consisting of a large tractor accompanied by a smaller, “female” tractor, naturally. The larger tractors were driven by men in farmer plaid, and the smaller tractors were driven by men in farmer plaid….wearing skirts, bonnets, and blond bushy wigs. Are you picturing this?? Once the couples took their places in the center circle their “caller” started the music and began giving them their dancing cues. Allemande left, circle right, promenade, dosado. They did it all. Perfectly synchronized, and perfectly ridiculous. If you still aren’t picturing it in all of its hilarity, click here for a video that one of my friends took on her camera. It’s truly astounding, and I can only applaud their skill!

After this show everything seemed to pale in comparison (that is until we reached the room with free samples of food). As we left that afternoon, I managed to walk away with a load of laughs, a newfound pride in being Pennsylvanian, and a minor case of the sniffles (thank you cows…)

So if you ever decide to make the trip and attend the fair yourself, I promise you will not be disappointed. Just make sure you take along a healthy dose of humor, at least a few other “witnesses,” a video camera, and be sure to have a mother with her own blog awaiting your return.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

I've been reading the book of Genesis this month. It's been living up to its name... every time I read it, something jumps out at me and new thoughts germinate in my little brain. The other day I was reading the account of the three 'men' who visit Abraham on their way to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. I noted that Abraham realized that he was in the presence of the Lord, and, he said... "If I have found favor in your eyes, my Lord, do not pass your servant by...let me get you something to eat (v.5). He didn't mean chips and salsa, or microwave pizza... He went to Sarah and said, "get some fine flour, knead it and bake some bread". Then he went to his herd, chose a calf, and had his servant prepare it. This wasn't a brief interlude. They are baking things, from scratch. Killing a calf and doing all that it takes to cook it. It took time. I was thinking to myself... Boy! If the Lord visited my tent, I'd hurry up and ask Him all those things I want to know, or ask Him for something. I wouldn't 'waste' all of that time cooking.

Then my mind fast-forwarded to Judges 6, in a similar scene with Gideon being visited by the Angel of the Lord (*theophany). He did the same thing... he said, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you." Then, Gideon went, and prepared a young goat, and baked some bread. (v.17-19). Again, a time consuming activity. Though, in this case, they'd already had their conversation, and this was part of Gideon's affirmation.

So I began to wonder what it was about these two cases that was nudging at me. What can I learn and apply from this? In both cases, the men had other encounters with God, either before or after this one. So, what made these scenarios different from those other times?
In these cases:
  • The Lord agreed to wait with them while they prepared their offering. He agreed to have fellowship with them, to eat their bread. Later He would reveal Himself as the Bread of Life.
  • Abraham & Gideon put forth time and effort to demonstrate the significance and honor due their Lord.
  • Both men greeted the Lord with hospitality. Hospitatlity was a major part of the culture. It was an expression of gratitude by sharing what God had given them.

In applying this to myself, I realized that all too often, I hurry my daily time with God, and I do a quick, 'Thanks, God... but how about this???' and I rush past that part about showing Him hospitality. I want to make sure I get all of those big requests in before I get interrupted by my thoughts about my day. And I miss the best part, ...the fellowship. Jesus is asking me to dinner and I'm offering "take-out" at a drive through window. I'm sorry to say that my thoughts are based upon what I can get, not what I can give. He says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.Rev. 3:20

I welcome the fellowship. I will open the door, ...and I will even clean!

*Theophany- pre-incarnate physical appearance or personal manifestation of God to a person (Old Testament).

Friday, January 12, 2007

January 12, 1972

Thirty-five years ago today, I met my husband. Well, I had actually met him a few weeks before, ...but he didn't remember. Come to think of it, we may even have sort of met many years before that, ...but neither of us remember. Bruce's family owned a candy store and soda fountain not far from my grandma's house. When I visited Grandma as a little girl, my uncle would often take my brother and I for a walk to that store for a milkshake. We'd sit there at the soda fountain for a while and then go home. Looking back, it was very likely that our paths crossed one of those afternoons, because Bruce spent his Saturdays there. Maybe he even sat on the next stool, spitting paper wads at me. Regardless, I can just imagine God, with a funny smile on His face, chuckling, lilting... "I know something you don't know!".

