Showing posts from 2015

What Does Love Look Like?

According to society, love is flowers, candy, kisses, rings, tulle, and the words, “I do.” That is one kind of love. However, there are many others: the love of parents, the love of children, the love of siblings, the love of friends, and the love of things.
In Luke 21:34 Jesus warns us not to become too engrossed in the things of this world as to become complacent to the things of God.
Yet, it is so easy to get caught up in the here and now. It screams at us for attention through social pressures, media, and even friends and family.  With all of this activity, the here and now can still feel empty, devoid of meaning and we ask the age-old questions: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose in this life?” “Is what I am doing important?”


During this season of Advent there are many scriptural references to the blind seeing, the lame walking, and the poor feasting. It’s a beautiful, comforting image, for who among us has not suffered? Even those born of privilege suffer. They may not worry about food, clothing, and shelter as do the very poor, but they suffer in other ways.
When we lived in a wealthier area, people were polite, civil, but mostly cold. They didn’t go out of their way to say, hello, or even acknowledge my existence. I think they knew instinctively by my dress, my mannerism, or by some other secret code, that I wasn’t one of them.
Tending toward being an introvert, I didn’t much care. However, when we moved out further into an area with a bigger mix of economic strata, I experienced a radical change in the people around me. There were more smiles, hellos, and Good Afternoons. People I didn’t know chatted in the aisles, and helped load large items into my car.
One man actually chased my husband and me d…

Is Home truly where the heart is?

What if your heart is in two different places? I love our home here in Idaho. The house has many aesthetic features I never thought I’d own and the Treasure Valley is beautiful as well. Boise is known as The City of Trees and is edged by the Boise and the Owyhee Mountains. The climate is mild, relatively speaking for a northwestern area. We have almost two hundred days of sunshine a year. Considering we do have three months of winter, that’s a lot of sunshine.
The other plus, Idaho doesn’t harbor painful memories as my hometown in Oregon does. I don’t drive around a corner and get slapped in the face by a reminder of one of many heartaches. Both the climate and the environment is healthier for me here in the Treasure Valley of Idaho.
However, my closest friends and family are in Oregon, a seven-hour drive through deserts and mountains without the benefit of a freeway and very few towns. The distance is marked in hours from one landmark to another. It is a trip no one takes on a regul…

Stay or Leave?

Many of us face that question at some point in our lives. The bad boss, the abusive spouse, the not-so-good friend, the negative church or social group, how long do we stay? When is it time to shake the dust off our shoes and move on? Scripture states after taking a great deal of verbal abuse, Paul and Barnabas “shook the dust from their feet in protest” and left the city. Acts 13:51.
How do we balance our Christian directive to love our enemies and discern when it is time to leave? I can’t speak for others, only for myself, but I personally believe it’s time to leave when it becomes obvious the other person does not intend to change and will continue the abuse. 
It takes me a long time to give up on a relationship, too long. I gave seven years to my ex-husband, leaving only when he held a pillow over my face until I quit struggling. I should have left long before that, but I believed it was “until death do us part” ― regardless.

When my ex fell asleep, I took our two boys and ran f…

The Unexpected Void of Retirement

It began with a friend posting a picture of a calla lily on Facebook. Then, another friend posted a picture of a national park an hour’s drive from my hometown with two rainbows arched across the stormy sky.
It continued with a silly game that pulled random scripture verses which supposedly match your profile. My verse was Psalm 91: 14: “Because he hoped in me I will deliver him: I will protect him because he hath known my name.”
Then the next morning Psalm 27 was listed in my devotions. 
So, what exactly does all this mean?


Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11
When I first began art lessons, my dad encouraged me and gave me a challenge with each painting. “That’s good, Sisser, but not as good as Jackson.”
Jackson was a regional artist whose large painting hung in our living room. For years I worked hard to be as good an artist as Jackson. Then one day, I gave my dad a painting of one of his favorite subjects: a ponderosa pine, an old cabin, and mountains draped in snow.
My dad said, “It’s just as good as Jackson’s.”
I was thrilled, I wanted to burst into song and dance.
Then he added, “But not as good as Charles Russell.”

Oh Discipline, Where Art Thou?

It’s 5:44 in the morning. It’s still night outside. The stars are bright. The moon has gone to bed. My husband and Scout are still sleeping. The fireplace is lit. The coffee brewed and my devotions read. I'm now making plans for the day, once again vowing to be more disciplined in my diet, exercise, and other personal choices.
Will it be like yesterday, a day filled with good intentions partially fulfilled? My plan of using diet "money" has helped, some. I managed to stay within my calorie count until several hours after dinner. Then a gnawing, empty feeling struck, demanding I eat something before bed.
Where did that come from? I never used to snack after dinner.
The experts say it takes thirty days to implement a life change. So far, I haven’t made three days. However, I did better yesterday than the day before, so maybe today will be better than yesterday. It won't get any better if I give up, so I must renew my resolve every single day, or every hour if I must…

That Four-Letter Word: D. I. E. T.

