Hospitality for missionaries

credit: Wycliffe Associates
God sent a neat blessing our way a couple of weeks ago when we had the privilege of hosting a missionary couple in our home for an overnight.  They had served in Indonesia many years, translating the entire New Testament for an indigenous group and actively working in church planting and development.  They have been seconded from their home mission to Wycliffe Bible Translators to share the Bible translation vision with Indonesian churches here in America, so are travelling cross-country for several weeks.  Our home was just one stop of many in this busy month for them.

Which leads me to the point of this post.  Did you know that you and your family could be involved in this kind of hospitality ministry?  Missionaries who are home on furlough or traveling for ministry purposes are often on a very tight budget.  Staying in a home saves motel and restaurant expenses for them, and gives them a chance to build new friendships and share about their work.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to serve the Lord right from your home, enriching your own lives in the process.  It’s also a wonderful chance for your children to learn about the world and God’s work around the world.  (Homeschoolers: it’s like a field trip at home!  Teach your kids about hospitality!)

This ministry is through Wycliffe Associates, a partner organization for Wycliffe Bible Translators.  Their sole purpose is to support Bible translation in practical ways—building airstrips in remote jungles, construction of houses and classrooms for missionary work, maintenance of airplanes, fund-raising for translation projects, etc.  And it’s all volunteer run.  You can offer a couple weeks or several months of your time to help work on a project somewhere in the world.

Over the years we’ve made some wonderful friends through the hospitality ministry, friendships that continue to today.  We’re partners in one of the most important works of the Kingdom…and I’d encourage you to consider it, too!

How does it work?

First, go to the Wycliffe Associates website Hospitality Roster page here.  When you click on the sign-up page, you’ll find you’re given choices of how many people you can put up, if you want only adults, if you have pets, how many nights they could stay, etc.  You’re then put in the Roster database that Wycliffe missionaries can contact when they’re making their travel plans.  They’ll call you ahead of time to see if you’re available; if not, no problem, they’ll call someone else on the list.  You work with them directly to make all your arrangements.

Practical tips

I’ve learned a few helpful tips from our experiences:
  • Find out if they have any dietary restrictions or requirements, and if there are any foods they don’t like.  This is a huge help if you’ll be serving any meals.
  • Ask if they’re traveling with a pet.  It happened to us one time.
  • Keep it simple.  They are loving your home atmosphere and are not expecting a banquet or fancy service.
  • Give them space.  They’re often exhausted from days of travel and lots of talking—they might need to sleep in or take naps.
  • Let them know if you can provide internet service.  They’re most likely staying in touch with their busy itinerary via computer and that is a huge help.
  • Offer your washer and dryer—saves them a trip to the laundromat.
  • If you’re so inclined, offer them a lunch to take on the road when they leave.
  • Other ways to help…change their car oil and check their tires, help them with shopping or child care while they run errands…you get the idea.
  • Be flexible.  Their schedule can change at the last minute and if they need to stay longer or have new needs, you’re God’s opportunity to bless them and ease the stress.  (We had one family get snowed in with us for four days!  Another had to stay an extra day in the area and we had to adjust our schedule.)
  • Pray for them!

I hope you’ll prayerfully consider this ministry.  I like to think of it in terms of Jesus’ words about doing unto others as you would have them do to you…if you were in their shoes, think how much it would mean to end a tiring day of travel in a ‘home away from home’!


Tunnel vision


We all have days from time to time where the issues of life simply overwhelm us…stress, confusion, discouragement, depression, sadness.  It doesn’t help that the world about us is oppressively broken and negative, confronting us at every turn with systems that are falling apart, dreams that fall to the ground, situations whose trickle-down effect sap our energy, vision, and hope.

I had a day like that yesterday.  Felt like I was looking up at bottom and flat-out crying to God for a rescue.  It’s been one of those years where the unrelenting ‘stuff’ of life—whether in my own life or in those around me—has demanded that I keep a strong hold on my faith in God and His promises or lose my bearings altogether.

