Sunday, February 28, 2010

thank you, canada, the most beautiful and
gracious hosts of an extraordinary winter

Saturday, February 27, 2010

KANSAS                  77

'nuff said!!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

fear or love?

dear emily,

true confession time.  i became terrified for one of my dear
ones and fell into the dreaded mom-trap, the snare of fear.
every single time i do that, my lion claws snap open, and i
hurt someone, usually the very one i am trying to protect.

my sweet friend, annie, is aways challenging me to parent
out of faith and not fear.  but it is just SO hard!

faith connotes lovely images of hope and trust.  it dwells
in open fields of fertile ground from which good, strong
plants grow.  there is a talmud saying, "every blade of grass
has its Angel who bends over it and whispers, 'grow, grow.'"

fear, in opposition, seizes and constricts, paralyzes and
steals all reason or logic.  not sure who said, "love is what
we're born with, fear is what we learned here," but it
resonates within me.

john, the beloved disciple, encouraged us with, "perfect
love casts out fear."  1 john 4:18.  i am obviously not full
of that love yet.  'what wondrous love is this, oh my soul?'

the good news, and there is always good news,  is that the
One who is full of perfect love has made that available to
me whenever i choose it.  and His love casts out so much
more than my most dreaded fears.

and here i am, again, saying, "Lord i choose me
to choose love!"

a mustard seed of love,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

cool kids

dear emily,

my children heard me say, more times than they wanted,
"steer clear from the cool kids at school.  they're the ones
who pressure you into changing your image, your morals,
and your integrity.

besides, they get more than their fair share of attention and
don't really need yours.   the uncool kids, on the other hand,
are desperate for a little kindness in the form of a smile,
encouraging word, or lunch partner.

these kids will accept you for yourself, not pressuring you
to change.  they're way more fun, because they're usually
more intelligent and can think outside the 'cool' box."

my self preserving skills were much too sharp to hang with
the cool kids when i was in high school.  they were very
scary to my little nerdy self.  my only transgression was to
date, and eventually marry, the nicest cool guy in school.

a few years ago, an elderly woman stopped hans to ask him
if he was the 'hans' in her daughter's history class, the one
who told her every day that her homemade dresses were
very pretty.

yep, he's the one!  my mom made a lot of my dresses, too.


"the King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did
for the least of did for Me.' "     matthew 25:40

Monday, February 22, 2010

easter memories

dear emily,

i know it's a little early, but my friend vee jumpstarted the
festivities, and now i can't stop thinking about it.

here's our favorite easter tradition.  my carpenter friend built
us an eight foot high wooden cross that we draped with
purple cloth until easter morning and placed it on our front
lawn.   early sunday morning i would  replace the cloth with
dozens of gold mylar balloons.

then we would decorate long tables and load them up with
donuts, fruit, juice, coffee, and hot chocolate.  around 8:00,
nine or ten families with colonies of children would jump
out of their cars all dressed up in their easter finest or still
in their jammies, we didn't care which.

we had a group of guitars with lots of singing and playing,
and donuts flying through the air.  at 9:00, each child let a
balloon go,  and we watched them all soar together into the
sky.   i am amazed now that not even the tiniest child ever
fussed about losing his balloon.

i told hans yesterday that i'm going to up the ante a bit with
my grandchildren and hire a hot air balloon.  he thinks i'm


ps.  "up from the grave, He arose with a mighty triumph
o'er His foes!..."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

tallgrass prairie preserve

dear emily,

as hans and i were drinking our coffee this morning, isaac called
to check on us.  i think the kids are worried that i might do
something crazy now that they're all gone.

"hey dad, what are you guys doing?"

"well, your mom and i have just been debating the merits of an
L. P. C."

"you're getting her a licensed professional counselor?"

"no, actually we're sitting here talking about the plight of the
lesser prairie chicken."


