2006 UTKG Newsletters

Abundance

Years ago when I first started teaching private music lessons, I took a second job to supplement my very limited income. I became a receptionist at a near-by office. Within a few days I met Melanie, another local piano teacher with a thriving studio. She was working at the office for fun and offered to send the overflow of her music students to me. With her help, in just two months I went from six to twenty-seven weekly clients and was able to teach full-time. more Jun 05, 2006

When Myron and I got married, I moved into his house. Though it was now our home, the closets were full of his clothes. Needing to make room, we went through his wardrobe. He sorted out shirts, pants, shoes, and coats that he hadn’t worn for years. Stacks of clothing began to pile up. After a long weekend of organizing, he still had more than enough clothes to wear, and I was able to put my outfits into the closet. more Jun 06, 2006

There are 168 hours in a week. I sleep an average of 56 of those hours, work an average of 40, commute about 8, and eat for about 16. Even with these rough estimates, that leaves me over 43 hours in every week. Add in time for exercise, hygiene, laundry, cleaning and errands, and I’m down to about 25 hours. Then there’s church, time with family, socializing with friends, phone conversations, email, and suddenly I have only 10 hours left. I spend time doing my hobby, catch my favorite weekly TV shows, and now I have an hour. I still have 1 extra hour! more Jun 07, 2006

My first year out of college I taught music in a small rural school district. It was my first experience of living in a town with less than a thousand people, and I felt isolated and lonely. Halfway through the school year, I got mononucleosis and was told by my doctor to stay home and rest for a month. I wondered how I was going to survive that long in my small apartment alone! To my surprise, my mom took a special trip to be with me for a few days, and several co-workers also stopped by to visit. more Jun 08, 2006

I was sorting through a stack of old mail and neglected papers when I came across a check from my friends Annie and Bill. As I looked at the date from over a year before, I remembered that they had written it for their half of a dinner bill. Now I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten with them. With some guilt and regret, I set the check aside knowing that I didn’t feel comfortable cashing it. more Jun 09, 2006

Arguing with God

When I first thought about creating these daily messages, I was overwhelmed. I sat on my couch one evening and told God, “I can’t do this. How will I ever be able to do everything I ask my readers to do? I’m totally unqualified.” In my spirit I heard God’s response to me: “Sara, I only have imperfect people to work with. You’re all I’ve got, or I’d use someone else! Will you do it?” How could I say no to that?! more Jun 12, 2006

Sitting in church one Sunday I had an idea for an Up To Know Good message. As soon as the thought came into my mind, I said, “I don’t want to write about that.” “But you will,” I heard God’s Spirit answer back. I internally shook my head, “No, I really don’t want to. It’s sort of controversial, and I’m not interested.” Right away I heard again, “But you will.” more Jun 13, 2006

There’s an interesting prophet in the Bible named Jonah. When God asked him to go to the city of Nineveh, he not only ignored God, but ran the other direction, got on a boat, and sailed away! Through some bad weather and a serendipitous whale, Jonah was brought back to where he started. This time, he listened to God. When Jonah warned the people of Nineveh about God’s judgment, they also listened! Angrily, he watched his mortal enemies have a change of heart and receive God’s kindness. more Jun 14, 2006

I was staying with my friends Pam and Jonathon for the weekend. At the end of breakfast one morning, their baby, Brittney, stretched out her arms, ready to leave the highchair. “Not until you finish your milk,” Pam said pleasantly. Angrily Brittney threw the spill-proof cup on the floor. Pam firmly and quietly told her again that she would not leave the table until the milk was gone. For the next hour I watched in amazement as this one year old tried to negotiate, charm, and argue her way out of the chair. The message from Mom was consistent: when the milk is gone, then you are done. more Jun 15, 2006

Half-awake and still in bed one morning, I started to pray. Still single at the time, I was getting up unusually early on a Saturday to attend a conference. As I said sleepy prayers, I heard God say, “Today you’ll meet the love of your life.” “I must be talking to myself,” I thought. The voice continued, “No, really, today you’ll meet the love of your life!” “Well,” I told God bluntly, “That’s a lot of pressure on a hello, but we’ll see how the day goes!” more Jun 16, 2006

Laughter

The phone rang, and Myron and I decided to let the machine get it. It was a hang up. A few minutes later, the phone rang again, and this time we decided to answer. “Hello?” a familiar voice said on the other end. “Sara? This is Grandma.” Myron grabbed another phone receiver, and the three of us talked for about twenty minutes. My eighty-one year old grandma told us how busy she was with household chores, card games, and meetings at church. She had more on her schedule than I did for the week! more Jun 19, 2006

In February, news reporters happily told us about the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. Though there remained a great deal of devastation from Hurricane Katrina, the nation was glad to see people happy and celebrating. It was one of the first times we saw hope and joy in the faces of those who had lost so much. more Jun 20, 2006

Years ago on a beautiful, sunny spring day, I decided to go for a run. This was an unusual decision as I hadn’t done any kind of workout for several months. I also had not gone running for years. As I rounded the first corner past my apartment complex, I found myself across the street from the local high school. I was slowly making my way down the sidewalk when a car full of students came by. They laughed and shouted several insults at me before turning into the school parking lot. I “ignored” them and kept running, but my eyes started to burn with tears and my chest was heavy with embarrassment. more Jun 21, 2006

I was sitting in a restaurant at Disneyworld with a couple of friends. We were enjoying a terrific meal when they said, “Why don’t you come to Italy with us in a couple of months?” I looked at them incredulously, sort of chuckled to myself, and smiled. “Thanks, but you already have your trip planned,” I answered politely. “But there’s room for you, too,” they insisted. “You should come with us!” A few months later, I was enjoying many terrific meals with my friends in Italy. more Jun 22, 2006