Times like this always take me back to the basics.  God loves me.  God is bigger than all the ‘stuff.’  He isn’t the least buffaloed by calamity.  He has good plans for me and will see to it that I am where I should be today and all my tomorrows.  He is at work in every situation with wisdom and patience.  I can trust Him implicitly.  He comforts my aching heart and restores my joy.  He is patient with my failures and understands my pain.  And tomorrow will be a new day wrapped up with His fresh mercies.

I was reminded of these truths as I read the Word this morning, and took fresh hope.  It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in the tunnel and it has a lot of curves; nevertheless, that doesn’t mean the light isn’t there or that you won’t come out at the other end one day.

In the meantime, He’s in the tunnel with me and so all is well.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” ~ II Corinthians 5:7


Month in review

Once again I’m caught in the rush of a new school year and finding myself saying, “Wait!  We aren’t done with summer yet, are we?!”


Summer was entirely too short and my wish-list too long to get everything in this year.  God was gracious to give me July and early August to work on garden, yard, and home things, and get my school planning well under way.  Good thing, too—my dear Mom had a stroke in August and things have seemed topsy-turvy since then.  (Second family stroke this year—enough already!)

It’s hard to be hundreds of miles away from family anyway, but when there’s a crisis it really hurts.  You pray and stay connected and trust that the Lord is working a testimony of  grace.  You jump when the phone rings, and shed tears of thankfulness at progress reports.  It’s ever a walk of faith, this life, isn’t it?

But life goes on and we’ve settled into our new school year.  SweetPea is a junior this year, so with only a couple more years to go, we’re trying to carefully think out credits and classes to make sure she’s going to have all she needs for graduation.  I love how the Lord plans things for us: this semester she’s studying American government both at home and in an enrichment program, which includes Mock Government, and we just happen to be having national elections! DSCN1031 We even took in a big political rally a few nights ago (I told her it was a field trip) to round out her studies.

She’s also studying 20th century world history this year.  Grim, fascinating, at times unbelievable—what a century we’ve lived in.  Her reason for wanting to study this was so that she would be able to better understand what’s happening in the world now.  While an excellent thought, I’m just so very sorry that she is facing such a messed-up world.  She confesses to being overwhelmed sometimes at the unending negative and dire predictions for the coming years—her years of adulthood, probably marriage and motherhood.  But I remind her of this fact:  because of God’s loving purposes, we know she was born for a time such as this.  He will lead her surely and truly along His paths of goodness and blessing, in spite of the chaos around her.

We had a refreshing-to-the-soul weekend get-away earlier this month.  A perfect cabin in the mountains, complete with good friends, perfect weather, and summer treats.  Glorious!


Though I’m reluctant to let summer go…

…beautiful fall is here!


Why do I have hope?


(This is a re-post of something I wrote in response to the 9-11 tragedy that rocked our country.  It seems appropriate not only to share it again on the anniversary of that tragic day, but also to bring encouragement to many of us who are struggling with the multiplied challenges of life.)


Why Do I Have Hope?

I have hope because...

...God loves me:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

...I am chosen:

...but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.   (I Peter 2:9)

...when the world seems to have gone crazy, He is still God:

In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.   (John 16:33)

...when I fear for my future, He says:

Fear not! For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.   (Jeremiah 29:11)

...no evil purpose can stand against me:

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.   (II Timothy 4:18)

...the testing of my faith has great purpose:

These [trials] have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.   (I Peter 1:7)

...when I pray, I get answers:

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   (John 16:23)

...when my body suffers, I can know His healing: 

...[He] healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (Matthew 8:17)

...when I'm tired, He gives me strength:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.   (Matthew 11:28)

...when I don't know what to do, He gives me His wisdom:

If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.   (James 1:5)

...when my heart is breaking, He wraps me in His arms:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.   (Psalm 147:8)

...when I stumble and sin, He forgives me:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   (I John 1:9)

...when I've been wronged, He is my Defender:

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.   (Psalm 140:12)

...when the money doesn't stretch, He provides for me:

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 4:19)

...when I'm worried and anxious, He promises peace:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 4:6-7)

...when things are falling apart, He has a plan:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   (Romans 8:28)

...when I fear for my family, I can trust His care:

...because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.   (II Timothy 1:12)

...when conflicting voices confuse me, He shows me the right way:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.   (John 16:13)

Why do I have hope?


