Tuesday, July 31, 2012



Well, after two weeks at Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp I’m home sleeping in my own bed. While I love camp, I hate their beds, they are either squishy with absolutely no support, or they are saggy and they keep sagging until the unfortunate person sleeping on the bottom bunk begins to fear for his or her life. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful time, one I will cherish for many months to come.
Now to LuLu. Not happy with me, she is. Vengeance is mine saith the pink bike. My first ride in two weeks started out pleasant enough. Here I am enjoying the wind in my hair, corn stalks all around (our farmers have been spared the dry devastation of some), and the sighting of small woodland creatures when all of a sudden, LuLu’s claws come out—that cushy bike seat the size of Montana morphs into a biting ball of barbed wire. LuLu cackles and whispers, “Leave me for two weeks, will ya?”
No fooling. My *Cowgirl was very uncomfortable to say the least. It’s amazing how quickly you’re booted back to Day One when you’ve gotten out of practice. All the time built up getting use to that bike seat and finding some comfort—all gone. Half the ride found me standing on the pedals.
Beginning again is where I find myself, not only with my pal, LuLu, but in other areas of my life as well. Camp is a place where I’m made to realize how lax I’ve gotten in some disciplines. What happened to my determination to spend some quiet time each morning reading scripture, praying and meditating? Where once I was measuring out my food and keeping a food diary, I’m now woofing food in my mouth mindlessly without regard to portions. My resolve to exercise everyday of the week has dwindled down to a couple of mornings… maybe.
It is so much easier to continue than to re-start, but re-start I shall. Everything worth doing is worth doing. So, buck up *Cowgirl we’re hitting the road!
LuLu smiles and says, “Welcome home.”


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He said, "Yes!"

            Okay, this picture is hard to explain, but it's me and Gary at camp chasing zombies. More on this later.

Last Friday Gary and I made another trek to Mayo for his every-three-month PET scan. The knots in the stomach were many. If you will remember, Gary was diagnosed with atypical melanoma a couple of years ago and has undergone several surgeries, two reoccurrences and two rounds of radiation. So, we’re always a little bit on edge when the next PET rolls around.
To make a long story short, God said, “yes” this time. No cancer spotted anywhere. This had us doing the happy dance with our oncologist. Once we all sobered up (I’m using that terming figuratively, not literally) our doc proceeded to talk to us about his surprise and delight. He’s in a medical specialty that has more dark days than hopeful ones. On one of our visits, he told us that Gary was the only patient he’d seen that day with any hope. Melanoma kills, plain and simple. Yet, even after being diagnosed with Stage III, Gary is now cancer-free… for now. Melanoma likes to come back with a vengeance, but so far it hasn’t; Hence the diagnosis of atypical.
Our doc has no answers as to why Gary isn’t dead. But of course, I do. God has shown us his great mercy. If He’d said, “No”, would I have still felt like He’d answered my prayers?
Yes. I just wouldn’t have liked His answer as much. For whatever reason, this time God nodded. I believe He intervened. I really don’t know how I feel about that. We don’t feel deserving. We don’t know why we got the nod. We feel a tad guilty because of it. Many others more deserving have lost loved ones way too soon because of this ugly disease. Yet, here we are—two people in their sixties being given more time.
So, I will take this Holy mercy as a gift. I will try to live my days in gratefulness. I will try to express more often to my husband how much I love our life together. And, I will spend more time on my knees, humbled and awed thanking my God for His compassion, his faithfulness and for His undeserved gift of mercy.
It’s all I can do.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Camp Continues


Nathan & Cormac at the Upper Falls at camp.
Camp: hot, humid, buggy (especially huge, black hornets), dry & dusty vs. laughing children, brilliant staff, excellent food (no, really!), & the Presence of God. No contest. I'd rather be here than anywhere else on the face of the earth.

Yesterday's theme: We (believers in God and His Son, Jesus Christ) are the salt and light of the earth. What does that mean?

Salt- what are the characteristics of salt? It preserves, flavors, and causes thirst. Is that not what God's people are suppose to be doing as we walk around on this planet? Preserving God's message; Our joy in Him adding joy (flavor) to the lives of others; And, if we're living The Message, it is causing those around us to want more, to know more, to be more.

Light- Light pokes holes in the darkness. Light gives hope. Light illuminates the path. Our mission while passing through this life, is to reflect the light of The Light. We're to glow in the dark and give those hurting and searching a safe passage home.

