Wednesday, December 23, 2009

so near...

baking, shopping, eating, wrapping, traffic, music, malls, santas, ...

and every time my little girl passes a nativity scene (they are all over the place here, thanks to our catholic roots in the philippines) she exclaims, "Baby Jesus!"

that's all she knows, really.

it's Jesus' birthday soon.

and mommy is making a cake for Jesus.

and we give presents- we give Him our hearts.

Lord, be near this christmas as in no other...

happy birthday, Jesus.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

mothers watch at windows...

Mothers watch at windows...
watch as the hours pass by,
stopping occasionally to check
the supper in the oven,
straighten a little in the house,
then back to the window,
wondering, hoping, praying...
listening for the phone,
turning the neck to see
both sides of the street,
straining eyes to see inside taxis,
waiting for the heart to explode
when the loved one appears...

mothers watch at windows...
light lamps, arrange flowers,
reach out into the universe
to draw the loved one home...
hearts watching, waiting endlessly,
patient and persistent...
mothers watch at windows...

Mothers wave goodbye...
and hold the unshed tears
till they're alone.
We watch our children
stride away
with straight brave backs,
not looking behind.
We kiss little faces
thinking “is this the last time?”
for life is uncertain...
and we smile.

Mothers act an incredible act
of excitement and joy-
“be brave! Isn't this an adventure?!”
when we tremble and quake
in our hearts...
not knowing, we give knowledge.
Fearing, we give courage.
Fainting, we give strength.
No one- hardly anyone,
except perhaps another mother-
sees us cry
the diamond drops of anguish.
Mothers wave goodbye.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

i know he loves me...

in church last sunday one of the worship songs was a favorite of mine...a beautiful Hillsongs of the lines is "i know you love me"...

my hearts beats for this truth. he loves me. the father loves me. i grew up with an absent, unaffectionate father who was often emotionally unstable. i know in my head he did love me, but was incapable of showing or acknowledging it. my little girl's heart longed for love, acceptance, reassurance that i was normal and secure and safe.

i'm thankful for my healing journey that has brought me to the place where i can sing with all my heart "i know he loves me"...i'm so thankful for jesus, who is the bridge between me and the father, who heals me daily, who whispers to the child within my mind that "it's ok, everything is ok".

i do know it now, to the core of my being, that i am loved. safe. held.

i never one time recall my father holding me. touching me.

but through jesus, the father god holds my heart daily.

i know he loves me. the following beautiful lyrics are something i envision singing in my spirit when i stand at the threshold of eternity some day, waiting to step into his open arms. i know he loves me.

Oh Lord You've searched me, You know my ways
Even when I fail You, I know You love me

Your holy presence, Surrounding me
In every season
I know You love me
I know You love me

At the cross I bow my knee
Where Your blood was shed for me
There's no greater love than this
You have overcome the grave
Glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now?

You go before me, You shield my way
Your hand upholds me, I know You love me

You tore the veil
You made a way
When You said that it is done,
When You said that it is done...

And when the earth fades, falls from my eyes
You stand before me
i know You love me
i know You love me

Saturday, December 12, 2009


my 3-year-old daughter Emma loves to hear and say things over and over and over. Often when she speaks, it's in triplication..."Mommy, i needa go potty, i needa go potty, i needa go potty..." cute, and persistent, and repetitive.

it being christmastime, we are reading christmas stories. she has fixated on several christmas themes during this year, probably because it's the first year she's really understood a teeny bit of what it's all about. she effortlessly weaves together santa and the baby Jesus...and she's jumped from frosty the snowman, to the christmas star Alabaster (max lucado's story), and now- we are fixated on the little drummer boy.

every night. we read it. over and over and over. now she knows it all by heart, and tries so hard to get her little tongue around the "pa rum-pa-pum-pum"...and her little black eyes become round and astonished at "i have no gift to bring"...then brighten up at "shall i play for you (pa rum pa pum pum)? on my drum?" and she nods solemnly and approvingly at the final page as I read "then...he smiled at me (pa rum pa pum pum), me and my drum..." and as my voice lowers to a whisper, she looks at the picture of the little drummer boy marching off into the distance and the smiling baby, and we wait quietly while she- meditates.

it led me today to begin to think about emma's technique of's meditation, in a way. hearing it over and over until it becomes meaningful.

i'm ashamed that i don't fixate on the Word like emma fixates on the little drummer boy, this week at least.

i, like emma, need to meditate on the word. over and over and over. pa rum pa pum pum.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

for those of you in the frozen north...

written after a surprising skate on fake ice here in the tropics! at a mall...believe it or made me recall my early childhood days of skating- the only sport i truly loved...

I’d forgotten
How it hisssses
And sssspitsss
And scccrapesss
And glaresss with
Cccracccckky eyesss
As you skate over it…

Blackkk depthsss
Reach up
To a thin veneeeeeer
Of cccrysssstal
That sssupportsss my ssskkkates

I am comforted by the deeeep cccrisssscccrossss anglesss
Of jagggged xxxx’s-
It’s thickkkk enough
To hold me…

Ha ha…
Sssspittt away
Hissss if you likkke

I’ll ssskkkate on you
Till ssspring!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

my prayer

"I would that I could be
A wound-dresser
Of souls-
Reaching the aching heart,
The tortured mind,
Calming them as the night
Calms tired bodies
When she drops the mantle of sleep
Over the world.
As each cold, glittering star
So might I stand in mine,
But with the warmth of a smile
On my face,
And in my eyes
An image of the Soul Divine."
-author unknown

Friday, December 4, 2009

christmas at sea...


The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'long-shore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
"All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call.
"By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate Jackson, cried.
."It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850

Monday, November 23, 2009

and a few more treasured pictures...


daily, i think back on our family reunion a few weeks ago, and the exquisitely beautiful times we had together. God was so good to give me just what I had asked for...just TIME. just TOGETHERNESS. just a TASTE of eternity.

tracey, my daughter in love, took the pictures. here are a few of her great shots for which i am so thankful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

some earnest heart...

...some earnest heart enters an objection here, perhaps. you are thinking that if you were there you could influence men by your personal contact, by the living voice.

so you could.

and there must be the personal touch. would that there were many times more going for that blessed personal touch.

But this is the thing to mark keenly both for those who may go, and for those who must stay: no matter where you are you do more through your praying than through your personality.

If you were in India you could add your personality to your prayer. That would be a great thing to do.

But whether there or here, you must first win the victory, every step, every life, every foot of the way, in secret, in the spirit realm, and then add the mighty touch of your personality in service.

You can do more than pray, after you have prayed.

But you can not do more than pray until you have prayed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

quiet talks on prayer, cont'd...

In touch with a planet....

Prayer opens a whole planet to a man's activities. I can as really be touching hearts for God in far away India or China through prayer, as though I were there. Not in as many ways as though there, but as truly. Understand me, I think the highest possible privilege of service is in those far off lands. There the need is greatest, the darkness densest, and the pleading call most eloquently pathetic. And if one may go there- happy man!- if one be privileged to go to the honoured place of service he may then use all five outlets direct in the spot where he is.

Yet this is only one spot. But his relationship is as wide as his Master's and his sympathies should be. A man may be in Africa, but if his heart be in touch with Jesus it will be burning for a world. Prayer puts us into direct dynamic touch with a world.

A man may go aside today, and shut his door, and as really spend a half-hour in India- I am thinking of my words as I say them, it seems so much to say, and yet it is true- as really spend a half hour of his life in India for God as though he were there in person. Is that true? If it be true, surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret service. Without any doubt he may turn his key and be for a bit of time as potentially in china by the power of prayer, as though there in actual bodily form. I say potentially present. Of course not consciously present.

