copyright 2013 by Jane Reinheimer


This has to be at the top of the page! It's such a joyful video and I like to play it regularly. It's fun to watch people having fun. Just a reminder that the world is place for each of us to enjoy one another and live a life without the strife of war.

And this, Starry Nights.

Check out this video of a mountain biker going down a mountain: -- wild two minutes!


It's April 2014 and I have to say that Quint and I are feeling much better - still trying to get up and out of the anemia which is left over from the cancer treatments. Quint is on an iron supplement. I'm not. He's more anemic than I am.

I'll be glad when I can comfortably stand for at least a half hour. Quint does better with that than I do.

But all things in stride. At least we feel ambitious enough to work out in the flower beds and take care of the yard this year. We had people come in an mow the last couple of years -- just so the yard looked presentable.


August 20, 2013

This is the most amazing bit of choreographer I've seen in a long, long time -- and I love university marching bands:

It's a tribute to branches of our military.

August 18, 2013

Hey, people -- have you found Duck Dynasty yet? If you start watching this series, you'll understand why it just broke gynormous viewer records of 11.5 million! 

It's a reality show about the Robertsons. If you've ever spent any time down South, you'll just relish the whole thing - from the brothers who tease each other unmercifully. Like the episode in the first season where a big old snake drops out of a tree and lands in the boat with the Robertsons. One of the brothers jumped out of the boat and into the river. Then the other one picked up the snake and threw it into the river. The other guy jumped back in the boat. Just good humored funnin'.

But I can relate to all that hunting and fishing. I remember watching my daddy making a net. I guess I was about six years old. I asked him how he learned to do that and he said, "Well, June Bug, (that's what he called me) it's just a bunch of knots tied together." He started out on mama's clothes line. Walked back and forth making those knots until he got it the length he wanted. 

He used to run trot lines in the Red River. His heart was in hunting and fishing. Work was something he tolerated. His job was what was called a "rough neck" in the oil fields in southwestern Arkansas. He'd take off every night if he could. Whatever he caught and brought back was what we ate for supper the next day.

But back to the Robertsons. I found this clip of one of the Robertsons 'plainin things about God to an audience.

He tells a story of how he challenged a man who called to order a duck call who kept taking the Lord's name in vain. It's worth a listen. I think.

What I like about the Robertsons is that they are congruent people. They say grace before they eat -- just to remind them of where all that goodness in their lives comes from. They've become multi-millionnaires with their duck calls that must be some kind of special; otherwise, why wouldn't someone just go to a sporting goods store and pick up a duck call? Beats me. But then, I'm not a duck hunter. I wouldn't know the difference between one from another.

So they started out poor but they aren't poor anymore.

I'm a little familiar with that story. We weren't just poor. We were dirt poor. I've survived all the unpleasantness of where poor puts you. But I'm here to tell you that you don't have to stay down in that pit of poverty. Each of us can figure a way out of that horrid place. For me it was going to college. 

First an undergrad, then a masters, then a license to practice as a mental health counselor. 

But I'm here to tell you that when you reach some point of success, don't ever indulge yourself by being proud. Pride will get you in trouble. But you can be pleased with your accomplishments. I'm pleased with what God has gifted me to do. I'm pleased that I can go out on crisis intervention events for insurance companies. I'm also pleased that I have a busy private practice of helping a lot of people. I'll never sell duck calls like the Robertsons and I'll never be a millionnaire. But then, that was never my goal. As Si Robertson would say, I'm "happy, happy, happy." He also started almost every sentence with "Hey."
And when I look around and see the false pride that others have with what they think they got all by themselves, I shudder to think that I could have been there right with them in that little thought cave. Rather, owing to God alone, everything we have is a gift of His grace. So I don't need a big fancy house. The one Quint and I have is a far cry from where we both started as poor kids long, long ago. Our house has electricity and running water for starters. And if you've ever lived in a humble little house without those two things, you'll understand that they are the foundation of everything else that's nice about a house.

The very first thing you have to do is get right with God. If you do that, He'll keep an eye out for you.

I start every morning with that thought. 

Plus, God is watching me so I'd better not mess up.

August 17, 2013

In case you've never seen a copperhead up close enough to recognize what it looks like, here's an unbelievable video showing the snake biting itself after its head has been chopped off.

If you have an interest iin rocketry, the video 2nd in line shows a rocket ascending -- then coming back to its launch pad and either shutting itself off, or someone turned it off.

August 7, 2013

Hilarious! Here's 12 minutes of Ronald Reagan's best:

August 6, 2013

Who says animals can't make a plan? Take a look at this bear stealing an entire dumpster. Watch how deliberate the bear is. The bear even looks around to make sure his traffic path isn't cluttered:

July 27, 2013

Delta Honor Guard receiving remains of a fallen soldier:

I did not know that Delta had an honor guard! Hard to watch this without getting a bit emotional. 

And this, a soldier returns to Oklahoma to meet his widow:

July 23, 2013

A full peal of the bells at Westminster Abbey greeted the royal baby's birth. The bells rang for 35 minutes, they say. If that's true, this is going to be one noisy baby: But those who have never heard a full bell peal, enjoy! A full bell peal at our church sounds more like "ding dong."

July 21, 2013

Uh oh! A 6.5 mag hits New Zealand. -- Definitely not a good sign.

Here's a happy welcome home from a dog whose master just returned from a 6-month deployment. You can just tell that the dog wants so desperatevly to speak English - way too much joy for Bugaboo to hold. And this is not a lap dog!

Here's a clip of a beautiful golden lab being ever so gentle with a Downs baby: -- oh my goodness - the miracles of love that God creates.

Reminds me of a metaphor I got from the pastor at church today. He began with, "What are you going to do now that everything has been done for you? You can just sit on your salvation!"

I absorb metaphors like a sponge and I really like this one. It fills me with courage when days don't go right. It fills me with joy when I see little things that are going right. 

And what am I going to do now that Jesus died for my sins? My salvation is complete. I don't have to worry about a thing because Jesus already sweat blood for me in Gethsemane. 

My life has to fill up with little pebbles of trust and love for others. These little pebbles will pile up into one big mountain of faith.

Blessings to each of you --



July 20, 2013

Shadow dancing -- familiar with it? This troupe is from Hungary and this is their dance routine. Absolutely amazing! 

I could make lots of comments about the talent, dexterity, etc. etc. But what amazes me is something we call "muscle memory." When these folks are behind the "curtain," they have little else to rely on except what their bodies are supposed to feel like when in a certain position. Otherwise, Stonehenge would have little pieces of rock sticking out in places where it wasn't supposed to. Or any of the other poses and movements could really look funny or strange if the dancers did not have really good muscle memory.

Take a look:

It was especially poignant for me -- and to the audience as well -- to see the soldier being carried home. Reminds me of Quint's losting his brother when he was the U.S. Army. Noticed a few others dabbing at their eyes too.

Oh my -- what talent and how generous of the troupe to share their art with the rest of us. 

July 19, 2013

Funny rendition of what happens, according to Fr. Guido Sarducci,  when we die:

I don't think that's a real priest though.

Here he is on David Letterman:

And did you know that Fr. Sarducci founded the thought of the 5 minute university:

July 18, 2013

Check out this gymnast. She's 86! I couldn't do what she is doing when I was 16. 
< >**

July 14, 2013

If you have plans to see the newly released movie, Copperhead, you can get a quick overview of Civil War battles at:

I did not realize that Paducah, Kentucky, my home town, was the site of some Civil War battles. Grant even built a pontoon bridge across the Ohio River at the landing place that we call "the foot of Broadway."

July 9, 2013

Snakes on a train! Check this out: 

July 7, 2013

Here's a clip showing the flight coming in for landing and also showing the moment of impact:

Just a word of caution for your fliers -- always, always keep your seat belts fastened even when you're sitting in your seat and the plane is en route. Just an extra precaution, but one that could save your life. Wind shears and sudden air pockets could send you careening out of control and maybe make contact with the ceiling. 

This clip shows an animation of the plane coming in for landing. You can see how the tail came off at the sea wall:

July 6, 2013

News unfolding - plane crashed on landing at San Francisco Airport. Early thinking is that the plane experienced a hard landing which broke the tail of the plane off. I heard that there were 293 people aboard and it appears that all survived. But then, I just heard on the tv news that the U.S. Coast Guard has pulled someone out of the water. Also heard on one news report that there will be casualties because of smoke inhalation and burns. Also, reports on Fox News say that there have been two deaths. Prayers lifted for all.

For those who are interested in what a hard landing looks like, take a look at these clips: -- We had a hard landing going into Heathrow Airport in London several years ago. It was spooky and made us quickly realize that the old saying that any landing you walk away from is a good landing. But then our landing didn't damage the aircraft. It just sounded like the landing gear had come through the floor of the plane (it hadn't).

And here's a series of landings in Dusseldorf -- what do you get when you cross an icy runway, crosswinds and 747s?  you know there was some heavy duty praying during those landings.

July 4, 2013

Having a wonderful 4th of July! How about you? 

Gotta listen to the Voices of Liberty sing the Star Spangled Banner:

Have a safe Independence Day.

June 30, 2013

Want to know what you could see from a drone at 17,500 feet? Talk about the latest in technology!

June 29, 2013

Oh wow! 

Before you go see Copperhead, you might want to review what happened at the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg is the first movie of a trilogy produced by Ron Maxwell. God and Generals is the third, and now Copperhead.

Quint and I have decided to go back and re-review our knowledge of the Civil War. And this link will take you to the Battle of Gettsburg. It's done by the Smithsonian and shows who was where during that bloodies of battles. What the generals saw and includes a map of the area.

Prepare to be amazed. It was a lot of work to put the battle plan together so that we can understand what each one of the generals saw.

June 23, 2013

Now this is what I'm talking about! Just listen to the fans' reaction to the National Anthem before a game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks: Thanks to the Boston Globe for the link.

Here's a little philosophy lesson from my good friend Cody:

June 19, 2013

Here's a great video that strikes a happy chord in my heart. It's called "Putting up the Flag."

Hard to believe that it's been more than a week since I sat down here at the computer. Been running. And today I'm continuing to make biscuits for the Father-Son Breakfast at church on Saturday. So far I've made 8 dozen. That leaves 8 dozen to go before Friday night. Love homemade biscuits. Am making them from scratch too! Another lady is making the sausage gravy to put ont the biscuits. Bon appetite.

So let me ask you a question. Do you think a snake could learn to open a door? Think not? Then this video will scare the beegeebers out of you!


June 11, 2013

Prayers lifted for all our friends and readers in Europe who are experiencing the devastating floods! We keep you in our prayers daily. Be safe.

Got this quiz from Cousin Mark. See if you can guess how many of these statements are true. 

(Answers are   below.)  1. Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in   the morning.
                            2. Alfred Hitchcock did not have a belly button.  3.   A pack-a-day smoker will lose approximately 2 teeth every 10 years..
                            4.   People do not get sick from cold weather; it's from being indoors a lot   more.  5. When you sneeze, all bodily functions
                           stop, even your   heart!  6. Only 7% of the population are lefties.  7. 40-people   are sent to the hospital for dog bites
                           every minute.  8. Babies are born   without kneecaps. They don't appear until they are 2-6       years old.  9. The average
                           person over 50 will have spent 5 years   waiting in lines.  10. The toothbrush was invented in 1498.  11.   The average housefly
                           lives for one month.  12. 40,000 Americans are   injured by toilets each year.  13. A coat hanger is 44 inches long when 
                            straightened.  14. The average computer user blinks 7-times a   minute.  15. Your feet are bigger in the afternoon than any
                           other time   of day.  16. Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep.  17. The   REAL reason ostriches stick their head in
                           the sand is to search for   water.  18. The only two animals that can see behind themselves   without turning their heads
                           are the rabbit and the parrot.  19. John   Travolta turned down the starring roles in 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and   'Tootsie.'
                            20. Michael Jackson owned the rights to the South Carolina   State Anthem.  21. In most television commercials advertising
                           milk, a   mixture of white paint and a little thinner is used in place of the   milk.  22. Prince Charles and Prince William
                           NEVER travel on the   same airplane, just in case there is a crash.  23. The first Harley   Davidson motorcycle built in 1903
                           used a tomato can for a   carburetor.  24. Most hospitals make money by selling the umbilical   cords cut from women who give
                           birth. They are used in vein transplant   surgery.  25. Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana. They were   7th cousins.
                            26. If coloring weren't added to Coca-Cola, it would be   green.   Now, scroll down for the   answers...        They   are
                           all TRUE  Now go back and think about 16 ! 


June 2, 2013

With all the tornadic activity in the central United States, and particularly Oklahoma, thought you'd like to see some footage shot by Tim Samaras and his son Paul. Sad to say that Tim died this most recent Friday was storm chasing. Carl Young also died on Friday while chasing tornadoes. Here's that story:

We also lost a sheriff in Arkansas, I believe. The sheriff was trying to rescue some people who were stranded. 


May 26, 2013

I don't know who said this, but I agree wholeheartedly:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.  

We thank all our soldiers and sailors and coast guards and marines and air force people and everyone else who ever served in our Armed Forces. We thank you for your bravery and your sacrifice that you have gifted the American people. And the sacrifices your spouses and children made in sharing you with a grateful nation. Thank you. 

Today I am "playing" in the food lab that I call my kitchen. I am making ice cream sandwiches. To do this, I'm using a red velvet cake mix and baking a thin layer of batter. Then I will use a 50/50 mixture of cheesecake flavored cream cheese and vanilla ice cream. Then put another layer of thin cake batter on it and freeze it. When it is frozen, then I will cut into ice cream sandwich sizes and put in baggies and stash in the freezer. Sound yummy? For the layer of batter, I'm using a square pyrex baking dish and putting a thin layer of batter in it. Then I baked the first layer for 12 minutes. The second layer is in the oven. I only have one square pan so it will take several steps to get it all done.


May 20, 2013

Inside fo women's handbugs are filty. At least one in five are. That's the news from a medical report released recently. And who would have thought that we had to wash out the inside of our handbags? More likely, maybe we ought to dunk the bags in pools of antiseptic. Oh yuk! But filthier than a toilet? C'mon, it can't be that bad. But apparently it is. Read more here:

Not only that but who designed those handbags to have a dark interior? I mean, how can I find anything if the inside of my purse is black? I made a vow not too long ago that I would not buy a purse of any king, shape or design unless it had a light colored material on the inside. Fortunately I'd guess that I'm one of the 80 percenters who have a clean handbag interior. That's mainly because I wash my hands a lot. And I use soap while I'm at it. But it still aggrevates me to no end when I have to just about touch everything in my purse before I find what I was looking for.
Ever been to the Sistine Chapel? Neither have I. Italy/Rome/the Vatican are not countries we made our way into when we went over there. So I am thrilled to find this link to a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel:

Oh my goodness -- is this ever adorable! Look at all those little babies dancing to their hearts content!


May 18, 2013

Funny little skit about Lutheran Airlines:

I've mentioned solar cycles and solar flares fairly often around here but you need to know that we are going to be in this sun cycle until 2019. And just during this next week alone, there's supposed to be some pretty disruptive stuff going on. Read more here:

We've never given up our land line just because of something disruptive like this -- as a possibility. The other reason is that in case of any national emergency, there's a very strong likelihood that all cell phone service would be interrupted  kind of like what happened during the Boston Bombing Massacre. No cell phones because there was a fear that, at least until the perps were caught, there might have been a likelihood that someone using his or her cell phone could have triggered another bomb explosion. 

There's a lot of other things I'll give up before I kiss my land line goodbye.


May 13, 2013

Ukraine's Got Talent! You bet they do. Just watch this amazing young acrobat --

Britain's Got Talent too -- take a look at these Shadow Dancers:

It happened yesterday -- Monday. It was one giant huge magnanimous burst of energy on the sun. Look at this article and bask in the marvel of the star in the middle of our solar system: 

May 12, 2013

How'd he do that? Good magic trick:

This is a song by Jackie Evancho -- an amazing 11 year old girl -- what a voice!!

May 6, 2013

Interesting animated cartoon about the history of money:


May 5, 2013

Check out Metallica playing the national anthem:

DeMint says immigration reform will cost Americans trillions: 


April 29, 2013

This is a hilarious Jeff Gordon taking an unsuspecting car salesman for a test drive in a 2009 Camaro:

April 25, 2013

So let me ask you something - when you see a deer crossing sign, do you think it's there for the deer, or for the drivers? Apparently this woman thinks it's for the deer because she has had several accidents at or near a deer crossing sign and thinks the signs ought to be moved so that the deer won't think it's a safe place to cross the highway!??


April 24, 2013

We're read about sinkholes in the news recently -- especially in Florida. But those sinkholes have to go a long way to rival this whirlpool in Latvia. My goodness, I've never seen anything like this before! Absolutely amazing.

April 25, 2013

Want to see something absolutely amazing? I know -- everything amazes me. But this is really, really amazing. It's a 3-year version of the Sun's rotation speeded up into a 3 minute video:   It's from NASA and it shows the sun boiling, rotating really fast and lots of solar flares. And for those who say there is no God, I say, "You do that."

And speaking of solar flares, watch this one: Good thing the sun is 93million miles away; otherwise, we'd all be fried with that spewing forth of hot plasma!

April 22, 2013

We need to celebrate the achievements of people who overcome outstanding odds. This young 16 year old sings the National Anthem at a University of Kentucky vs. Ole Miss basketball game: 

She was born with a virus that kept her optic nerve from forming. She hummed before she could talk. She taught herself to play the piano before she was two. And yes, she apparently taught herself how to sing the National Anthem. Her name is Marlana VanHoose and if she isn't a national treasure, I don't know what is!
Beautiful voice! Andrea Bocelli sings The Lords Prayer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:


April 21, 2013

Narrated by Fred Thompson, this video is entitled "And God Made A Patriot" -

Building the Three Gorges Dam in China:


April 10, 2013

Forget the snakes. What this link offers is a bunch of little kitties in awkward sleeping positions:

I picked daffodils this morning. Such a sweet fragrance from a big, big bouquet in the middle of the dining room table. I also have some tulips but they're still buds. People who know about such things recommend that if you want to keep squirrels out of your tulips, plant them among your daffodils. I tried it and it really works. Two years ago, I planted a bunch of tulips. I thought they'd be pretty in their own little bed. Unfortunately, I have some Master Gardener Squirrels living around here and they decided that the tulips would look good just about anywhere else. I spent a lot of time digging them up from the middle of the yard and other unlikely places. Apparently they even moved some of my tulips to other places n the neighborhood because a couple of neighbor ladies mentioned that tulips seemed to be sprouting in their yards all by themselves. Hmmm. Yeah, right.

April 8, 2013

So let me see now. A rattlesnake was found in a backpack at a school bus stop in Texas. Big snake. It was 42" long. Not likely that it would slither into the backpack all by itself, then zipper the thing shut so it could have a little siesta. I mean, nearly 4' long! Are you kidding me? Rattlesnakes are pretty close to the top of my list of unwanted critters. So the police, being the nice conservationists that they are, took the thing to a snake farm and it will apparently be returned to the wild after the investigation is complete. Check this out:

April 3, 2013

What do you know about atomic bombs? Here's an interesting link that shows how the mushroom cloud forms. I did not know that the temperature got to be 20,000 degrees -- that's hotter than the surface of the sun! 

Here's a real heart warmer. A Mama Duck had lain her eggs on the ledge of a bank in downtown Seattle (I think it was). Problem is, when it came time for the little baby ducks to go with Mama Duck to get into the water, Mama could fly but the babies couldn't. So this very big-hearted guy catches the babies as they drop off the ledge, one by one:

Now isn't that just about the sweetest thing you ever saw?

April 2, 2013

Whether you call it irony or coincidence, check out the photos in this link:
-- At the very least, they're comical.

If you had happened to be in a Catholic church in Miami for the Easter services, you would have enjoyed Andrea Bocelli sing Panis Angelicus during communion. If you weren't there and want to hear him sing, click this link: 
Absolutely beautiful!

Here is Bocelli with Ana Maria Martinez in a duet Time to Say Goodbye -- incredible!

April 1, 2013

Check out these dangerous mountainous roads from various places in the world: 

You'll probably have to cut and paste the address into your web address spot to get the link to work.


March 31, 2013

Another disastrous side effect of wind turbines: a golden eagle flew into one of those humongous blades and died. Never mind the bats that have met their untimely demise -- this was a golden eagle. The owner of the wind turbine farm is looking at a $200,000 fine. 

One of my favorite "must see" sites when I'm on the web is the NASA site. Here is a video of travels around the earth at night from the ISS: Amazing!

Did you hear about the bomb scare at the Eiffel Tower? Somebody called in a bomb threat and said explosives were put around the tower and were set to go off at 9:30. Along comes 10 pm and nothing happened but in the meantime, in an abundance of caution, the tower was evacuated. Take a look at these photos of what I think is one of the neatest landmarks in the City of Lights. We were in Paris in 1990 as the first stop across the pond as we embarked on our tour to see the Passion Play at Oberammagau but we landed in mid-morning, so we didn't get to see the spectacular Eiffel Tower all lit up. Quint did get credit for taking me to Paris for lunch on my birthday, though.

And speaking of views of landmarks, this is a photo of the destruction of Meigs Field in Chicago, Illinois. Happened 10 years ago today. What I like about this photo is the Chicago skyline. The other is the runways at Meigs Field after they had been bulldozed with big x-es. And for why? Not really sure.

Here's something not to do on Sunday afternoon -- unless, like this climber, you want to take a big slide down a snowy, rocky hill. This climber was one in a group of three climbers. The climber above him sent a chunk of frozen stuff down the hill and knocked Climber #2 down the hill. Quickly. Fortunately he only broke his leg:

March 25, 2013

Some of you may remember this crash of a B52 Stratofortress -- was in 1994. No one survived the crash. Story goes that it was a hot dogger flying the plane and he was practicing for an air show.

He flew too close to the edge of the air.

And here's a MIG pilot who was at the edge of the air on the tarmac and, of all things, pulled up the landing gear:

And on another matter, if you've been following the financial crisis in Cypress and wondered if such a fiasco could happen here in the U.S., you might want to take a look at this article by Roger Lowenstein. He traces the origins of finances, federal reserve, etc., in the U.S. Interesting reading if you're into the curiosities about how the banking industry has unfolded since practically the beginning of time.

I just have a question about the FDIC insurance in this country. According to this article, if you have an account that bears interest, you don't have any unlimited coverage. That would include money market accounts and NOW accounts, if I read the article correctly. If you are fortunate enough to have amassed a nestegg, you'll want to check with a financial advisor to make sure your account/s are safe.

What happened in Cypress, apparently, is that there's an insurance on deposits up to 100,000. The hefty tax on those accounts is on funds over the 100,000 euro balance.  Withdrawals in Cypress banks now are limited to 100 euros per day.

And so it begins. Maybe. This just out -- the UK Independent Party is urging Brits living in Spain to pull their money out of the Spanish banks.

Folks, be very careful. Do absolutely what you need to do to make sure your retirement nesteggs are safe and your funds on deposit are safe. If you have an interest-bearing account in any kind of financial institution, check to see what your safety net includes.

And how about the new research that says parents are introducing solid food to their little babies before the babies are developmentally ready. Developmentally ready? What's that? Well, the baby needs to be able to sit up. The baby needs to be old enough to make those good bacteria that help digestion of solids take place. The baby needs to have developed a chewing mechanism. And the baby needs to be able to swallow the solid food. Here's an interesting article that's going around the news outlets today: Read it and take care. If your baby is fussy, it doesn't necessarily mean the baby is hungry.

March 23. 2013

This has got to be the best Elvis impersonator I have ever heard: It caps off a week of the David Letterman Show where he did a week's worth of Elvis. 

Remember Steve Martin? Here's one of his best comedy stints ever: It's a repeat of a 1992 guest appearance on the Johnny Carson show. I did not know he could play the banjo, did you?

Here's a link showing how our military made a pipeline in WWII so that the banks and trucks and jeeps on the continent could get the fuel they needed. I mean, after all, they couldn't just pull up to a loal gas station.

March 19, 2013

One more day 'til Spring. It feels warmer already.

If you have pets, you'll want to check out this article. Here's a link to some things you can find around the house that can be very dangerous - even deadly to your little four-paws: Be especially careful with Easter coming if you have Easter lilies in the house.

March 17, 2013

You've probably never wondered what Lutherans do with their beer bottles -- but just on the off chance that you might have, here's something from St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois:

What fun!

If you're missing George H. W. Bush yet, here's a re-run of the White House Correspondents'dinner:

Here's Carol of the Bells played on beer bottles.

This is a fantastic video of a gentleman who goes around the world compiling videos of dancers. Unbelievable. And such happy events that all the dancers shared: -- Thank you, Joyce, for sharing.

Jim Carrey does a funny job impersonating Clint Eastwood at a roast:

Some commercials are interesting: -- Emmmmmmma!

March 15, 2013

A coronal mass ejection occurred today about 3 a.m. EDT. It has directed particles heading for the earth and should "hit' us by late Sunday or early Monday. Take a look at this "incredilgusto" photo of this CME: NASA warns us that we can expect some geologic events as well as possible electronic problems. Stay tuned, as they say.  It will either be a big dud or something magnanimously out of this world.

You heard that there's going to be a competition for pole dancers right here in the good old USA! Only in America. Well, here's what a "pole dance" ought to look like. The Polonaise is just so exquisite. Why do we have to look at women who are grotesquely underdressed? Why can't we have some since of class and elegance? Look at this: In my view, this has real wow factor.

Here's something you don't see every day - a video of the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. This is a mean snake, I don't care what they say. Anything that long and that venomous is on my Run From list. The Eastern Diamondback's strike speed is 92 mph. That's faster than I can run so my best bet is not to be in the same state where they live. And venomous? OMG This thing can kill four people if they shoot out a full load of venom. I'd say that about the only thing they'd be good for is to vacuum out all their venom and make anti-toxin out of it. Well, actually they're good for keeping the rat population down too. Otherwise, we'd have a run on the plague.

Just to keep you up to date on what's happening to the politics in the US, today the House defeated that minimum wage bill. And you know that if it doesn't get out of the House, it goes nowhere. The vote was 233-184. It's just not a good time to raise the minimum wage by any amount with the economy racing toward a bubble burst. My concern is when the Dow hits $15,000. I think that, at that point, the economy will hit the slippery slope and the unsustainable climb will just go pop! By how much? I think I agree with a couple of the economists I've been following who are talking about a 4 or 5% slide into hell for some vulnerable investors. (That's what economist calls a "correction.")

March 14, 2013

Here's a wonderful quote from Francis I  -- the new pope: When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.

Thank you, Francis I. Another of his strong convictions is that all politicians who support abortions should be denied communion.

March 10, 2013

Feel like taking a virtual 360 degree tour of what you'd see if you could enter the Sistine Chapel? Click this link: 

It's particularly appropos since the Conclave of Cardinals will begin meeting on Tuesday.

March 9, 2013

It doesn't happen very often but here's a video that is less than a minute of what will be agony for the rest of this high school basketball's memory. The player took his team out of the running of a semi-finals contest in Oklahoma just becasue he put the bball into the wrong basket:

Oops. "My bad" doesn't even cover that one.

March 8, 2012

For all those folks who are really really worried about global warming and the earth melting, good news is here. It has to do with a greatly reduced amount of sunspot activities. I realize that there have been some incredible sunspots recently, but take a look at this: See -- hardly any activity at all. Do you think all those proposed carbon taxes will disappear when we go into another mini ice age?

March 6, 2013

Hobby Lobby may close.
Hobby Lobby is filing suit as a last ditch effort to gain release from the mandates imposed by health care rules. In fact, here's the statement released by its Christian president:

With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court,but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

Stay tuned.

March 3, 2013

This link is to an amazing story of a young man who walked ten miles in snow and ice to get a minimum wage jog: -- I may have put the link on last week, but it's well worth another look. Besides, it wasn't this depiction of the story.

Here's some animals that aren't necessarily the cute, adorable little things we've seen in other links:


I have just had one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It was a live broadcast on Facebook. The president of the national LWML hosted the broadcast and this week's event focused on an article I had written some time ago about the blessings of stress for The Lutheran Women's Quarterly. People from all over the country were on live this morning asking questions about stress and how to wrap solutions about stress around a life with God.

Each week Kay, the LWML president, is inviting a different article author to join her in the live discussion.

My prayer is that God used me somehow to reach other people. You can also download the article that I had about stress at the Facebook site -- it's a Bible Study about the blessings of stress.

I also got friend requests from hundreds of new people. From Hawaii, to Texas, to Iowa, to Wisconsin -- to name a few.

I truly believe that within each of the countries that have readers to this web site are pockets of people who hunger, as I do, for a firm relationship with God. We seek out those people who can held solidify that relationship on our journey to get closer to Him. In so doing, we share each others burdens.

People are awesome, aren't they? I got this video from my cousin Mark. It's a video about amazing people doing amazing things.

Grandparents are awesome too. Mark sent me these comments from little tykes:

1.   She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her
young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before . 

After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But
Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I will probably never put
lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye....

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how
old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he
asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and
a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting
more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel
around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern
warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling
"Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was
like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung
from a tree in o ur front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish
I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and
God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?''
"You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor.
She told him she was writing a story.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to
test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me
and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for
the door, saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these
colors yourself!"

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off
until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies
followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa.
Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure."
"Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says I'm 4 to 6."

10.. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma,
guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a
little surprised, tried to keep her cool. "That's interesting." she said... "How do
you make babies?"
"It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," sa id a teacher.
The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant." The teacher took
the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked.
"Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire
truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog.
The children started discussing the dog's duties.
"They use him to keep crowds back," said one child.
"No," said another. "He's just for good luck.."
A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she said firmly,
"to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the
airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we're done having her
visit, we take her back to the airport."

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don't get
to see him enough to get as smart as him!

February 26, 2013

Want to know the real source of global warming? Hint: It's not from driving SUVs around.

Reading the caption, you will note that the time lapse says that the video took place over many, many hours. Global warming is not man-made. No doubt it's happening though. But man is just a tiny little being in the scope of things. There's a bigger hand at play out there in the universe and He's watching us all the time. One plasmic zap from the sun could wipe out our satellite systems in a flash, so to speak.

Changing the subject, we send our condolences to the families and loved ones of 18 folks who lost their lives in a horrible hot air balloon accident as the balloon was flying over the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The balloon exploded and crashed.

Here's a heartwarming story about a young man who walked ten miles through snow and ice to get a minimum wage job: - Congratulations to the restaurant owner, too, for getting a real winner for an employee.

February 25, 2013

And they call the wind Mariah. Check out this link to a wind map of the United States: http://fm/wind amazing!

February 23, 2013

That was some crash at the Daytona 500 this afternoon. Wow! Cars were flying everywhere -- engines came off and went through the fence and got up into the stands. A number of injuries but miracle of miracles -- no fatalies. Check out this link:

And this video link takes you to an IMAX Fighter Pilot Operation Red Flag event: -- I'd love to see this video at an IMAX theater like the one at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Those videos are on 80 mm film. What an incredible experience. This is a good experience too. All 48 minutes of it. Enjoy!

February 19, 2013

Do you know how much it hurts when you laugh so hard coffee comes out your nose? Take a look at this video - without any coffee in your mouth:

February 17, 2012

Are you ready for a little history? Mark sent me this story and if you ever get to Chicago, zipping through O'Hare Airport, you'll know why it was named as it was:

Two Stories BOTH TRUE - and worth reading!


Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago . Capone wasn't famous for
anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything
frombootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed 'Easy
Eddie.' He was Capone's lawyer for agood reason. Eddie was very good! In fact,
Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the
money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well.
For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with
live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day.
The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little
consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved
dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars,
and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to
teach him right from wrong.
Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he
couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to
rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al
'Scarface' Capone, clean up his tarnished name,
and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would
have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be
great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a
lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest
gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay.
Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious
medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:
'The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to
tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no
faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.'


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant
Commander Butch O'Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in
the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was
airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had
forgotten to top off his fuel tank.
He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back
to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he
dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned
his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way
toward the American fleet.
The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but
defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to
save the fleet.
Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only
one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the
formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he
charged in,
attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in
and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as
until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to
clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible,
rendering them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.
Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to
the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his
return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale.
It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.
He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became
the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the
Congressional Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His
home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and
O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this
great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some
thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal
of Honor.
It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was 'Easy Eddie's' son.

Prepare to melt away your heart. Here's a link to a little 5 year old girl who called 911 when her father was apparently having a heart attack. Just listen: Wow!
Big discussions about raising the minimum wage here in the United States from $7.25 to $9.00 per hour. Lots of studies are out there that show raising the minimum waige has a deleterious effect on employment. Take this for instance:

I'd just like to take the thought of a small business owner.

Let's say that I can only to afford to hire enough 1/4 time employees (after school students) and pay no more than $1500 in the aggregate every week.

At $7.25 per hour, that means I can buy 206 hours of employment.

Taking that same $1500 at $9.00 per hour means that I can only buy 166 hours.

The difference is 40 hours. I can compute that without my handy dandy little calculator. Forty hours spread over 1/4 time student employees if 4 real people who won't be able to work at my establishment. That means that you could work for me, but your three favorite buddies couldn't.

So, given that scenario -- will someone please tell me how raising the minimum wage helps improve the employment picture?

On another subject: this is about how you can set up an experiment to test for psychological stress and not let the subjects of the experiment know you're intentionally stressing them out. Stress is, after all, a continuing concern no matter where you live. How can you research how much stress a person is feeling when the "victim" is "in on it" and knows it's a scripted stress that will be over with when the research is done.

Some research, in fact, was halted by the American Psychological Association when the research went too far even when the stressed subjects knew about the experiment.

However, in Germany recently, someone at an airport walked around taking pictures of people at random. Then, very quickly, the photos were inserted into wanted posters and distributed throughout the airport. Then the posters made headline news on the overhead TV monitors. The people who were shown had no idea they were part of a big experiment on stress.

Watch the outcome here:

February 16, 2013

And then there was the Super Bowl. Where would the halftime be without the Clydesdales? Take a look at this precious ad:

This is one of my all-time favorites : I realize that it's a scripted commercial but don't you wonder how much animals really communicate to one another? I think they communicate much more than humans give them credit for.

I love to watch people who are enjoying themselves dancing. And I equally enjoy watching children dancing. When these two are combined, here's an incredible combination: -- You think they don't feel the rhythm? !!

I never rode a subway when in New York, but I can only imagine. Then Mark sent me this link: Who knows, maybe someday this is what the Chicago subways will look like.

I did read some while ago that a "good" panhandler back in the early 90s was making some $50,000 a year. Lived in a better condo than I did. Lost my benevolent spirit for street moochers. I mean, I can help more people by donating to human care agencies who help people who are in need. And, of course, the church.

Here's a compilation of what's supposed to be the best commercials of this year's Super Bowl:

February 15, 2012

Amazing footage of a big meteor hitting the earth. Happened in Russia. It was big and it exploded in the atmosphere before it actually struct the earth. Lots of damage, mostly from breaking glass.

If you love cats, you'll get a kick out of these felines showing how they amuse themselves. The folks over at Cheeseburger put a new video out every Wednesday. Remember, laughter is a good way to say good riddance to burnout.

February 13, 2013

A little mini-factoid that I found on my way to looking something else up. Some late research says that one of the most effective "cures" for burnout is laughter. So laugh until your sides ache, my friends. Something else you might want to know is this: Involve yourself in creative pursuits -- even if it's just observing a view that strikes your fancy. Creativity has a lot to do with dopamines that attach to pleasure centers in your brain. If you can't take a hike, then go on these visual excursions that Shirley sent. Enjoy life and life enjoys you!
Feel up to taking a little trip out west? Shirley sent clips to some incredible photos from Utah. But it isn't just the photos. You can hold your cursor down and move the view to the right, left, up or down: -- Canyonlands National Park - Grand View Point - Capitol Reef National Park - Sulphur Creek - Double Arch in Arches National Park - Wasatch Mountains -- Payson Canyon


A little language trivia from my cousin Mark:


This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other two-letter word,
and that word is ' UP .' It is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj],
[n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP , meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but
when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP , and why are the
officers UP for election (if there is a tie, it is a toss UP ) and why is it UP to
the secretary to write UP a report?We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room,
polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the
house and fix UP the old car.

At other times, this little word has real special meaning . People stir UP trouble,
line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP .

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty
mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP , look UP the word UP in the
dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can
add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.
It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP , you may wind UP with
( UP to) a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out, we say
it is clearing UP . When it rains,the earth soaks it UP. When it does not rain for
awhile, things dry UP . One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP , for now . . .
my time is UP !

And then, there's these funny little vignettes, also from Mark:

No one believes seniors . . . everyone thinks they are senile.
An elderly couple was celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. The couple had married
as childhood sweethearts and had
moved back to their old neighborhood after they retired.. Holding hands, they walked
back to their old school. It was not locked, so they entered, and found the old desk
they'd shared, where Andy had carved “I love you, Sally.” 
On their way back home, a bag of money fell out of an armored car, practically
landing at their feet. Sally quickly picked
it up and, not sure what to do with it, they took it home. There, she counted the
money - fifty thousand dollars!
Andy said, “We’ve got to give it back.”
Sally said, “Finders keepers.” She put the money back in the bag and hid it in
their attic.

The next day, two police officers were canvassing the neighborhood looking for the
money, and knocked on their door. “Pardon me, did either of you find a bag that
fell out of an armored car yesterday?”
Sally said, “No”.
Andy said, “She’s lying. She hid it up in the attic.
Sally said, “Don’t believe him, he’s getting senile”

The agents turned to Andy and began to question him.

One said: “Tell us the story from the beginning.”
Andy said, “Well, when Sally and I were walking home from school yesterday ...”
The first police officer turned to his partner and said, “We’re outta here!”

And --

And Then:
Earl and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing,
chewing tobacco and drinking beer when suddenly
Bubba says, "Think I'm gonna divorce the wife - she
ain't spoke to me in over 2 months."

Earl spits overboard, takes a long, slow sip of beer and says, "Better think it
women like that are hard to find."

Oh my goodness, will you just look at this! The other day Quint and I were just talking about the newest, biggest, baddest TV screen. "How could anything be worth a half million dollars?" I asked. Then I saw this clip: -- It's wild. Now I know. That's some house. Probably doesn't come with the Porsche though. And wouldn't they worry about rain dripping down into that hole that the LED screen came out of? Just wondering. Thank you, Mark. I'll bet you don't have one of these in your back yard. I'm going to check next time I come see you.

I'm so lucky because I got this clip from both my cousins. It's about a lion cub that was raised from infancy, then returned back to the wild. This clip shows their meeting after some time has passed. They were warned that their pet lion had reverted back to being a wild animal and wouldn't recognize them. But you just watch!

And thank you, Mark and Al, for sharing this with all of us.

My final link for today is this one from Mark. He says it's about some masculine moments:

February 12, 2013

One of my favorite favorite places to go to on the web is - a most amazing place. To give you an idea, here is a link to a photographic excursion in the womb from conception to birth. Absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. -- and especially to a microbiology student, Elizabeth, who is studying at Eastern Illinois University. Say hello to Elizabeth, everybody. And Elizabeth, watch this video if you have time or inclination. You will enjoy it. I suspect.
And today is the day we remember Abraham Lincoln, America's Civil War President. Happy birthday, Abe!

Got this funny -- or at least cute -- video link from cousin Mark. It's called The Green Side of the Grass:

February 10, 2013

And just who is this Dr. Benjamin Carson? Well, if you haven't looked him up in Wikipedia, let me tell you that he is a pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University. He was the first surgeon to successfully separate twins who were joined at the head. He is a "pull yourself up out of poverty" kind of guy. He was invited to address the nation at the National Day of Prayer not too long ago. And in case you haven't heard his speech, here is a link:

Reminds me of my own childhood. We had next to nothing in money. And when I would go to my grandmother and complain that I hated being poor, she'd tell me that we weren't poor -- just broke. Big difference. And I've never forgotten it as I've gone through life. Sometimes broke; sometimes not. But poor? Nope. Poverty is a state of mind and I do not want to go there.

And here are the photos of Richard III's remains:

Everyone is buzzing about both these topics, from what I hear in my galloping around the internet.

Here's a link to a cat that I could just love. Cat-cat got run over and after many surgeries, has become a lesson of style and grace, not to mention grace. I just love cats!

Pink hair? So how many women do you think could pull off pink hair? Dame Helen Mirren seems to be doing just fine with it. But most of all, I love the dress. Elegant and very ladylike:

More photos of dresses, hairdos, tuxedos, etc. 
Oh, so those little peepholes in the ladies' dresses are called keyholes? Did not know that. And what's with that one yellow dress. It looks like half a dress that had the bottom half tacked on somehow. The woman who's wearing it should keep her arms down to her side so she doesn't give the dress' secret away. I could tell it if was supposed to be a mini that lost its identity at the last minute and had a bottom half added quickly in the dressing room. Guess those $gadzillion dresses are lost on me.

February 9, 2013

Found this beautiful rendition of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It's 42 minutes so I'm guessing it's all four seasons. Play it in the background while you're doing something else on your computer.

February 8, 2013

We've been watching a Netflix production, The House of Cards. It's Kevin Spacey at his best even though the story is about corruption and greed and politicians in Washington, D. C. However, in one of the later episodes, Spacey's character goes back to his alma mater because they are naming a new library after him. Francis Underwood, I think. Point is, he and three of his buddies sang Shenandoah. Nothing like good harmony for this wonderful song. This isn't them, but it's a wonderful glee club doing the same song:

Not the same group, but a wonderful group of harmony singing Finlandia:

Here's the same anthem set against some beautiful photography:

This anthem is also set against photography, with the lyrics as well as some of the history of Finland and its quest for independence from being a duchy of the Russian empire:

Here is a beautiful choral presentation: -- Finlandi, Hymni

Even a flash mob offers its rendition at an airport:  What a celebration of joy and peace and pride for a very young nation that has nourished its soil with the blood of its patriots. The world salutes you!

So for all our readers from Finland, enjoy. Our hearts are with you in your independence and freedom and liberty.

Adding one of my all-time favorites, Ode to Joy, here is a group from Japan -- all 10,000 of them -- giving us Ode an die Freude. Absolutely beautiful.

And this, I'll bet, you've not seen anything like it: 



January 30, 2013

My, oh my. This link shows a sinkhole that swallows up buildings!

Fortunately, no one was reported injured. But whole buildings?! Wow!

January 28, 2013

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's powerful message at the National Day of Prayer:

I pray that his message will be a wake-up call for many sinners who need to take that first little step toward regaining faith, or gaining a faith they may never have had.

It's simple. It requires crossing a threshold into a new beginning for your life. You don't have to make a big project out of it. Just find a church and walk through the doors. (I use the word church to mean any house of worship.)

Don't wait until you are doing "better" in your faith. Whatever that means. You are never going to get clean from your sins by yourself. Church is a place to go where you can get clean. It's where you metaphorically get cleansed by the blood of Christ.

If you feel like your sins have made you ill, then you need to know that the church is a hospital for sinners. You can exchange all those sins for a new life in Christ.

Just go through the door and feel the embrace of Christ's love.

If you believe that the church is full of hypocrites, then you ought to feel right at home if you think that at least you're honest enough to know you're a worthless piece of doodoo. But you're right -- as sinners we all live hypocritical lives. There's room for one more so come on in. Walk through the door.

Come on in and know the full salvation of Christ's love and what He did on the cross to save you and me alike. Just walk through the door. The Holy Spirit will guide you to faith and introduce you to the Savior of the world.

January 27, 2013

Want to see the five top scariest places on the planet? Take a look:

Here's a bear surprising a camera crew trying to set up a commercial in the frozen tundra north:

And to change the subject: 

Lent is about increasing consciousness.

The story of Easter starts at Christmas because there would be no Calvary without Bethlehem.

From Ash Wednesday, it's a forty-day journey of mindfulness. It's about a growing awareness of just exactly what Jesus Christ's death on the cross means to each of us as Christians.

So, how many of you out there would quietly lie down on a cross so that Roman Soldiers could nail your hands to the crossbar? Everybody who would be willing to do that, raise your hands.

Not many hands up. In fact the number is somewhere between zero and negative 10. The negative numbers are those people who are sitting on their hands just to make sure they don't spontaneously shoot up in the air.

How exactly do you increase your mindfulness about salvation. That's what the trek through the Lenten season is all about. It's about become more and more thankful for the tremendous sacrifice that our Heavenly Father made by sending His only Son to die for the wrongdoing of all sinners. As a parent and as a human mother, I can tell you that I could not have done that to any of our children. This was absolutely, positively certain death for Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ was not a clone off another brother. God could have done that too. But He didn't. Nope. Jesus Christ was His one and only.

The willingness of Jesus Christ to lay down His life is something we need to think about during this trek through Lent.

In my view, how could anyone participate in gleeful festivals and parties?! At the risk of those of you out there who'd tell me to lighten up, I say go ahead. Just count me out. I'm thinking about other things while you're engaging in your not-so-mindful Lent festivals and parties. I have a right to practice my faith in ways that are deeply meaningful to me. You do too.

Does it mean that I go to heaven and you don't? Probably not. But for me, observing Lent is more about Sunday morning and midweek Lenten services. It's about an everyday-trek through my heart and mind. It's one long moment from Ash Wednesday to Easter. I'm not that good at multi-tasking where I can do that and also go to festivals.

So have at it. I'll see you at the cross.

January 26, 2013

Late Night Catechism -- very funny nun:  There are other vignettes at the link which you can watch.

Here's a link of a father and son team: The son is blind and wheelchair-bound. And thanks to his father, he is part of the University of Louisville Marching Band. Seeing is believing! And thanks to our friends, John and Sherre, in Wichita for sending the link. It just reminds me that God gives us talent, but not necessarily fame or fortune.

What could be more adorable than a half dozen Scottish Terrier puppies? Well, watching them "eat" in a common puppy bowl and moving around it like a pinwheel. You're just not going to believe it:

I just love this video -- it's a little boy in who can't be more than 5 or 6 years old driving a front loader! He actually does a fantastic job and is so serious. I'm really impressed with his coordination:

After you watch it, answer me this question: do you think this young man would ever be satisfied playing with a Tonka truck? Not!

It seems to me that what makes these little boys so adorable is that they are doing big people stuff. Take this little tyke who crashed his dad's concert. Dad was singing Brown Eyed Girl and little Mr. Twinkie comes running over and decides to show off some of his moves to the crowd. Crowd went wild with appreciation. Baby takes pacifier back to his mom. Don't need this anymore since I'm out here playing with the big boys.

Want to see one good example of poetry in motion? Look at these Friesians. Beautiful black horses coming into their own in the field of dressage.

January 24, 2013

Here's a link to a beautiful train ride. Oh the beauty of the trip! Ride along with Floyd Kramer's piano:

Got this warning from my dear friend Norma:

>>>        Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating.. You walk
>>>        across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You
>>>        start the engine and shift into reverse..
>>>        When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your
>>>        parking space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle
>>> of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors,
>>>        and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it
>>>        is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the back of
>>>        your car, that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere,
>>>        jump into your car and take off. They practically mow you down
>>>        as they speed off in your car.
>>>        And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car.
>>>        So now the carjacker has your car, your home address, your
>>>        money, and your keys. Your home and your whole identity are now
>>>        compromised!
>>>        If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, just
>>>        drive away. Remove the paper later.  A purse contains all kinds of
>>>        personal information and identification documents, and you
>>>        certainly do NOT want it to fall into the wrong hands.**

This is a prayer that comes by way of my good friend, Cody, from Warrensburg. Thank you, Cody. I am especially happy to share with so many readers who live so far away -- many in countries that  persecute Christians. I lift each of you up in prayer for your physical and spiritual safety:

Prayer is one of the best and most powerful free gifts we receive. Read the prayer

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been
given to you.

May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.


January 22, 2013

Remember when I was talking about over-learning yesterday?

