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December 13, 2014 | 0 comments

I used to have a long list of things I “needed” to get done before the family celebration on Christmas Eve.  The change in my thinking began when I attended an “Unplugging the Christmas Machine” retreat.  When I made my to-do list for Christmas and who did each chore (me), I was appalled.  No wonder I was tired and cranky.  No wonder I felt depressed by the time Christmas Eve was over.  Expectations were so high, failure was almost guaranteed. 

How many other moms and wives mistakenly believe it is their responsibility to make sure everyone in the family has their perfect Christmas?  So we do the shopping (making certain everyone has the same number of gifts to open), wrapping, addressing and writing individual notes in each Christmas card, decorating the house and the tree, making cookies for neighbors, shopping for those who serve us through the year (pastors, mailman, newspaper delivery lady…)  Then there’s the shopping for the big...

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December 6, 2014 | 0 comments

As Christmas approaches, volunteers in red aprons or jackets and a velvet Santa cap stand by a red bucket and ring a bell.  You see them in front of supermarkets and stores and hear them wishing people a Merry Christmas, even those who don’t give a dime to help others, but walk right past to shop inside.  Rick and I have not rung the bell, but we never pass by those who do without putting money in the bucket. 

Why? 

Years ago during the Great Depression, Rick’s Dad jumped a train in the Carolinas and headed west in the hope of a better future.  All the money saved for college was gone, but he’d heard a smart young man could make something of himself in California.  He ended up in Oakland with 14 cents in his pocket.  Exhausted and hungry, he wrapped his shoes in his shirt and used the bundle for a pillow.  Dad slept soundly and didn’t awaken when a thief lifted his head and took the few possessions he had.

What does a...

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December 1, 2014 | 0 comments

Alas, Thanksgiving is over.  The turkey and all the trimmings have been gobbled, the dishes washed and put away. The children and grandchildren have all gone home and the mums on the front steps are wilting in the rain.  The house echoes with conversations and laughter.  Sigh. 

Then I remember:

Thanksgiving is far from over.   It’s not just one day a year when we gather around a feast and talk about the blessings we’ve experienced over the past year.  It is a state of mind that can remain with us each and every day. 

Sometimes, in the darkest of night, when worries worm their way into my mind, and steal my sleep, I remember thankfulness is seeing real life, rather than the shadows of how hard our temporal time on this earth can be.  Life is hard.  Yes.  But -- I am God’s child. (John 1:12)  I am Christ’s friend. (John 15:19)  I have been bought with a price.  I belong to God.  (1...

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November 21, 2014 | 0 comments

It’s been a couple of weeks since we returned home from South Africa, but we’re still talking about the many things we enjoyed. 

Sua du Plessis from Christian Arts took us to Moyo, a restaurant across the street from the hotel in Melrose Arch.  Moyo is Swahili and means “soul”.   Sua ordered for us, knowing we were all eager for a foodie adventure. The evening was a feast of the senses; African music, the cool evening air, the stars coming out, the smell and taste of great food. 

For starters, we  had peri peri chicken livers bunny chow – pan-fried chicken livers in a spicy East African sauce, presented in home-made bunny chow bread rolls; moyo samosas – three deep fried triangular pastry pockets with chutney; wors, vetkoek en sous – bits of beef, ostrich and venison in fritters. 

For the main course, I had oxtail braised with butterbeans and carrots in red wine beef au jus.  Rick and Karen had...

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November 14, 2014 | 0 comments

Chris and Ems Johnsen of Christian Art Distributors flew Karen Watson, Rick and I to Port Elizabeth, where they rented a van and we drove an hour to the bushveld of Shamwari.  Oh, my, we saw giraffes in the distance!  I didn’t expect to see animals so soon.  In fact, I thought we would be fortunate to see animals at all.  As we pulled up to the gate into the compound, I noticed the electric fencing and thorn-bush mounded as another barrier.  There were springboks grazing in the field! 

We checked in and our luggage was delivered to our beautiful room with a veranda over-looking the South African landscape. We grabbed jackets, gathered in the tea room at 3:30 p.m. for refreshments and headed for the all-terrain vehicle for our first outing.  We hadn’t gone more than a couple of miles and there was a tower of giraffes dining on thorn trees.  Did you know they have purple tongues?  I didn’t!  We gawked.  They glanced our way...

