Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Biking or Bumbling


"Don't assume that you know it all" (Proverbs 5:&7 MSG).

Learning to ride a bike sometimes results in scratches, sore muscles, and maybe even broken bones––two out of three is my experience. Yes, just one experience––a memorable one. A memory of my son's seventh birthday. He got a bike and so did I. Warning: Don't learn to ride a bike at the same time your kids are learning.

So, what I can tell you about my biking experience is this. I was young! My son couldn't wait to ride. And, how hard could it be to sit on two wheels and stay upright? Pretty hard, I found out.

The July sun beamed down on the shiny new bikes. My son and I walked our bikes down the driveway and across the highway onto a less-traveled mountain road. Earlier that day, my husband pleaded for me to wait until he came home so we could all be together for this memory-making venture. Knowing our son couldn't wait to mount that new bike, he conceded and agreed to join the adventure when he arrived home later.

I helped my son up to the seat. He got the hang of it quickly while I played the role of traffic police until my turn. Then my turn, I sat with the posture of a natural cyclist even though I had no idea about brakes or speeds or balance. Determined to do this thing, I pushed the peddles while my son took a turn as traffic police.

With one push of the peddles, I sped into the wind. Whoa, what fun! Fun yes, until I had no idea how to brake. Panic set in as the wheels seemed to lift from the pavement under me. How to stop? What if a car came over the little noll? Think, I told myself! The only place to go and the only way to stop, I headed into a fence. Crash! But, a big bush kept me from a fall.

My son couldn't keep the tears from falling over his sweet face. I assured him I'd be okay. We walked those bikes home while I tried not to limp. The experience never deterred that seven-year-old from learning to ride––but I put my bike up for sale that very night.

Sometimes God nudges us to avoid a bumbling outcome. And, sometimes He pushes us into a fence instead of a dangerous fall on the pavement while He teaches us we don't know it all, but He does. We see God's hand that guides us to safety instead of falling into a dangerous situation.

I'm sure God's hand held me up that day and kept me from falling. I learned this, "...don't try to figure everything out on your own" (Proverbs 3:6 MSG). Sometimes we go ahead of Him as I did that day by not waiting for my husband who knew how to ride a bike. Sometimes He uses others to teach us.

My biking experience certainly taught me a lesson about how to wait on God and allow Him to direct my steps. When we are out of step with God, it's a dangerous place to be and may end on a pavement with bruises or even worse. Even so, He promises He will direct us in the way we should go––even into the bushes to lessen our injures from going our own way and not waiting on Him.


"Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track" (Proverbs 3:6 MSG).

Have you gone off track and crashed into the bushes thinking you know it all––as I've done more than once? So, how do we avoid the proverbial crashes and bushes?

Listen for God's voice. He'll keep you on track. The key is...drumroll please: Listen to His voice by reading His word, praying, obeying and learning from our circumstances.

I finally learned to ride a bike while passing through mid-life. But even now in my seventh decade, I still strive to trust God for less bumbling and more proverbial "biking" without crashes because He does know it all. I am still learning to ride my proverbial bike. How about you?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Night of the Frogs



“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; 
for he acknowledges my name” (Psalm 91:14 NIV).

I sipped tea while looking at a frog––he’d caught my eye when I glanced across the room. There he sat on top of my lamp. I couldn’t stop my lips from turning upwards––then a burst of giggles. Memories returned of frogs on an eerie night in a foreign field––actually miles of fields around the little mud house we called home for a while. Unlike my ceramic frog atop the lamp that held the lampshade from going ajar, the frogs that night were real.

We’d arrived at the mission school to join the staff after less than a month in Bolivia. We’d lived for a time in the attic/guestroom of the school library, and then prepared to move to the “farmhouse.” Before you form the image of a sweet stateside farmhouse, let me paint a picture of this “farmhouse” in Bolivia.