Today I'm thinking about over-thinking as part of that path to learning. Remember that learning is defined as relatively permanent and leads to some sort of behavior change. That behavior change can be something as simple as realizing that you're different because you've learned something new. That is to say, you don't have to go back to hula hoops for self-entertainment.

Today I am thinking about a physics idea. Not even sure you can call it a theorem yet, so I'll settle for an idea. It's called Higgs-Boson. It's an interesting thought - an idea -- and I want to understand it. So I found this link that was prepared by a physicist at the Fermilab. I figure if I listen to it over and over, I'll get a handle on Higgs-Boson. I do question the example of the portly gentleman going through the water with difficulty where the barracuda did not. In truth, all of the man was not in the water -- only half of him was, whereas all of the barracuda was moving through the water. But I'll have to study that thought some more. 

Here's a web site for some basic physics:

My point is, we'd better be learning this stuff if we ever want to understand the world around us instead of having someone understand the world and explaining it to us. I mean, how do we know they'd be correct? We need to keep over-thinking and over-learning.

After all, my technique did get me through understanding some perplexing and difficult math structures in high school and my undergrad.

And my brain didn't even melt.

So I'm going to put this link about quantum physics here kind of as a bookmark because when I want to find it, I probably won't be able to: 

But then, I could always ask Quint and he could explain it all to me.

January 21, 2013

January 21st already. Wow! How time goes flying by.

I received this link from my dear friend Linda in Lawrenceville:

If ever there is a story of the need for closure, this video poignantly points to the need. This is the story of a WWII widow who searched and searched and never gave up. And all the time her late husband was found in a grave at Normandy. But it's more than that. That would be too simple a story. Just watch and see what the little town in France has done to commemorate her husband all these years.

Linda also sent a link entitled The Beauty of Mathematics. If you have not seen this before, prepare to be amazed:

It reminds me of when I was a little kid and used to "count letters." Don't know where I learned to do that but it was just fun. I counted the letters in my name, and words at school. For no good reason except as a mental exercise.

And thank you, Linda, for sharing this link with our readers.

While I was at the links, I noticed a video called Late Night Catechism. I knew the nun was Catholic. I mean, her habit was a big clue, right? So I clicked on this link:

Oh how funny she is! The above link takes you to catechetical lesson #2 -- and there are others at the site. Enjoy!

January 19, 2013

We watched a Neil Young concert - Prairie Wind -- on Netflix last night. His signature song, at least as far as I'm concerned, is Heart of Gold. So while I was listening to that song, I really wanted to hear Horse With No Name. I was so certain that it was a Neil Young recording too. But it wasn't. America recorded it and here's a link, if you're interested:

At one point, Neil Young asked, "If there a guitar in the house?" Next thing you know, he's got about 8 guitars lined up playing with him on stage. Having taught guitar years ago at a park district up north, I am amazed that all the guitars were so in tune with one another, and the guitarists were so synchronized.

I watched a TED talk about sychronicity not too long ago. It seems that "all" things in nature try to synchronize with each other. So I put on my mental health hat and wonder if, for whatever reason, people can't synchronize with one another it's doom for a relationship from the start.

Anyway, if you haven't discovered TED talks yet, go to and listen to some of them. One of the criteria is that the talks can't be longer than 15-18 minutes and the speaker has to talk about an idea that will change the world. There are all sorts of categories to plug into. Go ahead. It's an easy way to learn something new.

My grandmother used to tell me that a day was wasted if I didn't learn one new thing.

She didn't have to lecture me much about that either. I loved studying and learning when I was in school. Loved it so much that I made up practice tests for myself when I was an undergrad. I would pick parts of the text that were particularly difficult to grasp and make "fill in the blank" exercises. I made a key with the answers as I went along. I would only do 50 blank questions or so at a time. Then I would test myself. I was amazed that even after reading the text, then writing it down with an important word replaced by a line to fill in, and writing the correct word or term on the key, the first time I took my little practice test, I would only get 50% or so correct. So I'd keep taking my little test until I got 95% correct. Then I would move on to another part of the textbook and do the same thing. And that is how I aced my tests.

Was it a lot of work? Yes!

Was it worth it? You bet!

Later when I taught psychology classes to undergrads, I told them what I did. Believe it or not, several of the students duplicated my "system." They were amazed to add such a simple method to their toolbox of learning skills.

Students often make an assumption that if they read something, and take good notes, then review their notes the night before an exam, that's all they need to get a good grade on tests. Some people can do that. Most can't. Most people need a few other techniques to help them out.

But for all those people who say, "I never was good at taking tests," I say, "Of course not because the secret to taking tests well is overlearning. It's going over and over and over the material until you can practically recite the information."

One thing that we've all over-learned is the alphabet. Another is the multiplication tables. That is, if you memorized the multiplication tables.

On another matter not related to anything above -- here's a link that shows ships in their rustic rusty final states lying on beaches at various places around the world:

January 17, 2013

One of the benefits I have enjoyed over the past several years after doing some genealogy research is finding a long lost cousin of mine in southeast Texas. We are related through my father's sister. A side benefit is that Frances has as much a sense of fun-loving human as I do. She sent this and I think you'll enjoy it too:

Why I Like Retirement !!!

Question: How many days in a week?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday
and you know when it's Sunday
that's when the heavy paper comes

Question: When is a retiree's bedtime?
Answer: Three hours after he falls asleep in the recliner.

Question: How many retirees to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day.

Question: What's the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There is not enough time to get everything done.

Question: Why don't retirees mind being called Seniors?
Answer: The term comes with a 10% discount.

Question: Among retirees what is considered formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.

Question:Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer:They are the only ones who have the time.

Question:Why are retirees so slow to clean out the basement, attic or garage?
Answer:They know that as soon as they do, one of their adult kids will want to store
stuff there.

Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal.

Question:What is the best way to describe retirement?
Answer: The never ending Coffee Break.

Question: What's the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree?
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents.

Question: Why does a retiree often say he doesn't miss work, but misses the people
he used to work with?
Answer: He is too polite to tell the whole truth.

And, my very favorite....
QUESTION: What do you do all week?
Answer: Monday through Friday, NOTHING..... Saturday & Sunday, I rest.

Thank you, Frances, and stay warm. I don't think the Houston area is getting all that many blessings from Mother Nature these days. I'm bracing for a predicted 5 degrees on Sunday. Brrrrr.

January 15, 2013

If you like cats, you'll enjoy watching these two felines "sharing" their dinner:

I like cats a lot more than politics. Apparently they share. But I don't think they are compromising all that much, to think about it.

January 15, 2013

From our good friends in Wichita comes this suggestion of how to cook a turkey dinner. Something to keep in mind: Now, isn't that hilarious?

January 14, 2013

I can remember sitting around the radio when I was a kid -- kind of like we sit around the TV nowadays - to listen to the Bob Hope Show. What fun. I understand from listening to interviews with him that he also wrote his own material.

Got the following snippets from cousin Mark. So for those of you who are too young to remember the Bob Hope Shop, here are some funny bits from this wonderful comedian who passed on a number of years ago:

For those of you too young to remember Bob Hope, ask your Grandparents..
And thanks for the memories. WHAT A WONDERFUL E-MAIL.


Tribute to a man who DID make a difference.

'I still chase women, but only

'That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.'

'You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.'

'I don't feel old. In fact, I don't feel
anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.'

'I ruined my hands in the ring. The referee kept stepping on them.'

'Welcome to the Academy Awards or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'.

'Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees.'

'I have performed for 12 presidents and entertained only six.'


'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother,
Congratulations, you have an eight pound ham.

'I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it.'

'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.'

'That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.'

'I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the
stuff the audience threw at me.'

'I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a

January 14, 2013

Here is a link to a video about interment about the USS Arizona that is carried out even in the present time:

Quint and I the opportunity to go aboard the Arizona when we went to Hawaii on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. It is, even after all these years, a moving experience. And a reverent one, just knowing that there were sailors still entomed beneath us.

January 13, 2013

Watch this clip of a golden lab trying to very gently interact with a young boy:

I'm fortunate to have had a golden lab when I was much younger. They're the gentlest dogs on the planet -- in my view. Dogs are amazing -- as you can see when this video shows a dog going onto a busy highway to rescue another dog that has been run over: Amazing. And the injured dog lived! That's the best part.

The link to this video shows an incredible affection from a cat trying to revive a cat friend:

These compilation videos are always interesting. I personally think everyone should take a Physics class in high school just to learn about forces of nature and what works and doesn't work. And apparently a shooting course too so you can know what to expect in a recoil. Or at least to hold onto the rifle.

But then, it's nice when everything works out all right too:

I guess we can talk about doctors and medicine in the new year. These funny vignettes come from my cousin Mark who is always funny!


Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life.  Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't waste on exercise. 
Everything wear out eventually.  Speeding up heart not make you live longer;

it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster.  Want to live longer? 
Take nap.  

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?   
A:  Oh no.  Wine made from fruit.  Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take
water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way.  Beer also made
of grain.  Bottom up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to one.  If you have two
body, your ratio two to one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of single one, sorry.  My philosophy: No pain...good!  
Q:  Aren't fried foods bad for you?   
A:  YOU NOT LISTENING!  Food fried in vegetable oil.  How getting more vegetable
be bad?

Q :  Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A:  Oh no!  When you exercise muscle, it get bigger.  You should only be doing
sit-up if you want bigger stomach. 

Q:  Is chocolate bad for me? 
A:  You crazy?!?  HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another vegetable!  It best
feel-good food around!

Q:  Is swimming good for your figure? 
A:  If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.

Q:  Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle? 
A:  Hey!  'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food
and diets.

And  remember:  
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in
an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay
in one hand -

chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming
"WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"   

For  those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and
health.  It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer
fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION:  Eat and drink what you like.   Speaking English is

apparently what kills you.

Quint's cardiologist has a food philosophy that I like. He says we don't have to endure all that gravel-tasting food. Like that guy1

January 9, 2012

Today would have been my brother's 68th birthday. RIP, Al. Hope you were finally able to quit smoking wherever you are up there.

Under the general heading of "Are you kidding me?" is an activity called "zorbing." Not sure where that word came from, but a zorb is a big inflatable ball.

Well, these two Russians decided to get inside this inflatable, which is what youdo with a zorb, and roll it down a ski slope.

It did not end well. In fact, one of the zorbas was killed when the zorb rolled off a cliff, instead of sticking with the path it was "supposed" to take.

Here's the linkhttp:// 

Not serious like the antics of zorbing, but here's reactions from fast food drive-up window people who try to serve an order to a car that doesn't have a driver in it: Reactions are really interesting.

January 8, 2013

Eons ago when I was young and dirt was just a technological dream, I took a Psychology of Advertising course. How attitudes of the public are shaped by advertising was a new thought. How advertising reflects the social mores of a culture was also embedded in there somewhere. So I found these ads -- supposed to be the funniest ads of last year. Enjoy.

What do the ads say to you? Some of interesting, others downright funny. Ads have come a long way since the early days of television when it was all about a catchy jingle and a kind of in-your-face message. Nowadays, ads are more subtle and a whole lot funnier. And now with the ability to lip sync babies talking, and other computer gyrations, we get some pretty comical antics. Babies and animals still rack up the best sales.

This link takes you to "Top Tracks of Enya." Lots of beautiful graphics. Enjoy your respite.

Didn't get enough commercials in the Super Bowl? This link takes you to a big collection. Funnnnnny!


January 7, 2013

Oh the curse of unintended consequences! Take the electric cars, for instances. Notice how quiet they are. Peace, aren't they?

Apparently there are lots of problems where pedestrians are concerned. So much so that highway safety people have now developed a list of sounds that will have to be engineered into the oncoming electric car so that you will know they're around. You can listen to these sounds just so you will recognize there's a car nearby when you step off into the pedestrian walkway at the intersection. Here's the link:

January 6, 2013

Today is the Feast of Epiphany Sunday. It's the day that Christians celebrate the Magi who came to see the Baby Jesus. They brought expensive gifts which certainly came in handy when Joseph had to take his new family into Egypt for safekeeping because that mean old King Herod was looking for all the first-borns to be killed. Someone had told Herod that a new king of the Jews had been born and Herod, being the paranoid type, couldn't handle that kind of rivalry. So, he'd already killed his wife and his father-in-law and his mother-in-law and now was going to launch a genocide of innocent little babies.

At church we do our undecorating of Christmas trees and adornments after our Epiphany celebration. And even though it's called the Feast of Epiphany, we didn't have anything to eat. Not even one little cookie. Seems like this would be a good time to have one of those yummy Lutheran potlucks. Instead, we just put everything away for another year. Pretty much the entire congregation stays after church and gets that job done. We're done in less than an hour because just about everybody pitches in. Many hands make light work.

I have a link to a hilarious juggler. Michael Davis at the Ford Theater is one of those people I should know about. But I don't. He's really funny though. Loved the way he introduced his act -- juggling water.

Here he is in one of his Johnny Carson routines: -- again. He's too funny. is another link to Michael Davis.

Everybody needs a good laugh. At least once a day. Did you know that you change your body's chemistry when you laugh out loud? It's good for you.

January 3, 2012 pt. 2

Ever wonder why God invented machetes? Watch this video of a cottonmouth eating a rattlesnake and you might come close. The snakes are big too.

January 3, 2012

If I live to be as old as Methuselah, I will not be able to make all the "must have" recipes that I pull out of newspapers and magazines. So, since it's the New Year and I only allow myself one new resolution for the year, I am going to get out all the recipes that I thought we couldn't live without and decide which ones are all that glorious.

It's my "Do Something Terminal" technique. And it's foolproof. Here's how it works: for 15 min tackle any job that needs doing. But for only 15 minutes. By doing something terminal, I mean I will either throw the recipe away, or clip it to my grocery list for next week or toss it.

By limiting myself to 15 minutes, I assure myself that I won't get tired of the task. I mean, we can do just about anything for 15 minutes, can't we?

I do that with my desk too. And house cleaning which is my most unfavorite chore.

I know it sounds like I have the attention span of a snail, but I have to concentrate on what works for me as I go through life. Besides, I suspect that if I were to tackle that entire stack of recipes, it would probably take me months and months and months. And not having that much free time in any given morning is why this task got so big in the first place. I could change my own rule, though, and say that if I really want the recipe that bad but don't want to cook the dish next week, I'll copy it onto a 3x5 card and put the card in a little file box that's just for that purpose. Might only get a couple of recipes off the pile in 15 minutes, but the pile of recipeswill  get shorter anyway.

In the United States, this is the day that the U.S. Congress gets sworn in, including 90 freshman reps. It will be the 113th Congress for the United States. Might just watch. There's been fireworks threatened to unseat the Speaker of the House. Not sure if a "palace coup" will work. It was in 1923 that was the last time this happened. Only 17 people have to withhold votes for the Speaker to be unseated. The Republican party is not as conservative as it used to be, and that's what the fuss is all about. I think. Then there's all that pork in the disaster aid package that has been delayed. A vote on a $9 billion part of the aid package will come to the floor on Friday. It's sure to get a yes vote. The other $59 billion in aid will come later. It includes a lot of stuff like $336 million for Amtrak, a couple of million to do something to a room at the Smithsonian. Supposedly all these items have to do with disasters of some sort of other, even the fisheries in Alaska.

I think maybe -- and I could probably get outshouted on this -- but just maybe the House ought to just do one bill for one item. They ought to figure out exactly how much disaster aid the Hurricane Sandy victims need and that's the extent of the bill. Nah. That would never work. That would mean the congressionals would have to work all day, every work day. They might even have to come in at 9 am and work til 4 pm. Instead, bills seem to have all become giant bills that covers everything from soup to nuts.

But don't get me started on politics. What's going on in Washington, D.C. right now is pretty mean-spirited. Same could be said of state capitols. I think it has more to do with human dynamics. Seems like whenever you get more than 3 or 4 or 5 people together, the game of King of the Mountain becomes the name of the game.

Which reminds me of an excellent book of human dynamics -- for those who might be interested. It's called Games People Play. Not sure if it's even in print at this point. A used book store, or maybe even Amazon, might have copies.

A gameis defined as a set of transactions. In other words, if I do this, what can I expect you to do? Then, when you do that, what's my next step going to be?

This is a fascinating book and it's one that i read in my undergrad years when I was taking a psychology course called Transactional Analysis. The book called Games People Play is a lot more readable and enjoyable that a psychology course textbook though. There's also a book called Games Alcoholics Play. And Games Grandparents Play (I think).

If I had the extra  time, I would like to write a book called Games Abusive Bullies Play. Since I did my masters research in domestic violence, I think such a book would be helpful for both victims and abusers to get some good tools for their emotional toolbox.

January 1, 2013

We stayed up all the way 'til 10 last night. Figured it was 2013 somewhere in the world so we went to bed.

Fortunately we didn't get any snow but it's cold. Enough of this winter already. Now I'm starting my countdown to Groundhog's Day, that great little harbinger of spring.

Why the big fuss about Groundhog's Day? When I was a little girl -- oh, about 4th grade -- we used to get coloring book pages to celebrate Groundhogs Day. All of us thought it was just wonderful.

It has been many years since I was nine years old, but it dawned on me when I got into high school that the Groundhog was not all that great to color. After all, he's just a rat. And I had to use up my brown color crayons too fast. Blacks too. Crayola boxes didn't have various shades of brown in those little boxes. So after I got the groundhogs colored in, there wasn't a whole lot of brown left over for tree trunks and such.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of a 4th grader.

Maybe that's why I trekked on down to the library in the middle of Paducah and got a job putting books away.

On another subject, Quint and I are enthusiastic fans of Tom Sellek so we are enjoying his new series, Blue Bloods. He plays a police commissioner in New York City and his oldest son is a homicide detective. His younger son went to Harvard and Tom thought for sure he was going to get out of the "family business." But not so. He came back home and signed up for the police academy. Oh, and Tom is a widower. Not sure how his late wife Mary died. He also lives with his father who is a retired police commissioner. And Tom lost a son in the line of duty. He was trying to infiltrate a gang of some sort. Tom's daughter is a District Attorney and her daughter wants to be a police officer too. Just like her beloved grandpa.

Good story. And it's one of the reasons we really enjoy our membership in Netflix.

December 31, 2012

This is a funny piece of humor from my dear friend Shirley who's out there in Arizona until she returns with the snow birds in the spring.
Subject: Protestant humor

Ole is the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church and Pastor Sven is the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road. 
One day they are seen pounding a sign into the ground, which said:  
  As a car speeds past them, the driver leans out his window and yells, "Leave people
>  alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!"  
From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.  
Shakin' his head, Rev. Ole says, "Dat's da terd one dis mornin'." 
>   >
Pastor Sven agrees, then asks, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say, 'Bridge Out?'" 
Thank you, Shirley, I'm still laughing.

Happy New Year to all! Won't be writing 2012 much longer. If you're still writing checks, you might want to open your checkbook and "pre-date" a half dozen or so checks to 2013. Several years ago, I forgot to use the new year's date and the check was returned as "stale dated." I had to go to the bank and change the date and initial my change.

We are supposed to be having a winter storm watch again here in middle earth/Illinois. It's 35.8 F now. Looking at the radar on the weather page, it looks pretty bad. There's a huge blue snowdrift, then a band of pink weather -- icy stuff -- then green green. It's actually supposed to be raining here now but I guess we're in the 40% that's okay since there's only a 60% chance of precip.

Not sure if the roads are okay to get to the church where I'm supposed to spend the afternoon. When I left on Friday, I watched a pick-em-up-truck lose control on the ice road about a mile ahead of me. Oh brother. He wrestled with his truck on the icy skating rink that was the road and finally got straightened out again so I didn't have to do anything like change steering or speed or anything. Just watch him and pray for him to recover before I got down there. He did and all was well. Thanks to no one but God who continues to watch over me.

Quint did a really good job of getting the snow off the driveway and sidewalks. He now uses the leaf blower and it works like a charm. And is much faster too.

Prayers for your safety no matter where in this world you may be.

And keep your celebrations this evening down to a slow roar and don't get inebriated. We're not going anywhere. Much prefer to do our celebrating safely at home.

God bless!

Before I leave this year behind me in the dust, I have to tell you about an experience I had with a couple of people in the last few months with some women who tried to bully me. Yes, even when you get up in years, as I am, and because I try to always be a nice, friendly person, there are still people who perceive that as an attitude of weakness and try to get at some imagined underbelly of vulnerability.

It happened in, of all places, a church meeting. Big surprise, right?

Not for me. I've been around church groups for years and years and years and I know that the devil works the hardest when he crosses the threshold of a church group. So if you think that bullying is something that just happens on a playground and involves just children, think again. Bullying happens whenever there is a person who tries to even up a power game with someone who is perceived as vulnerable.

It happens when an abusive person tries to make a victim out of someone else. The problem is, in order to be a victim, you have to give the abuser permission to pick on you. 

There's nothing she can do to me that God and I can't handle.

What I will do is continue to pray for these individuals. What I know as a mental health counselor is that bullies are insecure people who are trying to gain some balance of power within their psyche. Their imbalance of power has its roots in childhood when they were overpowered by someone who made them a victim. 

An act of love and compassion levels the playing field. We are, after all, children of the same heavenly Father. As such, each of us is a child of God and we share a common communion when we interact with one another and with each and every other child of God.

But when we mistreat another child of God with whom we are supposed to have communion, then we have mistreated the very God who shares an inheritance with us because He adopted us into His family.

God levels the playing field. Bullies don't.

December 25, 2012

Quint and I are hoping that each and every one of you are having a beautiful Christmas.

And in keeping with the season of joy -- bringing joy to others, here's a link to the Christmas Drop Operation of the US Air Force as they deliver a lot of joy to the folks in remote villages in Micronesia. Good job, Santas! I had no idea that this was being done in places like Micronesia. I just love the little hut with a "room addition" on it. And the little girl wearing flip flops that would fit someone three times her size. but just try to take them away from her.

Another link is a message about life. Love life. Enjoy life. Share life with those you love. This is a "public service message" that was designed and developed by the man who's playing the dad in the "commercial." It brings a tear to my eye to watch it because life is so precious and something not to squandered by foolishly not wearing a seat belt.

If you've ever had any doubts that animals jump around just to have fun, this video will dispel that rumor: These little guys look like they have springs in their feet, don't they?

And so at Christmas, all around the world, we think of joy and life. Those gifts were given to each of us by someone who loves us dearly. His greatest gift is the gift of salvation.

Don't squander a minute of your life without Jesus Christ and the love of His Heavenly Father in your heart.

We enjoyed an ongoing Christmas tradition at church this morning. All the members who are present join each other in the altar area and sing Whose Child Is This? We are given the words to the song. I mean, who remembers all three verses? The only person not up there is our faithful organist, Joan Eirhart. We all manage to get ourselves shoe-horned into the altar area and are standing very close together and sing our little hearts out. It's a wonderfully close feeling to be there with our fellow Christian friends.

I cooked a ham for Quint's Christmas dinner. He made me promise when we got married that I'd never put a dead bird on his plate. It's an old childhood memory of pouring boiling hot water onto a hen I think it was. The smell was gaggy, he says. So there's a lot of other things to eat if he doesn't like fowl. And I treat myself to turkey and dressing, or duck, or some other favorite chicken dinner whenever we go out to eat. Works out just fine. But the ham today was a hickory smoked ham from Kentucky that was out of this world.

There will be plenty left over for ham and eggs, and of course there will be plenty for our New Years feast which, also a southern tradition, is to have Black Eyed Peas on New Years. The legend is that if you start out the year with a humble meal, your new year will go well for you. I actually believe that all our gifts are from God's gracious providence, but I cook the peas anyway. And it's always good to be humble too.

God bless you all,
Quint and Jane

December 24, 2012

With all the fun I was having yesterday skipping my way through videos, I neglected to put a link to the original Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simione Chorus. So if you're a Little Drummer fan enjoy. But first, here's the toned down Mannheim Steamroller's version of the drummer boy:

And back to the Harry Simeone Chorus: Enjoy to your little heart's content. It's as beautiful as it ever was.

If you enjoy Neil Diamond, as we do, here's his rendition:

This is a link to the recording from the Johnny Cash Show:

December 23, 2012

Today was Lessons and Carols at church this morning. It's a special service that we've enjoyed every year. Christmas Story is read from the Bible and we head all our favorite Christmas Hymns sung by some very talented people in our congregation -- even sing some carols ourselves.

I have a beautiful song and one of my favorite Christmas carols sung by a 7 year old: She is awesome!

Another beautiful song by a 7 year old -- Rhema Marvanne -- singing Hallelujah. 

Mary, Did You Know?
from Big Apple Futon reminds us of who Jesus is and why He came to earth in the first place:

He Came is a little more than a minute and a half that tells the Christmas story in words and music from Thrve Media. Beautifully done!

This isn't our church, but I just love to watch 2 and 3-year olds presenting the Christmas Pageant. One little boy keeps breaking loose and going off script to run over to his daddy -- no matter how many times he's brought back to the fold. And Mary takes off with the Baby Jesus a couple of times. It's absolutely precious. Brings a little humor to the day, don't you think?

Have you ever been in a food court in a shopping mall and had a "flash mob" start singing? Neither have I but just watch this! The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. Wouldn't that be a treat beyond your wildest dreams? I'll bet my last ten dollars that this is not an amateur choir.

This has nothing to do with Christmas but the Cumberland Oratio surrounded a soldier on Father's Day and sang America. He was just walking through the mall, but what a wonderful tribute to a special army guy!

And from Antwerp, we can see how they do flash mobs in Belgium:

Another flash mob dancing up a storm in Singapore:

Coming back to Christmas, here's Kenny Rogers and Wynona Judd singing Mary, Did You Know?

A snare drum ensemble presents Little Drummer Boy: It's totally awesome!

December 22, 2012

With a sense of humor, I watch the annual Christmas Goat in the little town of Gavle, Sweden. Every year since 1966, the Swedes in the little town of Galve have built this really humongous goat. Even put a fence around it to discourage the favorite activity of people in the area -- that of burning the goat down. It's been an ongoing tradition to see if anyone can burn the goat down. Some fear that if the Christmas goat isn't burned down, then all the Christmas presents will go to Finland. This year we have a video of the goat burning down

Watch this: You'll probably have to do a cut and paste of this link to get the link to open. The goat is very, very big!
There - now doesn't that sound like Merry Christmas to you? Merry Christmas to all our Scandinavian friends this fine bright sunny day here in Middle Illinois.

Hint: Maybe you could build a bigger fence. Think that might work? Probably not. The pyromaniac would just bring a taller ladder. I do think the person who shot the goat with a flaming arrow was a bit inventive.

Oh, this is so funny! At least I think so. Thanks Mark for sending:

It was Saturday morning as Jake, an avid hunter, woke up raring to go bag the first
deer of the season.

He walks down to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and to his surprise he finds
his wife, Alice, sitting there, fully dressed in camouflage.

Jake asks her, "What are you up to?"

Alice smiles, "I'm going hunting with you!"

Jake, though he had many reservations about this, reluctantly decides to take her

Three hours later they arrive at a game preserve just outside of San Marcos, Texas.

Jake sets his lovely wife safely up in the tree stand and tells her, "If you see a
deer, take careful aim on it and I'll come running back as soon as I hear the shot."

Jake walks away with a smile on his face knowing that Alice couldn't bag an elephant
- much less a deer.

Not 10 minutes pass when he is startled as he hears an array of gunshots.

Quickly, Jake starts running back. As Jake gets closer to her stand, he hears Alice
screaming, get the #$%^ away from my deer!"

Confused and frightened, Jake races faster towards his screaming wife.

And again he hears her yell, "Get the #$%^ away from my deer!" \ followed by another
volley of gunfire!

Now within sight of where he had left his wife, Jake is
surprised to see a Texas game warden with his hands high in the air. The game
warden, obviously distraught, yelled, "Okay, lady! You can have your #$%^ deer, just
let me get my saddle off it!" 

Oh, man, what a trooper! Bob Welsh. Great video

All police officers and troopers have stories to tell, and Trooper Bob is no exception. So heartwarming. The world is a better place because people like Trooper Bob are in it.

And apparently, watching news bloopers are everybody's favorite:
Some are incredibly hilarious!

In a tug of war between a cat and a snake, which one do you think would win? -- This cat looks a lot like daughter Teri and her husband Rick's Maine Coon -- Rocky Lee. Rockly Lee is the most ferocious cat ever to draw breath. When Rick and Teri go out for a walk and leave Rocky at home, he somehow gets out of the house and follows them down the street. They know he's behind them and when they turn to look, he darts behind a little tree -- sideways -- with much of him sticking out on either side of the tree. Then when they turn to continue their walk, he stealthily sneaks back into his walk. It's so funny to watch Rocky. I could swear that he's the cat in the above video.


December 19, 2012

It always seems like Christmas gets here especially fast when there are only three Advent services. Today was the last one. This time next week, Christmas 2012 will be just a memory. We put our tree up this year. Didn't last year or the year before. We just didn't have the energy in the aftermath of chemo for both of us followed by radiation for me. We're well on the mend now and in remission from all that stuff. We thank God every day for the miracle of modern oncology and so glad that we have an oncology center here in town. I met a lot of people who drove 70 to 90 miles just to come for radiation every day. The "session" only lasted about 15 minutes so it was quite a sacrifice for them. We thanked God that the oncology center was only 3 minutes from our door.

I found this really exciting video this evening. It's a guy going down a mountain on I have no idea what. It looks like it could be a little skateboard type of car that fits on a rail of some sort. It would be one thrill of a ride to actually be on it, but it's still awesome going with the rider from his helmet camera: Prepare to be amazed!

I found this hilarious Snowman on a sidewalk scaring people as they walk by: Kindly note that people remembered who God is and who Jesus is. The reactions of the passersby is really funny.

December 18, 2012

People take risks unnecessarily. Then they expect to be rescued. Here's a good example of a helicopter pilot making a rescue on top of a rock pillar.

There are so many things that could have gone wrong with that rescue. Side winds. Thermal updrafts that were hampering the pilot's efforts to set the helicopter down, etc. etc. etc.

Do you think hikers have a right to expect someone else to put his/her life at risk to make these kinds of rescues? Bravo to the pilot but I hope the Search and Rescue Department of the Utah State Troopers charged a gadzillion dollars to the hikers who went up there to play on a rock top that day.

Did you ever wonder how those trains get through heavy snowfall in the northern climes? Well, here's a train clearing the tracks of that white stuff: Amazing! Absolutely amazing. The plow is taller than the train.

Okay, when it's really really windy out there on the highways, slow down. Take a look at this truck trying to drive through some high winds and look at the trees on the side of the road. They don't look like they're blowing all that much, do they? I know when it's a little breezy on our trips, Quint and I try to guess what the wind speed is. Not that we know for sure, but it increases our mindfulness. Those big rigs are like driving a billboard, wouldn't you say? I was wondering what the second truck was going to do since it looked like he might try to pass the first truck. But prudence won out on that one.

What do you think one tiny little drop of snake venom could do to the blood in your body? Here's the answer if it's a Russell's Viper: Good grief! But you can see the medical implications for people whose blood won't clot and they just bleed and bleed until they run out of blood!

December 17, 2012

This is an unbelievable video! It's supposed to be the largest calving ever of an iceberg. The actual event lasted 75 minutes.

Reminds me of how very tiny we are as human beings and how absolutely magnamimous God is. You do believe that He can move mountains, don't you?

And you can tell I'm kind of getting used to the idea that winter is coming and I'm going to have to learn to drive on ice and snow all over again:

But my favorite is this little guy who is 6 years old and autistic, playing the piano like no other!

December 16, 2012

It's no secret that I brake for children - especially children who overcome all sorts of odds to do something wonderful in their lives.

You are just not going to believe what children who live in a slum in Paraguay do with some of the trash that they find. They make musical instruments! And play them very well too. Here's the link:

They call themselves the fillharmonic.

On another note, prayers continue for the children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, and the families and friends who loved them dearly.

It's warmed up here in Central Illinois for a few days at least. It's now 53 degrees. A bit unseasonal for mid-December but I'm glad. After the longest day of the year, which is December 21, the countdown for me begins for Groundhogs Day, which is the first day of Spring in my heart. I'm told that this is the end of the Mayan calendar and there's this big debate about it possibly being the end of the world. But for crying out loud, it's the end of the Mayan calendar. They didn't make any more calendars because they were getting killed off by the Conquistadors and the Aztecs. So far, the Aztecs haven't figured out how to make a Mayan long count calendar yet. But then, Julius Caesar also made a calendar didn't he? So what's all the bother about?

If the world ends on December 21, I guess I won't have to worry about Groundhog's Day because I'll be in heaven with Jesus. No need for a calendar then, because it will be living in eternity.


December 15, 2012

Oh geez, you may wonder where in the world I've been for the past couple of weeks.

And I have to tell you that I don't remember having readers clock on from Kazakhstan or Croatia of Macau and a long time from Austria. Welcome, welcome!

In the first place, I found a really funny -- absolutely hilarious -- video to a link to the world's worst Christmas decorations.

I think my favorite is Santa being naughty. If you are reading this and wondering what Santa could possibly be doing that's naughty, you'll just have to look to find out. It's too funny for words.
At least much
I volunteered to help with a program that's dedicated to mildly handicapped people this morning. It was a Happy Birthday Jesus party. Some of the people were more handicapped than others. But everybody had a good time and ate a lot of cookies, drank a lot of punch and watched a nativity skit put on by some high functioning members of the "school." It was wonderful. And I'm glad to see these kinds of programs being successfully offered up through church congregations.

Quint is busy being my favorite Christmas elf making the world's best chocolate fudge for our friends and loved ones. And I have figured out a recipe for a hot sauce that is to die for. I like a lot of heat on my food and finally made one up that I dearly love. It's first ingredient is vinegar, followed by tomato ketsup. The rest is in the spices. Good stuff. At least, much to my liking.

And juxtoposed to that story of the horrible massacre in Connecticut was another story about 22 children stabbed in China. Funny, though, no one is trying to outlaw knives in China, where we're trying to outlaw guns again in the U.S. How about this? It's just plain sinful to kill innocents no matter what your weapon is.


November 28, 2012

Hard to believe that 2012 is rapidly drawing to a close. And then there goes that first month of the year when I really have to consciously write 2013.

One year I pre-dated the year on about 15 checks just to be sure. The bank we had actually returned checks that had the previous year on it as "stale dated." We don't write that many checks anymore but it's still handy to have the year predated on the handwritten checks just to be sure.

I have been fiddling around with my favorite barbecue sauce recipe for some time. I've tried to get as close as I can to the Starnes recipe in Paducah, Kentucky. Starnes is one of those places from high school that I remember fondly. And every trip to Paducah to visit friends includes a trip to Starnes for an open pit treat.

The recipe is different from all that stuff you get at the supermarket. In the first place, the main ingredient is vinegar; the second ingredient is tomator ketsup. So I started with 1 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup ketsup. The rest is spices. We like a smoky sauce, so God invented liquid smoke for us. And we also like a lot of heat so in goes the cayenne. Add a pinch or two of onion powder and garlic powder and it's good to go.

It is delicious. And it will tide me over until we get back to Paducah. The recipe above fits nicely in the Starnes 10 oz. container.

November 25, 2012

Wow! Here's a link to an awesome site that shows an animation of the phases of the moon through the year 2013.

I have never seen the moon wobbling on its axis before. In fact, I didn't even know that happened.

OK folks. Here's the recipe for what is supposed to be a Twinkie filling. I'm sure it has some changes to the real deal. Just can't imagine the twinkie filling not being proprietary information. But I will say that it tastes a lot like the real thing.

I made it last night and made sandwich cookies with it. Then I stored the unused part in a glass canning jar. I expected it to be rock solid when we got home from church today but it wasn't. In fact, it was still very spreadable without having to warm up to room temperature at all. And easy? Oh my goodness. You really can't miss with this recipe. This would be a good recipe to frost a cake with and then put coconut on it. Yummy.


2 tsp very hot water
rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
7 oz. jar of mashmallow cream
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the salt in with the hot water. Stir really well until the salt is dissolved. Set aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In a mixer bowl, mix marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well until it's fluffly. Then add the salt mixture and mix it in really good.

That's it.

Awwww - people, people, people! About those PIN numbers. Want to know what the most popular PIN number is -- out of about 3.4 million? Ready for this: 1234. Also in the top ten is 4321. Now that takes a lot of imagination. No wonder people have their goodies stolen from credit cards to debit cards. Wouldn't you think that if there was anything of value in your checking account -- anything at all -- that you could do better than 1234? You probably went all the way through school and couldn't come up with a better PIN number than that, could you? Couldn't you use your grandmother's birthday or something just as easy to remember that a thief or hacker would not be likely to guess?

But then, 1111 is also popular. More popular than 2222, actually.

November 24, 2012

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. We spent turkey day with a kind of adopted family from church and had a wonderful day. The food was delicious and the conversations that went way into the afternoon were also great.

But did you ever wonder what cats might be thankful for? Here's a link from Furball Productions that has some furry clues: -- Great music too. Pachelbel's Canon in D.

November 15, 2012

Quint dug up all the canna lily bulbs this afternoon. He dusted them off and stored them in a plastic bag in the basement. They'll get a nice winter's nap. Then I went next door to tell the new neighbor that she needs to dig up the canna lily bulbs that I gave her last summer. They didn't bloom that robustly this summer but I'm just thankful that the drought didn't get them. I did start out the summer watering the outdoor flowers but then decided that the city water supply was more important than flowers. I mean, if our house caught on fire, I sure wouldn't want the fire department to run out of water.

It was in the high 20s today. That's a sure frost. My roses haven't given up though.

I made another batch of three dozen cookies this evening. These were gingerbread cookies. So far, I have 6 dozen cookies of the 70 dozen that I will need for church festivities. I'm hopeful that some of the other women at church will pitch in and help out. We're sending out 24 "care packages" to our college students, military folks from the congregation and shut-ins. That's a lot of cookies.

Tomorrow I'm going to make a chocolate cake cookie recipe and put peanut butter chips in it. That ought to be just dandy. I really like the convenience of using cake mixes to make cookies out of. If you don't have the recipe for using a cake mix and want it, drop me an email at and be sure to put "cake cookie recipe" in the subject line so I'll be sure to open your email.

I got a note from Irma in Tulsa. She says she uses the cake mixes all the time too. Heck, I can get an 18-1/2 ounce cake mix at Save-A-Lot or Aldi for about a buck. Hard to beat the convenience too.

I even made a "passable" macaroon with a white cake mix and about 1/4 tsp. of orange extract. Then I kneaded in some coconut before I put the cookies in the oven.

I like to roll the drop cookies up into a little ball. Kind of like making a dough ball. Then the cookies are all nice and round. Cookies with jagged edges don't taste as good, you know.

I have been working on getting a lot of clutter out of my office at home. One of these days I want to delve into another Bible Study I've heard rummaging around in my head. It will be about the Book of Daniel. He's one of my favorite Old Testament guys.

Well, Quint just called me. He's on his way from a Lutheran Brotherhood meeting at church and I promised I'd pour the milk. We drink our milk every night. The tryptophan helps us get to sleep. It's the same chemical that's in turkey, in case you wondered why eating a big Thanksgiving dinner makes you sleepy. Then we go to bed and open up the windows. Good to let fresh air in even if it's chilly. But then, we turn the electric blanket on and let it warm up the bed before we dive in for a good night's sleep. Fortunately Quint and I both enjoy a cool bedroom. It's an important compatibility area. Couples need to think about those little preferences when they're courting.

And that's about it for today.

November 13, 2012

We had a hard freeze this morning. Finally got my rose bush that was blooming its little heart out until yesterday. The roses that are closer to the house and more protected will last a bit longer until it drops down into the low 20s.

Well, after all, it's November. What can I expect here in central Illinois.

Quint is at church this evening. Since he went off the church council last year, he joins the Nominating Committee to finalize a slate of candidates for the election later this month.

When I look at the new countries that have added readers since I last updated the list, I notice that a lot of the countries are my darling niece Karen's favorite places to junket in Europe. So, Karen, Aunt Jane sends you lots of love and I hope you are enjoying yourself and that you and Alex are going to be able to get back to Germany around the Christmas season. Wish Uncle Quint and I could join you, but we're not going anywhere for a while.

We have been going back to the gym though. We used to walk a sassy three miles before cancer bogged us down a couple of year ago. So we started back a couple of months ago. Forget the three miles. That was far too ambitious. I worked my way up to a half mile. No kidding. It took me about three weeks before I could go a full mile on the treadmill. I can go a mile and a half now and still gaining on my old record. Then there were those strength training machines. Our doctor suggested only four that he said would be good for us. The rest would be too strenuous for now.

Exercise is good for us. And we feel so much better coming out of the gym. We're spoiled. Our gym has individual TV sets on each treadmill. How awesome is that? And since Quint and I both are newsies, we get a full dose of the news while we walk.

November 2, 2012

Hurricanes certainly have a way of messing things up! Take a look at this link and see just how the damage went:

Some of you may remember Paul Harvey. I really miss his radio voice, and his astute observations about life and what's going on around us. Here's a link to one example that my good friend Shirley sent me:

I found a new vocalist today while I was on my way to looking something else up. His name is Wintley Phipps. Here's a link to him singing It Is Well With My Soul:

October 31, 2012

Do crashing waves interest you? Here's a short video of Lake Michigan crashing against a sea wall. Wow!

And today marks the 7th year after my mother's death. Rest in peace, Mom! Miss you.


October 25, 2012

Beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner:

Riverdance has always held a fascination for me. First of all, I can't even dream that I'd ever be able to dance like this. And secondly, Michael Flatley has the fastest feet in the world. He grew up on the south side of Chicago, I'm told. Then when he got really good at Irish dancing, he went to Dublin and taught Irish dancing there. Watch this stunning and absolutely amazine finale of Riverdance:

Changing the subject, I have enjoyed my rest for quite some time now.

I mentioned that Quint and I have headed back to the gym for daily workouts. Today I walked 1-1/2 miles. Quint walked 1 mile, then went off to do some strength training. Mind you, I'm only walkng at the rate of 2.1 miles an hour but I'll get back up to the three miles a day that we used to walk when we hoofed our way around a lake in the middle of our condominium complex up north. The gym is fine. I work out on that machine where I have to pull something down, then send it back up. It kind of feels like traction when it stretches me to go back up.

Then I do some rowing. And some other machine where I have to stretch way back. It feels wonderful on my spine.

One other machine is good for the thigh muscles. It has helped tremendously because one of the medications I take really makes my thigh muscles ache to high heaven. I think it's spelled Anasterzole. It inhibits the manufacture of estrogen in my body. And since the breast cancer cells were Estrogen positive, this keeps me from running the risk of the breast cancer returning. But oh the aching muscles. It's getting better with this machine workout and the walking.

Quint's lymphocitic leukemia also continues in remission. He did have surgery this summer, though, for a skin cancer eruption on his face. Hopefully he's done with that.

At least that's our prayer.

And speaking of praying, if you and your partner do not join hands every day and go to the Lord in prayer for all the things you want to talk to Jesus about, it's time you started. For Quint and me, it's a perfect way to start our day. We each have a list of things to pray about and we pray out loud. It's absolutely profound and let me tell you, if you have any doubts whatsoever that God and His Son Jesus answers prayer, you are in for one big surprise. They are here with us, in the same room, listening intently as we pray for all the people we care about, and situations that sometimes nag us -- like interpersonal relationships at work where haughty, insecure people make ridiculous demands on me. Quint and I pray that God will keep a hedge of protection around me and it works. Believe me, it works.

And one of my all-time favorites is Susan Boyle singing I Had a Dream from Les Miserables.

Here's the Celtic Women singing You Raise Me Up. That's sent out to each and every one of you if you think you don't matter anymore. If you think you're going through trials and tribulations all by yourself. Just remember, you're never alone. He is always nearby, wanting you to reach out to touch Him. This life is not for the chicken-hearted, but you need big help too.

Blessings to all of you. -- Jane

October 11, 2012

There was a spectacular coronal mass ejection (CME) on October 4-5 that I believe I posted a link to. Now we have a sky photo looking down on earth at the northern lights "floating" across Canadian nightscape. Also noted are the little points of light in the United States that are cities peppered here and there. And Lake Michigan is clearly visible, with Chicago hogging lots of photons on its shore. Check it out:

Thank you, cousin Mark, for the link to an incredible flight over America. Get a chance to look at some of our nation's monuments up close and person from a small plane:

October 2, 2012

This is an absolutely amazing video of a young women who rescued an 84 year old lady who ended up in the ocean: And the rescue happened with split second timing before the car dropped out of sight!

October 1, 2012

May I be the first person to welcome you to Autumn, if you haven't been welcomed before. And to all our readers down under, that would be a welcome to Spring!

I found this amazing video showing some very talented Spanish flyers harvesting water and flying over a forest fire to dump their big loads of water:


September 30, 2012

Here’s the link to the fantastic baseball play where the hit knocked the pitcher’s glove off but he caught the glove and then the ball:

September 17, 2012

Unbelievable photo of a coronal mass ejection (CME) on the sun: Totally awesome -- and listen to this: our cute little sun is going to be particularly busy for the next couple of years!

September 21, 2012

Quint and I celebrated 34 years of marriage yesterday. After I got home from the Effingham/Shelby Zone Fall Rally for church. We had some 75 people in attendance. Percentage-wise it could have been a lot more, but I am thankful for the ladies and pastors who came to be spiritually uplifted by the fantastic devotions by Pastor Gillet, Pastor Becker and a powerpoint presentation by Pastor Janssen, who was in the hospital. We all need times when we can isolate ourselves fromt he world and go into a retreat of spiritual calm and rejuvenate our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ. It was a great day that was hosted by the Ladies Aids from St.. John and Grace Lutheran in Dieterich. Officiants at Holy Communion were Pastors Gillet and Fortkamp.

Changing the subject, here is a link to a NASA video that shows some giant eruptions, or explosions, on our sun:

Amazing! I am always awestruck by the raw power of the sun. I don't know how long it takes for the plasmastic outbursts to reach earth but I'll just bet it's sooner than later. They are so ferocious.

September 11, 2012

Never forget what happened on 9/11! Prayers lifted for all who lost their loved ones, and for those who died so suddenly.

Here's a time lapse photograph of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center:

Feel like taking a little respite going along I-70 in Utah through the San Rafael Swell? Oh my, my, my! Beautiful scenery. At one point, we are reminded that this is the longest stretch of interstate that exists without services.

And the Virgin River Gorge along I-15 in Arizona is totally awesome!

If you want some vista visuals: I really don't feel comfortable driving in the mountains -- unlike Quint who grew up in Colorado. "Aw, shucks, it's nothing," he'd say. Then when he gets down to sea level, talks about how jittery it was for him. That's when I felt like clobbering him. But didn't.

This is purported to be the most dangerous jeep trail in Telluride, Colorado: I'll tell you one thing: I wouldn't want to walk down that trail. In the first place, it's not even paved. Just a lot of shifting rocks. And they call that a road? I don't think so.

This one comes under the heading of "There's not enough money in the world ..."

Goodness gracious -- people do this for fun and excitement. I mean, it's not like they have to deliver medicine or something like the Iditarod to commemorate the run from Anchorage to Nome to re-enact the run made decades ago when children were dying in Nome of typhoid fever and the mushers took off from Anchorage with medicine for them. Oh no. These guys are just having an adventure. Question is, are they testing the torment on themselves or their jeepies?

And just in case you were thinking they never roll these things over:

September 10, 2012

Here's a video of a four year old in Thailand playing the violin. Actually the violinist has to be around 9 or 10 now but this was the first expo of this talent: Well done!

Beautiful video of "Somewhere My Love" --

This guy goes into his bank to get an increase in his debt limit:

September 9, 2012

Here's a link to the most watched video of the 9/11 tragedy:

Funny music video of Wal-Mart shoppers:

Ever heard of a magician of Piff the Magic Dragon? Well, watch this funny man:

Here's another one:

Piff with bunnies:

September 6, 2012

We got really good news from the surgeon. He took one look at Quint's face and said the cause was using a razor, not an electric one. So off we went to Kohls to buy an electric razor. And sure enough, the inflammation disappeared and what felt like a tumor under the skin was not a malignant growth at all. It was just a bump from the inflammation. Whew!

