Monday, January 31, 2011


Every day they come to my back yard, sometimes one alone, other times two, three, as many as seven, eight, even 10. They meander, jog, gallop, shove, push, stomp, fight their way to the corn I scatter. They’re always expectant of a few mouthfuls. Some of the does already have full bellies. They’re bulging with babies.

If you’re a writer as I am, you too are bulging with babies—your stories that are growing in your mind. You’re expecting great things from those babies. Perfect plots, dramatic dialog, sizzling scenes, and characters created from endless hours of painful, joyful thought.

As you nourish your babies with diligent writing and with the encouragement and help from others, may God bless you in your expectations.



A woman automatically expects her husband to be supportive of her. A child who studies hard expects to receive good grades. A grandparent expects at least a thank you for the present given to a grandchild.

But things don’t always turn out the way we expect. Disappointment can come quickly when our expectations are not met. Sometimes anger can spread its ugly tentacles, too. Expectations also can become unreasonable, causing depression and hopelessness. Such feelings, when unresolved, are likely to affect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

We all have expectations, most of them reasonable. When we take good care of our vehicle, we expect it to get us where we’re going. When we marry, we expect our spouse to show us love and respect. When we go to work, we expect our boss to be organized, appreciative, and kind to his workers.

We even expect good things from ourselves. When we eat right and exercise, we expect good health. When we work hard, we expect good results. But our best efforts fail us sometimes, too. Does that mean we should lower our expectations? Or perhaps have fewer of them? As a parent, spouse, or friend, we may have to do that many times. We do know that every day we must make many choices. Based on our expectations, the results will be either good or bad.

We can, however, always expect great things from God. His Word is filled with great promises. He alone is truly dependable. His ways are best for us. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

As long as we let Him do His work in us—rather than trying to make things better by our own work—our expectations will always be exceeded. “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)

We followers of Christ can place ourselves on the other side of expectations, asking ourselves what others can expect from us. The Bible says that love never fails. When we show God’s love, as He faithfully shows us, others will see His faithfulness and love in us, and their expectations will be exceeded and there will be no disappointments, anger, or despair—as with us, too, when we place our expectations in God.

Lord, we wait expectantly for Your love, Your presence, Your bountiful blessings. Help us to depend on You more than on those around us so they can expect more from us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


As I rewrite "Trouble at Fish Camp", the second in my "Ways of the Williwaw" series, I find that I must give up my pleasure of reading fiction. It’s a constant battle of the mind. But while writing my own work, my head becomes too full of its characters. Thoughts and questions swirl nonstop, like storm clouds. Is Freddy, my main character, passionate enough about his cause? Will the chaplain’s words of Godly wisdom cause Freddy to change how he feels about himself? How should Joanie see beyond Pete’s bullying? What should Pete’s redeeming quality be?...Another two weeks of tough discipline and I can pick up someone else’s book again—without my characters butting in. Ah, the joys and banes of writing—I love it!


Snakes Alive!
By the time I remembered to bring in my standing-bear welcome sign, the bottom had become a mess of leaves, snow, and ice. As it thawed, a snake slithered along the floor heading for cover. Imagine my surprise!

I like snakes, always happy to see one in my garden. They help keep it free of bugs and other pests. The snake has developed a bad reputation, however, ever since its appearance in the Garden of Eden. The bad rep of poisonous snakes is well-deserved, though they do help keep our environment free of unwanted critters.

Throughout history, the snake has been perceived as deceitful, dangerous, and destructive. It’s lightning-fast in striking. It hides in corners and under cover of shadows. Its stealth causes prey to be unaware of its presence until it’s too late.

The Bible portrays the snake as the devil. He too is deceitful, dangerous, and destructive. He hides in the corners and shadows of our mind, ready to strike when we’re unaware. Our mind is the very garden of satan. It’s our mind that opens just a crack, just enough for him to tell us that we’re worthless...or we’re too good for those people...or we don’t need God because we can solve our own problems. It’s our mind that opens to the desire for that next drink...that expensive doodad...that illicit sexual encounter.

God knows how powerful our mind-thoughts can be. That’s why He has provided a way out—an escape from the devil’s intent to imprison us with thoughts of wrongdoing. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) A sound mind possesses self-control. When we realize ours is on the wrong track, we need to ask for God’s power and love to give us self-control against wrong thoughts, wrong words, or wrongdoing. Paul also speaks of God’s "armor" in Ephesians 6:10-18. " strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." You will find much more help in the verses that follow. In fact, it’s a good passage to recite every morning.

