Wednesday, October 28, 2009


  • A piece of food hits the floor - Ruby'll get it.

  • A student shows up for tutoring - My hand reaches reflexively for the gate to keep Ruby in the kitchen, even though before a bookbag opens students ask, "Can I go see Ruby?"

  • A knock on the door - I get up to answer anticipating the familiar tic-tac of Ruby's nails across the floor as she heads for the front door.

For several years, I tutored a young boy who took a real shine to Ruby. She would lie near the table as Alex and I worked together. Sometimes Alex would lie on the floor next to her as he did his spelling words or read a book. Though Alex has moved on with his studies, he often stops by to say hello and to see Ruby.

Halloween is just a few days away. Ruby always raises up and places her front feet on the window frame of the door so she can greet the trick-or-treaters. The kids ask for her if they don't see her there.

Over 13 years old, she still thinks she's a pup with her butt in the air and her front legs bent as she barks and tries to get you to run and play with her. She follows me everywhere; waits outside the bathroom door while I shower; shadows me from room to room even though her hips hurt whenever she gets up or lies down. I wish she would stay. I tell her to stay, that I'll be right back. But she insists that she should be wherever I am.

Yesterday, October 27th, was the first day she wasn't there to lap up a morsel of food that had fallen to the floor; to look at me with her head cocked to one side as she wonders why she's being banished to the kitchen this time; to beat me to the door as the guardian of our home. It was the first day she wasn't there to greet me when I came home.

There will be a series of firsts that will inevitably remind me of what is missing in our lives. And it's Ruby. You were such a good girl. I miss you terribly. Rest in peace dear, sweet Ruby.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Something's Happening Here

Daily I remind myself - Take a deep breath. Don't get sucked into this vortex of swirling emotions.

It has been nearly 3 weeks since the local high school teachers walked off their jobs. They've been working for months with no contract. Negotiating since March brought them no closer to a resolution with the board members than when the talks began. Though I am no longer personally affected by these developments, I cannot help feeling the impact of this event on our community.

I read the news articles in 3 local papers. I read the comments from a select few in the community. I feel my blood pressure rise. I have to talk myself down from the ensuing emotions. I have my own impressions of where the breakdown in communication occurred, but not being personally involved, it is all conjecture on my part. But still, it affects me. It affects people that I care about.

Finally, I find myself turning to God, reminding myself that all things work together for good even when they appear to be evil. I have strong feelings about the strike and whom I support. But I also must be willing to humble myself enough to remember there is another force at work that does not involve the school board, the teachers, the students/parents, or the community at large. That force is at work intimately and equally in each and every life affected in this community.

I confess that I do not feel so generous toward the one who seems to be at the fulcrum of this balancing act. In fact, I have been outspoken in my opinion and it hasn't been kind. All the players have been jockeying for a position of power. But in truth, there is only One who is really in control. It isn't about the players' attempts to impose their wills on the situation. It is God working behind the scenes using circumstances to refine us all as only He can. The players are exactly where they all need to be in order to bring about the greatest discoveries within us all.

So I yield. Not to the players, of which I am one in my own small way. But to God who is Lord over all. It is much more peaceful by these still waters than continuing to struggle against a tumultuous current.

Finally, I am beginning to see the bigger picture. And I now know, it's all good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Point

I have been guilty of making a religion out of Jesus of Nazareth, completely missing the point of his intended purpose. My fundamental understanding of Jesus's message has evolved to an understanding that relationship with God is not afforded to the world by what we do or have done, but by what God has done. Namely, He has chosen love over hate, mercy over judgment, grace over retribution.

So many teachings focus on ritual - certain prayers, traditions, etc - and seem to miss the most important point. That it isn't about us. It's about God. Who He is. What He brings to us. And honestly, I don't see Him holding back. He is not tight-fisted, but generous. He consistently loves me. I judge myself. He does not. There is more love in His presence than I could ever hope to achieve or know anywhere else.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, He is always there for me, no matter what kind of day it has been. He hasn't abandoned me even when I have been deliberate in abandoning Him. That, to me, is the real gospel, the "Good News" of a loving spouse. No matter what, His heart and arms are always open to me. That is real intimacy. That's the point.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Driving Lessons

I was nervous the first time I got behind the wheel in driver's ed. I was short, 4'11", and had to move the seat all the way up to reach the foot pedals. The steering wheel was wider than my shoulders with a shiny metal inner ring for the horn. I started the engine, shifted into drive, gripped the required 10 and 2 position, and cautiously pulled away from the curb. My knees felt like jelly. My heart was pounding. But after several days of practice, I began to relax as I grew more familiar with the car and my ability to manuever it.

One morning while driving on the highway, my instructor advised me to watch the horizon instead of the road immediately in front of the car. Overcorrections diminished. My steering and braking were much smoother. The drive was less stressful and more pleasant for me and my passenger.