"ok...umm...hey, i guess that's as good a cause as any, taking
care of the 'least of these.'"

seriously, we had been discussing oklahoma's 39,000 acre tall
grass prairie preserve, the largest protected tall grass prairie on
the planet.  the beautiful three feet high grasses protect quail,
grouse, pheasants, prairie chickens and feed 2,500 buffalo.

this wonderland is surrounded by an additional 5 million acres,
"where the waving wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind
comes right behind the rain!"

this would be a really fun field trip for your little prairie chickens.
if you bring them in the summer, you can enjoy the mozart
festival and gorgeous wildflowers, too.


"for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a
thousand hills."  psalm 50:10

Friday, February 19, 2010

joie de vivre!

dear  emily,

one of my chief regrets in raising my flock is that i worried too
much about doing it well and not enough about doing it with
joy.  is there another word that makes your heart lift like that
little one?

recently, i read a darwin quote, in which he bemoaned that
he couldn't enjoy a line of poetry, shakespeare, art, or music
like he did "up to the age 30...the loss of these tastes is a loss
of happiness and possibly injurious to the intellect, and more
probably to the moral character..."

when i am 90, i want to giggle with my great grandchildren as
we wiggle our toes in cold, bubbly streams.  i hanker for many
hikes to the top of green hills and endless stacks of books to
devour.  i yearn to sing the "hallelujah chorus, hitting all the
high notes and have youngsters ask, "how does she sing like
that at her age?"

my hero, c.s. lewis says that "the whole of man is to drink
from the fountain of the feeling a child has when
he awakens in the morning to realize it is the beginning of

john piper maintains that the "chief end of man is to glorify
God BY enjoying Him forever."  we have let the stoics and
kant bully us into believing happiness or joy are selfish.

life sends me hardship, pain, and loss.  i have had to sacrifice
beloved possessions and people.   but i choose not to dwell

i am content that "...though i do not see Him, i believe in
Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible!"
1 peter 1:8


Thursday, February 18, 2010

lenten season

dear emily,

many believers fast or give up something for lent.  when hailey
was five or six, she told an elder in our church that she was
fasting dark chocolate.  she hated dark chocolate.

it's not an altogether bad idea to fast what we hate: lies, gossip,
unkind thoughts or deeds, self pity, list could go
on for a while.

the trouble with that, though, is "what you focus on, increases."
i stole that from andy andrews' book,  "the noticer."

i respect those who sacrifice at this time when we consider the
Lord's 40 days in the wilderness and His crucifixion.  it shows
an empathy for His suffering, that we take for granted.

instead of sacrificing for lent this year, however, i am going to
lean.  lean on His words, His love, His laying down of His life,
and on His everlasting arms.

i would love to hear what you are doing at this sacred time.


"what thou, my Lord, hast suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but Thine the deadly pain."

Monday, February 15, 2010

listen so your kids will talk

dear emily,

when we started sending our children off to school, we
made the mistake of asking, "how was your day?"


"well, what did you learn in school today?"


not a great start, but we were fast learners, and instead we
began asking, "what were two good things that happened
today and one hard thing?" or "tell us the favorite lesson
you learned today."

that went a little better.  joe white of the kanakuk camps
teaches parents to ask open ended questions with follow
up queries like, "wow, how did that make you feel or
how did you think of that?"

he calls it  "how to listen so your kids will talk."  it's much
harder to do than you would think.  i'm pretty terrible at it.

since you still have young ones, who ask a million questions
a day, you can hardly imagine monosyllabic answers from
them. i remember thinking, "my teenagers will never be like
those  in movies."  it's heart breaking until you realize, they
can't really help it.  their bodies are going crazy on them, and
they have to battle tough kids all day.

remember "freaky friday?"  it's good to try to put ourselves
in their shoes every now and then.  after that, just listen to
them and don't always tell them the better way to do every-
thing.  they want someone on their side.  they want a safe
place where people love them and believe in them.

one of our dear ones dropped a bomb on us recently, and
it was the hardest thing in the world to just listen and
encourage, when i was dying inside to holler, "are you
kidding me?" the truth is that i trust this child's heart and
know he/she will come out on top.