Because Jesus came, and...

He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  (Isaiah 9:6-7)



forest log

Among my favorite things on earth, other than people, are all that God created—living green plants and flowers, rock, water in all its forms, the animal kingdom, the stars.  No superhighways nor sky-scrapers nor technology in all their marvelous forms can compare with the incredible artistry and perfect functionality of all that He made.


I have a thing for wood.  It fascinates me that trees were given to us for shade, for fuel, for food, for medicine, for paper in our books, for building our homes, and for creating all manner of tools for living.  They beautify our world in a palette of color, and renew the very air we breathe.  Imagine our world without trees! 


Many things we prize most highly are made of wood—furniture, carvings, d├ęcor for our homes, and frames on our paintings.  Manmade materials can rarely compare with the inherent strength and usability of this single substance.  And for the most part, it is the perfectly renewable resource—quietly growing and producing all its bounty with little help from us.


Wood is infinitely artistic.




We can get a peek into the past when we look at wood--and give our kids practice counting.


I even find it fascinating and somehow significant that Jesus was a wood-worker.  I can imagine that He loved the warm colors and fragrant smells in His shop as he cut and shaped and created articles for the villagers.  Makes me smile to think of that of that very ‘common’ connection we have with Him.

Wonderful wood!


60th Anniversary!

Cake closeup

We celebrated a momentous event on our recent vacation to see our families…my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary!  What a precious time to honor them and thank God for His blessing on their lives.

With the traditional, Biblical model of marriage increasingly fading from our society and being redefined according to personal opinion rather than the Creator’s design, I want to stand up and cheer my parents.  They have lived out—through thick and thin—the covenant before God they made all those years ago.  Neither of them grew up with a strong example of a Godly marriage, but having chosen to follow Christ as young adults, they determined that with His help, they would establish a life together that honored God in every way.

This quote from Jane Eyre sums up so beautifully what I would say of my parents’ marriage:

"To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company.  We talk, I believe, all day long; to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking.  All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.”

How incredibly good God has been to give them these long years together, and how blessed I was to grow up knowing the security of their love and commitment to one another.   I love you, Dad & Mom, and honor you today for the example of faithfulness I’ve been privileged to know.

You’re the best!


Morning glory


These beauties greeted me a couple of mornings ago as I welcomed the day in the early dawn.  I didn’t realize until I saw the pictures on my camera that the rays of sunlight came through the back of the flowers, illuminating them from within.  Fantastic!




The emperor has no clothes on

One of the summer projects I have as a homeschooling mom is to preread a few key books my daughter has scheduled for her curriculum. In the elementary years, our literary adventures were a pleasure romp—wonderful stories of kids living in other places and times, biographies that inspired us, gripping mysteries that we couldn't lay down until we finished.

But with each passing year, I've had to be more attentive to screening out titles that I think would not be good for her, not in line what our aims are for her education, character development, and spiritual growth. When she was little, she would have nightmares for weeks after seeing something as innocuous as “Willie Wonka” or a good old World War II movie.

I realize that every child is different in their development, tolerances, and so on, and thus, we shape our curricula choices to that. And admittedly, my student is on the conservative side and I'm aware of the impact of troubling material on her.

But with the advent of high school and the prevailing pressure to get a “well-rounded” education, to be college-prepped and whatever else, I've thought that she needs to read the literature “greats” and delve deeper into the works that have shaped our world.

And yes, I still think some of that is important. Some.

I took up The Great Gatsby to preread, and, not having ever read it, was really primed for a true literary experience. I'd read all sorts of comments from Christian homeschool reviewers, from positive to glowing—one even declared it to be her favorite book. It appears on most recommended homeschool book lists. According to secular reviews, it apparently stands at the pinnacle of great writing and example of “the best.” One even claimed it to be the quintessential American novel.

Huh? Am I missing something?

