A friend indeed

I don’t quite know what male-bonding looks like, but sister love can go something like this:

A true girlfriend will tell you when something’s amiss that is not showing up in the mirror.

A true girlfriend gives you her last Shout wipe when you spill grape juice on the front of your blouse.

A true girlfriend doesn’t mind (too much) that you snore at the lady’s weekend retreat.

And so it goes…

I like finding true comradeship in the most unlikely places—it’s actually something easily taken for granted. True friends don’t grow on trees; they grow in compost, in the refuse and throw-away parts of our lives.  When it all hits the fan, true friends are at their best.

Here are a few of my favorite examples: Continue reading “A friend indeed”


Ivory towers—nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. 

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280My dear father-in-law was beautifully British.  I remember seeing a castle just sitting out in the field one time while visiting and driving through the Anglican countryside.  Now there’s a site you don’t see amidst the corn in Midwest rural America!

Quite a different lifestyle, that was.  It conjures up pictures of courtiers and knights and princesses tucked away in gabled towers.  Here comes the enemy, so just pull up the drawbridge, and release the alligators into the moat.  How convenient would that be when the IRS comes lurking about? Continue reading “Ivory towers—nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. “

Devilish details

IMG_20150103_172451138I have to fix this. 

If those words don’t actually cross through my brain, they certainly are present in some form somewhere in my psyche. 

I figure part of that pseudo-neurosis may just be hard-wired from birth.  Certainly being a nurse hasn’t helped it along.  When people know you’re a nurse, whether in the hospital or out, whether at work or at home, you’re expected to diagnosis and treat.  Everything.  Appendix?  Just give her a dull spoon, she can take care of it. Continue reading “Devilish details”

NOT for the birds, definitely not.

IWAA7I’m in the second year of my small berry crop.  Here’s what I was anticipating by springtime:


Makes your mouth water, don’t it?

Especially for me, the non-gardener.  I’m pretty proud of this little piece of earth, and all the sore muscles along the way.  Bob has been very patient with the big Sutherlands Home and Garden truck pulling up unexpectedly (for him, that is), or the time(s) I have inadvertently left the hose on after watering, (okay, so I get distracted.)

His tastes buds do reap the benefits, however, except for that year I had an over-abundance of cucumbers—he still requests no cukes in the smoothies… Currently, our favorite taste treat is the fresh raspberries and blackberries coming in from the second-year plants. YESssss!!

Unfortunately, this year the birds have likewise found them.  Especially the blackberries.  I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the ripened fruit day after day, and here’s evidence (it’s not for the faint of heart)—

ARRUGHH@#!!*@#!!!! (delete-delete-delete)

Now, I love birds.  They serenade me in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean they get paid by my hard worked-for berries.  So off to Sutherlands I go (didn’t need their truck for this one) to get some equipment, and concocted this:

Not only was it not pretty, it was also not entirely functional.  It didn’t fit, which meant there were gaps in the netting, and my attempts to cut and paste (well, zip-tie) left much to be desired.  Birds aren’t quite as dumb as I gave them credit, at least not when they’re hungry.  They know a good berry crop when they see it!

Learn from my mistakes, call my Dad for a little review in mathematic calculations, and a little ingenuity from Pinterest, and here is my current barricade:


Already I have seen a feathered kamikaze bounce off in bewilderment!

Inspecting my handiwork that next morning, I notice a few gaps, but also some nicely ripening blackberries.  I easily reposition and secure the netting, and let the fruit do its thing, unmolested and secure.

“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

I like that “guard AND keep”.  It’s one thing to set up a protective fence but it’s another to make sure it’s still effectively working.  And when it comes to protection, one size definitely does not fit all.

My precious berries were already protected from the ground forces of bunnies by the wire fencing—I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.  But just having put in the berries last year, I hadn’t counted on the air strikes (although, I confess, I had heard of them from the past…oh, if only I had paid attention to experienced gardeners!!)

After losing some of the crop, I went into action—better late than never.  But unfortunately, I “reacted” rather than “researched” properly, which left gaps and wasted time and money.

Finally, sacrificing some time (allocating that precious resource to a perceived priority—my berries!!) and relying on the experience of others, I have a tailor-made plan to “guard and keep” for a fruitful harvest.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s in the family, or even in the Body of Christ:

  • Protection must be intentional. (And it’s rewarding to see Satan just bounce off, not that he won’t try again.)
  • We are given a template, but each “fence” will be unique; to force one on another will cause gaps and allow the enemy in to eat the “fruit”. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Research is better than reacting. Humbly asking for help if more effective than wasting time and emotion on crisis management.
  • Protection is ongoing: frequent inspections and adjustments must be anticipated. It’s called communication and resilience.  Forgiveness and grace. 

ripeberryFruit takes time (and effort) to produce.  But its reward is sooooOOO000ooo sweet.

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Just one. Pleeeeeeeeze?

IMG_20150103_172451138There are times when it seems like just a couple of well-placed lightning bolts would solve quite a few of the world’s problems.  Or at least a few of mine.  Of course, that’s just another one of a gazillion reasons why I’m not God, and a good thing, too.  Irritating, frustrating, and irrational people are, you know ,…irritating and frustrating, and can make one question one’s own rationality.