"children are a reward from Him," psalm 127:3

Sunday, February 14, 2010

my best valentine's present

dear emily,

you are not going to believe what i got for valentine's day!

hans sat our youngest daughters down and told them a story
about  a family he had watched on TV.  the family kept
getting sick, but they could not  diagnose the illness.  while
the older children and parents' immune systems could fight
off the assault, their little two year old sister became weaker,
eventually needing an oxygen mask to breathe.

it turns out their home was emitting a poisonous gas that
most of them could fight off, but which the youngest was
just more vulnerable to.  once they opened all the windows
and fixed the gas leak, she recovered beautifully.

hans went on to say that life is full of negative, destructive,
and often invisible forces that come against us continuously.
the lies include "you're fat, you're dumb, you could never do
that..." many of the deceptions are insidious and sneak up on
us when we are most vulnerable.

some of us are naturally optimistic and more immune to those
lies, but others are especially susceptible.  he told them that it
was important that they recognize a lie when they hear it and
to not 'breathe' it in.

instead, hold fast the truth, and surround themselves with
positive, good influences to counteract the negative ones.
moreover, the stronger ones need to help the weaker with
occasional 'oxygen masks.'

spending their time with wholesome, encouraging friends,
reading their bible, listening to "whatever is good, noble, and
pure" will build them up.  (phil. 4:8)  it will also protect them.

so what is my unbelievable present?  a husband whose heart
is completely given to us, protecting us, and continuously
encouraging us.


ps....and a teeny, tiny porcelain vase of red roses!

Friday, February 12, 2010

sleeping beauty and the seven dwarves

dear sleeping beauty,

aunt amelia shouted out a wake up cry of frustration
to sleeping beauty bloggers yesterday.  it reminded me
of the famous quote, "all that is necessary for evil men
to triumph is for good men to do nothing." (burke and

i choose to do something.  it may not be the same
thing you opt to do, but it will not be to do nothing.
there are several weapons in my arsenal:  to stay
informed, to appeal my representatives, and to pray.

the "weapons i fight with are not the weapons of
the world.  on the contrary, they have divine power
to demolish strongholds."  2 corinthians 10:4

if a leader ever typified a stronghold it is that "dark
dwarf" in iran mentioned by aunt amelia!

after 40 years of wielding my weapons  and seeing
evil strongholds fall to my left and right , i trust them
and the One who put them at my disposal.  i have
also watched in amazement, as many of you are
caring for infirm parents and grandparents, the way
you swing the club of love and selflessness, encouraging
us as you swing away (vee!)

tolkien may have been thinking of those same weapons
when he armed gimli, the good dwarf, and legolas, his
mate, to fight the evil at their doorstep.  the dark dwarf
in tolkien's world must have been hitler.

let's wake up now, my beauties.


ps. i accidentally omitted katharine from tolkien's warriors.

great books

dear emily,

are you still reading "little house on the prairie" to the kids?
i remember a blizzard so terrible that pa stretched a rope
between the house and the barn to not get lost.  that might
be from the "long, hard winter," though.

hans and i were discussing that of all the gifts we have given
our children, the love for reading would be at the top of the
list.  we cuddled their tiny bodies in our arms, reading them
nursery rhymes and bible stories.

as they grew older, they giggled at the antics of "hank, the
cowdog" and "the big friendly giant", better known as the
"BFG."  they shuddered at the perils of bilbo baggins and
cried when beth died from "little women." one of them
would say, "mom, do the voices!"  poor little beggars.

both the boys sort of stalled out at around 11 or 12, and i
resorted to gary paulsen's  "the river" and "hatchet".  his
thrilling adventures hooked them right back to the wonder
of well written stories, but they are not for young readers.

our local library asked me to host our children's author award
several years ago, and i flatly refused unless they granted the
award to gary.  after all, i really owed him one.  he was such a
colorful, salty guy, with a bit of a sailor's tongue, that the kids
were completely enamored.

that's what i love, a little salt, sugar and spice!  speaking of
great stories, you can find heartbreaking love stories, tales of
intrigue and spies, and brutal wars in the Good Book, too.