It's a story that serves a buffet of pitiful and not very original destruction and despair of man without God. Lust, adultery, betrayal, materialism, selfishness, murder, disillusionment, alcoholism, cheating, strange alliances...the list goes on. Maybe that was the author's point; indeed, the reviewers pointed out that this was a compelling picture of the Roaring 20s. Maybe the writing was excellent; I really did savor the author's mastery of words. But the lack of redemption—that element which makes story, story—was missing.

I'm using Gatsby as an example here; there are many books that fall under this type of writing. But I'd like to ask a question. Why do we read things like this? As a Christian, how does this line up with the command in the Bible to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (I Thessalonians 5:22)  Or how about: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:11, 12). To consider ourselves or our students as not “well-educated,” not able to really understand the true issues at work behind the human experience if we don't explore such books, is, in my opinion, unthinking. Is this education? We're not supposed to be determining our values and creed from other people's views or experience, even if it comes cloaked in fine writing or compelling story.

I think the emperor has no clothes on.

Did you know that the Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)  Pretty stiff words. And yet I'm really concerned that by just accepting a book—or anything, for that matter—touted as “good” or “great” even from a trusted source, we may be failing to discern what really IS good and evil.

I can see plenty of destruction and its analysis in a daily dose on the news, if it's understanding about the depravity of man I want. (And I say, “there's nothing new under the sun”!)

Rather, there's a lifetime of good reading available out there—classic literature—that challenges us, changes us, and calls us to higher places. Is this not what we want for our children? I think time is too short to be spending it on things that don't have lasting value by Kingdom standards. Yes, I want my daughter to have a good education. Yes, I want her to be prepared to deal with the difficult and challenging world out there. But it seems to me that this is done by growing her mind and spirit on the good food of goodness. A diet of darkness produces darkness.

So I've been challenged to reexamine our “diet” and see how I can do a better job of evaluating it based on the overlay of God's standard. My student will not be reading Gatsby or others like it in our school, and I'll be searching for some more of that life-changing good stuff.


Road trip

I love, love, love the Southwest.  Having spent most of my life living in one part or another of it, I never tire of the vast variety of landscape and climate.  Within a day's drive, you can go from arid desert to forested peaks to dramatic sandstone cliffs and pinnacles.  And always, the views that stretch on forever.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a road trip through this incredibly scenic part of America.  We did that this last month for some vacation time with our families in Arizona, taking a more rural route and drinking in the ever-changing scene before us.  I thought you might enjoy a "postcard" look at some of the contrasts of this wonderful land...

Mountain vistas...

And mountains in the sky...

Funny shapes....

I got to touch four states all at once--Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona--the only place this happens in our country.  Notice the inscription around the landmark...

"Four states here meet in freedom under God."  Amen!

We passed the aftermath of one of the recent Colorado forest fires, still smoldering, miraculously stopped just at the back yard of several mountain homes...

Some views seem bleak and barren...but there's something about the spaces untouched by civilization that breathe rest to the soul...

Vertical drama...

Beauty in the little things...

...and beauty in the big!...


Time to evaluate

I'm enjoying a breather of a few days to catch up after a busy, busy May...and before a busy, busy June.  Next week is our church's Vacation Bible School, then a homeschool conference, and a couple of weeks with our families.  It's been wonderful to get my house clean, take time to cook appealing meals, have more time in the Word, and watch the grass grow.

As a homeschool mom, though, it's hard to put aside thoughts and plans for the coming year.  I no sooner finish one year than I'm prayerfully planning studies and schedules for the next.  And while I would truly love a mental break from it all, I'm grabbing the chance to analyze what worked and what didn't for us.

I ended this year feeling particularly drained and overdone, out of touch with myself and our home life.  Some of the outside commitments I made took more planning and execution than I anticipated.  We had to adjust our curriculum and scheduling a number of times.  Various deadlines kept me forging ahead, and I never seemed to have my week planned well for anything.  This was a year that SweetPea and I needed to do a lot of talking and processing to help her work through life.  Family health issues took their toll on our daily life, and I just lost my motivation to "get out there and get 'er done."  To say it simply, I ran out of gas.