The school rested on a flat landscape atop a valley. A short walk on a winding dirt road brought you to a curve where a breath-taking panorama of acres of fields came into view. At the bottom of the hill sat the “farmhouse” that we had eagerly awaited to inhabit. There it sat, a little mud house in the middle of nowhere. Our barrels hadn’t arrived from the States so many household items were on loan to us, but we needed a refrigerator. 

My husband left for the city eight hours away to buy a frig, leaving our five-year-old daughter and me alone in that tiny house. Our son had settled into dorm life with boys his age, and we quickly became good friends with his dorm parents––also recently arrived missionaries. So, no neighbors, no lights outside, and no way to communicate with anyone at the school.

On the second night alone in that secluded little abode, I heard a noise, a strange noise. The hour neared that the school generator would shut down, leaving only candlelight. The noise continued. I looked out the kitchen window where the sound seemed to be loudest. Pitch. Black. It resembled the sound of a motorcycle trying to start. After listening to that sound for what seemed like hours, my imagination kicked into high gear. What if there were more motorcycles than just one. Hell’s Angels came to mind. Could there be similar gangs in this remote area? Were they waiting for the generator to shut down to make their move? Fear took over. Who could come to our rescue?

Fear held me hostage. But, more scared for my daughter than myself, I had to get a grip. Couldn’t God take care of her––of us? We were in the youth of our ministry, and just as Timothy was in the youth of his life and ministry, the enemy certainly didn’t want him (or me) to continue spreading the gospel. This would be the first time I confronted my fears on the mission field, but not the last––if I were to continue in the ministry God called me to.   

Scriptures came to mind. Why did Paul write this to Timothy? “I call to remembrance the faith that is in you…” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV). Paul encouraged Timothy by reminding him of the faith he’d seen in him. Maybe that statement today would sound like, Hey, Tim, you can do this!

Paul reminded him, “to stir up the gift of God in you through the laying on of hands,” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV). Go get ‘em, boy! I remembered hands laid on me only a few months before this night. And, then these powerful words of exhortation to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy1:7 NIV). Fear paralyzes our ministry. Faith in God powers our ministry. Believe. Pray. A calm settled over me. I trusted God to take care of us. Peace.

Then, a knock at the door. I inched to the door. A familiar face looked back. It was our son’s dorm parent, Mike. My sweaty hands turned the doorknob. Telling him my scary story, he took his flashlight and ventured out into the darkness returning quickly. Nothing. But there was a noise. We both listened intently. “There, do you hear it?” Mike burst into laughter, then trying to control himself but to no avail. What on earth was so funny?

“Those are frogs making that sound.” No way! Eventually, I found the humor in it all, but with a bit of embarrassment. 

Gathering my dignity, I asked Mike, “Do they have little motorcycles?” We both burst into laughter until our eyes wept.

Do you know what I learned that night? I learned that God is always with us and never leaves us alone. He watches out for us and rescues us–-even from frogs with little motorcycles.

There will always be fears to face, but when we trust God, He will take us from fear to faith. He promises to rescue us. What are your fears today? Will you let God stretch your faith in whatever circumstance you find yourself? We can go from fear to faith daily and stir up the gift of God in us so that He can use us for His purpose.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

God's Masterpiece



"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14 NIV).

To some degree, I resemble the lady on the unicorn. I can understand why I might be viewed in that way. As a children's writer, I live in a fantasy world much of the time. And, I'm quite content to be there. I might not be thought of as a work of art but rather a "piece of work." Smile here. But, I am a work of art, God's work of art. And, so are you! But, what my neighbor once accused me of being totally shattered my world at the time.

A knock at my door. I opened it to find my neighbor from across the hall glaring at me with malice in her eyes. She came to say, "You are such a phony. No one could smile as much as you do and be real."

True story. We were in our last semester of our missionary training when my neighbor, a new student and young mother, felt led of God to minister to me on a biblical principle she had just discovered. Matthew 18:15 says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained a brother." (ESV)

At the time, I wished she'd kept that verse to herself, but God knew the exact words I needed to grow in Him.

The conversation went something like this. My neighbor blurted, "How can you smile so much? I watch you every day and there it is--that smile. Get real! This missionary training is the pits. How can you be happy here?"