Several years ago, I was teaching one of my piano students about the note and key of G. About half way through the lesson, we began to alliterate our sentences. “Gosh, that’s great!” I said after he finished a song. “Golly,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “Give it a go one more time,” I suggested. He played the song again. “Good going!” I replied. He rolled his eyes and said, “Good grief!” I looked at him, and we started laughing out loud at ourselves. more Jun 23, 2006

Unqualified

In sixth grade I started playing the cello. At the end of the year, my teacher told me about Crystal Strings – an audition only ensemble at the school I would attend in the fall. I remember telling her, “That sounds fun. I’m going to be in that group.” She cautioned me, “Usually only older kids get in. It’s very competitive.” “I’ll get in, too,” I replied with na=EFve, twelve-year old confidence. more Jun 26, 2006

Several years ago, I felt ready to move out of my small duplex into a house. I went to a first-time home buyers’ class, checked out housing developments in my area, and found out what it would take to secure a mortgage. After doing my taxes in February that year, I was devastated to find out I couldn’t afford anything. With my salary, I did not even qualify for a mortgage on a small condominium. Still, I kept the idea in my mind and continued to visit my “dream house” in a near by housing development. more Jun 27, 2006

When I registered for my first year of college classes, I took two placement exams. First I had an oral exam with the French professor. That test put me in exactly the right French class for my level of knowledge. The other exam was for math. I had taken calculus in high school, and after seeing my score, the math instructors strongly encouraged me to take Calculus II. Unlike French, this was not a good fit. I came home at Christmas break and told my parents that I had failed calculus. more Jun 28, 2006

When I started writing these daily emails, I told God I wasn’t qualified. I told Him there was no way I could “Do Good” each day myself. I had other excuses, too. I don’t have a seminary degree. I’m an extrovert and can’t handle that much alone time writing. I’m not sure people will really be helped, and what if they don’t like what I write? I had long list of excuses to cover the inadequacy I felt. more Jun 29, 2006

Sitting in Starbucks one afternoon, I saw a little boy about two years old trying to open the heavy door. I looked out the window and saw his Dad waving at him, encouraging him to come outside. His small body leaned into the glass as he pushed with all of his might. Suddenly the door began to open a little bit. His mom had started to help him. The little boy turned around, saw what she was doing and pushed her away. Again, he strained to open the door himself without success. Finally, he gave in and let his mom assist. more Jun 30, 2006

Just Ask

On the last day of an intense five-day Christian writer’s workshop, I found an empty spot in the cafeteria for lunch. As I sat down feeling satisfied from a great week, I smiled across the table at Heather, an author that I deeply respected. Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to talk with her about the painful but rewarding process of writing about her life experiences, and I almost felt as though I had found a new friend. As we ate lunch, I decided to ask if she and I could stay in touch. more Jul 03, 2006

When I was in high school, I would often come home in the afternoons and find my sister wearing one of my sweaters. I would demand to know, “Why do you have my clothes on?” “You told me I could wear it,” Beth always replied confidently. With rising irritation I’d ask her, “When did I ever say that?” “This morning while you were still in bed, you said ‘Uh-huh.’ I assumed that meant yes.” more Jul 04, 2006

A few days after I started praying for what I wanted, I was sorting through the mail. I came across a note from Joyce Meyer Ministries. Curious about the news from them, I opened up the package. Inside I found a card that read “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” I held it up so Myron could see what it said. “If only God would send me a sign,” I said to him sarcastically. more Jul 06, 2006

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in January of 1999. After months of declining health, I was relieved to finally have a name for the chronic pain I felt. I began a regimen of medication, exercise and sleep. By June, I was able to work again full-time. By that fall, I was working out and feeling much better. One day I received a note that simply read, “Do you believe I can heal you?” It seemed outrageous since this condition is a chronic, life-time illness. Still, the next spring I started asking God to heal me. more Jul 07, 2006

Just A Little Faith

I was watching a reality show the other night. One person wasn’t feeling well, and a leader on the program said to the camera, “We’re crossing our fingers.” Suddenly, the sick man’s health took a turn for the worse. The situation was dire, and in desperation, the leader now said, “Maybe we should pray.” With heads bowed and tears flowing, the group asked God to take care of their deathly ill friend. more Jul 10, 2006

I love puzzles. I like jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, and three-dimensional brainteasers that you have to put together or take apart. My grandpa had one of the latter. I remember trying for what seemed like hours to take two small pieces of metal apart. Finally I figured it out! Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to how I solved it, and on my next attempt I couldn’t remember how to separate the pieces from one another. more Jul 11, 2006

In college I had a roommate who was a part of a prayer group every night. For awhile I also went with her, but then I started to hang out with some other people. While it wasn’t necessarily in my best interest to be a part of this other group, my roommate said nothing. She simply went to the prayer meeting and met me back at the dorm room each evening. more Jul 12, 2006

I was writing a new song, and for weeks I only had four lines finished. I loved the idea in the lyrics and believed wholeheartedly that God had inspired those few short phrases. After several weeks passed without any more ideas for the piece, I started to get impatient. I demanded to know one morning, “God, are we going to finish this song or not?” The next day I came down with the flu. I stayed home from work and composed the rest of the song in just a few hours. more Jul 13, 2006

