Sunday, February 27, 2011


Worst Oscars ever?

Already the vultures are out, putting their stamp of disapproval on this yearly star-studded event. There have been times when I've joined those who seem to take pleasure in degrading the successful. Shame on me.

I love movies. They take me places I'll never go, they make me cry or make me laugh when I feel like crying. Some inspire me or leave me speechless and thoughtful. And tonight was a time to honor and reward hard work and talent. Anne Hathaway was fun and funny. And although, as always, Oscars were given for movies I've not seen (yet) and to professions I know nothing about, I know that those awarded and those nominated worked hard to get where they are.

Even though I'm an avid movie goer, I admit to not fully appreciating the skill, labor, commitment and tenacity of actors, film directors, cinematographers, costume designers and all the other numerous talented people involved in the movie world.

I apologize for taking their gifts and hard work for granted. I should know better. I'm a writer and I know about the endless hours given to my craft, the many sacrifices made to produce a book, not just by me but by all the others who work in the industry who make a book happen.

It is my contention that I will always love movies. I can't wait for another opportunity to sit in a darkened theater with a bag of popcorn and become lost in a story made possible by actors who worked hard to learn their craft, who insisted on doing what they love and for all those who work in the background who make movies possible. Thank you--all of you.

Maybe it is time to consider the people who touch our lives every day and make them better . . . and to say, "Thank you."

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Topic of the Day: Christchurch is part of our world.

Have you read the headlines? Jennifer Aniston has a new haircut, Sarah Ferguson was left off the guest list for the royal wedding and Lindsay Lohan's back in court.

In light of what's going on around the globe I'd consider this news trivial. Why are they noteworthy? Did you read about the mother trapped amidst the rubble in Christchurch who left a touching message for her son, saying "I don't think I'm going to make it." Her arm crushed beneath the rubble, she kept calling out for help. She was rescued. Now, that's news. Good news in the midst of terrible tragedy.

I'm confused about what we see as being newsworthy. Why do we want to know about things like hair cuts, royal weddings and movie stars facing a judge? My guess is we need distraction--something safe, something that doesn't threaten our personal world. Life is complicated and sometimes difficult and actually stepping into the sorrows of others can feel overwhelming. I get that. But sometimes we've just got to wade in and feel other people's suffering and become involved.

One of the headings I read in the news accounts about what's happening in New Zealand stated that the work was no longer about saving lives but about body recovery. Body recovery. Can you imagine what it would feel like if one of those still missing was your loved one?

The people suffering in New Zealand, the Middle East, Africa--across our world are closer than we think, closer than we want. No matter where we live mankind is connected. We need to care about and for one another. Take a moment, stop what you're doing and care enough to imagine someone else's circumstances. We need to feel and to do what we can to help.

My niece married a man from New Zealand and he has family in Christchurch. I don't know these people, but they are living in the midst of tragedy. And I need to care. They're family. We are all family.

So, what can we do to help? Care. Pray. Offer assistance where we can. Connect with the human family across the world and in our own communities. Love one another.

One day it will be us who needs someone to care enough to reach out.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quiet Moments With God: You Can't Drink Grapes

This week I've been reminded of what it's like to ride a see-saw. When I was a child, the up and down ride used to be fun. This week was filled with highs and lows but I wouldn't describe it as fun. There were moments of triumph and hope as well as times when defeat seemed at hand. I'm not particularly proud of the way I faced the sorrows.

It's easy to cheer when we stand on a mountain top, but it's our time in the valleys that reveal who we really are. If only the world were made up only of sunny days and smooth sailing--that would be blissful. Right? If that's all we knew what kind of people would we be? Where would we find our fortitude or learn to be grateful for our many blessings? And what of the saying, without winter we wouldn't know how precious spring is.

There is a profound portion of scripture in Philippians two. Paul speaks of how we should live and about his becoming a drink offering. Remarkably, he rejoices in his sacrifice. He writes, "But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a drink offering to God." He wrote this letter to the Philippians while in prison, and yet his thoughts are with those who have believed and those who have yet to understood the sacrifice of Christ. Clearly he has given all he is to the Lord and is willing to offer up his very life. How did he come to such a place?

Paul lived through many sorrows and travails. He suffered harshly for his faith, yet he persevered, gladly. He was crushed just as grapes are crushed before they can be made into wine and to then be an offering to God.

Perhaps like me, you long to be like Paul, to offer yourself to God with gladness and in faith, to be a drink offering for the Lord.