Thirty-five years ago today, we were introduced (for the second time) during a social event at college (Penn State). And, he walked me home. That led to a first date, which seriously, but for the grace of God, could've easily been the last (a story for another time, perhaps). We continued to see each other, in spite of the fact that he shoved ice cream in my face...twice... on the second date (perhaps a throw-back to his soda fountain days??). He said he was testing my JTA (joke-taking-ability), a much-coveted trait in his circle of friends. After 29 years of marriage, I can claim a high JTA.

If you do the math, you'll note that our 'courtship' spanned six years, but it was interrupted by a broken engagement, and some soul-searching time apart. Happily though, God's plan for our hope and our future united our paths and has brought us thus far, with three lovely daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, a goofy sheep dog, and great expectations for the rest of the story.

It continues to amaze me how lives are interwoven and how divine appointments and God-breathed 'coincidences' shape our biographies. Some of my adventure has been stormy, and some of it has been beyond my wildest dreams. And even if I could, I wouldn't change any of it, because I know the Author of my tale, and He writes 'page-turners' with happy endings.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Yo! (No) Adrian!

We recently saw the movie Rocky Balboa. Many of the characters from the previous Rocky films are in this one, except Adrian. I don't think it's giving away too much of the plot to tell you that the theme of the movie is, "It ain't over 'til it's over", and it is illustrated in the lives of all the main characters. In a climactic scene, Rocky is making an entrance to the big fight, accompanied by the song, "High Hopes"...the old one about the ant moving the rubber tree plant.

Plausible or not, the movie serves to remind me, and to encourage you, to not 'give up'. A few days ago, I was struggling with something in prayer. I was talking to God and telling Him I'd grown weary of praying for a long-time unanswered prayer. I was resigned to just let it go; que sera sera. I felt that I was focusing too much on this issue, and it was pulling me down. It's not like me at all, but discouragement was taking a toll. Been there?

Within moments, almost as if I was in 'my corner' of the ring, my 'trainer' began to speak to me. I turned to my Bible reading guide for the day, and a scripture verse smacked me across the face... "Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until He completes His work..." (Is. 62:6-7 NLT). That particular scripture verse had been significant to me in the past, and I was somewhat taken aback. Then, I began to read one of the chapters for that day's reading, Genesis 18. Sarah hears the big news first hand about the fulfillment of her long awaited promise... "Is anythng too hard for the Lord?" (v.18). And Abraham boldly intercedes (prays) with the Lord, over and over again, for his nephew's hometown. Smack. Smack. I can hear my 'trainer' saying, "Don't give up... come on, just a few more rounds."

Very dramatic, I know, but that's what it felt like. And, to top it off, over the next 2 days, He threw Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:2-5 in the ring (they are about persistent prayer--look them up), and someone even pointed his finger at me and said, 'Don't give up!" I was listening to a message Sunday morning and the preacher said... "God will never say 'give up', but He will say, 'surrender'. Whoa!

Suffice it to say, I will persevere in prayer for that which I believe He's laid upon my heart to advocate till He tells me to stop. I hope, too, that my sharing this may encourage someone else, maybe you. The message of the Gospel, after all, is one of endless hope, one where 'dead' things are given 'new life'. Tho' I know this in my head, I'm putting my heart into it again.

Don't give up, ...it ain't over, till HE says it's over.

Monday, January 8, 2007


About twenty years ago, we got our first home computer. I remember thinking that this was just an expensive toy. Bruce wanted it, and 'convinced' me that we 'needed' it. Not just to play fun computer games, but to type documents, format spreadsheets, and catalogue recipes. Uh huh. Bruce can't type, I didn't care about spreadsheets, and any recipes I would ever use were in easy-to-get-to cookbooks in my kitchen. It was an expensive toy. It was a Tandy 286, with both 5.25 & 3.5 disk drives... to accommodate the new, ah, ...games. Bruce said, "Someday, every home will have to have a computer, and you won't know what to do without it! Hey, let's play this cool flight simulator..." I chortled.

Then came... the Internet. When we decided to 'go online', it was a major event. We got a modem as a Christmas gift, and the kids fervently bounced around the house telling all the guests... "We're on the Internet, we're on the Internet!" They were met by blank stares of grandparents and elderly aunts/uncles, who nodded, thunkerstruck, and said, "What's the Internet?" (They still say that). How did we ever get by without email and IM's?? Of course it wasn't long that we had to upgrade our computer, ... and then came DSL, and Broadband, and wireless, and routers, and DVD burners, and digital cameras, etc. ...and of course we had to upgrade, several times. Now, I venerate my husband as a prophet, and get terribly cranky when my server goes down. I telecommute, and my computer is essential to my job. And I have Spider Solitaire on my desktop. Everyone in the family has their own computers, which seem to be obsolete months after they are upgraded. Businesses and organizations are at a disadvantage if they don't have a good website.

