Sunday, January 25, 2009


Panda, Hope and I have been enjoying excursions to the Bark Park since last July when I purchased their required “Pooch Passes.” One frigid, 24 degrees morning, I donned my long johns, insulated socks, and boots, grabbed a hat and gloves, and loaded my eager, fur-clad companions into the car.

Panda is always uncontrollably excited when she recognizes the Bark Park and I have to let her out of the car first. Hope, on the other hand, waits patiently for her turn. I leashed Panda and she pulled me over the icy pavement to the park entrance. The gate has a keyed entry, but it was standing wide open.

Panda dragged me to the second gate and sniffed the fragrant ground as I unhooked her leash and released her into the park. I turned to leave to retrieve my other retriever—and my gloves, hat, and cell phone—and discovered that the gate had swung shut. I grasp the handle, but it didn’t budge. So I stuck my key in the keyhole and was puzzled that the lock didn’t open. “Maybe the lock is frozen,” I hypothesized, so I removed my key and tried again. No luck.

There I stood, shivering: no hat or gloves; no cell phone by which to call for help; nobody in sight to rescue us. I had visions of my thirteen year old dog freezing to death, paws frozen to the ground. What to do? Against my better judgment, I decided to climb out.

This is quite a dilemma for someone who is klutzy, afraid of heights, and recently underwent microfractive knee surgery. But I rose to the challenge, driven by panic, frigid air, and stinging, snowy mist. My “Center for Fight or Flight Operations” took over, flooding me with adrenaline and reducing my brain to that of a cave woman fighting for her life.

Facing my Mt. Everest—a six foot chain link gate—I began my ascent: right foot on lower gate hinge; left foot on support bar; s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g up; left hand grasping top of left gatepost; right hand grabbing the chain link. Utterly amazed, I heaved myself atop the gate.

“Now what do I do?” I’d only thought of how to ascend, never dreaming I’d make it this far. With my right leg dangling, my left leg scraped across the chain link, throwing my weight over and down. Gravity claimed me, and unbelievably, I landed on my feet. Granted, my landing was not graceful, but I’m certain that angels were involved. With the assistance of a very nice man at the Animal Shelter, I retrieved my senior retriever and all was well.

This adventure got me thinking about when it’s my time to approach the Pearly Gates. I believe that the Gate himself will be there to welcome me with open arms.

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
He will come in and go out, and find pasture."
John 10:9 NIV

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

LOST & FOUND - January 17, 2009

I once was lost, but now I’m found…
“Amazing Grace”
John Newton

I have a long history of losing and misplacing things. “It’ll turn up eventually,” says my hubby. Here’s my track record from the last two months, as it might appear in the Herald Bulletin classifieds:

Lost: one CD containing precious pictures of grandson. Lost in the vicinity of my home. Have looked high and low. If found, please call Nana at 555-5555.

Found: one CD containing precious pictures of grandson.

Lost (again): same CD containing precious pictures of grandson. Lost who knows where. If found, please call...

Lost: one flash drive, created by my son with precious pictures of grandson. Lost in the vicinity of my home.Bold

Found: one flash drive, created by my son with precious pictures of my grandson. Yea!

Lost and found, repeatedly: planner; cell phone, keys; my senses, my mind, my temper…
I have numerous CDs, but the one I lost is priceless to me. I have turned the house upside down. I have mentally and physically retraced my steps trying to remember where I may have put it down. I’ve even enlisted my husband in the search. We’re still looking…

In my favorite parable, Jesus uses the metaphor of a lost sheep: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.”

I cherish the image of my Shepherd searching for me when I go astray and rejoicing when he finds me. And to imagine myself sitting upon Jesus’ broad shoulders gives me shivers and brings tears to my eyes.

Not only does Jesus rejoice, he throws a party: “Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:3-8NIV)

I will most definitely rejoice if and when I find my CD, but my joy is miniscule compared to God’s joy when even just one of us repents. He created all of humankind in his image and longs to be in perfect relationship with us.

I have a card that depicts a shepherd, his knees resting on the edge of a cliff. He’s reaching over the ledge with his crook to rescue a lamb perched precariously on a branch growing out of the cliff. Have there been times in your life when you have felt like this lamb? If so, be assured, for God is seeking you relentlessly. You are on your Shepherd’s mind continually and you will be found.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

QUEST FOR THE PERFECT FIT - January 10, 2009

Ye shall seek me, and find me,
when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 KJV

There are two goals I doubt that I will achieve: finding the perfect purse, and finding the perfect pair of jeans.