However, there is an obstacle--one cannot drink grapes.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, February 18, 2011

TOPIC OF THE DAY: A Hope and a Future

The clock just ticked past 12:00 PM and so it is technically the day after my birth--February 18th. I know that fifty-nine years ago on February 18, my mother saw me for the first time and cradled me in her arms while my father looked on. They fell in love and my life began.

But I was already known. God knew me. Scripture says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

God's words leave me breathless--I mattered to Him then and I matter to Him now. The Father's hands formed me. He knew all there is to know about me. And still, He loved me. I can't get my mind around that. I don't see what He sees. Like many of you, I don't value His creation as I should. I spend too little time being grateful for the gift of life. Every breath is precious, every moment provides opportunity. Life is rich and will be more so if we turn our eyes to Him and ask with an open heart, "What now, Lord? Tell me and I will do it. Praise you, Lord."

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." What a promise! We can count on Him to uphold His promises.

I had fun at my birthday celebration today. Family gathered for a special meal, we prayed and laughed, played silly games and held onto one another. It was good. Yet, I long for more--time to speak of the gift of each other, more time to pray and to build one another up. As the day comes to a close I consider who I am, who God means for me to be and how great is His love. How many more birthdays do I have? I can't answer that question, but I pray that I'll not waste the time given to me and to be grateful for the days already received. May I greet each morning with a heart of thanksgiving.

Let us breathe in the fragrance of God's creation, to put our arms around a loved one, or one who needs to be loved. Shall we count every day as a blessing. We are here on purpose. Treasure the gift.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Topic of the Day: Best in Show

Evidently dogs are becoming more significant in our lives. An example of this is the prestigious Westminster Dog Show, where the "best in show" will be decided this evening. Even the rich and famous have been spotted cheering on their favorites. Personally, I enjoy dog shows. It's always fun to have a look at what are considered the best in each breed. This year there's a newcomer, a Pekinese who just might take the top crown. But we can't forget the stately Great Danes, or a Shar-Pei who is the first of its kind to win in the non-sporting class. These and all the rest are special animals, bred for perfection. But . . . they're still just dogs--lovable, lively animals who make our lives better.

I've considered this world of dogs and pondered the reasons why we've become a dog-loving society. What is it about our beloved pets that makes us do all sorts of crazy things like take them out in a snow storm just to make sure they get their walk, carry them in our purses or make sure they are groomed by the "best" groomer in town. We spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars at our local veterinarians. Cesar Milan, better known as The Dog Whisperer has become wealthy simply by doing what he calls, rehabilitating dogs and training people.

What makes our dogs extraordinary, pedigreed or not? They love unconditionally. Even when we don't take them for a walk or even forget to feed them or lose our tempers with them, they keep on loving us. All they want is our love in return and maybe a belly rub.

I have a dog named Bentley. He's nothing like the extraordinary dogs that will be competing today at the Westminster Dog Show, but he's mine. He's a hard-headed boxer with too much energy who is too smart for his own good. He knows how to open gates and he loves to dig holes, but we love him anyway. We try to remind ourselves that he's still a puppy although he weighs seventy pounds and already at eight months of age bravely protects his people.

I've been an imperfect dog owner. I get frustrated and sometimes even angry with this clown of a dog. But he loves me anyway--unconditionally.

Dogs are a beautiful example of how we ought to love one another. Pedigreed or not Bentley has the credentials that matter--LOVE. Even when I've been too busy for him, he'll rest his head on my lap, look up at me with his big brown eyes and let me know how much I matter to him.

We love him because he first loved us. Dogs can be a reminder of The One who first loved us and gave His life for us.

If you get a chance give your dog an extra hug tonight. Let him know how special he is.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Need A Fill Up

Do you ever feel like you've come to the end of your rope? Responsibilities gobble up time. Family and friends need more from you than you have to give, or you've been confronted by losses or conflicts. There's a long list of of circumstances that soak up our energy reserves. Sometimes it's just living. I've been in that place many times--drained and wondering how I'm going to pull myself together.

When we find ourselves feeling flattened by life's concerns what should we do? We can sleep alot and pretend everything is just fine. That might help for a while. We can get lost in a book--living in another world will make us feel better for a while. We can get together with a friend and vent. That will help for a while. We can work harder--but we can only do that for a while. Although these things are good and helpful, none of them will bring lasting fulfillment.