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November 2, 2014 | 0 comments

Seeing South Africa has been a dream of mine for a long time.  Rick has been there three times, always on business, and never saw more than the airport, scenery flashing by a taxi window and the inside of a hotel.  When we received an invitation from Chris Johnson at Christian Art Distributors to come for a visit, we jumped at it. We have had a long-time, long-distance, friendly relationship and looked forward to spending time with those we’ve met.  The beginning of October we climbed aboard an Emirates A380 (a bucket list experience for Rick)  and flew to Johannesburg where we were met at the airport by Sua and Johan du Plessis.  They helped gather our suitcases and whisked us off to the beautiful Villa Anna Sophia in Vereeniging where Tyndale senior editor and friend Karen Watson was already in residence.  Rick and I dropped our luggage in our room and joined Karen, Sua and Johan for dinner.  We felt immediately at home.

After a much-...

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October 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Five minutes of watching a news program or reading a newspaper and one thing pops out about people.  Americans are drunk on worry.   The list of what we fear is long and varied:  climate change, illegal immigrants coming over the borders, terrorist cells popping up like tares among the wheat.  We worry about the rising costs of health care, housing, food.  Californians worry about the drought, while other areas of our country are suffering record snow fall and floods.  We fear pain and discomfort.  Just watch the commercials coming at you during your favorite shows.  Feeling a little pain, pop a pill.  Have a drink. 

Over the past month, it was fear of public speaking that haunted me. I’ve heard I’m not alone in that fear.  Some claim the fear of public speaking is second only to the fear of death.  I always want God to be glorified and listeners to take something away from my personal story that will encourage...

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October 24, 2014 | 0 comments

I’m having trouble watching the news these days.  I am so tired of men and women commentators trying to talk over each other.  Interrupting someone used to be considered rude; now it’s the name of the game.  Each side is so busy trying to get their viewpoint across they never hear what the other side is saying.  It’s not a discussion; it’s not even a debate.  It’s a free-for-all. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if one side had two full minutes to present their position, and then the other side had two minutes to present theirs?  No cross-talk, as in interruptions or snarky comments or commentary or derisive laughter or rolling of the eyes.  Let’s see some mutual respect.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I’d love to hear both sides!  Please!

Someone recently visited our state capitol and was able to view the legislature “in session”.  One man stood in the room giving a speech.  No one else bothered to attend because...

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October 17, 2014 | 0 comments

Rick and I live in town.  It takes five to ten minutes to drive to the supermarket, the mall, post office, bank and hospital (a nice thing to know with the march of time and years).  One of the main boulevards people use to get from one side of town to the other is two blocks away.  Few seem to care about the posted 35-40 mph until John Law is on their tail flashing his or her red lights.  Cars aside, lots of people are out walking their dogs or by themselves.  Some are running or cycling up and down the hills, getting or staying in shape.  Even with all this human activity, there are a surprising number of wild animals among us.  

We had something (a raccoon, perhaps) that took up residence in our attic space until the local pest control set up a trap and said raccoon decided to vacate the premises.  We screened all possible entry points to prevent his/her return.  We’ve had woodland rats, a rattlesnake, and gophers, though...

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October 15, 2014 | 0 comments

One idol that periodically troubles me is food.  Or maybe it’s weight.  My mother got on the scale every day of her life and adjusted what she ate according to the numbers.  It sounds obsessive, but she was health conscious because she had been very ill with tuberculosis in her twenties.  I saw a picture of her in a bathing suit and said, “Wow, Mom.  You were so slim.”  Her response:  “I wasn’t slim. I was sick and skinny.”  She wanted to maintain a healthy weight. 

What is a healthy weight?  The new fad is for a woman to have gaps between her thighs.  Really?  All through grade school and high school, I didn’t want gaps.  I wanted my thighs to meet and be toned and tanned.  I’m laughing as I write this.   I finally got the meeting part.  Forget toned and tanned.  And now that I’m in my late sixties, I don’t give a hoot.  Well, I do, but I’m not willing to diet and exercise or lie/...

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