It is common among women to bemoan to each other about the difficulty of finding a pair of jeans that truly fit. Slacks and blouses, sweaters and skirts, and even shoes, we can find. But jeans that fit all aspects of our feminine physique? Unattainable.

If the jeans fit our hips, they definitely will not fit our waists. If we try the low riders, our paunches pooch out over the waist band. If the crotch fits, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the derriere won’t.

Recently I psyched myself up to join my sisters in the quest for the holy grail of dungarees (my mom’s word for jeans). I was desperate. I had stooped to wearing my faded, timeworn Levis that I retired from public display years ago, which are reserved only for solitary activities like hiking in the woods and gardening. I love those jeans! They’re soft and fit every curvature perfectly. I can’t imagine ever tossing them in the ragbag.

So last Tuesday I approached the wall of jeans in Kohls and, on hands and knees, hunted through every single pair for my size. Those disgustingly cheerful morning people, who had been standing outside the store chatting when the doors were unlocked for the big after Christmas sale, had already foraged through the once organized stacks of neatly folded jeans, and reeked havoc.

After two shopping trips and countless treks to and from dressing rooms, a stack of jeans came home with me. Final scrutiny before my own mirror narrowed the field down to three pairs of jeans that I’m satisfied with. They’re not perfect, but nothing can measure up to my beloved relaxed fit, boot cut Levis.

Questing after God is similar to my pursuit of jeans. I often have to psych myself up to find God in my life. The closet of my spiritual life is cluttered and I lack the energy and motivation to be a seeker.

There’s a scene in the movie ET in which the mom opens the kid’s closet which is crammed full of stuffed animals. ET is sitting among the toys but blends in and goes unnoticed by the mom. But if you know what you’re looking for—as the audience does—you can’t miss him.

Sometimes God becomes just another entity that gets lost in my busyness and disorganization. Of course, God is not really lost. I don’t need to go shopping for God; just open the door—to my prayer closet, just as Jesus directs me in Matthew 6:6 (KJV).

Is your prayer closet cluttered with timeworn worries and crisp, new concerns? Whether you prefer to pray figuratively or literally in your prayer closet, do take time to talk to God.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Well, how are you doing with transitioning from 2008 to 2009? It’s time to take down the tree and holiday trimmings, sweep up the pine needles and hit the after Christmas sales—and stock up on Valentine’s Day chocolate, the displays of which are already prominent in the stores. Go ahead, pop a chocolate morsel into your mouth and snuggle into the hibernating months of January, February and March.


Perhaps a more apt metaphor might be of struggling into last year’s stiff, slippery, overstuffed snowsuit that you’ve outgrown and sludging through two feet—no, let’s make that six feet—of snow, while bracing yourself against an icy wind chill of -10—no, let’s make that -60. Severe weather causes painful frostbite, confines body, mind and spirit, and drives you stir-crazy. I see you in my mind’s eye as you shutter at this image and drop to your creaky knees to plead with your divine Weatherman for an early spring. I do envy those snowbirds…

I’ll know that I’ve successfully crossed the final hurdle into the new year when I no longer write 2008 on my checks. Even though I’ve hung the glossy, clean calendar (one I created myself featuring none other than my grandson, Evan) and have entered appointments into a fresh planner, it will still be awhile before I’m fully present in 2009.

Some years I have a mission trip in Central America to look forward to in the winter. Fond memories of sweating in the hot humidity of the tropics offers little comfort. I do so hate to sweat, but I would trade my shivers for sweat beads right about now. Alas, we’re not heading to Guatemala until April.

As you flip the calendar page and turn up the thermostat, would you say that you are snuggling or struggling with your Maker? Do you feel crammed into a religious format? You know: church every Sunday and Wednesday, committee meetings, and yet another pitch in dinner requiring that you use the oven for something other than warming up your buns (a fine Christian friend of mine, who happened to be from the South, living in Northern Michigan during our Air Force years, actually employed the stove in this very manner).

Let’s use the gift of nasty Midwest weather as an opportunity to snuggle into on our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I’ve found that a cup of hot chocolate goes well with prayer and Bible study.

I will snuggle (dwell) in the lap (house) of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6 NIV

FYI: My hubby got my goat this Christmas—I’m referring to a goat given in my honor to the India Gospel League, so a family can have milk and raise a few goats for income.