But in the power exerted upon men he may be truly present at the objective point of his prayer. He may give a new meaning ot the printed page being read by some native down in Africa. He may give a new tongue of flame to the preacher or teacher. He may make it easier for men to accept the story of Jesus, and then to yield themselves to Jesus, - yonder men swept and swayed by evil spirits, and by prejudices for generations- make it easier for them to accept the story, and, if need be, to cut with loved ones, and step out and up into a new life.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

remember... lest we forget...remember

today is remembrance day.

my father is one old soldier who deserves to be remembered...he was in training in England with the RAF when his crew went missing on a bombing training run. he was in the hospital with illness at the time. he never got over it, always lived with the "survivor complex". he was alive, but something inside him died that night with his crew. we honor you dad for your sacrifice for your country.

and we will not forget.

my dear old grandfather- who had no voice because he was gassed in the french trenches during i wish he had lived long enough for me to know him. all i know of him is from my mother, long gone to be with him in heaven. how can i remember someone i never knew? oh, i can. i can. he is not forgotten.

one of the first poems my father ever read to me was the haunting "In Flanders fields", and i shall add it here.

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place,
and in the sky, the larks
still bravely singing fly
scarce heard amid the guns below...

we are the dead
short days ago we lived
felt dawn
saw sunset glow
loved and were loved,
and now we lie
in Flanders fields.

Take up the quarrel with the foe
to you, from failing hands we throw
the torch
be yours to hold it high,
if ye break faith with us
who die
we shall not sleep,
we shall not sleep
tho poppies blow
in Flanders fields...

(i wrote that all from memory without checking...that's how deeply it sank into my subconscious as a child...)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

quiet talks on prayer, cont'd...

It is wholly a secret service. We do not know who these people are, though sometimes shrewd guesses may be made. I often think that sometimes we pass some plain-looking woman quietly slipping out of church; gown been turned two or three times; bonnet fixed over more than once; hands that have not known much of the softening of gloves; and we hardly give her a passing thought, and do not know, nor guess, that perhaps she is the one who is doing far more for her church, and for the world, and for God, than a hundred who would claim more attention and thought, because she prays: truly prays as the Spirit of God inspires and guides.

Let me put it this way: God will do as a result of the praying of the humblest one here what otherwise he would not do. Yes, I can make it stronger than that, and I must make it stronger, for the Book does. Listen: God will do in answer to the prayer of the weakest one here what otherwise He could not do. "Oh!" someone thinks, "you are getting too strong now."

Well, you listen to Jesus' own words in that last long quiet talk He had with the eleven men between the upper room and the olive grove. John preserves much of that talk for us. Listen: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that"- listen, a part of the purpose why we have been chosen- "that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you." Mark that word "may"; not "shall" this time, but may. "Shall" throws the matter over on God- His purpose. "May" throws it over on us- our cooperation. That is to say our praying makes it possible for God to do what otherwise He could not do.

And if you think into it a bit, this fits in with the true conception of prayer. In its simplest analysis, prayer- all prayer- has, must have, two parts. First, a God to give. "Yes," you may say, "certainly a God wealthy, willing, all of that." And, just as certainly, there must be a second factor, a man to receive. Man's willingness is God's channel to the earth. God never crowds or coerces. Everything God does for man and through man He does with man's consent, always. With due reverence, but very plainly, let it be said that God can do nothing for the man with shut hand and shut life. There must be an open hand and heart and life through which God can give what He longs to.

An open life, an open hand, open upward, is the pipe line of communication between the heart of God and this poor befooled old world. Our prayer is God's opportunity to get into the world that would shut Him out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

quiet talks on prayer, cont'd...

Second: through the lips, through what we say. It may be said stammeringly and falteringly. But if said your best with the desire to please the Master it will be God-blest.

I have heard a man talk. And he stuttered and blushed and got his grammar badly tangled, but my heart burned as I listened. And I have heard a man talk with smooth speech, and it rolled off me as easily as it rolled out of him. Do your best, and leave the rest. If we are in touch with God His fire burns whether the tongue stammer or has good control of its powers.

Third: through our service, what we do. It may be done bunglingly and blunderingly. Your best may not be the best, but if it be your best it will bring a harvest.

Fourth: through our money, what we do not keep, but loosen out for God. Money comes the nearest to omnipotence of anything we handle.

And, fifth: through our prayer, what we claim in Jesus' name.

And by all odds the greatest of these is the outlet through prayer. The power of a life touches just one spot, but the touch is tremendous. What is there, we think, to be compared with a pure, unselfish, gently strong life?

Yet its power is limited to one spot where it is being lived. Power through the lips depends wholly upon the life back of the lips. Words that come brokenly are often made burning and eloquent by the life behind them. And words that are smooth and easy, often have all their meaning sapped by the life back of them.

Power through service may be great, and may be touching many spots, yet it is always less than that of a life.

Power through money depends wholly upon the motive back of the money. Begrudged money, stained money, soils the treasury. That which comes nearest to omnipotence also comes nearest to impotence.

But the power loosened out through prayer is as tremendous, at the least, as the power of a true fragrant life, and, mark you, may touch not one spot but wherever in the whole round world you may choose to turn it.

The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray. It is not the only thing. But it is the chief thing. A correct balancing of the possible powers one may exert puts it first. For if a man is to pray right, he must first be right in his motives and life. And if a man be right, and put the practice of praying in its right place, then his serving and giving and speaking will be fairly fragrant with the presence of God.

The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. This something else is very important. Very important, and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer. There are people that put prayer first, and group the other items in life's schedule around and after prayer.

These are the people today who are doing the most for God; in winning souls; in solving problems; in awakening churches; in supplying both men and money for mission posts; in keeping fresh and strong those lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field where the thickest fighting is going on; in keeping the old earth sweet awhile longer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prayer, the Greatest Outlet of Power

Five Outlets of Power.

A great sorrow has come into the heart of God. Let it be told only in hushed voice- one of his worlds is a prodigal!

Hush your voice yet more- ours is that prodigal world.

Let your voice soften down still more- we have consented to the prodigal part of the story.

But, in softest tones yet, He has won some of us back with His strong tender love. And now let the voice ring out with great gladness- we won ones may be the pathway back to God for the others. That is His earnest desire. That should be our dominant ambition. For that purpose He has endowed us with peculiar power.

There is one inlet of power in the life- anybody's life- any kind of power: just one inlet- the Holy Spirit. He is power. He is in every one who opens his door to God. He eagerly enters every open door. He comes in by our invitation and consent. His presence within is the vital thing.

But with many of us while He is in, He is not in control: in a guest; not as host. That is to say that He is hindered in His natural movement; tied up, so that He cannot do what He would. And so we are not conscious or only partially conscious of His presence. And others are still less so. But to yield to His mastery, to cultivate His friendship, to give Him full swing- that will result in what is called power. One inlet of power- the Holy Spirit in control.

There are five outlet of power; five avenues through which this One within shows Himself, and reveals His power.

First: though the life, what we are. Just simply what we are. If we be right the power of God will be constantly flowing out, though we are not conscious of it. It throws the keenest kind of emphasis on a man being right in his life. There will be an eager desire to serve. Yet we may constantly do more in what we are than in what we do. We may serve better in the lives we live than in the best service we ever give. The memory of that should bring rest to your spirit when a bit tired, and maybe disheartened because tired...


i am going to begin blogging from an old book i have: "Quiet Talks on Prayer" by S.D. Gordon. It's a very old book. each page is separate within the cover, it's falling apart. But each line is profound. I am on my third reading, and recently thought what a shame that this is no longer in print. am i willing to reproduce it here, in my blog, hoping it will bless you? yes. it's a lot of work, but the writing is so marvelous that i count it a privilege to allow this lovely book to be read and remembered.

there is something about the words of a quiet, humble soul who has no flowery sentences, just truth and careful ponderings.

quiet talks on prayer.