As a little girl I would fold my arms and nod my head like the star on “I Dream of Jeannie.” In the show, magical things would happen when she did that. She was transported from one place to another. Her whole house was instantly cleaned, and people even behaved differently. Hoping for similiar results, I would stand in the doorway of my messy room, fold my arms, close my eyes and nod my head with a silent wish of “Be clean!” It never worked. more Jul 14, 2006

Purpose

My grandma smiled as she told me about her life at the nursing home. She said that many people she had met were sad, so she tried to cheer them up. Being naturally very funny, she often joked around with other residents. She also told them that when they were distressed, they should pray. Prayer, she promised, would help more than anything else. more Jul 17, 2006

In early 2005 a woman named Terri Schiavo was in the news because of her controversial health situation. Brain-damaged from cardiac arrest years before, she was completely unable to care for herself. Her husband was petitioning the courts to have her feeding tube removed. A right-to-life and right-to-die debate ensued across America. I was fascinated by the entire situation because whatever side one was on, it was evident that Terry’s life had purpose. With no ability to speak herself, Terry had people talking about the sensitive subjects of life and death. Clearly, her life had meaning. more Jul 18, 2006

A number of years ago I was the choir director for a group of eight adults. At rehearsal, each person learned their own notes. Then we practiced the song together. Though each individual voice was beautiful, nothing compared to the powerful effect they created collectively. All eight voices blended into one beautiful sound, and their powerful, unified musical expression often brought tears and goose bumps to their listeners. more Jul 19, 2006

I was surprised when my boss, Angie, told me that I was getting a promotion. I had been on leave from my job for a month due to personal issues, and at times I was still absent from work for hours at a time. Despite this, I was called into Angie’s office one afternoon and given a raise and a new position within the department. I wondered why this had happened, though I gladly accepted the offer. more Jul 20, 2006

I was talking with Pete, a friend who had recently retired. Pete said that he found he wasn’t prepared for all of the stress he encountered from this life change. As he talked to others, he found that many people were disillusioned by retirement, often finding that without work, they weren’t clear about their purpose. more Jul 21, 2006

Get Up

Imagine: It’s right after a nationwide election and no one can find the new President! Everyone (at least in the associated political party) is anxious to see, congratulate and celebrate with the newly elected official. As members of the security detail start to look, the gathering of people ask the campaign manager, “Has the President arrived yet?” Faced with a direct question, he admits, “Yes. You’ll find your new leader crouched down over there in the coat room!” more Jul 24, 2006

During a very dark time in my life, I decided that I was just going to stay in bed. I was going to act as pathetic as I felt by staying under the covers away from reality as long as I liked. By 3:00 in the afternoon of the first day, I realized, “I’m hungry, I’m bored, and I smell bad!” Avoiding the real world wasn’t the dream I thought it might be. I got up, unimpressed by my own pity-party, and took a shower. more Jul 25, 2006

At mile fifteen of the marathon, I stopped running and sat down on the edge of the road to stretch. Pain was shooting from my lower back through my right leg. As I tried to loosen my hamstring, someone stopped and said hello. I looked up and saw Christine, another runner I had met a few miles back. “How are you?” she asked. “How do I look?” I said pathetically, trying to evoke her sympathy. “You must be okay; you’re still smiling!” she told me. I started to laugh in spite of myself. I was okay! Then, Christine reached out her hand and helped me get up. more Jul 26, 2006

I was helping a friend prepare a presentation. Throughout her talk Anne kept asking, “You know what I mean?” and “Don’t you think so?” When I asked why she felt the need for so many questions, Anne said that she simply wanted to interact with her audience. It gave her energy and assurance to have them respond to her. more Jul 27, 2006

About a year ago, I was sitting around a huge table in a conference room. My colleagues were introducing themselves with short, thirty second speeches, and it was almost my turn. Though everyone was talking as they sat in the large comfortable chairs, I decided to stand up and give my short talk. When I finished, everyone applauded! more Jul 28, 2006

Who Is He?

One spring years ago, an old high school friend and I were both back in our home town. We met up and went for a walk. As we started to talk, the subject turned to God and faith. He asked me about several controversial subjects – evolution vs. creation, homosexuality, other religions vs. Christianity, etc. For the most part I found myself without many answers and was a little embarrassed at my inability to respond. That changed when he said, “Sara, I always hesitated talking with you about this in high school because I thought you had all the answers.” more Jul 31, 2006

A few months ago, there was a national news report about a lost dog. This award-winning whippet had gotten loose and run away at the airport on its return home from the Westminster dog show. Desperate to find their valuable pet, the owners hired over a dozen psychics. (Which sounded like at least eleven more than necessary to me, but I digress.) In addition, an award was posted, volunteers came to aid in the search, and donations were even being accepted on the American Whippet Club website. more Aug 01, 2006

I was sitting in a coffee shop when someone asked me what book I was reading. I looked at the unmistakable leather-bound tome in my hands and decided not to make a sarcastic comment. “The Bible,” I replied simply. A discussion followed about Jesus, faith, and doing good things for others. We quickly discovered some key differences in our belief systems. “You need to live a good life,” he insisted. “How good?” I asked him. He said that we need to be perfect to enjoy eternity, and that God gives us the ability to be that good. I responded, if that’s true, then why Jesus? more Aug 02, 2006

Growing up we had a huge peony bush in our backyard. Every year when the large pink flowers would blossom, my mom would collect several of them and make a beautiful centerpiece for the dining room table. I loved the look of those soft plush blooms. After a few days they would brown, and Mom would toss them out. The bush, however, kept producing more flowers, so the old bouquet would quickly be replaced with a fresh one. more Aug 03, 2006