So in looking ahead, I'm making some decisions.  I've only got a couple of years left in our homeschool journey and I want them to be good ones.  I realize that I can't control what life brings, but with the choices I do have, I want to make sure that they're well thought-out.  I've been guilty of taking on too many outside activities, some in the name of giving my daughter a well-rounded education or neat opportunities, or pitching in to run programs and events.  Both SweetPea and I have felt the inner exhaustion of not enough break time to synthesize, savor, and appreciate the full value of our experiences.  More isn't always better.

Gratefully, she and I are of the same mind.  We're going to have more of a 'home' focus (you know, the first part of the word 'homeschool'!) and leave room for the relationships and activities the Lord would have for us.  We're already feeling a gleeful sense of relief at the prospect.  I'm going to work on four things...

Peacefulness.  (Focus on following the Lord's lead and be guided by His peace.)

Intentionality.  (Think it through before I do--whatever!)

Ownership.  (Keep the control I properly should have for our time, activities, energy, and goals.)

Margin.  (Keep some space for fun and rest and spontaneity!)

And to start our summer off on the right foot, tomorrow we're intentionally and peacefully going to enjoy some margin at a lake with some dear friends!


Busy week, good week...

We think that our raccoon problem resolved itself--we haven't heard them in the fireplace for a few days and can't see them down the chimney, either.  Yay!  I suspect that the Eau de Ammonia might have convinced Mama that this was not a lovely place to raise her babies.  One evening at my desk upstairs, I heard a loud thump on the roof over me and quite a commotion, so that might have been her departure.  We've got a chimney cap on now and haven't seen any frantic little masked faces trying to stage a jail-break out the mesh enclosure.

I love the contrast of old and new growth
I'm in the home stretch with our church's VBS materials. It got to be something of a last-minute push this year again, but the Lord is helping me get it done, and of course, it's an incredible blessing to be reviewing the fabulous truths of our faith.  This year it's a Treasure Hunt theme with God's Word being the treasure.  The kids will be working on a treasure map during the week, with each day a focus on what they need to do with the Word--hear it, believe it, know it, obey it, and speak it.  Great reminders for the grown-ups, too!

Spring green pond life
I've so enjoyed some lovely walks with my family this week, soaking up the vivid spring colors, smells, and awakening world around us.  Even managed to get up really early a couple of times and accompany SweetPea in her running challenge with one of her friends (Note: SweetPea was doing the running; I kept up a nice, reasonable walk). I'm trying to get in shape with a program my Honey is overseeing, from a great book called You Are Your Own Gym.  It's deceptively easy...but I've been sore this week!

We couldn't believe it when the camera revealed what
the bumps-on-the-log were in the distance!
My beloved auntie, who suffered a stroke a month ago, is making a wonderful recovery, praise God!  She's setting an amazing example of diligence in her rehab exercises, as well as her trust in God's help and healing. She's at my sister's now for an interim period, learning how to resume the daily tasks of life.

The ubiquitous Golden Pea

A sweet couple enjoying the afternoon sunshine
SweetPea is in the final weeks of her school year, dragging herself through the I'd-rather-be-doing-anything-else (especially if it has to do with a camera!) spring syndrome.  I'm glad she has her mother's helper job to lend some variety to her days.

Truly God "has given us all things to enjoy richly"!


Urban adventure

Cute, huh?  I mean, what an irresistible little face and appealing expression.

Yeah...except when you've got one down your chimney!

Hubby was up on the roof this morning after breakfast with a flashlight to see if he could determine what was trapped in our chimney.  We'd heard little squeaks and noises last night in the fireplace behind the insert, but couldn't do anything about it--and we thought it was a bird or a squirrel.  But a raccoon?!  Groan.  And it wasn't little.

He hung a rope down the length of the chimney (two stories high) and called animal control.  Believe it or not, they said these critters don't generally fall down chimneys, they hide out deliberately and can get out just fine.  But just in case they don't, drop an ammonia-soaked rag down there and they'll hustle up and out pretty quick.