Friday, October 9, 2009


it's our 40th year of marriage. our ruby year.

he went to nepal, and i asked him to bring me a ruby.

i was thinking- just a stone, or a pendant, or something little...(i do have an agatha christie fountain pen with the snake with the ruby eyes and it is one of my most treasured possessions)

he came back with a tiny box. gave it to me with a shy, excited grin.

inside, a stunning ruby ring, surrounded by diamonds.

my heart leaped...i felt like i'd just gotten engaged again. what is it about rings and diamonds and a girl's heart? (i may be almost 60, but inside, i'm 16.)

my sweetheart. the love of my life. he brought me a ruby ring.

my finger feels heavy with the power of this lovely emblem of our enduring union. flanked top and bottom by my two eternity rings, one diamond and one ruby...

i love it. i love him. i love being married. i love that we have survived this long, through good years, bad years, very bad years, and we have hung on. there is something to be said for staying together.

my ruby ring says it all.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

an american indian's version of the 23rd psalm.

The Great Father above is a Shepherd Chief. I am his and with him. I want not. He throws out to me a rope, and the name of the rope is love, and he draws me to where the grass is green and the water is not dangerous.

Sometimes my heart is very weak, and falls down, but he lifts it up again and draws me into a good road.

Sometime, it may be very soon, it may be longer, it may be a long, long time, he will draw me into a place between mountains. It is dark there, but I'll draw back not. I'll be afraid not, for it is in there between the mountains that the Shepherd Chief will meet me, and the hunger I have felt in my heart all this life will be satisfied.

Sometimes he makes the love rope into a whip, but afterwards he gives me a staff to lean on.

He spreads a table before me with all kinds of food. He puts his hands upon my head, and all the "tired" is gone.

My cup he fills, till it runs over.

What i tell you is true, I lie not. The roads that are "away ahead" will stay with me through this life, and afterward I will go to live in the "Big Tepee" and sit down with the Shepherd Chief forever.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


last week as we waited for little "Ace" (one of our Gentle Hands hospice care patients) to die after a long excruciating battle with brain cancer, a song came to my memory, an old hymn that we used to sing as children. the verse about the child with an aching head echoed in my mind, and i wanted to sing it in memory of this sweet child whose final days were painful beyond belief. i can hear my dad's voice ringing out on the chorus: 'Christ is all, all in all"...the tune is lilting and Irish, so it really suited his tenor voice. i found the words on line as i could only recall verse 1. what a marvelous old hymn of assurance and testimony that Christ Jesus is indeed our all in all.

I entered once a home of care,
Old age and penury were there,
Yet peace and joy withal;
I ask’d the lonely mother whence
Her helpless widowhood’s defence,
She told me, “Christ was all”.

Christ is all, all in all,
Yes, Christ is all in all,
Christ is all, all in all,
Yes, Christ is all in all.

I stood beside a dying bed
Where lay a child with aching head,
Waiting for Jesus' call;
I mark’d his smile,
‘Twas sweet as May,
And as his spirit passed away,
He whispere’d, “Christ is all”.

I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor death his soul appall;
I asked him whence his strength was giv’n,
He look’d triumphantly to heav’n,
And answered, “Christ is all”.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

a good message from chuck swindoll

Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

Charles R. Swindoll
Read Job 1:1-12.

Without Job's knowing it, a dialogue took place in the invisible world. As the Lord and Satan had their strange encounter, the subject quickly turned to this well-known earthly man. The Lord calls Satan's attention to Job's exemplary life, and Satan responds with a sinister sneer. “Of course, who wouldn't serve You the way You've prospered and protected him. Take away all the perks and watch what happens; the man will turn on You in a flash.” God agrees to let the Adversary unload on Job

And so, in today's terms, the Lord bet Satan that Job would never turn on Him. Philip Yancey refers to that agreement as the “divine wager.” Satan instigates a sudden and hostile removal of all the man's possessions, leaving him bankrupt. Within a matter of minutes, everything he owned was gone.

This brings us to the first lesson worth remembering: we never know ahead of time the plans God has for us. Job had no prior knowledge or warning. That morning dawned like every other morning. The night had passed like any other night. There was no great angelic manifestation-not even a tap on his window or a note left on the kitchen table.

In one calamity after another, all the buildings on his land are gone, and nothing but lumber and bodies litter the landscape. It occurred so fast, Job's mind swirled in disbelief. Everything hit broadside . . . his world instantly changed.

You and I must learn from this! We never know what a day will bring, whether good or ill. Our heavenly Father's plan unfolds apart from our awareness. Ours is a walk of faith, not sight. Trust, not touch. Leaning long and hard, not running away. No one knows ahead of time what the Father's plan includes. It's best that way. It may be a treasured blessing; it could be a test that drops us to our knees. He knows ahead of time, but He is not obligated to warn us about it or to remind us it's on the horizon. We can be certain of this; our God knows what is best.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

dancing with a lion

i wrote this about ten years ago during a physical/emotional breakdown...

Dancing with a lion

All my life I've known you, God,
Trusted you,
Questioned you,
Dreamed about you,
Talked to you.
I've read books about you
And I've read what you've written
To me.

Now suddenly
None of it seems true.
The hurt I feel is so huge
The hole in my heart so deep
I wonder if you ever were there at all.

Have you heard anything I've ever said?
Have you felt my love?
Have you been there in the dark when I thought I felt
Your presence?

Well, it's darker now,
And I'm not sure anymore.

Have I been dancing with a lion all this time?

Questions. Terror. Loneliness. Sickness.

The ghastly feeling that I've been deceived,
That what you promised is not true.
Why should I believe in You
If you're not real,
If you don't care?

But I can't let go of my childhood trust.
If you're not real, then I must still believe
In what I dream you to be.
Because the dream is worth more
Than reality without You.

Even if You kill me
I will trust you.
A wise man, a desperate man, once said that.

Even a lion can be gentle.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"I choose to hope.
I will not fear
although the shadow stands so near.

I choose to see
the shining light
that makes the darkness clear and bright.

I choose the joy
of loving life
despite the pressure, toil and strife.

I choose to pray,
for you are there.
"Jehovah Shammah" is my prayer.

I choose to hope,
rejoice and pray.
For You, O God, are here, today."


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

25 things our mothers taught us....I LOVE IT! :)

1. Our mothers taught us TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE ."If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. Our mothers taught us RELIGION."You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. Our mothers taught us about TIME TRAVEL ."If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. Our mothers taught us LOGIC."Because I said so, that's why."

5. Our mothers taught us MORE LOGIC."If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.."

6. Our mothers taught us FORESIGHT."Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. Our mothers taught us IRONY"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. Our mothers taught us about the science of OSMOSIS."Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

9. Our mothers taught us about CONTORTIONISM."Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. Our mothers taught us about STAMINA.."You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. Our mothers taught us about WEATHER."This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

12. Our mothers taught us about HYPOCRISY."If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. Our mothers taught us the CIRCLE OF LIFE."I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. Our mothers taught us about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION."Stop acting like your father!"

15. Our mothers taught us about ENVY."There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. Our mothers taught us about ANTICIPATION."Just wait until we get home."

17. Our mothers taught us about RECEIVING ."You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. Our mothers taught us MEDICAL SCIENCE.."If you don't stop making a face, it's going to freeze that way."

19. Our mothers taught us ESP."Put your sweater on -- don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. Our mothers taught us HUMOR."When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. Our mothers taught us HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT ."If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. Our mothers taught us GENETICS."You're just like your father."

23. Our mothers taught us about our ROOTS."Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

24. Our mothers taught us WISDOM."When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. Our mothers taught us about JUSTICE. "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you."