Yeah. That word. I’ve played with it all my life. I used to be good at it, and I was slim — and young. Those two go together. Because, let’s face it, we older folks are at a disadvantage when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
After being very slim, (okay, skinny) for most of my life, this post-menopausal weight gain has devastated my self-esteem (all right, ego.) I always felt a bit superior for being, and staying, so slim. I think part of my weight gain was God shaking a finger at me. I now have far more empathy for others in this war on weight, and a much healthier idea of what constitutes the right body weight.
I always thought I was fat, even when my ribs were showing. No, I wasn’t anorexic, but every time I gained a little weight, I’d get sick, and I’d lose ten pounds in one week. Yeah, I kinda miss the ability to lose like that, but I don’t miss feeling ill most of the time. Obviously being slim does not mean being healthy.

Christian Fiction Friday: October 9th

Thank you Hallee Bridgeman and Alana Terry for another fun round of Christian Fiction Friday.

For my first post with this blog hop, I am sharing a snippet from the book I am currently working on. It is the third book in my Lions and Lamb series. (Cover is still in the concept stage and the image has not been purchased. Please excuse the watermark).

Maize Gasko lay alone in the dilapidated room, helpless and terrified, praying for mercy from a God she had not spoken to for most of her life. Did He still care after all the things she had done to rouse His anger? In her fevered mind, she saw the child, the sweet lamb who could save her ― if she came in time.
Another searing pain coursed through her midsection, driving the air from her lungs and nearly forcing her spirit from her body. Perhaps the old prophet was wrong. It appeared her time was over. She had failed the one important task asked of her and God was surely too angry to give her another chance.
Maize closed her eyes. Yes, she …

Apples, Oranges, and Lemons: the Stuff of Nightmares

Night terrors. They come at bedtime, in the middle of the night, and sometimes early in the morning, terrifying images robbing me of sleep, and peace of mind. Some are so frightening they force me out of bed.
Several tricks help to eradicate these scenes: Solitaire, a book, and a few simple computer games. These, however, are only momentary distractions. It is Scripture that usually exterminates them — for a while.
After a particularly rough night of self-accusation, I rose, went into my study, and opened that day’s devotions. In Living Faith, Fr. Martin Pable, O.F.M. talked about humility. Alcoholics Anonymous gives their members this definition: “Humility means not to make comparisons.”

It's Done!

Finally, after months of editing and rewriting, the revised edition is out. It was a huge learning curve on what to leave in and what to take out (to the tune of over 20,000 words deleted). Yes, I killed many, many darlings. However, I didn't weep. They needed to go. The new scenes are better.

Is it perfect? No, but at least a giant step up from the first version.

I am not the first author to rewrite an already published book. Tolkien rewrote The Hobbit. In the first version, the ring wasn't as emphasized as much as in in the rewrite. Other authors have bit the same piece of bitter fruit and revisited earlier works. Admitting the need is the biggest hurdle.

New Synopsis:
What would you risk to save a child?
Half a world away in Zimbabwe, Africa, a demon-god roared in rage. His ancient priest flinched, eyed the rising flames of his cooking fire, and scuttled back.  
The demon narrowed his eyes. “So, my old enemy, Raphael, has once again disguised his angelic form as that old In…

What Can I Live Without?

This last week has been a tough lesson in what I things I truly need. It seems every day something broke. First, it was my husband’s laptop. Then, the ceiling fan in the living room stopped working. The hot water valve in the guest bath clogged with sediment and there isn’t any hot water for the tub. The garbage disposal is making an awful ruckus and we’re afraid to use it. The tailgate on our pickup truck broke and we can’t open it. One of the automatic sprinklers isn’t working right.
The final straw: the coffee maker quit. I must admit I felt disheartened and started worrying about what else was going to go wrong, and how in the world we would manage to fix everything now that we are both retired.
We sat down and made a list of what needs to be fix now, and what can wait. In truth, none of it is urgent, except the tailgate on the truck.
We did, however, do some research on how to repair each item and found fixes for some. A system reset repaired my husband’s laptop. A YouTube vid…

The Not So Golden Moments of Retirement

It’s finally here, retirement. After months of planning and dreaming, the day has come, but my first few weeks weren’t the joy-filled, do-whatever-I want-time I thought it would be. Of course, I expected there would be obligations, tasks and chores, what I did not anticipate was being ill, needing a skin biopsy, and having partial laryngitis. Add in a computer crash, garbage disposal on the fritz, brand new dryer making odd noises, and a jammed tailgate on the truck. Sounds like too much fun, doesn’t it?
Retirement has been my golden egg, the place of peace and contentment, less stress ― in my imagination. I knew there would be bumps and a few rough places, but I figured those would be spaced a bit, not slam me right off the bat.