My reply, "Thank you for sharing that with me. I'll work on it." Although, seconds later a not so nice thought crept in––Wow lady, you're some piece of work. Then, quickly confessing that thought because in my heart I knew she was God's work of art, and He was trying to teach me something through her.

And, work on it I did. My heart was bruised and my ego too. For the next few weeks, I walked around campus with a straight face. Have you ever tried not to smile? When a fellow student greeted me, I puckered my face, mumbled a reply, and tried to not be that phony person my neighbor detested. I became a complete phony while trying not to show my glistening teeth to anyone. After a few horrible weeks, I realized what a phony I had become by not smiling.

God had no intention for me to stop smiling. It wasn't a sin to smile, but He did teach me to not be a people pleaser but rather to please Him. By being ourselves, we allow God to chisel out our areas that need to be tweaked by Him. Then and only then, are we free to be all He wants us to be and shine for Him in our own unique way.

Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."

God didn't want me to quit smiling, but He did want me to be sensitive to the needs of others––especially my neighbor. She became a good friend when I noticed she wasn't smiling and needed a friend to help her through the difficult time she was going through with young children and the pressures of classes and homework. I listened to her, and she gained a friend (brother). I didn't need to quit smiling, but she did need a friend. And, I needed to learn how to be a friend.  God used me just as I was––fearfully and wonderfully made––and smiling.

How about you? What attributes has God given you to bless others? We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. He has a purpose for each of us so that the world will see His wonderful works through us and turn to Him. Even if people see you as delusional––riding a unicorn––or phony because you smile too much, He has a purpose for you and will use you because you are fearfully and wonderfully made. So be yourself! Allow God to use you––just the way He made you. Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are God's workmanship," the Greek word for workmanship means work of art. We are His work of art! Thank Him for planning each detail of His creation––His masterpiece––YOU!

"Don't change so people will like you. 
Be yourself and the right people will love the real you." ~ author unknown

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Everlasting Rock


"Trust the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock." 

An annual celebration is underway here in Cochabamba. The festival of the Virgin of UrkupiƱa is celebrated with dancing, parades, and rituals that take place this week. During this time, the traffic is so dense on our road that it takes us two hours to advance a few miles––if for some reason we need to venture out during this mad rush. Recently our main road was paved, bringing with it more traffic than the years before. Looking out our windows at 6 a.m., we can see a steady stream of busses, taxis, and cars racing by on our main road a half mile from our house. They are rushing to reach the mountain 5 miles away.

This mountain is the location of the ceremony that takes place each year. It was here that the legend behind the festival began. The legend tells of a poor shepherd girl who met a young girl on this mountain while tending to her sheep on a hillside near a town outside Cochabamba. The young girl gave five stones to the peasant girl. When the little peasant girl returned home, she took them out of her pocket to show her mother. The stones had turned to precious gems. The girl's family was rescued from poverty. 

Today, this celebration will attract hundreds of thousands of people to our city. They come from all over the world. Many Bolivians who live outside the country will return to visit family and participate in the festivities. They will climb the hillside where the peasant girl received the rocks and then break off their rock hoping for prosperity in the following year––the bigger the rock, the more prosperity.

Reading my children's book, you'll travel to UrkupiƱa with Chi Chi and his sister, Fi Fi and learn more of the rabbits' dangerous adventure to this mountain. 

Chi Chi and his sister Fi Fi visited this celebration one year. They tell their story in Book 3 of The Really Rare Rabbits Series, Over the Winding Wall.



Flapping! And screeching! And, a terrifying shadow.
 There they were––giant geese--and very real!

Chi Chi watches as Fi Fi slides down Al Alpaca's fuzzy back. They bid farewell to the new friend they met on their adventure through Peppermint Pass. Now, the brother and sister head down the yellow dandelion trail to the Winding Wall where Grandfather Rabbit waits for them. But, first they must venture through the mysterious jungle of Selvaland.