Saturday, September 12, 2009


we are not told his name- this "rich young ruler"
who sought the Lord that day;
we only know that he had great possessions
and that- he went away.

he went away; he kept his earthy treasure
but oh, at what a cost!
afraid to take the cross and lose his riches-
and God and Heaven were lost.

so for the tinsel bonds that held and drew him
what honor he let slip-
comrade of John and Paul and friend of Jesus-
what glorious fellowship!

for they who left their all to follow Jesus
have found a deathless fame,
on his immortal scroll of saints and martyrs
God wrote each shining name.

We should have read his there- the rich young ruler-
if he had stayed that day;
nameless-though Jesus loved him- ever nameless
because- he went away. (springs in the valley)

i think of those i know who have left everything to follow the call, and i rejoice that the "tinsel bonds" could not hold them. we did it ourselves...left it all behind and chose to forever be followers of the One who had nowhere to lay his head on this earth. i know that feeling.'s worth it. we may not be famous here, but i believe that our names are on God's scroll as those who chose to follow him. (the cross is not heavy; his burden is light.)

known, not nameless.

we chose to stay.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

my birthday prayer

Far out at sea, at close of day,
A lonely albatross flew by.
We watched him as he soared away-
A speck against the glowing sky!
Thought I: this lordly feathered one
Is trusting in the faithfulness
Of wind and tide, of star and sun;
And shall I trust the Maker less?

O soul of mine, spread wide thy wings;
Mount up; push out with courage strong!
And- like a bird which, soaring, sings-
Let heaven vibrate with thy song!
For God will ever faithful be;
His love shall guide thee; winds divine
Shall waft thee o'er this troubled sea.

Though dangers threaten in the night,
Though tides of death below thee roll,
Though storms attend thy homeward flight,
Though shadows veil the distant shore,
And distant seems the hallowed dawn,
Spread wide thy pinions- evermore
Spread wide thy pinions, and press on.

-Robert Crumley (Springs in the Valley)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

us- 40 years.

to the day. september 5, 1969...september 5, 2009.

yayyyyy!!!!!!! love you, sweetheart. more today than then.

Friday, September 4, 2009

twists and turns of life...

you never can be sure what will happen.

all our married life, dennis and i have never placed too much weight on celebrations of exact dates of things. for instance. usually he's gone on our anniversary and my birthday. his birthday often gets bumped to the week after or the week before. father's day, mother's day, new years...bumped for out of country trips, sailing trips, i'm gone, he's gone, whatever.

some years we have missed many of our special dates altogether- as far as a celebration goes. of course, in our hearts we celebrate- just no special occasion or activity. our lives have just been too subject to flight schedules and ministry.

this year, our 40th, i requested that dennis stay home for the week of my birthday and our anniversary. they are within 5 days of each other. (we often did them together too, for economical reasons). i wanted to go somewhere nice and stay overnight in a nice hotel or something. just because. after all, 40 years is a looooong time and i'm grateful.

he stayed home all right. he's in the hospital.

we will celebrate our 40th anniversary with me crocheting in a chair beside his hospital bed, emma playing around the room or watching cartoons, our grown children visiting or texting/phoning from overseas to see how he is doing.

he will recover. we will celebrate many more anniversaries. but of all the years to miss it. big sigh.

i should have let him plan a trip.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

break of day

Lest I should weep when life tears the heart out of me, ...Lord help me to remember that You come and heal and bind up with your oil and your mercy.

"Earth's fairest flowers grow not on sunny plain,
But where some vast upheaval tore in twain
The smiling land.

After the whirlwind's devastating blast,
And molten lava, fire, and ashes fall,
God's still small voice breathes healing over all.

From broken rocks and fern-clad chasms deep,
Flow living waters as from hearts that weep.

There in the afterglow, soft dews distill,
And angels tend God's plants when night falls still.

And the Beloved passing by the way
Will gather lilies at the break of day."

-J. H. D.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

If thou couldst empty all thyself
of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee
on the Ocean shelf,
And say — "This is not dead," —
And fill thee with Himself instead.
But thou art all replete
with very thou,
And hast such shrewd activity,
That, when He comes, He says — "This is enow
Unto itself — 'Twere better let it be:
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me."

Sir Thomas Browne

Saturday, August 29, 2009

remember this old gaither song?

My older children were just little when this song came out...back in the 70's i guess it was. i remember crying as i listened, and making the decision to really take care of each moment...and make the memories that i wanted to have forever.

(sometimes they don't just happen- you have to make them. )

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living,
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making mem’ries of what was today.

Tiny voice that I hear is my little girl calling
For daddy to hear just what she has to say;
And my little son running there by the hillside
May never be quite like today.

Tender words, gentle touch, and a good cup of coffee,
And someone that loves me and wants me to stay;
Hold them near while they’re here,
and don’t wait for tomorrow
To look back and wish for today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest
And the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay,
Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,
And weave you a lovely today.

For we have this moment to hold in our hands
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment-today!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

one of my favorite poems

He said, "Wilt thou go with Me
Where shadows eclipse the light?"
And she answered "My Lord, I will follow Thee
Far, under the stars at night."
But He said, "No starlight pierces the gloom
Of the valley thy feet must tread;
But it leads thee on to a cross and a tomb-"
"But I go with Thee," she said.

"Count the cost; canst thou pay the price-
Be a dumb thing led;
Laid on an altar of sacrifice?"
"Bind me there, my Lord," she said.
"Bind me that I may not fail-
Or hold with Thy wounded hand;
For I fear the knife and the piercing nail,
And I shrink from the burning brand.
Yet whither Thou goest, I will go,
Though the way be long and dread-"
His voice was tender, and sweet, and low-
"Thou shalt go with Me," He said.

And none knew the anguish sore
Or the night of the way she came;
Alone, alone with the cross she bore,
Alone in her grief and shame.
Brought to the altar of sacrifice,
There as a dumb thing slain;
Was the guerdon more than the bitter price?
Was it worth the loss and pain?

Ask the seed-corn, when the grain
Ripples its ripened gold;
Ask the sower when, after toil and pain,
He garners the hundred-fold.
HE said (and His voice was glad and sweet);
"Was it worth the cost, My own?"
And she answered, low at His pierced feet,
"I found at the end of the pathway lone

-Annie Clarke

Monday, August 24, 2009

monday monday

be good to me.....

this is my eyeball. healthy and normal. yes, i do need glasses, but my eye is essentially ok, just nearsighted. thank you God for my eyes.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

healing coming...

all day long, waiting for news of baby lex, texting, phoning, praying..."he's vomiting...his feet are swollen...his organs are shutting down...they want to put in an NGT (nasogastric tube for feeding directly into his stomach)...he's crying constantly but he's lost his voice..." oh, my heart was in my throat so many times.

suddenly, at 7, a call from charity as she left the hospital. "mom, he looks great! the swelling is gone, and he just drank 4 ounces of milk! i think he's gonna make it!"

oh the joy. Jesus, thank You that healing is coming for Baby Lex. He's gonna make it. thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

he had just begun to smile...

my daughter charity rescued a dying baby, "lexus", from a very depressed area of manila two weeks ago. he was 6 pounds and is 6 months old. constant nursing and feeding and loving and sleepless nights by the caregivers brought lex to the point where he felt well enough to smile...a tentative, darling little smile.

suddenly, respiratory distress...he couldn't rushed him to a hospital where they take "charity" cases. how fitting.

lex is fighting for his life. on iv antibiotics. some signs of heart issues. up and down, every hour an unknown.

little boy, i pray you make it. the world wouldn't be the same without that smile!
lex lived. his forever family found him, and he now is living in australia with them, growing tall and strong.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

breakfast on serendipity

left to right: emma, sarah joy, julio, catherine, merry faye, elijah, pedro.

a lovely nutritious fruit loops breakfast! ^_^

Monday, August 17, 2009

worship time....i could get lost in this song for eternity...

the eyes have it...

this was emma at her third birthday party almost a month ago...she takes life very seriously! contemplating her future and a little embarrassed at all the loud singing just for sweet.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

sweetbrier rose

Beside my cottage door it grows,
The loveliest, daintiest thing that blows,
A sweetbrier rose.