Though I attended college years ago, I still have a very high opinion of my music professors. In the many hours of choir rehearsals, voice lessons and private practice each week, I felt encouraged and nurtured by my instructors. After graduation, I met with my choir director. I started to call him “Doctor,” and he immediately corrected me. He said I was now a music teacher too, and we were peers. I should call him by his first name. more Aug 04, 2006

Helping Strangers

As we were leaving church one Sunday, a woman fell down in the parking lot. From every direction people began to hurry towards her. She stayed on the ground for a moment, and by the time she stood up a small crowd around had gathered. Everyone waited a to be sure she wasn’t seriously hurt. A little bruised, and I would guess a bit embarrassed, this well-dressed woman said she would be okay as she headed towards her car. more Aug 07, 2006

My friend Liz was at the pharmacy standing in line to get her prescription. She was looking around as she stood there and noticed an older gentleman standing behind her. Suddenly he dropped something. Without thinking much of it, Liz bent over and picked it up for him. As she handed him the item, he smiled at her with gratitude. “Thank you so much,” he said with great feeling. My friend was touched that such a simple act could mean such a great deal. more Aug 08, 2006

It was Christmas Eve and my husband and I were traveling to my parents’ house. We stopped for gas in Sioux Falls and Myron said he’d fill the tank. As he did that, a man came up to him and said, “I’m not a bum or anything, but I ran out of checks and don’t have any cash. Can you lend me $20?” Myron reached for his wallet, and the stranger started going on about addresses and mailing a payment, etc. My husband pulled out the bill, handed it to him, and said, “Merry Christmas and God bless you!” The stranger simply replied, “Thanks, man!” more Aug 09, 2006

I got a ride from Ted, a college classmate, back to my home town for Thanksgiving. We were only about thirty-five miles from home when one of the tires blew out. It was nighttime, and we were in the midst of blizzard. Quickly we removed our entire luggage from the back, got out the spare, and started changing the tire. Suddenly the car jack froze. Seeing fewer and fewer cars going by, Ted and I grabbed the essentials and started thumbing for a ride. Thankfully someone with a large Buick stopped and drove us to town. more Aug 10, 2006

I had known Mark less than a week. I was working with him on a project, and on this particular day things had not gone well. He was stressed and concerned about meeting a deadline that was only twenty-four hours away. After helping him with his work as much as I could, I decided to ask, “Mark, may I pray for you?” He said he believed deeply in the power of prayer, and I took another step of faith. “Do you want me to pray with you before I leave?” He was surprised but grateful. I told him I was a Christian and that I pray to Jesus. He nodded his consent, and we bowed our heads. more Aug 11, 2006

Run

After several months of being in poor health, I was determined to get my strength back. My doctors instructed me to exercise regularly, but my extended inactivity and illness had made me very weak. Slowly, I started walking on the treadmill everyday. One step at a time, I persevered through each workout. As I took each labored step, I imagined myself running. I felt free and strong and knew that someday, I would run.! more Aug 14, 2006

At recess in elementary school, my classmates and I never just casually walked outside and looked around the playground. Instead, when we finished lunch, we gathered by the door in the cafeteria waiting anxiously to be let out. When we got the signal, the supervisor stepped out of the way, and we ran outside as fast as we could. We were free, and we couldn’t wait to play! more Aug 15, 2006

I work from home, and the other day I found myself looking into my pantry. I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted some chocolate to help me deal with my stress. As I stood there, I started to make a deal with myself, ‘If I get my work done, I can eat some.’ Suddenly I realized what I was doing. I firmly shut the door and ran downstairs to my office determined to get my work done before the end of the day. more Aug 16, 2006

My second year of teaching I was the music director for the middle school musical. The drama teacher and I posted the cast list while our students were in their last class of the day. As soon as the dismissal bell rang, the students ran from the classrooms towards the wall to search for their names on the cast list. Some students shouted with joy while others quietly stepped aside once they found their name. The drama teacher and I just stayed out of the way! more Aug 17, 2006

Several years ago, I saw a video of Derek Redmond’s 1992 Olympic race. This British athlete was determined and favored to win a medal in the 400-Meter event. Unfortunately, shortly after he started running, Derek fell to the ground in excruciating pain due to a ruptured hamstring. Immediately, his coach and father, Jim, flew down the stadium steps to his son. Jim helped Derek up and put his arm around him. In obvious pain, Derek finished that race with the love and support of his father. more Aug 18, 2006

Shine

When I exercise, I usually talk to myself. I say things like “Good job! Way to go! You’re working it out! We like the results! C’mon, c’mon, don’t give up now!” (Don’t you wish you were on a machine near me at the gym? Actually, I only talk out loud when I’m at home.) My husband has started to chime in with comments such as, “Way to go, honey! You’re looking good!” With all the cheering going on, my workouts go quickly, and I feel great when I’m done. more Aug 21, 2006

I recently reorganized my office. I cleared out a bunch of clutter that had collected in the bookcases and corners of the room. I then rearranged the furniture and gave my office space a whole new look. Previously my desk had been facing a wall. Now it’s facing a window, and about lunchtime each day, the sun starts shining intensely on me. The warmth and brightness are glorious inspirations as I write. more Aug 22, 2006

It was the night before a huge exam, and I was up late cramming. I was listening to a recording of musical techniques. Identifying compositional devices was the most difficult part of each music history test for me, so I was putting in extra study time. At about 2am, I was half-sleeping and half-hearing the CD when I recognized the fausse reprise (a device Haydn often used in his symphonies.) I was suddenly fully awake and listened to it again. “Aha!” I thought. “I can hear it!” more Aug 23, 2006