Knowing they're nocturnal, we decided to wait until this evening.  SweetPea accompanied her dad up on the roof (homeschooler field trip, you know) to see if the cute little thing was still there.  Yup, it was.  So to force the issue, the dad poured some ammonia down one side, insuring a healthy dose of noxious fumes to get the job done.

That's when he saw...


Double groan!  She sure enough had a Purpose for hiding out in our fireplace. (Photos not mine but you get the idea.) 

Hubby feels bad about the ammonia...but maybe it'll expedite matters.  Hopefully, Mama will find it too inhospitable and move her family quickly to better digs.  And I really hope it was intentional on her part to get down our chimney, because if not, then I'll be writing part two of this adventure. Enough is enough!


In which I lose a friend

I was having "one of those days" this week, when a stack of bowls slipped out of my hands, sending my Most Special Bowl crashing to the floor--with this result. Did you know you can cry over the demise of an inanimate object?

Bowl and I have had a long and very special relationship.  Twenty-five years ago I spotted this lovely in an antique store and immediately had visions of perfect bread loaves I would knead to perfection in it.  At $15, it was a bargain and thus began our memorable history together.

At the time, I was working at a "dude" ranch in Colorado as the back-up cook.  My job was baking all the cookies, cakes, pies, desserts, and breads for our mouth-watering daily menus.   Bowl was my constant companion, providing just the right size and temperature for high-altitude bread rising and lending me an primal sense of homestead-woman as I pushed and punched the springy dough.  It's large size, the thick, cool crockery and heavy feel stood up well to the demands I put on it.  When my Mom gave me some 45-year-old sourdough starter (yes, really!) and instructions on the finer points of working with sourdough (not the least of which is that you should never use a metal bowl or spoon), Bowl and I produced stellar dinner rolls and flapjacks.  M-m-m, makes my mouth water just to remember...

Then came marriage, and a chief item in my hope-chest was Bowl.  I pressed on in the discoveries of whole-grain baking, gluten-free bread dough, and large batches of cookies for years of various children's events.  And of late, having learned about the nutritional benefits of soaking grains, Bowl has produced weekly batches of granola and homemade grape-nuts, sitting ornamentally on my kitchen counter and greeting me first thing in the morning with the promise of yummy healthiness.   

I am bereft.  However, knowing that my treasures don't lie in earthly things, I must content myself with this little epitaph, and--of course--be on the hunt for Bowl Two.


Of lilacs, literature, and life

Lilacs!  A full three weeks early this year, popping out in all their glory to keep up with every other green and flowery thing in our area.  This is an incredible spring--no complaints here!

Seems like I'm scrambling just as fast as the green things around here, trying to keep on top of the immediate demands and fit in the catching-up things...when all I'd rather do is sit and soak up the sunshine to my very bones and just drink in the fragrances wafting around me.

Since my last post, I made a whirlwind trip to see my family and help my Mom's book get launched at the Tucson Festival of Books.  Wow, what an affair!  One hundred thousand people plus, on a sunny weekend to enjoy all things books.  It was great fun and a very satisfying wrap-up to the months of editing and preparation for publication we put in.  If you want a clean, fun read, check out her book, "The Magnetic Connection", available through Amazon and the other link on the website.  You'll  find great characters, high adventure, and a heart-warming and well-written story that keeps you turning the pages (I'm not biased--it's really good!).  It was a very special privilege to be part of this project and see a dream come true.  Wonderful job, Mom!

Now we're going to learn part two of this whole publication thing:  marketing.  Today's authors have to do a lot to market their books, no matter how they're published, so we've bravely jumped in and are trusting the Lord to guide and bless our efforts.

Back on the homefront, I spent an intense week with SweetPea and her performance in "The Secret Garden" with a homeschool group.  Three dress rehearsals and four performances kept us running, but what fun!  We had to create a Victorian "up-do" hairdo for her each performance for her roles as a maid, a governess, and the dead wife of Mr. Craven who appears to him in a dream.  The kids did an outstanding job, beginning to end, even having to master a British accent and learn theater-in-the-round.  As often happens with such things, we all felt an emotional letdown the following week after such a bonding kind of a time, both kids and moms.