Source for great stories for young children

Thursday, February 11, 2010

valentine's day tea

dear emily,

shelby, hailey, and i had such a fun time at your beautiful tea
party!  we especially loved our homemade valentines with the
childrens' photos.  your festive table was lovely, set with mixed
patterns of antique china, ropey red candles made my #2, and
colorful candies in gorgeous, earthy pottery.

my heart was warmed that #1 invited me to sit beside him, and
then leaned into me the whole time.  what an enchanting little

hans wanted me to tell #3 that he thought my hair looked so
pretty all pink, purple, and fluffy.  when she spied hailey's
mass of dark hair, she thrust her hands deep into it and said
very quietly, "this might hurt a little bit."

it was funny that when i asked if the kids had been learning any
valentine's verses, they all had blank looks on their faces.  but,
when you prompted them, "she means love verses," they perked
right up.  love is something they can boast about, even though,
"love does not boast!" 1 corinthians 13:4

the party's love theme was not diminished a bit by all the detailed
accounts of gory cuts, scrapes, stitches, staples, cracked heads, or
broken arms and legs.  after all, as #1 stated, "what's a party unless
you have really good stories?"

my favorite part?  sweet #4 signing for 'more' with little 'deedles',
crawling back and forth, trying to keep up with all the jumping,
catching, and twirling.  his chubby little arms were stretched out
longingly for the wiggly, flashing ball, and sure enough, #2 gave
his to him.  "love is patient, love is kind."  1 corinthians 13:4

a loving time was had by all,

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

overcoming spirit

dear emily,

when your children come home from school and have been
bullied or teased by cruel children, it is often helpful to tell
them stories about inspiring people who have overcome
adversity, too.

here's a story about a hero of mine.  isaac watts (1674-1748)
wrote many of the hymns we sing today.  my favorites are
'o God, our help in ages past,' and 'when i survey the
wondrous cross.' i know every word.

what i didn't know is that he was only five feet tall with
a giant head and a great big nose.  sadly, the woman he
loved wouldn't marry him, because he was so ugly.  if that
weren't bad enough, his health was severely weakened by
a devastating case of smallpox.

though his happiness was threatened by his appearance,
his rejection, and his health, he must have still been filled
with an unfathomable joy.

after all, he wrote, 'joy to the world the Lord is come!'


lend yourself

dear emily,

my dear worship pastor, joseph, sends us a daily devotion,
and today's struck a chord in my heart.  i have always loved
king david for saying, "i am not going to sacrifice anything
that costs me nothing!"

i thought i would share with you something that costs me
dearly. occasionally, i am asked to sing at church services,
weddings, and funerals, which is a sweet honor.  the rub,
though, is that i am introverted, self conscious, and fearful.

i have never envied another's talent, but i can assure you
that i have turned green watching a singer just have the
time of her life expressing her gift.  what would that be
like to sing your heart out and enjoy every minute?  i
don't know.

the scripture joseph shared this morning is psalm 112:5,
"a good man deals graciously and lends..." it reminded
me that as long as i lend my talent graciously, though
it is costing me dearly, the Lord will use it.  that's all
that matters.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

weary and heavy laden

dear emily,

how many times have you felt overwhelmed as a mom?  this
mom would have to answer "innumerable times!"  just today,
a very competent young woman sent out a distress call  that
went something like this,

"sending up a flare...

so tired of holding to a standard when no one else seems to

so tired of having to motivate everyone around me.

so tired of feeling lonely.

so tired of the kids bickering.

so tired of being spiritually dry and feeling the heavens are
closed to me."

her desperate cries were met by a chorus of loving offers of
help and encouragement, because she is well loved.   when
life tries to drown us, we sometimes forget how many are on
our side.

we need to remind ourselves, too, that He said, "come unto
Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you
rest."  matthew 11:28


Saturday, February 6, 2010

thriving families

dear emily,

whenever i had to run errands with all the kids, i tried to do
it at 11:00, because focus on the family aired "adventures in
odyssey".  i enjoyed the hilarious and heartwarming stories
as much as they did and errands became fun.

here are focus on the family's "five easy ways to help your
family thrive":

1.    eat cell phones.