Weeds, Rainbows, and a Life Saving Miracle - True Story

I spent last weekend miserably sick with an unknown ailment and of course, my mind ran amok with scenarios, conjuring up horrific diseases. However, before I could make an appointment to see my doctor, God told me not to worry, and then He provided a miracle that saved my life - no exaggeration.
The morning I first noticed symptoms, my devotions listed the Book of Tobias – for the entire following week. This book is significant to me, a source of a previous divine promise.

After my third husband passed away, I believed I would be alone for the rest of my life. At the age of forty-seven, that had the possibility of being a long, lonely life, but God had other plans.

The Savings Account

Since our income will take a huge plunge in a little over two months with my retirement, my husband and I spent hours going over our budget.  We felt we’d be okay, financially, as we will have all our debts paid off, except the mortgage, but it is always better to sit down and look at actual figures, particularly our tax withholding. We sure don’t want a nasty surprise at the end of the year.
And so, we fiddled, plotted, and planned for hours, crunching numbers around every possible scenario we could envision. With the debts paid off, and no work expenses, we’ll actually have more money left after bills than we do now (no surprise there, but good to see the actual numbers verify that).

In Time

Based on my personal experience, I believe there are several factors involved in the timing of God’s answers. My first understanding of God's timing came in in a dream (The Bus). Other life experiences added to that lesson and I came to the following conclusions. 
First, there may be others in involved in our request, and since each of us is free to accept God’s will, or reject it, the prayer might not be answered, or it may take a long time for the other heart to soften and finally relinquish their will to His. God is patient. He’ll wait. Then, we must wait.
The other option, we may be the stumbling block. Maybe we aren’t ready and God in His wisdom will not grant a prayer we aren’t capable of handling. He’ll send difficulties and trials, conditioning us until we are ready.

Mother's Day

Traditionally this is the day we honor our mothers. I have done that in the past, and will certainly be calling my mother and wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day, but I will spend most of the day in reflection. What kind of mother was I? Did I nurture and encourage as well as instruct? Did I guide more than demand?
From my perspective as a mother of grown children, I can only say that sometimes I succeeded and other times I failed. I hope my children remember my love and encouragement and choose to forgive and forget my failings They still me haunt after all these years.
It is my faith that keeps those painful memories from driving me toward depression or addictions. God loves me in spite of my failings, just as I love my children in spite of theirs.
As for my own mother, at this point I view her mistakes in a much different light. Intent far outweighs action. Even though I didn’t always agree with her choices, her intention was one of guidance and instruction, metered with love. And …


Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
George Ballas had a moment of serendipity at an automated car wash and invented the Weedeater. Spencer Silver, a scientist with 3M, discovered the adhesive used in Sticky Notes while looking for a super strong glue for aeronautics. Mary Anderson conceived the idea for the windshield wiper while sitting on a NY trolley car.
We have all experienced moments of serendipity, but may call it by another name: inspiration. Writers say they receive inspiration while pursuing other tasks: showering, driving, dining, walking, watching TV, conversing. Inventors obviously receive inspiration while doing other things outside of the lab, or while researching for other ideas. It’s the same for any profession.
My devotional, Breakfast with God, by Honor Books, takes this one-step further by stating that God is the Master behind serendipity. While we are busy looking for the answer to prayer in one directio…

Two Ways to Live Your Life

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein. 

Is There Good In All Things?

Saint Paul says in Romans 8:28: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose are called to be saints.”

Afflictions come in many forms: natural disasters, physical ailments, financial struggles and horrendous suffering imposed by the actions of others. The list is endless. It is hard to think of any of it as being good for us . Acts 3: 1-10: Peter heals the crippled man lying outside the gate of the temple. Crippled since birth, the man suffered from his infirmity all of his life. Because of the length of his suffering, was his cure more miraculous? Does this mean his suffering was tied directly into God’s glory? That’s an uncomfortable thought. Yet, we know great good can spring from great suffering. Our most celebrated stories involve horrific struggles and sacrifices. 
If my faith is stronger because of suffering, will more afflictions be the spiritual equivalent of lifting weights? Hosea 6:1-2: “In their afflict…

Half Full or Half Empty?