At dewy morn or twilight's close,
The rarest perfume from it flows,
This strange wild rose.

But when the raindrops on it beat,
Ah, then, its odors grow more sweet
About my feet.

Often with loving tenderness
Its soft green leaves I gently press
In sweet caress.

A still more wondrous fragrance flows
The more my loving fingers close
And crush the rose.

Dear Lord, oh, let my life be so,
Its perfume when the strong winds blow,
The sweeter flow.

And should it be Your blessed will,
With crushing grief my soul to fill,
Press harder still.

And while its dying fragrance flows
I'll whisper low, "He loves and knows
His crushed brier rose."

(author unknown, from Streams in the Desert)

Friday, August 14, 2009

first day of school for Emma

she's not too sure of herself this morning...not used to getting up early and getting dressed right away...(neither is mommy!) her little face is serious and not very enthusiastic.

she is almost the smallest and youngest in her class. most of the other kids are 4-ish, some even look like 5. i'm wondering if i did the right thing by enrolling her...but we'll wait and see how it goes.

even the playground didn't seem too much fun! she was a bit overwhelmed by it all.

dear little girl. am i pushing you too fast? just let me know, at this point is a luxury, not a necessity. ^)^

Saturday, August 8, 2009

i forgot the date...our 22rd anniversary of arriving in the Philippines...

22 years ago last July 7th, our little family left the security of our Canadian homeland and flew off into the wide blue yonder toward a tiny tropical island nation, the Philippines. We had burned all our bridges, packed up our four kids, and headed into the unknown.

We had no job description awaiting us, no friends, no home, nothing. Only our suitcases packed with clothes, toys, books, and hearts full hopes. The tears we shed at the leave-taking and on the flights dried and we arrived excited, exhausted, and running on adrenaline.

Looking back, I would not recommend doing that. Looking back,I see that we had more energy and enthusiasm than wisdom. We were completely unprepared for anything in missions...the culture shock, the interpersonal difficulties of working within a mission, the food, the language barrier, the political upheaval of a nation in turmoil...we had no frame of reference for anything, and no one had told us anything in advance.

How we survived the first two years, I'm not sure. We cried a lot. We prayed. We rejoiced at every little opportunity that came our way. We embraced the Filipinos that we met and began learning the language, the first missionaries in our denomination to do so. So many lonely times, our children crying for familiar food and the friends they had left behind. We absorbed the pain of misunderstanding of fellow missionaries and the alienation we felt. Little by little, it became- not easy, but less difficult.

Twenty-two years is a long time. Two plus decades. Four children raised and grown and gone. Another new one adopted and started on the road to a wonderful life. Ministries started, grown, and turned over to others. We have learned to think in another language. We've become Asian in so many ways... western culture is not so familiar now. We've been so tired...we have thrown ourselves into this life and pushed so hard...gone in so many different directions...we are sometimes worn out. At least I am.

I feel a sense of great accomplishment, though. It feels like for however long we remain here, It's bonus time. It's the icing on the cake. Life is easier now...a new job for Dad, retirement for me, Emma to raise, grandchildren to entertain, and a bright future to look forward to.

So, my dear children, on that very special day, July 7th, i hope that you all had happy memories of our trip here...and I hope that God was merciful enough to put a bit of a rosy glow on the life you lived in Asia, if only for that day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"...lest you dash your foot against a stone..."

last week i took the kids to a place beach-side where huge rocks and cement sea-breakers lie in jumbled piles along the edge of the water. it looked like a wonderful place to explore and find crabs. what an adventure it turned out to be!

after about an hour of futile crab-hunting, the bigger kids had wandered so far along the beach that the 3 little ones and i could no longer see them, so we got in the van and drove along to where i thought they were. a huge cement wall separated the road from the rocks at that point, so i couldn't see them. i started calling and whistling. along came a police car.

"are you looking for someone, ma'am?"

"yes, sir, my kids are on the rocks looking for crabs."

"but ma'am, that's a restricted area and those rocks are full of cobras."

silence. a cry to God for peace and calmness.

"well, officer, i can't climb up on that barrier, would you mind calling them for me?"

so he jumped up on the wall and began blowing his whistle and shouting for the kids. they came, white-faced and quiet...they all thought i would be mad...but as they piled into the van i said, from the bottom of my heart, "now i see why we pray before every adventure..."

"he shall give his angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways, lest you dash your foot against a stone..."

"...i give you power over serpents and scorpions...and nothing shall by any means hurt you..."

Friday, July 31, 2009

things i have said, again, this past 5 days!

"ok kids, let's go look for monkeys!"

"sorry, sarah joy, i'm pretty sure we'll find monkeys tomorrow"

"elijah, did you put deodorant on?"

"merry faye, please count out 178 pesos for the toll, thanks..."

"emma, are you ok? you tell mommy if you're gonna puke, ok?"

"katherine, there will be no puking in this van. katherine...are you gonna puke? kat??? somebody pass me a plastic bag, quick! and the wipes! oh sweetie, i'm sorry for you...

"julio, here's some more dishes to wash..."

"please get out of this galley, it's too hot in here to hang around. you guys play top deck."

"i think you have watched pink panther quite enough times, you guys. turn it off and go fishing or something."

"pedro, please....oh never mind. katherine, how do you say in Tagalog 'just put that aside, emma will drink it later?'"

"elijah, stop waving that bamboo pole around, you're going to put somebody's eye out."

"let's go look for monkeys"

"merry faye, pack the peanuts and the fruit loops and the bananas, please"

"julio, please go call kuya ramil, the toilet is backing up again"

"elijah, get off the cord for the aircon, you've disconnected it up there"

"let's go have some icecream, guys."

"please can you turn on the waterslide for the kids? thanks."

"sarah joy, i'm pretty sure we'll see monkeys tomorrow..."

"who threw their wet clothes on the floor in the bathroom?"

"sarah joy and katherine, stop fighting. and katherine, stop eating with your fingers."

"emma, please stay where mommy can see you in the pool."

"pedro, watch katherine please, she's coming down the slide. JULIO!!!"

"time for more sunscreen, elijah. yes, it is. come here right now or there will be consequences."

"merry faye, there will be no further activities until you have finished your math. that's final."

"there they are! there's the monkeys, sarah joy! no, don't stick your head out the window. just watch from in here."

"yeah! we finally saw the monkeys! now let's wave goodbye, and wave goodbye to the bats... and home to the boat we go!"

etc. etc. etc.

'twas a fun 5 days. i'm home now to have a vacation. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a glimpse of the future...

God knows my heart. Because we adopted our Emma when we were in our late fifties, the chances that we will live to see her as an older woman are slim. In the depths of my heart, this hurts. Our oldest daughter is almost 40, and it's a joy to watch her mature and gracefully become a middle-agd woman...but Emma? she's just 3, and when she's 40, we would be 90's...what are the chances?

God gave us this lovely friend of many years- Zonia- to show us what Emma will look like when she's older. Their facial features are the same. Their race is the same (Filipino). the soft brown skin is the same, and as I watch Zonia's black eyes sparkle and her wrinkled face shine as she talks and laughs...I am looking into the future and seeing my Emma's face in 70 years.

Zonia and our family have a special bond. Zonia's husband "Dr. T" was our closest friend, mentor, father and prophet here in our adopted homeland of the Philippines. They spent Christmases with us. They cared for our children. They cheered us on through thick and thin. He has gone ahead to be with God. Zonia, his love of 50 years, is still here, a precious part of our lives. They both believed in us and encouraged us to adopt Emma as an act of faith and love. True friends.