It was a good day. And, a special activity of Zombies (campers) capturing village people (staff) wasn't too shabby either. I'll do anything for a Klondike bar (which was the reward for volunteering to be a said village person.


P.S. LuLu is still at the spa. She's gonna be hard to live with when I get back home.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fall Hall Glen

My son, Nathan, and his sweet family in the creek.

Hey, gang,
     LuLu has gone on a little sabbatical. Picture her at a bicycle spa getting her tires cleaned, her seat massaged, and her spokes realigned. As she chills, I am once again back at Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp with one hundred teenagers. I'm here for two weeks among about forty other counselors and staff. Let me give you a little recap of our first today's activities:

           Awaken at 6:15 by sweltering temps- it got up over 100 degrees by early afternoon. Flag raising and The Pledge. Devo and meditation. Breakfast. Class registration. Canteen. Lunch. Rest period. Team activity that included a race to untangle a frozen t-shirt and socks and place them on a team member. Glorious! Swimming in the creek. Canteen again. Supper. Free time. Devo. Back in the creek before bed.

Lots of laughter, fun, sweat, games, sweet conversation, meeting new friends, enjoying old friends, and enjoying the beautiful creation of God. All around us are majestic pines, a gorgeous creek with two waterfalls, flowers of every variety, critters, and even a black bear was spotted.

Why do I come here year after year, after all I keep getting older and the campers stay the same age? I'm smitten. I'm in love with hanging out with these bright and fun kids. I also feel that I am called to this place, this moment, this privilege of introducing God into the hearts and minds of kids.

Tomorrow it's back up at 6:15, hopefully to a little cooler day and I begin teaching my Improv class to twenty students, teach my Bible Class and present two devotionals for the day. And, of course back to the creek for swimming.

I'm so fortunate to share this ministry with my family. This year, the Hubs is here with me as well as our son, Nathan, our daughter-in-law, Erin, and our two grandsons, Cormac and Cian. I am one blessed MeMe. The mosquitoes have all been killed off by the heat, but the sweat bees and hornets are alive and well.

Keep us in your prayers.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

One hurdle down

The Cradle Robber and her younger man.


This week was my husband, Gary’s, 61st birthday. I sighed a big relief. You see, I’m three-months older than him, so for those three months, he is married to an older woman. I feel so vulnerable during that time as I imagine younger chicks; you know 59-year-olds, flirting with my man. During those three long months, our so-called friends call me 'cradle robber' and many other horrible names. It’s a nightmare.
But, now he’s as old as I am, so all is well… I mean that figuratively and literally. All is well in our household. Gary’s last PET scan was clean. No detected cancer, so since March we’ve been living the high life. No cancer worries just soaking up life. It’s our new normal. We swing from PET scan to PET scan like monkeys on a … well … monkey bar. Our whole world is reduced down to those few months in between. If the scan is clean, we make plans and fill the days with things that give us joy—like birthday celebrations, and grandkids running around the yard, and sitting on the back porch late at night listening to the bullfrog chorus.
… until about a week before the next PET scan. Then things get a little squirrely. Gary’s mood shifts a tad and my insides start contracting like someone has placed a blood pressure cup around my gut and has started slowly squeezing that little bulb, tightening… tightening… tightening.
You see PET scans can detect cancer only if it has grown into a million cells or more. So, you can get a ‘clean’ scan, but there is always that possibility that the cancer is still lurking around in Gary’s body under Harry Potter’s invisible cloak. That’s happened twice now. One, resulting in another surgery to remove the cancer and the other resulting in another round of radiation… also our new normal.
Next Friday is our next scan. I can’t breathe and Gary is chewing nails and driving his John Deere around the yard in warp-speed mowing down everything in his path. We’re a hoot to be around.
Prayers would be appreciated. God is standing by as always. And me and the Hubs? In between our squirrely-ness we’re holding hands more; we view these long summer days as ones of hope; And, I’m once again thankful we’re the same age. One hurdle down. One more to go.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dear Erma


When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”                                            ~ Erma Bombeck

Are you old enough to remember the humor columnist, Erma Bombeck? What a gal! She was one of my earlier mentors. Of course, she didn’t know it, but her story of how she started writing her column as a young, housewife and stay-at-home-mom is inspiring. Her column, I think, ended up being in over 500 newspapers daily, and her articles were published in probably every major magazine in our country… and beyond. She was a hoot! She made me both laugh and cry. But one of the greatest things she gave us isolated moms back then was a Voice.  We were millions strong in the early 1970s, yet were being criticized and ridiculed for our choice to be full-time moms. Then along comes Erma in her apron and tennis shoes and her funny stories about the home front and suddenly the world saw us a little differently.