They've heard a scary story about giant ghost geese who live in Selvaland. Chi Chi shrugs it off, but Fi Fi is frightened. He assures her it is just a story. After all, their friend Al wouldn't send them into Selvaland if danger lurked there. 

Chi Chi soon changes his mind when they meet Hotchie, a strange looking creature guarding the entrance of Selvaland. But, Hotchie is not the scariest creature they will meet along the way. When the rabbits stop to rest, their fears mount. Fi Fi trembles, but Chi Chi encourages her to believe God's Word that says, "Trust the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock." Chi Chi doesn't know how much he and Fi Fi will need to trust the Lord all the way to the Winding Wall––and beyond!

Available on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2TM1Mp1  


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Dancing with Ants


 "There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are––ants..." (Proverbs 30:24-25 MSG)

After church, we parked the car off the dirt road in our area to head down a narrow muddy path to Guichi's house. Guichi is our Bolivian ministry helper. His whole family awaited our arrival. They were cooking cow heart for us––yes, we love it. But, first I'd do a dance on the edge of a neighbor's dried up alfalfa field––a scary dance.

I slid out of the car into a high, hay-like area. I hit the ground and what seemed like a hundred large black ants attacked both of my legs––stinging their hearts out on my bare legs––of all the days to wear a dress, I picked this day. I landed in a hidden ant hill. The jumping and screaming missionary ant dance alarmed the neighbors I'm sure, but what did they think when Chuck began smacking my legs? I can now say I danced with ants. Hopefully, the neighbors saw an ant dance and not a missionary marriage problem.

We ran to Guichi's house. Chuck immediately gave me a cortisone shot, and I gulped down a Benadryl. I rubbed baking soda all over the bites up to my knees. There were so many bites I couldn't begin to count them all.  BTW, I am allergic. I didn't have to use the epi-pen I carry for my fish allergies. Just can't make up this stuff, and I'm a writer. Our medical experience and medical kit saved me from the epi-pen and after effects that could have ended in a hospital trip.

Thankfully, it was an ant hill and not a snake nest. I may start wearing cowgirl boots 24/7. After many years on the mission field, your surroundings are so familiar that you forget to take photos. Then, you begin to forget the dangers, too. But even though we become lax, God is faithful to protect us and give us warnings.

Do you know that ants are wise? "There are four small creatures, wisest of the wise they are––ants––frail as they are, get plenty of food for the winter;" (Proverbs 30:24-25 MSG)

One thing for sure, they enjoyed their Sunday feast of white meat thanks to their not so wise missionary neighbors.

Let's be wise like ants so we don't fall into the proverbial ant hills of life.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Chasing the Wind



"Restore to me the joy or your salvation." (Psalms 51:11,12 NRSV).

While drinking my tea and chomping on my cookie––I'm not a breakfast person, but I make up for it the rest of the day––I made a mental list of all I wanted to accomplish on a Monday morning. I flipped on the morning news to check about blockades in the country where I live in South America. All roads closed because of a looming problem within the country. No problem since I had no plans to head out anytime soon. Then, checked the news to see that all was right with the world––well, for the morning anyhow. Now, what next? Should I clean those blinds staring at me or work on correspondence? I hadn't a clue the wind would soon change my course.

Jolted by a swishing sound, I paused from all the noise in my head. This noise clamored around my windows and caught my attention. Wind! Gusty wind! Scary wind! Then it ceased. And, so did my schedule.

Instantly, my thoughts soared heavenly. God caught my attention. "So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned first hand that pursuing all of this is like chasing the wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:17 NLT).

I set out chasing the wind. I reached for my Bible and glanced out the window. Trees bent in the wind but didn't break. New leaves budded, and their greenery etched against the blue sky. A reminder that my soul may bend but never break, and just as the leaves bud again, I too have a new beginning each day. My heart warmed, and the wind in my soul ceased. I read these words "Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy or your salvation." (Psalms 51:11,12 NRSV).

My soul relaxed. The clamoring stopped. My joy returned.

Chasing God brings joy. What are you chasing today? Do you want God to restore your joy? Chase Him!