Zonia lives just a few doors down from us now, alone. Almost every day I send some of our dinner over to her so she doesn't have to cook when she gets home tired after work. (yes, she still works full-time!) This morning at church she gave me a hug, as she always does, and said, with eyes full of tears, "thank you for loving me!"

what could I say in return? She is not just a friend. She's a beautiful woman of intelligence and spunk. I could have no better example for my Emma to follow...and I choose to believe that Emma will indeed be just like her "Lola" Zonia...intelligent, strong, ambitious, determined, highly educated, capable, compassionate, funny, and a lover of God.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

when emma was a baby...

here are some writings from when emma was a that she's 3, she's so grown up!

when i first held her in my arms:


a little angel fluttered into my life yesterday-
6 pounds of tiny baby girl
with wavy black hair and scrunchy eyes and a fleeting smile..
oh, that baby smile…
she was born at 5 am, and by 10 am she was "in her home", as she says.
i had forgotten the maternal rush of caring for
a helpless human being solely dependent on me…
i had forgotten the smell of “fresh baby”…
i had forgotten how soft the little hands are,
how the cheek feels like a young leaf…

emma is no trouble, as my heart assured me.
she squeaks when she’s hungry, screeches when her diaper needs changing,
and sleeps the rest of the time. Sometimes
she lays on the pillow in the window, where I have her in the light,
and her dark eyes watch the tree waving outside.
what is she thinking, I wonder…
does she know she is a treasure straight from the heart of God-
a gift of "mercy" as her given name says.
when I feed her, I look deep into her inscrutable oriental eyes
and firmly I say, “emma, I love you, beautiful girl,
and Jesus loves you,
and mommy and daddy are so very thankful for you…”
she’s only been in our lives for a week-
but she will remember that we have loved her and accepted her with all our hearts.

How do you measure baby love..
How do you count the quiet hours, her tiny sighs,
her warm snuggles, her tummy tears, her dark eyes watching..

My life has slowed to the pace of a newborn child.
The nights are quiet, her breath near my ear
As she sleeps beside me on her feather pillow
(fit for a princess, papa says..),
Each little movement a signal that my heart knows..

The days wrap slowly around her growing,
Like a little plant reaching for the sun-
Her hungry little rosebud mouth turning to the milk,
Her little brown body filling out, dimpling, stretching..
Her patience- sometimes frustration- with her carseat and traffic…

Her personality is emerging-
she likes to be up and watching everything-
She is offended by loud noises and too close unfamiliar faces,
She turns her head to papa’s voice
and rests her two little hands
In his big ones
And smiles and goos and he falls hopelessly in love…

The sweetness of this baby is all new.
So long ago were our others that we can hardly remember…
Emma is a fresh treasure.

Life is uncertain; each moment is a guaranteed gift;
All we know is that we cherish each day loving her
As if it were the last.
Today was a twinkly day.

My baby, running around in her shiny black patent boots,
her adorable silky black curls framing that tiny face...
the shining shroud of rain,
slamming down on our truck as we inched
through the traffic,
the splashes coming through the window on her
as i taught her “Rain, Emma! Rain!!!”
and her little almond eyes wrinkling up;
her squeals of delight as she pulls
bright things off the shelves in the supermarket...
and her joy when we get home
and find that they have been bought
quite accidentally
by mommy
who really didn't want them...
red christmas lights on the tree...
yellow lights on the window...
a sparkly ball of lights hanging from the ceiling...
best of all,
the twinkles in her eyes
at everything in her day that's fun-
all is delightful to her.
A bath.
A meal.
A bottle, and her blanket.
Her little crib full of soft stuffed toys.
The way she takes the shoelaces
out of daddy's shoes and prances around.
Yes- twinkles were emma's thing today,
as she mischiefed her way through this happy friday.

three whole years of joy with this precious little girl! how blessed we are. Thank you, Lord of the children, for your gift of love.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


God is not in a hurry, dear!
The work He chose for you
Can wait, if He is giving you
Another task to do.
Or, if He calls you from your work
To quietness and rest,
Be sure that in the silence
You may do His bidding best.

You cannot be a joy to Him
If thus with frown and fret
You turn at each new call of His
To find new lessons set.
The old familiar tasks were dear,
And ordered by His hand
But come and tread another way:
It is as He has planned.

And yesterday He led you there;
And now He wants you here;
And what shall be tomorrow’s work
Tomorrow shall make clear.
So patiently and faithfully
Let each day’s course be run;
God is not in a hurry , dear,
His work will all be done.

Monday, July 20, 2009


sometimes when i talk to people, i get so accustomed to being careful, hidden, cautious, gentle, that i forget what it's like to be able to just "spout" what i really feel. one of the hazards of being the eldest, the most experienced, the wise one, is that you cannot afford, except under certain circumstances, to let your words be careless. little ears are listening...a generation is watching.

occasionally i have found an ear that does what this poem says...and what a blessing. i can spout, i can complain, i can be ridiculously immature...and it's accepted with grace and laughter. this one does not argue or contradict me every ten seconds. even when they know i'm being silly or just plain misinformed.

to be able to talk...relax...and be human.

"O the comfort, the inexpressible comfort,
of feeling safe with a person;
having neither to weigh thoughts,
nor measure words,
but to pour them all out, just as it is,
chaff and grain together,
knowing that a faithful hand
will take and sift them,
keeping what is worth keeping ,
and then,
with a breath of kindness,
blow the rest away."

Friday, July 17, 2009

box breakers

BOX BREAKERS...a learning taken from a beautiful story found in MARK 14:1-10...














Thursday, July 16, 2009


it's that time of year...time for colds. because we live in the tropics, where our rainy season starts in june, our colds start then too. it's july at the moment, typhooning endlessly, and the air is humid and cool. well- relatively speaking. about 25*. the virus has ensnared us...we cough, hack, snort, blow, ahem, and ache all over. we are all sick.

time to go to bed with a hot cup of lemon tea, snuggle and cough on each other. good night.

Monday, July 13, 2009

brown hands

i watched a woman
wrap some food
on the street
a simple snack
deep-fried bananas actually
her hands were so beautiful
brown and slow
with deep wrinkles
and a sheen that only age brings
none of this white fresh flesh
respectable hands
that have worked hard
strong hands
that could tie a tiny knot
in a plastic bag with
infinite patience and gentleness
her life was in her hands
she handed me
two small coins
and her caramel fingers
released them into my palm
so civilly
it was a moment
of clarity


Saturday, July 11, 2009

things i have said in the past 3 days

"ok, kids, we're gonna be there in 2 hours, everybody just relax, ok?"

"franz, can you please stop sneezing on the back of my neck? wipe your nose with a tissue. next time please just pull your tshirt up over your nose."

"julio, please pass the juice boxes up to the front here for the little girls."

"somebody please straighten up emma's carseat, it's falling over"

"sarah joy and katherine, please stop fighting."

"if you don't stop fighting, i am going to have to discipline you."

"sarah joy, do not jam your elbow in katherine's eye"

"katherine. if you grab that away from her again, i will be very upset. say you're sorry"

"sarah joy, say you forgive her. remember our devotions this morning?"

"merry faye, are you ok? do you need some water?"

"emma, are you ok? is the music too loud for you?"

"julio, please tell pedro to turn off the yellow light, it gets too hot"

"julio, please tell pedro to run to the van and get the water bottles"

"who put the tarp over the airconditioner? no wonder it's so hot in here."

"sarah joy, i'm sorry we haven't seen monkeys yet. nini is trying very hard to find the monkeys by driving down all these jungle trails."

"you guys, if you will sit very quietly, i will talk to the jungle and something will talk back to me. WHOO WHOO ...see, there it is..."

"that is the smell of bats, guys. its called "guano". yes, emma, "stinky guano"

"it's just a bird, merry faye, i don't think it's actually a monkey"

"yes, kids, nini does speak jungle"

"who pooped in this bathroom and didn't flush????"

"you guys, please finish all your food. there is no room for leftovers in the ref."