We've been getting much needed rain in Middle Illinois. Now the grass is growing like crazy and my roses have started blooming again. Beautiful little creatures that they are.

I'm going to share some links to some videos that I find much to my liking. Hope you enjoy them too.

Here are the top ten videos of babies -- hint: laughter is so contagious twins dancing to Dad’s guitar

We love to watch little children - and the younger the better.

August 30, 2012

It looks like another skin cancer is on Quint's face. Fortunately, we have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow morning that was supposed to be the final post-op checkup. That will most likely change with this new event. Stay tuned and please keep Quint in your prayers.

I did want to share this link with all of you who love to watch children. These are twins who take advantage of the fact that Mom had just emptied out the refrigerator. It looks like she had given it a pretty good cleaning out but first the twins decided to dance in it a little bit:

August 6, 2012

We had some rain. Big deal -- nearly an inch. It was enough to revive the greenery left in the grass in the front yard. Enough for Quint to mow this morning. And the Red Bud that I planted a few years ago as a memorial to my mom when she died is holding up rather nicely. I have been letting the water trickle ever so slightly out of the hose for about a half hour. It was enough to get the little tree through the worst of the 100+ temperatures. Problem is, there's this lush carpet of green grass in a circle underneath the Red Bud. The rest of the yard is just in little patches of green here and there. I think Quint just wanted it all to be the same height.

Hope all of you are surviving the drought. We've heard from the newsies that if the drought continues, there's a strong possibility that we'll lose about 20% of our trees. Don't even want to contemplate that.

We pray that all of you are weathering the drought okay. It's a disaster, for sure, and our hearts go out to you.

Remember that you are responsible to God first. What if you woke up today and the only thing in your life was what you thanked God for yesterday?

Great weather map comes from friends John and Sherre in Wichita: --  All you have to do is put your cursor over one of the dots or crosses on the map and you'll get the weather for that location. to find location of speed traps across the United States

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Friday, February 29, 2008


Happy Leap Year! You won't see a February 29 for four more years. So enjoy this extra special bonus day that the calendar is bringing you today.

In the meantime, Mother Nature is continuing with her mood swings today. We ought to be okay here, though. It was a "balmy" 34 degrees at sun-up. That is a great predictor that we're going up to the high 40s, say Quint. My bet is on 52 degrees, so we shall see. He always wins because when he gets to 48 degrees, he'll quit counting.

I heard from Mr. Oldenbird early last night. I was in the office downstairs and I heard him serenading me. Dusk was too deep to see anything, though. I know he was perched on his favorite branch, though. If I were to stay out there and let my eyes get adjusted to the cold night darkness, I'd be able to see him. Listening to him is okay. Besides, it's warmer in here.

Today is the day I make strawberry jam. I really prefer to use the frozen strawberries. They're flash frozen with nary a blemish. I just hate it when I see a moldy strawberry in the little plastic cages after I bring them home. I stand there in the produce department and turn those little cages every which way and select the one that I think is going to give me good fruit. Not always. But when I get the frozen fruit, every piece is always perfect. They're frozen practically immediately after they're picked.

And I promised Quint I'd make him a chocolate meringue pie (sugar free, of course). I put vanilla extract in it and by the time I get through with the pudding part of the pie, it tastes like fudge.

And bread. We ran out of bread again. So that will be an all-day project. Not that it takes a lot of work on my part. How hard is it to mix the yeast into 1/3 cup of hot water and let it "proof?" Or to mix up the flour and baking powder and salt. Or to mix up a cup of hot water and whisk four eggs into it.

Actually the electric mixer does the work. I use the dough hooks and get everything all mixed together and let the dough hooks do their little dancing thing in the big mixer bowl. Cha cha cha.

Then it rises -- all by itself -- for at least two hours. That's the very least minimum. If I have time, I let it rise three or four hours. While it's doing that I'm off doing something else. So it's not like making bread is all that labor intensive.

When it blows up into this beautiful, white voluptuous balloon, then I punch it down. Take that!

Out onto the floured rolling out spot on the kitchen counter. Some of the dough will go into a loaf pan for sliced bread. Some of it will go into little 1 cup Pyrex baking dishes for buns, and depending on what I have planned for the table, I might make monkey bread or dinner rolls.

Then that dough rises for another two hours before it gets popped into a hot oven to bake for about 15 minutes or so.

So you see, it doesn't take much doing on my part. But every time I pass through the kitchen on my way downstairs to the office, or back upstairs to knit a few rows in whatever distraction I'm working on at the time, I peek at the dough. Got to see what they're doing under their little blanket.

I finished knitting another table runner so I've turned my attention to 9-1/2" squares. At first they were for the kitchen. Then Quint decided he liked them for the bathroom. Doesn't matter. I just like making them.

I have also been busy flipping through my copy of Emma.If I remember correctly, that's the Masterpiece Classic of Jane Austen's that will be aired this Sunday evening. I can read any of them on for free.

And by rolling the little wheel on the mouse while holding the control key down on the computer, I can make the type bigger if I want.

Don't you just love this age we live in?

And my dear friend Antoinette has received her memoirs from the publisher. She's entitled the book Second Mom. They're selling like hotcakes. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady! She deserves all her successes, believe me. I'm so proud of her.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 10:1-21

Before I begin today's Bible Study, I would just like to say again that I hope each one of you is able to share a Bible Study in your home church with your pastor or someone who has been trained as a Bible scholar. It is so helpful to study the Bible with someone who can read the Hebrew and Greek texts. I cannot. I rely on my Concordia Study Bible with its excellent footnotes. It is written solely in English.

But for those of you who are Christian and in parts of the world where you are not even near a church, I pray that God will bless us as we make our progress through the Bible one chapter at a time. I thank you for joining me.


Paul again brings the concept of justification to the surface in this chapter.

Justification is the major fault line of the Christian's faith. Sin made all man dirty. Sin aroused God's wrath. But how can man get back into God's good graces? That's the question Paul addresses in this chapter.

Justification is God's solution to sin. Through Christ righteousness came into the world, bringing justification to all who believe that he died for their sins.

Keep in mind that Paul was, first of all, a Jew. He had been trained by the best teacher in his time -- Gamaliel. Paul was a pharisee. And you can believe that Paul was certainly familiar with the writings of Moses and Isaiah as well as the other prophets from the Old Testament.

Remember that Paul did not have the "New Testament" available. That would be mainly because the New Testament was a work in progress at the time Paul was alive. Paul writings comprise the bulk of the New Testament. So, within that context, Paul did have his own writings to refer back to -- if he kept copies.

Paul is still trying hard, in this chapter, to get the Jewish people to realize that even though they are zealous for what they believe in, the information they are basing their beliefs on is just plain old wrong.

How in the world was he ever going to convince all those Jewish scholars of that? It was a challenge for us. Because Paul was a Jew himself, he understood all too well that they were holding steadfast the information they had been given in their scholarly training. They weren't going to change their mind all that easily, and for sure, not just because Paul said so.

So Paul prays for them. Paul seems to have come up against a brick wall, so to speak. So what does he do? He does what we all should do when we are confronted by matters of faith -- either our own, or with other people who just can't see the glory of righteousness -- he went to God in prayer for help.

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelite is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge (verses 1 and 2).

Paul knew about the Israelites. He knew they were sincere in holding onto their beliefs. He knew that their beliefs were traced all the way back to the Law of Moses. This new idea of righteousness was not something they would embrace lightly. Paul knew this and he patiently implored them in every way that he could think of.

He even used himself as an example when he said, "I can testify about them that they are zealous" in verse 2. Paul knew only too well about zealousness. He himself had been there.

He was carrying execution warrants on his person at the time of his conversion. The warrants gave him the legal right to kill any Christian he came across. But Paul's conversion came about at the hands of none other than Jesus Christ himself.

Paul now confronted Jews who were at least as zealous as he had been before his conversion, but Paul was not Jesus Christ. He was not going to go around blinding all the Jews who differed with him.

But Paul did have the counsel of the Holy Spirit who guided him through the mazes of thinking that the Jews held onto.

Paul is saying that they are holding onto a belief that does not include God's righteousness. God's righteousness is a gift of grace. The Jews are of the thought that they can earn righteousness by being good, by obeying the commandments, by making their sacrifices at the altar -- just like they were told to do all the way back to Leviticus.

Paul makes a reference to Moses in verse 5: Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them."

You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.
Leviticus 18:5 ESV

But Paul continues in verse 6: But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) or "who will descend into the deep?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
This righteousness that Paul is talking about is the gift of God's grace. They don't have to perform any super-human feats to earn God's grace because it is a gift. It is not a payment for something they do. They don't have to figure out, somehow, how to make Christ come down from heaven to give it to them because they are so good. They don't have to try to figure out how they can get Christ to come up out of death again because they have been able to refrain from transgressions.

No no no. God's righteousness is a gift of grace.

It's not the same kind of righteousness that Moses was talking about when he told the children of Israel that living by the statutes would bring them life.

In verse 8, Paul again quotes the Old Testament writers when he pulls Deuteronomy 30:14 to them: But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. These are the very words that Paul quotes in Romans 9:8: But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,"

that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
(in verse 9) That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Paul wants the Jews to believe that Christ is that word. To receive God's righteousness, all that is required is to believe that Christ is the Messiah that the prophets had talked about.

Christ came to die for our sins. Christ rose from the dead and with that great miracle, he seal forgiveness for all who believe. All we have to do is confess that we believe.

Then we are saved.

We have Christ in us.

We have God's righteousness.

Paul seals this message most clearly in verse 12-13: For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Then Paul, in his perfect rhetorical form, poses the Jewish problem to them in verses 14-15: How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

But wait! Paul is standing there, right in front of them. It's like "what do you mean no one ever told you?" Listen to me! I'm telling you.

I bring you the message. I'm telling you what to believe! You can't say you've never heard what you should believe in. And I can preach to you because I am an apostle who is called by Jesus Christ himself.

Then he reaches back to the words of Isaiah 52:7a for this message: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,

and the rest of this verse from Isaiah is: who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
(my emphasis added)

But even back in Isaiah's time, did the Jews back then believe? Paul says no (verse 16).

Then comes this pearl of theological wisdom from Paul in verse 17: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Paul, in this verse, is publishing salvation!

Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1 -- I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name.

And there you have it. If the Gentiles heard the word and called on God by name, and they supposedly were intellectually inferior by the Jews' standards, how come they got it, and the Jews didn't?

The answer concern the Israelites is quoted from Isaiah 65:2 -- I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.

And their own "devices" are an insistence that their view of righteousness -- that is, their good works -- will keep them in rebellion and walking down a path that is not good.


Think about ideas and opinions you have held onto that were really difficult to change.

I see people struggling with cognitive distortions all the time in my counseling practice. And then, there's a peace that literally writes itself on their face when a distortion gets set aside.

It's not that I'm any kind of an evangelist, but I can just imagine what Paul was hoping to see when he was talking to the Jewish people -- when those "aha moments" happen to a person, there is such a peaceful countenance.

Can you imagine what is happening within a person's heart to bring that kind of peace to the surface?

We have one more chapter in Paul's Letter to the Romans that focuses on this theme with the Jewish people. I'm going to bring that to you tomorrow, even though it will be a Saturday and I don't usually write a daily entry on weekends.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father -- I thank you that I live in a country where I can give full expression to my faith. I pray that you will guard and keep all those in other places in the world where it is dangerous to talk about Christ out in the open. Keep them in the palm of your hand and put a hedge around their faith, Oh Lord. Amen.

7:30 am          Comments

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I've been so busy in the aftermath of my sister's death that I almost missed the headlines announcing the passing of one of my favorite writers: William Frank Buckley.

Buckley died at the age of 82 years. He follows his beloved wife, Patricia, who died last year at the age of 80, I think.

Buckley founded National Review in 1955, so that must have been where we met. After the first column I read, I was hooked for life. And years later, when I watched him on Firing Line, I was even more amazed. Mostly because there seemed to be sound coming from his direction. He must have been the one talking because the cameras were turned on him. But his mouth didn't seem to be moving. It was like, "Who said that?"

When he was pleased, he could smile out loud all right, and the words just seemed to escape out of his mouth, rather than being propelled. Doesn't matter because there were more than four million words that managed to escape his brain, trickle all the way down to his fingers, and run out on the keyboard of his faithful old typewriter.

I'm not sure about this, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he was still using an old manual typewriter at his death. And he was found in his study, probably working on another column at his last moment of life. I, for one, would have preferred to have many, many more years squeezed out of that brain of his which has been described as erudite.

So, can you define erudite without looking it up first? I couldn't. Even in his obituaries, I'm still reaching for the dictionary just like I did when I read is columns when I was just a kid. (Erudite means "scholarly" or "learned.") Someone who knows a lot of stuff is erudite.

I grew up in a very poor family. My mother was a single mom who raised us in what was then described as a "broken home."

I can tell you that we did not have money for the likes of National Review, but I was working in the public library in Paducah at the time -- in the childrens department in the basement. When the childrens department closed at 6 pm, I'd haul my chubby little self upstairs to the adult department where I had my favorite spot in the corner of a huge table in the corner of the reference department where I worked on my homework. If I got done before the adult department closed at 9 pm, I'd go looking for interesting things to read. That's when I met Mr. Buckley.

I saved up and bought my first dictionary because of him. In those days, I couldn't get through a single column without looking up a half dozen words. In 1955, I was twelve years old. I fell in love with the way he put words together. He wasn't anything like the so-called loud conservative columnists these days who are little more than egotistical blabbermouths who speak loud and say little. Except for George Will. He's always a good read too.

He is known for being a fan of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is known for his abilities as a pianist. And I've read that he also played the harpsichord.

Buckley had a great influence on me as I was growing up in a family without heroes. One of my brothers had already hit the slippery slope of legal ne'er-do-wellism. 

I think, in looking back, that the library afforded me a quiet sanctuary where I could grow thoughts. I admired the succinct, critical thinking from this erudite writer without even knowing exactly what it was that drew me to his writing. But I figured I'd be okay if I got to be a tenth as good, no -- make that a hundredth --  as Buckley was.

I'll probably go dig up copies of his novels about a CIA character/agent at our library. Who else would name a CIA agent Blackford Oakes.

That sounds so "Jane Austenish," doesn't it? I mean, it's right up there with Fiztwilliam Darby from Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Probably some little vignettes in there from the time he was a deep, undercover CIA agent. For real. That was before he became a writer.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 9:19-33

When I was sitting in church last night -- midweek Lenten service, you know -- the thought came to me about how to differentiate sin and transgression.

Sin is how we are; transgression is what we do.

In the beginning, God made Adam and Eve pure and without the blemish of sin. It wasn't until Satan tricked them into eating the apple that they became sullied, fouled by the ugliness of sin that they didn't have a prayer as to how to overcome. And no matter how many baths or showers they took, they could never wash sin off of themselves. Sin came into their lives and permeated their beings. Jesus Christ came into the world, died for our sins and rose from the dead. This was God's great sacrifice and it washed each one of us clean from sin. Now we are forgiven people, washed clean from the sin that once sullied us.

Transgression, on the other hand, is what we do each and every time we break any of God's commandments. Transgressions are what we do.


As we continue our study of this 9th Chapter of Paul's Letter to the Romans, we see him still trying to get the Jews to accept that the Gentile Christians are also the children of God because of their faith in Christ.

Paul makes references back to Old Testament texts in response to the question in verse 19: They why does God still blame us? For who resists his will? NIV

I have a cross reference to Job 10:9 -- Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? ESV

Another reference to Isaiah 64:8 -- But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. ESV

And still another in Daniel 4:35 -- all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?" ESV

In Job 9:12, the comment is made that he snatches away and who can say to God, "what are you doing?" ESV

Now comes Paul who tells the Jews in Rome that they had better be careful if they start excluding the very people that God has created. Oh sure, the Israelites were the chosen people, but they weren't the only people who received the blessing of God's forgiveness of sins.

Paul says in verses 22-24: What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath -- prepared for destruction?

What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory --

even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Paul quotes Hosea to the Jews who were present, in verse 25: I will call them "my people" who are not my people; and I will call her "my loved one" who is not my loved one.

This is a quote from Hosea 1:10: Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God." ESV

Paul continues in verse 26: It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," they will be called "sons of the living God."

In a verse from Isaiah 10, Paul quotes: For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness (verse 22). ESV

This is a reminder that God is the Almighty one who decides everything about restoration and forgiveness and salvation. It isn't for the Jews to make a claim that the Gentiles are not worthy to receive God's forgiveness and the gift of salvation.

And just as the Almighty God had punished the errant children of Israel, and later restored them, he can bring about a spiritual restoration to all sinners, for the Lord God has made us all.

Coming full circle into the logic of his mental pursuit with the Jewish people in Rome, Paul then asks the Jews, What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works (verses 30-32a). NIV

Paul is still trying to get the Jews to understand that righteousness comes by faith, not by earning it from good works.

In fact, this whole notion that they could earn righteousness by good works was a "stumbling stone" mentioned in verse 32b.

This reference to the stumbling stone goes all the way back to Isaiah, who quoted God in 28:16 -- therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'Whoever believes will not be in haste.'" ESV

This notion that the Jews held that they could earn their way into righteousness by way of good works was the stumbling stone.

Righteousness is a gracious gift from God is the the precious cornerstone -- it is the sure foundation of -- the cornerstorne of faith that is everything we believe is true.


Think about what stumbling stones, if any, you may have as a hindrance to your faith.

Do you accept the idea that you receive grace even though we are all unworthy of such a gift from God?

We pray: Oh Spirit of the Living God, I thank you for your Word which gives me strength each day. I pray for all those people around the world who hunger for you and search for you and yet are unable to enjoy the precious resources that worship can bring to them if they could only gather with other believers in an assembly of faith.

I pray that you would continue to watch over the missionaries who often put their lives on the line to bring faith practices to believers. I pray that you would keep them all safe as they grow your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

9:11 am          Comments

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Who in the world would intentionally bring a baby Burmese python into the house as a pet?!!

Listen up, folks. Pythons do not make good pets. In fact, if you have any warm-blooded pets (like a cat or a dog), the python will eat them.

They are cold-blooded. They are wild. They cannot be trained. They don't have a central nervous system that is big enough to have room for affection.

And when those beady little eyes in their bone head are looking at you, they are measuring you up to figure out if they can fit your body into their mouth.

Now we apparently have an infestation of these ugly reptiles going on in Florida. They've even moved into Arkansas and are headed north. Fortunately, they don't winter over, so I think we're safe here in Illinois.

Besides, we already have leftover pythons from people who bought "Ball Pythons." Now that the ball pythons are getting big, people don't know what to do with them. People need to understand that a four footer can kill you.

I shudder when I see the foolishness of a python draped around someone's shoulder. These are very naive people who have no idea how quick a snake can move into squoosh position. And you just try to turn back that primeval force if the python starts to wrap itself around your neck.

Snakes are not smart. They are not cunning. They operate on one premise and one premise only: me hungry, me eat.

But enough about snakes. Now, how about politics? Are we finally done with all the debates? I shouldn't complain, though. We quit watching the debates when the politicians started going onto the talk shows and comedy shows. They actually believe they're entertaining us.

Not me. I, for one, do not believe that they will fulfill one single campaign promise. In the first place, they do not have the constitutional authority to deliver practically anything they're promising.

And if they think congress is going to cooperate with them, they're in for a really big surprise. Congress is about as self-serving as the candidates are. Mainly because all of the presidential candidates, except for one, are congressionals themselves.

They couldn't even get a budget passed before the deadline. Among other things. So how do they expect me to believe they can get anything done if they perchance got elected?

And besides, they're supposed to be in Washington when the senate is in session. Who told them they could take days off to campaign for president -- like, for a whole year?

How's that for ethics? If that were your employee, wouldn't you make the employee take a leave without pay?

But wait, they are our employees. These are senators that make more than $150,000 a year from taxpayers they are supposed to be representing.

Oh well. I guess I'm just too simple minded to get my little pinhead around such a big idea.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 9:1-18

Paul has finished his theme of how we can be reconciled with God at the end of Chapter 8. He has told the Romans about righteousness and explained the difference between sin and transgression. And finally, Paul tells us -- and the Romans back then -- that this righteousness as it is lived out by faith in God -- is shared with us by the Holy Spirit.

It is manifested in the gift of Jesus Christ and because we do nothing to earn this salvation that we all share in Christ's death and resurrection, it is a gift of grace. Through this very act of love from our gracious Heavenly Father, we are no longer slaves to sin. Sin has no power over us anymore.

And all the while, the Holy Spirit is working in the background, bringing us to faith. Paul has much to say about the Holy Spirit in this letter to the Romans.

Read the verses carefully, for the presence of the Holy Spirit is richly peppered throughout Paul's writing in this letter to the Romans.

The Holy Spirit is God's Spirit. The Holy Spirit was the power who raised Jesus Christ from the grave (Romans 8:11). It is this Holy Spirit who lives in the hearts of all who believe in Christ. It is this same power of the Holy Spirit that brings us to a close, reconciled relationship with God the Father -- so much so that we can say "Abba, Father" (verse 8:15).

This is an interesting reference for "Abba" itself is an address for "Father." Except, that is, for the level of intimacy that Abba suggests. "Abba" has a warm tone to it. It's the difference in calling someone "Daddy" versus "Father."

A small child uses the term "Abba" for daddy and "Imma" for mummy. The Holy Spirit brings us a "sonship" with God and by him [the Holy Spirit] we have testimony that we are, in fact, God's children (verse 8:16).

So now Paul is ready to open a new theme in this Letter to the Romans. That theme has to do with the Israelite question and how the Jewish people can relate to the Gentile Christians who were also living in Rome. The development of this train of thought will continue through chapter 11.

This Jewish/Gentile question continues out of Paul's ministry to the Corinthians even. Paul wants the Jewish people in Rome to understand that it is God who decides matters of individual salvation. The Gentiles are not to be treated as outcasts, just people out there looking in on the Jews while wishing that they could have a part of this glorious ancestry that the Jews had. Oh no -- Paul wanted to make it crystal clear that God is Lord of all. Everybody. Jews. Gentiles.

Even after the Jews were dispersed throughout the world, and there was only a remnant left, it was this very remnant that brought the ancestry to Christ in a bloodline that went directly back to Abraham.

Well, if that was the family tree, so to speak, Paul wanted the Jews in Rome to realize that God, through the Holy Spirit, had taken the Gentile Christians and grafted them onto that tree of salvation too.

Paul reminds the Jews that, ultimately, they rejected Christ.

So Paul says, in verses 1-5: I speak the truth in Christ -- I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit -- I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is trace the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Paul was, in fact, a Jew. He was also Greek. Who better to unify these two groups together in a common faith?

Paul spends some time in this chapter following the roots of the Jewish ancestry to Christ. He talks about the children of Rebekah -- Jacob and Esau. In verse 13, he writes: Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

Paul was drawing a reference here to the nation Israel (Jacob) over the nation Edom (Esau). The parallel is that Jacob was the chosen bunch of Israelites while the Edomites were the rejected ones.

Well, then, does that mean God is unjust (verse 14)?

Of course not. A previous choice had been dealt with too -- that of Isaac and Ishmael. Now comes Paul's reference to Jacob and Esau.

And so, in verse 15b, we read: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.

So it does not depend on whether a person obeys the law down to the very last letter. That does not cure you from your sinful nature. And God, for whatever reason he chooses, gifts mercy as it pleases him.

Even Pharaoh had received gifts of power from God, for we read in verse 17: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

So God is saying that he made Pharaoh a mighty king. And God had a plan. The Israelites who were slaves probably wouldn't have been nearly as impressed with what God was about to do to deliver them from Egypt if 1) the Pharaoh was a little weakling of a despot, or 2) if Pharaoh had not backed out of his commitment to let the Israelites go free.

No no. God made Pharaoh into a mighty powerhouse. And when God defeated Pharaoh, the Children of Israel would then be more apt to recognize God as truly, out of this world powerful!

You bet they packed up and got ready to leave with Moses. Moses was travelling with God and they wanted to be a part of that. They didn't have the slightest idea of the wonders they were about to be a part of, but their faith was great.

And they moved out!


Think for a moment, if you will, if you were in Paul's shoes, how in the world would you try to get the Jews and the Gentiles together as one cohesive group of Christians?

This has always amazed me and the more I study Paul, the more awesome he appears.

You've heard the saying, "God does not call the equipped. God equips the called."

How did God equip Paul to take on the task of ministering to these people in faraway places? Keep in mind that Paul had not yet met the Romans.

What do you think of the tone of Paul's Letter to the Romans? Would you take as strong a tone with people you'd never met?

We pray: Oh Spirit of the Living God, I pray that you would help me cultivate a faith that is strong, like Paul's.

I pray that you would use me and the talents you have given me to further your kingdom in any way that would serve you best.

And at this time, I also pray that you would bless the travels of my sister's daughters back to their homes in distant places. Amen.

8:15 am          Comments

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Remember when the weather service wanted big buckets of money so that they could make more better predictions?

Well, what happened?!! Weather predictors still cannot make any "for certain" prognostications for, say, where a tornado is going to strike. They can't explain why one house is reduced to splinters while the house across the street doesn't even have a shingle out of place. They are getting better at alerting people that a storm is coming when it's traveling at 60 mph in a northeasterly path.

It would seem to me that a 6th grade Earth Science student could do that, given a little radar kit to use.

Oh well.

It never did get up to the high 40s yesterday, but it's not a big deal for us. We just snuggled in and kept the doors shut tight. But I do feel a great deal of sympathy for the folks up north. They're really having a time of it and now it looks like they're going to run out of salt to treat the streets. Chicago, not known for neighborly generosity of any kind, now says it probably won't have enough salt to get it through the winter season so the neighboring suburbs are on their own. The salt that they once sold for $25 a ton is now going for $60 to $80 -- that is, if they'll sell it at all.

See, they believed all that global warming malarkey. The city bureaus -- and it's not just Chicago that's running low on salt -- bought into Al Gore's global warming theories? He, who invented to Internet, couldn't possibly be wrong! Could he?

Well, in the first place, Al Gore has invented nothing. The Internet was developed for military purposes. As far as global warming is concerned, it would be better if it were viewed as climate cycling.He'd have known that if he'd ever read any history books. But if he'd done that, he probably would have claimed to have invented the ice age that was responsible for dinosauracide a few years ago.

So here's my theory: solar activity is diminishing right now as we speak. We are going to go into a cool-down cycle. Nothing deadly, just the other end of the warming cycle that occurred when there was more solar activity.

It will happen just about in time for Al Gore to try to take credit for the cooling because of the successful effectiveness of his yelling and screaming about man-made causes of big weather warming cycles.

He who apparently thinks he's bigger than God himself must be having hissy fits in his palatial mansion down there in Tennessee. No doubt he's marching up and down the hallways of the manse muttering things like, "This can't be happening. Not yet. I haven't had time to write another mocudrama yet."

It's time for each one of us to come back to the humbling thought that God is the person who created everything. And what was God's recipe? A simple handful of dirt. Actually he had to first make the dirt -- so he really started out with absolutely nothing. Zero!

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 8:18-39

Paul makes a curious comment in verse 18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. NIV

My study Bible has a cross reference to 2 Corinthians 4:17 -- For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. NIV

And also 1 Peter 1:6 -- In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials. NIV

And in 1 Peter 5:10 -- And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. NIV

Keep in mind, though, that Bible scholars place the writing of 1 Peter in the early 60s while Paul's Letter to the Romans has been placed as 57 A.D. I mention this because the cross references to these quotes from Peter's book could suggest that there was persecution and afflictions that had started to either threaten the disciples and early Christians, or had, in fact, begun.

Paul is not quoting Peter, but Peter could have been referring to the same kinds of afflictions as Paul had spoken of three years before Peter's book was written. And they both had said that whatever suffering they had to endure was nothing compared to what Christ had suffered.

Recall that when given a choice at his execution, Peter did not even want to be crucified "right side up" as Christ had been. Rather, Peter chose to be crucified upside down.

There is a great promise in verse 19 of this chapter: The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.NIV

The "creation" -- all of creation -- everything on earth -- waits for the sons of God to be revealed. But wait -- aren't all Christians "sons of God?"

I think there's an underlying message here and that message has to do with the fact that only God knows what is in the heart of man. Like the thief on the cross next to Jesus who would most likely have been written off as a ne'er do well, we do not know all of the people who could be revealed as the sons of God.

For instance, there are people who are very proud of their piety. So much that they have made their piousness an idol. That's how wonderful they think their piety is. They may only act righteous. But remember, righteousness is a step closer toward grace. God is the granter of grace. It is not for the pious and righteous to try to grab the rewards out of God's hands.

And how about the converse of that? There are people -- we all know a few -- who don't look like they even care about who God is, much less live a life that God would be pleased with. And yet, they, like the thief on the cross might be more humble than their pious counterparts. They might talk to God at length from the hushed darkness of their bed just before they drift off to sleep at night.

You and I do not know who all the sons of God are because they haven't all been revealed yet. No doubt, there will be many surprised for us. People we'd least expect to be welcomed into God's kingdom may just go marching right past us. So we need to be careful if we think we've got that all figured out.

In verse 22, Paul continues with his reminder that as Christ's followers, we have been given the firstfruits of the Spirit. This gift of these firstfruits are merely the beginning of our new relationship with God. It's a portent of what is to come -- and that is the resurrection from the dead. Those days are yet to come when Christ comes back for us -- he will raise us up from our earthly graves to join him in heaven.

So the gifts of the Spirit are the beginning of our journey toward being with Christ in heaven for all eternity.

I must say that re-reading this chapter has given me much comfort in light of the recent death of my beloved Sister Dear. I know that her suffering through the cancer that racked her body and compromised her physicalness are now over for she has gone to a more glorious place. It is only her physical body that is in the grave -- not her soul. Her beautiful soul has gone to be with our Lord Jesus Christ.

And I have a hope that one day I will see her again in heaven as we worship and praise our Lord.  

Paul says in verses 24-25: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

And just exactly how do we keep this hope alive in our hearts?

Well, the Holy Spirit has made available to us several opportunities to get to know our faith better -- to grow our faith into the strongest part of our being -- and the Holy Spirit does this through prayer. And sometimes we don't even know what to pray for. That's when the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Listen to what verses 26-27 says: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

If this is the first time you are reading these verses, write them down and carry them around in your pocket until they have been engraved onto the inside of your head.

Think about it -- the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Father are so close that they don't even need to talk to one another and the Father still knows every single thought that the Holy Spirit thinks.

Of course, our Heavenly Father knows what our thoughts are too, but there are those other times when we can't figure out exactly what it is that we want to ask him about. Those are the times when the Holy Spirit steps in, so to speak, and puts our thoughts out there before God himself.

Don't ever think that you're all alone in your suffering. You have the Holy Spirit with you even when you can't think of what you should be thinking about. He knows and he shares all things with God our Heavenly Father.

So if someone has stolen your peace of mind, for instance, and you don't want to pray about something you consider trivial, don't worry about it. The Holy Spirit will take your unspoken, uncongealed prayer concern right to God himself.

If you are unable to pray for someone you think has wronged you horribly, the Holy Spirit knows about that anguish you are suffering. He will take your pain to God for you.

If you are unable to forgive someone who, in your humanness think doesn't deserve your forgiveness, the Holy Spirit will help you out with that one too. At some point, though, you're going to have to decide that it's time to forgive and that's when the Holy Spirit comes running across the field toward you, ready to lift your prayer of forgiveness to heaven when the time comes that you've readied your heart to do that. The Holy Spirit will help you with getting ready. It's certainly not an easy thing to do and there are many times when we just can't do it by ourselves. The Spirit of God is only too willing to help you -- just ask.

But what you don't want to do is let an unforgiving heart get between you and God. That is not the path to righteousness, dear ones.

Before I get into verses 28-30, I have to share with you some cross references.

The first is Ezra 8:22 -- For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him. ESV

And in 2 Chronicles 15:22 -- ...the Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. ESV

So now we come to this powerful message in verses 28-30: 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.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. NIV

I caution you not to go off on a side tangent at this point. These passages are not paving the way to a philosophy of reincarnation and predestination at all. Rather, look closely to the messages throughout all these passages that what God wants most of all is to welcome us back to him.

For sure, he has called us. He has things that he wants each one of us to do. He has bestowed on us gifts of the Holy Spirit. Whether we ever use them or not in the course of our lifetime, the gifts are there. And he has given us free will to make choices throughout our lives.

Sometimes we make choices that we ought not to. In those instances, I get a visual of God sitting on his judgment throne, looking down at us silly people here on earth, saying "I wish you hadn't done that."

But his purpose for us has always been, first and foremost, to bring us back to him.

That's why he sent his son to die for our sins. That's why he gave us the laws by way of the Ten Commandments. These commandments allow us to see what we've done wrong.

Think about it -- if we have never had the Ten Commandments, we would be just sinners. We would never know for sure how to get right with God.

Do you think for one minute that you could ever tell the difference between sin and transgression? At least with the Ten Commandments you can figure out what your transgressions are. Sins are something we need help from the Holy Spirit, God, and Jesus Christ to help us sort out.

In these verses, God is saying he wants us. He picked us out. He selected us. We belong to God. Through his grace, and his grace alone, we are able to get back to God in all the full glory of what it means to be justified.

And it's more than sending his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Oh no. More than that. Christ rose from the dead. Christ is alive again and sitting at the right hand of his God, our Heavenly Father in heaven.

And who could possibly bring a charge against us -- the evil whisperer -- the father of lies? Read in verses 33-34 what Paul says about this: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died -- more than that, who was raised to life -- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. NIV

So we also have Jesus Christ interceding for us, in addition to the Holy Spirit.

I'll tell you, folks, with both these powerful entities of the Triune God interceding for us, begging our case before God Himself, who in the world could possibly intentionally do anything but the right thing?

Why would anyone want to break any of the commandments?

It isn't like we're little kids again and we get away with things because our parents can't be everywhere and they can't see everything, so sometimes, something gets missed.

But not so with God. Here is the person who sees around corners, through concrete walls, and into our hearts. Don't mess with him. He knows!

It's just a good thing that he did get us all cleaned up from the ugliness of sin that we were wrapped up in.

It's just a good thing that he loves us that much.

It's just a good thing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.


If you are unable to forgive anyone for anything, repeat this prayer a dozen times a day: "Please help me forgive. Please come into my heart and cleanse me from everything that gets in between me and your love." When you do that, believe me, the Holy Spirit will hear you and will come to you.

I mention forgiveness because it seems to be the one thing that keeps people hanging by a thread -- it's one of Satan's most effective devices to keep us from enjoying a really close relationship with God our Heavenly Father.

And yet, we know from so many Bible readings that God has told us, again and again, that he will forgive us just as we forgive others. So forgiveness is a big item in God's messages to us.

We pray: Oh Heavenly Father, I thank you for the many gifts you have given me.

I thank you for calling me to be yours. I thank you for sending your son to die for my sins. I thank you for giving me the strength to make better choices as I go along through life -- better choices than I used to make. Thank you for helping me grow and develop in your love and strength. Amen.

10:14 am          Comments

Monday, February 25, 2008


And here we are, coming to you from Owlspotting Paradise. Mr. William Albert Oldenbird, the great feathered DC-10 that Quint named after his maternal grandfather, has moved to a limb near my kitchen window. He perched himself on a branch where he could look down from his spy place limb and watch what's going on in the Food Lab.

Or maybe he thinks he's going to get one of the deer that has marked a path between the house and the carport. Anyway, Mr. Oldenbird watched for a while, then got bored with me I guess, and poof -- he spread out his huge magnificent wings and flew away -- all the way to the back of the yard where he sits in the pine tree.

Things are back to normal around here. The garbage peeps were here bright and early. We got e-mails from the Virginia branch of the Stubbe tree last night. They made it back home too. And they had to drive across all that treacherous stuff through Indiana and Ohio. (I do not like pink snow.)

And the Chicago branch of the Stubbes are doing fine too. Mark -- you hang in there and continue with your physical therapy. It's doing wonders for you and you'll be up running around in no time. Bet you never thought you'd look forward to Corinne's list of things for you to do, did you?

And oh the delicious yummy ending of Pride and Prejudice last night! Jane Austen's ladies always get their men. Austen really weaves a good story around the gentried life in jolly old England.

Today I'm going to Bibliomania and re-read all of Pride and Prejudice. Emma will be next Sunday's segment of Masterpiece Classic. I like that story too, although the intrigues surrounding the love life of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darby are wonderful. It's enough to stir the romantic part of my nature and take me to another galaxy far far away. And commercial free at that.

This afternoon will be filled with writing thank you notes to so many people who have been supportive and sent condolences. As for Cookie, she's probably up there watching a ball game or something with her husband John, who predeceased her by a bit more than a year. Then they'll probably go over to mom's for dinner and sit around on the porch swing sipping iced tea. And since they're in heaven, they don't have to worry about whether the weather is going to be nice. It always is up there.

We're going to get up to the high 40s late this afternoon, Quint says. Time to get the lawn mower out and run it through the car wash and give it a wax job. Well, maybe not. But I can think about it. I am going to go outside and count the tulips that are peeping through the dirt.


WITH AGE COMES WISDOM -- from Alice Stubbe

A guy is 80 years old and loves to fish and play golf.

He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say, "Pick me up."

He looked around and couldn't see anyone. He thought he was dreaming when he heard the voice say again, "Pick me up." He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog.

The man asked, "Are you talking to me?"

The frog said, "Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up. Then kiss me and I'll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. I'll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride!"

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked up the frog and put it in his front breast pocket.

Then the frog said, "What, are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said? I said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride."

The man opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said, "Nah, at my age, I'd rather have a talking frog."



I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Police were called to a day care center where a three year old was resisting a rest.

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.

The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless. 

When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.

The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

A thief fell and broken his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

When the smog lifts in Los Angles, U.C.L.A.

The dead batteries were given out free of charge.

A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.

A bicycle can's stand alone -- it is two tired.

A will is a dead giveaway.

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet write inverse.

In a democracy, it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your count that votes.

A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft adn I'll show you A-flat minor.

If you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulting in Linoleum Blownapart.

You are stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

When you've seen one shopping center, you've seen a mall.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she'd dye.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

Santa's helpers are subordinate clauses.

Accupuncture: a jab well done.


GOD IS LIKE -- from Antoinette Oberheu

God is like BAYER ASPIRIN -- he works miracles.

God is like a FORD -- he's got a better idea.

God is like COKE -- he's the real thing.

God is like HALLMARK CARDS -- he cares enough to send the very best.

God is like TIDE -- he gets the stains out that others leave behind.

God is like GENERAL ELECTRIC -- he brings good things to life.

God is like SEARS -- he has everything.

God is like ALKA-SELTZER -- try him, you'll like him.

God is like SCOTCH TAPE -- you can't see him, but you know he's there.

God is like DELTA -- he's ready when you are.

God is like ALLSTATES -- you're in good hands with him.

God is like VO-5 HAIR SPRAY -- he holds you through all kinds of weather.

God is like DIAL SOAP -- aren't you glad you have him? Don't you wish everybody did?

God is like the US POST OFFICE -- Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor ice will keep him from his appointed destination.


PEACE IN YOUR SOUL -- from Mark Stubbe

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing that you are a child of God. Let his presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 8:1-17 (continuing with Chapter 8 tomorrow)

From the first verse of this chapter, Paul reiterates the powerful message that there is no condemnation for people who are in Christ, for they walk after the Spirit, not after the flesh. (KJV)

Remember that the very word "condemnation" brings us to a realization that because of the law, we recognize where we have gone wrong -- where we have walked about satisfying the languishing hollering of our sinful nature.

Paul uses the word law in verse 2 when he says, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (KJV)

There are several different ways that the word "law" can be used and Paul uses more than one definition as we go through this Letter to the Romans. In this particular instance, the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" means the rule that sets us an expectation. It's like the law of physics that says when you throw a ball up in the air, the rule is that it will come down again.

It is so when we say the law of the Spirit of life in Christ also controls us in our daily lives. There is an expectation that is set up by this law of the Spirit that says when we walk with Christ Jesus, we will come under the control of the Spirit -- that is, we will not die an eternal death, for the Spirit is life giving.

The law, that is the Old Testament Law that was handed down to Moses by God, could certainly not free us from sin. All the law can do is help us recognize our transgressions. The law is powerless to free us from the hold of sin and death.

The law is important to us though. It provides a set of rules that help us develop a sense of morality. When we can recognize our transgression and keep our life on track so that we are not giving in to all the temptations that pop up in front of us all the time, then we can live according to the Spirit. But life saver? No.

Verses 6-8 tell us: For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The NIV says that the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (verses 7-8)

But wait -- there's hope.

This hope is wrapped around the Spirit of God (verse 9). If you don't have the Spirit of God in your life, then none of this applies to you. But if you do, and it's a very big "if" -- then you have the Spirit of Christ and even though your body is going to die, your soul will not because your spirit is alive because the Spirit of God has brought you to righteousness.

I realize that this all may sound like the "chicken or the egg" type of question that philosophers like to pose to us. But make no mistake about it -- this is not an intellectual intrigue.

It goes like this:

Man brought sin into the world (neither Adam nor Eve resisted Satan in Eden).
God brought the law into the world (to Moses, written in stone)
The law opens our eyes to where we have gone wrong, where we transgress.
Knowing that we transgress brings us to guilty feelings.
The Spirit of God brings us to righteousness if we commit our life to God after our guilt leads us to trying to live a right kind of life.
Even though we become righteous through the Holy Spirit, we are still sinners.
God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to free us from the death caused by sin. Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.

So, in verse 10, we read: And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (KJV)

Or, as the NIV puts it: But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

It is this same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead. If this Spirit is living inside us then we will be raised from our earthly death just as Christ was (verse 11).

We no longer have to fear death because our mortality is a mere backdrop on the stage of life against which we see the transition of our travels to heaven's other shores. It is when we make that crossing that we are able to join ourselves with God again. And because of Christ, our soul will be blemish-free once again.

Having said of that, then we ought to look at the obligations that this brings to us. These are powerful duties that we now have to live a life that is pleasing to God. If we let the Holy Spirit take up residence within us, then we are better able to resist the shenanigans that sin tries to pull us toward.

This is how we get to be children of God (verse 14).

And because we are God's children, we are guaranteed an inheritance because we are joint heirs with Christ because we suffer death with him, and we also then share the glory of his resurrection.


One of my most challenging thoughts in Bible Study is to realize that I can become righteous if I try to live a life as close to sin-free as I can, but righteousness is not being free of sin.

It reminds me of a youngster who was brought to me by his mother after he had taken her ATM card and helped himself to $200 from her checking account. She didn't know exactly what would be an appropriate discipline since he'd be an old man before he got through his punishment of grounding.

Taking a note from my mother who had written in my personal history book, I asked him which commandment he had broken.

This lad had no idea what the commandments were.

"Well then, dust off your little heart," I said. "You are about to find out."

Fortunately he knew that there was a Bible and he also knew that the Bible was a holy book and that it was God's Word, so we didn't have to go all the way back to the very beginning.

Well, he'd heard that someone once said "Thou shalt not steal." He just didn't know it was one of the Ten Commandments. Okay, that's the 7th Commandment.

And how about disobeying your parents? There's the 4th Commandment.

And let's see -- you wanted a new skateboard because your friends have them. Isn't that kind of like coveting? There's the 10th Commandment.

And then there's this idea that you love this skateboard more than just about anything in your life. Isn't that kind of like idolatry? There's the 1st Commandment.

And when your mom and dad asked about where you got the skateboard, you lied and said someone "gave" it to you. That was a lie, wasn't it? There's the 8th Commandment.

So you see, you've broken 5 of the 10 Commandments. And that was before you know there were even ten of them!

Then he was curious. Like all kids his age. What were the other five commandments? Oh man! That was an opportunity I could only pray for. I introduced him to Exodus 20 at that point.

His next question was just as easy to answer. I told him he'd have to write the 7th Commandment for me.

"How many times?" he asked.

"Well, how many dollars did you take?"

The long and short of it was that he remembered that lesson. And so did I. When I was growing up, I never tried to break the commandments but there were plenty of times that I made choices I'd rather not have made.

I still get a Christmas card from this young man. He has never forgotten how he learned the Ten Commandments. He has since married and has children of his own. I'll just bet his children know what the Ten Commandments are too. I do know they are all going to Sunday School, so I'll just bet they've heard of the Ten Commandments, and yes, he gave me permission to share his story with you as long as I don't tell you his name.

Think back to a time when you broke one of the commandments. Did it lead you to other transgressions? You seldom break just one commandment at a time.

We pray:

Dear Heavenly Father: I thank you for sending your Spirit to guide me through every day of my life. And even though the Holy Spirit can help me grow in righteousness, I know now that I am still a sinner. And because you have sent your son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins and rose again, I can share in his resurrection and life eternal. I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. Amen.

8:32 am          Comments

Sunday, February 24, 2008


We have returned safely to our home. We came back late last night. We had planned on returning today but both Quint and I thought better of extending our stay another day up north. Despite what the weather channel was telling us, it looked like all that rotation around the middle of the country was going to dump more snow on the interstate that we needed to be on to get home.

Well, guess what? It started snowing not too long after we arrived back home. And it kept on snowing through the night. It's more than a dusting laying out there on the yard.

We were surprised to see lots of little hoof marks in the back yard, and on the side, and right by the back door. Now, I'm not a naturalist or a wild animal expert but the prints look a lot like some deer came knocking on the door. The little hoofy things were a giveaway and then there was the round thing that Quint says was a footpad. The first time we saw the deer -- there are about five of them -- Quint went out right away and bought a salt lick for their dining pleasure.

So okay. If there are deer out there snooping around for deer chow, can big cats be far away? Or medium sized cougars? That means I will not be going all the way to the back of the property along about dusk. That is, when the weather gets better. It's too cold now anyway.

It makes me think about the time when Cookie and I went with Daddy to run his trot lines along the Red River in southern Arkansas. We must have either been too rambunctious or too noisy at home or too naughty because Cookie and I were "jailed" in the back seat of the car.

Our "little brother" A.W. was snoozing in the front seat and I'm guessing that this was the time when mother was pregnant with the yet-to-be-born brother James and needed a reprieve.

Cookie and I had a reputation of supporting each others antics even back then. What one of us didn't think of, the other one did, so in that respect, we made a good team. Our parents didn't have a chance. We used to crawl under the house to our "secret spot" and have meetings. That is, until one day we saw a big humongous King Snake cuddled up in the corner giving himself a hug. We got out of there and never went back. Besides, there were many other places that we could find where we could have our little whisper sessions.

Our eyes got as big as saucers when Daddy told us to keep the windows rolled up because there were panthers out there in the bayous. His parting shot when he faded into the dark of night was that we'd recognize the panther scream because it would sound just like a woman screaming. We stayed in the car!

I'd much rather stay inside and knit. Although I did get a counted cross stitch kit when we went to Michaels while we were up north. The kit is actually the picture of a cat taking a nap on a sewing table. It's a jigsaw puzzle that we put together years ago. The puzzle was fun to do and I'm guessing that the embroidery kit will be also. There's lots of little things to embroider like spools of threads, a sewing machine, open drawers with pretty ribbons cascading out of them. Instead of framing it, I'll make use it for a pillow front.

But for now, I have to tend to the bread that's rising nicely. It's sitting there in the kitchen yelling at me because it's almost risen up to the top of the bowl.

And I'm making a butternut squash/cranberry dish for dinner. I like to boil the whole butternut squash for about ten minutes. It softens the hard-as-a-rock squash so I don't have to worry about wounding myself cutting the thing open.

When it's cut open, take all the seeds out of the middle part, then peel the squash and cut into little 1/2 inch cubes. I have fresh cranberries in the refrigerator so I'll mix some of those in with the squash, then fry them for a bit. Maybe add a couple of tablespoons of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" (for flavor) to the fried medley when it's done. Then season with salt and pepper and I'll have a fantastic side dish.