"We must allow the Word of God to correct us the same way we allow it to encourage us." 
A.W. Tozer

Monday, July 1, 2019

Happy Fourth of July


Every day is a happy one when we are in our home country––even when we got food poisoning the first week of our arrival from Bolivia one furlough a few years ago. We were blessed because we had the best health care and recovered quickly.
While in the States on furlough one summer, I had the blessing of attending the AWSA conference in St. Louis and had a signing at the ICRS. What an awesome blessing from the Lord to meet amazing authors and speakers at both events. They are an inspiration to all!
Meeting my first publisher, Tracy Ruckman was a blessing. Memories that last forever are treasured. I also met my editor, Julie-Allyson Ieron, and her mom for the first time––live and in person. What a fun time and good food! Nine years of working with these talented and godly ladies, and they still put up with me.
I am thankful that God ushered me into this wonderful world of publishing in this phase of my life––the senior phase! "Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence" (Psalm 21:6 NIV). His unending blessings amaze me, and the joy of His presence was evident in these three events. This is all possible because of our country and its freedoms and opportunities.
We love seeing the flags flying all over our country when we are home, and we're thankful for the freedom we have as Americans––and especially thankful for those who have sacrificed so we can enjoy that freedom. We are blessed to be Americans!
God bless you, and God bless America, land that we love! Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Let Him Shine



Do you ever wish for more time in the day? God can do that––He did do it. The Bible says so. "The sun stood stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies" (Joshua 10:13 NIV). God still does miracles today--maybe the sun won't stand still, but we can find more time. He can do a miracle in our life without the sun standing still. He can shine through us, so others see God's miracles in us. How?

 Realize--What is our spirituality?

 It is God in us–-serving each other and the world. How many miracles have we missed because we don't believe and trust the Lord? Worse yet, we don't always realize the miracles God performs for us because we aren't aware of God in every aspect of our life. Joshua believed God to defeat the enemy. He realized God existed. He believed. We can start the day defeated before hitting the floor––hurried, frustrated, and miserable before the day starts because we don't first recognize Who brought us through the night and Who gives us another day to live. Or, we can thank God for another day, pray for our day, and give Him first place in our first thoughts and daily life. What if we just say good morning to God and realize He wants to be a part of our day from beginning to end? 

 Reflect––Who do we reflect?

So many verses talk about God's face shining on us. The Psalmist asked God to teach him His decrees. "Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees" (Psalm 119:135 NIV). He wanted to be close to God and learn about Him and His ways. When we spend time in the Word, we learn of God's teachings––His decrees. But, applying those teachings changes our life. It's then we reflect His shining face and others see Christ in us. When I apply moisturizer in the morning, my face shines. But as the day progresses, it looses its shine––applying more brings back the shine. If we keep reading and applying God's Word, our lives shine continuously. It's then we reflect and shine The Light in this dark world.

 Rest––He can do the rest! Rest assured!

We have a free will to seek God or not. He doesn't force us to love Him and serve Him. But, He will do the rest if we trust Him and obey His Word. Yes, He will give us rest and peace, and He will carry our burdens, and He will give us all we need to serve Him and accomplish His will. We'll find the time we need when our priorities match His. He promises us not just life but abundant life. So rest assured, He keeps His promises. 

Apply God's moisturizer all day  (His Word) and let Him shine!



Monday, May 20, 2019

Dumbells and Smart Belles


"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me" (Acts 20:24 NIV).

I'm not an exercise guru, not even close. But, I keep going physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, there are days I want to just give it all up––the writing, the classes, even the ministry. Did I just admit that? Haven't you been there a time or two, honestly? I'm guessing, yes. Admitting it is a way of facing the reality that things change and sometimes God does want to move us into a new task. But, just maybe, He wants to renew us for the task at hand. Maybe, we are burned out or just weary. Either way, He doesn't want us to give up, just keep moving. When I reach that point, I ask myself if I want to give up or, do I want to keep going and do more? A reality check that shakes my soul because deep down, I don't want to give up. I want to finish the race––on the path I walk or another path waiting for me directed by my God.