"franz, blow your nose."

"franz, i'm sorry you didn't catch any fish. i promise you, if you keep on trying, you will eventually catch fish."

"merry faye, is someone watching the new snail? i want to take him home for emma."

"pedro, would you please, oh never mind, julio please tell pedro to take these dishes outside and rinse them off"

"merry faye, did you take your medicine?"

"who pooped in this bathroom?????"

"what part of DO NOT STEP OFF THE BOAT BY YOURSELF do you not understand, girls?"

"katherine, please hang these up on the clips outside, thankyou"

"sarah joy, which video do you want to watch?"

"supper's ready"

"franz, put down the fishing line and come and eat."

"chocolate for everyone who cleans their plate...emma that means you too..."

"julio, merry faye and franz, get inside the van now and stop hanging out the windows, we're coming up to the guard house and the main highway"

"is it still raining?"

"who pooped in this bathroom????"

"emma, time for a nap with mommy."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


he was a superstar. he was planet-famous. he was a multi-talented musical genius. he danced and sang his way into the hearts of a generation.

he was wounded. he was sick. he was mostly alone. he was hounded and sued and accused to the brink of insanity.

he was a friend. he was a son. he was a brother.

in the end, his pain took his life.

and the thing that was probably most important to him was not the fame, the money, or the music. it was to be a father. his children won't forget him. they love him.

he influenced a generation, but that doesn't matter. his daughter loves him- that does matter.

that will be his lasting legacy. for better or worse, his children.

i pray that in his final moments, michael saw the Father, the One he was striving to emulate in his fallen broken way, reaching out to him. God is love. and only eternity will tell us how it ended.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

lost hearts

what does it do to a child's heart to have no mother, no father?

no matter how caring the adults in her life are, no matter how secure and well-fed she is, the one vital something for her well-being is missing. a parent's unconditional love.

i have a little girl in my home from time to time to play with emma. she is quiet, reserved, careful. her eyes are watchful. she seldom abandons herself to childlike laughter or play. she closes up like a clam at the first sign of any trouble.

i've read and researched and studied the wounds of children. but watching it in front of my eyes brings it right home, where it hurts.

when she goes to bed, there is no mommy's kiss and prayer, even tho i kiss her and pray with her. she is not mine. and she knows it. she curls up tight, holds herself distant, inwardly dealing with the issue that she is alone.

when she's hurt, there is no daddy to scoop her up and tell her it's ok. "papa" is not her daddy, and she knows it. she is tough, almost immune to pain. she watched her own father die, and she is alone.

when laughter comes, which is seldom, she laughs briefly, wildly, almost animal-like. there is no one to join her and love her little open mouth with abandon, and kiss her squinty eyes. no one to join her and moderate, lovingly and gently, the all-too-brief joy.

when she sobs, which is even more seldom, it's a horrific gasping drunken episode of complete otherness. she is not there. she is locked in her own agony. she will not stop unless brought back to reality with strong voice and strong words. she is alone. there is no mommy or daddy to hold her and ache with her and rock her so that she doesn't have to agonize alone.

she is in complete possession of everything that is "hers". little bags of stuff...her shoes...her toothbrush...she hides them away in secret places and keeps tabs on them, because she knows thats all she has. her eyes widen when my little emma shares a toy or a book with her, but she doesn't hold it tightly. she knows it will be taken away eventually. she is accustomed to losing things, and she has so little.

my heart breaks for her. what if this was my little one? alone, so brave, so strong, and so wounded. "mommy" should be the name on a child's lips every hour. she never gets to say it. when she screams and groans at night, which she does almost every night, she never calls for "daddy". he's not there.

God. how can you fix this? where is this child's family? when will they find her? send them soon. it's hard to watch her silent stoicism that belies her pain.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

a few things that have happened in the past few days...

i finally got a pain-free dental treatment (prilocaine, my new best friend) and only have 2 more to go to complete this root canal

we are battling head lice with all our natural weapons...listerine...coconut oil...tea tree oil...vinegar...brings a whole new meaning to the word "nitpicking!"

emma puked in my lap while we were in the bathroom at macdonalds...i was sitting on the toilet and she was standing in front of me, upset and whining..."mommy, i need a tissue...raaalllppphhh!" i've never ever had spaghetti in my underwear before

dennis made it to the last notch on his cowboy belt and is so proud of his weight loss

dennis made a new will (since he's going to nepal and all...)

emma has grown out of all her shoes- suddenly, just like that, in the last week, nothing fits her!

our house is once again infested with mice. gotta buy a new electric repellant.

that's just a few teasers. isn't life wonderful!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

thank you, lord

The Wall and the Hedge

The devil may wall you round
But he cannot roof you in;
He may fetter your feet and tie your hands
And strive to hamper your soul with bands
As his way has always been;
But he cannot hide the face of God,
And the Lord shall be your Light,
And your eyes and your thoughts can rise to the sky,
Where His clouds and His winds and His birds go by,
And His stars shine out at night.

The devil may wall you round;
He may rob you of all things dear,
He may bring his hardest and roughest stone
And think to cage you and keep you alone,
But he may not press too near;
For the Lord has planted a hedge inside,
And has made it strong and tall,
A hedge of living and growing green;
And ever it mounts and keeps between
The trusting soul and the devil's wall.

The devil may wall you round,
But the Lord's hand covers you --
And His hedge is a thick and thorny hedge,
And the devil can find no entering wedge
Nor get his fingers through;
He may circle about you all day long,
But he cannot work as he would,
For the will of the Lord restrains his hand,
And he cannot pass the Lord's command
And his evil turns to good.

The devil may wall you round
With his gray stones, row on row;
But the green of the hedge is fresh and fair,
And within its circle is space to spare,
And room for your soul to grow;
The wall that shuts you in
May be hard and high and stout,
But the Lord is sun and the Lord is dew,
And His hedge is coolness and shade for you,
And no wall can shut Him out.
-Annie Johnson Flint

the dental saga continues...

my dental saga continues.

today i went back for irrigation/cleaning.

lidocaine won't work. files keep hitting sensitive areas. once i yelp, jump, and acci"dentally" bite down on file, driving it thru bottom of tooth and into jaw. assistant forgets to suction. i inhale lidocaine & spent 15 min. coughing it up.

after 2 hrs, dentist calls it quits. next time, she'll use different anesthesia and i take a painkiller first.


(and will this ever end?????)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

speaking of pain... here i sit after 2 hours of flinching and crying in the chair while my sweet little dentist jams FILES down into my tooth...with an open cavity, nerve exposed, hoping desperately that the DEPULPIN does its murderous job...- 4 ampules of lidocaine could not freeze this nerve. 48 more hours of this. then try again. there are no words. but i shall try to find some. later.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

purity of pain

there’s a look in the eyes of someone who has suffered much and come through it to the other side. a certain clarity - as if the tears had washed away the haze of everyday taken-for-granted life.

it's the look on the face of a woman who has gone through endless hours of pain and labor and holds in her arms the living breathing result of her agony. and she does not remember the pain...her exhaustion and yet her ecstasy creates a pure glow about her that is almost holy.

it's the lines of sorrow printed on a face to whom the finality of loss has come to make shadows that weren’t there before, but they are not awful shadows. Instead they are the difference between an amateur painting and one done by a master, with careful strokes of light and shade that give character and depth. The finger of God is evident.