I should know, having been one of “those people” myself, more times than I probably care to admit.

Many years ago, author Joyce Landorf coined the phrase “irregular people” in her book by the same name.   We all have them, as described above, and also as stated, we have all been one at some point, or will be.  It goes along with that truism:


Usually, a few bug guts on my windshield aren’t terribly inconvenient; although they’re ugly, I can still see to drive my car.  That is, until the sun hits them just the right way, then …pow

…and suddenly, driving becomes a hazardous enterprise!  Really, the responsible thing to do is to pull over and clean off the windshield.  Otherwise, I’m not only endangering myself, but those in the car with me and other drivers sharing the road.

Irregular people do that.  They can muss up my vision–my perspective, intentions, goals. And if I allow it, even my physical health, and more importantly, my heart.  

That’s one of (the many) reasons why this was written into eternity for us:

“Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.”

Naturally, bug guts come in all varieties and colors: offense and unforgiveness, unmet expectations, unfair or harsh criticism, and worse things I care not to put in print.  Then there are the times (oh, this is hard one!) when I realize that it’s my emotional guts on someone else’s windshield.  It’s one thing to forgive someone else–how mature and altruistic of me.  It’s quite a different challenge to ask someone else’s forgiveness.  Saying “I’m sorry” may be a bit of a lost art.  I’ll admit I’ve gotten quite good at it through the years, and I’m still learning.  It sure can go a L-O-N-G way in helping clean up the other party’s visual field, though.

It’s fairly easy to put off the cleaning process, especially when we’re in the fast lane of life, until by God’s grace His light hits our lives and we’re stunned by how much we really can’t see.  Best to pull over, STOP, get out of traffic,–whatever that looks like for us individually–thus protecting all involved.  

Guaranteed, the ride will be much more enjoyable when the view is unobscured.

Proverbs 4:23  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Bumper cars…in my driveway.

wood 2We’re a Chevy Suburban-sized family.  At 6-foot-2, my husband is the runt of the four boys in his family, my brother is 6-6, and I’m around 5-12 (hmmm…)  All this to say that our three girls didn’t have much of a gene pool to draw from when it came to physical stature.  So when our daughters were in school, I went on the mega-search for a mini-van.  Thankfully, I didn’t find one to suit my husband, and instead found an old, reconditioned Sub (complete with glass-pacs for an impressive announcement when one hit the brakes on hill), and voila!  We fit!

Now, having that many kids, and with Bob and I being a dual-working couple, we also had a second smaller vehicle. If you’ve never been the owner of a Sub, suffice it to say that the running boards are really not optional, unless of course you want your shorter friends and family to pole vault into their seat.  It’s pretty nice to sit that high up off the road; however, one of the drawbacks is not being able to see a lower vehicle behind the car quite as easily.

That, unfortunately, was not my excuse.

Backing the Sub out of the garage one evening, I somehow was not cognizant of our smaller car behind me.  It made itself known as my tonnage of steel encountered it, albeit slowly.  ARGH!  Naturally, my next move was to pull forward.

Another feature of the disparity in size is that the bumpers of the cars don’t quite match up.  This means that, since one bumper is obviously higher than the other, once impacted they have more of a tendency to lock together…

The good news is that the main function of the little car was still intact, even though it had to spend a little time in the body shop.  In other words, the bumper performed its intended purpose—to protect the rest of the car.  It’s an apt example of that built in “margin for error” that my dad always tried to teach me.

I’m thinking God sort of had that concept in mind when He said this:

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble… A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Granted, even within the body of Christ, relationships get messy.  We bump into each other, and sometimes even tear parts away.  Though it seems like a paradox, that’s even more reason why we actually need each other—to buffer the hurts of life.  And when we have the support system intact, the intended function of our individual gifts and the corporate operation of the church can go on as He intends…

…even if it means spending a little time in “The Shop” for repairs once in awhile.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10,12   Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

If at first…

garden lastI’m writing this in the early weeks of autumn as the leaves are beginning to succumb to gravity and the thermometer is gratefully beginning its slow decline from the ravages of an early hot, dry summer.  I’ve cleaned out my garden plots, pruning back a tomato tree; I’ve never seen one get that big and bushy and likewise produce so little fruit (there’s another analogy there, I suppose), and the zinnias basically cut off the sun from the struggling lavender.  Evidently, I was not aware of the potential within the plants, the effect of such good dirt, and the needs of the individual varieties.  So I’ll try it all again when this old planet limps back around the sun once more this Spring. 

I’ve decided that gardening is not only a science, but an art.  Unfortunately, I’m not much of either, except like Edison, in that if it doesn’t work the first 999 times, persistence might make the 1000th be the winner.  

I am, at the very least, persistent. 

Relationships, I’ve decided, are also both a science and an art as well.  We have three children.  We had them early in our marriage, and I was young.  I didn’t really even know myself very well, and here I was mothering three little girls, all with different personalities, talents, and destinies!  Are you kidding me??