And Quint is begging for scones so I'm going to have to try to find a good recipe for that. Not all recipes "transfer" to sugar free all that well, so I'll have to read a bunch of recipes to see if I can figure out which one would get to live in my recipe box.

In closing, thank you again to all of you for your loving messages of support and comfort. I'm thinking of putting a lot of my thoughts down in a kind of little diary called Hello, Sister Dear. That was how Cookie started out her conversations with me. Sometimes it means that she and I would have to have a "discussion." Although we never had a fight in all our 60+ years, we did have disagreements that we quickly got resolved. Mainly because we loved each other all the way down to our toenails and we vowed very early in our lives that we would never let anything interfere with our love for each other.

Not even the time she talked me into riding our bicycles from home in Paducah up to Kentucky Lake. It was only about 15 miles away but it was up and down a lot of hills. Thought I was going to die! We didn't get very far. Certainly not all the way to the lake. So we decided to give it up and rode into someone's driveway and called her boyfriend. When he came to get us, we were sitting underneath a big shade tree sipping iced tea with our new favorite hostess.  He threw out bikes in the back of his truck and took us back to Paducah. We didn't try that trick again, believe me. There were too many dogs running wild out in the country and the highway was a two-lane thing that gave us no room to ride on. The experience gave us a good laugh for many years to come.


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Thursday, February 21, 2008


My sister's wake is on Friday from 2 to 9 pm. She will enjoy the flowers that are being sent. Cookie loved flowers.

We planted Lily of the Valley alongside her house last summer on one of our visits to see her. It was one of her favorite flowers. Then we brought some Tiger Lilies. They were her favorite.

Truth is, there were no flowers that were not her favorites. If it bloomed, it was one of Cookie's favorites.

This summer I will plant a rose in my rose garden that's right outside the back door at the house. I'll find one of her favorite roses. Maybe a yellow rose for the friendship we celebrated throughout our 65+ years together. In all those years, Cookie and I never had an argument, although we did reconcile more than one disagreement.

She was my big sister and I knew I was in for it when she'd call and say, "Sister Dear, I want to talk to you about something."

"Oh no," I'd think. "What did I do now?" But it was never anything serious and it was never anything that would disrupt our sisterly love for each other.

Cookie's rose can nestle in with sixteen other beauties that I planted last year. Or maybe she'd rather be nearer the Red Bud tree that I planted in memory of Mom last summer.

The Red Bud was one of mother's favorite. There's a town in southern Illinois named after this beautiful tree. We used to drive over there from Paducah early in the spring when the Red Bud were still laced out in their lavender finery and before the foliage had all turned to green.

I will celebrate having a wonderful sister for all the rest of my days. Another dear one has moved on to heaven, and I'll miss her tremendously.

Stop by to see me sometime, Sister Dear. Just give me a nudge and I'll know it's you. I'll miss you -- no more phone calls. You won't be calling and telling Quint that you need a "sister fix." But I know you'll be around. Do something to arouse the poet in my soul. I'll watch for you in the summer breezes.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 7:1-25

In looking at the very first verse of this chapter, I draw a parallel to my own career as a mental health counselor: Do you not know, brothers -- for I am speaking to men who know the law -- that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?

I draw that parallel because, strictly speaking, rules of confidentiality end at death. That's why it's not all that unusual to hear people talking about deceased individuals with impunity -- even psychiatrists or attorneys. I guess the idea is that dead people don't have to worry about such things any longer.

But at some point in my ethical reckoning, I still believe it is wrong and have promised all clients that their confidences will remain safe with me, even past the grave. That's ethics, not forensics. To be sure, I have only used anecdotal information in disguise and only with specific permission if it would be helpful to another client or, when I was teaching psychology at the colleges, a particular instance would be enlightening.

But Paul points out, in the very first verse of this chapter, that the authority of the law ended when a person died.

Well, of course. That makes sense. After a person dies, man's law goes by the wayside pretty quickly. I mean, if people think they've gotten away from anything because they've somehow sidestepped the strong arm of the law, just wait until God gets ahold of them.

God sees everybody. God watches all people from wherever he is sitting. God keeps track. God is the one you ought to worry about if you're out there breaking laws.

Paul then uses an example of marriage and how a woman is bound to stay married as long as her husband is living. When she becomes a widow, though, she is free to marry someone else.

So the purpose of the law, remember, is to define what our transgressions are. Paul says in verses 4-5: So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Jesus Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised frm the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.

Ah, yes, our old sinful nature is still churning away inside us. It's human nature to want what we're not supposed to have. Satan beckons us down that slipper slope.

But Paul is saying that our old sinful nature does not have to lead to the eternal death of our soul because we have been re-born in Jesus Christ.

Whatever it was that was leading us into sin was then -- not now. Through Jesus Christ, we have a new opportunity to latch onto something so meaningful that heaven and earth moves us toward salvation. And you can bet that angels are dancing on the streets of heaven bringing glory to God, who must be just about tickled to the heights of heaven!

Then Paul once again tries to make a distinction between sin and transgression. It's an important difference because man became sinner when Adam faltered in the Garden of Eden.

Sinful man continued to move through the generations afterwards. Then Moses was given the laws first hand from God above.

Make no mistake about it -- that was another cosmic clock moment for man on earth because now sinful man became a transgressing man.

Paul explains it this way: Is the law sin? Certainly not!

Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet."
(verse 7)

This difference between sin and transgression gets lost, sometimes, in the translation.

When we hear that we are sinners even if we don't know we are sinning, we may be tempted to say, "Huh? How can that be?"

That's because we tend to think of sin and transgression as one and the same thing. But they are not.

That is why it is important for us to pray for forgiveness of all our sins, even the ones we don't know about, because we are born into sin and we live in sin no matter how hard we try to obey the law. The truth is, we could probably do a pretty good job of living out our days on earth without flagrantly breaking the ten commandments. But even so, it does not mean we are sin-free.

Paul does an incredible job of explaining this in verses 14-17: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

This last sentence ought not to be a kind of "nail of convenience" that sinners hang their hats on just because they're sinners. We still have to take responsibility for our sins and living in our sinful nature.

And Paul isn't saying that man is not good, just that man has to recognize his sinful nature, repent and claim the salvation that is gifted all mankind because God sent his son, Jesus Christ to die to all of man's sins. All mankind. All sins.

We can never be free of sin, but we might get pretty close to transgression-free.

Here's how Paul sums it up in verses 21-24: So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Uh, over here, Mr. Tarsus. I have my hand up, sir. Over here: Who else but none other than Jesus Christ our Lord! (verse 25a).

So man and his laws do not bring us freedom from sin or freedom from transgression.

Whatever freedom we enjoy on earth and in heaven comes about only because of God's grace and the bounty he bestows upon us through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ.


I don't think we ever have to worry about the Apostle Paul putting lawyers out of business because there will always be transgressors.

How do you view the difference between ethics, the law, and morality? Perhaps you've never thought about the differences. If not, can you draw a line of distinction between sin and transgression?

Paul's Letter to the Romans is rich in this distinction but Paul wasn't just trying to "split hairs" when he made the distinction. Rather, he was trying to bring us to the knowledge the shame recognition comes about because of the law. Guilt comes about because we realize that we've done something to separate us from God and it's this very guilt that becomes the paving stone on the path toward righteousness, because it brings us to have the faith in God's promise of salvation.

We pray: Oh Lord, I would be lost forever to the slavery of sin if it were not for you and the salvation you promise me because I believe that your gift from your son's death and resurrection is for me too. I thank you, Lord, for this gift.

And I thank you for this gift for all my loved ones who are one step closer to eternity than I am. I pray that they have all gathered around you to tell you of the love they have for my dear sister, Cookie (Anna Mae), as she is welcomed into your presence.

And as Cookie leaves us this earth, those who are left behind become even more precious to me. I pray for their safety -- for my cousin Mark (and his wife Corinne)who recuperates from knee replacement -- for my cousin Al (and his wife Alice) who hopes for a window of opportunity to travel from Virginia to be a part of Cookie's service of victory over death.

I pray for Quint and his remaining sisters, Alice and Jeanine. I pray for our kiddos -- Vern, Sharon, Teri, and Dean -- and their spouses and children. I pray that you would bless them all and keep them in the safety of your care. Amen.

11:45 am          Comments

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


We didn't think Cookie would go so fast. We'd prayed that she would at least be with us to celebrate her birthday on March 22nd.

But it was not to be. She moved to the other side of heaven's shores yesterday afternoon at 3 p.m. And in her sleep at that. What a peaceful way to depart this earth.

Now she's with our mother, father, step-father, two brothers and a whole host of other loved ones who have predeceased her.

But hey, sister dear, I'm in no hurry so you're going to have to keep my seat warm for a long, long time, I pray. Quint and I still have things to do and places to go. Besides, my plan is to live to 135 years -- that would mean Quint and I would celebrate our 100th anniversary! What a hoot!

I told our daughter Sharon that yesterday and it cracked her up. That was when I called to tell her we'd like to move in for a couple of days since we no longer have the condo up north.

So I ask for your prayers for safe travels, for peace for Cookie's daughters and step-son. grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 6:1-23

This idea of justification that Paul was talking about apparently brought confusion with it.

Remember back in Chapter 5, Verse 20, Paul said, "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more..."

So, the Romans wanted to know, what did Paul mean when he said that where sin increased, grace increased...

Would it be okay then to just go have a grand old time and not worry about how much sinning was going on because the more they sinned, the more there was to forgive and the more forgiveness they got, the more grace God bestowed?

Now I can just visualize Paul's reaction to this kind of thinking. Maybe something like, "Huh, are you kidding me?"

Paul, who tried so hard to bring a sound logic to his point of view, must have been flabbergasted to think that he could have seriously been misunderstood like this. And his "no way" response? Listen to what he says in verse 2: By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Paul continues to explain his point of view in verse 3 when he says that because we are baptized into Christ -- that is, Christians receive Christ's baptism which brings grace to sinners -- not John's baptism which did not bring grace.

John's baptism was a baptism into repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:1-4). Then John said, in verses 7-8: There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. KJV

Now Paul says that because we were baptized into Christ, we also are baptized into Christ's death. It is this very act of Christ's baptism that brings us to resurrection. Through this baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost from God, our Heavenly Father, and just as Christ rose from the dead, we are promised that we will also.
And because of this, we are freed from our slavery to sin.

The powerful point that Paul wants to make to the Romans is that when we are blessed with the Holy Spirit and the promise of also rising from the dead, we ought to want to live as Christ wants us to live. We aren't supposed to go around with this thought that we can sin all we want because all will be forgiven.

No, not at all. Rather, baptism frees us from our slavery to sin -- from our willful desire to sin to our heart's content. Because we have entered into this faithful new relationship with Christ, we will not want to sin. We're free from the hold that sin has on us.

Paul says in verse 10: The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

That's the message. We live our lives faithful to God.

We want to cut those ties that sin grabs us with. We read more in verses 12-14: Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

So we are to offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. That means that we will do all that we can to be in a right relationship with God.

In verse 17, Paul offers this hope: But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

To put in in human terms, as Paul says, when we are humanly weak because of our physically sinful selves, we give ourselves up to all sorts of impurities because we just don't care about being a slave to righteousness like we should. We continued to do the very things that brought about our death.

But then, after we have been set free from sin's mastery over us and after we give our lives and our bodies to righteousness, we become slaves to what leads to holiness.

Paul closes this chapter with the Bible verse that has been memorized by school children in parochial schools all across the land, and in Sunday schools and Vacation Bible Schools and catechism classes.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


What could a right relationship with God possibly mean to us as sinners?

Let's see - no adultery. No stealing. No killing, or beating each other up. The end of domestic violence -- that would be a good thing.

No coveting of what our neighbor has, secretly wishing we had their new car (or camel, if you lived back in the Old Testament).

Think of all the ways that we use our body to sin -- smoking, alcohol and drug abuse -- things that threaten to rip apart the cord that binds us to our Lord.

Do you think it would be fair to say something like anything that interferes with our treating our bodies like the temple of the Lord?

We pray: I thank you this morning for bringing me the peace of mind that comes in knowing that my sister has not died for she is with you now forever. It is only the outer shell of her body that has gone back to the inanimate dust that she came from. It was that outer shell that was racked by the pain of arthritis and then cancer. And now she is free and able to claim the everlasting life that you promised her as your child. Her soul lives free with you now. I thank you for that.

I pray that you will keep Quint and me safe in our travels to her funeral and our return back home.

But most of all, I thank you that you bring to me Christ's baptism that gifts me with the Holy Spirit.

I pray for my cousin Mark who, it turns out, is in rehabilitation, recuperating from knee surgery. I pray that you will send the healing power of the Divine Physician Jesus Christ, to heal Mark's body and make him whole again.

I pray for Dean and Diane for the powers of recuperation that only you can give to them. I pray that you would bless their lives with joy and newness that only you can bring. Amen.

9:39 am          Comments

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Good morning to some of you, good evening to some, and g'day to the rest! It is a big, big world. Someone came on from Finland about 11 pm last night.

That was about the time that I was reading a chapter of Pride and Prejudice. I just could not bear the suspense any longer -- the not knowing how Austen was going to weave the rest of the romance around Lizzie and Darcy.

So now, just knowing what's going to happen will let me settle down and watch how it happens next Sunday evening.

And no, I do not call it cheating. I do the same thing with mystery novels. Makes perfectly good sense to me not to have to go through all that angst and suffering through the mysteries of "the weave."

And for all you avid readers out there, I am including a link -- just in case you don't have it -- for a site called Bibliomania. Lots of books that you can download free and read -- chapter by chapter!

Here it is:

But then, you folks are pretty savvy, so you probably have this link anyway. If you don't have this site bookmarked already, now is the time. Lots and lots to read!

Can you believe it's only 12 degrees here in Illinois!? I'm glad I didn't jump the gun and take those ugly cones off my beautiful little roses when we had all that 50 and 60 degree sunshine days a week or so ago.

This must be winter's last blast. Surely, huh? Okay?


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 5:1-

Paul brings a new word -- a new concept -- to our study of our relationship with God.

That word is justification. He had mentioned it before in Romans 3:28: For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

So justification and righteousness are different.

It is the Apostle Paul who is credited with developing this concept of justification and putting a name to it. And it is in this fifth chapter of his Letter to the Romans that the divine authorship of his writings brings us to these new details.
The cosmic clock was striking the minute hand of destiny, someone once said. It was God the Father, who through Jesus Christ, was bringing the Holy Spirit to Paul in this divine authorship.

Look at how he beings this chapter in verses 1-2: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

We have been justified by faith!

We have peace with God -- that is, peace of mind.

We have gained access by faith into this grace.

So grace brings us into this right relationship with God (righteousness) only if we have faith that salvation is ours, became ours through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

At that very microscopic point of time, the heavens open to us and we are brought into communion with God, our Heavenly Father -- because we have faith in what Jesus Christ did for each and every one of us. And we only get to our Heavenly Father by coming to him through his son, Jesus Christ.

At that very moment when we accept this as an act of faith, our lives will be forever changed. We become heirs to the kingdom of God. We need only to believe, for in believing, we exercise an act of faith.

Through that act of faith, we then become justified.

It's so simple, and yet so enormously complicated at the same time. That's mainly because if you don't have faith, you just can't understand how all this could happen. Maybe if you read another book about faith, or watch another Christian video. Maybe -- maybe -- maybe -- it will all somehow miraculously sink in.

But that's not it. If this is what you're doing, you're making it too hard.

You have only to believe that Christ died for your sins and that he rose from the dead. If you truly believe that, then you have faith. If you aren't sure, then you don't believe. You've pushed faith away from yourself. And you are not righteous. And because you aren't righteous, you are not justified.

It comes back to faith. You either have it or you don't. It's the fulcrum that everything else rests upon.

Paul then talks about where suffering leads in verses 3-5: Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,

because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character;

and character, hope.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

God's love takes up residence in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit. And because of this special relationship of love, God continues to live within us. We must never reject this love, for God is love. This love is the very essence of God himself. Nothing that you would ever ever want to cast aside for you would do so at your everlasting peril.

When Paul introduces justification, he does so by talking about both Adam and Jesus Christ.

Adam was the first man that God created. Adam brought sin into the world.

Jesus was the first and only son of God. Jesus brought salvation to the world.

Because of Adam, we were dead in our sin (verse 12b).

So you see, sin was in the world long before Moses brought the 10 Commandments down from Mt. Sinai. But by having the law, we become more aware of how we are sinning. Our sins now have names because of the law that Moses brought to us from God.

Then comes the Son of God. Through Jesus Christ, God brings grace to each of us. It is through this grace that God brings justification to us. Paul explains it in verse 17: For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Again, in verses 20-21, Paul reiterates the purpose of the law: The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So we have the law to show us where redemption is needed.


We need to think of justification as a real act of God -- it's not some theoretical construct hanging out there in the wind for theologians to pick apart and show us how big their minds are.

Oh no. For sure, Jesus Christ died for our sins and he rose again from the dead.

Let all the theologians who care to, busy themselves with counting the number of angels dancing on a pin head.

I can read their mighty accounts of their great intellect right along with the best of them, but I don't need to.

All I need to know is that Jesus Christ died for my sins. All of my sins. Even the sins I don't know about because, like it or not, I was born into sin.

I thank God every day of my life that he has brought me to grace because I most certainly believe that one day when I die, I will cross over to heaven's shores and be with Jesus Christ and all the saints of heaven who worship and praise God every day.

When it comes to faith, I prefer the simple path to God. That path is through Jesus Christ.

During the quiet times when you're settling down after reading this study, think of how God has gifted your life with his grace.

We pray:

Dear Heavenly Father: I thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins.

I pray that you will send your Holy Spirit to all who are struggling with cementing their faith to you. Help them in their struggles find that tiniest of little openings into their heart so that you can bring the glorious light of salvation to fill the vast empty spaces within them.

I pray for my sister who is in the midst of her life and death struggles. She looks forward to being with all of you in heaven. I pray that you will receive her for her faith has never wavered from you.

I pray for safe travels for all who come from far away places to attend to her.

I thank you for giving Quint and me the opportunity to say goodbye to her when we were in the hospital. In your divine knowing, you always put us at the exact place where you want us to be at the right time. Thank you for that. Amen.

8:08 am          Comments

Monday, February 18, 2008


We are finally getting into that time of late winter when temperatures are staying in the thirty degree range. I'll take it and be thankful for it. My little daffodils are getting more and more nerve each day. They're about an inch tall now.

Oh, I have to tell you about the new neighbor whoooooo has moved into the evergreen tree in the back yard. (That was a clue.)

Anyway, he's about two feet tall and Anna, my neighbor to the south, tells me he has a huuuuuuge wingspan -- at least a yard wide. I haven't seen him on the wing yet. He just sits up there and watches me and sings his little one note samba when he feels like it.

But I haven't seen any mice so I'm guessing he's doing his job. He's be entirely welcome to take any and all snakes he might find in the yard too. I like owls. A lot.

We had one up north too. He lived in the big tree out in front of our condo. So now I hear the serenade during the night. No surprise I wake up wondering where I am.

The big project -- in between clients today -- is to go upstairs and work on the guest bedroom some more. There are still boxes up there that are unpacked. So after all this time, there couldnt' possibly be anything that we either need or want. Right?

Well, not necessarily. On one of my last forays, I found Josephus. Josephus was an early historian who compiled data for the Romans. It was a treasure find because every once in a while I want to know what Josephus had to say about some of the early apostles. Or the times he lived in.

I watched another segment of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice last night. PBS is presenting all of her work in a Masterpiece Classics series. Last night was the second evening of Pride and Prejudice and since each segment is two hours long, I was certain that Lizzie would land her the most delicious Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, played by Colin Firth. Well, sort of. The haughty naughty Mr. Darcy did confess his undying love for Elizabeth (he never calls her "Lizzie" -- too too common).

To which Lizzie said she can't imagine what circumstance there could possibly be that would even allow her to want to marry him. He was stunned! I mean, who does Lizzie think she is anyway. Here she was -- the second born of five daughters, without prospects (that's what they called eligible bachelors in those days) and here comes Darby, enormously wealthy with thousands of acres of land in, of all places, Pemberley. He even owns towns. All this give him a rather handsome income of 10,000 pounds a year. 

I mean, you know that Lizzie is going to somehow end up marrying Darby and live happily ever after. Jane Austen's heroines are given such successes by the stroke of Austen's pen. Just don't remember how she is going to weave the story. If I had a copy of the book, I'd read the end of it. Might just take a run up to the library today.

Nah -- that would spoil the suspense, wouldn't it?. Besides, I already read the plot line on Wikipedia.


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 4:1-25

Can you imagine a missionary -- any missionary -- going out into the world to convert people who faithfully and strongly believe something that was a whole lot different?

This is what my view of Paul is. He hadn't gone out into an evil religion that threw virgins down into a volcano on Saturday nights.

Not by a long shot. He went up against the faithful followers of Judaism. These are the very same people who had Moses, the granite scribe of the 10 Commandments, in their corner. These are the same people who thought they were being faithful to a covenant relationship with the one true God!

They even had Abraham, the righteous patriarch Abraham, father of us all. It says that in the Bible. Abraham was a righteous man. The Jews believed that with all their heart.

So here comes Paul's letter to the Romans. The first things Paul does in this chapter is go all the way back to Genesis 15:6 -- Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Abram believed the Lord. Believed what? Well, for starters, God told Abram that his descendants were going to be as numerous as the stars that were visible to the naked eye. But Abram was an old man -- too old to be having babies. Besides, his wife was way past the age where she could conceive. 

Doesn't matter. If God said so, then it was going to happen. Didn't matter that it would be a miracle. That was Abram's faith. It was something between him and God. Abram believed. God counted his faith as righteousness.

Faith requires an object. We have to have something to believe in to have faith. For Abram, that faith was a belief that God would do what he said he was going to do. That faith is what God counted. Abram's faith brought him to a righteous relationship with God. The object of faith is God. It must be so.

Righteous -- there's that word again. What exactly does righteousness mean? Clearly it doesn't mean perfect, or without sin. We're all sinners. Even Abram was a sinner.

Here comes my point. In Genesis 15:6 God said that Abram was a righteous man.

Earmark this verse as a kind of time reference.

Now we've talked about circumcision and how the Jews believed that the act of circumcision was what they thought was an act of faith in their covenant relationship with God. Circumcision was made them right with God, therefore righteous. And because of this covenant relationship, they were assured of paradise.

Well, Paul says, not so fast.

The requirement of circumcision didn't come about until Genesis 17:9-11 -- Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you..."

The promise of this covenant relationship that came out of circumcision was after God had said Abram was righteous. So, circumcision does not make a person righteous.

Righteousness, then, is being in a right relationship with God -- righteousness is leading a life that is pleasing to God.

In Psalm 37:12-13, we learn that The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.

And in Psalm 37:16-17, Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.

But these quotes from the Psalms are for our edification and to help define righteousness. We don't know if Paul quoted this psalm to the Romans. He didn't in this letter to them.

There were two giant hurdles for Paul to help the Jews in Rome get beyond.

The first was their sincere belief that circumcision was their act of faith in the covenant relationship they believed they had with God.

And their belief that the Jewish people were the chosen people of God.

Paul was able to get them around the notion that circumcision brought them to righteousness by pointing out that God called Abram righteous in Genesis 15 before the requirement of circumcision was ordered by God in Genesis 17.

Okay. Got that. Now about the Gentiles. Again, back to Abram when God promised that his descendants would be all nations. That included the Gentiles. Very important point, because now the Jews and Gentiles could worship and believe together.

So Paul says in verses 9-12: Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?

We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited?

Was it after he was circumcised, or before?

It was not after, but before!

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.

So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not beencircumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.

And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So it was not because of the law that Abraham and his descendants received God's promise of inheriting the world, but rather, it was through the righteousness that comes because of their faith. (verse 13)

Paul takes this point and goes further with it in verse 14: ...if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Paul is telling them that the law defines what a transgression is. But if there is no law, then there is no transgression. But this doesn't mean that there is no sin if there is no law.

No no no. It's not that easy. We're still sinners. Without laws we may not be transgressors but we're still sinners.

Sin is what separates us from God. Faith is what gets us right with God.

Laws change as cultures change. For instance, in some states, it is a homicide if an unborn child dies when its mother is murdered. Not all states have that law, though. So you see, laws can even differ from one locale to another.

But sin? Sin is defined by God. It doesn't change from one culture to another, nor from one locale to another.

Paul makes another point to the Romans starting at verse 23, because Paul wants them, and us, to know the import of Christ coming to earth to die for our sins and to be delivered over to death for our sins, and raised to life for our justification (verse 25).

Think about this: The miracle of Abram fathering a child required monumental faith at his advanced age. Another birth was prophesied as we travel through the Old Testament. It promised another miraculous birth. This second birth would bring righteousness to all of us through faith in Jesus Christ's death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead.

Paul was calling on all believers then, and now, to get right with God. Paul was calling all believers to have faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Faith. That's how we get right with God. Faith is why God calls us righteous.


What strengths of Paul did God use to do missionary work?

This particular chapter, at least to me, seems very legalistic. And like a good attorney, Paul wants the Romans to really understand the importance of this word righteousness. It's peppered throughout the Old Testament hundreds of times. But how often do we read over it without really thinking about what it means.

Righteousness requires faith. What do you do in your life that shows others that your have faith in God?

I am reminded of a story of a missionary in India who was sent to grow new churches for the kingdom of God. He prayed and he prayed. At best, he was able to develop 25 new churches a year as he made his rounds through the countryside. But he wanted to bring more people to know Christ. So he asked his sending church back in the United States to get people to pray for his mission work every day. I don't know how many pray-ers he had, exactly, but it didn't take long before his new churches had grown to over a thousand.

Do you pray with others? Prayer is a powerful act of faith.

And you're stopping by this site to read God's word. If you do not have a good study Bible, I would encourage you to get into Google or your favorite search engine and and learn as much as you can as we go along here.

We pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you would bless all who have come here today to learn more about you and your Word.

I pray that you would bless those who are ill at this time so that they will know the healing powers of your Son, the Divine Healer.

I thank you for sending your son to die for my sins. It was nothing I could do to deserve such a thing, but I will be forever grateful to know that redemption and salvation are mine because of your loving sacrifice.

I thank you for all your blessings and for showering this site with daily growth. I pray that you will continue to enlarge my territory and I thank you for pointing me in the right direction in my search for truth.

I pray that you would guide Dean and Diane in their struggles at this time. Bless them, and bless their work.

I pray for my sister, Cookie, who is standing on the threshold of joining you and all those she loves who have predeceased her. I pray for strength for her daughters, Karen, Robin and Cindy in the long tearful grief that awaits them.

I pray for Quint and thank you for the continued blessing of health for him, and for me as well. Thank you for the strength you give us to do your work at our age. Amen.


8:50 am          Comments

Friday, February 15, 2008


Gone are the days when we must "all take our turn" governing these United States -- according to the words of Thomas Jefferson, I believe.

But then, we've become too populated and there aren't enough places for us all to take turns. There are too many dynastic little political foothills that are only perceived as mountains. It's the polarity of points of view that make peaks seem loftier than they are.

We need to get back down here in the valleys where compromises are made and lived by. Mountain peaks are black and white pinnacles of power, but it's the gray world of valleys where real people live. Seems like all the politicians have forgotten that.

The mental health of our country depends on political gray. That's where reason is. In the gray valleys of civility.

Individuals who enjoy good mental health have coping skills that keep their rationale in the gray areas. We do not live in a black and white world of dichotomous thinking. Life is gray.

And that's what I'm thinking about this morning. How about you?

My prayers go out to the families of the students who are shot and killed by a senseless gunman former student Steven Kazmierczak this morning. The gunman shot and killed himself before the police even got on the scene just moments after he entered the lecture hall and started pulling the trigger.

Six dead and I believe 17 wounded. Some of the wounded are head injuries so let's pray that they survive.

What is wrong with people? I ask myself that all the time. Here are some headlines from this morning that are just bizarre:

Driver Abandons Bus Full of Ex-Prisoners on Highway (Fox News:,2933,330753,00.html) See -- it was quitting time and never mind that she was 60 miles short of reaching her goal of the bus terminal in Dallas.

New Orleans Mayor Takes Heat for Playing With Gun (Fox News:,2933,330722,00.html) But it was okay because it turns out that the incident happened at a public safety press conference and Nagin wasn't really pointing the gun at the policeman, it just looked that way.

Amish Ready to go to Jail Over Outhouse (CNN: Didn't know there were still outhouses anywhere in the United States. On people's estates, that is. I realize there are lots of porta potties at festivals and public parks. I'm not that disconnected.

Putin Says at a Minimum a Head of State Should Have a Head (Politico: Putin was commenting about Hillary who had previously said that Putin didn't have a soul. Are we supposed to chalk that Hillary comment up to her vast foreign relations experience?

And on a good note: Figure Skating: Japan's Takahaski Wins Four Continent Crown (Breitbart: And just in case you want to see some super skating, check these programs out where Takahaski skates to the beautiful music of Rachmaninov:

I think it's time we pay more attention to people doing good things. I will warn you though that the commentaries are not sub-titled and I don't speak Japanese so I have no idea what they're saying. But it's easy to see when Takahaski hits the quads just from the roar of the crowd. Besides, his twirlies are higher and he stays in the air longer. My deduction is that they are quads!

Good job! What a skater.


WITH AGE COMES WISDOM -- from Alice Stubbe

A guy is 80 years old and loves to fish and play golf.

He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say, "Pick me up."

He looked around and couldn't see anyone. He thought he was dreaming when he heart the voice say again, "Pick me up." He looked in the water and there, floating on top, was a frog.

The man asked, "Are you talking to me?"

The frog said, "Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up, then, kiss me and I'll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. I'll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I will be your bride."

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up carefully, and placed it in his front breast pocket.

Then the frog said, "What -- are you nuts? Didn't you hear what I said? I said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride."

He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said, "Nah, at my age, I'd rather have a talking frog."



Story Number One: Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son whom he loved dearly. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son: he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against the mob, and he knew that the cost would be great!

So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine:

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time
For the clock may soon be still.

Story Number Two: World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gage and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron on and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger.

There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 calibers blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spend. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch and his battered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of WWII and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.

His home town would not allow the memory of this WWII hero to face, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International Airport, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.

So what do these two stories have to do with each other? Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.


A WARM DOGGIE STORY -- from Kathy Brandenburg

An old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home.

He followed me into the house, down the hall, and fell asleep in a corner.

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out.

The next day he was back, resumed his position in the hall, and slept for an hour. This continued for several weeks.

Curious, I pinned a note to his collar. "Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap."

The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar. "He lives in a home with ten children. He's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?"


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 3:1-31

I can just see Paul sitting at a table with only the light from an oil lamp to light his writing. He starts out kind of lukewarm. It's an old, familiar position for him -- all this talk about circumcision. Then he starts to build toward a crescendo and the next thing you know, the chapter begins to read like a dash to the finish line at the end of the 31 verses. He makes his points. He weaves in and out of the rebuttals he perceives could be forthcoming. One by one, he neutralizes them all. And he leaves the Romans with one thought -- it is Paul's hallmark point -- it's grace from God. You can't earn your way into paradise. You just can't do it.

Ah, but the Jews keep hanging onto this notion that the circumcision is their guaranteed ticket that will get them into heaven.

The Jews still practiced circumcision -- but Paul is saying they do this for reasons other than an act of faith. Rather, as we read previously in this chapter, the Jews figured that if they continued to uphold the act of circumcision according to the old laws handed down to their ancestors, then God would see them as faithful followers. And because they were faithful followers, they would get their entry invitation into paradise.

Now, along comes Paul who is telling them that there's something more that they need to do. Circumcision is one thing. If they practice it with faith in their hearts, then they'll be okay. But if they practice it as a kind of "cost of admission," then they're not getting into heaven at all.

Paul brings a new meaning to the word "righteousness." And it's God who is able to make man righteous.

Now comes this concept of grace. It's a new word to expand the vocabulary of the Jewish people. Well, all people actually.

What Paul seems to be trying so hard to do here is integrate the Jewish people and the Gentiles into one believing group of faithful followers. But the first thing that the Jewish people have to do is reconcile this notion of theirs that circumcision makes them more better than the Gentiles. That's what their ancestors taught them and they believed that's what God expected of them. And if the Gentiles weren't circumcised, then they were somehow flawed only because -- or so it appeared to the Jews -- they had not or would not enter into the same covenant relationship with God that the Jews had done. And if they hadn't, then they couldn't have God's covenant or blessing.

It was a tremendous hurdle for Paul to get beyond. Fortunately for him, he had the guidance of the Holy Spirit who was putting the words in his mouth.

Paul says in verses 9-18: What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:

There is no one righteous, not even one;

There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good, not even one.

Their throats are open graves;

Their tongues practice deceit.

The poison of vipers is on their lips.

Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

So out of this rather long list of things gone wrong with sinful man, the last verse says they don't even fear God. That is, there is no reverence and it's this reverence of God that initiates man's godliness.

But in verse 19, Paul says the whole world is accountable to God. So if the whole world is accountable, Jews and Gentiles alike, how are the Gentiles going to be held accountable since they never had the Mosaic law to obey in the first place?

Read what Paul says in verse 20: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Shame recognition. It's about shame recognition. How many times have I counseled children and had them discover that yes, indeed, they knew they had done something wrong at the point of shame recognition.

Children have to learn this; otherwise, it's just white stuff falling out of an overturned glass and cascading onto the floor below. They learn not to tip over the glass of milk -- not that it was purposeful misbehavior -- just something they ought not to be doing. Just hearing that "Oh, for crying out loud" from mom or dad, who had to clean up the mess is often enough for children to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness -- shame recognition.

The law, says Paul, makes us conscious of our sin (verse 20b).

And here comes the gospel message, restated powerfully for the Romans, in verses 21-25: But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

The playing field just got leveled. The Jews go to worship on the Sabbath and they sit right next to Gentiles who are also worshiping with them. It's not going to be like it used to be when the Gentiles -- if they were allowed in the synagogue at all -- had to sit somewhere not close to the Jews. The Gentiles were pagans. Probably not even supposed to be in the synagogue.

Now, here comes this guy -- Paul -- who's telling the Jews that they're just like the Gentiles and it doesn't matter whether they're circumcised or not, because it's not like it used to be in the old days.

So this Jesus Christ had come down from heaven. He was the Son of God and he would die on the cross. No more would anyone on the face of the earth need to make a sacrificial atonement on the altar at the temple because Christ's blood was shed for the sins of every man, woman and child on the planet.

And the blood of Christ was shed for Jew and Gentile alike. We only have to believe in Jesus Christ who brought God's righteousness to us all. It justifies us -- all of us who have faith in Jesus Christ (verse 26).

So how do we get some of this faith? If that's all it takes is faith, where does it come?

Paul brings this promise from God in verse 30: [S]ince there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

And here comes the big question at the end of this chapter: Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law (verse 31).


It seems to me that Paul was anticipating an accusation in this last sentence. That accusation could come from false apostles running around Rome telling the believers that Paul is telling them they didn't have to obey the law anymore.

In fact, a similar message had been misinterpreted in Corinth and it took some doing for Paul to get in there and explain what he meant.

As we get further into this letter to the Romans, we will get a fuller explanation of Paul's explanation of this position.

When it comes to sin, do you think there are some sins that are worse than others? For instance, do you think it's more wrong to kill someone than it is to commit adultery? Or maybe more sinful to rob a bank than it is to tell lies about someone?

These are sins against the 10 Commandments and yet we tend to think of some sins as being more serious than others.

Truth is, we are all sinners. And our sins are sometimes perceived as bigger ones; sometimes smaller ones. But we need to let the blood of Christ wash over us and cleanse us from our sins. All of them.

Think about how important it is to wrap our hearts around this notion of Christ's atonement for us -- especially in this season of Lent.

Do we hang onto our guilt and shame so that Christ can't get across the barrier we've put between him and our sin? Forgiveness is ours for the asking.

God promised. It is so. Believe it.

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of salvation that is mine because you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. All my sins. The big ones and the little ones.

Please help me see that in your eyes, a sin is a sin and I pray that you will help me get away from this keeping score that I've been doing. I pray that you will send your Holy Spirit into my heart to clean out all the cobwebs of misguided thinking so that I can let you into every nook and corner of my heart and my soul.

I pray that you will be with me as I go through this day and I thank you for your guidance and care and love.

I pray that you will surround all those I love to keep them safe.

I pray that you will seat good Christian leaders into places of governance throughout the world.

I thank you for all your blessings. Amen.

9:03 am          Comments

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This morning we need to pray for the health and well-being of Billy Graham who had surgery to update a shunt that controls fluids in his brain. At this writing, he is in fair condition in the hospital and is expected to be up walking around shortly. He needed a new valve that will maintain fluid and pressure levels. The beloved 89-year-old evangelist is expected to make a full recovery.

Read more:

McCain is getting a much-needed reprieve today. He's is in the Bahamas on an R&R tour. Probably doing some think tank stuff. Don't know if you've ever been around a political campaign but I have. I can tell you that the politicians are always campaign, except for that tiny little ten day window immediately after the polls close. But after that, they're always on.

And local, grassroots politics at the township level is not much different from the big frenzies at the state and national levels. Only difference is the number of zeros after ticket prices and more volunteers at the local level. But the egos are just as big and the feelings of "righteousness" at least as humongous.

Those were not the good old days when I was a secretary in a township office and a precinct captain. Eons ago. That was years before I went back to school to finish what I left undone in the academic world.

My life filled up with the beauty of babies, then Girl Scout troops. Then back to work, starting as a secretary. The world should be nicer to secretaries. They get things done!


REMEMBER OUR TROOPS -- from Al Stubbe and Mark Stubbe

You complain of a headache and call in sick. He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward.

You put on your anti-war/don't support the troops shit and go meet up with your friends. He still fights for your right to wear that shirt.

You make sure your cell phone is in your pocket. He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.

You talk trash about your "buddies" that aren't with you. He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.

You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls. He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.

You complain about how hot it is. He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.

You go out to lunch and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong. He doesn't get to eat today.

Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes. He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

You go to the mall and get your hair redone. He doesn't have time to brush his teeth today.

You're angry because your class ran five minutes over. He's told he will be held over an extra two months.

You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight. He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.

You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do every day. He holds his letter close and smells his love's perfume.

You roll your eyes as a baby cries. He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they'll ever meet.

You criticize your government and say that war never solves anything. He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he's fighting.

You hear the jokes about the war and make fun of men like him. He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.

You see only what the media wants you to see. He sees the broken bodies lying around him.

You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don't. He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.

You stay at home and watch TV. He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat.

You crawl into your soft bed with down pillows, and get comfortable. He tries to sleep but gets awakened by mortars and helicopters all night long.


PUPPY SIZE -- from Antoinette Oberheu

"Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this," the mother told the volunteer.

"What is it she keeps asking for?" the volunteer asked.

"Puppy size!" replied the mother.

"Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that's what she's looking for."

"I know -- we've seen most of them," the mom said in frustration.

Just then Danielle came walking into the office.

"Well, did you fine one?" asker her mom.

"No, not this time," Danielle said with sadness in her voice. "Can we come back on the weekend?"

The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed.

"You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there's always a supply," the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. "Don't worry, I'll find one this weekend," she said.

Over the next few days both mom and dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. "It's this weekend or we're not looking anymore," Dad finally said in frustration.

"We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size either," mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning. But now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, Mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted.

Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take  a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one.

One by one she said, "Sorry, you're not the one."

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect puppy.

The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer.

"Mom, that's it! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!" she screamed with joy. "It's the puppy size!"

"But it's the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last few weeks," mom said.

"No, not size -- the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed," she said.

"Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!"

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stopped down to hug her child, she did a little of both.

"Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms," she said.

Then holding the puppy up close to her face, she said, "Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!"

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day.

They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will be surprised at what you hear.

Remember: Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.



This is a quiz for people who know everything. I found out in a hurry that I didn't. These are not trick questions. They are straight questions with straight answers.

1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.

2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?

3. Of all the vegetables, only two can life to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

4. Wha fruit has its seeds on the outside?

5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?

6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters "dw" and they are all common words. Name two of them.

7. There ae 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?

8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.

9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter "S."


1. Boxing
2. Niagara Falls -- The rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.
3. Asparagus and rhubarb
4. Strawberry
5. The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small, and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.
6. Dwarf, dwell and dwindle
7. Period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.
8. Lettuce
9. Shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 2:1-29

In this chapter, Paul outlines how God is going to inflict judgment. And he raises the question again about circumcision. This was an important pillar of faith for the Jewish people -- maybe even the one significant difference between the Jews and the Gentiles.

But it wasn't the act of circumcision itself, but rather, the significance of that act. Circumcision meant that the Jewish person had a covenant relationship with God that went all the way back to antiquity.

Paul opens this chapter with instructions about how God judges people -- and it doesn't have much to do with whether or not they are circumcised either.

Paul says that people ought not to judge others. When they do this, they are also condemning themselves because humanness brings with it this inability to lead lives free of sin.

That is an important criteria God uses when he judges us. Paul brings a warning here that we condemn ourselves when we accuse other people of sin, because we, too, are sinners. So unless we're perfect, we should just be quiet about what other people are doing wrong.

Useless tattling is annoying. It's annoying to us as earthly parents, and apparently it's hugely annoying to God. Listen to verse 3: So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the  same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?

Then, in verse 4, Paul tells the Jews to not misconstrue God's kindness and patience because these kindnesses are meant to bring people to redemption. My Concordia Study Bible has a footnote that explains it this way: The Jews had misconstrued [God's] patience to be a lack of intent to judge. (p. 1718)

Paul, having the authority to speak about such matters, wants the believers in Rome -- Jews and Gentiles alike -- to just stop it! He says they are stubborn and have an unrepentant heart and because they are apparently keeping score of the wrongs that other people are doing, they are storing up God's wrath that will come down on their heads when the day of judgment comes for all people.

In verse 6, Paul warns: God will give to each person according to what he has done.

Wow! What happened to the God who paved the way to salvation by his grace?

Well folks, just because God is a gracious God, it doesn't mean you can sin on purpose and pray for forgiveness in advance of sinning.

No indeed. If you are a true believer and have faith in your heart, you are going to lead a life that resists sin. Not that you can ever be perfect, but you can be as good as you can be. And God is not in any mood to be all that gracious to lazy Christians, it seems to me.

So even though you aren't ever going to buy your way into heaven with your good behavior, your faith will lead you to God's grace because you will always be trying to resist sin.

God notices such things. Don't think for one minute that he isn't paying attention to each and every thing that we do as we go through our days. Take a look at what the Holy Spirit -- through Paul -- says in verses 9-11: There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

Okay -- so put that gun away. You aren't going to rob anybody! And cancel that date with your lover. Stay home with your spouse instead. And for crying out loud, quit all that gossiping. You know that God doesn't want to hear you talking about other people. While you're at it, go through your purses or pockets and put all those pens back in your desk where they belong. The company you work for is not in the business of supplying you with pens, however cheap they are.

Think about these words from verse 13: For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Just in case the Jews might have thought they were okay in feeling their self-righteousness, Paul goes after that way of thinking. Oh, for sure, he knew exactly how that mind-logic got wrapped around their heads because he had been a self-righteous Jew himself at one time, back in the old days.

In our present day, we would say something like "pot can't call the kettle black."

The monologue in verses 17-24 clearly is aimed at this kind of self-righteous thinking. Paul takes dead aim at how the Jews had wrapped their self-righteousness around their "uppitiness." Paul puts the Jews on notice that it isn't going to fly with him, and it isn't going to fly with God either: Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God;

if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law th embodiment of knowledge and truth -- you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? you who preach against stealing, doyou steal?

You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Uh oh! Now Paul is saying that the Jews are leading the Gentiles into a really big sin against the Holy Spirit: blasphemy. That would be big trouble, indeed.

They can just forget all about this big deal they're making about circumcision. See, the Jews had been holding onto circumcision because it represented a covenant relationship with God. It meant that they, as a Jew, had sealed this covenant and because of this, had received a pledge from God. This pledge was a blessing, they thought, that guaranteed God's kindness and favor with them.

Now, here comes Paul who's telling them they've got it all wrong. Can you see where the Jews would have been very upset with Paul? Paul is telling the Jews that they'd better be really careful because circumcision doesn't mean a thing unless they are living their lives by the law of Moses.

If they aren't, then it doesn't matter if they're circumcised or not. They're the same kind of lawbreakers that the pagans, otherwise known as gentiles, are.

Well, how dare Paul tell them that! Just who does Paul think he is, anyway?

Paul is about to tell them in verse 29: No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

So that's who Paul is -- God's spokesperson. And Paul was not about the let the Jews forget it.


Paul has never met the people in Rome as of this writing. So, as a stranger and as a missionary, what are some other common grounds that he might have used as a strong point in his meeting of the minds with the Jewish believers in Rome?

Keep in mind that these probably were the same Jews who had been present at Pentecost and had witnessed the mighty visuals that God brought to earth during those Pentecostal moments of wonder.

This is not the first time that Paul has argued against circumcision for the Jewish believers. Why do you think that this seems to be Paul's first confrontation of Jewish beliefs?

We pray: Oh, Spirit of the Living God, I pray that you will fill my heart with your love and joy so that I will be able to resist Satan and all the sin that he desires I fall into. I pray that you will keep me strong.

Help me to remember that you have your eyes on me when you look toward the earth, and I pray that you will lift my eyes to the heavens to behold your kindness.

I thank you for all your blessings in Quint's and my life. I pray that you will show us how best to use those blessings to grow your kingdom here on earth.

I pray for all the men and women who serve in our armed forces. Please keep them strong and safe until they are home again reunited with their loved ones.

I pray for my sister, "Cookie," who is in the final days and weeks of her life here on earth from the cancer that has invaded her body. I pray that she will continue to embrace her excitement of coming home to you and also being reunited with our mother and brothers and father. I pray that you will remove the fear of her journey from this earth from her.

I pray for peace for her daughters and her grandchildren. I especially pray for safe travels for her daughter Karen who is making the long journey from Kuwait to be with her mother.

I pray for strength for her daughter Robin who has been lovingly ministering to Cookie's needs for months and months.

I pray for all who are experiencing marital strife. Please fill the hearts of these couples with love so that they can be reunited within the framework of a Christian marriage and bring them to your house where they can worship and praise you as they ought to.

I ask all these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

8:26 am          Comments

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Some elections yesterday -- the Potomac primaries as they're called.

It changes things because, for the first time, Obama is leading in the delegate count. He now has 1,223 delegates while Hillary has 1,198. The Democrats have decided that they need 2,025 delegates to cinch the nomination as their party's nominee.

The Republicans, on the other hand, need 1,191 delegates to get the nomination. McCain now has 821 delegates while Huckabee has 241. But hiding in the background are delegates who are still committed to Romney. Like, over 200 delegates. Keep in mind that he only "suspended" his presidential run. He didn't really say he was quitting the race. And he hasn't released his delegates to go to a candidate whom he would endorse.

So what does this all mean? Well, unless they've changed the rules again, the delegates are obligated to vote for the candidate they were elected to support. That is, on the first ballot. If the conventions open and the first ballot still doesn't give a candidate a clear nomination, then the delegates are released from this obligation and can get into some real "horse trading."

That's happened in the past. But I don't think there has been the need for multiple ballots for decades. Might happen this year at the Democratic convention though.
And so it goes.

The real news here is that it's too darn cold! It's only 14 degrees but hopefully it will go on up to at least the freezing mark later today. I'm looking forward to tomorrow when it promises to get up to 47 degrees. My little daffodils seem to be doing okay. Still. Springs a comin'!


BIBLE STUDY: Romans 1:1-32 (NIV)

Martin Luther considered Paul's letter to the Romans as the purest nugget of Christian faith. Luther felt so strongly about this that he thought everybody ought to memorize the letter. (Concordia Study Bible, page 1713)

Though there are, no doubt, differing opinions as to where Paul was actually sitting when he wrote this letter, most scholarly thinkers hold to the notion that Paul was in Corinth, or possibly Cenchrea which is a port city about six miles from Corinth (Romans 16:1).