Lord, we don’t want snakes to dwell in the shadows of our minds. We ask for the truth and love of Jesus to free us from deceitful, dangerous, and destructive thoughts. In His name we pray, amen.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Give it a Rest!

Don't get me wrong—I love the beauty of winter. Frost sparkles like diamonds on every branch and twig. Pure white snow covers the dirt and grime of life. Critter tracks reveal new paths to food sources and hiding places. But when the temp plunges to zero and below, I chicken out and stay inside unless absolutely necessary. I admit, cold weather is good for our up-north environment. And it makes us appreciate hot summer days. But...I say, give it a rest!


Resting Places

The hike I took along a challenging trail offered much in the way of woodland beauty and delightful fragrance. The long hike, however, provided no place to rest my tired body. A couple of strategically-placed benches would have been welcome. I do intend to return, however, perhaps with my own portable chair that I can set up anywhere to rest and write and meditate.

Sometimes resting places are hard to find, such as the time my family and I waited in a long line to get into the Denver Mint. Likewise, waiting in a doctor’s office with a sick child, even while sitting in a comfortable chair, won’t bring rest for our anxiety. Or waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop” during a tense situation doesn’t bring a restful feeling, either.

Sometimes we have to look for a resting place for both body and soul. It might be in a quiet coffee shop away from our busy household. It could be in our bedroom with the door closed, or in the bathroom. We can be refreshed in a wilderness setting, too. Who hasn’t found spiritual rest on a quiet, scenic mountaintop or in a fishing boat away from noise and turmoil? Whatever it takes, we all need quiet resting places away from distractions.

Churches offer opportunities to rest our weary souls—through corporate praise and worship and through close fellowship with other believers. The best place to find soul-rest is in our so-called “prayer closet,” the place where we shut off everything around us and spend alone-time with the Lord. By simply closing our eyes and visualizing Jesus sitting across from us listening to our complaints and our joys, we can find great rest—even in the midst of turmoil and stress.

God instituted a weekly day of rest into one of His Ten Commandments. He knew we humans would get tired of the everyday grind of making a living. We can rest from our physical labors once a week as the Israelites did, but Jesus invites us to rest in Him as well—any time, any place, in any circumstance. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Lord, even as we seek quiet places of rest for our bodies, we ask for rest for our souls through Jesus. Thank You for Your gracious gift. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Greetings in Jesus’ name.
Winter has been relentless in making its harshness known this year. This morning our thermometer recorded a cold minus 2 degrees with a stiff wind that felt like -20º on our skin.

The trees were coated with ice from the tips of their twigs down to their ankles. They shone like diamonds against the sunlight. What a beautiful sight! We have an awesome God who provides us with beauty even in the harshest weather. Even in the harshest circumstances we face.


The Strong Heart of a Tree

The wind blows hard and constantly through Iowa—at least whenever I travel through. During my last trip, sustained winds blew 35 mph with gusts to 45-50, requiring two white-knuckled hands on the wheel at all times—hour after hour. I almost expected trees to topple.

Indeed, I find it amazing that the trees on the Iowa prairie—the ones I’ve observed—stand as tall and straight as they do. The branches bend with the wind but the trunks remain steady and strong and unmovable.

A tree’s strength comes in great part from its healthy root system, but also from its inner core called the heartwood. God created the tree in such a way that every part of it has a purpose and is dependent on the other parts. Every living cell helps maintain a tree’s worth. In simple terms, its worth is evident in the oxygen it provides to the air, its shade for protection, and its beauty for enjoyment and fruit for sustenance.

As long as a tree is healthy, the assaults of prairie wind do no harm. In fact, wind serves to make it stronger. Exactly how strong is a tree? The Bible answers this by comparing a person to a tree. “Blessed is the man whose … delight is in the law of the Lord … he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither ….” (Psalm 1:3)

The Living Word, Jesus Christ, makes us as strong as a tree and causes us to produce the fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy. When we abide in Him, the winds of life’s everyday problems and trials cannot topple us. In Him we can remain as strong as a tree battered by Iowa prairie winds.

Trees were strong enough to hold Jesus at His birth and death. Imagine! Jesus was born in a manger made from a tree—a humble bed strong enough to hold the majestic Son of God. And Jesus died on a cross made from a tree—strong enough to uphold the weight of the sins of the world.

Lord, You always look at our heart. Help our faith in You to be as strong and steady and unmovable as an Iowa prairie tree so we can provide the oxygen of Your Living Word to others, protect them from evil and harm, and produce Your fruit of righteousness, peace, and joy. In Jesus’ name, amen.