Erma died of kidney disease. One of her last interviews showed her at home in Arizona laughing all the while hooked up to dialysis. She was a one of a kind, and I owe her much. She gave this young mom the courage to send her own silly writings out there. I mean if one housewife could make, couldn’t another?

Well, after some hits and misses, my own column, FOOTSTEPS & HEARTBEATS, found a home. Actually it found several homes and appeared in a daily newspaper for over seventeen years. When I decided to write books, I was also working full time else where, so something had to go if I were to have any writing time for the books. So, I gave up the column. It was a wonderful ride and now, every once in a while, you’ll see one of those resurrected column appear here with LuLu and me. So enjoy and think of Erma ever so often… and her house dresses, her children jumping off the garage, and the fun house cleaning tips she passed along… such as:

To make guests feel at home, use your finger and scribble “Welcome” in the dust in the middle of your coffee table…” You gotta love her!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Let your Elmer's show



LuLu-ism #52: You ain't perfect. Ain't nobody is. 

The other morning LuLu and I rode fifteen miles. It wasn’t pretty, but we did it. (The Cowgirl hasn’t forgiven me yet.) On the ride my thoughts went everywhere. I couldn’t seem to focus on any one thing until I decided to pray. I do that a lot on LuLu. So, I started going down my list of people to lay at the Savior’s feet when all of a sudden, I felt a great need to pray for myself. I don’t do that easily, pray for myself that is, especially when I need to confess something.

I have a glass Christmas angel that I leave sitting out in my house all year round.  It's a charming little thing, given to me by a child I used to teach. At first glance the angel is the image of perfection—halo hovering and hands folded in prayer.  But if you look closely you'd notice a fine line of Elmer's glue holding one wing in place.  Ah, an angel with a flaw.

My angel and I have a lot in common, so riding on LuLu the other morning, I found myself admitting to the Father to a few broken parts myself. It wasn't easy.  I like to think that I am someone who has it all together, someone who can handle most anything that comes her way. And, to be honest, I have for the most part.  So much so, I find people coming to me with their problems, actually thinking I can help.  That humbles me.  I'm also embarrassed by it, because deep down, I know I don't have it as together as it looks.

Admitting this means my Elmer's is showing. Confession makes me feel a little less like me, but probably a little more like I should be. 

When LuLu and I pulled into the driveway after our trek my legs were wobbly, The Cowgirl was her usual whiny self, but my soul was well. 

Let your Elmer’s show today.

See you Thursday,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence Day

LuLu and I wish you all a very Happy 4th!

A couple of days ago, I was pedaling away on LuLu trying to get home before dark when overhead I was greeted with some fireworks. A neighbor was getting in a little early Fourth of July celebrating. That's done out in the country a lot. Not sure if it's legal though. I'm confused on that.

As I enjoyed the pop and flutter of the fireworks, I got to thinking about the way we celebrate our country's independence...

"...  It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.  It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore."

When John Adams uttered those words, he had just finished signing the Declaration of Independence. On that glorious day, our young nation started down a path of freedom never experienced before anywhere!   

For generations hence, we have celebrated with gusto. Parades, fireworks, and picnics, what a great day it is. John Adams would be proud.   

Or would he?

You would presume on this anniversary of our deliverance, a prayer of thanksgiving in the town square would be in order, right?  But don't let anyone try it. Public prayer to the God of our forefathers is fast becoming outlawed. Right now, it's just considered unseemly, offensive, and politically incorrect (a term I truly would love to slash from this country's vocabulary), but is there a day coming when all prayer to our God, delivered to His feet by our Savior, Jesus Christ, will be illegal to utter in this country?  

As I parked LuLu in the garage. I stopped and prayed for our nation. There are so many great things about it to be thankful for. I desire to live no where else. Yet, I am frightened by our carelessness and the slow drift that is taking us farther and farther away from what was once the core of who we are.

Independence Day, 2012.  Hide under a picnic table, if you must, but for you and yours, let it be a day of prayer and thanksgiving.

Happy 4th...