“It’s the right thing to do.” I grew up hearing those words from my parents, who were born into what would be called The Greatest Generation. They made do and helped neighbors during the Great Depression. They fought heroically during World War II and kept the farms and factories running on the home front. They took advantage of the GI Bill and attended college in numbers no other generation before them had. They bought from Sears & Roebuck catalogs–even homes–and collected G
Last fall I wrote about how I had planted 275 bulbs–mostly daffodils and tulips. I have never done well with growing flowers. Years ago I planted 42 rose bushes in my back yard; I’d hoped they would grow into a hedge to frame the outer edges of the yard. They never made it into the second season. One day my friend Hannah came over with a a cute sunflower seedling. She said, “Just plant this. They grow anywhere.” Well, it never made it even to adolescence. I’ve bought and plan
The most peaceful day of the week should be Sunday, right? So, how do your Sundays go? Is it a struggle to get kids up out of bed and looking their best? Is there a last-minute shuffle to get out the door with all the things? Or is there a mindset of “do we really have to do this”? To get to our church on time for the prayer ministry I lead, a 50-minute drive on a good day, we have to leave the house at 7:30 a.m. That means an earlier rising time than any other day of the wee
I remember lyrics from a song from my children’s youth: “With my God I can do valiantly.” I sang it along with them, praying they would be strong and courageous. And they have. They’ve traveled abroad. They’ve overcome hardships. They finished college and have done well professionally. I supposed someone might say the same of me. But I never have been a courageous person. Risks are, well . . . risky. I have avoided great leaps professionally for fear of failure. Until this ye
I have a fight with myself every day. Every day I tell myself to go for a walk. But then the excuses slip in the door. “It’s cold and windy.” “I have too much to do.” “I’m tired and need a nap.” Yesterday that fight went on for an hour and fifteen minutes. Ridiculous. Whether or not I need the exercise is not as important as the primary reason I walk: prayer. I have been prayerwalking for my community for over 22 years. My book PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength
Our Honolulu girl visited for several days over the weekend. Our kids conspired to put together an early birthday celebration for a Big Zero I will face at the end of the month. It’s hard knowing your child is an ocean away. The hellos and goodbyes happen in a blink just once or twice a year. In actuality she’s about seven hours away–the same number of hours away our older son is . . . except that he and his family are just at the other end of the state. The melancholy in me
I had a fun unit I did with my students when I was teaching them to write technical language. First, I created relevance for the unit by bringing in appliance and auto instruction manuals. Then I stood in front of the class with a table that had peanut butter, jelly, bread, a bread board, a knife, and a plate. “Tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” I’d say. An eager student would raise his hand. “First, put the peanut butter on the bread.” So I’d pick up th
My dad was a man of numbers. After church I could ask him, “How many today, Dad?” And he’d tell you the exact number of people in worship that day. When he came home from his job as a department store manager, he’d have his figures in his hand–the total retail sales for his Liberty House (formerly Rhodes) store location. Birthdates, birth weights and lengths, anniversaries, and more were recorded in little leather-bound books he kept in his suit jacket pocket. All the mysteri
When I walked into the office at Loyalton High, where I worked, I was surprised to see that our son Josh hadn’t signed up for his second year of basketball. When I saw him next and asked him about that, he said, “I’m not playing this year.” When I asked why, he said, “Because of my knee.” It turned out that many months before then he had ridden a four-wheeler at his friend’s house, flipped it, and been knocked unconscious, also damaging his knee. I’d never been told. What his
How long have you lived in your house? This year will mark FORTY years that we’ve lived in our home. Can you believe that? It seems unreal to me. How can that be? The last year Craig was serving in the Army, we took a risk in buying three lots in our little town in the Sierra Valley and hired a contractor to frame our home and separate garage. He was a slow-moving vehicle, so it wasn’t until a year after we’d actually moved back to California from Kansas that we could move in
I have a cousin Roger, who used travel from the central coastal area of California to our family home south of Sacramento to go duck hunting. There are many marsh areas near there–perfect for his sport. But boy, when he came back to our house at the end of the day, he was covered in muck from wading into those tules. Just a silly teenager, I reacted without thinking one day. “Boy, you’re a filthy mess.” He shook his head at me and said something I’ll never forget. “Good thing
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,
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
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’
Jesus included everyone in the conversation. He spoke with a Samaritan woman–who wasn’t part of the Jewish faith in-crowd, being half-Jew and half-Gentile. He spoke with a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years–also considered unclean by the religious leaders of the time. He spoke with a Canaanite woman–who would have been part of a group of people who served other gods. Reading the passage about the Canaanite woman today in Matthew 15, I had to pause and reflect: Do I
Scripture says that God will reign over the earth. When I think about figurehead kings and queens around the world, I wonder how others view that scripture. My God is not a figurehead. He does not just hold a title with no more authority than today’s royalty that cuts ribbons and waves to a crowd affectively.
My God is not the sum total of someone’s fashionable cross piece of jewelry.
He created the stones and jewels and wood in that necklace.
My God is not something that is
As a board member of The Sierra Schools Foundation, I recently helped coordinate efforts to bring social-emotional training to our small school district’s teachers. One term struck me: compassion fatigue. As teachers have doubled up duties to teach both in an in-person setting and in a distance learning model, they have also encountered countless cases of students and parents and peers who are in emotional distress, while these same teachers also try to manage their own famil
The last two days I have shared two of the three callings I know that God has laid on me, as well as how they have played out in my life. The first was in 1986 when God called me to a ministry of writing. The second was in 1989 when God called me to the profession of teaching. The third occurred in the fall of 1998. We had just sent our first and second children off to college that September. It felt like a season of new beginnings, except that my health was failing–at my own
Yesterday I shared the first of three calls I know God put on my life. The first was this: “I want you to write for me” in 1986. Three years later God gave me a second calling . . . through the odd circumstance of a dream . . . or rather, a nightmare. Lest you think I’m weird, I just want to throw out there that Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph, was also directed to make dramatic changes in his and Mary’s lives because of dreams . . . THREE times, if I remember correctly. The f