“That’s not the dress,” I told Melissa. We were at a bridal shop, and my good friend was excitedly showing me her favorite gown. Her face fell at my remark, but I told her it just didn’t look enough like a wedding dress. A few weeks later, a group of us gathered around her at another boutique. “That’s the one,” we all agreed. When the wedding day arrived, she literally sparkled as she walked down the aisle and took her place by her groom. more Aug 24, 2006

I have never been much of a gardener, but in the fifth grade, I planted some wheat. It was a class where we planted, picked, and eventually baked bread with our crop. I remember being surprised to see that the wheat was green for most of the growing season. I had mistakenly thought that golden shafts of grain would just appear out of the ground. Instead, I witnessed the beautiful green growth eventually mature into a gorgeous golden harvest. more Aug 25, 2006

Prayer

As I walked through the grocery store, I looked at the sale tags, my list, and my stack of coupons. Finances had been tight, and I was trying to buy groceries with a third of my normal budget. Feeling stressed, I walked through the produce section debating about what and how much should go in my cart. As I picked up each item, I prayed, “Should I get this, God?” As I reached for some potatoes and silently said my prayer, I realized that this was the lesson God wanted to teach me. Pray about everything, even potatoes! more Aug 28, 2006

During my first year of college, I had some passionately politically liberal Christian friends. My sophomore year, I got to know some conservative Christians who took pride in being Republicans. Then, a year after college I met others at church with a third, unique way of seeing faith and politics. In the years since my early twenties, I have decided to simply pray as I research candidates and vote. I also continue to pray for the leaders who ultimately end up in office whether they got my vote or not. more Aug 29, 2006

Several years ago, I drove home from a friend’s house with my face hot and tears flowing down my face. I banged on the steering wheel and muttered angry words to God. Feeling too upset to drive, I pulled over. I put my head on the steering wheel and started to sob. “Why?! Why?! Why?!” I begged to know. Why wasn’t God taking my loneliness away? Why did my friends have the marriage and baby I ached for when I had to go home alone? I had tried to be happy for them, but now in my car on my way home to an empty apartment, I couldn’t keep it in. more Aug 30, 2006

I was sitting at my desk when I noticed the stack of thank you cards. My heart sank as I realized I had completely forgotten about them. Right after Christmas my husband and I had been caught up in some family matters. By the time we got back to work and into a routine, the thank you notes were no longer on my mind. Then my birthday came in early February, and I had received other gifts from family and friends. Now it was almost a month past my birthday and I wondered if it was too late to send my belated thanks. more Aug 31, 2006

It had been one of those busy, stressful weeks. My husband and I had been on opposite schedules; he worked everyday and I was in meetings every evening. Finally, on Sunday we were able to be together. Throughout the day, we talked about mundane things like our finances, our schedules, etc. We also spent time just holding hands and smiling at one another. During our meals, we discussed issues that were important to us in our work and our lives. It was a rich and wonderful day. more Sep 01, 2006

Persistence

It was a late summer afternoon; Myron and I were driving through Nebraska on a road trip. As we traveled the two-lane highway, we came to a stop sign in a small town. When we began moving again, I noticed a small fly on the outside of my passenger window. As we accelerated, he hung on. The car went faster, and one of its wings turned backwards, but he was still there. Suddenly, both wings inverted, but he continued to hang on. I glanced at the speedometer – we were now going fifty miles per hour, but this tiny, tenacious fly was still taking a ride with us! more Sep 04, 2006

A few years ago, I committed myself to getting healthy. I was about forty pounds overweight, and I wanted more energy and vitality in my everyday life. I joined a local fitness center. Then, each night as I fell asleep, I told myself what workout I would do the next day. When I woke up, the decision was already made, so I would get dressed and go exercise. I didn’t worry about having the best or greatest workout. I simply got up and exercised every day. more Sep 05, 2006

Zach was the most obnoxious student in my eighth grade choir class. His focus was on the girls, not the music we were learning for the next concert. One day in the hall I stopped him. “Zach, I’ve noticed you have great pitch memory and a lot of talent.” He shrugged off the compliment. A few weeks later, though, he showed up at the musical auditions and ended up getting the starring role. The drama director and I worked with Zach, reminding him that he was there to rehearse, not just to impress the girls. Slowly we started to see him transform from a “ladies man” to the “lead role” in the show. more Sep 06, 2006

As a child, I grew up in a church where we said the same prayers every week. Many attendees didn’t even need to look at pages of the service book to follow along and repeat the familiar prayers. As a teenager, I started to listen and question what I had been saying over and over again for so many years. Was it real? Did I mean it? For the most part my answers were “yes.” Now when I go back and visit my old church with my parents, I consciously engage my mind and heart with the familiar petitions I learned as a child. more Sep 07, 2006

In the true-life love story of Johnny and June Carter Cash, John asked June to marry him numerous times. June consistently said no. She loved him, but wanted to wait for the right time. Finally, after months of his persistence, she accepted his proposal on stage in front of thousands of fans. They were married one week later. They continued to enjoy successful careers, had a son, and were married for thirty-five years! more Sep 08, 2006

Light

The other night I was driving home with my husband from work. As we pulled into the driveway, we noticed that there was a light on in our house. We nervously went inside and checked each rooom but didn’t find anything out of place. Thinking back to that morning, we remembered flipping on the switch when we got up. By the time we’d left for work, however, the sun had come up, and the whole house was bright. It wasn’t until nighttime that we noticed the light was still on. more Sep 11, 2006