The artist of heaven takes our unlined, dull and inanely contented image…the "botox beauty"... and He paints with deep blood colors. I’ve looked in the mirror after weeping…and my eyes are different. Even swollen and red, they reflect a soul that has tasted the reality of life with its bitterness and sweetness, and I hardly know myself. but i see a soul that is less clouded, less detached...

anguish is not easy, but perhaps it's necessary to see clearly.

an old song says "He washed my eyes with tears, that I might see...the broken heart I had was good for me..."



but there is always a morning.

theology according to sarah joy

my granddaughter sarah joy was at my house today. her latest thing is to sing everything...she sings to herself, loudly, and makes up little songs about everything.

i happened to hear her singing this: "jesus is my fairy godmother..."

i didn't say anything. why disturb a 4-year-old's idea of jesus. if that's what she thinks he is, that's ok. it wasn't the time for a theology lesson, she was happily chanting away to herself and it was very sweet. i'll leave the straightening out to her mom and dad. where she got the idea i don't know, but all in due time it shall be clear to her.

i wondered about my own theology though...

do i sometimes think of jesus as a fairy godmother?... with a magic wand that will fix everything and make the bad stuff go away in a cloud of blue sparkly mist?

hmmmm. perhaps my theology needs a little adjustment once in a while too.

jesus, thank you that you are not a fairy godmother. you SO don't wave magic wands. but you are there when i "just call out your name", and i will never turn into a pumpkin on your watch. (how's that for mixing metaphors...)

thanks, sarah joy, for reminding nini of who jesus really is, and who he isn't!

Monday, June 22, 2009

daughter of the islands

recently (this morning) i realized why i am so comfortable living on an island, and why islands and island lore fascinate me. it's because i am a descendant of the vikings. the northern craggy bits of rock at the top of the earth are deep in my ancestral memories, tucked away in the misty subconscious zone that each person reserves for places on the planet.

although i was born on the prairies of canada, and i do feel a connection and a security there, somehow i am drawn to islands. pitcairn island of "mutiny on the bounty" fame is one. iceland, another. haiti...jamaica...sri lanka...ireland, my soul's home...all of great britain, my ancestors' second home...they came in swift and terrible raids from the north...norway, sweden, denmark...although not islands, technically, all places i could call home.

now that i have lived for 22 years in the tropics on an volcanic island the size of ireland, just longer and narrow where ireland is basically a circle, (think spoon and saucer), it's even more fun to understand why i love my island: Luzon- the northernmost island of the Philippine archipelago.

you can get to anywhere on my island in a day or two. the part we live on (metro manila) is situated on a strip of land about 100 km wide. from the south china sea to the pacific...the sun rises eastward...storms roar in from the mighty pacific eastward... sunset and stormset over the south china sea in the west.

when we went to guam a couple of years ago, i fell in love. you can drive all around it on a tiny coastal road, in about 6 hours. every inch of that coastal road is pure tropical beauty. golden sand, blue ocean, palm trees, idyllic valleys, rugged mountains right beside them, and sunrise-sunset views from almost anywhere on that tiny bit of mountaintop poking up out of the pacific.

islands. the brave tips of mountains embraced in the tender arms of mother ocean. i love them.

Friday, June 19, 2009

serendipity journals continued...

…a happy day…we took the dinghy out for a trial run. Dinghy’s are necessary for sailors. They get you to shore when the coastline is too rough to get close, and they apparently can save your life when the boat crashes on a reef, capsizes, or springs a leak in a gale. (sailing is an expensive way to try to commit suicide- this is what I gather from some of the sailing magazines Dennis has passed my way, in hopes that I would be less pessimistic. I personally call them the magazines of death…)

moi, pessimistic? When my only wonderful sailing experience has been two capsizings during our previous sailing days in Saskatchewan, both of which almost drowned me- Dennis clutching my wrist and dragging me along in the wake of the boat with my poodle Magic clawing at my face and my kids watching aghast from the shore??? (I still have nightmares…”I’m going to drown, and all my kids are watching!!!!!!!”)

Anyway…I only had one accident as we tried out the dinghy. Dennis rip-started the motor and clocked me full on in the back with his elbow. Took my breath away, I tell ya! Fortunately I was wearing a lifejacket which absorbed some of the impact. I only whined about that for an hour. 

We left the next morning at 4 am to come back to the city. As I mentioned, it’s a 3 hour drive. It had been monsoon raining all night, which was lovely for sleeping, but not so nice to go out in. Pitch dark. Cold. (for the tropics…about 70*) Dennis had already made the first trip laden with all the cushions to take home and have them washed…I had an adventure as I tried to get off the boat. Picture it. I’m laden with his briefcase (15 kilos) and my purse (5 kilos, no seriously, it’s only 5) in either hand, plus a couple of other bags. No umbrella and it’s pouring rain so I poked holes in a garbage bag and put it over my head and arms. Staggering in my wet sandals cuz I had left them outside the hatch, I stumbled to the edge of the boat and attempted to step off onto the pier.(note to self: never wear sandals on a boat- should be full shoes, laced up tight) Felt a sliding and a catching…the briefcase caught on a stanchion (the post thing that holds the fence-wire that goes all around the boat, I’ve forgotten the name- oh yes, the dodgers) and down I went in the rain in my garbage bag at 4 am. Resigning myself to falling into the ocean, I desperately held on to the briefcase, knowing that if I dropped it my dear sweet husband would not be a happy camper…er…sailor.

Snag….the little floater thingies that attach to the side of the boat to keep it from bashing against the dock caught me just above the water line in the dark in my garbage bag at 4 am. Saved! But stuck! Can’t move! Bags too heavy! Rain too intense! Slowly sling the left-hand bags over on to the pier, oh thank you Jesus they made it. Reach left hand over to grab briefcase and other bag, sling them on to the pier. Hallelujah, didn’t drop the briefcase. I can’t believe I’m still alive and not in the ocean! In the dark in my garbage bag at 4 am!!!!!!!! Slowly claw my way up holding the cables…expecting every minute to lose my grip and topple into the space between the boat and the pier…but the mercy of God was with me and I fell forward onto solid concrete.

Oh my stars. Bruised and blinded, I staggered up to the truck with my two armfuls of luggage, only to be met by a guard who had the gall to ask me, “Is this your truck? Are you a member here?” to which I not very sweetly replied “Yes and yes” and climbed wearily into the truck (sailors have to have trucks, not unlike farmers in Saskatchewan) and wrapped the sopping pillows around myself as protection against the airconditioning which one must have on to keep the windows from fogging up. Dennis finally appeared (he had gone back for the final load and to lock up Serendipity) and we began the long drive home. Made it safely. Rain stopped on the east side of the mountains. Manila was dry and hot.

Next Monday we are going to take Serendipity out for a spin and unfurl her sails. Why are we doing this, you ask??? Well, at mid-fifties, you begin to realize that if you don’t live your dream now, you never will. To see my husband’s face as he unfurls the mainsail and hoists the spinnaker (oh how he loves that spinnaker…it is spread all over our living room even as I write, drying out) makes it all worth while. Evan will come with us- he’s going off the deep end I’m afraid…talking about mounting automatic machine-guns on the port and starboard bow as protection against pirates. Having read about the murder of a round-the-world sailor somewhere in the islands of the South Pacific or something….

A Fresh Wind Blowing

One day I’ll go out with a fresh wind blowing,
(And no one will know that I am going!)
And all the dreams that didn’t come true,
I’ll leave to another captain and crew.

My craft will be sturdy- my sails new and bright-
I’m downwind and tacking- almost out of sight!
I’ll dump all the cargo I have in the hold,
Treading deep water- carefree and bold!

When I sail out with a fresh wind blowing-
May God take note that I am going…
And hold the compass and charter the sea,
While I sail for the harbor intended for me!
-Vivian Page Wheeler

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A Prayer for a Little Home

God send us a little home,
To come back to, when we roam.

Low walls and fluted tiles,
Wide windows, a view for miles.

Red firelight and deep chairs,
Small white beds upstairs-

Great talk in little nooks,
Dim colors, rows of books.

One picture on each wall,
Not many things at all.

God send us a little ground,
Tall trees stand round.

Homely flowers in brown sod,
Overhead, thy stars, O God.

God bless thee, when winds blow,
Our home, and all we know.

-Florence Bone