He had gone to Corinth to collect the monies that were being held for the poor folks in and around Jerusalem. While Paul really really wanted to go to Rome to meet with the new churches there, he also knew that he was challenged by the need to go to Jerusalem first.

But the churches in Rome had needs too and Paul wanted to minister to those needs of faith. The year 57 A.D. seems likely for this letter. There were churches in Rome; had been there since that whole exciting event at Pentecost when they were present and received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These Romans then brought the message of salvation back to Rome and established churches there, meeting safely in peoples' homes. 

Except for moments of history, I'm not sure that it's all that important to know what month, what address, and who would be journeying to Rome with this letter. By that I mean that the power and beauty of the message itself is far more important to me than the minute details of Paul's itinerary.

But that's just my point of view. Others will hold a different view that would propel them to discovering the names of Paul's hosts if they could, and that's fine too.

Paul introduces himself in the very first sentence of this letter. He very quickly reiterates the fact that Jesus Christ is the very personage of God who was promised to mankind through he prophets of old.

And Paul reiterates to the Romans (in verses 5-6) that he comes ...through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

In verse 7, Paul addresses this letter to all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.

Paul uses the word "saints" throughout his writings to mean Christians. Christians are saints because they have been named as righteous or holy by God, and they become even more so because of their welcoming the Holy Spirit into their hearts.  

Paul wants the Romans to know that their faith is well known throughout the world and that he was praying for them every day. Paul also lets them know that if there's any way -- any possible way at all -- he would truly relish the idea of coming to Rome to worship with them and minister to them. In verse 11, Paul says that he hopes to bring them "some spiritual gift" to make them strong.

In verses 16-17, we find the golden nugget of the New Testament that becomes a repeating theme in all of Paul's writings: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Keep in mind that Paul uses the word "righteous" to mean having a right relationship with God.

In the very next verse, Paul says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven to all the godless people and these godless people deny themselves the truth about God. That truth about God is very plain -- it's not hard to figure out at all -- because God makes it very plain.

Since the very creation of the earth, God has made his truth known -- this truth is centered around his eternal power and divine nature. There is no excuse for not knowing this, but rather, godless people deny God's nature. For those godless people, there is God's wrath -- this is not a human anger but rather, a kind of disgust for this rejection that leads God to turn the godless people out to pursue their sins.

These are the people who Paul says in verse 25: They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator -- who is forever praised. Amen."

It reminds me of something a professor once said to a theology class I was in: "You worship the god at whose altar you bow."

If that "altar" is bags and bags of riches, then you have made that wealth your idol.

If you are a workaholic, then you have made your job your idol.

And just in case the Romans didn't quite get the full idea of what he was talking about, Paul describes the ungodless in this way: They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.

They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Discussion: If you embrace God in all his glory and live your life to be near him and feel his presence everywhere you go, then you know what Paul means by "righteous." On the other hand, if you feel a distance from God, like you aren't really all that connected, then you know that in your heart too. So how would you resolve that feeling of not being righteous?

Of these faith practices, which are the ones you exercise strongly and which are the ones you need to work on?

Weekly worship and praise with other believers
Daily reading of God's word

Each and every one of us, because of our humanness, needs to exhibit great care that we do not make anything or anyone an idol. God is first -- everything else comes after that.

Re-read the final verses of this first chapter and compare it to what Christ said in John 10:27-30 -- My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.

How does this message from Christ compare to Paul's comment in verse 24: Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

Satan lurks around here on earth. We must remain steadfast and vigilant to resist all temptations that Satan puts before us. We must choose God and know that the truth of God is that he is far more powerful than Satan.

We pray: Dear heavenly Father, I pray that your truth will rest upon me so that I can follow you alone.

I pray that you will give me the strength to deny Satan any entry whatsoever in my heart.

I pray that you will strengthen all our children and their spouses and also our grandchildren. Please keep them all safe in your tender care so that they continue to welcome your truth.

I pray that you will keep Quint in the safety of the palm of your hand, and for myself as well, as we go through our lives together.

I thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ, to redeem me from all my sins. As I go through this preparation time of Lent, help me be mindful of this tremendous sacrifice that you have made for me and for all mankind, so that our sins will be washed away in the precious blood of Christ.

I pray that you will keep me close to you so that you will not have to come looking for me. Keep me near you. And I thank you so much for caring where I am and what I am doing. Amen.

7:54 am          Comments

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I have been trying to get on the internet for a couple of hours since I returned from the dentist. It happens when the temperature gets really cold and there's ice and snow on the cable line (that hangs from utility poles).

I saw the cable guy out there climbing up the pole about an hour ago so there must be troubles in paradise.

I think I'm going to wait for the great February thaw and perhaps things will be better tomorrow.

But I will tell you that the next Bible Study will focus on the Letter to the Romans. Traditionally, this is the letter that was written after Paul wrote his letters to the Corinthians. In fact, rumor has it that Paul wrote to the church in Rome while he was actually in Corinth. But it might be, that he wrote the letter from Ephesus or Macedonia. At any rate, the letter was written about 57 or 58 A.D.

Now, I realize that scholarly purists like to substantiate historical claims using Biblical references. But I'm comfortable going outside to historical material as well. To that end, St. Jerome says that Paul arrived in Rome in 56 A.D. St. Jerome says that Paul went to Rome in the second year of Nero. And since Nero succeeded Claudius as Emporer, that date is the preferred one.

read more:

So I'm going to get off the Internet for now and hope that this post will go all the way through to the world wide web.


8:06 am          Comments

Monday, February 11, 2008


Good grief, where does the time go?

All I wanted to do was see if there were any Gregorian chants on You Tube.
There are some absolutely delicious ones.

Here's the one that's playing now: -- it follows the life of Christ all the way to the resurrection. Beautiful graphics, well, except for the front yard nativity set that has lights all over it. Could have done without that since there were good desert scenes and Bethlehem scenes with the baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph. Didn't need an Elm Street nativity set. But that's just my opinion. The rest of the video makes up for it -- especially the scene when Christ leaves the tomb after he'd been buried. -- these are benedictions by chanters -- against a backdrop of some fantastic pastoral photos -- these look like monks getting ready to go into a Chapter House for their daily Bible Study

And would you believe that a couple of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs kind of lend themselves to chanting, although they're sung, not chanted. But it's definitely reminiscent of a Gregorian chant. -- The Sound of Silence -- Bridge Over Troubled Water -- beautiful orchestral too

Now I understand the famous quote by Mr/Ms Anonymous: Music can break your heart and heal it at the same time.

Anyone who has ever felt deep deep emotional pain knows exactly what that means. If not, the poet Khalil Gibran explained it this way: Pain carves ruts in your soul so that you can fill them with joy.

It is overcast here with a temperature all the way up to 19 degrees now. We're expecting snow this afternoon. Maybe a dusting of 1 - 3 inches, and some more snow later on this evening. Perhaps another 3 inches. The prediction is 6 -10 inches of snow for folks living north of I-70. See, there is a thermal thing going on where interstates are concerned. I personally believe that these thermals set up a kind of weather pattern of their own.

The temperatures in International Falls, Minnesota (the nation's "ice box") was -15 degrees on Sunday, with a wind chill sinking it down to -40 degrees. There, doesn't that make you feel warmer?

But spring will be here soon. My daffodils are growing through their dirt blanket. Hardy little darlings, aren't they? These are the special daffodils that are pink, not yellow. They came up last year but since they were just getting their little feet in the ground, they didn't really fill in the space all that much. I'm expecting a bigger beautiful show this year.
Enjoy the music. It will soothe your soul.


Did you know that there are two defining forces that have ever been offered to die for you:

1 Jesus Christ
2. The American soldier

And here's another thought: since George Bush is getting blamed for everything from global warming to stock market cooling, I propose that the San Andreas Fault be renamed to the George Bush Fault.

And here's what Ronald Reagan had to say: Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don't have that problem. -- and I would add to that all our men and women in every branch of the service.


COP STOP -- from Alice Stubbe

A Mississippi trooper pulled a car over on Highway 82 about 2 miles east of the Mississippi/Alabama state line. When the trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver said he was a magician and juggler and was on his way to Columbus to do a show at the Shrine Circue and didn't want to be late.

The trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling and asked if he -- the driver -- would do a little juggling for him then the wouldn't get a ticket.

The driver told the trooper he had sent his equipment ahead and didn't have anything to juggle. The trooper said he had some flares in the trunk and asked if the magician could juggle them.

The juggler said he could, so the trooper got 3 flares, lit them, and handed them to the juggler.

While the man was juggling, a car pulled in behind the patrol car, a drunken Mississippi good old boy got out, watched the performance, then went over to the patrol car, opened the rear door and got in.

The trooper saw him and went over to the patrol car, opened the door and asked the drunk what he thought he was doing.

The drunk said, "You might as well take me to jail -- there's no way in the world I can pass that test!"


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 13:1-14

We close this second letter to the Corinthians with this chapter.

I do want to add a note, though, from Chapter 12. And that is, there are some theologians who believe that the person Paul is referring to who went up to the third heaven is himself. Paul says that this man heard "inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." Then Paul says, "I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself." (my emphasis)

My question is, "Who would know besides Paul and God?" Some pastors have told me that Paul is definitely talking about himself; others have said absolutely not.

Here's what I think: Men write their opinions -- Paul writes the truth. Paul's truth was from God through the Holy Spirit. And for whatever reason, if God did not want Paul to tell people that he had gone up to the third heaven and come down to earth again, then Paul should not tell.

And just as a reminder of this covenant with God, there was this aching, painful source of a physical nature that was always there reminding Paul that his was a secret between him and God. It was almost like God was whispering to Paul, "Don't tell. This is a secret between us that you must carry to your grave. It would serve no purpose to let anyone know. It's our secret." 

Could it be that this was Paul fourteen years before when he went out into the desert to spend time with God shortly after his conversion?

What do you think? I'd truly like to know if you care to e-mail me.

But I get sidetracked.

Back to Chapter 13. Paul remains steadfast in his displeasure about these false apostles who have infested the faith of the churches at Corinth. God, through Paul, just will not tolerate this and Paul wants the Corinthians to know that when he comes to visit them for the third time, he is most hopeful that he will not have to deal harshly with them.

Oh my goodness, Paul, for sure, would much rather fellowship with them in the full bloom of God's love and truth.

But if he needs to, Paul is prepared to deal harshly with those who have sinned. And what is the sin that Paul is referring to?

Well, the 8th Commandment specifically says that bearing false witness, or lying, is one of the ten commandments that God brought down to Moses when the stone tablets were inscribed for all eternity.

In verses 2-3, we read: I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.

My Concordia Study Bible says this on p.1789: Rebellion against Paul is rebellion against Christ, who appointed him as his apostle. The authority of the apostle is the authority of his Master. Any who imagine that Paul is weak will find that Christ, the Lord who speaks through his apostle, is not weak but powerful.

Now Paul tells the Corinthians that instead of challenging whether Paul is speaking with apostolic authority, they should look into their own hearts to see if Christ is living within them. Read verse 5: Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you -- unless, of course, you fail the test?

Paul then challenges them with verse 6: I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.

And after these self-examinations are completed, Paul is hopeful that the Corinthians will come back to their faith in God and in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. And that faith will bring them to the full acceptance that Paul is the voice that God is using to build up the churches in Corinth. If they can accept that, then no proof of Paul's apostolic authority is needed. But if they do not believe, then what could Paul possibly do to prove it to them?

Well, I for one, would not want an earthquake to fall on my head if I kept challenging Paul's authority to speak God's thoughts to the Corinthians. After all, Paul had plenty of "proof" to give them and if they didn't believe after hearing Paul's story about his own conversion, what else could there be that would convince them?

So in verse 10, Paul offers this reminder of why his letter carries such a harsh tone: This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority -- the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.

And finally, Paul closes this letter with an all too familiar Trinitarian benediction that has become a part of worship services throughout the world, since this time of Paul's ministry: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (verse 14)

For discussion:

Do you think that Paul could have done a miracle or two to prove to the Corinthians that his power was from God?

And if he did perform miracles, don't you think the false apostles would have twisted that around to say that even Satan can perform miracles?

We know from the book, The Acts of the Apostles, that Paul did perform miracles.

In Acts 13:6-11, the reference is that Paul blinds Elymas (Barjesus), the false prophet.

Acts 14:3 refers to Paul and Barnabas performing signs and wonders in Lystra.

In Acts 14:8-10, Paul heals a lame man while in Lystra.

In Acts 19:11-12, Paul performed many miracles, healing and casting out demons with the use of handkerchiefs and aprons.

In Acts 20-9-12 Paul raises Eutychus from the dead.

In Acts 28-1-6 Paul is unharmed by a snakebite on Melita.

In Acts 28:8-9, Paul heals many diseases while on the island of Melita.

In Romans 15:15-19, Paul declares his ministry established by his "mighty signs and wonders."

And in 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul declares his miracles, signs and wonders form a part of his apostolic credentials.

Paul's reminder to the Corinthians is that Christ lives in their hearts. They are to reach deep inside themselves -- way down deep -- so deep that they can touch the presence of Christ alive within them. That is the faith that will bring them to  believe that Christ speaks through Paul and it is that faith that also brings them to the belief that Paul has the apostolic authority to speak for God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Do you feel Christ alive in your heart?

Do you feel Christ listening to you when you pray?

If not, what do you think you could do to bring your faith back to the strength it needs to be?

Here's a clue: Ask the Holy Spirit to join with you to strengthen your faith. Help is always on the way when you pray for assistance from the Holy Spirit.

We pray:

Lord, I bring to you powerful requests for prayer for Dawn who wants so much to heal the strife in her marriage. I pray that you will bring strength to her and her husband so that their union will be blessed with joy once again and that they will enjoy a Christian marriage at your altar of grace.

And Lord I pray that you will send your son, the Divine Healer, to Laura who caps her fifth year from cancer this month. I pray that tests and scans today will show her body returning to health and healing. I pray that you will continue to keep Laura strong so that she can also believe in herself.

I pray for all our readers who join us every hour of every day in faraway places around the world. Bless them as they look to you for strength and guidance in their search of your Word and in their hours of need.

I pray that you will hear the prayers of each one as they bring their prayers to your outstretched hands.

I pray for Freida and Guy who are trying to shake off a flu bug. I pray that you will bring them to full health. And I pray for the richest blessings for their new grandson and -- Jackson, I believe his name is -- and for Jackson's mother and father who have this tender young baby to care for. I pray that you will watch over them all.

And I thank you for all the blessings you have given to Quint and me. Help us use the gifts of your love to reach others in caring ways. And I pray that you would continue to bless us and extend our reach so that others can come to you through these daily messages.

I especially pray for our children and grandchildren who are miles and miles from us. Keep them in your care, dear Lord. Amen.

10:37 am          Comments

Saturday, February 9, 2008


The stimulus money is coming! May be in your hands by May (of this year, mind you.)

It started out as a presidential request for $145 billion. Passed the House with a 380-34 vote.

Then it went over to the Senate. By the time the senators put their nickels and dimes into the package, it had grown to $168 billion. There, it passed with a vote of 81-16.

So let's see, 81 + 16 = 97. There are 100 senators. Who was missing? Do you suppose it could possibly be the senators who are running for president themselves?

Another good reason to bring back the law that congress repealed some while ago that they had to forfeit a day's pay for every day they weren't present when congress was in session. Used to not be a whole big wheelbarrow full of money, but since they're making $162,500, that money could be used to reduce the debt or feed hungry children, or if they got really desperate and couldn't figure out a good program, just send it to me. I would willingly become a one-woman war on excess inventory reduction.

I'd share. I have lots of girlfriends who could go shopping with me. And then we could go to spas and relax, laughing and giggling a lot.

I wonder just how long it would take me to spend $162,500. If I didn't buy a new car, it might last some little while. Especially since I have three of just about everything in this house.

See, we used to have stuff in the condo, and stuff down here after we bought this house a year or so ago, and stuff in the office. Quint announced the other day that we just ran out of paper towels. And I may not have to buy cleaning supplies at all before I die, which will be when I'm 135 years old. Quint and I made a deal that we'd stick around for each other that long. We'll be married 100 years old by then. Probably squeak a lot when we walk.

Uh oh -- I read that Polaroid is closing is plant here in the U.S. where they make that lightning fast film. They're not going to be making the film anywhere in the solar system by the end of the year.

We don't really care. Our daughter Sharon and her husband Ron and grandkids Jerry and Heather got us a digital camera for Mothers Day/Fathers Day a couple of years ago so we retired our Polaroid camera. Now we can't even give the Polaroid away. That wouldn't be very nice -- give a camera to someone that you couldn't get film for.

And before Al Gore goes and makes anymore movies, I have to tell you that the sun is entering into a "quiet period." That will usher in a period of -- you guessed it -- global cooling!!!

A full article was printed in Investors Business Daily:

Real scientists have been studying a phenomena called the Maunder Minimum. This phenomena says the earth cools down and warms up in fairly repeating cycles. Now we're headed for a cold cycle that might resemble the one started about 1650 and lasted until 1715.

It was not the best of times for folks to be landing at Plymouth Rock unless they were packing snowblowers and lots of little portable heaters. 

The claim is also made that solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle. I know all about that because this time frame is also correlated to a bumper crop of rattlesnakes. And it's in my best interests to know about such things just in case I want to go out west again.

I remember one year when Quint's niece graduated from college and we were in Colorado to witness her bungee jump. Quint's sister Jeanine was videographing this momentous event and one of the grandkids tugged at her elbow to warn Jeanine that a rattlesnake was by her foot. Jeanine just kicked the darn thing. She said it was just a baby but everybody knows that venom is compensatorily more dangerous in baby poisonous snakes.

Well, I just stood there frozen in time. And it wasn't because of global cooling either.


CHOCOLATE SINGS -- from Antoinette Oberheu

Ond day I had a date for lunch with friends. Mae, a little old "blue hair" about 80 years old, came along with them -- all in all, a pleasant bunch. When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sanwiches and soups, except for Mae who said, "Ice cream, please. Two scoops. Chocolate."

I wasn't sure my ears heard right, and the others were aghast. "Along with heated apple pie," Mae added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time. But when our orders wre brought out, I didn't enjoy mine.

I couldn't take my eyes off Mae as her pie-ala-mode went down. The other ladies showed dismay. They ate their lunches silently and frowned.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Mae. I lunched on white meat tuna. She ordered a parfait. I smiled. She asked if she amused me. I answered, "Yes, you do, but also, you confuse me. How come you order rich desserts, while I feel I  must be sensible?

She laughed and said, with wanton mirth, "I'm tasting all that's possible. I try to eat the food I need, and do the things I should.

"But life's so short, my friend. I hate missing out on something good.

"This year I realized how old I was. (She grinned.) I haven't been this old before. So, before I die, I've got to try those things that for years I had ignored.

"I haven't smelled all the flowers yet.

"There are too many books I haven't read.

"There's more fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown overhead.

"There are many malls I haven't shopped. I've not laughed at all the jokes.

"I've missed a lot of Broadway hits and potato chips and cokes.

"I want to wade again in water and feel the ocean spray on my face.

"I want to sit in a country church once more and thank God for his grace.

"I want peanut butter every day spread on my morning toast.

"I want un-timed long distance calls to the folks I love the most.

"I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain."

With that, I called the waitress over. "I've changed my mind," I said. "I want what she's having, only add some more whipped cream."

This is my gift to you: Live well, love much and laugh often. Be happy.

Be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige.

But on relationships with people we love and respect.

Remember that while money talks, chocolate sings!!



Why isn't the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

If 4 out of 5 suffer from diarrhea, does that mean that one out of five enjoys it?

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread to begin with?

If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from Holland called Holes?

If a pig loses its voice, it is disgruntled?

Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist, but a person who drives a racecar isn't called a racist?

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

If lawyers are disbarred, and clergymen defrocked, then doesn't it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP?

Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks?

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men?

I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks, so I wondered what do Chinese mothers use. Toothpicks?

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the post office? What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen can look for them while they deliver the mail?

Is it true that you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive?

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?

Whatever happened to Preparations A through G?

As income tax time approaches, did you ever notice: when you put the two words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "Theirs?"


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 12:1-21

Paul shares a curious story with the Corinthians in verse 2: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven...

There are other instances in the New Testament where this passing through the heavens is mentioned.

For instance, in Hebrews 4:14, we read: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

This reference is to Christ's ascension for, like the high priests in the temple who, on the Day of Atonement, go from the people's view in the temple to the Holy of Holies. Christ ascends into the heavens, until his disciples could see him no more. But instead of going to a different room in the temple, Christ goes through the heavens to be with his father once again. This signifies that Christ's job of atonement for all mankind is finished.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also mentions Christ's ascension -- Ephesians 4:10 -- He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. 

Paul explains that he does not know whether or not this man was in the body or out of it. He says in verse 2 that only God knows what truly happened. And then, Paul says that he knows that this man "was caught up to paradise" (verse 4).

Paul says he heard things. But he couldn't talk about these things. He was not permitted to tell.

Then, in verses 5-6, Paul explains further: I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

For whatever reason that is known only to God, Paul was graced with this information and sworn to secrecy. But he didn't become conceited about having been singled out with this information. Oh no. Instead, he was given a "thorn in his side." We don't know what that was all about either.

Paul calls this thorn or affliction a "messenger of Satan." He had reconciled himself to having this affliction as a torment. And in verses 8-10 Paul gives us a further glimpse of how he experiences this torment: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul then confesses to the Corinthians that he had made a fool of himself. Then he said, "But you made me do it."

And what was it exactly that the Corinthians made him do? They'd pretty much boxed Paul into a corner by challenging his apostleship -- by wondering if he really did have authority from a divine source.

Paul comes out of this situation ready for the argumentative challenge from the Corinthians. He'd already explained to them that he had endured many trials and tribulations, even some experiences that could have killed him. But he still lived by the grace of God.

And in fact, he knew full well that there was a man who was "caught up" to the heavens to be with God-- but not him. It wasn't Paul's time just yet. In verses 11-12, Paul says that he's not the least bit inferior to these super-apostles in Corinth.
In fact, the mark of a real apostle includes signs, wonders and miracles. Paul reminds the folks at Corinth that he had done these things in their midst -- and with great perseverance at that. 

So if it was a contest between Paul and the "super apostles," you can be sure that Paul intended for the false preachers to be on the losing side.

Paul tells the Corinthians that it's time for him to visit them a third time, but he assures them that he will not be a burden to them. But in verse 16b-18, Paul comes back to a sarcastic note: Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 

Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you?

I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brothers with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?

This assertion of Paul's was in response to the lies that had been spread that Paul was just exploiting the Corinthians -- that he was tricking them so that he could get his hands on the money that was being collected for the poor folks in Jerusalem. The false apostles were actually accusing Paul of stealing the funds collected in the churches for charity. You can bet that Paul won't stand for this!

In verses 20-21, Paul talks about his misgivings about his next trip to Corinth: For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be.

I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinner earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

Well, that ought to be fair warning to those in Corinth who need to clean up their act and repent of their sins, and change their way of living, don't you think?


1. If you could make one change about yourself, what would it be? (either physically, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually)

2. Have you ever speculated on what this thorn in Paul's side could be? How did it affect his life?

3. Why do you think that God doesn't take your hurts and afflictions away?

4. Do you lose patience with God when he doesn't answer your prayers and give you what you want?

5. How has God worked through you to accomplish what he wants to do?

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, so many times I have asked for things that I want that, in retrospect, wouldn't necessarily have been the best thing for me.

I pray that you will give me patience as well as the ability to realize that I just don't need each and everything I ask for.

I pray that you will keep me from being short-tempered with others around me.

I pray that you will watch over and protect our children and grandchildren.

I pray that you would put a hedge around those we love and keep them from harm.

I especially pray that you will also put a hedge around each and every soldier serving in our nation's military so that they will be protected from all harm.

I pray for all the churches around the world who gather to worship you each week. I pray that your Holy Spirit will work miracles of rebirth throughout these churches and that more unchurched people will find their way into the assembly of worshipers who come to praise you. Amen.


2:21 pm          Comments

Friday, February 8, 2008


As if our buddies up north didn't have it bad enough, now they've got arctic air coming down from Canada. It's heading their way just in time to ruin the weekend play with the kiddos -- unless you're into ice fishing.

Our on-going pinochle marathon with Naomi and Norman was a wonderful way to spend an evening -- as always. Naomi got a run during one hand; Norman got aces around. It seemed that one time when Norman got aces around, Quint had three aces. Well, since there are only 8 aces in a single pinochle deck, I can tell you how the game went. I think that was the game when Naomi and I got 30 points. In one hand, my high card was a king. But at the end f the evening, we won some; we lost some. But having the company of good friends makes us all winners.

And oh yes. The bread finally ended up just the way I like it. Nice texture, no big air holes running through the loaf. And it was a nice pale yellow color because I used three eggs, not one that the recipe called for. Makes for a more nutritious loaf of bread. Made good turkey/ham sandwiches. So who cares? I do. Making bread has become one of my favorite hobbies so I'm especially glad when it works out okay.

I think there were three variables that made the difference.

First of all, I used one package of yeast for each two cups of flour.

Second, I used three tablespoons of baking powder. That gave me a nice round crown on the loaf and on the sandwich buns.

And finally, I put the bread into a 450 degree oven to get the "bloom" from the baking powder. After ten minutes at 450, I turned the oven back to 375 degrees and continued baking according to the recipe directions.

Now on to bigger things -- like Romney suspending his campaign. I wasn't surprised, were you? It was a simple math exercise. There weren't enough delegates left for him to cinch the nomination -- unless he got mostly all of the rest. That wasn't likely. So why in the world would he spend $50 million of his own money, knowing you're not going to get the result you want? I mean, he's rich, but not rich enough to just throw his money away. If that's the case, I'd like to send him my address. Besides, his claim to fame is that he's a successful businessman. It seems to me that he would know all about making a plan that would work.

Hmmm. Maybe he should be president. Given time, I might even be able to reach a compromise about the religion subject. I mean, look at all the corruption and greed going on in Washington, D.C. now. Frankly, it doesn't look like the Christians are being all that Godly. If they go back and re-read the list of the 7 Deadly Sins, they'll see greed and gluttony on the list.

But if you listened to McCain's speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting (CPAC) yesterday, you heard him vow never to sign a bill that had a single earmark in it. I'm for that. It isn't that I'm opposed to a whole lot of the projects that these politicos have slipped earmarks into others bills for passage. However, I firmly believe that projects should be included in appropriations bills -- right out there in the open.

A great many of the projects could better be funded by the state budgets. I mean, we're always talking about reducing the size of the federal government. This would be a good first step toward reducing the federal bureaucracy. That way, for instance, a fine arts center in Indiana wouldn't be paid for by taxpayers in New Mexico. Funding such projects closer to home would be a lot more efficient because it would take layers of bureaucracy off the project -- and that would be a cost savings right there.

Not only that, but the closer a project gets to scrutiny of taxpayers, the more transparency and accountability there is. And who knows -- maybe even more honest.  

The federal government is the largest single employer in the United States. The time has come to start sending these earmarked projects back to the congressional districts for funding.


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 11:1-33

If anyone, including me, ever thought that mission work was a bed of roses, this chapter ought to set that record straight.

Paul has, up to this point, tried many avenues of approach to get the Corinthians back to their faith. Yet these false apostles seem to be haunting Paul. He is as protective of his new charges as a mother hen would be with a new brood of chicks.

And if Paul, who is locked into his humanness, feared losing a single Corinthian, can you image how God feels with the thought that even one of his own is threatened by Satan.

Even though John hadn't written his gospel message yet, we can get a glimpse of how God feels about this very subject, for in John 10:28-30, God said through his son, Jesus Christ, as John penned: I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.

Even though it would be forty some years before John would put this gospel message to pen and paper, they were the words of Jesus Christ. God is a forgiving God and there are no sins that are unforgivable, save one. And that is to turn your back and heart away from God. Everything else you do in life is forgivable. Believe that and your place in heaven is reserved through the blood of Jesus Christ who died to forgive you from each and every sin that you have ever committed.

Paul spoke to the Corinthians with divine authority.

He opens this chapter with a bit of a warning that he might appear foolish but he's going to compare himself with these false teachers and in doing so, it just might look like he's bragging. This was something that Paul was ordinarily very much opposed to, but he must have thought that it was okay in this instance because these were extraordinary times.

So after Paul explains why he's going to do this, he gets specific in verses 3-6: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles."

I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.

So there's the motive for this soliloquy in verse 3. Paul is afraid that Satan will make them turn their backs on God just like he did with Eve thousands of years before.

Paul is only too aware that Satan is sly and crafty for if he could turn Eve to sin, when she was created without sin in God's paradise along with Adam, what could Satan do with sinners a few thousand years later?

Even though Paul's letter was penned four decades before John's gospel was, the messages that both these men brought were from God who is timeless.

Paul calls these false apostles "super apostles" in a sarcastic tone for just like Satan, they had really inflated their opinion of themselves. Satan got kicked out of heaven for doing just that. And Paul wanted to make sure these trouble-making, super-apostles got kicked out of the churches they had infested.

In verse 7, Paul asks the Corinthians if they thought it was wrong of him to preach the gospel free of charge. This is a curious question and a note in my Concordia Study Bible, page 1786, explains that the false apostles had accused Paul of not taking money because it just proved that his instructions were worthless.

These first century teachers and philosophers had kind of banded together and decided that they ought to charge for their instructional services. Paul, on the other hand, broke rank with them and offered himself as a teacher to the Corinthians without making any demand for payment.

And on the contrary, his message was not worthless, but rather, the gold standard for he came to the Corinthians with messages straight from God.

That's not to say that Paul didn't get paid for pastoring in other churches. In fact, Paul reminds the Corinthians that, in a way, he was robbing the other churches in Macedonia who were supporting him very generously and most willingly.

This was especially true of the church in Philippi, for we read in Philippians 4:15-16: Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

Perhaps it was just a little reminder that even though Paul's instructions were free to the Corinthians, other churchs in Philippi bore the cost of Paul's support while he made mission forays throughout the area.

Then Paul assures them in verse 12: ...I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.

Paul exposes the false apostles as servants of Satan. They're masquerading under a cloak of righteousness and, as Paul says in verse 15, in the end they're going to get what they deserve.

Paul then makes a list of everything he has endured in his mission journeys -- things that these false apostles wouldn't tolerate. And they are the ones -- these super-apostles or false teachers -- who would enslave the Corinthians and exploit them. They'd be only too willing to take advantage of the people at Corinth. Their exploitation ought to feel like a slap in the face! (verse 20)

So Paul has compared how he is very different from these false apostles, now in verses 22. Paul is Hebrew. He is an Israelite. He's a descendant of Abraham.

But starting at verse 23, Paul makes additions to his list of hardships he has endured. These tribulations include everything from being beaten -- both with lashes and with rods, even stoned, had been shipwrecked, had been lost at sea. He had to be constantly on the move and was in danger from bandits, was in danger from his own countrymen and from Gentiles alike. He's gone without sleep, was cold, naked and hungry.

And as if all that weren't enough, he had enormous concerns for the well-being of the churches.

Then he calls upon God as his witness in verse 31: The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

So we have two more chapters in this letter to the Corinthians. Paul has tried the gentle approach. He has used irony in trying to coax them away from the false teachers. And in this chapter, Paul lays it flat out when he calls these guys "super apostles." And they're lying too. And if you don't believe me, then believe God. Look at all the things I have endured and I'm still kept safe from harm because I go with God and God goes with me.

I hope you're as curious as I am about what Paul is going to say to the Corinthians next, as he closes out this letter.

Does he get sterner or gentler. Will he cast them to the four winds and let Satan have his way with them?

What will Paul do and say?


1. If you were confronted with all that Paul comes up against with the Corinthians, how would you handle the situation?

2. Have you ever had people who interfered with your ability to worship God? If so, what did you do?

3. If you are just beginning your journey with Paul on his missionary trips, are you suprised that he has endured such hardships and even life-threatening situations?

4. Do you make it a special point to include all of the missionaries around the world who are working to bring God's message to unchurched people and people who are unbelievers?

We pray: Oh Lord, our Heavenly Father, I pray that you would bless all those who work in your mission fields. I pray that you would keep them safe from harm and lessen the hardships they endure.

I pray, Oh Lord, that you would bless this study of your Word so that I can grow closer to you.

I pray for all the people in Christian churches around the world who risk their lives to come to you in worship. Please be with them and build a hedge around them so that they will be safe.

I pray for all our military personnel wherever they are stationed. Keep them safe and strong.

And I pray that you would bless these United States with good Christian leadership that is free of corruption and greed and replace those who defile your name. Amen

8:26 am          Comments

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Last spring we said we were glad we didn't live up north because I could start planting tomatoes, petunias, impatiens, etc. about three weeks earlier. And my daffodils were up and blooming by the time their northern cousins had even peeked through the dirt blankets.

This morning I am glad again because I don't even see snow when I look out the window as I type this blog. Up north, my friends are enduring -- and I say enduring because people up north are the tougher variety than us chicken escapees -- a 20" snowfall. Those poor hearty souls in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, and suburbs on the north side of Chicago. Why I even heard that O'Hare cancelled 1,000 flights.

I can only imagine the horror stories that travelers are going to take back home with them. Forget hotel rooms. They sold out early. Cancelled flights now mean camping out on the cold terrazzo floors with only your purse for a pillow and whatever kind of coat you brought as your blanket. That's where travelers would spend the night after all the cots at O'Hare are loaned out to weary bleary-eyed travelers.

To make matters worse, some of the suburbs have now run out of salt. Probably didn't order all that much because there's been so much left over in the last couple of years.

There's black ice on I-90 and I-55, the two expressways that cut through the north side of the city, and near south side. I'm especially praying that my cousin, Mark Stubbe, will drive safely. He's a sergeant for the Chicago Police Department. But then, he's an expert driver and he knows how to get around in that stuff.

I have a theory about the interstate highway systems creating their own weather patterns. Quint promised me that he'd research that someday. Since he has emeritus status with AAAS and gets Science magazine, he can get into his secret little programs that I don't have passwords to.

It's not that he wouldn't give me his passwords, it's just that my search engines head toward food sites. I'm always looking for a good recipe for something or other. And I especially love the sites that let me print the recipes out in a 3x5 format for the card file.

But we have our own separate laptops so I could look stuff up too instead of whining about it. I know full well how to do research. After all, that's what paralegals do best. But it's been years and years and years since I had my paralegal training. That was back in the times when our computers were hooked up to stone tablets for printing out our research finds.

I am still playing with my bread recipe. I want a yeast bread that will poof up and get that nice round crown on top. The depression bread recipe has a great flavor -- man, is it delicious. But it has a flat top.

So I'm thinking that when I make bread today, I'll put some baking powder in with the dry ingredients, Maybe a tablespoon for each 2 cups of flour. That should give me what's called "the bloom." I'll stick it in the oven at 450 for ten minutes until it "blooms" then lower the temperature to 375 and finish the baking.

Hopefully I will have a nice crown on the bread and it won't look like somebody stepped on the loaf of bread just as it was coming out of the oven. But then, if I get too much "bloom" there will be big puffy air holes in the bread. That wouldn't make good sandwiches either.

Oh well. It's a work in progress.


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

There are a couple of early points I see in the early verses of this chapter.

The first point is that of the 8th Commandment -- Thou shalt not bear false witness ...

Lying and gossiping are listed in God's Big Ten! Bearing false witness is lying. And we know from the previous chapters of this second letter to the Corinthians that Paul was extremely upset that there were corrupters in the midst of his congregations in Corinth.

These corrupters whispered lies about Paul. The liars said things like Paul lacked real authority as a apostle. In essence, they were calling Paul a wimp. Oh sure, they said, you sure talk a tough game when you're way over there in Macedonia, but when you come back here to Corinth, you'll change your tune. Then we'll see the real Paul who's not such a big fighter after all. (My paraphrase.)

Do these lying, whispering apostles remind you of someone else in the Garden of Eden who said to Adam and Eve, "Are you sure that's what God meant when he said ....?" There he is again, stirring up trouble. This time, Satan is using the tongues of the false prophets trying to turn the hearts of the Corinthians against Paul. 

And this time, as in ages of old, Satan again comes up against the forces of God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. You'd think he would have learned by this time, wouldn't you? But no. The arrogance and pride that caused Satan's eviction from heaven in the first place was still swelling up his head. Satan actually believed that he could turn the Corinthians against Paul and that Paul wouldn't find out until he came back to Corinth from Macedonia.

But there were people who let Paul know what these false preachers were saying about him. Men who were Paul's fellow workers in the kingdom of God travelled back and forth, taking letters to Paul and getting Paul's responses back to the various churches.
So in the first few verses of this chapter, Paul responds: By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you -- I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away.

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.

On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
(verses 1-6)

Keep in mind that God puts us where he wants us to be. Only God knows what kind of a corrective life experience he wants each of us to have to get an idea of how we do with the free will he has given to us. God has prepared life challenges for us in advance -- go back and re-read Ephesians 2:10. It's at the top of the home page.

The second point I want to make is that Paul was divinely selected by God through Jesus Christ to be the torch bearer of Christianity.

There was no New Testament for Paul to quote. Well, actually there was because he was writing it. But the Bible as we know it today wasn't in existence when Paul was building up the kingdom of God.

And there were not the prophets like the men whom God has placed in ministry in the Old Testament. Nearest we can come to that kind of prophet was John the Baptist, but Herod had him beheaded before Christ was even crucified.

Now there is Paul. His apostleship is divinely empowered. He most certainly speaks with the authority of God. Because of this, Paul is more than equal to the task of taking on the false apostles who are trying to corrupt his churches in Corinth.

And Paul most certainly knows exactly what to say and at the precise moment that his message needs to be said, because it isn't Paul's thoughts that he's making up. Rather, it is God speaking through Paul. The messages Paul brings come with the perfection of God's voice.

Paul doesn't want to get into any intellectual debate with these corrupters, though I have no doubt in my mind that Paul could run circles of wit around these guys.

No no no. Paul wants to bring the gentle truth of God's love to the Corinthians. Paul wants the truth of the gospel message to continue to penetrate the hearts of all who believe. He says in verses 8-9: For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters.

And then Paul reminds them that the false apostles ... should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present. (verse 11)

Paul sums up this chapter in verses 15b-16a: Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.

Some say that this is Paul's earliest "publication" of his intent to travel on to Spain, or Iberia as it was known back then.

But first, he wants to be very sure that the churches in Corinth are on firm footing, for what would be the gain if you start six churches here, then go on to another place and start more churches there, but lose the first churches you started?

No. Paul did not want to lose a single group of believers. These churches belonged to God. They were new believers in the kingdom of God. And false apostles couldn't have them.

For we know in our hearts are sealed in our baptism, we belong to God and that the evil one cannot snatch us out of God's hands.

For discussion:

1. What are some times in your life when you have particularly deep anguish and you've wondered why it is that you seem to be singled out to suffer so?

2. Can you take these times and wrap the experiences around lessons that God wants you to learn from them?

3. What are some other comparisons that you could draw between the false apostles in the churches in Corinth to the devil in the Garden of Eden? How were they similar in the messages they tried to use?

4. When you are confronted with temptations, do you see the work of Satan in your life or do you become angry with a human being whom you think seems to be the cause your anguish?

5. How can you embrace the power of God to restore your life so that your are victorious over your temptations?

We pray: Dear heavenly Father: I pray that you will give me strength to resist the temptations that Satan tries to trip me up with.

I thank you so much for protecting me from all the misguided lies that Satan tries to use on me. I thank you for keeping me safe in the palm of your hand.

I pray for all the times when I find myself teetering on the edge of falling into temptation. For all those times when you have sent your angels to minister to me and catch me when I trip and stumble, I thank you.

I know that life is not perfect and I know that I need to be on guard all the days of my life. I thank you for walking with me. Amen.


9:40 am          Comments

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


For all you lerts out there -- this just in. A tanker truck filled with chocolate has crashed on the inbound Chicago Skyway at about 7100 South. Yum yum. I think the chocolate is okay, thank goodness. I mean -- Valentines Day is coming, you know! There may be some diesel fuel leaking but thank goodness the chocolate is okay.

5:47 pm          Comments


Our schedule for today is Ash Wednesday services at church and since Quint and I are greeters, we need to be there about fifteen minutes early. You know Lutherans -- we usually get to church in the last five minutes before services begin. So getting there fifteen minutes early gives us time to park the car, get inside, hang up our coats and we're still in the building before anybody else, except Pastor Rensner.

For those of you who live in the Effingham area -- or if you visit someone who lives in this lovely town -- or if you're driving through on I-70/I-57, come on in. You have friends you haven't met yet at Faith Lutheran in Shumway. The church is about 6.5 miles or so west of the interstate conglomeration. That's on Illinois Rte. 33 West. Right after you see the "Welcome to Shumway" sign, be ready to put your turn signals on because you're going to need to turn left into the parking lot. Quint and I will be greeters all during February. After that, some equally friendly people will take their turn.

So let's see -- oh yeah -- yesterday was Super Tuesday. And guess what? Nobody got enough delegates to cinch the nomination for either party. It certainly wasn't a "shoo in" for Hillary like The Inevitable One had originally hoped for.

And Romney didn't get his bid for the Oval Office either. McCain, whose campaign obituary had already been written just a few short months ago, zoomed out to the front. Kind of reminds me of a racehorse with 10 to 1 odds who discovers his legs while coming down the home stretch.

And Huckabee? Well, of course he's saying he's in for the long haul, but then he also said that no one turns down the job of vice president. Translation? That means that Huckabee stays in just long enough to make Romney bow out, then Huckabee will make a deal to team up with McCain. Huckabee seems to be pulling enough votes from Romney to be a real spoiler.

Romney says he has no intention of bowing out and he's got lots of his own money to spend. Romney's wife, on the other hand, is thinking she might just take his blank check away from him.

Don't know if you know this or not, but McCain's wife is a megabucks heiress too.

Chink chink chink

I didn't watch too much of the election returns. I get really exasperated with the news channels calling elections with only a slim number of results in. That just takes the intrigue out of it. So if Fox News calls an election with 12% of the votes counted, I don't need to watch the talking heads for the next two hours count the other 88% of the votes.

I started researching the hierarchy of angels. That's a lot more interesting. I'm going to do some articles about angels as I get good info. I find the whole topic of angels fascinating. One theory has it that we are given our very own guardian angel at birth and that angel travels through our lives with us. Another thought I've read says we can have as many guardian angels as we need. I'm looking for the Bible truth for either one or both of those thoughts. All I know is that I've literally dodged death more than a couple of times in my life so my guardian angel has been very faithful and efficient because I'm still here.

So here's the deal: when we get back from church, I will start working on today's Bible Study. Plus, I've gotten some really cute articles and some funny pieces that some of you have sent to me that I also want to include.

Later --


OLD AGE, I DECIDED, IS A GIFT -- from Joyce Cunningham

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood teh great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60s and 70s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love -- I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question. I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it.)

May our friendship never come apart especially when it's straight from th eheart! May you always have a rainbow of smiles on your face and in your heart forever and ever!

Friends forever!


GOD LIVES UNDER THE BED -- from Kathy Brandenburg

I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom and I stopped to listen, "Are you there, God?" he asked. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6'2"), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied.

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays -- oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on teh destination of each passenger inside. "That one's going to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God -- to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moiments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.

It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap -- I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstnces-- they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we ae all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!


Friends are people who lift us up when our hearts have trouble remember how much God loves us, and how much he has planned for us! Let your heart soar on the wings of his love!


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

In this chapter, Paul is still reminding the Corinthians that the donations that they had pledged the year before were now "due." In fact, Paul says he's sending the brothers to them to collect these gifts.

Recall that these donations were being raised to take to the poor folks at Jerusalem.

But from the beginning of this chapter, Paul tells the Corinthians that he had been bragging about them and their generosities to the folks at Macedonia. And how enthusiastic the Corinthians were about giving their gifts for the poor.

Then it almost seems like maybe Paul wished he hadn't bragged quite so much. In verse 3, he says: But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.

"Ready?" Well, the Corinthians were supposed to be putting this extra money aside every week for the time when someone came to collect it. So, were the Corinthians ready with the money? Had they been saving it in a separate escrow fund like they were supposed to be doing?

Paul sure hoped so. He explains in verse 4: For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared we -- not to say anything about you -- would be ashamed of having been so confident. So what's Paul saying: Don't embarrass me?

That's why, Paul says, he's sending the brothers ahead of him. The brothers were supposed to urge the Corinthians go make arrangements for their very generous gift. And Paul wanted them to do this willingly, not with an attitude like it would be a bad reflection on them if they didn't follow through on their pledge.

Paul then tells them that they get what they give. That is, if they give sparingly, they will get sparingly. And whoever sows generously will reap generously (verse 6).

So give what you can, but give generously, as you are able, Paul told them.

After all, God loves a cheerful giver. How many times have you ever heard that?

But here's the point: if there ever was any doubt that the Holy Spirit was speaking through Paul, those ideas can be put aside because we hear God giving this message in verses 8-9: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

But not only that, check out these passags in verses 10-11: Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Then Paul tells the Corinthians that because of their thanksgiving through their giving so generously, other men will praise God.

In the final two verses of this chapter, Paul gives this last encouragement: ... their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.


Money pledges are difficult subjects for pastors to approach. In fact, I don't know a single pastor who really likes to give sermons about offerings. But the money isn't for God -- God doesn't need a building. But people need a building so that they can come to worship and praise God. And buildings need to have a roof in good repair. People need something to sit on.

And how can we have all those wonderful fellowship meals if we don't have a kitchen, complete with coffeepots? These are not luxuries -- they are items that people use when they gather in assembly to praise and worship God and give thanks to him for all his blessings, and fellowship with each other.

We are human creatures and we like to have chairs to sit on and pews to sit in. As humans, we like many things that cost money. But if we didn't bring our own thankofferings to God's altar on the weekends, how would other people ever find us if we didn't have a church building?

Why does Paul say that he wants the Corinthians to willingly make their pledged donations good?

What is Paul going to do with the money that he gathers from the churches?

In what way is your offering a testament of your faith in God?

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for all your blessings and for the way that you always care for me and make sure that we have everything I need, when I need it.

You are a gracious God. I pray that I will always remember your gifts to me when I write out that check on Sunday morning. There are so many places in the world where my gifts are needed. Help me be a cheerful giver.

Maybe I can give up that lunch this week. Maybe I can be more frugal with my grocery shopping so that I can share with those people who have little or nothing.

Oh Lord, I ask that you would help me change my "maybes" to "I cans." Amen.

9:43 am          Comments

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Okay, so I'm a wow person. It's kind of like underscoring something for emphasis. So when I saw the stock market had plummeted some $231 this morning, I said, "Wow, what's going on now?"

Could it be that it's Super Tuesday and McCain has already called the race?

Could it be that Hillary is crying again?

Could it be that Huckabee is still "whining" as Romney puts it?

Could it be that Obama's peeps out in California are jumping up and down with glee and caused "that big one" and California really did fall off into the ocean?

Or did one of the networks call the election so we don't even need to bother going to the polls?

Nope. It was none of these things. My trusty husband Quint says that the manufacturing report is down. Stock market does not like news like that! Wow!

Never fear, something else will happen during the week that will bring a happier report and the traders will go north again. America has a $13 trillion economy -- what's the significance of $231?

So I'll bet you can tell I'm not a finance major, can't you?

I made sammies the other night. They're those neat "new" sandwiches that Quiznos is advertising. I made chicken teriyaki sammies because I had the pecan crusted chicken that I had fried a month or so ago (love my deep freeze). Two minutes in the microwave and it was ready to cut off the bone. And a mixture of teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, (2 cups total), some liquid smoke (no kitchen/food lab should be without it), a couple of sprinkles of hot sauce and corn starch. When I'm making a little sauce like this, I use a teaspoon of cornstarch to every cup of liquid. If you want a thicker sauce, use just a tad more cornstarch, but don't do too much more or you will end up with a paste. I kid you not. Try to stir your chicken around in that!