Life experiences are like learning to drive. Navigating the highway of my life, I find the ride is smoother when I keep my focus on the horizon. When difficulties arise and fear sets in, I react to the immediate with uncertainty and doubt. My heart pounds and my breathing becomes shallow as my knees turn to jelly. It feels like the first time getting behind the wheel of a powerful instrument all over again. It's unfamiliar territory and I begin to doubt. My actions become erratic and unpredictable.

Then I remember to get my focus back on the horizon. Soon things begin to smooth out and calm down. I can breathe again and continue on my way.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Catch

Luke 5:4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. NIV

In this account written by Luke, I see the abundance of God's grace. In grace, every offense is obliterated, washed away completely as if it never existed. Grace is the abundance of God's love. It is substantial enough to break the nets of judgment. Grace...quite a catch.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Don't complain. Don't explain.
I heard this admonition recently. It reminded me of two scriptures.
Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
Don't complain. It fosters doubt in the sovereignty of God.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Don't explain. If I am still and know that God is in control, then I don't feel compelled to explain. I simply enter His rest and wait on Him to reveal Himself.
I am at peace knowing that God is the one who is shaping my life - everyone's lives actually. I have no reason to complain or explain. It's really all about Him.
(Apologies for the appearance. For some unknown reason, the format isn't allowing spacing between the paragraphs.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stop Resisting

I am reminded, sometimes daily, that my biggest adversary is also my greatest teacher. Teachers present themselves in a variety of forms - often without their awareness. When I stop resisting by releasing my judgment or self-righteousness and enter into rest, I find I am positioned to consider what God is shaping in my soul.

People and circumstances who challenge me the most are my greatest sanctifiers and teachers of spiritual growth. They carry the burden of routing me toward God. When I have learned what they intend to teach, amazingly they are no longer an adversary but an unexpected friend, a blessing disguised as an enemy.

Matthew 19:30But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
And Matthew 20:8"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' ...16"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Now I see that this is how God's Spirit uses the adversary to sanctify me, to humble me, to shape me into His likeness. Ultimately, it is all good, all necessary, all grace. There is no judgment from where I am standing.

He is teaching me not to fear the current that pulls me into the deeper waters. His Spirit reminds me daily to stop resisting the tide that carries me from the safety of the shore.

Stop resisting. Enter His rest. Trust Him to do the work He set out to complete in me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Absolute Value 2

Reflecting on a previous post, "Absolute Value", I hadn't fully resolved the issue of zero.

Briefly, the parallel I drew between absolute value and life circumstances, whether positive or negative, good or evil, in light or in darkness, have directly resulted in my spiritual growth. Gain and loss have equally contributed in helping me to understand spiritual truth.

But I wasn't completely settled on the value of zero. Zero is the center point on a number line; the point from which all measurement begins. It has no measurable value and yet is necessary because without it there is no foundation from which to begin placing value. But comparing zero to God seemed like a contradiction because His value is without limits - immeasurable actually.

Until it occurred to me that zero represents God's humility, His willingness to be nothing in order that we may be something.

Zero is the heart of a good servant.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I recently heard of a young person's death from a drug overdose. I thought about the life of an addict; in and out of trouble with the law, moments of desperation and inadequacy, hopelessness.

Sadly, this young life and early death is not unique in a world where addiction is prevalent. I wondered about the redeeming qualities of a life so spent. Perhaps the weak according to this world have a direct purpose in sanctifying the lives they touch. Maybe they carry a greater burden for others than we realize.

I believe God could ordain a life on which the world places diminished value and use that life to cause others to draw closer to Him. That He works through such a one as this to mold patience and unconditional love into the hearts of those touched by the addicted. That He uses the very conditions of an addict's life to cause loved ones to cry out to Him. To seek Him. That no matter how someone's life appears on the outside, God sees the heart.

Perhaps this is not a wasted life at all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Today the phone rang and my heart ached.

It wouldn't be Alan calling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rip Tide

I paced, feeling panicked as I watched from the balcony. About 15 yards out in the Gulf, they were on boogie boards kicking hard...and going nowhere. The waves were relentless as they pounded the shore. They had to know the red flag was up, that they shouldn't be in the water. But there they were, caught in a rip current.

I watched as Mike, my son-in-law, was pulled toward deeper water. My son, CJ, began to kick parallel to the beach. He broke out of the current. Thoughts of losing either of them began to surface. A knot of fear gripped my gut.

"What the heck are they doing out there?!?"

CJ turned and headed out toward Mike, who was now about 20 yards away. I couldn't watch any longer. I went back inside vocalizing my fear - of which I will spare you the detail. In all our trips to Florida, we have never had a situation like this arise. By the time I headed out on the boardwalk, they were back on shore.

Mike isn't ashamed to admit that being at the mercy of the current was, "the most scared I've ever been in my life!" He had no control over the force of the water. Being a Midwesterner, he didn't know what a rip tide is or how to get out of one. When CJ paddled back to Mike, he could see the panic on Mike's face.