SweetPea has another neat opportunity beginning this week...being a mother's helper to a homeschool family of four kids and baby #5 due this week.  HomeEc 101!  This will give her some wonderful hands-on experience with all things baby, as well as helping the other kids with their schoolwork, and a host of other things.  I'm thrilled at this opportunity, especially since as an only child, much of this is new to her.  God is so good!

And I'm embarked on writing our church's VBS program for this summer.  Thought I'd be farther along with it by now, but as I learned last year, the Lord will help me get it done!  I'm certainly counting on His enabling.  It's my favorite topic--the Word of God--and we're presenting it as a treasure hunt.

We're also praying for my beloved auntie, who suffered a serious stroke a week ago.  She's doing a wonderful job in rehab, dedicated to getting well and so making good progress.  It's made us thankful in a new way for the tender mercies of the Lord and His faithfulness to His kids.

That's my catch-up!  Happy spring to you, my dear reader.


Q & A

People everywhere are struggling, some massively. Pain assaults us on every level—rejection, loss, sorrow, guilt, physical issues, heartbreak, failure, financial crises, hurt, disappointment, shattered dreams, tragedy—the complexity of life's issues sap our strength and joy; questions for which there seem to be no answers leave us in a haunting despair. And if that's not enough, the “what-if's” awaiting us about tomorrow leave us frightened and frantic. Depending on our personality, we deal with this stuff differently: push it down out of sight and hide it under a smile; express it in violence; turn to various addictions; call it something else and pretend it doesn't exist; or lash out in blame.

I've drunk from the cup of each of these hurts sometime in my life. Probably most of us have. I thought I would never recover from some of them. But I can truthfully say that even though I don't have answers for some of the more heart-lacerating imponderables of this life, I have peace.

Do you?

I am a Christian, have been most of my life. That fact has not sheltered me from deep and soul-searching troubles, nor do I sit in an ivory tower hiding behind what I sure-hope-is-true-because-if-it-isn't-I'm-in-trouble denial. The tragic and untimely deaths of two precious souls in my life this year have brought me back once again to face one of the stark realities of this life. I ache at their losses, grieve for their families.

But the bottom line for me is this: I believe what the God of the universe has revealed about Himself—He is good, He is always good, and He is worthy of my trust. Period. Just because I don't understand everything about how things work in the unseen, doesn't mean I should reduce and define Him by that. He requires faith to walk with Him, not understanding.

It sure isn't easy. But I wouldn't respect a God who treated me like a puppet, programming me and filling me with a party line that would assure my loyalty and obedience. Instead, without apology, He invites me to know Him on His terms, which may or may not give me the answers I want right now. I can accept or reject that invitation, with all its accompanying implications. I accepted that invitation—and have found that truly, He is all that He claims to be and more. I can't imagine life without His love and protection and healing. It's real.

Perhaps you serve a different god. Or maybe you're angry at the God of the Bible and feel He has failed you. Maybe you think He's the cause of all the bad things in your life and the world, the great sword-holder waiting to cut you down with the next blow. But what if He isn't?

If you're desperate, I invite you to be honest and consider these questions, with a humble heart and an open mind. What if He is all that He says He is? What do you have to lose?

~ Is your god good, really good? Mine is.
  • “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
  • “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

~ Does your god love you? Does he want you so much that he'll move heaven and earth to find you?  Mine does.
  • “For God so loved the world (me, you) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
  • “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” I John 4:9
  • "I have loved you with an everlasting love."  Jeremiah 31:3

~ Does your god know all about your sins and failings – and love you anyway? Mine does.
  • “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

~ Does your god take care of you? Does he even know what you're going through? Does he heal your broken heart? Can he? Mine does.
  • “...casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:7
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up the wounds...His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:3, 5

~ Does your god explain how to live so that nothing can shake you? Mine does.
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct* your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (*direct means to make straight, right, and good)
  • Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27
I have come to love this God with every fiber of my being—because I've found Him to be life in my death-things and my brokenness.   He has changed me from a fearful, suspicious, grieving soul to a healed heart who has found wholeness in His love.

I pray you find Him the same. Truly, He is the Prince of Peace.