Ah... technology. I know there are downsides... new opportunities for crime and invasion of privacy. But cyberspace has abridged our world like nothing else. When I was in college, I studied abroad at the University of Strasbourg, France. While it was a fabulous experience, I was incredibly homesick because I was so cut off from my family and friends so far away. Aerograms took 4 to 5 days to arrive, and limited what you could write to one page. Phone communication was prohibitive at $17.00/minute. I felt isolated. A few days ago, Samantha's boyfriend left to study abroad for 6 months. They bought web cams, and downloaded Skype, and while I'm certain they will miss one another, their communication will be frequent and cheap, and I believe they'll maintain their relationship.

One thing my husband didn't foresee, however... blogging. Who knew?

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, President, Chariman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
"But what... is it good for?" Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." Bill Gates, 1981

Sunday, January 7, 2007

The Horse and His Girl

Several years ago, our family took a vacation to Colorado. There are many fun and funny memories of that trip but the one I remember as most personally significant was that I was acutely aware of God's provision and providence. It was a trip that came together at the last minute, with details 'falling into place' and things happening as 'coincidence', seemingly in direct response to my prayers. That made a very nice trip extra special to me, because I sensed His presence and His direct intervention in giving us a special gift and I knew that He was in control. There's a saying, "God is in the details", and I was experiencing this first hand.

One of the fun things we did was horseback riding at the Royal Gorge. Samantha was only six at the time, so we had to find a trail ride that would let her ride (most wouldn't take anyone under twelve). When I saw how big the horses were, I had second thoughts...she looked so small and helpless atop this huge, magnificent animal. The 'trail boss' assured me that she'd be 'fine'... her horse, Carl, was old, docile, and really couldn't see anymore anyway... annnnnnd, this was a good thing??? Because the trail was so narrow in places, we were going to be traveling in single file, with Carl in the middle, and he was so accustomed to the trail, he could do it in his sleep (and I think he actually did fall asleep a few times). Anyway, the point of this story is that the 'trail boss' told us that we were not to dismount our horse FOR ANY REASON. He told us that, while they did this every day, it was still a 'wilderness' and there was always the chance of unexpected 'wildlife', etc. crossing our path, and while we were on the horse, we'd be ...safe. My horse was the lead horse, which literally put me out of position to do anything to help or protect any of my children (ha!). The trail boss, and Bruce, were bringing up the rear, of course. As we started the trek, we quickly came onto a narrow trail with just enough width for the horses to pass through. We were going down rocky areas, sheer drops, that I would have been hard pressed to navigate on foot. And yet the horses seemed capable and knew exactly where to put their weight, and where to jump. The ride got wobbly sometimes; the trail got steep. I was talking to myself... what are we doing here??? I was praying.

I remembered this today as I was packing away the Christmas decorations. I was listening to a broadcast by Charles Stanley who was telling a similar story about a trail ride he took. Though he is an experienced rider, he recalled the importance of giving the horse free reign to take him through the steep, rocky places. When it got so dark that he couldn't see, he knew he had to trust his horse to find his footing and stay the path to get him home. I was reminded that I, too, had reached that point of trust on our trail ride. And, just as I trusted those horses, I must also trust God on the trail that I can't see, or the path that is too rocky for me to maneuver. I had to trust that day that my family would be 'safe'. Similarly, God knows where He is going, and as long as we don't 'get off' for any reason, he'll get us where he wants us to go. Once I got past the fear factor, the ride was fun, beautiful, exhilarating, and breathtaking. Once we began the trek, we were in it for the duration. Even now.

Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Home on the Range

We recently got a beautiful wedding invitation for a friend of ours from Rwanda. He lives and works here now, but is traveling back to Rwanda for a month to get married. His wedding invitation is in 3 languages... Kinyarwanda, French and English... to accommodate his many friends and family. We've been to a few 'Rwandan weddings' held here, and they were lovely and very symbolic.