"Just relax, Mike. Don't try to fight it. You'll be okay."

It took me a while to get over the panic I felt as I watched them in peril that day. I'm certain I wasn't the only family member who wanted to give them both a square kick in the pants for going out in the first place.

Reflecting back, I see a familiar pattern. From time to time conditions have been such in my life that the seas got rough and I found myself in a rip tide of circumstances over which I had no control. I watched as the safety of shore moved further and further away. I panicked; my resistance leaving me weak without moving me any closer to solid ground. Family and friends watched helplessly from the safety of the shore, loving me, wanting to help, but ultimately couldn't. I had to work through the current myself.

Rip tides of trials come in many forms; mental or physical illness, loss of relationship, a spouse, a child. They come in the form of addiction, unfairness, and offense. They are the "negative" things in this life over which we have no control.

But, peace can be found in the midst of trials. It is found when I stop resisting the force of the circumstance; when I cease kicking against the tide and allow it's force to work a deeper degree of faith in my soul. Eventually, I will be released.

Oh, and yeah. CJ went back into the water, got caught a.gain, then made it back to shore just before the lifeguard came by to tell everyone the beach was closed. The double red flag was raised.

I'm getting too old for this.

*More info about rip tides can be found here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Death - The Mother of Beauty

I am not the writer
the author

The death of me
is the beginning
of inspiration.

At rest
I am led
into deeper truth.

the filter

through which
I now

In death
I find

my own.

the beauty.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28

Monday, April 13, 2009

Soul Mate

"This is Alan."

His distinctive voice reaches over the miles as he answers my calls with his familiar greeting. He's busy; still running a construction crew at age 75. But he always makes time for conversation when he can.

When we met at a local church in 1973, his kind and unassuming manner made an immediate impression. There was a sense of recognition, of kinship, like meeting a brother after a long separation; also a sense of relief, like finally meeting someone who had answers for my questions.

The 70's were a time in my life when I was seeking more than the immediate. I wanted answers about God, about the reason for our existence. What is the purpose of life and who is God really? The traditional faith in which I was raised, made me feel boxed in and guilty for seeking God in a personal way. I began to feel that religion was more about tradition than personal relationship. I wanted something more than ritual because I couldn't connect to an act. Alan became for me a touchpoint to God's love.

After 36 years of friendship, I still seek his counsel through the ups and downs of my life and in moments of inspiration. He is always there, always making time for me. No questions are off limits, rebuffed, scrutinized, or judged. He always encourages me to speak what is on my mind. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." I always feel that Jesus is with Alan and me whenever we speak because something greater than either of us often comes to light as we explore the impressions each of us experience in various situations. The sharing is good for the soul and blesses us beyond words.

Last Friday, April 3rd, my family and I arrived at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida for spring break. It felt good to be back on the gulf shores with all the family in tow; our six kids, 4 spouses, and 7 grandchildren. It was going to be a wonderful week.

On Sunday morning I had just stepped out of the shower when my cell phone rang.


"Is this Lori? In Illinois?"


"Hi Lori, it's Darlene."

"Hi, Darlene! How are you?"

"I'm okay."

I paused. It began to sink in that Darlene, Alan's wife, doesn't normally call.

"Is Alan okay?"

"Alan had a heart attack on Friday." Darlene went on to explain the details of his condition. We talked for a while then she asked me to contact the group of people, with whom Alan and I had been e-mailing the past 7 years, to ask for prayers for Alan and to let them know what was happening with him.

On Tuesday evening, as I had each night, I took my laptop and headed for Miss Lucille's Cafe` to access the internet and see if there was word of Alan's condition. Feeling apprehensive, I parked on the street in front of the cafe` and got on-line. There was a note from Jennifer, a mutual friend, which said in part, "It is with many tears and much sadness that I give you this update. Alan has passed." I sat alone in the dark letting the tears flow as I felt the depth of loss sink into my heart. I will never hear his voice again. Everything has been said.

As the days pass, I try to grasp the reality of Alan's death. In recent conversations, we came to the mutual agreement that being able to express our faith and discoveries about God so freely made all the difference in each of our lives. Our conversations helped us to grow spiritually throughout the years. We often talked about how God uses every person and thing in our lives to teach us more about Him, about His love for us. We came to realize that nothing is wasted - that all things have purpose in moving us closer to Him.

Though words are inadequate to fully relate what his friendship meant to me, how his counsel helped me through the chapters of my life, I carry with me the memory of his kind words and wisdom that never fail to assure me that God's love is all-encompassing and His mercy and grace have no limit.

This is merely one person's tribute to Alan to say that his friendship blessed my life more than words can say. I miss him deeply. But I also believe he would encourage those who love him to celebrate with joy for him, knowing that he is where he longed to be, back with his Heavenly Father.

Good-bye, dear brother...for now.

I love you,


Saturday, January 31, 2009


Ecclesiastes 3
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (NIV)

Whatever the season, it is comforting to know that all is well, to know, "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."