You don't have to enter the senior years to feel like giving it all up to go sit on the beach. Seasons in our lives cause us to want to give up on our dreams, give up on our marriage, our family or our job. We can lose our drive, our purpose, and our way if we lose sight of why we are in the race. The finish line has vanished from our view, and we lose sight of the task the Lord gives us. 

In my book, Shape Your Soul, I write about resistance training in one chapter.  Resistance training increases stamina. As you grow stronger, you don't tire as easily. The more weight you bear, the more you resist giving up. Likewise, the more we resist the devil, the more our faith muscles straighten and our faith increases. Each victory over sin builds our faith. We resist the temptation to give up, and we don't give in to the devil. "Therefore, submit to God. But, resist the devil, and He will flee from you" (James 4:7 HCSB).

I push myself in many ways––although not through exercise per se. But, physically, yes, I do push myself. I love to scrub floors, go figure. We have many on our mission base so I can't get away from my floor scrubbing exercise. I look for ways to exercise in my daily routine. I put things away where I'll have to bend––yep bending exercises. I keep moving, physically, mentally, and spiritually. If not, the body withers, our minds get lazy, and the soul dies.

A few years ago I developed carpel tunnel because I worked on the computer daily. Then last year, my right arm developed golf elbow and tennis elbow from completing five book contracts. Both times, I had physical therapy for months on end and part of that was lifting dumbbells to straighten my wrists and arm. Grueling can't accurately describe the pain of the therapy. But, without it, my shoulder could be frozen, possible surgery for my wrists and one of my dream jobs (writing) coming to and end. Not to mention, my day job as a missionary and teacher to young girls in jeopardy also. I saw the end result and worked towards it without hesitation. I wanted to get to the final therapy session and enjoy my work again.

Reaching the end of the race and accomplishing God's tasks for me keeps me going. Daily working out my faith straightens my soul to keep going in the race. There may be setbacks and rest periods along the journey, but I keep going to reach the finish line.

Resistance training with God moves our mountain of defeat. If we resit the devil, we gain strength, and complete our task for the Lord––never giving up and never defeated.

Let's be smart belles using our preverbial dumbbells to strengthen our souls so we never give up.



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lighten Your Load


"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30 NIV).

Did you know, if a burro is overloaded he will sit down and refuse to move? It's true, we see it happen on the road in front of our house. The burros in our village still carry a load of corn or alfalfa from the fields to their homes. They return home alone––they know the way.

How do the owners know the limit of their burros? It must be that they live and work with these animals day in and day out for many years. Burros can live 30 years or more; they will work hard for many years. But, if they are abused their life-span will be shorter.

What can we learn from the burro? Do we know when to sit down if the burden is too much, the way the burro does? Like the burro, we have a Master who knows us, He walks with us day in and day out. If we are overburdened, whose fault is it? Matthew 11:30 says, " ...my burden is light."

Maybe we have put the burden on ourselves, and it is time to review our priorities. We can delegate––let go. We are about to start a young couples' workshop here in Rumi Rancho. God has worked it out perfectly, but we had to seek help––we couldn't do it all. Six of us will do the necessary things to make it come together. Chuck will lead the study, Juan and Amelia will help with the setting up, and Pablo and Nathaly will lead the singing. I will show up with the snack, and of course, add some laughs when things start to get dull. By delegating, we can do more ministry and be more effective. We can reach and teach more children and adults because God has provided a way, so we won't be overburdened.

If we think we can't do one more thing, maybe we can't. Time to sit down so we don't overburden ourselves.

The burro's master knows his animal's limit––our Master knows our limit.

Let's seek God's priorities for us and lighten our load. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Happy Mother's Day


 "I will remember the works of the Lord;" (Psalm 77:11 KJV)

Many of us have mothers who are gone––some to heaven, and some separated by many miles. I'm far away from my kids and grandkids this Mother's Day, but they are tucked in my heart where they are forever close to me.