Okay, so now you've got mechanically separated chicken pieces (your knife is a hand-held machine). Cut the chicken into little bite size pieces and stir them around in your yummy teriyaki sauce.

Then, the absolutely easiest way to get the sammies is to get some pizza dough in the refrigerator case if you don't want to take the time to make a yeast dough from scratch. Roll out the dough and cut it into squares. The size of the square will depend on several things -- 1.) how many people you are feeding and 2.) how many rolls of dough you bought.

I think I ended up with something like an 8" square and it was too big. Next time I'm going to make a 6" square. Of course, the sammies are circles but I don't have a cookie cutter that's 6" in diameter and I am not going to cut circles out with a knife around a little plate. So my sammies looked like triangles after I folded the square over itself.

Okay, so now you've got the dough out of that rollup container. And you've put it out on a floured surface. It will probably be easier to cut the tube of dough in half because you're going to roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4" or so. Then cut it into squares. Put the squares on a cookie sheet that's been sprayed with one of those oil sprays. Then spoon your sandwich filling mixture onto the squares. Don't put much sauce on the dough. It can be used as a dipping sauce at the table but you don't want to make your sammie dough soggy while it's baking. Spread the mixture out almost to the edges of the squares. Then bake them. See what the baking instructions on your dough calls for. You did save that cover wrapper, didn't you?

I baked mine for about 15 minutes -- but I used some bread dough that I saved just for the cute little sammies. Next time, I'll lower the temperature to about 375 degrees and bake them 25 minutes. After they're done baking, then fold them in half, making a triangle. Stick them with a toothpick to make them behave and stay folded up like they're supposed to.

Oh my goodness! It is so good. The flavors completely invade your mouth.

My next sammie adventure is going to be corned beef with sauerkraut. Then when I take the sammies out of the oven, I'll pile shredded swiss cheese on them and fold them up. It will be a Reuben Sammie. Wow! But just think of all the possibilities!

Well I got a lot of comments about my description of shrimps from yesterday's blog. I'm glad the Shrimp Council of America didn't read the blog. I don't know what I'd do if a big truck showed up on my doorstep with about a half ton of shrimp for me to "try."

I think I'd call every nursing home in the area and have them come over and help themselves. Then I'd see if there was any room left in the deep freeze at church. I'd be only too willing to give away the bounty to my friends -- as long as they took it and ate it and didn't make me eat any. I have no doubt that there are a lot of people who dearly love the little critters -- I'm just not one of them. Meat loaf is my absolute favorite dish. Guess there's no accounting for taste, huh? (Incidentally, I don't like escargot either.)

Well, today's Super Tuesday. We're going out to vote here in a little while. I hope you will be voting too.

And for all you silly people who aren't going to vote because you don't like the choices your party has given you on this brilliantly cloudy primary election day, shame on you! But wait. On second thought, if you're a democrat and you can't see yourself voting for either one of your candidates over on that side of the fence, feel free to jump on over here. Some of our best republicans used to be democrats.

And for the people who are curious about how Quint and I vote, I will give you a hint: we believe that life begins at conception and we will not vote for anyone who does not believe in the sanctity of life. We are Pro-Life. That means that babies are people too whether they've been borne yet or not. 

Pro-Choice people are Pro-Abortion people. End of story. And when Christ comes back to earth and sees the mountains of unborn babies that were aborted, I'll just bet that one of the first questions he's going to ask is, "Who killed my babies?"


A CAT GOES TO HEAVEN -- from Antoinette Oberheu

A cat died and went to heaven. God met her at the gates and said, "You have been a good cat all these years. Anything you want is yours for the asking."

The cat thought for a minute and then said, "All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hard wooden floors. I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on."

God said, "Say no more." Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow.

A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to heaven together. God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that he made to the cat.

The mice said, "Well, we have had to run all of our lives -- from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little roller skates, we would not have to run again."

God answered, "It is done." All the mice immediately had beautiful little roller skates.

About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffy pillow. God gently awakened the cat and asked, "Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?"

The cat replied, "Oh, it is wonderful. I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little Meals on Wheels you have been sending over are delicious!"


SOMETIMES -- from J. Mark Stubbe

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend;
Someone who changes your life
just by being part of it.
Someone who makes you laugh
until you can't stop;
Someone who makes you believe
that there really is good in the world.
Someone who convinces you
that there really is an unlocked door
just waiting for you to open it.

This is Forever Friendship.
This is the sacred Red Rose!



The other day, someone at a store in our town read that a methamphetamine lab had been found in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and he asked me a rhetorical question, "Why didn't we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?"

I replied that I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter what the weather.

I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the preacher, or if I didn't put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.

I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom's garden and flower beds adn cockleburs out of dad's fields. I was drug to the homes of family, friends and neighbors to help out some poor soul who had no one to mow the yard, repair the clothesline, or chop some firewood, and, if my mother had every know that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, she would have drug me back to the woodshed.

Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin; and, if today's children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place.

God bless the parents who drugged us.

-- submitted by a concerned citizen


I'LL BE HAPPY WHEN -- from Antoinette Oberheu

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.

Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they. After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with.

We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice vacation or when we retire.

The truth is, there is no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting
Until your car or home is paid off.
Until you get a new car or home.
Until your kids leave the house.
Until you go back to school.
Until you finish school.
Until you lose 10 pounds.
Until you gain 10 pounds.
Until you get married.
Until you get a divorce.
Until you have kids.
Until you retire.
Until summer.
Until spring.
Until winter.
Until fall.
Until you die.

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination. So work like you don't need money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching.


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24

The above link brings you an excellent map of Macedonia, or Greece as we know it today. Paul is here in Macedonia when he writes to the churches in Corinth. a town about 55 miles west of Athens. Macedonia was one of three administrative districts in Greece.

As Paul opens this part of his letter to the Corinthians, he them to know about the richness of the Macedonian churches' generosity -- even though they experienced severe trials and extreme poverty.

In verses 3-5, Paul writes: For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

This theme of a Christian's life becomes central to Paul, as well as to other apostles. This theme is "Good trees bear good fruit." Paul wanted the Corinthians to know -- and he wants us to know in our own modern age -- that because of God's grace, how we live our lives changes. Because of God's grace, our attitudes change. It is God's grace that makes the difference.

Paul says "So we urged Titus, since had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part." (verse 6)

Oh, you bet. Paul wanted the Corinthians to realize that their donations ought to be considered an act of grace, because they enjoyed God's grace. After all, the Corinthians excelled in everything they did, whether it was evidencing their faith, or their speech, or in their knowledge, or in the total and complete earnestness through which they showed their love for Paul and his fellow missionaries. Now, Paul says, "...see that you also excel in this grace of giving." (verse 7b)

Well, Paul is not exactly commanding the Corinthians -- but it's a test. He wants to see just how sincere their love is by comparing their giving to the churches in Macedonia.

Apparently, the churches in Macedonia were poor. The churches in Corinth were not. Corinth, remember, was a pretty sophisticated place to be. It was elegant. It has some pretty fancy gardens. Lots of good food. Corinth was a splendid place to be. It was lively.

Corinth was a relatively old colony. It enjoyed a successful trade with bronze and pottery. Its colonial history dated all the way back to 404 B.C. until the Romans came along and destroyed the city in 146 B.C. -- but then Julius Caesar took it upon himself to restore the city in 46 B.C. From that time, it grew rapidly and actually became the capital of Achaia and the seat of the Roman proconsul.  

One Greek proverb says "See Corinth and die" -- meaning that after you see Corinth, there's nothing left worth seeing in all the world. Must have been someone from the Corinth Chamber of Commerce, don't you think?

These were not poor people. And Paul wanted to make sure that they knew that he would be holding them accountable for being at least as generous in their giving as the churches in Macedonia. He then writes: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."

Paul reminds the Corinthians that this is what's best for them (verses 10-12): And here is my advice about what is bet for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

Here Paul is saying it's the willingness to give that makes charity a gracious gift of love. It's not unlike the story in Mark about the widow's mite (Mark 12:41-44). Jesus says in verses 43-44: I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything -- all she had to live on.

Interesting that Paul and Mark should come up with a common theme in the graciousness of the spirit of giving. And we know that Paul and Mark knew each other so they most likely had many shared conversations about this topic.

Then Paul tells the Corinthians that Titus is coming back to them to finish the appeal for funds that he had begun the previous year. And Paul wants the Corinthians to know that this is Titus' idea, not Paul's. Not only that, but one of the brothers is coming with Titus. It's the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.

Not only that, but this same brother was chosen to go with Paul and his group when they carried these offerings which they administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help (verse 19).

Paul doesn't name this brother but a footnote from my Concordia Study Bible (page 1784) says this could be Luke, or Barnabas.

The point is, Paul was giving the Corinthians an example of how important it is to properly handle the funds of the churches.

In our own day and age, we could say that good accounting principles require that there be at least two people counting the church receipts. Better to have three or four just to remove any temptations that the devil would lead people into. That way, the whole matter is above reproach from anyone who would bear false witness against anyone.

Paul explains further: We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men. (verses 20-21)

Then Paul wants to make sure that the Corinthians understand that Titus and the brothers are coming to them not only as partners and fellow workers but also as representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.

Paul wants the men to be revered for their outstanding faithfulness.

For discussion:

How does this chapter resonate with your own giving? Does it come up to the 10% tithe that is referenced so many times in the Bible?

Sometimes we use the word "tithe" to be synonymous to an offering but in truth, tithe means 10% of the first fruits. That is, pre-tax income.

Can you image how much we could do with mission and outreach work if churches had 10% to work with? I would challenge you figure out what your title ought to be, then take what you are actually bringing to your congregation's budget, and add to this amount regularly until you reach a full tithe.

We had friends who were pretty hefty tithers -- in fact, I'd call them "super tithers" because they gave more than 10%. One evening at a church dinner, we were sitting next to this couple and the subject of tithing came up. The gentleman, who was a very successful businessman in our town, said that he couldn't afford not to tithe. When he started tithing, the success of his business took off like a rocket and ever since, he'd been giving as God had blessed and prospered him. That was when we started adding a couple of bucks to our offering each month until it reached a tithe. And we now echo this gentleman's sentiment. We can't afford not to.

Can you see where tithing is an act of faith? Even if you think you can't afford to tithe?

We pray: Oh Lord, I thank you for your grace and for taking care of us. I thank you for your love. I pray that you would open our hearts so that we could be even more generous with all that you have given to prosper us. Help me to remember that all gifts come from you, and that they are gifts you have given us to share. Amen.


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Monday, February 4, 2008

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It is a foggy, foggy day here in the moors of Effingham! I can't even see the back of the back yard all that well. Just a vague outline of some tree skeletons back there.

Quint says it's the cold coming up out of the ground. So begone with you, Creepy Cold. You're scaring my dirt. And besides, there are daffodils planted under there.

Quint went out shopping. He drowned the coffee pot this morning. When I got up he was in the kitchen wiping down the counter top, and the front of the cabinets, and the coffee pot was upside down in one of the sink basins. He mumbled something about accidentally using two coffee filters and the whole thing overflowed and probably got down into the heating element. When he got everything cleaned up and wiped down, the silly thing still wouldn't cook our morning coffee.

Fortunately we had a couple of cups left from yesterday, but after they were gone, things got desperate. We're coffee drinkers. Always have been. And we make our coffee "firehouse strong," as one of my fireman clients used to tell us. He always enjoyed a cup of coffee when he came in for his sessions.

Anyway, we've never particularly espoused to all those scare tactics about coffee being all that bad for people. My grandmother, bless her heart, enjoyed her coffee up until the day she died at the ripe age of 88 years.

And then there was that research done a couple of years ago that tied coffee deprivation to a higher incidence of depression. So I figure that God made the coffee bean. He must have had something in mind and we're only too happy to enjoy our morning coffee with him every day.

But I'm not so sure about shrimp. They look too much like bug butts. Can't eat 'em. But then, John the Baptist existed on honey and locusts when he was out there on the desert trails. Do you suppose locusts taste like shrimp? I'll just bet they do, which is another reason why I'm not eating any shrimpies.

Or snake burgers. Or alligator parts. I'll leave those little dishes to people who are a lot more gourmetish than I am, thank you very much.


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 7:1-16

This chapter brings another of Paul's profound truths. It's found in verse 10: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation.

As this chapter opens, it seems as if Paul is battling for credibility. Possibly the false teachers have started spreading the rumor that Paul has not been telling the truth -- that Paul is a fraud.

Paul gets word from travelers of what is going on in Corinth and his response is a blistering defense (verse 2): We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.

Having said that, Paul quickly adds a comforting note to assure the Corinthians that his anger rests on the shoulder of the person who has accused him (verses 3-4): I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

And remember Titus? Paul wanted to see Titus in Troas, but Titus was not able to meet Paul there. So Paul heads on over to Macedonia where, lo and behold, Titus is able to join him.

And the good news that Titus brings from Corinth fills Paul's heart with joy. Titus brings Paul all the news from Corinth (verse 7b): He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

It seems to me that this passage says that Paul is able to reconcile any upset he may have with the church at Corinth and lay this upset at the feet of the false teachers who were trying to undo Paul's work. Paul was genuinely joyful that the Corinthians still wanted to be a part of Paul's ministry and that they, in fact, still loved Paul and were concerned about his well being.

Then Paul seems to take a rather parental stance -- those of you who are parents will know what I mean -- it's like when you discipline an errant child, then feel like perhaps your discipline seemed a bit too harsh -- so you come back to explain to the child that it was for their "own good."

Well, no matter how well intentioned that may be, children just do not have the capacity to understand that something that is as hurtful to them as discipline could possibly ever be for their own good.

But Paul says it anyway in verses 8-9: Even if I caused you sorrow by my letters, I do not regret it.

Though I did regret it -- I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while -- yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.

For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

So this is what Paul would liken to "Godly sorrow" that I mentioned at the beginning of today's study. He says it's the kind of sorrow that leads to salvation.

On the other hand, Paul says Godly sorrow is different from the "worldly sorrow" that brings death. 

Worldly sorrow comes up out of a concern for being caught. It doesn't lead to being sorry for whatever was done. It's too self-centered, or narcissistic, to be repentant. Keep in mind that there's an element of entitlement in worldly sorrow. That is, people do what they know is wrong, or sinful, but somehow, they've wrapped this feeling of entitlement around their sin so that they can justify deserving what they want. 

And before they know it, this feeling of entitlement has brought them to sin.

God does not like that.

But Godly sorrow, on the other hand, brought out a lot of earnestness from the Corinthians. And other feelings are listed in verse 11: eagerness to clear yourselves, indignation, alarm, longing, concern, readiness to see justice done. 

At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

Then Paul gets back to his letter to the Corinthians in verses 12-13: So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.

Paul closes this chapter by telling the Corinthians how happy he is that treated Titus so well. Paul kind of admits that Titus wondered if they would really like him or if they were just being nice to him because Paul told him they ought to be.

Now, based on what Titus has to tell of the Corinthians, Titus figures that their affection for him was real, and not just because they were assigned to be nice by Paul.

That pleases Paul a lot. He says, then, in verse 16: I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

For discussion:

1. Have you ever considered that there's a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow? 

I will admit that, even though I have read Corinthians before, this differentiation in the types of sorrow didn't jump off the page to me as it did this time. 

And perhaps as a parent, when I realized that I too had been too harsh with my children, I wanted to "soften the blow," so that they would not doubt my love for them.

Do you suppose that God thinks of his believers in this way also? He did send his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins because he loves us so much.

In your discussion of this chapter, talk about God as the parent and us as his children, for we know that we become heirs to the kingdom. What are some of the ways that you think God has disciplined you as a loving father?

We pray: Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you filled with sorrow for all my sins. 

I bring to you a repentant heart that is filled with contrition for all the wrongs that I have done and for what I continue to do, even though I don't want to do anything wrong.

I pray that you will forgive me anew. I pray that you will send your Holy Spirit to be with me to guide me so that I can cross over temptations that threaten to bring me only to a fake worldly sorrow. 

I pray that your Holy Spirit will come into my heart and clean out all those places where my own ego causes me to build up big phony cases of why and how I deserve to think thoughts that you don't want me to think. Cleanse my heart, Oh Lord, and bring me to you with a contrite heart. Amen.

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Friday, February 1, 2008


We only have 4-1/2 inches of snow here in the middle of the state. The situation doesn't look all that great up north, though.

Our good friend, Patti, shoveled her little heart out and it's still coming down.

So, may I be the first to welcome you to February! And tomorrow is the Big Rat Day -- otherwise known as Groundhog Day. No matter what he does, spring is only six weeks away. Count the days from February 2 to March 21! Spring's a'comin!

It will be up to 59 degrees by next week. And starting tomorrow, the temperatures are going to get up above freezing and stay that way until next December. Well, maybe during the day.

Quint checked his daily journal and reported that I was transplanting petunias on April 20 of last year. Hopefully I can do the same this year, plus tomatoes in my garden. It's been rototilled and the ground is just sitting there grinning at me when I look out my kitchen window.
Quint went out this morning and cleaned off his bird feeder. He really worries when his little darlings can't get at their chow.

We're going to brave the elements and head out later this morning. Quint says he's seen the snowplow come down our street three times since he got up at 6:30 this morning. That means, by his deductive logic, that the streets are in good shape all over town. I guess our snowbound days are over.

And since he's never wrong, it will be a great opportunity to go back to Wal-Mart and get more yarn. I finished all the tie-backs for the curtains in the living room and dining room. Now I've decided to make a table runner to match the tie-backs.

We may as well go on over to the mall this afternoon and walk some too. Walking every day helps keep our creaking old bones limbered up. I can really notice it when we skip a day or two. Plus, the weight starts creeping back on -- like about a half pound every few days. Now, we don't set any land speed records but we do get our two miles in. Apparently it counts.

We reward ourselves when we're done walking with a cup of fresh brewed coffee at the little shop in the mall. We also watch Fox News on their TV that's in the window of the shop. It's our cool down part of the walk.


BIBLE STUDY: 2 Corinthians 6:1-18

The early verses in this chapter strike a chord with the worshipers at Corinth. Paul has been talking about the resurrection. Paul tells them about how their belief in this resurrection and faith in Christ's resurrection brings them a new eternal life after their earthly life is done with.

Like the "jars of clay," their outer body is no longer needed, because the read treasure is what is inside the clay jars. It is this inner treasure that goes home to heaven to be with Christ.

And the tent that is like an outer covering, also likened to the physical body because the "tent" is like the house that the soul lives in while the person is alive on earth.

Okay, so it looks like the Corinthians got that. They understood the metaphors that Paul was using. They believed that their bodies would die one day but that their soul lived on and they believed in the resurrection, for just as Christ rose from the dead, so they would also. Someday.

But then, in their quiet moments, they thought of other "for instances."

It happens to all of us. The Corinthians were no different. 

So, for instance, what happens to all of the people who lived a long time ago? What about those devout followers of the true God? They died, for instance, before Christ came to earth to die for our sins and they died before Christ was resurrected from the dead. What happens to them when Christ comes back to earth for the second time to gather his followers.

For instance, if those people never had the opportunity to follow Christ, what happens to them when Christ comes back?

It's a fair question. And I'll just bet that Paul was eternally grateful that he had been gifted with the Holy Spirit for counsel in answering these kinds of questions.

So Paul starts off this chapter with this admonition: As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. (verses 1-2)

What did Paul mean when he was talking about not receiving God's grace in vain? All we need to do is backtrack just a few verses to Chapter 5:15 and re-read: And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Basically, then, the message I get from those passages in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 is that we are all here to build God's kingdom -- to live for Christ. We build God's kingdom in many, many ways. We bring our children to the Lord early in their young lives. We read the stories of Jesus to our children when they are youngsters. We love our children with all our hearts and honor them for the gifts they are from God. They enrich our lives and bring us joy.

We go to church on our sabbath days to worship God. We share what we believe with people who want to know more about God and Christ.

We support our missionaries in faraway places, even if it's only a few bucks a month or so. If a couple million believers sent just $2 to the missions, what a blessing of growth that would be. And it's not just worship places in faraway countries.

We have opportunities aplenty right here at home to keep the roof on our church buildings so that our houses of worship are always ready to receive and develop faith in people who are searching for God.

We live for Christ after we have received God's grace. And Paul says that if we do not live for Christ, then we have received God's grace in vain.

Paul talks about now being the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. We are living in this age of God's grace -- this time that is in between Christ's first coming and the promised second coming. Now is the time for us to receive the promised grace from God.

It's right there -- at the tip of our fingers, ready for us to close our palms around it and bring it to our breast. God's grace -- take it and live with it. Its time has come for us to put God's grace into our hearts. God's grace is a healing balm that soothes all the woundings we have ever experienced in our lives.

God's grace is the powerful weapon of righteousness.

But Paul is concerned that he lead a life that is as close to purity as is humanly possible. He does not want to do one single thing that would offend anybody -- or discredit the message that comes through him from the Holy Spirit. He gives us a rather long list of his human experiences in verses 3-10.

I urge you to read this list. It is his underscore of what he's endured. All the hardships and the beatings. Even imprisonments. He's literally walked through riots and come out the other side still alive.

He says he's endured sleepless nights. Why would he be anxious, do you suppose? At least, anxious enough to keep awake at nights. Do you think he feared that he wasn't doing enough fast enough to grow God's kingdom?

Paul couldn't wait to be on the road again. He wanted to go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel message. Paul was on fire for Christ! His missionary journeys blazed a path through the middle east, around Palestine, across the waters to Greece, then back through Turkey, then back to Jerusalem, then back again. All around. Thousands of miles for Christ.

Would you do that? How often do you witness your faith in Christ? How has your faith changed your life? It has changed your life, hasn't it?

Paul says he has endured hunger. He says he lives his live in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God, with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Wow! When I think of the creature comforts I have and the things I don't have to endure, like Paul did, I am humbled by just how little I do.

And then Paul assures the Corinthians that he loves them most dearly, even if their hearts are being turned away from Paul by these false apostles. Paul says he has opened his hearts wide to the Corinthians. Never did he withhold his affection from them even if they did to him.

Then he tells them that it would be a fair exchange if they opened their hearts to him like he has to them and that he speaks to them as if they were his children.

Watch out for liars, Paul warns them. In verses 14-16b: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.

For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?

Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?

What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

(Belial is a Hebrew word for Satan.)

This is a long, definitive list of comparisons/contrasts. Seems to be the comparisons between good and evil.

Remember Paul comments in the last chapter about reconciliations. Now comes this list from Paul with polarities that do not get reconciled.

In verses 16b-18, we read: For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord.

"Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters."

This is the promise of our Lord -- that he will be a Father to us and we are his sons and daughters. And what does a Father do for his children? He builds a place for them to live. So when we die, our soul goes to heaven and we live with God, our Heavenly Father, for he has promised that we are his sons and daughters.

In this age of grace that we are living in, we are given this promise. It is the same promise that the ancestors of old, back in the Old Testament times, could only glimpse from afar. They knew and believed that Christ was coming to earth to save all mankind from sin. The prophets promised this truth time and time again.

But Christ on earth wasn't a reality for them yet. No one saw Christ's crucifixion or his resurrection, yet they believed. And because they believed, they became sons and daughters of our Lord in heaven.

This was the powerful, powerful message that Paul brought to the Corinthians, and he brings to all who read God's Word today. It is the message from the Holy Spirit that gets written anew on our hearts every day.

Make your Bible search a daily pleasure.

Discussion points:

1. See how many different ways you can list that you live in Christ. Keep in mind that there are things you can do that would make a big difference in the lives of others that may seem small and insignificant to you. Do them anyway.

2. Are you reluctant or bashful about sharing your faith with others? Or are you on fire like Paul was? If you don't have as burning a fire as Paul did, what would it take to kindle that ability in you? At least most of us are all living in a time and place where people know who Christ is.

I realize, though, that some of you are not. And I pray for you every day. To our readers in Nigeria and in Iran and on other continents, I pray for your safety as you share the gospel message of Christ to people who do not know him.

I thank God for the Internet that brings you to this Bible Study.

Thank you all for joining us. I am going to put a link here again for a Bible translation that you can go to while you read these studies:

The Bible is at this site, chapter by chapter. All the books of the Bible. And each chapter can be downloaded.

Permission is granted to all who want to download these pages for your own Bible Studies.. I just ask that you include a link back to this site.

We pray:

Dear Heavenly Father: I pray that you would equip me to be more sharing and bolder in approaching others who need to hear your gospel message. I pray that you would make me more like Paul, even in the face of dangers for those people around the world who are not always safe in doing this.

I thank you, Lord, that I live in a country where I can worship you freely. Help me, embolden me, take away my shyness so that I can speak up for your message of salvation. It is not fair that I keep this message all to myself. It is not right that I leave this task for others to do for you have also gifted me with the Holy Spirit to speak your truth.

I pray that you will bless all who are stopping by here today. Embrace them with your love and keep them safe.

I thank you that you have gifted me with the skill to put thoughts into words and I pray that your message will continue to reach many around the world through this Bible Study. Amen.


10:22 am          Comments

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We welcome July readers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Venezuela, Vietnam and United States

This video is the most beautiful depiction of what happens in the womb when the baby is developing and growing. The video was developed by Yale professor Alexander Tsiaras. Just beautiful. Warning, though. Some of the images are graphic. But nothing gross. It is just a reminder to me that life is a beautiful baby and life is absolutely precious.!

July 29, 2012

Update on Quint:
He is making an incredible recovery. The skin cancer is essentially gone. When we met with the surgeon for a post-op appointment on Friday, we learned that the biopsy of the frozen section shows all the cancer was removed. The incision is healing nicely. It's about a 6" incision down the side of his face in front of the left ear. The doctor put so many stitches in that any scar is hardly visible. Thanks to all for prayers you have been lifting up for his health. The surgeon says there are dissolving stitches in three levels of tissue. We also met with our oncologist last week and he says the lymphocitic/leukemia will continue to make Quint vulnerable to skin cancers. Please keep him in your prayers so that all his cancers, and mine as well, will remain in remission.

I received the following about a child's reason for why he believes in God from our friends, John and Sherre, in Wichita, KS:

Little Boy's Explanation of God

                                He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment,

                                to 'explain God.'

                                I wonder if any of us

                                could have done as well? 


                                'One of God's main jobs is making people.

                                He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there
will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I
think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable
time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'

                                'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some
people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to
the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in
his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'

                                'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you
shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you
couldn't have.'

                                'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista [California]. At least
there aren't any who come to our church.'

                                'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles
and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him
preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his
father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'

                                'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him
he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps
his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of
and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more

                                'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of
them is on duty all the time.'

                                'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to
make happy, it's God!

                                Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And
besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach untilnoon anyway.'

                                'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your
parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when
you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big

                                'But. . .you shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can
take me back anytime he pleases.

                                And...that's why I believe in God.'

July 13, 2012

Quint is recuperating from surgery on July 11, 2012. Surgeon removed a growth on left cheek that turned out to be squamous cell cancer. Prognosis is good because doctor says he got good margins. Please continue to pray for him. He has a 4" incision on left cheek from about the corner of his eye all the way down to jawbone. Looks worse than it is.

In another matter, this link: shows some incredible artwork that a young, 9-year old in England, artist has painted and his work is beginning to sell handsomely.

July 1, 2012

I'm a Lutheran and I sure wish the Lutheran Church had authored this video or one like it:

No matter, it's a message that needs saying so hats off to the Catholic church!

On another subject, the temperature here in Middle Illinois at 6 p.m. as 102.8 degrees. That's really hot.

Stay safe out there. If you do not have air conditioning, or if your AC goes out in this heat, sit in a tub of cool water. It will do wonders pulling heat out of your body. And let's remember in prayers all those folks on the eastern seaboard who don't have electricity. They don't even have fans to plug in.

Kind of reminds me of going to church when I was a kid. Oh, was that hot. And remember those hand fans that funeral homes gave out free to churches? We wore ours out.

June 24, 2012

The heat is the story here in the Midwest part of the United States. I can't tell you when the last time there was rain, but the corn stalks are starting to look pretty wilted. The word "parched" comes to mind. The beans don't look any better either.

So the big conclusion that some people have arrived at is that God is punishing the United States because so many people have turned away from Him?

Oh really?

Who said.

And how many?

These gloom and doomers pontificate about how we're all going to die and go to hell can't give any numbers. Can't offer any hope.

Well, folks, don't you believe it. God is a God of love. He wants all of us to be saved.

And to those people who think they can define the reasoning of God are being sacrilegious. They are talking when they should be listing to God.

My God is a God of love. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for our sins. Because of that, we are assured of salvation and life eternal.

But there are those who are going through these crises of faith. They're noisy. When God talks to you, listen to Him. It's that still, small voice inside you. And don't believe the naysayers who think they have he last word on what means and what God intends to do. They don't know. They just don't know.

Your faith is what will bring you closer to God. Let Him into your hearts and listen to Him.

June 6, 2012

We don't laugh enough. We are not light hearted enough. Way too serious. Oh, there are times when serious is good for you, but there are many more days when we just are not enjoying a good laugh.

So someone sent me a link to Mark Lowry. He's a Christian comedian and good for a real belly laugh, I can guarantee you.

Here's the link:

I'm going to You Tube and search for him and see if he's got other material. He's really funny.

May 15, 2012

Our U.S. Constitution is not flawed. It's not dead. It's not irrelevant!

Those who think it's out of touch with today's "modern thought" fail to realize that the U.S. Constitution is modernized each time the United States Supreme Court reviews a law or an incident and decides whether the rights of our citizens are abridged or impeached.

The language of the U.S. Constitution does, in fact, reside in a little book small enough to fit inside a man's jacket pocket or in a lady's handbag. However, volumes and volumes of interpretive material fills libraries. Interpretation by the sitting Justices keeps our Constitution up-to-date.

May 12, 2012

Our God is awesome! God controls the waters and the seas. Take a look at this video of the angry sea.

May 10, 2012

I am in the process of researching the involvement and the role that the National Road (U.S. 40) played in military activities -- specifically troop movements. If you know of any such movements, please email me at and put "National Road info" in the subject line. I'd be ever so grateful. If you do not want your name used, be sure to tell me. Otherwise, I'd like to share that you found the information. This is for a funding opportunity for Effingham County and it will focus on the role that the National Road has played in the significance of Effingham.

April 27, 2012

Well, that was a nice little rest.

Since I've last posted, I've fretted that frost would get my lovely irises. It didn't. Nor did the frost chip away at my roses. I have never had roses blooming in April before. They have exploded into full bloom. Bright red blooms against our white house. Wow!

And the irises are just as beautiful. I have some really deep purple irises, light lavender, some two-toned purple and white, bright yellow, a lighter lemon chiffon color, a pink iris and a peach colored one that is a double.

The spirea finally decided it would bloom too.

All in all, considering that I did absolutely nothing last year in the flower bed, it's amazing that my little troopers have done as well as they have. The irises apparently are no longer upset with me for snipping them back at the end of January and early February. Again in March when they started sending up things that looked like they'd bloom.

We've still had frost tucked in between 80 degree days but nothing serious enough to hurt my darling little flowers.

Quint and I are doing well. We continue to see our oncologist every three months and get blood work to check markers for cancer that might have decided to invade us again. So far, so good. Platelet counts are coming back to normal and we're working on our stamina.

I do have to take some medication for five years -- well, four years now -- that inhibits estrogen. It will keep breast cancer from recurring. Problem is, it makes the long bones in my legs and muscles in the thighs really ache. Nothing that can't be tolerated though. Compared to the benefits of what the medicine does for me, I'd say I came out the winner at this point.

Quint's lymphoma is still in remission too, so we're pretty health for the shape we're in.

And now I'm going to fix us a snack of yogurt, sliced strawberries, sliced bananas and walnuts. Then we're going to watch some spy thrillers on Netflix streaming.

Nice to be back and thank you for not giving up on me.

April 10, 2012

I am getting over the grandaddy of all colds. I expect to be better by morning, after having laid around all day today. Finally just gave it up and stayed in bed.

Until now, that is.

And you know how I love kids and their entrepreneural spirit. Well, here's a video of a young lad in east LA who build an arcade out of cardboard boxes in his dad's auto parts store. His name is Caine and he's 9 years old. It's just precious!

Oh, and one other thing before I head back to my comfy easy chair. We have frost warnings for tonight. 30 degrees! My irises and roses are blooming. Wonder how that's going to set with them.

I just thought I'd mention something about all those spam emails and telemarketer calls you may be getting. Even if you're signed up for "do not call" lists, you still can get calls. Here's how. If you take part in an online voting request, or if you call to participate in a TV vote, you are setting up what is known as a "special relationship." Special relationships with a state allows any advertiser of that station of promo outfit to put you on their callers who are exempt from the "do not call" status.

If you live in Illinois and you get a telemarketer call, just tell the caller that Illinois is a "do not call" state and you do not want to be on their lists. They are required to hang up at that point. I've tried it and it works.

Also, here's a tip for getting rid of all those preapproved gimmicks that find their way into your mailbox. When I get the offers, the first thing I do is draw a big diagnonal line through the offer and write VOID on it. Then I stuff the document back into the self-addressed postage paid envelope that they provide. The advertisers are going to stop sending you stuff pretty quick rather than pay postage twice.

April 5, 2012

It's Maundy Thursday - the first part of the Easter trilogy.

Maundy Thursday was the night when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and commemorated the event that we've followed in the Lutheran Church for ages since that time.

When I was confirmed on Palm Sunday many years ago, Maundy Thursday was the first opportunity I was given as a new confirmant to take my first communion. It was an awesome experience then, and it continues to be every chance I get.

I hope that it is the same for you as you draw near to the Easter story.

Tomorrow is Good Friday. Part 2 with the significance of Christ dying on the cross for our sins.

And then, of course, there's Easter Sunday when we celebrate Christ's resurrection.

Sin and death no longer have a hold on us because Christ died for our sins.

April 4, 2012

Ready to watch a miracle? Here's a video showing a woman in an SUV sinking. She couldn't swim. The SUV sank. But the miracle is not that she was somehow pulled from the SUV but the after-story: --

May the blessings of Easter catch you up in the miracles going around you every day. Life is a miracle. God brings miracles to us today just as He did thousands of years ago when Jesus died and rose again. I pray that you will get caught up in the miracle of the Easter story all over again. Christ died for our sins and rose again, and because He rose again, we have eternal life guaranteed to us by our Heavenly Father.

April 2, 2012

Want to know what video of a couple of famous dancers has gotten more than 118 million hits? None other than the big routine from Dirty Dancing!

Another trivia question that some of you may know the answer to has to do with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's failure at sea. April 15 is the date of this tragedy. If you thought most of the folks on board perished in the icy waters, you'll be surprised to learn that only half died. Well, maybe "only" is not a good word. One would be too many on a ship that was touted as unsinkable. There were 2,223 passengers and crew. 1,517 died. A little more than half.

April 1, 2012

If you haven't heard this song by the Barn Again Gang -- On My Father's side -- am sure you'll enjoy it. And thanks to you, Joyce from Frankfort, IL for sending:

And here's Kaitlyn Maher, a 4-year old, singing in America's Got Talent. Mind you, she's had 26,585,501 hits on her debut on the national stage. She is absolutely adorable!

Kaitlyn Maher again, this time singing Ave Maria -

And she got to sing for President and First Lady Laura Bush:

Here she is singing the National Anthem:

I have not ever heard the story about the "Praying Hands" so I am especially thankful to Cody in Warrensburg, MO for sending Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with
eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob,
the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost
eighteen hours a day at his tradeand any other paying chore he could find in the

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the elder children, Albrecht and
Albert, had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew
full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them
to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally
worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby
mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy.
Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he
would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or,
if necessary, also by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and
went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his
brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's
etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his
professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees
for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive
dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and
memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored
position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the
years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing
words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you
can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream,and I will take care of you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat,
tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while
he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No"

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long
table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek,
he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look
... Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every
finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from
arthritis so badly In my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your
toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush.
No, brother ....for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful
portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, water colors, charcoals, woodcuts, and
copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great
that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works.
More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction
hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer
painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers
stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire
world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed
his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

March 30, 2012

I have to share with you that the operators of this web site have become increasingly frustration to work with. The way I see it, I have two choices: (1) shut down the site altogether and discontinue the blogs, or (2) find a site that is more responsive to what I want from a web site.

In the meantime, one of the questions that Jesus asked is #80 -- If you do not believe Moses' writings, how will you believe me? (John 5:47)

Old Testament writings often come under fire as being "irrelevant" or "out of date" or just "too old."

All of those excuses are flawed, in my view.

In the first place, the Word of God is eternal.

Because the Word is eternal, it transcends time and space.

For that reason, when you read the Bible, the breath of God is still on the paper; still on the words. The Bible is the Word of God. It will never get "too old" or "out of date."

Get into the Word. Absorb it; take it in. If you find any challenge whatsoever about understanding what some passages mean, then the Counselor will be sent to you, just for the asking. Just pray that Jesus will send you His Counselor to assist you in your readings.

Blessings to you in your spiritual journey through the Word of God.

March 27, 2012

Here is one of the most precious tapes I've ever heard of a child: From my friend Shirley in Arizona. It's just precious!

This is a video I found on my own. I love the innocence of this little girl. I pray that she will hold onto her dreams all her life and never let anyone snatch them away from her.

God keeps the dreams of children in his right hand pocket. And woe be to those who steal the dreams of a child.

Today I am going to discuss Question #66 from Luke 18:7 -- Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?

In the first place, I consider myself one of God's chosen ones because I claim the inheritance of being a child of God.

And how did I get to be a child of God? Simple. I believe that Jesus Christ, God's only Son, died for my sins and offered me salvation. By doing this, He names says that I share in the inheritance of God's richest blessings.

And you most certainly can enjoy this same inheritance and become a Child of God by believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins too.

It's just that simple. You have only to believe.

This is my right, in God's own words. He says: Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? I believe that because I know that God does not lie. He's good for His promises and when He says He's going to secure my rights, what do I have to fear?

And do I call out to God day and night? Yes. In my car when I head out to work. I pray that some idiot does not plow into me head-on. I pray that I don't get tee-boned by someone running a red light or a stop sign.

I pray that when I enter that miraculous place of empty thoughts of what seems to be unconsciousness, that the veil will be lifted in the morning and I will re-awaken to a new day. Sleep itself is a miracle. We fall into a mindless abyss every night and awaken refreshed to a new day. Is that a miracle or what? How does God do that?

I remember reading or hearing this "what if" thought that when you awaken in the morning, what if the only things you had in your life were the things you thanked God for yesterday! Kind of put a new perspective on things for me. Instead of just nagging and nagging -- which I can be pretty good at -- for things I think I want, or things I think I need -- I stop every day and thank God for what He gives me. The gifts are enormous and I only get them because He is a gracious God. I certainly deserve nothing.

But all day and all night I talk to God. We have an ongoing conversation. Help me with this, please. Oh, and thank you for that. Or how about all those problems that you just can't seem to solve. Then He says, "I can help you with that." Or, after the problem is solved and I nod a quiet thank you, He says "All you had to do was ask."

God is my friend. This King of the Universe took notice of me when I was about four years old. That's when I started talking to Him in my head. I knew it was God because I learned about Him in Sunday School. My Sunday School teacher told me I could just talk to God simply like he was an ordinary person. I took her at her word and have never thought of God as anything but.

Even though I know for sure, now that I have a few more years on me, that God is nothing ordinary at all. But I also know that He is never too busy to secure my rights as one of His chosen ones.

Enjoy your day and rest easy in your sleep, dear friends. God is watching out for you.

March 26, 2012

Question #32 that Jesus asked was, "Could you not watch for me one brief hour?" -- Matt. 26:40

There are lots and lots of ways to travel through the Lenten season on the way to Calvary. And the reasons for doing things differently are many and varied.

People offer up the thought that they can worship anywhere. They feel just as close to God, they say, when they are listening to a beautiful piece of music, or walking through the woods in the late afternoon.

Those things are true.

But it seems to me that if you want to go down that path to Calvary, you ought to do it the way that Jesus wants you to do it. Not the way you think, in your not-so-infinite pseudo-wisdom of coming up with these cute little excuses. Cute, you think.

Truth is, Jesus wants you to go to your church, or your temple and watch with him there, in that place.

This question that Jesus asks from Matthew sounds like a plea to me. Couldn't you watch with me one hour?

Well, sure you could, if you thought it was important enough.

Quint and I go to Lenten services and the church is not even half full. Where is everybody? Working? Playing? Doing homework? Driving around? Out to dinner? Where are you? Those who couldn't come to this worshiping place to watch with Jesus one hour.

What if I told you that I had learned that Jesus was going to make one of those rare earthly appearances for one week only. He was actually going to come to church because He wanted to talk to me.

I'd move heaven and earth to get there on time. I want to meet this man while He's still alive. You bet I'd watch with him an hour. In fact, I'll stay up all night if he stuck around to talk to me.

And talks to me He does. When I'm sitting in that pew, I can almost feel his eyes burning a hole in my skin. Kind of at the back of my neck. I can almost feel his hand on my shoulder while he bends around to look at me and whispers to me, "I'm so glad you came tonight. I'm doing this all for you, you know."

He's my Savior. We're connected. It must break His heart to see so many empty pews when they should be overflowing with people who are willing to give Him one hour of their busy schedules.

"Why couldn't you watch with me one hour?" He asks. It's a question you'll have all of eternity to answer Him one day.

March 25, 2012

Now this is precious! It's a two year old dancing to Jailhouse Rock. He's got some good moves too.

March 24, 2012

At this time of year, one of my favorite places on earth is Kentucky when the dogwood and redbud are in full bloom -- and nowhere are they more beautiful than my home town -- Paducah, Kentucky.

Just look at these gorgeous photos and you'll see what I mean:

These quips come from my cousin who lives in a small town not too far from Houston -- well, in Texas, 200 miles is a "small distance" I think: THE POSITIVE SIDE OF LIFE:                

                        Living on Earth is expensive, 
                        but it does include a free trip   
                        around the sun every year.    

                        How long a minute is
                        depends on what side of the
                        bathroom door you're on.   

                        Birthdays are good for you;
                        the more you have,
                        the longer you live.    

                        Happiness comes through doors you  
                        didn't even know you left open.    

                        Ever notice that the people who are late  
                        are often much jollier
                        than the people who  have  to wait for  them?    

                        Most of us go to our grave
                        with our music still inside of us.    

                        If WalMart is lowering prices every day,  
                        how come nothing is free yet?    

                        You may be only one person in the world,  
                        but you may also be the world to one person.    

                        Some mistakes are too much fun  
                        to only make once.    

                        Don't cry because it's over;  
                        smile because it happened.    

                        We could learn a lot from crayons:  
                        some are sharp, some are pretty,
                        some are dull, some have weird  names,
                        and all are different colors....but
                        they all exist very nicely in the same box.    

                        A truly happy person is one who  
                        can enjoy the scenery on a detour.    

                        Have an awesome day, and
                        know that someone
                        who thinks you're great 
                        has  thought about you today!..    

                        "And that person was me.".....  
                        Please don't keep this message
                        to yourself.....send  it to those  
                        who mean so  much to  you.... "NOW". 

Thank you, Frances. I love the one about some mistakes. Hope you don't have too many people out there who are all to eager to point each and every little mistake you make. Those, I think, are the ones who go to their graves with the music still living inside them. It's just too much "vinegar energy" to look for flaws in people. And God knows I have more than my share, it seems. But here's the thing: I don't make mistakes on purpose and I never make mistakes with the idea of making someone's misery index go up. I just thank God that I am surrounded by true friends who cut me some slack. You know the ones. They really care about you. I like the idea that we are all living in a big crayon box. That has to be one of those lessons learned in kindergarten. But then, I'm old enough to realize that we didn't have kindergarten when I started school.

I celebrated kicking off my educational pursuits by going down the big slide on the playground with a somersault from the top. I was grounded from recess for the rest of the week. 

These beautiful thoughts also come from Frances:

When I say that 'I am a Christian', I am not shouting that 'I am clean living. I'm
whispering 'I was lost, but now I'm found and forgiven.'

When I say 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that
I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I'm
weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have
failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too
visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of
heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou, I'm just a simple sinner who
received God's good grace, somehow!

Today is Beautiful Christian Person's Day.
Pretty is as Pretty does but, Beautiful is just plain Beautiful..

I'm supposed to send this to Beautiful People,
and you are one of them!!!

March 21, 2012

From the sermon text at our 5th Midweek Lenten Service in Matthew 28:16-20 comes the command of Jesus that we are to go into all the world and make disciples of all men.

Well, I don't know about you but I can't go to the airport and get a ticket to go to some faraway place and work in a mission field. But those very words are the marching orders of the church.

What I can do is partner with the Lutheran Women's Missionary League and be a supplier of stuff that missionaries can use. Quilts, for instance. Quilts are made in Lutheran churches all across this country. They find their way into orphanages. In hospitals. In remote villages where they are placed over a low branch and become the roof of a home. If the villager is lucky, a second quilt could be a floor. We need more quilts -- more than the 355,000 that have been made this winter. That means there will be an unmet need.

Our church is going to put baby kits together. These baby kits will have a few diapers in them. Some tee shirts. Some tiny little caps. Diaper pins and little sleepers. We're making the receiving blankets and it will have a bunch of baby supplies in it, then pinned with the diaper pins. Missionaries can take these baby kits and go into villages and give them to new mothers who often don't have clothes for newborn babies. And if they have a receiving blanket at all, it was made from their old clothes that were too worn out to use anymore. Imagine the joy when a new mom gets a bright, colorful receiving blanket that has been made with so much love and joy and prayers!

Yes, the women of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League can partner with missionaries who are in a position to tell others first-hand what Jesus has done for them. They can ground others by bringing them the Word of God.

And how long are we supposed to do all this?

Jesus says "Until the end of the age." That is, we're supposed to keep on keeping on until Jesus comes back for us.

In the meantime, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of ways that I can reach out to people around the world and spread the wonderful message that Jesus Christ died for our sins and because of his death on the cross, we can claim salvation as a child of God.

So this is the reason I write this blog. It's my way of going around the world to talk to people about what Christ has done for each one of us. That would be you. And it would be me. My computer is my magic carpet and on it, I can ride through cyberspace to reach you in 23 countries so far this month.

God bless each and every one of you.

March 20, 2012

Election results in Illinois: Not all results are in at this writing.

If you are anywhere near middle Illinois on March 23, you could do yourself a favor and go to the Effingham Performance Center at 8:00 p.m. and catch the show headlined by Scott Wattles of Blue Suede Crew. Tickets are $5. He's an incredible performer for those of us who wax nostalgia over Elvis, Roy Orbison, Marty Robbins, and a host of others. What a voice!

We had an opportunity to hear him for the first time on Sunday evening. All Gospel songs. And a standing ovation for How Great Thou Art!

If I tried that it would come under the category of making a joyful noise, but I am filled with appreciation for anyone who can sing really well. We are fortunate because own Pastor Rensner is also a wonderful vocalist. I love listening to someone who loves to sing. And both these gentlemen do!

Earthquake near Acapulco registers 7.6! That's a really hefty earthquake even if it is about 200 miles from Acapulco. God is sure rattling the earth these days. Two hundred miles is nothing when an earthquake ripples its way through the earth.

It is still 78 degrees in the house. And Quint mowed the grass -- or part of it -- yesterday afternoon. Don't remember that happening in March. Ever. We sure do enjoy having the windows open and soft warm breezes blowing across us when we're sleeping though.

We pray for God's blessings to all of you. Some of you are living in dangerous area and you are especially in our prayers.

And we thank you for prayers too.

