I think I first understood the concept of mercy the last week of my high school chemistry class. From the first day of that class I hated it. The trigger occurred when Mr. Winters said, “Memorize the periodic table of elements.” My reaction was WHY? It was on a giant chart in front of the classroom. Why would I ever need to know 105 (hey, it was awhile ago) abbreviations for chemical elements if they were all right there on a big chart at the front of the classroom? (Hey, the
When I got my teaching credential years ago, I never pictured myself teaching elementary school students. However, that’s what happened when cutbacks occurred at the high school where I was teaching after one year there. All of a sudden I found myself faced with the challenges of teaching not only English but also math, history, geography, current events, science, art, and P.E. And I was newly pregnant with our fourth child. There were things I never imagined I’d have to do,
Years ago when Craig proposed to me, I was a senior in college, and he was a first-year law school student. One of the crazy, random thoughts at that time that went through my brain was this: “I’m going to marry a lawyer, and I’ll never have to worry about money.” Well, as life turns out we still struggled to pay bills as we built a house and raised four kids in a rural town of just about 1,000. While business folks from our little town were MOST enthusiastic about a lawyer h
“She has a mind of her own.” That was what I heard my mom say about me as a child. And what does that mean? At the best, determined, goal-oriented. At the worst, disobedient, uncooperative, stubborn. I think my mom meant the latter description but always hoped for the best. Noah has always been such inspirational character to me. God asked him to do the impossible, and more than once the scripture tells us Noah did all God commanded him to do. His story is about obedience. Wh
“Words, words, words,” Hamlet says in the library scene of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Often played with humor, Shakespeare’s scene helps Hamlet develop the false idea that he is going insane. But it’s not a crazy idea to choose a Word of the Year. I started doing this in 2012. Something led me to look up the meaning of my name, Janet. When I saw that it means “God’s gracious gift,” I almost laughed out loud. Me, a gift, much less a gracious gift? Oh no. That needed work. So
I found a cute pair of salt and pepper shakers at our new antiques store in Loyalton–Lombardi Mercantile. I might have overlooked them from earlier visits there, as they were beaten up with use–the painted exterior worn from lots of salting and peppering and a missing piece on Salt. However, I noticed some lettering on the back, and when I picked them up and examined them more closely, my reading confirmed my thoughts: Salt has a grace to say before meals, while Pepper has a
A little reflection on the 50th anniversary this week of my faith commitment.
I was raised going to church in Hudson in upstate New York. Every Sunday we five kids put on our best clothes and headed out the door with Mom and Dad. My sister Nan and I were old enough to sing in the girls’ choir, so for the first service we put on choir robes and sang from sideways pews up the steps by the altar. After the service we quickly hung up those choir robes and ran upstairs in the chu
“Words. Words. Words.” A famous line spoken by Hamlet–one of my favorite lines from Shakespeare. Words fascinate me. How can something hurt but also heal? Enlighten but also confuse? Make something out of seemingly nothing? Examine this from my reading today: “Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose w
In our son’s sophomore year of high school, he had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and torn cartilage. The timing worked out, because I had taken a semester’s sabbatical from teaching to write a book. The surgeon’s parting words at the hospital to me were, “Be careful as you lift the movement and ice machines because you don’t want to end up with back surgery.” That was wise counsel. However, I was not wise in following it. Our son wanted to move from the bedroom to th
Does your life look like a shipwreck right now? Maybe you’re sick or your loved ones are. Maybe you’ve lost someone dear to you. Maybe you’re frustrated and sad and just plain weary that you can’t spend time with loved ones. Maybe finances are just awful and you’re worried about what to do for the holidays. Paul was in a literal shipwreck. And to make matters worse, he was on the ship because he was being taken to Rome for trial on trumped-up charges related to his faith in J
When I taught high school English, Romeo and Juliet provided many an example of the oxymoron–a short figure of speech that has contradictory terms. Romeo (about Rosaline): “Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love. Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate…” Romeo again (about Rosaline): “Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep that is not what it is!” Juliet (on learning of Romeo’s murder of Ty
I am betting more people than normal will be using the word “grace” this week. “Will you say the grace?” After all, some kind of giving of thanks is expected for thanks-giving day, right? Dictionary.com provides insight into the English origin of the word. It was first recorded in 1125–75 in Middle English, taken from Old French, which came from the Latin grātia, meaning “favor, kindness, esteem,” as a derivative of grātus “pleasing.” The English teacher in me kept reading, a
Yesterday I was in such a funk. Because of winds up to 70 mph, the power went off around 10:30 in the morning and remained off all day and into the evening. While most others here in our mountain valley have woodstoves for their heat, we rely on electricity. People think we’re nuts, but years ago when we built the house we had an asthmatic baby boy, and his doctor recommended we not use wood heat to keep the air cleaner. Part of my concern was, of course, the food in the frid
Do you feel you need a time out? As though you’re in a fast-paced game and there’s no break in sight for a rest? For direction? For clarity?
I have too, but I’ve found great strength through one single practice: prayer.
And ever since I started prayerwalking 22 years ago, I’ve been studying prayer. Most of those years I’ve read through the Bible in a year, and when I saw a reference to prayer, I marked the verse(s) with a circled P in the margin. I find it interesting that
Do you have a comfy chair for relaxing and reading or even writing? Years ago several writer friends and I drove to Reno for the day to hear well-known writer Anne Lamott speak about the writing life. I’d read several of her books–the most famous perhaps being Bird by Bird–and I knew she had a wit, but I so enjoyed lots of belly laughing that night. She gave writers permission to do lots of things, one of which was to buy a comfortable chair for writing. I went out that week
Christmas is coming, and as I find myself making a Christmas list for my immediate family of 20, plus other family and friends, I remember again what my mom used to say when we kids asked her what she wanted for Christmas. “Peace and quiet.” She never said it as a joke. She was dead serious. I am the oldest of five. With my sister Nan’s passing five years ago next month, I have two brothers and a sister. There was a lot of racket in our family of seven. A year younger, Nan an
was thinking about the typical kid sayings the other day when I took four of the grandkiddos to the dentist. It was a day of . . . Five milkshakes . . . Four fillings . . . Three extractions . . . Two whiny kids . . . And a nana sitting in a Ford . . . two and a half hours. (‘Cause I couldn’t go in . . you know why.) So, that gave me lots of time for thought. My kids’ Top 8 “I’m . . . ” statements: #8 I’m scared. #7 I’m frustrated. #6 I’m not smart enough. #5 I’m not interest
I live in the largest alpine valley in North America: the Sierra Valley. At about 5,000 feet in elevation, the Sierra Valley is surrounded by mountains ranging in elevation from 6,000 to 8,000 feet. The valley is about 120,000 acres of cattle ranch land–pastures and planted fields of various kinds of hay. We live about an hour north of Lake Tahoe, and I tell people that our valley is just like Tahoe–except without all the water. Actually, the valley floor is filled with sedim
I never thought much of November when I was younger: all rainy and blowy and . . . plain. November strips away all of October’s pretty colors and seemingly leaves us with . . . a beige samemess. Beige fields, beige hills, beige leaves dying on the trees. Same old. And then one day I was walking and sensed I’d missed the point. Sameness. God is the same today as he was in all the previous generations: forever loving, forgiving, graceful, approachable . . . available and ready
Hope: n. desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment I can have hope for a good future because I trust God. I do not put my hope in men or women, all of whom are fallible. All make mistakes. All say dumb things. All inflict hurt one way or another. Instead, I can maintain hope in God, because he is worthy of my trust. Trust: n. assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something I trust God because his character is good. I’