For me, Mother's Day doesn't have to be a sad day because of separation, but a day of wonderful memories. I'm thankful God gives us memories and the ability to recall them. Some of my memories are funny ones, but others bring tears spilling over my face, and some do both. I love them all because I can see God's hand in every one.

I can both cry and laugh out loud every time I think of this memory––the birth of our granddaughter, Kayla. It is a testimony of how God gives us everything we need while going through hard situations in life. He even gives us humor to release tension.

We were privileged to be home on furlough when Kayla was born. After her entrance into our lives and arms, we headed back to the house with our son-in-law. We were all ecstatically happy but exhausted and ready for a comfy bed. That wasn't to be.

An hour later, a phone call broke the silence of the calm night and our elated state. Our son-in-law rushed out the door telling us to call our daughter––she would explain. We heard our daughter's frantic voice on the other end. Kayla had stopped breathing. They had her on machines to keep her breathing and to monitor her. It was a nightmare situation for our daughter. While waiting for the nurses to bring the baby to her, she became impatient waiting. Hours had passed, and there was no explanation for why she couldn't see her baby. As any new mother would do, she got out of bed at midnight and went searching for her baby. She found Kayla in a corner of the nursery, isolated and on the machines. I can only imagine the fear that must have paralyzed my daughter as she looked through that nursery window.

The next day, the baby was stabilized, but there was no explanation for why she couldn't breathe on her own. The doctors began running a multitude of tests. My husband and I left for the hospital early that morning. We were exhausted from a sleepless night but trying to stay calm for our daughter and son-in-law's sake. That wasn't easy––especially for me.

I headed to our daughter's room while my husband tried to get information about the baby at the nurses' station. Standing at the door of my daughter's room, I froze in my steps. I couldn't enter the room. What was wrong with my daughter? She didn't look like herself. Her face seemed changed. Her hair was the same, the room was the same, but who was the strange man sitting by her bed holding her hand? Already panicky about my granddaughter, now I feared my daughter also had a problem.

The man sitting by her side asked in a sweet soft voice, "Can we help you?"

Stunned, I looked them both up and down. Oh my! This was the birthing room from the day before. This wasn't my daughter but another young mother-to-be waiting for her baby to be born. She looked so much like my daughter they could have been sisters. Embarrassed, yes! Relieved beyond words, yes! Apologizing over and over, yes! Funny––not at the time!

I found my daughter's room. Our whole family was there by this time. Reluctantly, I told them about my misadventure. The whole hospital must have heard the howling coming out of that room on that morning. But that wasn't the end of their fun.

The following morning, we returned to the hospital. We were allowed to visit Kayla. As I put on the gown and looked at the helpless baby with tubes in her little body in that incubator, I completely lost it! I sobbed while a nurse comforted me and explained Kayla's condition. Finally, I held that sweet little thing in my arms and thanked God she was in a hospital prepared to handle her problems. After visiting the baby, we headed to my daughter's room. I was sure more jokes would be on the horizon that day, but I wasn't at all prepared for what came next.

Entering the room, I felt relieved that this time, it was my daughter in the bed. Kisses and hugs were exchanged. Then my son-in-law stood up and flung open the curtain that separated the next bed over from our sight. During the night, my daughter gained a roommate––I'm guessing you already know–the new mother from the birthing room the day before. She smiled and said, "Hi, Mom!" Her whole family had been sitting behind the curtain waiting for the unveiling. I'm sure the roar of laughter from that room on that day is one for the hospital's records.

The two young mothers confessed they were going to switch beds and confuse me again, but then decided my grandmother heart had enough excitement in the past few days. We enjoyed getting to know this sweet young mom who looked so much like my daughter, and her wonderful family. It was a time of laughter, rejoicing and sharing our faith.

The next day, we had the results of the tests. Kayla was born with pneumonia, but she was on her way to a full recovery. It is one of the Lord's works that we will always remember. Our prayers were answered.

I thought a mother, daughter, granddaughter story would be appropriate for Mother's Day! Hope the corners of your mouth turned upward a few times.