In seventh grade, I was picked to sing the solo in “This Little Light of Mine” at the Winter Concert. I was quite proud of myself for this accomplishment, and I passionately belted out the familiar Sunday school song. At the end of the song during the applause, the director pointed to me, and I nodded my head in a slight bow. I would have been very disappointed if the director had pointed to someone else. After all, it was my solo, and I wanted the credit! more Sep 12, 2006

As I drove to the event, I noticed that I wasn’t feeling very well physically or emotionally. I was the keynote speaker, but I wasn’t in the mood to give a talk. When I arrived, however, I decided to set my personal issues aside and focus on my audience. At the end of the meeting, I greeted everyone at the door. Many people told me how life changing this talk had been for them. I was moved and humbled by their comments. more Sep 13, 2006

Years ago I knew Emily, a little girl who always stood behind a door in the corner of her house whenever she did something wrong. She would hide there hoping not to be discovered, though inevitably her parents would find her. They’d ask what she had done, and through tears, she would confess her misbehavior. With words of reassurance and hugs, they brought Emily out from behind the door into their arms. Whatever had been spilled or broken was taken care of, and a loving relationship was restored. more Sep 14, 2006

At a garage sale several years ago, I found two lamps for only $10. They were a little bit out of style, but with some paint and fresh lampshades, I knew they would work well in my apartment. When I went shopping for new shades, I was amazed at the endless variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and styles. Some were very elegant with muted colors and sleek lines. Others were funkier with bright colors and embellishments of beads or fringes. more Sep 15, 2006

Positive Point of View

Last August my husband and I rode the Cog Railway up to Pikes Peak in Colorado. Though it was summer, the weather at over 14,000 feet was wintry. When we reached the summit, it was snowing so badly that they had closed the road to motorists. The crowd of people stuck at the top and the thin atmosphere made many people anxious and upset. They rudely shoved their way into the small buildings to find food and facilities. For most of the stopover, we decided to wait on the train. Outside, I noticed two little girls pelting their dad with snowballs; all three were giggling and having a great time. more Sep 18, 2006

My first year out of college teaching junior and senior high school choir was not what I expected. I had envisioned leading enthusiastic rehearsals and conducting concerts with students proud of their singing. Instead, I spent most of my time simply trying to gain control of the classroom. After three quarters of trying to command respect for the music and myself, my focus shifted. I suddenly realized that I was doing all of the work. I wasn’t listening to my students or giving them ownership in the choir. more Sep 19, 2006

My friends Ray and Char were scheduled to spend most of their vacation at Disneyworld. One morning of the trip, however, Ray woke up with chest pain. Due to family history and his own health, he decided to tell his wife. They went to the local clinic and were rushed by ambulance to the emergency room. That was the beginning of two days of tests and two nights at the hospital. On the third day, the doctors finally found the root of the problem and were quickly able to fix it. At that point, my friends were allowed to leave. Needless to say, the hospital was not where they had planned on vacationing! more Sep 20, 2006

Joel and Theresa were telling Myron and me about their children. “Our youngest son destroys things in our house,” they lamented. “Most recently he took apart our screen door and a small appliance.” Without hesitation Myron said, “He needs a workshop!” As a born engineer, Myron understood their son’s need to take things apart and understand how they worked. He didn’t see this boy as destructive, just curious. more Sep 21, 2006

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and I was on my way to church. Another car drove closely behind me. At every move, I started to imagine what the other driver was thinking. Hey, Lady, speed up! I don’t have all day here! Whoa – you call that a stop? And what’s with that sudden lane change? You’re a terrible driver! more Sep 22, 2006

Live Carelessly

I used to have a habit of always looking for the cheapest items on a restaurant menu. I would look at prices first and food second; I worried primarily about my wallet, not my stomach. A number of years ago, my friend Brian realized what I was doing. He reached across the table and covered up the column of prices on my menu and asked, “What are you hungry for?” At that moment, my thinking was jarred. What was I hungry for? I hadn’t even thought to ask myself that question. more Sep 25, 2006

I was only a half mile down the road when I suddenly remembered a file I’d left in my home office. I started to debate with myself; do I go back to get the file or continue on to my appointment? Despite my best efforts that morning, I was barely running on time. I’d most likely be late if I turned around and went home. Do I really need the file? I surprised myself when I answered, no. It contained additional information I was going to give my client, but it wasn’t essential material for this meeting. Suddenly I realized that I had put extra pressure on myself, and it would be okay if I arrived without it. more Sep 26, 2006

When I arrived to chaperone a party for the middle school, some of the kids were downstairs playing a game. Malcolm, the fourteen-year-old host, met me in the kitchen. “Miss Sara, you need to know about the game we’re playing. First, we cover you up with a blanket. Then someone will say, ‘You have something I want. You don’t need it; give it to me.’ Once you answer right, you can be free. The secret is: it’s the blanket!” “Thanks for telling me, Malcolm,” I said, grateful for the inside information. A few minutes later, as the newest person in the basement, it was my turn to play. So that no one would suspect Malcolm of telling me the secret, I handed over a watch and then a shoe. The third time I was asked, I threw off the heavy, hot blanket and gasped in some fresh air. more Sep 27, 2006

I desperately scanned the want ads in the newspaper. I was single and trying to start my own business, but the money was coming in slowly. I was na=EFve and unprepared for the expenses I faced, and so I turned anxiously to the paper. There had to be something I could do, but what? Clean houses or cashier at the grocery store? These were good jobs with flexibility, but what about the time away from my own business? What would be the most profitable? I started to wonder and worry about the best course of action. more Sep 28, 2006