One of the things I love most about the Rwandan marriages, is that they incorporate the 'Bride Price' (really). Generally, this involves a number of livestock, usually cows, which the groom pays the family of the bride for the privilege of her hand in marriage. The bride price is negotiated between the groom and the bride's father. I LOVE this!! Having three daughters, we could benefit... AND, having our three beautiful, charming daughters, we've been sitting on a virtual cattle ranch! Of course, I guess we'd have to move to Rwanda, unless this custom catches on soon here in Pennsylvania!

Removing my tongue from my cheek, tho', I'd like to add that there's something to this idea of a bride price. Every girl wants to feel cherished, special, and valued and it's a wise man who realizes this and lives it. You may be familiar with the story of the man (Johnny) who wanted to marry a girl in his village (Sarita), who most regarded as homely and shy. Her father would've considered it a bargain to get 2 cows for her, yet Johnny made him take 8 cows -- the highest price ever paid in that village! Time passed, and Sarita blossomed into a poised, charming beauty... she was so impacted by her new husband's esteem and opinion of her, that she lived up to his perspective and became an 8 cow woman. His value of her brought out the best in her, and he couldn't lose! Her father, on the other hand, should've had some lessons in building self-esteem in his kids.

On a larger scale, yet even more personal one, may I note that Jesus paid the biggest price for His bride... that's me, and I hope you, too. I surely fall short of the value of the bride price, but I know that when I try to be what He's 'called' me and try to live up to His perspective, it brings out the best in me, and I can't lose.

Having said all of this... we are NOT accepting any offers of livestock!

The story of Johnny & Sarita is from Winning in the Land of Giants by William Mitchell.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

For God's Sake

This past weekend, my husband and I had the honor to pray with many people and to pray blessings over them in conjunction with our church's New Year's Blessing Service. In preparation for that, I was reviewing some of my favorite scriptures which I often incorporate when I 'remind' God of His promises. One of the most assuring aspects I cling to is that God cares about His reputation and honors His word. When King Hezekiah was ill and Isaiah told him he was about to die, Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, and said, "Remember, O Lord, how I have always tried to be faithful to you and to do what is pleasing in your sight." Hezekiah didn't beg God for healing, but reminded Him that he was His servant, His responsibility. Almost immediately, God spoke through Isaiah once more and said, "I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you...and I will rescue you... I will do this to defend my honor and for the sake of my servant David." (2 Kgs 20:5,6 NLT) . And He did.

When faced with God's impending 'disowning' of the Israelites after their lack of trust and rejection of His command to enter the Promised land, Moses pleaded with God on their behalf by reminding Him that His reputation was at stake..."But what will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?...Now if you slaughter all these people, the nations that have heard of your fame will say 'The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them...'" (Num. 14:13,15) . And tho' God still let them suffer the consequence of their actions, He didn't abandon them.

Psalm 89:16 says, "They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.They exult in your righteousness." Psalm 138:2 says, "I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name."

In Genesis 17:1, God calls Himself, El Shaddai... God Almighty. I know that I can trust Him to live up to His reputation.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Holidays and Horns

Many of our New Year's Day celebrations begin with special church services, the blowing of horns and noisemakers, lots of well-wishing, and lots of football. I just enjoyed watching Penn State beat Tennessee in the Outback Bowl, as a matter of fact. :)

The New Year's Day holiday Jesus would have celebrated as He walked this earth was the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah. It was one of the seven feasts celebrated throughout the year. The hope of each feast was actually fulfilled through Jesus' life. Rosh Hashanah was the beginning of a new religious year, and people celebrated by attending religious services, acknowledging God's sovereignty and future day of judgment. The only commandment specified of the holiday was the blowing of the shofar, the Ram's Horn, which gets its significance from the ram which God provided to Abraham, to take the place of his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. On Rosh Hashanah, the shofar was blown a minimum of one hundred times, including a series of thirty blasts indicating the hope of the Messiah's coming. I imagine that Jesus knew that hope was being fulfilled in Him, both in His lifetime, and when He comes again.

Rosh Hashanah means "Head of the Year" and is now observed for two days (in the Fall of our calendar year). It is celebrated with greeting cards and special foods. After Rosh Hashanah services, Jews say to one another, "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life". Seems a bit more significant than saying, "Happy New Year".

So, it would seem that with the all the horn-blowing and well-wishing, our New Year's Day may have been a bit similar to that which Jesus knew. 'Cept for the football.