I am blessed to be a mom and a grandmother, and I'm thankful for all the wonderful memories of my kids and grandkids! Let's remember all of the Lord's wonderful works this Mother's Day!

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Happy Mother's Day!

This story is an excerpt from my new devotional book for women. A great Mother's Day gift. Find it here on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/2uMiqu1



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Star Story


Psalm 147:4

This morning while still in my jammies, I snuggled in my comfy chair to enjoy my cozy reading nook with my Bible in hand and opened. As though from the heavens, I heard this loud and clear. “What do you want?"

I could almost feel the vibration of God’s voice speaking to me through His Word. Reading in John Chapter 1, I wondered why Jesus turned around and asked this question to the two disciples who followed behind Him, "What do you want?" Don't you wonder, too?

A few years ago (when I had no fear of walking my neighborhood in the dark) I walked outside to check on things before bed. The quietness eased my soul as I enjoyed stars twinkling overhead as if they danced to music. God hung each one and even named them. The wind rustled the bushes, and nearby barking dogs aroused my curiosity. Unafraid of the darkness, I opened our gate and checked around. Looking back, I wonder what I was thinking. If there had been a danger I would have found myself smack in it–– unprotected and alone. 

Nevertheless, I walked the road and found relief that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. At the time, no streetlights illuminated the road (only the sparkling stars) and neighbors were few and far between. Bolivia seemed to be untouched by things going on around the world like theft and murder. Times changed. The internet arrived, and yes, TV programs from outside this ancient Quechua culture flooded young minds. In our neck of the woods, outside the city lights and noise, we’d seldom seen or heard of these dangers. Those days are gone.

But, that night, one thing robbed my peace and safety––the wind. While on the road, a rushing wind blew our gate shut with a bang. We had no doorbell because kids rang it then promptly ran away––usually at 1 am. Doorbells were a novelty (and still rare) in this remote village and hard to resist. We didn’t hesitate to disconnect the modern menace.

Alone, unafraid but frustrated, I jumped with a kangaroo spring to my feet and screamed for help at the top of my voice until hoarse. Why I don’t know. My husband had long been asleep upstairs, and even if he’d been awake, he would not have heard my voice from afar. So what to do? Our wall was too high to scale. And, to enter from the back of the property was out of the question. We only had barbed wire around the property, but I’d have to climb a path of bushes and thorns and who knows what animals or creatures lurked in the dark. So I decided to walk the dirt road to our classrooms and attempt entry from there.

The darkness hugged me, and the brisk air chilled my bones. Garbed with only my PJs, I walked the lonely road. Under the stars, I suddenly became aware of footsteps behind me. Who walked behind me? What did they want? A moonless night left no clue to the one who followed me.

Out of the dark, starry night came a Spanish speaking voice. “Dona Margarita, what are you doing out here in the cold and dark all alone?” Relief, a familiar voice. Hernan, a teen boy who attended our classes, shined his flashlight. He walked to his home up the mountain each night after special classes at the school near us. We approached our classrooms, and his robust voice awoke our ministry helpers who lived near our classrooms. They opened the gate, and I basked in the safety and comfort of home.

Two disciples were following Jesus when he turned and asked the question. “Turning around, Jesus saw them and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV).

At first, I’d thought about shouting to the follower behind me, “What do you want?” But, I hesitated. Jesus didn’t hesitate to ask His followers what they wanted. We shouldn't hesitate to tell Him what we want. That dark, cold, and starry night, I asked God for an open door and thanked Him for how it opened.

Maybe Jesus asked the question of His followers because He wanted to know if they were following out of curiosity, personal gain, or purposes other than His purpose. Yes, He already knew, but did they know? Are we following Him for our purpose to advance our cause and or to accomplish His purpose and cause? 

Have you thought about what you want from Jesus today? Why not make a list of those things? We can be honest with Him and tell Him what’s on our hearts. He wants us to talk to Him––but not only in our dark, scary, starry night situations. 

Ponder Jesus’ words today. “What do you want?”