The best place to fill up is at a God station, which offers waters that never run dry. Our engines won't run without a fill up. Take a big gulp of His Word. Pray. Worship. Allow Him into your heart. He places a balm on our sorrows, fears, and the feelings of hopelessness that threaten to overwhelm us. Believe in The Lord, the Giver of Life.

The beauty of this "fill up" is we never have to pay for it--it's free--a gift from our Heavenly Father. It's been paid for by Christ who gave His life for us. He is the intercessor between us and the Heavenly Father. It is the love of the Lord that fills our hearts and souls with hope, love and joy.

Just as the Samaritan woman did, drink from the water that satisfies for all time. And never thirst again.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

TOPIC OF THE DAY: Getting Enough Sleep?

There are a lot of Americans who are not getting enough sleep. I'm one of them. As long as I can remember, I've been a night owl. As a child, I'd lie awake at night with the house silent and dark, longing for sleep and knowing 6:30 AM would arrive too soon.

I read a news article today which stated that sleep deprivation is a global problem, and that those who are not getting enough zzz's are at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. That makes me sit up and take notice.

I ask, "Why?" Why aren't we sleeping? There are people like me who have inner clocks that don't match the rest of the world but for many the root cause is something else. It may have something to do with lack of rest. We are a driven society. Too many of us refuse to take a break from work or from fulfilling an obligation we couldn't say no to.

Rest is not the same as sleep. It's a quieting of the soul, spirit and the heart. A place where we find serenity. The Bible says that even God rested and in Mark 6 Christ says to the apostles, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest a while." There are many mentions of rest in God's Word. It must be important.

There is a list of sleep remedies--exercise, healthy eating, pharmaceuticals, white noise, restful music, evening routines. . .the list goes on. There's nothing cynical about finding help for sleeplessness. I've used most of the "cures" listed. But I'd rather make a life change. How about you?

Do you have difficulty giving yourself permission to rest? I do. Society has convinced us that resting is the same as laziness. That's a lie--don't believe it. I'm not against hard work, in fact I do a lot of that. And allowing myself to rest doesn't come naturally. I'm doing my best to learn that it means taking good care of myself and that's okay. Becoming restful doesn't look the same for all of us. We need to find our own path toward restoration.

Stress is a huge deterrent. It steals serenity. It's a powerful thief that sneaks up on us disguised as important obligations, work that can't wait, desire for possessions or status. The list is long and varied.

So, how do we destress? Smile. Laugh. Learn to say, "No." Make time for fun. Get outdoors. Spend time with friends and family. Watch a movie or attend a concert. Read a book. And we need to get our noses out of our computers . . . at least more often. And don't forget to spend time with God. He created us for His pleasure. Enjoy His creation. One of my favorite things to do is to launch a boat in a high mountain lake and float lazily on the shimmering waters on a warm summer day with a fishing line in the water. It doesn't matter if I catch a fish.

Taking good care of ourselves is the best thing we can do for others. When we're healthy and happy we become a balm to the people around us.

I've shared some of my favorite ways to rest, what are some of yours? How do you rebuiild your energy and joy?

Grace and peace to you,


Monday, February 07, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- A Legacy

A week ago, I attended the memorial service of a dear friend, Bob Rowe. He's always been a one of a kind person--a special man. He didn't always walk with the Lord, but when his eyes were opened to the truth of Jesus Christ he grabbed hold and quietly went about the Lord's business. My husband had the privilege of baptizing him mamy years ago when he was a new believer.

During his memorial service there was no shortage of tales and tidbits of goodness to share about this special man. Bob touched many lives. He didn't live for personal gain. His heart was filled with the need to serve his Lord and those around him through ministry and unexpected opportunities. He touched one life at a time. He made a difference. As I listened to story after story of Bob's life I heard things I'd never known about him.

He lived humbly, always had a sparkle in his eye and a joke at the ready. But more than that, he offered his life as a sacrifice to others and was always glad to get involved wherever needed.

During the service, one man stood up and said that if he had to describe Bob in one word it woud be faithful. He was steadfast to his profession of faith, his service and his friends.

I wondered what would be said of me, if it were my last farewell to this earth. Am I serving God with my whole heart? Does my life make a positive difference in the lives of others? What kind of example am I to my family and friends? Is it clear that Christ is the Lord of my life? Am I walking the path He's chosen for me?

Self examination needs to be done. Certainly none of us live righteously all of the time. But taking time to ponder on our Lord, our existence as His children and on whether or not we're making the most of what He's given us or squandering opportunites is hugely important.