Author and speaker Corrie Ten Boom said that when she was really worried, she would look in the mirror and say, “This situation is too difficult for God to handle.” As soon as she said it, she would start to laugh. After all, what is too big for God? Facing her doubt head on, she dispelled the lies that her worried emotions were trying to tell her. more Sep 29, 2006

The Sweetness of Surrender

As I threw my legs out over the edge of the small plane and looked at the ground two miles below, I started to wonder if skydiving was really such a great idea. I had a professional jumper, Jody, strapped to my back. I had never skydived before and was required to do a tandem jump with him. Still, even with Jody there, I started to feel nervous about leaving the plane. A moment later when he gave the signal, I arched my back and fell forward into the freefall. In the 120 mile per hour “breeze,” I was completely out of control. My facial muscles flapped wildly, and it was difficult even to smile. more Oct 02, 2006

Lying in bed one night, I was praying about the chronic pain in my neck. For over two years, I had been suffering with terrible headaches. Although medication and exercise helped me to function everyday, I still wanted to live pain-free. As I laid there, I realized that the stiffness in my neck resulted in a proud, unnatural posture. Suddenly aware that I was holding my head up, even as I was lying down, I relaxed back into my pillow and mattress. I immediately felt a sense of relief. more Oct 03, 2006

A few years ago when I taught piano and voice lessons, I picked up and cleaned my home daily. When I was really busy, however, I would grab a pile of papers and put them into a closet. It was one of the few hiding places in my tiny apartment; unfortunately, the papers ended up hiding there from me as well. A few years after I began this “cleaning method,” I started shoveling my way through stacks of old mail, receipts, and letters. Eventually I sorted everything out, and my closet was back in order again. more Oct 04, 2006

There is a familiar story of a little girl who had a favorite faux pearl necklace. One day her daddy asked her to give him the necklace, but she refused. “Honey, I love you. Please give the necklace to me,” the dad requested repeatedly. Again and again, the girl firmly said, “No!” After a week of being asked everyday, with tears in her eyes, the little girl finally handed over her beloved play necklace to her dad. Immediately the father pulled a string of real pearls out of his pocket and put it around her neck. more Oct 05, 2006

As I sat in my home office anxious to finish my work and leave for the day, some movement outside my window caught my eye. I looked up and a beautiful deer was grazing in my yard just a few feet from the window. Suddenly another wild creature appeared, and then two more. I stopped my typing and stood up to see the four gorgeous deer eating the long grass in the forest that surrounds my yard. Breathless for a moment, I smiled when one looked up from the ground directly towards my window. Still chewing, he seemed to make eye contact with me for a moment. Seconds later, he turned away and the small group continued up the mountain out of my view. more Oct 06, 2006

Forgiveness

Last week, as we usually do, Myron and I were eating breakfast and watching the morning news. We weren’t paying attention to the TV until we heard, “Can you get forgiveness on the internet?” I listened amazed at the debate that ensued. Apparently, there are several websites designed as places to confess sin; anyone can type-out their deepest, darkest secrets. One woman they interviewed said how freeing this was for her. To make the report more dramatic, they also interviewed a couple of religious leaders, some in favor, and some opposed to this format of confession. more Oct 09, 2006

The year of teaching had been an uphill struggle. The students wanted their old teacher back, and on this particular day, so did I. As I led the senior high choir in a rehearsal, Marissa began to speak out rudely to me. I gave her a warning to behave, and she escalated her comments to include several words of profanity. I then excused her to the principal’s office. more Oct 10, 2006

Grace and I sat in a coffee shop as she told me her story. Grace grew up in a devout Christian family. When she became a teenager, she rebelled against her parents’ strict religion and decided to call herself an agnostic. After college, she began attending church with her roommate. She realized that though she’d been proclaiming another life philosophy, she truly believed in a personal, loving God. Grace started to worry that perhaps she had committed what she had learned was the unpardonable sin – denying Christ as God. Concerned about where she now stood spiritually, she wrote a long letter to her pastor asking him to simply tell her the truth. more Oct 11, 2006

I was six years old, and my conscience was keeping me awake. As I walked into the living room, my mom stopped folding the laundry and asked if I needed something. “Remember when we went on a trip with Grandma and Beth [my younger sister] started crying really loud in the backseat?” Mom nodded for me to continue. “I told you she caught her finger in a zipper. The truth is – I bit her. She was bothering me.” My mom looked at me for a moment and said, “You know that was wrong.” “I know, and I’m sorry, Mom.” By now, I was crying. Mom assured me everything was okay and sent me back to bed. more Oct 12, 2006

In an effort to save some time one morning, I made a couple pieces of peanut butter toast, wrapped them in a paper towel and left. As I was driving down the road, I reached for my breakfast, only to discover it wasn’t in the seat next to me. I glanced around the car, but didn’t see anything. Looking up through my sunroof, I saw a paper towel blowing in the wind and my toast riding on the roof of my car. more Oct 13, 2006

Sensing God

I sat down on a rock near the walking path, closed my eyes, and listened. I could hear the rushing water of the near-by stream. The sound of it running over the rocks and through its carved path in the forest was captivating. I turned my head with my eyes still shut and heard it echo throughout the woods. Apart from seeing or feeling the mist of the water, the refreshing sound alone of the brook dancing over the stones was revitalizing. more Oct 16, 2006