March 19, 2012


It's time for a patriotic song and this just arrived from Shirley, my favorite snow bird who has not returned from Arizona yet:

And here's a cute little story sent by our friends John and Sherre in Wichita:
Subject: A New Pet

                  The Talking Centipede

                  A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet.

                  So he went to the pet store and told the owner
                  That he wanted to buy an unusual pet.

                  After some discussion, he finally bought a talking centipede,
                  (100-legged bug), which came in a little white box
                  To use for his house.

                  He took the box back home, found a good spot for the box,
                  And decided he would start off by taking his new pet
                  To church with him.

                  So he asked the centipede in the box,

                  "Would you like to go
                  To church with me today?
                  We will have a good time."

                  But there was no answer from his new pet.

                  This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes
                  And then asked again,

                  "How about going
                  To church with me
                  And receive blessings?"

                  But again,there was no answer
                  From his new friend and pet.
                  So he waited a few minutes more,
                  Thinking about the situation.

                  The guy decided to invite the centipede one last time.

                  This time he put his face up against
                  The centipede ' s house and shouted,

                  "Hey, in there!
                  Would you like to go
                  Church with me
                  And learn about God?"

                  YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS ......

                  This time,
                  A little voice
                  Came out of the box,

                  "I heard you the first time!

                   I ' m putting my shoes on!"

March 17, 2012

Today is the day when the whole world is Irish. That includes my cousin, Mark, who sends this blessing. It's beautiful poetry by Phil Coulter and narrated by Roma Downey. I thank you Mark for this beautiful blessing and, in turn, send it along to all my friends: Looking at the beautiful photos, I am reminded of a wonderful vacation that Quint and I took to Ireland a few years ago. It's a beautiful country and I got an answer to why the green grass is so vibrant and emerald colored. Supposedly it's because of the high level of minerals in the soil, most particularly calcium. And that's one of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth sends here pregnant horses to Ireland to deliver. Munching on good Irish green grass makes for healthy bones for the baby horse in the mom's womb, and also when the little baby horse starts to grow and develop. The grass really is emerald colored. They aren't just kididng.

Ready for a little humor? This comes from my friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO:

Billy Graham was returning to Charlotte after a speaking engagement and when his
Plane arrived there was a limousine there to transport him to his home.

As he prepared to get into the limo, he stopped and spoke to the driver.

'You know' he said, 'I am 87 years old and I have never

Driven a limousine. Would you mind if I drove it for a while?'

The driver said,

'No problem. Have at it.'

Billy gets into the driver's seat and they head off
Down the highway.
A short distance away
Sat a rookie State Trooper operating his first speed trap.

The long black limo went by him doing 70 in a 55 mph zone.

The trooper pulled out
And easily caught the limo
And he got out of his patrol car to begin the procedure.
The young trooper walked up to the driver's door
And when the glass
Was rolled down,
He was surprised to see
Who was driving.

He immediately excused himself and went back to his car
And called his supervisor.

He told the supervisor,
'I know we are supposed
To enforce the law....
But I also know that
Important people are
Given certain courtesies.
I need to know what
I should do because
I have stopped a
Very important person.'

The supervisor asked,
'Is it the governor?'

The young trooper said,
'No, he's more important
Than that.'

The supervisor said,
'Oh, so it's the president.'

The young trooper said,
'No, he's even more
Important than that.'

The supervisor finally asked,

'Well then, who is it?'

The young trooper said,

'I think it's Jesus,
Because he's got Billy Graham for a chauffeur!'

Smile - God loves you! I ask the Lord to bless you, as I pray for you today;
To guide you and protect you, as you go along your way
God's love is always with you, God's promises are true.

And when you give God all your cares, believe with all your might that God will see you through.

March 16, 2012

I see a lot of anxious people who come for counseling. And even though anxious people want very much to not be anxious anymore, they resist doing the very thing that un-anxious people know all about. That is, un-anxious people live their lives on a foundation of faith. Christ lives in their hearts. The Holy Spirit is used as a daily ever-ready counselor.

In going down the list of 100 Questions That Jesus Asked, I come to Luke 12:26 which asks: If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?

It's a humbling thought that we don't  have all that much control over the external events of our lives. For instance, there's that old Liar, Satan, who likes to poke his nose into every facet of our business. He'd like to think we're easy pickings for his nasty little harvest. And beware that you say such things as, "I'd give anything ..." Satan is the one who will seize that opportunity and yes, he can grant your wishes, too. Many times he does. Then he comes back for payment from you a nickel at a time.

You want wealth? Satan will give it to you. Then what? How many lives have been ruined by winning the lottery? But you say you'd like to just try it? Don't bother. Satan doesn't play fair. He wants to own you, lock stock and barrel.

The Lord, on the other hand, says, Do my work and I will prosper you. God is not against prosperity. It's not money that gets people in trouble. Rather, it's the love of moneythat leads to sin. The love of money leads to greed and corruption. People who are thousandaires strive to become millionaires. Millionaires strive to become billionaires. No matter how weather they are, they are never satisfied with what they have. Prosperity, on the other hand, comes with contentment.

When we are prosperous we thank the Lord that we have enough to spare and some left to share.

Lots of people are anxious about money because they have this idea that they want more and more and more, and never realizing that they don't have enough, and probably will never have enough to suit them.

But money isn't the only thing that causes so much anxiety. It's the fear that we're never going to be in control of situations or events in our lives.

When you look at your life, what is it that you think you do have control over? Your children? Your addicted spouse? Your job? Your ability to drive down the street and not have an accident? Your shopping for food and making the assumption that the food hasn't been tampered with by an idiot who has figured out a way to slip a poison into your food without it being detected until you get sick and are rushed to a hospital? Or you order and egg at a restaurant and get a dose of salmonella.

How's that control thing working out for you?

But here's what you do. First of all, get down on your knees and pray to God. Pray to Jesus Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and help you figure things out better. God likes our prayers better when we are reverent, I've found. That's why kneeling is best; it's humbling.

Don't want to do that? Well, you don't have to. Life can continue the way it's been going for you if you are filled with fears and anxieties. But if you want your life to change, let Jesus Christ into your heart. He has solutions for you that you can't even imagine.

He's the Master of the universe and it's Jesus Christ who is the agent of change in your life, not you.

March 15, 2012

Oh my, what a beautiful day we had today. It warmed up to a perfect 74 degrees. Soft, gentle breezes. Then there was this dark, ugly row of clouds that I had my eye on as I drove to work. It was about twenty miles away. Never did get a drop of rain. The clouds scooted east and stayed out of my way. The storm must have hit Detroit. I saw some pretty ugly video of tornadoes over there late this afternoon. Lots of damage and rubble. Hope there were no casualties.

On another subject, I have been thinking about compassion a lot these days. The people who are able to express and share it with others are so welcome in my world. Here's the deal. We all have to fashion our responses to other people similarly to what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would do.

Compassion and gentle tenderness. And love and kindness. And helping one another.

This comes from good friend Shirley all the way from Arizona:

This  is SIMPLY AWESOME!I’ve never seen this before! Whoever put “The Resume of
Jesus Christ” together is surelya  blessing to us all! Please share it!  The last
sentence says it  all...
The  Resume of Jesus  Christ
Address:  Ephesians  1:20
Phone:  Romans  10:13
Website:  The Bible . Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and  Jesus
My  name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent  you my resume because
I'm seeking the top  management position in your heart. Please consider  my
accomplishments as set forth in my  resume.
I  founded the earth and established the heavens, (See  Proverbs  3:19)
I  formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis  2:7) 
I  breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis  2:7)   
I  redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians  3:13)   
The  blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life  through me, (See
Galatians  3:14)   
Occupational  Background    
I've  only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49  ).   
I've  never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or  disrespectful.   
My  employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See  Matthew 3:15  -17)   
Skills  Work Experiences   
Some  of my skills and work experiences include: empowering  the poor to be poor no
more, healing the broken hearted,  setting the captives free, healing the sick,
restoring  sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are  bruised, (See
Luke  4:18).   
I  am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who  listen to me shall dwell
safely and shall not fear evil,  (See Proverbs 1:33  ).   
Most  importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to  cleanse you of your
sins, (See I John  1:7-9)   
Educational  Background   
I  encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge,  wisdom and understanding,
(See Proverbs  2:6).   
In  me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,  (See Colossians  2:3).
My  Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a  lamp unto your feet and a
light unto your path, (See  Psalms  119:105).   
I  can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See  Psalms  44:21).   
Major  Accomplishments   
I  was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting  of all times, (See
Genesis 1:26  ).   
I  laid down my life so that you may live, (See II  Corinthians 5:15  ).   
I  defeated the arch enemy of God and mankind and made a  show of them openly, (See
Colossians 2:15  ).   
I've  miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised  the  dead!   
There  are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention  here. You can read
them on my website, which is located  at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an
Internet  connection or computer to access my  website.  
Believers  and followers worldwide will testify to my divine  healing, salvation,
deliverance, miracles, restoration  and supernatural  guidance.  
In  Summation  
Now  that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the  only candidate uniquely
qualified to fill this vital  position in your heart. In summation, I will properly
direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you  into everlasting life, (See
John 6:47 ). When can I  start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15  ).  
Send  this resume to everyone you know,
you never know who 
may have an opening!
Thanks  for your help.  

'Nuff said.

March 14, 2012

I just got this link from my friend in the Quad Cities area in northern Illinois. It's an eagle mom sitting on her nest. And the article points out that the nest if seven feet in diameter!

Got this from Mary, a friend who lives in Springfield. It comes to her from an attorney. And just an aside, when your credit card is stolen, you do know that you have to file the report in the police department where the fraud/theft took place, don't you? There's lot of good advice here and I thank you, Mary, for sending this. I'm going to write "photo ID required" on each card as I receive new ones. That's a great idea!

All Credit Card Users Advice
- Tel Numbers

Advice for all credit card users posted by Bluwolf at Caps Corner
Sunday morning 03/11/2012
bluwolf] Read this and make a copy
for your files in case you need to refer to it
someday. Maybe we should all
take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent
the following out to the
employees in his company:

1.Do not sign the back of your credit cards.
Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'

2. When you are writing checks to pay
on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the
'For' line. Instead, just put the last four
numbers. The credit card company
knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it
passes through all the check processing
channels won't have access to it.

3.Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If
you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO
Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!)
You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get

Place the contents of your wallet on photocopy machine. Do both sides of each
license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of
the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in
a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here
or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in
stealing a Name, address,Social Security number, credit cards..
Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my
wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive
monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line
approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my
driving record information online, and more.

But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:
5.We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately.
But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you
know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.
6.. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc.,
were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a
first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). But here's what is
perhaps most important of all: (I never even thought to do this.)

Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud
alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had
never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an
application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means
any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they
have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I
was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had
been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves'
purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no
additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this
weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their
Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about
your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax:

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271
We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along
just about everything. If you are willing to pass this information along, it
could really help someone that you care about.

March 13, 2012

It has been a really long day at an all day board meeting for Lutheran Women's Missionary League (LWML). The location of the meeting is some 95 miles from home. We passed a resolution for mission grants in the amount of $75,000.

The women of the LWML are amazing. They collect small amounts of change on a regular basis and add them all together and pretty soon, there are thousands of dollars in our district, and almost two million at the national level. Then the money is sent all around the world to help feed hungry children, start new churches, help church workers go to school, and a wide variety of projects that we receive.

One of the member groups, called Societies, is finishing up some 170 quilts they have been making this winter. Another group, from my zone, has made 127 quilts. These quilts will be sent to Lutheran World Relief and shipped to people around the world wherever they are needed.

It's a long day to meet for quarterly board meetings but it's refreshing to partner with so many other women of faith who share a single commitment to help make the world a better place to live in.

We had a mission pastor speak at our church last Sunday and he tells of the horrible poverty in Central America. Did you know that there are children who do not have clothes to wear. And they eat maybe once every two or three days?

Why aren't more people on fire with a passion to join in a partnership with churches that are working hard in these poverty-stricken countries? These are the groups that make sure almost 100% of any money that's collected goes right where it's needed. And much of that money is spent distributing the goods that are collected.

Pray for the hungry and the naked children who live in squalor and poverty.

God bless you, each and every one.

March 11, 2012

Today is the day when it feels like we've moved into another time zone -- one just to the west of us because the sun stays up longer. ha ha

My dear friend Joyce sent me this link to a video that is nothing short of adorable.

It's about a mother black bear and her three newborn cubs getting tagged in the wilds of Ontario. The commentator is pretty funny too. Thank you, Joyce.

Here's another one from Joyce. It's about a young woman who's talking to her grandpa about the ipad she gave him. He assures her that he's using it and knows all about the apps, etc. Watch this:

 -- See, don't tell fibs.

And this comes from my cousin, Frances, in southern Texas:

How children perceive their Grandparents......

1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful
eyes of her young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before.
After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one
said, "But Grandma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I
will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about
kissing the toilet paper good-bye....

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday.
He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 80. My grandson was quiet
for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into
old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she
heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience
grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into
their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left
the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice,
"Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own
childhood was like. "We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing
made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our
pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods."
The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said,
"I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you
know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I
said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's
word processor. She told him she was writing a story.
"What's it about?" he asked.
"I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I
decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it
was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I
continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, "Grandma, I think
you should try to figure out some of these colors yourself!"

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept
the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky
insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I
did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are
coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm
not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised "Mine says
I'm 4 to 6."

10.. A second grader came home from school and said to her
grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies
today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep
her cool. "That's interesting." she said... "How do you make babies?"
"It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant,"
said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder
pregnant." The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you
know what pregnant means?" she asked.
"Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one
day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the
fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the
dog's duties.
"They use him to keep crowds back," said one child.
"No," said another. "He's just for good luck.."
A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she
said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said,
"she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her.
Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things,
but I don't get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

15. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks
and they blame their dog.

March 7, 2012

Got this earnest prayer from a dear friend, Diane, who lives in Hidalgo:

Hi Lord, its me.*   *We are getting older and things are getting bad here.*
*Gas prices are too high, no jobs, food and heating costs too high.* *I
know some have taken you out of our schools, government and even* *Christmas,
but Lord I'm asking you to come back* *and re-bless America .* *We really
need you!*   *There are more of us who want you than those who don't!* *Thank
You Lord,* *I Love you.*   *If you agree, send it on---if not just delete.*
*Only you & the Lord will know.*
*"Life without God is** **like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point."*

As a side note, there is a prayer group that stops to pray at 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. The prayer is for America to return to its Christian roots and rid Washington, D. C. of all corrupt politicians. People all over the country are joining together in this common prayer. Join in if you can.

Last night was Ladies Aid at church. What a privilege it is to meet with other women of like Christian values and to share God's word in a Bible Study, then our hostess for the evening, Melissa, made a wonderful spread of fresh fruit. She also made cookies but I didn't have any. It seems that sugar has become my enemy since learning that I have gout that settled in my lower back and my right thumb. The medicine that I now take is for people who specifically took Cytoxan as a chemo treatment for breast cancer. So, no sugary desserts. But then, since Quint is diabetic, Splenda has become my friend. And I can also get chocolate covered cherries from Figi's and have them shipped to me. Yummmmmmy!

It's really windy here. So bad that the windmill has blown over twice in the last day or so. I also heard that there were 90 mph gusts in Las Vegas. Not that anybody who goes to Las Vegas goes outside to stand on the sidewalks to enjoy the weather. I mean, they don't even have clocks in the casinos. They'd probably like it if people took their watches off, but that's not happening much either.

Got this from both cousins, Mark and Alan, so you know it's serious stuff:

  Seems Reasonable 

            Can't eat pork,

            Swine flu...

            Can't eat chicken,

            Bird flu.

            Can't eat Beef, Mad cow


            Can't eat eggs, Salmonella.

            Can't eat fish, heavy metal poisons in their waters.

            Can't eat fruits and veggies E coli, insecticides and herbicides.














            I believe that leaves Chocolate and ice cream!!!!!!!!


            Remember - - - 'STRESSED'

            spelled backwards!



March 5, 2012

Got this poignant story from cousin Mark. Enjoy! Gratitude is a acquired pleasure.Have a great day full of love and happiness. 

Change Your Thinking

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain
the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement
in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass
the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world
would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young
lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city
skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the
other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye
as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the
lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to
the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was
comfortable, she left him alone. 

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the
real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'


There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

And these quips from "kids in church" comes from dear friend, Cody, in Warrensburg, MO:

A little boy was in a relative's wedding.
As he was coming down the aisle, he would take two steps,
stop, and turn to the crowd.
    While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar.
     So it went, step, step, ROAR, step, step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle.
As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard
by the time he reached the pulpit.
When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said,
"I was being the Ring Bear." 

One Sunday in a   Midwest City ,
a young child was "acting up" during the morning worship hour.
The parents did their best to maintain some sense of order in the pew
but were losing the battle.
   Finally, the father picked the little fellow up
and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out.
     Just before reaching the safety of the foyer,
the little one called loudly to the congregation,
"Pray for me! Pray for me!" 

One particular four-year old prayed,
"And forgive us our trash baskets
as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."

A little boy was overheard praying:
"Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it.
I'm having a real good time like I am."

A Sunday School teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church
service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"
      One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping." 
      A little boy opened the big and old family Bible with fascination,
looking at the old pages as he turned them.
     Then something fell out of the Bible.
He picked it up and looked at it closely.
It was an old leaf from a tree that has been pressed in between the pages.
"Mama, look what I found," the boy called out.
"What have you got there, dear?" his mother asked.
      With astonishment in the young boy's voice he answered,
"I think it's Adam 's suit". 
          The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike,
and as he preached, he moved briskly about the platform,
jerking the mike cord as he went.
     Then he moved to one side,
getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again.
     After several circles and jerks,
a little girl in the third pew leaned toward her mother and whispered,
"If he gets loose, will he hurt us?"

Six-year old Angie , and her four-year old brother, Joel , were sitting together in
Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud.
Finally, his big sister had had enough.
"You're not supposed to talk out loud in church."
"Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked.
Angie pointed to the back of the church and said,
"See those two men standing by the door?
They're hushers."

  My grandson was visiting one day when he asked ,
"Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?"
      I mentally polished my halo, while I asked,
"No, how are we alike?"
"You're both old," he replied.

A ten-year old, under the tutelage of her grandmother,
was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible.
      Then, one day, she floored her grandmother by asking,
"Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus ? The virgin Mary or the  King James Virgin ?"

 A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments.
     They were ready to discuss the last one.
     The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was.
     Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted,
"Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor's wife."

March 3, 2012

Please lift your hearts in prayer for the victims of this horrible rash of tornados today. These are killer winds. In addition to fatalities reported, there's dangers with houses being lifted off their foundations. It's a good night to stay in, be safe, and pray that God will embrace all those people who are suffering with heavy losses. Harrisburg, in southern Illinois, was particularly hit, it seems to me. But there are other areas, with just as deadly outbreaks. I heard on one of the news channels that this year would be as bad as the tornado season in 1978.

We pray steadfastly, also, that our nation will return to its Christian roots on which it was founded.

I look forward to going to church on Sunday and hearing a message from the Gospel lesson that, at least in part, says For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. March 8:38

I think there are a whole bunch of people out there who have kind of postponed thinking about what they're going to do with all this Christianity stuff. "I'll worry about all that when I get older," they seem to think.

Oh yeah?

Well, think of Andrew Breitbart, who now lays cold and quiet at the tender age of 43. He was one of my favorite reads. He was the kind of journalist that Pulitzer hoped to reward for courage through the printed word. I pray that he was okay with God before he took his last breath. I have a feeling that he was.

But what about all the other people out there? You know the ones -- they don't want the children to pray in school. They don't want to say the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. They don't want to hear anything that sounds like Christian talk. Woe be to those who turn their backs on God. This verse in Mark tells them exactly what God will do in retaliation. And don't think for one minute that they can appease God with some half-witted excuse like, "I didn't mean it. You know I wasn't serious, don't you?"

It's time to pray like you mean it. It's time to spend your days thinking about God. Oh, you don't have to jump up out of your chair screaming "Hallalujah." But you can think about the Great and Wonderful Creator of the Universe who allows you to take each breath throughout every day of your life. Be thankful for that.

I have always wondered about the people who want to go to heaven. Don't they realize that they will spend their time praising and worshiping God? If they are looking forward to the time when they are able to do that, wouldn't you think they could spend more time worshiping and praising God every day, in some way?

There are so many things a person can do to worship God. He sees us when we are kind to others. He sees us when we are compassionate and generous. He sees us when we try with all our heart to lead a life as free as sin as we possibly can - not that we'll ever be totally sin-free, what being human and all. But we ought to try as best as we can to avoid temptation and sin in our lives.

God likes it when we strive to do that.

February 29, 2012

Questions to ask yourself --

Can you tell the difference between being tested and being tempted?

Easy answer.

When you're tempted, it involved a sin of some sort.

Being tested is a form of discipline. Discipline makes you grow in faith. It enriches you and tempers your faith into a tool as strong as steel.

The passage that started all this thinking about being tempted was from the Epistle lesson a week or so ago. It's from the Book of James, and says: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. -- James 1:13-14

So if you feel like you're being tempted, who do you think might be the culprit?

Another easy answer -- Satan himself.

Satan is the author of evil. Not God. God does not tempt us, Satan does. Temptations involve sins. Testing involves love through discipline.

This notion that there is a person named Satan reared its head out on the campaign trail a few weeks back. Santorum made the comment that "...Satan had his eye on Washington." What a firestorm that set off. Here came the spindoctors who tried to make Santorum look like a religious kook. Until some organization did a survey and found that 70% of Americans believe -- truly believe -- that Satan really does exist.

Remember way back in Sunday School days hearing that the best trick Satan has going for him is that he convinces people that he does not exist. Well, that doesn't happen in the United States.

We're a Christian nation and we know he's real. And his favorite game is Gotcha!

If you want an inkling about who Satan is, take a look at the Book of Job.

In the very first chapter, in verse 6, we read: One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, "Where have you come from?"

Satan answered the Lord, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."

Then follows a conversation recorded between the Lord and Satan. So if the Lord recognizes Satan and calls him by name, who are we to even think that he does not exist?

Rest safely in the arms of the Lord, my friends, and pray fervently for his protection from Satan and all that is evil.

February 28, 2012

Before I go off in a different direction, you have to watch this video of the Daytona 500. Talk about races, burning cars, fast bumps, and one big brewhaha. One spill took out six cars:

Here's a video that is precious. It's about Pastor Ed Dobson, who developed ALS. He talks about his new role as a different kind of pastor now that he no longer has an active church.

Pastor Rensner talked about how come God, who has the power to stop the storms in our lives, doesn't do that. Pastor said that sometimes God calms the person going through the storm rather than calming the storm. And why would He do that? His reasons are his own and they are not my ways.

I am working on a thesis of the difference between being tested and being tempted. I hope to have it finished by this time tomorrow, so I hope you'll come back to read it.

Blessings, prayers and hugs,

February 27, 2012

This story comes from Connie today. She says it will give you the chills....... GOOD chills. See if you agree.

A young man had been to Wednesday Night Bible
Study.  The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice

The young man couldn't help but wonder, 'Does God still speak to people?'

After service, he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed
the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started  driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, 'God...If you still speak
to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.'

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop
and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, 'God is that you?' He didn't get a reply and
started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God,
and how little Samuel ran to Eli. 'Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.' It didn't seem like too hard
a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the
gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, 'Turn Down that street.' This is crazy he thought, and drove on past the intersection.

Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street .

At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh.

Half jokingly, he said out loud, 'Okay, God, I will.'

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop He pulled over
to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi- commercial area of town. It wasn't
the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were
already in bed.

Again, he sensed something, 'Go and give the milk to the people in the house across
the street.' The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the
people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door
and then sat back in the car seat.

'Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going
to be mad and I will look stupid.' Again, he felt like he should go and give the

Finally, he opened the door, 'Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I
will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want
to be obedient. I guess that will count for something, but if they don't answer
right away, I am out of here.'

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A
man's voice yelled
out, 'Who is it? What do you want?' Then the door opened before the young man could
get away.

The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out
of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some
stranger standing on his doorstep. 'What is it?'

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, 'Here, I brought this to you.' The man
took the milk and rushed down a hallway.

Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man
was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming
down his face.

The man began speaking and half crying, 'We were just praying. We had
some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our
baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.'

His wife in the kitchen yelled out, 'I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you
an Angel?'

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him
and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears
were streaming down his face.
He knew that God still answers prayers. 

This is so true. Sometimes it's the simplest things that God asks us to do that
cause us, if we are obedient to what He's asking, to be able to hear His voice
more clear than ever. Please listen, and obey ! He will bless you (and the world).
Phil 4:13 

February 25 -- 26, 2012

I'm adding this video at the front. It's from my cousin Mark and it's a video showing an owl coming in for a landing on a security tower. It's unbelievable footage showing the owl "putting on the brakes," so to speak. And look at those wing maneuvers! It's only a minute long, but fascinating.

Beautiful photograph by Paul Bunyard, set to music -- called Chasing the Light. It's a four and a half minute respite!

One of my favorite videos -- this is a dog in a contest -- apparently the judges don't give him very high marks because he can't seem to get it right. But then, just wait until the amazing end!

This is a video (1:40) of cranes flying over Venice, Italy. Fascinating photography of the landscape below, but also of the cranes communicating with one another while flying:

Here's a video, also from that shows a little bird coming into a bluegrass festival and sitting on the lead singer's guitar. Too funny!

Now, before you watch this next one, please realize that dogs are not supposed to stand upright and walk, much less dance. But here's a cute little dog doing a Paso Doble. Yes, dancing:

Danica Patrick crashed intot he wall at Daytona today:

Oh dear. This video shows someone getting creamed by an oncoming traffic. Just another reason why I don't do any road ranging during ice and snow and black ice weather:

Here's a recently discovered amateur video of the shuttle that exploded. After watching it, the videographers didn't really understand what had happened. It seemed like they thought the crash was the booster rocket separating.

And this final video is about a man named Omar and his seeing eye dog Salty. Omar was working on the 71st floor of the World Trade Center when the building was hit. Watch this video of this remarkable dog rescuing and saving his best friend, Omar:

February 24, 2012

You do know that 2012 is a leap year, don't you? Just thought I'd bring that up, in case you overlooked the fact that February has 29 days in it this year.

So it's Friday night here at home. It's cold outside with the wind whipping around the corner of the house. And we're about ready to settle down to a good old mystery on Netflix streaming and Quint asks from the kitchen, "You want popcorn with that?" Who could say no? Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks.

I made 3-2-1 cakes for dessert. If you remember, I have a big plastic bag into which I mixed together a sugar-free yellow cake mix and an angel food cake mix. Really mix them well. Then, whenever you want a quick little cake, you mix 3 tablespoons of this cake mix and 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave that for 1 minute and you have this unbelievable little cake.

Well, I got fancy, I did. I put about 1/2 tablespoon of margarine and 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar blend (with Splenda). Microwave that for about 5 seconds until the butter is melted. Stir that up and put in 1/2 tablespoon of crushed pineapple. Then add the mixed up 32-1 cake mix and microwave that for 1 minute. Yummmy!

I'm going to see if sliced strawberries in the bottom of my little dish (which is about the size of a ramekin), then put the 3-2-1 mixed up cake mix and see if it passes for a strawberry short cake. It might. Or it might be close enough to pass for a suitable substitute.

Changing the subject, the weather here has taken a dive down to 36 degrees. This time yesterday it was almost 60 degrees. For those of you who just joined us from the United Arab Emirates, it probably doesn't matter that much. You have heat all year round. But you also have sand. I don't know if I could really get used to living on a sand hill. It just looks - well, dry.

But since readers are from all over the world, it's probably a curiosity for some who never experience snow. (You're not missing much at all.)

And as a side note, I'm so glad that you liked the blog from a few days ago about the man praying the Lord's Prayer. It's unbelievable how many emails I've gotten in favor of this prayer. And how it's made you pause and think about what you're saying when you pray. You know, God really is right around you every minute of the day. And he cares about you, so keep on praying.

My prayer for you is that you will be blessed with many wonderful people and opportunities that God will put in your life today. Enjoy each and every one of them.

February 23, 2012

Last night was Ash Wednesday service at church. It marks a time when we begin a remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection three days later at Easter. It's a somber time and as I sat in church and looked around me, I saw the usual faithful worshipers. I felt closer to them than I do at other times of the year. The imposition of ashes reminds us that we came from dust and it is to dust that we will return. In the meantime, we are to live our lives as Christians and walk through life behaving as if -- if Christ were right beside us, visibly point out pitfalls,

... as if Christ were steering us around the misdeeds we might otherwise get ourselves into,

... as if we remember that we are never alone,

... as if we realize consciously that Christ is watching us,

... as if we remember that it is Christ who sits at the right hand of God interceding for us on our behalf,

... as if we remember, also, that it is Christ who will judge us when we catch up with eternity,

... as if we always remember that we are to pray to God, our heavenly father, and we can only get there through Jesus Christ,

... as if we want more than anything to please God and Jesus Christ,

and finally, as if we are truly sorry for all our sins.

This isn't one of the questions that is listed as having been asked by Jesus, but sometimes, when I do really silly stuff, I have this vision of Jesus asking, "What in the world did you do that for?" It helps me not to do things anymore that I really don't want to do and know that I shouldn't do.

February 21, 2012

Did you feel the earthquake this morning? It registered 4.0 on the Richter Scale. I'll have to tell Quint that it wasn't the wind that was rattling the windows that woke him at 4:00 am, but rather, the temblor shifting around close to the New Madrid fault line. Here's a map that shows exactly where the earthquake was:

But if you really want to see something, take a look see at this map of the United States -- 806 earthquakes in the last 24 hours. California and Alaska are always feeling a lot of shaking going on.

Stay safe out there, my friends.

Changing the subject, back to the List of 100 Questions that Jesus Asked:

Question #79 -- How is it that you seek praise from one another and not seek the praise that comes from God? John 5:44

Walk through this question with me for a moment. Remember the last time you went to get a new outfit? You found something that you thought would look good on you. You looked in the 3-way mirror to make sure the outfit draped across your body just the way you wanted it to. And why is that?

Simple. When we buy something new to wear, we're thinking of what others will think of it. Then they'll tell us how nice it looks.

We'll get praise.

But hold on here for a moment. The question that Jesus is asking is how come you're thinking about what others think?

How come you aren't all that concerned about what God thinks of you?

I think there might be a couple of answers to this question.

One of the thoughts I have is that because we don't physically see God, it's sometimes hard to imagine that he's right here, right now, in this very room, reading over your shoulder. Maybe watching you curiously to see how you get through your day. But, our humanness sometimes fails us spiritually because we aren't always consciously thinking that God is present everywhere at the same time.

How can that be? I don't know the answer to that. My brain can't get wrapped around that possibility, but I know it's true because the Bible says so.

I know that after Quint and I finish our breakfast and we join hands for our daily prayers, God is in the room with us. And I also know that it pleases God when his children talk to him. That's what we do. We let him know what we're thankful for because he does so much for us. We wouldn't have a thread to wear if it weren't for God's grace. Oh, I don't mean that he puts a hanger with clothes on it in our closet. But he makes provisions for us to get the things we need as we go through our lives. And it's been like that since the day we were born.

God has always been a stellar provider. He has never failed to provide us with what we need.

By the same token, he puts situations in our paths to see what we're going to do about them. He brings people to us to see how we're going to react to them.

We need to always think about what we are doing so that we live our lives in ways that please God.

To me, that's a lot more important than whether someone else likes a dress I bought.

I care what God thinks. I most definitely care what he thinks. And I hope that anything and everything I do in life tickles him. He is not a person I ever want to be displeased with at me!

February 20, 2012

And who couldn't use a bit of humor in these harried political days? Got this one from my cousin Al in Virginia Beach:

A female journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going
to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

      So she went to check it out. She went to the Western Wall and there he was,
walking slowly up to the holy site.

      She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave,
using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

      "Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith. What's your name?

      "Morris Feinberg," he replied.

      "Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?" 

      "For about 60 years."

      "60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

      "I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims."

      "I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."

      "I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults and to
love their fellow man."

      "I pray that politicians tell us the truth and put the interests of the people
ahead of their own interests."

      The reporter then asked, "How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"

      "Like I'm talking to a wall."  

And our good friend Joyce sends us this cost analysis of how much it costs to run a Volt. Can you tell that Joyce is a banker by trade?

Subject: Cost to operate a Chevy Volt

Take a few minutes to read thru this analysis. This is truly an economic failure,
until technology improves to change these costs! This is what the Obama
Administration is pushing in his new budget! Just another "cash sink hole", from our
taxes, and huge debt!
Eric Bolling (Fox Business Channel's Follow the Money) test drove the Chevy Volt at
the invitation of General Motors.

For four days in a row, the fully charged battery lasted only 25 miles before the
Volt switched to the reserve gasoline engine.

Eric calculated the car got 30 mpg including the 25 miles it ran on the battery.

So, the range including the 9 gallon gas tank and the 16 kwh battery is
approximately 270 miles.

It will take you 4 1/2 hours to drive 270 miles at 60 mph. Then add 10 hours to
charge the battery and you have a total trip time of 14.5 hours.

In a typical road trip your average speed (including charging time) would be 20 mph. 

According to General Motors, the Volt battery hold 16 kwh
of electricity. It takes a full 10 hours to charge a drained battery. 

The cost for the electricity to charge the Volt is never mentioned so I looked up
what I pay for electricity. 

I pay approximately (it varies with amount used and the seasons) $1.16 per kwh. 

16 kwh x $1.16 per kwh = $18.56 to charge the battery. 

$18.56 per charge divided by 25 miles = $0.74 per mile to operate the Volt using the

Compare this to a similar size car with a gasoline engine only that gets 32 mpg. 

$3.19 per gallon divided by 32 mpg = $0.10 per mile. 

The gasoline powered car cost about $15,000 while the Volt costs $46,000......... 

So Government wants us to pay 3 times as much, for a car that costs more that 7
times as much to run, and takes 3 times longer to drive across country..... REALLY

- I have a question. After the battery just up and dies, how much will it cost to destroy it? I doubt if the batteries will be allowed in landfill. I mean, if you can't even put an old, dead cell phone in the landfill, what are you going to do with the Volt battery?

But what if you keep the Volt and decide to replace the battery. I read somewhere a couple of years ago that the battery alone cost $25,000. Can that be right? Does anybody know? If you do could you shoot me an email. Please.

And this from my dear cousin Frances in Broaddus, Texas:

                  We need to show more sympathy for these people.
                  * They travel miles in the heat.
                  * They risk their lives crossing a border.
                  * They don't get paid enough wages.
                  * They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.
                  * They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a
different language.
                  * They rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day
~ every day..

                  I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans ~ 

                  I'm talking about our troops! 

                  Doesn't it seem strange that so many are willing to lavish all
kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our

                  Wouldn't it be great if we took the $360,000,000,000 (that's
billion) we spend on illegals every year, and spend it on our

February 17, 2012

This is one of the best versions of an interactive Lord's Prayer that I've ever read. It's sent to us from my dear friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO. I do pray that it will enrich your life today and that you will think about this when you pray the Lord's Prayer:

THE LORD'S PRAYER- Rather cleverly done. This is in two parts,
The prayer(in blue type) and GOD(in red type)-in response.
It is very, very good.
"Our Father Who Art In Heaven.
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
But -- you called ME!
Called you?
No, I didn't call you..
I'm praying.
Our Father who art in Heaven.

There -- you did it again!
Did what?
Called ME.
You said,
"Our Father who art in Heaven"
Well, here I am..
What's on your mind?
But I didn't mean anything by it.
I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day.
I always say the Lord's Prayer.
It makes me feel good,
Kind of like fulfilling a duty.
Well, all right.
Go on.
Okay, Hallowed be thy name .
Hold it right there.
What do you mean by that?
By what?
By "Hallowed be thy name"?
It means, it means .. . Good grief, 
I don't know what it means.
How in the world should I know?
It's just a part of the prayer.
By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Hey, that makes sense.. 
I never thought about what 'hallowed' meant before.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing?  Why, nothing, I guess.
I just think it would be kind of neat if you got
Control, of everything down here like you have up
There. We're kinda in a mess down here you know.
Yes, I know;
But, have I got control of you?
Well, I go to church..
That isn't what I asked you.
What about your bad temper?
You've really got a problem there, you know.
And then there's the way you spend
Your money -- all on yourself.
And what about the kind of books you read ?
Now hold on just a minute!
Stop picking on me!
I'm just as good as some of the rest
Of those People at church!
Excuse ME..
I thought you were praying
For my will to be done..
If that is to happen,
It will have to start with the ones
Who are praying for it.
Like you -- for example ....
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups.
Now that you mention it,
I could probably name some others.
So could I.
I haven't thought about it very much until now,
But I really would like to cut out some of those things.
I would like to, you know, be really free.
Now we're getting somewhere.
We'll work together -- You and ME.
I'm proud of You.
Look, Lord, if you don't mind,
I need to finish up here.
This is taking a lot longer than it usually does.
Give us this day, our daily bread.
You need to cut out the bread..
You're overweight as it is.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this?
Here I was doing my religious duty,
And all of a sudden you break in
And remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing.
You just might get what you ask for.
Remember, you called ME -- and here I am.
It's too late to stop now.
Keep praying.  ( pause .. . )
Well, go on.
I'm scared to.
Scared?  Of what?
I know what you'll say.
Try ME.
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
What about Ann?
See? I knew it!
I knew you would bring her up!
Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories.
She never paid back the money she owes me..
I've sworn to get even with her!
But -- your prayer --
What about your prayer?
I didn't -- mean it..
Well, at least you're honest.
But, it's quite a load carrying around all that
bitterness and resentment isn't it?
Yes, but I'll feel better as soon as I get even with her.
Boy, have I got some plans for her.
She'll wish she had never been born.
No, you won't feel any better.
You'll feel worse.
Revenge isn't sweet.
You know how unhappy you are --
Well, I can change that.
You can? How?
Forgive Ann.
Then, I'll forgive you;
And the hate and the sin,
will be Ann's problem -- not yours.
You will have settled the problem
as far as you are concerned.
Oh, you know, you're right.
You always are.
And more than I want revenge,
I want to be right with You . . (sigh).
All right, all right . .
I forgive her.
There now!
How do you feel?
Hmmmm. Well, not bad.
Not bad at all!
In fact, I feel pretty great!
You know, I don't think I'll go to bed uptight tonight.
I haven't been getting much rest, you know.
Yeah, I know.
But, you're not through with your prayer, are you?
Go on.
Oh, all right.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Good! Good! I'll do that.
Just don't put yourself in a place
where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
You know what I mean.
Yeah. I know..
Go ahead. Finish your prayer.
For Thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory forever.
Do you know what would bring me glory?
What would really make me happy?
No, but I'd like to know.
I want to please you now...
I've really made a mess of things.
I want to truly behave like Christ
I can see now how great that would be.
So, tell me .. . .
How do I make you happy?
YOU  just did".

February 15, 2012

Taking a break from the questions that Jesus asked, I have to share with you that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) took Secretary (Health and Human Services) Sebelius to task today about whether or not she had consulting with any bishops before drafting the contraceptive order for the White House. Her response was that she had not, but assumed that the folks over at the White House must have.

Well, that wasn't quite good enough to Hatch who then made the statement that he believed all religious organizations should be exempted from the contraception demand. (See article at:

There are several layers to this argument, if you ask me. One is that of whether you believe women ought to be able to buy contraceptives.

The other is a question of honoring all religions who are opposed to abortion and believe that abortion is about killing an unborn child. In that event, then the "morning after pill" would make the trip down that slippery slope.

Then there is the constitutional camp which is inhabited by people who believe that the government has no right in tampering with freedom of religion. Forcing organizations, whether directly with religious organizations, or imposing on the insurance companies who insure employees of religious organizations makes no difference. The question isn't about who pays for the contraceptives -- the religious organization or its insurance company. It's about whether the government has the right to mandate any such behavior.

Clearly there is not a lot of wiggle room with folks who believe strongly that they have a right to hold onto their religious beliefs without interference from the government. And yes, of course, the fed have overstepped its constitutional boundaries.

Bet this one makes it to the Supreme Court.

February 14, 2012

The next question that Jesus asked is in Mark 8:12 -- Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign?

This was when Jesus was meeting with the Pharisees and they wanted to test him. Guess they wanted to see if he could really perform some good magic tricks. They asked him in verse 11 for a sign from heaven. You know that Jesus must have been a bit perturbed because verse 12 starts out with Jesus sighing deeply.

Well, if you were the Son of God and you knew you could move a mountain if you just wanted to, wouldn't you get just a bit exasperated with people trying to put you on the spot all the time?

Why couldn't people just believe that Jesus was the Son of God? Would you? If you were expecting the promised Messiah to be more, well, kingly, would you still believe a person who arrived on the scene dressed in something that looked like a homespun robe? So he went around doing miracles. These were real miracles. They weren't magic signs that could be explained by a slight of hand.

No, no. Jesus healed the sick. He made the lame walk. He even touched the leper and made him clean. And he saved his best miracle to last when he raised a dead man back to life.

Was that sign enough?

Not really. Because the very idea that he had brought a man back to life was used to prosecute him.

If you were reading the Galilean Daily Chronicles and there was this banner headline about a dead man walking again, wouldn't you call to get a ticket to this man's next event?

Of course you would. And you'd probably try to get a front row seat so that when this guy Jesus asked if anyone in the audience would like to come down to the front and ask for anything they wanted, you'd hop on down there. What would you want? Win the lottery? Cure for your arthritis? A baby for your barren womb? A fairy tale, drop dead gorgeous superman for a husband? A shiny new Corvette to tool around the Galilean countryside? A big fancy yacht to troll around the Sea of Galilee, catching fish and stuff?

If you could have anything you wanted, what kind of a sign would satisfy you that Jesus is the true Son of God. In fact, he's the only Son of God.

Jesus must have grown weary of people who had to have this proof that he was who he said he was.

Do you think it's any different now -- 2,000+ years later? Aren't people still looking for a sign?

Can you just accept in your hearts that Jesus is Lord? No signs are needed for those who believe.

And for those who do not believe, there aren't enough signs in the whole world to bring the proof that they require.

It's all about faith. And believing.

February 13, 2012

I have my hands on a wonderful list called 100 Questions that Jesus Asked.

What a wonderful springboard for our conversations here on this thread.

Eventually I want to go all the way through the questions that Jesus asked. And the first one is from Matthew 6:27 -- Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?

My recent - and I call the last two years of my life as recent -- bout with breast cancer jumps up and out of the depths of that rusty barrel that houses my brain.

I will say that never during that entire ordeal did I feel desperate and anxious about living or dying. That was because of a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the verse quoted above. I know that somewhere in Jeremiah, there's a reference to the fact that God said he knew me when I was still in my mother's womb. In another verse way back there in the Old Testament, probably from a psalm, there's a reference to God knowing how many hairs I have on my head, and also how many days I will spend here on earth.

Some might view those cancers for both Quint and me as God specifically not answering our prayers. I take a counter view because we have both gone through that long, black tunnel of chemo. Radiation added for me. When we talked it through, all the way to the core, we came to understand that God had, in fact, answered our prayer. You see, at our age, if there was to be cancer, it was far better to get it out of the way, so to speak, before we got really old. Advanced age puts severe limitations on what chemo you can get and what you can't tolerate. We are blessed to have gone through all that and are now in remission. In fact, we just may be in better shape now than a lot of people who are incubating cancerous cells and don't know about it.

So, knowing that God knows all those details about my life, I have little to fear because I also know that he walks with me through all my days.

Besides, God doesn't seem to put the same sense of desperation on dying that we humans do. Perhaps that's because God thinks of death as the death of a soul. I figure that he's elated when a person's body dies because those persons get to come back home to be with him in heaven. Who could cry about that?

It doesn't mean we don't go through a grieving process when we lose our loved ones. And there might even be a few people who will be said when my creaky old bones end up in the fiery pits of a crematorium. But I hope they will be overjoyed when death finds me skipping through that tunnel that near-deathers describe.

After all, as Pastor Rensner says, "What are you going to do, threaten me with heaven?"

So, no worries. Enjoy each and every little sunbeam as you travel down the road of life. And get down on your knees and thank the good Lord above for all the blessings he has given you in this life, right now.

February 12, 2011

Navy Seal quote of the week

Dana Perrino ( Fox News) describing an interview she recently had with a Navy SEAL .
After discussing all the countries he had been sent to, she asked if they had to
learn several languages?

His reply:

"No ma'am, we don't go there to talk."

February 9, 2012

I almost ran over a hawk on the way home from work this afternoon. How could I ever explain how I could kill a bird on the wing! But sure enough, the silly thing flew right in front of me about a foot higher than the hood of the car. He got real close to the edge of the air.

That's Quint's reason for airline crashes. Planes crash when they go past the edge of the air.

Changing the subject, I'm making cookies for little kiddos at church. We have an after school program and offer the kiddos a snack when they get off the bus and come into the play area with tummies that have caved in from hunger. They get a half sandwich, a cookie and a piece of fruit. Then they go charging around the gym and burn it all off and go home starved for supped.

I'm making cookies from a cake mix. To do that, you out two eggs into 1/3 cup oil and mix well. Then, mix that into the dry cake mix. Makes a bit more than 2 dozen little cookies. The cookies are baked at 375 degrees for 6 - 8 minutes.

I got a confetti cake mix since little darlings adore confetti and sprinkles.

And I got this beautiful story from my cousin Mark:

Tell me this one doesn't put life in perspective.  

In Phoenix , Arizona , a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old son, who was
Dying of terminal leukemia.

Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of  determination.

Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all
his dreams. Now that was no longer possible.

The leukemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son's
dream to come true.

She took her son's hand and asked,

'Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted   to be once you grew up ?

Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life ?'

Mommy, 'I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.'

Mom smiled back and said, 'Let's see if we can make your wish
come true.'

Later that day she went to her local fire Department in Phoenix , Arizona, where she met   Fireman
Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix .

She explained her son's final wish and asked if it might be   possible to give her
6 year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, 'Look, we can do better than that. If you'll
have your son ready at seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll
make   him an honorary Fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire
station, eat with us,   go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards !

And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform
for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy   one   with the emblem of the
Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear
and rubber boots.'

'They're all manufactured right here in Phoenix , so we can get them fast.'  

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital
bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck.

Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it
back to the fire station. He was in heaven.

There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy
got to go out on all three calls.

He rode in the different fire engines, the Paramedic's' van,   and
even the fire chief's car. He was also videotaped for the local news program.

Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so
deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and
the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone, began to
call the family members to the hospital.

Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a Fireman, so
she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to
the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition..

The chief replied, 'We can do better than that. We'll be there in five minutes. Will
you please do me a favor ?

When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing,   will you announce
over the PA system that there is not a fire? 'It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the   window to his

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its
ladder up to Billy's third floor open window --------  

16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room!

With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and
told him how much they LOVED him.  

With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and
said, 'Chief, am I really a fireman now?'

'Billy, you are, and The Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand,' the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and said, 'I know, He's been
holding my hand all day, and the angels have been   singing.'

He closed his eyes one last time.  

February 8, 2012

So there's this mountain of mud sitting at the edge of the yard. It's the residue from the sewer line repair the other day. Rather than spread it out flat with the rest of the yard, we were told that the spring rains would pound it down so that the trench would eventually be filled in. Sounds reasonable to me, but I think I'll get out there with a rake one of these days, all of the same. Otherwise, I'm going to go out there in the next day or so and find a ski lift with very little people using the little mound for their winter fun.

It got cold in the last day or so. Even had a dusting of snow. We are woefully behind with our snowfall. According to the old wives' tale, since we had our first snowfall on the 27th of December, we can expect 27 snowfalls in total. Last night's dusting was only #4. Now, mind you, I don't mind not having 27 snowfalls. It's not like it's a goal or something.