As they were approaching that wonderful American invention called “adolescence”, Bob and I did a Gary Smalley personality survey on ourselves and our kiddos. 

Our eldest is a Golden Retriever—let’s take care of everybody and make them feel loved.

Our middle is more of a Beaver, organizing, accomplishing, business-minded. 

Our youngest (sigh) is a full scale Lion….the kind with teeth and claws.  This is not a bad thing, and I sigh only in part because her mother is an Otter.  An a fun-loving, fly-the-seat-of-your-pants Otter.  An Otter raising a Lion. 

Yet another proof that God has a sense of humor.

I love this passage from Isaiah and leave it here for an encouragement to young mothers:

“The farmer knows just what to do,
    for God has given him understanding.
A heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cumin;
    rather, it is beaten with a light stick.
A threshing wheel is never rolled on cumin;
    instead, it is beaten lightly with a flail.
Grain for bread is easily crushed,
    so he doesn’t keep on pounding it.
He threshes it under the wheels of a cart,
    but he doesn’t pulverize it.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
    and he gives the farmer great wisdom.”

And just as there is no cookie-cutter approach to child-raising, God does not use the same approaches with us, His children, either.  How boring would that be??  What He is, is persistent.

So Edison and I are good company.

Isaiah 28:26-29  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Dog’s best friend…a kitten??

I made three mistakes this morning.  Well, probably more than that, but three that I will relate in print.  A stray neighborhood kitten boldly waltzed up to me as I came out to my patio.  I couldn’t help but pick him up (aw, so cute, etc…).  Holding him in my lap, I gently introduced him to my big black 60-pound dog, Buckley (also a rescue, I might add) and then supervised closely as they actually got to know each other, timidly but definitely.  As they picked around each other, I decided to name him Viking (Vik for short) in honor of our new grandchild in Norway. 

Then I fed him. 

Okay, so that’s probably more than three mistakes.

Obviously, it took a little mediation to launch this canine/feline relationship.  Buckley has a tender heart, but is blustery and weighs about 58 pounds more than Vik.  Vik, even as a kitten, has retractable claws.  And honestly, though I was out here this early Sunday morning to pray for the church, I’m thinking instead that perhaps God wanted to do the talking…about His family.  Specifically:

  1. Some of us are big and blustery, some of us are quiet and timid. When we come in contact with each other, there are times we could benefit from some mediation.  

“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.”

  1. Relationships can get inconvenient, especially when boundaries are still being defined. There seemed to be a few times that Vik needed a time-out from my bluster-Buck. He spent a few minutes under a rake, up on the patio wall, and of course, on me. 

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

  1. Diversity was God’s idea to begin with. Please forgive the mixed metaphor, but not all the plants in my garden are self-pollenating; they need a little help to produce fruit.  In similar fashion, Vik can go places and do things that Buck cannot, and vice versa.  In short, we need each other to accomplish God’s plan. 

“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’”

Buck has already been looking for his new friend the few times he’s been out as the day progressed.  The little bowl sits ready for some fresh milk if Vik shows up tomorrow. 

(Kinda hope he does.  We have plenty of mice in the area.) 


Philippians 4:2,3; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Corinthians 12:18-21  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

“Birth”day takes on new meaning when you’re the one birthing

IMG_20150103_172451138To begin with, I haven’t given birth to a baby for over thirty years.  That, in itself, is worthy of thanksgiving.  (And beyond that, if you are a man somewhat faint-of-heart, you might consider going to the next post on your reader…)

Not that I would trade any of it—that miracle of another human being growing within me and then passing through me into the world, and, as my husband’s mother mused when our first was born, someone who is “50% mom, 50% dad, and 100% herself”, well, that’s just unspeakably cool. 

Back in the early ‘80s, they were going with these new things called “birthing rooms”: comfortable bed in a wallpapered, home-like atmosphere, etc.  I got to use one when our first made her global debut.  For all the “coaching” classes we had, poor Bob was ultimately relegated to silence and the important task of providing me with ice chips. 

For our second, however, the birthing room was not available, and so I was taken into the old standard: an operating room atmosphere with Continue reading ““Birth”day takes on new meaning when you’re the one birthing”

The mouse in the house

wood 2

In terms of home ownership, the only good mouse is a dead mouse.  Unless, of course, the olfactory evidence informs you of the deceased, but you can’t locate the corresponding corpse.  There are various outcomes connected with this unfortunate demise:

The odor tends to encourage one to relocate to a different part of the house.  That’s not necessarily so bad if the size of one’s abode can accommodate such changes.  If, on the other hand, you live in an apartment, or a house full of other people, say, three or four children, that’s not quite so easy.

The only kind of mice I tolerate in my house…

And/or we try to cover up the smell with other smells.  I would also tend to opt for opening the windows for that fresh air aroma, but this also is not so convenient in December or January.  So, instead, I get a mixture of holiday cinnamon with dead rodent, which will likely not do so well on the market next Christmas.

We also might avoid having Continue reading “The mouse in the house”