Some think that the glass is not only half-full, but also filled with toxic water. Although I consider myself an optimist, I sometimes fall into that logic. This usually occurs after I’ve made a mistake, used wrong judgment, or made a mess of things in one way or the other. My co-workers, bless their hearts, remind me (in a kind way) that I am only human and I will make mistakes, not only at work but also in my personal life. Granted, I do need to own up to my failings and learn from them, but after that it is time to move forward.
However, I tend beat myself up for several hours, even days, depending on the seriousness of my mistake. This causes my blood sugar to plummet, which in turn affects my general health, which then adds to the negative thought pattern. This downhill spiral is hard to stop and serves no purpose after a short period of justified remorse and a fervent, “I’m sorry” when that is warranted.
The psychology behind this self-punishment isn’t hard to figure out. If I …

Now Available: Lions Among the Lambs - Book Two of the Lions and Lamb Series

It's finally done!

Evil takes many forms. Some times as beauty, sometimes as beast.   
In this sequel to And Then Came a Lion, Susannah Daniels faces an adversary who takes evil to a higher level than any predator she has yet encountered. This monster uses the innocent only as a means to his end - a personal Armageddon.
Yet, things are not always what they appear to be. How can Susannah tell who is the beast and who is not? She must trust an old Indian spirit, a divine messenger sent to lead her through a maze of supernatural challenges expertly orchestrated by a creature universally known for his deceptions.

And so begins the game of Cat and Mouse. Who will win? The predator or the prey?
Available on Amazon: Lions Among the Lambs

Searching for My Carmel-by-the-Sea

My husband wants to take me to Carmel-by-the-Sea on a future vacation. It sounds wonderful, with panoramic ocean views, quaint shops, fabulous restaurants, and elegant inns. Let’s say I liked the idea. It sounds like a place that would be hard to leave – until the money ran out.
The travel brochures describes it as a place of perfection, a place where everyone is polite and gracious, a place where the ugliness of the rest of the world doesn’t exist. That might be the true for tourists, but the residents deal with all the same problems the rest of us do. They just get to do it in a beautiful place.
We can chose to make our lives more beautiful, regardless of whether we live in a resort town or not, and the means to do this is free: the Serenity Prayer.
I have this recorded on a CD by Dr. Emmett Miller (Serenity Prayer) with a thirty-minute drive time meditation. What could be a better time to practice serenity than during my morning commute?

Life Doesn’t Need to Be This Hard

Life is hard enough without adding more weight than I need to carry – literally. Why do I pack my purse and my tote with so much just-in-case-I-need-it stuff? Some of those necessities never see daylight, so why do I insist on carrying it around?
I look at my husband. When we head out on errands, he has car keys and a wallet. I have my purse loaded with a year’s worth of survival gear. Why?
A week ago I woke with a horrific stiff neck. The pain moved down from the base of my skull and into my left shoulder. This is where I carry all of my tension and the arm I use to carry my work tote. Yes, the one loaded with more survival gear than the purse.
Spurred on by the discomfort of my knotted muscles, I cleaned house. I simplified everything down to what I actually used on a daily basis and pulled out everything else. I think I removed ten about pounds of stuff from the purse and the tote. At least it feels like it.
From that point, I thought about all the other baggage I carry around…

Bumps, Bends, and Miracles

My life has had many bumps and bends, but through a series of amazing circumstances (a story for another time), God has promised that the last half of my life would be better than the first.

It sure didn't look like that at first. The road appeared to be filled with as many bumps and potholes as the first half: lost jobs, health issues, and financial crises - until unimaginable miracles began.
There were many, many miracles, but today I want to thank God for a few of the more extraordinary ones, like His paying off my small business debt, an insurance company insisting on paying a death benefit twice, and the purchase of a home without any money for a down payment and little income.

Martha, Don't Look!

Where does the time go? Every day I promise myself to step back, take a deep breath and enjoy my cup of coffee a bit longer, spend more time in conversation with my husband, talk more often to friends and family, and take time to read a little more, but it seems I am always racing the clock.

In my morning devotions, the scripture detailed how often Jesus stepped out alone into the desert to pray. We Martha's have a hard time relating to that. What? Just drop everything and go off by ourselves? Who has the time to do that? Our world would just fall apart, wouldn't it?

Who would do all the dishes, the laundry, cook, clean, pay bills, and run errands while we were off selfishly indulging in quiet time? We'd be so far behind on our To-Do-List we'd never catch up, right?

 Maybe not. What if we actually allowed someone else to help - without criticizing how they did it?

I received a personal lesson in this when my husband retired. My sweetheart offered to take over all the …