Oh, another thing. Changing the subject, NASA says that the oceans are not rising, but rather, the level of water went down a bit. According to the weather/climate change/global warming gurus, weren't we told that because of global warming, the ice sheets would be melting and we'd have so much more water in the oceans that our eastern coast would be flooded. So how come the water level is going down? Faulty theory = flawed results. But then, just maybe because the Russians drilled a hole in the ice sheet in Antarctica to get to an underground lake, maybe water is draining down into the hole. Hey, it could happen!

Quint took me to lunch at Cracker Barrel today. When we were coming out to go back to the car, we noticed that there had been a bunch of pansies in bloom before they got frosted. Now, who would plant blooming pansies in the middle of winter? Sure enough, they got frostbit last night. I love the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that I'm back at Grandma Stubbe's boarding house in Paducah. Cracker Barrel's meatloaf tastes just like hers. Maybe they found her recipe somewhere. It's delicious. So is their Cream of Potato Soup which is my favorite soup anywhere.

And now my client has arrived for a session. I see her pulling into the driveway now.

February 6, 2012

Want the world to be a better place? Then do something. Think about joining the huge group of volunteers in America.

I know this is old data, but it's the source I found when I went looking. It's a research article on volunteerism in America written by Richard D. Young. He cited a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that says 59% of people in the United States who are 16 years old or older volunteered for an organization in some capacity. And that was for the year way back in 2001 to 2002. that was 27.6% of the American population.

Volunteers most often donate their time to religious organizations (33.9%). Second on the list is educational organizations who get 27.2% of the volunteers. But it's the old folks who are 65 and older who donate
the most time to churches -- 45.2%.

Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies several activities in which volunteers engage in consistently. The list below shows which activities are most predominate.

Teaching or coaching (24.4 %).

Canvassing, campaigning, or fundraising (22.9 %).

Collecting, making, serving, or delivering goods (22.2 %).

Serving on a board, committee, or neighborhood association (16.3 %).

Providing care or transportation (12.3 %).

Consulting or administrative work (14.0 %).

So this ties in with the Gospel lesson at church yesterday. It's from Mark 1:29-39 and tells the story of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law from a fever. What's the first thing she did when her fever went away? She got up and began to serve them.

Not because she had to, as Pastor Gillet said. But because she wanted to.

When it comes to serving in the Kingdom of God, it's something we get to do. We don't have to, but rather, we are allowed to serve.

In another article, again pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we read that ... nearly 63 million Americans, slightly more than a quarter of the population, volunteered for charities last year, providing services valued at nearly $173-billion. That’s down from 2009, when 63.4 million adults, or nearly 27 percent of the population, donated their time. The volunteer rate has not changed significantly since 2006, hovering around 26 percent. Volunteerism reached nearly 29 percent from 2003 to 2005 and has been as low as 20.4 percent in 1989, says a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which is based on annual and monthly surveys of roughly 100,000 Americans age 16 or older, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What's neat about this article is an interactive map of the United States that compares the percentage of volunteers in a state and compares it to the national average when you move your cursor over the state.

So get out there and be a good neighbor. While you're at it, volunteer to help out at your church too.

February 4, 2012

Quint and I headed over to Culvers after closing up the junior quilting shop at church. When we started looking for a spot to sit down at, I heard a familiar voice say, "Jane." It was the vice president of the Effingham/Shelby Zone and she invited us to sit with her and her husband. They were just finishing up the flavor of the month (chocolate eclair) ice cream, so we sat down.

After talking about a dizzying list of favorite subjects, Chris and I then started talking about cake recipes. I told her I was going to start visiting churches in the Zone. Tomorrow is my first outing. It's at a church where the church council is making soup for lunch. I told her I was going to make a yellow cake with a peach pie filling and after sharing that quick recipe with her (it's on the recipe page over there on the left), she said, "I'll tell you how to make a cake."

She explained, first you mix a cake mix with an angel food cake mix. It can be any kind of cake mix you want, but it has to be with an angel food cake mix.

Then, when you get those two cake mixes mixed well, mix 3 tablespoons of the dry mix with 2 tablespoons of water and microwave for 1 minute.

She says it's easy to remember because it's 3-2-1.

When I got home I mixed a sugar free yellow cake mix with an angel food mix that I picked up on the way home.

Sure enough, it works! So I have this cake mix in a ziploc bag ready to make a cake in a minute.

I even bought one of those new cans of frosting mix that Pillsbury has. It looks like a whipped cream container where you kind of bend a plastic tip a bit and out comes the frosting.

What an amazing age we live in!

I remember when I was a little girl my grandmother would send me to the bakery to buy two layers of a yellow cake if she didn't have time to bake a cake for a church event. And she thought that was cheating. But no one ever knew. She always covered it with her famous 7 Minute Frosting so who would have ever been able to tell.

One of my other favorite memories of my grandmother was her little forest of African Violet leaves. She had a big pan of sand which she kept wet. Then she would take leaves from her African Violets and stick them in the sand. After some mysterious length of time, she'd know when to take the leaves out because they'd have roots developed. She'd plant them in little pots and after a while, little baby African Violets would pop their little faces up through the dirt. Eventually, she'd cut the big leaf off and put it back in the sand to make a new generation.

I got up enough nerve to try that this year. A nurse at the oncology center assured me that this method would work so I gave it a try. I now have a beautiful purple and another pink African Violet and when I get a little new plant, I give them to clients who want them.

Except that I only use African Plant Food water. That makes them bloom like happy little campers. Pretty much all the time too.

February 2, 2012

If the groundhog can be believed, we don't have to worry about winter weather so much. We had fog as thick as pea soup. Not only could the rat not see his shadow, I doubt if he could see his cute little paw in front of his face. Yay! Go groundhog.

I received this from my friend Cody in Warrensburg, MO:

One of the best I've seen lately........

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being
disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!

When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!

I read another article today on the web warning about yet another scam. This one has to do with jury duty. Supposedly someone sends you an email or calls you to let you know there's a warrant for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty.

After you pick yourself up off the floor and start to explain that you never got a summons to appear for jury duty, then the most helpful scam artist at the other end of the phone asks you for your social security number and birthday so it can be double checked against the list of warrants. Now, we aren't going to give anybody that kind of information, are we?

Please say you won't.

Scam artists are mean. They're usually crooks who need to go where other criminals live.

If you live in Illinois, you need to know that Illinois is a "do not call" state. That means if you get an annoying telemarketing call, immediately tell the caller that you are aware that you live in a "do not call" state and want your name taken off the list he/she is calling from. The caller has to stop the conversation immediately.

Also, there's a link on the Links page on this website to put your phones on the "Do not call list." I probably need to do that again because I'm starting to get calls again. Putting your phone numbers on the list is not a permanent solution but when you start to get calls again, just go back in and renew your numbers.

February 1, 2012

We're zipping through the Bible at an accelerated pace in our Sunday morning adult discussion class. It's an ambitious undertaking because we're actually going to go from Genesis to Revelation in a 10-week segment. Oh, for sure, we aren't going to do any really in depth stopping over points. We can always go back and focus on aspects of the textbook we're using individually at a later date.

One of the quick points that was made in an early chapter was that Genesis 15:1 was the first time that the term "the word of the Lord came to..."

In this particular instance, the reference was to Abraham. He was the first man to whom the word of the Lord came. Abraham was a prophet. In this particular instanc, the word prophet means one who receives the word of the Lord.

Don't you think it would be exciting to pick up the Bible and get into the Word? Page after page after page of the Word brings us richness and depth to our soul. It's a blessed journey to walk every day with the Lord.

There's mending to be done when we weep from heavy grief. Our soul yearns for healing and it's right there, in between the covers of the Book.

There's learning that jumps off the pages with so much history. The Bible is not a complete history of what was going on in the world. For instance, from 1250 to 1190 BC the Greeks and Trojans were fighting the famous Trojan War. It happened. We know that from recorded history. But it's not a Bible story.

And did you know that from 1750 - 1040 BC, China's Shang Dynasty had a system of writing. They organized a bunch of armies too.

There were earthquakes too. From 1150-950 BC, earthquakes rattled the area around Cyprus.

Accupuncture was first introduced during the Chou dynasty at 1030 BC.

For sure, there were people in other places doing other things. Their stories were not captured in the Bible.

What the Bible does bring us is the bloodline of Jesus all the way back to Adam and Eve. The Bible traces this lineage through the House of David, through his line of history to a little town of Bethlehem.

There's much in the Word to sift through and think about. Absolutely no other book in the history of mankind has had the impact as the Word of God. Nor has any one single individual, save Jesus Christ, had as much of an impact on civilization than the Son of God who came from heaven to become flesh and blood and to live among us. Then he died as a sacrifice on the cross for the sins of each one of us.

This month we recognize Ash Wednesday as the beginning of the season of Lent. It's a time when we stop what we're doing and ponder the miracle of God's great love which he so graciously gifts us with.

Let the Word of God come to you. Pick up the Bible and just hold it in your hands. Then open it and start to read.

Prepare to be amazed.

January 31, 2012

It's hard to believe that here in Middle Illinois, it's 58.1 degrees. Highly unusual for January 31. Only two days 'til Ground Hogs Day and this year, do I dare say, "Who cares?"

Actually, when you think about it, it doesn't matter whether the rat sees his shadow or not. Spring is six weeks away no matter what. Just count the days on the calendar.

When I left you last night I was talking about the bad rap that controlling and manipulating people have gotten over the years. We've put a negative connotation onto those two words when, in fact, they can be life-saving.

I mentioned that the reason people are controlling is because they want life to be predictable. And who doesn't want that?

But maybe we're asking for trouble in trying to control people, places and events that we don't have any business messing with. There's all kinds of attempts at controlling that could even land you in jail. For instance, if you forged someone's signature because you wanted to control your ability to get out of debt so you think stealing someone's identity and/or money is acceptable. Not.

That's not even close to be included in this discussion.

What you can control, though, is your behavior. How you react to events and people in your life can be a healthy way to control your environment.

Babies, for instance, who smile and giggle at you make it awfully easy and heartwarming to pick them up and cuddle them. They've learned at a very early age that positive behaviors get more favorable attention from the big people in their lives. In a small way, they've figured out how to control someone to come over and pick them up.

I remember when my daughter and her husband were trying to get back to Los Angeles when, for some reason, their flight was abruptly cancelled. No new flights were scheduled at that airline. So she went over to another airline and said to an already overstressed service attendant that she realized the burden that this lady was under and she certainly didn't want to push her for help, but she was hoping ever so much if there was anything that she could do to get them on a plane. She engaged the lady in a few light moments and the next thing you know, she and her husband were on a flight, with a "Thank you so much. You are a lifesaver." And off the went to the other end of the airport where the other airline's terminal was.

She learned when she was a little girl that when you're reasonable, you're more able to operate on your environment and more often than not, get the results you want.

Call it whatever you want, but being pleasant will get you farther along than being pushy and ignorant and belligerent and demanding.

When you wake up in the morning, look at the daylight and say, "Today is going to be a great day. I'm going to have some adventures and come in contact with people I enjoy being with." Then get up, get dressed, and put your very best smile on your face as you out to operate on your environment. Make things happen. But in a pleasant way that shows people you care about them.

January 30, 2012

I'm actually in between clients right now, so this will be a bit brief. I'll finish my thought tomorrow in a bit more detail.

What I want to discuss before the thought goes too far away is this whole idea that controllingness and manipulation is a bad thing. I say -- not necessarily.

The reason we need to control or manipulate things is to make life more predictable. We all need predictability in our lives. So the question really wraps itself around why we feel insecure when our lives are not predictable.

Jean Piaget, the psychological guru who developed the school of cognitive development, says we all learn how to "operate" on our environment and the people in it.

It does not make you a bad  person.

More about this after I've had a good night's rest.

About the time I think there's not much new under the sun, this comes to my email. It's from Linda over in Lawrenceville. Thank you, Linda!

Subject: Monday Morning Message

        This is SIMPLY AWESOME! I've never seen this before! Whoever put The Resume
of Jesus Christ together is surely a blessing to us all! Please share it!
The last sentence says it all... Send this resume to everyone you know, you
never know who may have an opening!   Powerful!
        Have a blessed day!
        The Resume of Jesus Christ
        Address: Ephesians 1:20
        Phone: Romans 10:13
        Website: The Bible . Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus
        My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume
because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart. Please
consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.
        I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19 )
        I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7 )
        I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7 )
        I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Gal at ians 3:13 )
        The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me,
(See Galatians 3:14 )
        Occupational Background
        I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49 ) .
        I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful.
        My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15 -17 )
        Skills Work Experiences
        Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor to be
poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing
the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are
bruised, (See Luke 4:18 ) .
        I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6 ) . People who listen to me
shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33 ) .
        Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of
your sins, (See I John 1:7-9 )
        Educational Background
        I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and
understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6 ) .
        In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians
2:3 ) .
        My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet
and a light unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105 ) .
        I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21 ) .
        Major Accomplishments
        I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times,
(See Genesis 1:26 ) .
        I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15 ) .
        I defeated the arch enemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly,
(See Colossians 2:15 ) .
        I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead!
        There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can
read them on my website, which is located at : www dot - the BIBLE. You
don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.
        Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healing,
salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance.
        In Summ at ion
        Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate
uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation,
I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6 ) , and lead you into
everlasting life, (See John 6:47 ) . When can I start? Time is of the
essence, (See Hebrews 3:15 ) .
        Send this resume to everyone you know,
        you never know who may have an opening!

        Thanks for your help.

September 26, 2012

Got these one-liners from friend Cody in Warrensburg, Missouri:

Don't let your worries get the best of you;
Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited
Until you try to sit in their pews.. 
Many folks want to serve God, 
But only as advisers. 
It is easier to preach ten sermons 
Than it is to live one.
The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose,
But mosquitoes come close. 
When you get to your wit's end,
You'll find God lives there. 
People are funny; They want the Front of the bus,
the Middle of the road,
And Back of the church. 
Opportunity may knock once,
But temptation bangs on the front door forever. 
Quit griping about your church; 
If it was perfect, you couldn't belong. 
If a church wants a better pastor,
It only needs to pray for the one it has .. 
God Himself doesn't propose to judge a man until
he is dead. So why should you?
Some minds are like concrete 
Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set. 
Peace starts with a smile. 
don't know why some people change churches;
What difference does it make
which one you stay home from?
lot of church members singing 'Standing on the Promises'
Are just sitting on the premises. 
Be ye fishers of men. You catch 'em - He'll clean 'em.
Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.
Don't put a question mark where God put a period.
Forbidden fruits create many jams. 
God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 
God grades on the cross, not the curve.
God loves everyone,
But probably prefers 'fruits of the spirit' over
'religious nuts!'
promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
who angers you, controls you! 
If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats! 
Don't give God instructions, just report for duty!
The task ahead of us is never as
great as the Power behind us. 
Will of God never takes you to where the
Grace of God will not protect
don't change the message,
The message changes us. 
You can tell how big a person is
By what it takes to discourage him.
The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:
1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given . 

Do you think the US Navy would ever name a ship after an army guy, even if he is a Green Beret? Well, if your name is Roy Benavidez, it would. Benavidez got the Medal of Honor too. You have to see his story to believe it. This comes from cousin Mark:

Oh my goodness - what fun! This letter from a New Orleans attorney provides, in addition to a good argument, a bit of history at the same time. Thank you, Mark:

You have to love this lawyer.......

Part of rebuilding New Orleans caused residents often to be challenged with the task
of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years. With a community rich
with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along
through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish
ownership. Here's a great letter an attorney wrote to the FHA on behalf of a client:

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be
granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered
as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer
three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received
the following reply:

(Actual reply from FHA):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that
the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able
manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out
that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803.
Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back
to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:

(Actual response):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you
wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present
application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly
those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by
the United States from France, in 1803 the year of origin identified in our
application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the
land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by
Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of
Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had
been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch,
Queen Isabella.

The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as
the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold
her jewels to finance Columbus's expedition...Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may
know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly
accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God
also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the
owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world
as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.
Now, may we have our loan?"

The loan was immediately approved.

September 24, 2012

Before I do another thing, I want to share a link with you from a friend of mine. It's an outstanding vocalist, a ten year old young lady named Jackie Evancho. You know how I love to watch and hear people who excel at anything, regardless of their age. Just listen: She was on America's Got Talent, and boy does she!

Changing the subject, today was the day when one of those mega-mega-zoom-zooms arrived from our sun to lay havoc with the Earth's magnetic fields. Even Delta Airlines re-routed some of its flights to dodge the solar winds from the Coronal Mass Eruption.

Wow! The northern lights must have danced quite a little Texas Two Step.

Now, on to other matters of some import. It's all about retraining your communications ability so that you don't fall victim to people who want to get and keep you on the defense.

In the first place, don't think you have to jump in and answer someone who demands an immediate answer. No no no. Take a deep breath and give yourself a bit of time to send a response back over the fence, so to speak.

Yes, it's more than okay to answer a question with a question. In fact, it's how you get out of all those defense-intended maneuvers that are being shot at you. You simply do not have to answer with all that immediacy.

For instance, when someone says to you, "Why don't you want to talk to me?"

Your response could be, "About what?"

Or, "Why didn't you call me?"

"Was I supposed to?"


"Who said that?"

Slow down a bit and give yourself time to frame your response.

Try it. It will take some time to get in the habit of allowing yourself to proceed slowly. In the long-run, it will help you set your boundaries and maintaining them. Especially if you get the inkling that someone is trying to invade your peace of mind by demanding that you defend yourself.

And how can you recognize defense maneuvers? Aside from your gut reaction, densive maneuvers usually start with the word "Why."

"Why" questions are not part of polite conversation. The intent is for one person to try to get and keep the upper hand over someone else.

September 23, 2010

This is one of those off the beaten path pieces of information that you may not have known. I didn't either until today's issue of American Profile arrived.

The there it was on Page 12. Yet another reason that Chicago can claim to be a winner at something.

The Field Museum in Chicago has won the 2011 America's Best Restroom Award.

So what, you may ask, does a "best restroom" have going for it that would beat out other competitors? Well, for starters, it has little people potties. And there's a nursing room complete with a sofa in it.

So congrats, Chicago. 'Nuff said about that.

Now it's official. Quint is in remission from his chronic lymphocytic/leukemia. We made our trip to the oncologist today and learned that the results of the CT scan he had a couple of weeks ago show that the lymph nodes have returned to normal. Thank you for answered prayers. We're both now on the once-in-three-months regimen. I did have a new medication to the list of what the doctor has in my file. That's Allupurinol. So when I told him, he said, "Oh, you've got gouty athritis."

Yep. That's me. The medication is specifically for people who has been given Cytoxa for chemo with breast cancer.

But then I found out that eating cherries -- only 6 a day -- will help out a lot. Sure enough, we found cherries in the produce aisle. Fresh from Chile. They are delicious. After only a week of cherry snacks, I've seen an improvement. I can now bend my thumb with no pain at all. That's the only place, plus my back, that seems to be bothered. Oh, it's just a nuisance. Nothing fatal. I'll take nuisances.

January 20, 2012

We are just jumping up and down for joy watching those pink icy, wintry mix patches float by on the weather map. And up north, oh my goodness. I remember those days when a six inch snowfall was kind of sort of ordinary.

We do not miss it.

Here is a link to a beautiful young girl who is a prodigy -- Akiane Kramarik. She has been painting since she was very young, age 4. Her paintings are incredible. And thanks to friends in Wichita, John and Sherre for the link:

Here's a link to Gene Simmons of KISS performing for the troops: Makes me want to stand up and march around the dining room. Thanks, Mark, for sharing.

January 20, 2012

We are just jumping up and down for joy watching those pink icy, wintry mix patches float by on the weather map. And up north, oh my goodness. I remember those days when a six inch snowfall was kind of sort of ordinary.

We do not miss it.

Here is a link to a beautiful young girl who is a prodigy -- Akiane Kramarik. She has been painting since she was very young, age 4. Her paintings are incredible. And thanks to friends in Wichita, John and Sherre for the link:

January 18, 2012

Okay, so here's my ignorance showing. I don't know where either of these teams are from -- Trinity and Millsap -- but this link that my cousins Al and Mark sent to me shows one of the most phenomenal football plays I have ever seen in all my born days:

Talk about teamwork! This one play won the game. Wow!

And Mark  sends these tips too:

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be toimmediately clear your computer
history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an
argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to
nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know
how to get out of my neighborhood.

I especially like #7.

As for the second point, I'll have to see if Quint can even remember a time when he was wrong. About anything. ha ha

Me? I try to keep my mouth shut unless I know pretty much what the answer is.

Reminds me of a fella in grad school who had a most unique form of discipline. He says it's more effective than time outs and has been using it since his kiddos were real little. He makes them sit down so that he can tell them the entire history of slavery. All total, it takes about 45 minutes.

January 17, 2012

We went from 61 degrees this morning to a cool 28 now. There's a raw wind blowing that makes it feel like 2 zillion below zero.

Thank goodness Ground Hogs Day is only weeks away. That's the day I first celebrate spring.

I remember when I was a little girl the teacher would pass around those mimeographed pictures for our class to color. After I became an adult, I realized that the ground hog is nothing but a big rodent and the whole thing used up all my brown color crayons. Big deal.

My irises did die back again though. Poor little things. I can hear them shivering under their little dirt shoes. I have a huge variety of colors. Some are yellow, a peach color that's really a double. Looks pretty and frilly. Various shades of purple, one almost black. And finally a pink iris. I like irises. They remind me of Vincent Van Gogh. He painted irises for the whole year that he was in the asylum. People sometimes comment about how they must have been Van Gogh's favorite flower. The truth is, they were the only flower planted at the asylum. So of course he painted irises. What else were there? Besides, by that time he was probably tired of doing self-portraits, being one ear shy of having a full face and all.

Thank you for all your "as if" comments. It was very interesting to hear about how you are using the same concept. Actually it's little more than positive thinking. But it works. People who are negative get dumped on a lot. They aren't any fun and they suck all the air out of relationships, out of the sky and out of their hearts. So lighten up everybody and live your lives as if you are the successful person you want to be!

January 16, 2012

Live your life as if --

It's a Biblical concept. Believe you will get what you pray for, and it is yours, we are promised.

It's the underlying principle of the best-seller The Secret.

So let's all put a whole bunch of positive energy out there. The idea is that if you send positive energy out from yourself, it will come back to you.

That's where you embrace the idea that you'll do better in life if you live your life as if.

For instance, married couples who live their lives as if can somehow keep a vibrancy alive in their relationship. Remember those days when you tried to do all the thoughtful, courteous things you could to attract this handsome guy, or gorgeous lady, into your life? If you're going to be late, do you call and let somebody know you're being detained? If you're living your life as if, then you're going to do such thoughtful things like making a call.

Or how about getting that dream job? What happens when you are sitting in your cubicle doing some grunt project and wishing the clock would advance a few hours so you could get out of there? Well, if you're living your life as if you'd just gotten into an interview and were trying to convince a prospective boss that you really wanted the job, you'd go ahead and do the best you could do, even if every day isn't always exciting and creatively challenging.

Or how about parenting. Remember those days when you couldn't wait for Little Baby Ten Toes to arrive? Live your life as if those days beckon you and you back to the days when you promised yourself that you'd be the best parent you possibly could be to the new baby yet to be born. Living as if will help you get through long, fright-filled nights when you're waiting for an errant teenage to wander on back home.

And most of all, live your life as if Christ were headed this way from the other side of the universe and he is just about ready to come down out of the clouds. Living your life as if he were just about here just may change your life choices.

Good luck with that. Think about ways you could live your life as if.

January 13, 2012

Yes, we got the snow. Not much. Just a couple of inches. Then it stopped for a few hours. I reminded Quint that when the snow started up again, it counted as a new snow. At least for my reckoning. He doesn't have to count the snows separately if he doesn't want to. It's just that if you don't, you end up with some extra snowfalls anticipated by the end of the season.

Yesterday I saw a red fox loping along across the neighbor's yard across the street. At first I thought it was a dog, but then, that tail is a giveaway. Red fox it was. Pretty good sized one too. We have some woods behind our house. Figure he lives back in there with the deer who come out every once in a while looking for good chow, like when the neighbor's beans are about ready to pick. I told her to get a bottle of Liquid Fence at the hardware store, last year. It works. It's kept deer, squirrels and rabbits away from my garden goodies ever since I planted a garden down here. Not too cheap, but it does the trick. You spray around the perimeter of the garden, not on the veggies. A quart bottle lasts most of the season.

It even works on those naughty dogs who like to hike up their legs and take a leak on my rose bush out front. Actually they're probably marking their territory. Doesn't matter, me and my Liquid Fence go out there and give the bush a squirt where the dogs squirted. They don't come back so much. Nothing to reclaim if they can't get a whiff of their aroma.

Tomorrow I'm going to my first meeting of the Christian Writers Group here in town. Looking forward to meeting others who are plying their craft too.

I'm anxious to see if anyone else uses what I call the Ernest Hemingway approach -- you know, three to four word sentences. He was a master at it and I figured if he made it work, so could I. Problem is, my spell checker does not like fragmented sentences. But hey, that's the way people talk. So I say I write "conversationally." ha!

Oh, changing the subject. What do you think the stock markets are going to do on Monday morning, now that Standard and Poors has downgraded the financial houses of Yerp? France and Austria lost their AAA ratings. A total of 15 European nations' ratings were cutting in the S&P slash and burn come-uppance move. One of these days, the US is going to get downgraded again if we don't get a grip on spending.

You can't spend all your money!

I watched one of those news interview programs, maybe a Jay Leno man on the street. Not sure. Anyway, the commentator was asking the people where they thought money came from. One lady said she thought the president printed the money in the basement of the White House. Unfortunately, she was serious. She even knew who the president was.

God said something about wasting the blessings He gives us. We'd better all listen up and pay attention, folks.

January 11, 2011

I'm so glad that Netflix survived the stupidest marketing debacle yet -- raising money on top of money by doing a double tier charge system. Never could figure out what they were going to charge so we canceled everything but the streatming, which we used mostly anyway. We do get one video still, though. What we have both come to really like is the video of a fireplace burning. That's all it is. Just a fireplace burning. It makes the living room seem warm and cozy. Okay, so it doesn't make the room actually warm, but the crackling fire and licking flames do okay by me.

Just in time, too, for a winter storm heading our way. I fear that this one isn't going to miss us. We might get several inches out of it. It's heading SSE out of Iowa and looks to cut a big swath across Illinois as it heads east. I guess that's the end of our 40 degree winters.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

Now, on to Groundhog's Day which is February 2. Somehow I don't think the little groundhog is going to be a harbinger of spring. This is going to be one of those winters where it's going to be snowing for Easter, I'll bet. When the girls were little tykes I remember them hopping through snow on the way to the church on Easter Sunday. Didn't do their little patent leather slippers any good.

Not much news going on except politics, in case you haven't noticed. Politics in the US has become a mult-billion dollar business. So the ads and speeches and debates and spin doctoring are going to continue until November.

One good thing did come out of the Supreme Court today. Believe it or not, the justices reaches a unanimous decision that says churches can hire people of their own choice - whether it's a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam. The supremes said the government had to "butt out" in so many words.

Well, it's about time.

And my cousin Frances in Texas says the jonquils are sprouting and the bluebells are really thick, though not blooming just yet.

I will add that my irises are totally confused. I have cut them back twice now and could cut them back again but I'm not gonna. If they decide to bloom when it snows, I'll take a photo for posterity.

And with that, no matter where you are, please drive carefully. I know that some parts of the midwest are supposed to get 10" of snow or more, but the rest of us can expect 1 to 2 inches of the white stuff. I don't care if we only get one inch of snow. If it's sitting on icy pavement, it can still be deadly.

Prayers for safety for all of you.

January 9, 2012

Had he lived, today would have been my brother, Allison's, 67th birthday. His middle name was Wallace, probably named for some long lost relative I've never heard of. So we called him A.W. because that's what people in the south do. There's usually at least one first degree relative identified only by initials. So wherever you are, A.W., I hope you're enjoying the choirs of angels and that at the last moments on your deathbed you begged forgiveness for a life filled with sins. I suspect that you did get that idea as you lay dying of lung cancer. But I don't know that. I just pray that you did because I would love to see you in heaven.

Changing the subject, I have received more than quite a few emails about this Mayan thing and what's going to happen at the end of 2012.

In the first place, the Bible reference to the end of the world is very clear about who knows what. I believe it's in Revelation where the verse says that no one knows when the world will end except the Father. Even His Son, Jesus Christ, does not have that information.

Yep. It says so in the Bible. Look it up. Or if you don't have a Bible with a good commentary that can point you to the verse, go to and type in a question like, "Where in the Bible does it say ............................................" You'll get a reference.

That's exactly what I did this evening before I started this writing. I knew that somewhere in the Bible, there was an answer to some prophet who asked God how he would end the world the "next time" since he'd promised in a covenant after the flood that he would never destroy the population with a flood again. Then he put a rainbow in the sky. To this day, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise not to send a flood again.

But what about this point that the Mayans supposedly thought the world was going to end? Did they actually say that? Not really, unless you interpret their writings to fit into that concept. But what if it'd the Mayan calendar, not the world, that is supposed to end in December 2012? After all, we have Bible texts that say only the Father knows. If He didn't get around to telling His much beloved Son, Jesus Christ, do you really believe He would have told some Indians out there on the Yucatan Peninsula.  

So what did God tell the prophet?

In the New International Reader's Version, in Hebrews 12, we find:

25 Be sure that you don't say no to the One who speaks. People did not escape when they said no to the One who warned them on earth. And what if we turn away from the One who warns us from heaven? How much less will we escape!

26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake the earth. I will also shake the heavens."—(Haggai 2:6) 27 The words "once more" point out that what can be shaken can be taken away. I'm talking about created things. Then what can't be shaken will remain.

28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."—(Deuteronomy 4:24)

There are also references to God shaking the earth in Psalm 115:3 and Haggai 2:6.

I am reminded of the reference in Verse 28 that "...we can worship God in a way that pleases him." That pretty much takes care of people who say they don't go to church because they believe they can worship God in a forest, or somewhere else. In fact, God tells us that he wants us to meet in assembly with fellow believers.

So get up on the Sabbath, get dressed and make your way to church where you can "assemble" with "fellow believers." Just do it. Don't say "no" to God.

And then there's this Tebow guy. Don't you love him?! Over the weekend he rushed 316 yards. That was the accumulated passes he threw and I think he ran the ball some too. When he heard the stats broadcast with his last winning throw of the day that he was responsible for 316 yards that won the game for the Denver Broncos, what does he do? Did he swell up and sing, "How great I am?" Not on your life. He dropped to his knee and thanked God for his blessings. He later explained that when he heard that, all he could think of was John 3:16.

January 7, 2012

I'm stuck at the weight where I've plateaued so Quint and I headed for the gym today. That's how you get off those plateaus - either drastically cut back on calories or step up the exercise.

Well, since our life is pretty sedentary as it is, just walking out the door to get intot he car is an improvement on the sedentary lifestyle. So, since we're Silver Sneakers on our Humana insurance, we headed for the gym where we used to go faithfully before all this cancer nonsense started. We walked on the treadmill for a big fat 20 minutes. We got all the way up to a 27 minute mile. Then we did some work on the strength training machines. I got on the machine that works the hamstrings. I personally think my hamstrings have completely atrophied, but that could be just a bit hyperbolic. Truth is, I don't like needing to hang onto something just to stand up, for crying out loud.

Okay, so I don't expect to jump up out of my seat, but I would like to look less like an invalid. I'll work up to walking for an hour, or get up to five miles. I remember when I was a Girl Scout leader I used to go on five mile hikes with frequency. But then, those were called "all day hikes" for Brownies.

Oh well, we're expecting it to take some little while to get some semblance of stamina back.

On our way home, we stopped at Walgreens where I got my flu shot. The doctor only had one left when we were there for our last checkup, so Quint got it.

We also stocked up on sugar free candy. Russell Stover is my friend!

Changing the subject, I can always rely on my cousin Mark to send the Darwin Awards for the previous year. And here they are:


You've been waiting for them with bated breath, so without further ado, here are the
2011 Darwin Awards:

Eighth Place

In Detroit , a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after
squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

Seventh Place

A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned when he ran",
accidentally jogged off a 100-foot high cliff on his daily run.

Sixth Place

While at the beach, Daniel Jones, 21, dug an 8 foot hole for protection from the
wind and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom, when it collapsed, burying
him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels trying
to get him out but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment
almost an hour to free him. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fifth Place

Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed as he fell through the ceiling of a bicycle shop
he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his
mouth to keep his hands free rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

Fourth Place

Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed as he won a bet with friends who said he
would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the

Third Place

After stepping around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door, a man
walked into H&J Leather & Firearms intent on robbing the store. The shop was full of
customers and a uniformed officer was standing at the counter. Upon seeing the
officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up and fired a few wild shots from a
target pistol.

The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, and several customers also drew
their guns and fired. The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics.
Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The
subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7
different weapons. No one else was hurt.


Paul Stiller, 47, and his wife Bonnie were bored just driving around at 2 A.M. so
they lit a quarter stick of dynamite to toss out the window to see what would
happen. Apparently they failed to notice that the window was closed.


Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew
a person who had bungee-jumped from a local bridge in the middle of traffic. The
conversation grew more excited, and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the
bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge, they discovered that
no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered
and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable lay nearby. They secured one end
around Bingham's leg and then tied the other to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet
before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously
survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen.
Bingham's foot was never located.


Zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt ( Paderborn , Germany ) fed his constipated elephant
22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes
before the plugged-up pachyderm finally got relief. Investigators say ill-fated
Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when
the relieved beast unloaded.

The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr Riesfeldt to the
ground where he struck his head on a rock as the elephant continued to evacuate 200
pounds of dung on top of him. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents.

January 9, 2012

Had he lived, today would have been my brother, Allison's, 67th birthday. His middle name was Wallace, probably named for some long lost relative I've never heard of. So we called him A.W. because that's what people in the south do. There's usually at least one first degree relative identified only by initials. So wherever you are, A.W., I hope you're enjoying the choirs of angels and that at the last moments on your deathbed you begged forgiveness for a life filled with sins. I suspect that you did get that idea as you lay dying of lung cancer. But I don't know that. I just pray that you did because I would love to see you in heaven.

Changing the subject, I have received more than quite a few emails about this Mayan thing and what's going to happen at the end of 2012.

In the first place, the Bible reference to the end of the world is very clear about who knows what. I believe it's in Revelation where the verse says that no one knows when the world will end except the Father. Even His Son, Jesus Christ, does not have that information.

Yep. It says so in the Bible. Look it up. Or if you don't have a Bible with a good commentary that can point you to the verse, go to and type in a question like, "Where in the Bible does it say ............................................" You'll get a reference.

That's exactly what I did this evening before I started this writing. I knew that somewhere in the Bible, there was an answer to some prophet who asked God how he would end the world the "next time" since he'd promised  in a covenant after the flood that he would never destroy the population with a flood again. Then he put a rainbow in the sky. To this day, when I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God's promise not to send a flood again.

So what did God tell the prophet?

In the New International Reader's Version, we find:

25 Be sure that you don't say no to the One who speaks. People did not escape when they said no to the One who warned them on earth. And what if we turn away from the One who warns us from heaven? How much less will we escape!

26 At that time his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, "Once more I will shake the earth. I will also shake the heavens."—(Haggai 2:6) 27 The words "once more" point out that what can be shaken can be taken away. I'm talking about created things. Then what can't be shaken will remain.

28 We are receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder. 29 Our "God is like a fire that burns everything up."—(Deuteronomy 4:24)  

January 4, 2011

Warning: this could be the beginning of a developing article about recognizing saboteurs within an organization. You know -- they're the ones we refer to as alligators. Every organization has them. And they show their true colors more prominently than you might think.

Here's an old maxim as you start your new year: If you want people to like you, you have to make yourself likable.

That takes care of the bossy ones. People run from these guys. They sit in their chairs and issue edicts and "fetch orders." "Get me this," or "get me that" seems to be their motto. You don't see these people surrounded by a big crowd of people, do you? Organizations are full of these little chiefs.

So what can you do to make people like you? Easy. If you want something, go get it yourself. That's for starters. The world does not raise citizens who wait for you to beckon them.

That is, unless you're a politician or a monarch, or something that gives your blue-blooded attitude the self-imposed right to sit on a chair and make demands.

Tied to likability is another maxim: Good leaders make good followers. You can spot the good leaders in your organization by looking around to see who the workers are. They're the ones who make the good leaders. The people who don't want to do any real work in a group are the same ones who will keep the organization at the status quo. No growth. They say, "I liked it better when we were smaller." All too often, these little-minded people have a secret agenda of their own. They seldom do anything to help the organization grow. Does the definition of passive aggressive come to mind?

Just remember, aggression is always a hostile act.

And passive aggression is disguised as sabotage. Each and every time. Passive aggressive people are on a perpetual search for power. And what do they want the most? Whatever strength you've got. They're trying to run a little micro counter-culture in your organization.
But there's good news. You reward (reinforce) the behavior you want to continue. That's behavior modification rule #1. If you find yourself surrounded by people who don't share your values, then for your own sense of well-being, find another venue. There are plenty of organizations and opportunities out there in this big, wide wonderful world that welcome hard workers.

It's even Biblical to shake the dust from your sandals and walk away. Whatever happened between the "shake the dust from your sandals" theory and the "turn the other cheek motto?"

Well, that thesis can be bridged with a good sermon. I'm not a pastor so I'll leave that one for theologians to wrestle with.

January 2, 2012

Therefore, be it resolved -----

I don't ordinarily make New Years resolutions. But this year is an exception.

I can trace my weight gain all the way back to 1985 when my thyroid was removed. I had what's known as a "thyroid storm" at work and was taken by ambulance to Northwest Memorial Hospital from the law firm where I worked. An endocrinologist diagnosed Graves Disease, an autoimmune nuisance. Problem was I had my daughter's wedding gown about half done and was looking down the barrel of her wedding in about two weeks. I finished the gown, had the thyroid ablated with a radioactive iodine. Quint said I glowed in the dark. The doctor released me much earlier than he would have ordinarily because I promised to return post haste after the wedding for quick checkups. That only entailed a quick cab ride over to his office from the law firm where I was back at work.

The problem was, my weight started to slowly rise. At about a 60 degree slope upward. I put on seventy pounds in a year!

I tried lots of diets. All the wrong ones. Low carb diets, for instance, are never any good. I don't care who recommends them, they are not good for your body's chemistry. The human being is meant to eat grains and grain products. Problem was, I wasn't eating anything differently than my pre-ablation days.

Then, in 2006 Quint and I moved. We bought a Cape Cod. People thought I was nuts to move into a house that had three levels when we had lived in a condominium that was all on one level. Not to mention that my knees were giving me fits. But after we moved I started to lose weight. Slowly. Ever so slowly. After about six months my knees were not giving me any problems at all. I wasn't doing anything much different except I was out from under the sedentary lifestyle that came with my counseling practice. I was walking around more. I enjoyed the physical activity. At the end of a year I was 49 pounds lighter.

But now is the year I'm going to take off the rest of the 25 pounds that I packed on. And how am I going to do this? Simple. Give up most of the flour products I eat.

Following a gout diet is not that difficult. Sugar is my enemy. Yeast products are also my enemy. Meat is my enemy too. No more bacon with my eggs. No more smoky links that are stuffed with cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers.

No more cookies. At least not more than two at one sitting. Ice cream is okay so it's a good thing that I really like Eskimo Pies -- sugar free that is. This afternoon I'm going to make a cookie that has a chocolate turtle stuffed inside. The cookie dough is a Pillsbury sugar free cake mix and the chocolate turtles are sugar free from Russell Stove. I'll cut the turtles into quarters to make them go farther. Does it cost more to make them? You bet. But it's cheaper than all the medicines that you have to take if you're diabetic. I can have a couple of cookies with impunity.

Low-fat cheeses and cottage cheese are also very good for me. And for some reason, tart cherries are also good for the gout diet. They are low in purines. The lower the purines in the bloodstream, the lower the risk of too much uric acid in the blood. Fresh apples and oranges and bananas are good for the low purine diet too. But I seldom eat bananas. Once in a while we'll put them on cereal for breakfast. (Did you know that a serving of banana is only 1/2 of the banana?) It has too much sugar in it. I learned that from Quint's diabetic diet.

Two weeks ago I started a lifestyle change that will allow me to get control of the gout. I've now lost 5 and a half pounds.

I'm looking forward to being at least ten pounds lighter by the end of January. That's the only resolution that I've made so far.

I'm thinking about slowing down a bit. Especially now that I'm working at a job that I really enjoy in the afternoons. It's working for a dual parish church office. Fortunately, the pastor I work with was a friend of mine before I started working with him.

I'm not willing to give that up. But I am willing to give up my "over-do" list. It's too easy for people to mistake my generosity with my time and energy. So I'm going to step back this year and let other people do some of the things that I used to do. In the meantime, I have joined a Christian Writers Group that meets here in Effingham County. It's a group of about ten people who are writing for publication. 

And I have a couple of grants that I promised to write for some business people here in the county. I like writing grants. It keeps my paralegal skills honed. And I like helping business people get their enterprises off the ground.

I also want to continue with my own writing projects.

And that should keep me busy and productive in the new year.

That's only two resolutions. They're two that I can commit to that I know I will follow faithfully. That's the key to success when it comes to re-inventing yourself. Pick a re-invention project that you are willing to commit to completely. And don't take on too many projects at the same time. You'll only frustrate yourself. Pick a project that you are motivated to work on. For me, it was the dreaded fear that if I kept on gobbling away, I'd hit 300 pounds. That's just something that I'm not willing to embrace. Besides, losing weight is all about math. If you eat more calories than you use up, you'll gain weight.

I've watched people who claim that they "just can't lose weight." They'd have you believe that they have tried everything. Yet, when you look at their plates, there's potatoes, noodles, and bread and butter. Then there's the entree and maybe, just maybe a little bit of green vegetable. Never ever eat potatoes and bread in the same meal. And I don't know what they think they're doing by dumping noodles or dressing onto the plate. After all, you're not required to eat everything on the menu. So, if you're an adult, make a fist. That's about a cup. Half of that amount would be a serving. If you're eating a closed fist size of mashed potatoes, you're eating too much. Oh, you could have that much in green beans. That's for sure. But not if the beans are highly seasoned with butter and bacon bits, silly.

I figure you've probably seen this letter that my cousins Mark and Al sent to me, but it's worth another read through:

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month.
The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking
about how much she missed Abbey.
She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God
would recognize her.
I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog?
She died yesterday and is with you in heaven.
I miss her very much.
I ' m happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her.
She likes to swim and play with balls.
I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog.
I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey & Meredith , addressed it
to God/Heaven.
We put our return address on it.
Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope cause she said it would
take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she
dropped it into the letter box at the post office.
A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet.
I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed,
'To Meredith' in an unfamiliar hand.
Meredith opened it.
Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, 'When a Pet Dies.'
Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened
On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized
her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore.
Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart.
Abbey loved being your dog.
Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your
picture in so I ' m sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and
have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it
and sending it to me.
What a wonderful mother you have.
I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I'm easy to find.
I am wherever there is love.



January 1, 2012

What a beautiful message I've received from my cousins, Mark and Al:

> This is one of the nicest e-mails I have seen :
> I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We
> walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel
> guide stopped in front of the first section and said, 'This is the
> Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.
> I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels
> sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from
> people all over the world.
> Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
>  The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section.
> Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and
> delivered to the living persons who asked for them." I noticed again how
> busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station,
> since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged
> for delivery to Earth.
> Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of
> a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated
> there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section, my angel
> friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.
> "How is it that there is no work going on here? I asked."
> "So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they
> asked for, very few send back acknowledgments."
> "How does one acknowledge God's blessings? "I asked.
> "Simple," the angel answered. Just say, "Thank you, Lord."
> "What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.
> "If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof
> overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world.
> If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish,
> you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy, and if you get this on
> your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that
> opportunity."
> "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness.. You are more
> blessed than the many who will not even survive this day."
> "If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of
> imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... You are
> ahead of 700 million people in the world."
> "If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest,
> torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion
> people in the world."
> "If your parents are still alive and still married.... you are very rare."
> "If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're
> unique to all those in doubt and despair......."
> "Ok," I said. "What now? How can I start?"
> The Angel said, "If you can read this message, you just received a double
> blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are
> more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at
> all."
> Have a good day,  count your blessings , and if you care to, pass this
> along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are..........
> ATTN:  Acknowledge Dept .
> "Thank you Lord, for giving me the ability to share this message and for
> giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it."
> If you have read this far, and are thankful for all that you have been
> blessed with, how can you  not  send it on?
> I thank God for everything, especially all my family and friends.

(And do you know how many pearly gates there are? -- If you guessed 12, you'd be correct. See Revelation 21.)

And here's a profound story from my friend Linda, in Lawrenceville:

                    Read it before but just as powerful the second or third time.
GOD BLESS. Please do not forget the real reason for the
Christmas season!

                         This is so beautiful!
                       John 3:16

                       A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner, the people
were in and out of the cold.

                       The little boy was so cold that he wasn't trying to sell many

                       He walked up to a policeman and said,  'Mister,
                       you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could
                       find a warm place to sleep tonight would you?

                       You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down
the alley and it's awful cold in there for tonight. Sure
would be nice to have a warm place to stay.'

                       The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, 'You go
down the street to that big white house and you knock
                       on the door. When they come out the door you just say John
3:16, and they will let you in.'

                       So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked
                       on the door, and a lady answered. He looked up and said,
'John 3:16 .' The lady said, 'Come on in, Son.'

                       She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker
in front of a great big old fireplace, and she went off.. The
boy sat there for a while and thought to himself:
                       John 3:16 ....I don't understand it, but it sure makes a cold
boy warm.

                       Later she came back and asked him 'Are you hungry? 'He said,
'Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days,
and I guess I could stand a little bit of food,'

                       The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table
full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn't eat
anymore. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16...           

                       Boy, I sure don't understand it but it sure makes a hungry
boy full.

                       She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub
                       filled with warm water, and he sat there
                       and soaked for a
                       while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16 ...
                       I sure don't understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy
                       clean... You know, I've not had a bath, a real bath, in my
whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in
front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.
                       The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room,
                       tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up
around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the
lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the
                       window at the snow coming down on that cold night,
                       he thought to himself: John 3:16 .....I don't understand it
but it sure makes a tired boy rested.

                       The next morning the lady came back up and took him
                       down again to that same big table full of food. After he
                       ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom
                       rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible.

                       She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face..
                       'Do you understand John 3:16 ? ' she asked gently. He replied,
                       'No, Ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last
night when the policeman told me to use it,'
                       She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain
                       to him about Jesus . Right there, in front of that big old
fireplace, he gave his heart and life to Jesus. He sat there
and thought: John 3:16,“I
                       don't understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.

                       You know, I have to confess I don't understand it either,
                       how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how
Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don't understand the
agony of the Father and every angel in heaven as they watched
Jesus suffer
                       and die. I don't understand the intense love for ME that kept
Jesus on the cross till the end. I don't understand it, but
it sure does make life worth living.

                       John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life....

                       If you aren't ashamed to do this, please follow the
directions .

                       Jesus said, 'If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of
you before my Father.' Pass this on only if you mean it.

                       I do Love God . He is my source of existence... .. He keeps
me functioning each and every day. Phil 4:13 If you love God
and are not ashamed of all the marvelous things he has done
for you, send this on..

                       Take 60 seconds & give this a shot !  Let's just see if Satan
stops this one.

                       All you do is:

                       1) Simply say a small prayer for the person who sent you
this, 'Father, God bless this person in whatever it is that
You know he or she may be needing this day.  In Jesus' Name,
Amen ! '

                       2) Then send it on to other people.  Within hours many people
have prayed for you, and you caused a multitude of people to
pray to God for other people. Then sit back and watch the
power of God work in your life for doing the thing that you
know He loves.

(This is a good example of what I call Network Prayers. It really makes me feel great to know that people are praying for me, and I love to pray for others too. Thank you, Linda, for sending.)