We shall walk this way only once and then, like a mist, we'll be gone. What will we leave behind?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, February 04, 2011

TOPIC OF THE DAY: World Cancer Day

Did you know that this is "World Cancer Day?" I didn't until I saw it in the headlines. It's a good day to remember those who battle for life and those whom we've lost to the fight. Science has made great strides forward and I'm thankful to say that cancer no longer necessarily means we've run out of time.

I've known people with cancer, presently know some with it and I'll know others in the future. If statistics are correct, chances are pretty good that I will one day battle the disease myself. My father did. He died from a form of lymphoma in his early fifties--He was much too young. It's been many, many years since he left this earth, but it takes only a small reminder, like the article I came across, to carry me back to those days when he fought and lost.

Back in the 70's cancer was a dreaded word. I remember when my parents gathered all five of us children together to give us the news. Dad was dying. Of course they didn't tell us that right up front, but we knew soon enough. The doctor's told my father that they had no cure for the type of cancer he had, but that with treatment they could give him more time, possibly a couple of years.

With children still at home, my dad chose to fight for the time. Instead of two he battled hard and gained six. I'll never forget his war with cancer, the day of his death and a wet rainy afternoon when we laid him in the ground. But, what stands out above all the painful memories is the bright shining example he set for those close to him--how to live while dying. I still miss him, but when I consider how he lived out his final six years I smile as love and pride well up inside of me.

Chemo is rough and back then it could be torture. But he bravely faced the chemicals and radiation and shunned any notion that the disease and the treatments that came along with it would keep him down. He went right on living--every day. He understood that each day was a gift and he wasn't going to let even one slip by him. He never missed a day of work in five and a half years. He went sailing and fishing, worked in his garden, fished, played with his family and he laughed. . . a lot. He didn't waste one precious day. And in all those years I never heard him complain.

My father was the bravest man I've ever known. He stood toe to toe with cancer and although he died, he beat it--He beat its ability to rob him of joy. I have friends, right now, who are in the midst of this kind of battle. Again and again I see the same spark of determination and joy in them that I saw in my father. They refuse to roll over and let a diease destroy their life.

Over the years, my father taught me many lessons, but watching him thrive in the midst of the most difficult battle of his life has made me stronger. I witnessed his life and learned how courageous he truly was. I'm proud to be his daughter and today on World Cancer Day, I honor him. I thank God for giving me a father of character, who taught me by example what it means to live honorably.

We can live with honor, joy and peace even when life throws the worst at us. Let's not just remember on "Cancer Day", but every day. Love, laugh, work, and share yourself with others. Seize the beauty of every moment.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

HOT TOPICS: Blizzards and Weather Woes

Is this the winter that wouldn't end? Blizzards have hit the Midwest again. I'm reminded of a book called the "Long Winter", which was part of the "Little House" series. An entire town nearly perished.

Here in the Northwest, winter is usually about growing webbed feet and trying to stay alive while driving in dense fog. We get our cold snaps and a bit of snow now and then, but I'm grateful for our generally mind weather. I'm especially thankful when I see what's happening in the midwest and along the east coast. I can't imagine living in a deep freeze for days on end, one storm after another, even with my Alaskan heritage.

I'm in the midst of another Alaskan tale so that's where my mind and heart is. Alaskans are hearty folks. They have to be to live in one of the most spectacular, yet daunting places on earth. The weather alone, is more than most can tolerate.

Did you know that the lowest temperature recorded reached -80 degrees at a place called Prospect Creek Camp? It was January 3rd, 1971. Brrr--too cold for me. The most precipitation recorded in one year was 332.29 inches, which fell in McCloud Harbor back in 1976. Anyone up for a chilly swim? The most snowfall in one month occurred in Thompson Pass in February 1953 -- 297.9 inches! I don't think even the heavy duty mountain snow plows would be of any help with that much snow. They get plenty of wind in Alaska. The highest sustained winds were recorded at 139 MPH. They blew through Shemya Island in December 1959. Even the brave bush pilots were grounded on that day. And can you imagine a snow pack of 356 inches? That happened on Wolverine Glacier, the winter of 1976/77.

Our friends in the midwest and the east coast are suffering. They need our prayers, but let's not forget our dear friends to the north who live with weather challenges every year.

I'll bet most of us have a winter tale to tell. I'd love to hear yours.

Happy Day,