2.    play together - games, sporting events, movie nights,

3.    attend church and pray together.

4.    invest in your kids - with your TIME, helping with
       homework, cooking together, shooting baskets, etc.

5.    know where your kids are and know their friends.

to be perfectly honest, the last one was the most difficult and
the source for most of our teenager heartaches.  once they hit
a certain age, it was tricky piloting those waters.  thankfully,
though, we seem to have sailed through them safely.

we have never claimed to be good parents, but we do believe
in some great principles in raising kids.  one of our chief joys
is the loving and respectful relationship we enjoy with them.

speaking of focus on the family, they're airing a commercial
at the superbowl, featuring quarterback tim tebow and his
brave mom.  they will share her decision to not abort him.

they seem to be a good example of a thriving family.  bet she
can't imagine life without him.


revelation 4:11 "the Lord created everything for His good pleasure."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

superbowl sunday!!!

dear emily,

i have the super bowl menu planned: hans' favorite seven layer
dip, crab stuffed mushrooms, chicken wings, chips with salsa
and guacamole, barbecue meatballs, chips and onion dip, pizza
with pepperoni, onions, peppers, and seven cheeses, chips with
sour cream shrimp dip, brownies, and milky way bars.

groucho marx was a huge football fan and encouraged a player
with, "my boy, get in there and play like you did the last game!
i've got five dollars on the other team."

my favorite part is listening to hans and my boys.
hans:  "that offensive lineman can guard AND tackle."
isaac:  "and how about his footwork and pass protection?"
max:   "can you believe these calls?"
isaac:  "the ref needs glasses!"
hans:   "oh my gosh, oh my gosh...what was the coach thinking
            about?  there's too much time left..."

speaking of coaches, one shouted at his team, "ok, you guys,
line up alphabetically by height!"

joe theismann understood that "nobody in football should be
called a genius.  a genius is a guy like norman einstein."

i really only watch the game to humor hans and see the
commercials.  the best one featured frogs who ribbited,
"bud - wei - ser." the runners up were the e-trade babies
and talking t shirt stains.

this year tim tebow is included in a commercial which tells the
story that his mom almost aborted him.  it's super controversial,
although, i'm not sure who is left to be offended when we've
seen a scandalously clad britney spears selling pepsi and janet
jackson disrobe during half-time.

my personal inspiration is george rogers, who bragged, "i want
to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first."


"a merry heart is good medicine."  proverbs 17:22

ps.  the menu was a little joke.  hans will be lucky to get a pbj
sandwich. :)


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

influence for good or evil

dear emily,

when he was six or seven, max asked hans if he knew what
a psychic was.  "well, yes, but why are you asking?"

"cuz when i grow up i wanna' BE a psychic."

"you do, do you?"

"yeah, you know like batman and robin.  i want to be robin!"

everyone is a sidekick to someone.  if you are single, then you
probably have a boss, sister, choir director, friend, someone who
takes the lead that you tend to follow.

when our kids were little, they all thought that hans' executive
assistant was the boss, because he was always saying, "i don't
know let me check with r."

when we married, i easily slipped into the roll of my spouse's
sidekick.  some marriages seem to work the other way around.
we had equal input on everything, but he usually made the
final decision.  i am just not very comfortable being the final
authority, the one who pushes the 'red button'.

a wise woman once told me that i had more influence over
hans than any other person.  "did i want to use that influence
for good or evil?"

i have always been impressed that mary treasured everything
in her heart and followed joseph's wise leading to go to
egypt.  she could have said, "what the heck, i 'm the one
with the baby here!"  they left on the impetus of a dream, but
their experience had taught them those dreams tended to be
very helpful.

the winners of evil influence would have to be jezebel and
sapphira, who both got themselves and their husbands killed,
either by intent or negligence. 1 kings 16 and acts 5:1-11

we have to choose to be women of integrity, honor, goodness,
truth, and purity, who are willing to make a stand for those
principles by our example and our objections to lies, deceit,
and causing harm.