“Mmmm – smells good!” Myron announced as he came into the dining room. It was Sunday morning, and we were about to enjoy one of our favorite small luxuries – cinnamon rolls. The sweet aroma of cinnamon and sugar had filled the main level of our home, and my mouth began to water a bit as I spread the frosting over the warm soft rolls. A few minutes later, as we sat at the table, I half-closed my eyes and took my first sticky, delicious bite. A bit of the frosting ran out of the corner of my mouth as I savored the delectably sweet roll melting on my tongue. more Oct 17, 2006

I’m not much of a morning person, but Myron is. When we married over two years ago, we agreed to keep a similar wake/sleep schedule. As a result of waking up early most mornings, I enjoy many gorgeous mountain sunrises. We have windows and a view along the east side of our house, and I love walking into the living room as it glows a warm red, orange, and yellow. It is a glorious sight at the beginning of the day. more Oct 18, 2006

As I walked through the craft store, I paused and picked up a candle labeled “Hazelnut.” I put the cellophane wrapped cylinder near my nose and took a cautious whiff. Even through the plastic wrap, I could smell the rich aroma of hazelnut coffee. I breathed in more deeply, enjoying the familiar smell. I closed my eyes and imagined for a moment being back in my grandparents’ old kitchen. more Oct 19, 2006

It was a hot, sticky summer day. I was at the lake visiting my grandmother, and I sat at the kitchen table with beads of sweat trickling down my back and pooling in the folds of my clothing. Grandma and I were finishing a game of gin rummy. After she won (again), I said that it was time to go swimming. We changed into our swimsuits and headed outside. When I took off my sandals, I realized that the scorching sun had made the deck painfully hot. I quickly hopped to the edge and jumped into the lake. The cool water was instantly refreshing. I dunked my head under, enjoying the reprieve from the summer sun. more Oct 20, 2006

5 Secrets of A Happy Life

About a year ago, I had an idea to write daily inspirational emails. I began to pray and soon felt called to move forward with this idea. For the next several months, I wrote weeks of emails while also working on the technical side of delivery and subscription. I believed it would be ready for distribution in August. However, in May, I felt compelled to start even sooner. On June 5th, the first Up To Know Good emails were delivered. Nine days later, we got the news. more Oct 23, 2006

Arthur was diagnosed with lung cancer and given less than a year to live. Almost immediately, he and his wife Betty decided to return from California to the Midwest to be near loved ones. Arthur’s family was shocked at his decision. He had left nearly twenty years ago and was rarely in contact, even during holidays and special family events. Though they were surprised, they held a large gathering to celebrate his return. With open arms, they welcomed Arthur and Betty home at a huge party. more Oct 24, 2006

Yesterday, we looked at the story of the lost son. After the father decides to have a celebration for him, the story continues. The party is going on when the oldest son comes back from working in the field. When he hears what is happening, he gets angry and refuses to go inside. The father goes out and begs him to join them. Bitterly, the oldest son says to his dad, “What about me? I’ve slaved away for you for years and you have never given me anything. Now you decide to have the party of the century because my little brother, who foolishly lost all of his money, is back?” The father replies, “Son, you have always been with me, and everything I have is already yours. We had to celebrate – your brother who was gone is back!” more Oct 25, 2006

Belinda and I sat at a table in Applebee’s. At eight years old, she was one of the wisest people I knew. When she was born, she was one of identical triplets, but tragically, her sisters were stillborn. As the only survivor, young Belinda was an old soul with a deep understanding of grief. Her quiet sympathy was a great comfort to me after the loss of my first husband. “You know,” she said as we sat at dinner, “sometimes I see triplets on talk shows. They’re fighting and haven’t talked to one another in years. I just want to tell those people, ‘You need to get happy!’” more Oct 26, 2006

Imagine finding a magic lamp and not receiving three, but an infinite number of wishes. What would you ask for to make you happy? There is a man who was able to do this. Everything he asked for from God, he received! He was a brilliant businessman. He owned and developed large amounts of real estate. He was with any woman he desired. He enjoyed fine wine and the best meals. He was entertained by the greatest talents in the world. He pursued intellectualism and wisdom. He was financially more successful than any other man before him, and he attained a level of wealth and achievement that would have turned Donald Trump green. His name was Solomon, King of Israel, and in the end, he said that all of these things were meaningless. more Oct 27, 2006

Shadows

It was a beautiful autumn day, and Myron and I decided to take a hike in the woods near our home. When we started, the morning was crisp and cool, and we dressed warmly. I wore a thick fleece coat that soon became too heavy. After a couple of hours, we arrived at a waterfall. By then the sun was shining brightly, and we were starting to sweat from the effort of our hike. I sat down in the cool shade of a tree and enjoyed the beauty of the trees and water. more Oct 30, 2006

One year on October 31st, I helped organize a party. I remember preparing the “eyeballs” by mixing grapes up in a bowl of mayonnaise and making “worms” of cold, cooked spaghetti noodles. Before our guests arrived we created an atmosphere. Scratchy, eerie music played in the background, and we dimmed the lights. With only shadows to guide them as they entered the house, people couldn’t see they were touching ordinary grapes and noodles. Plus, they were very surprised when someone popped out unexpectedly and said “BOO!” It was a fun, memorable event. more Oct 31, 2006

Most of us have heard the famous line, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Singer and speaker Kathy Trocolli was talking about this phrase from Psalm 23 on a talk show one day. She said the word shadow implies a source of light from somewhere. Shadows, after all, do not appear without light; with no illumination there is simply darkness. Knowing that, Ms. Trocolli found hope that when we are under the shadow of death, there is still Light shining. more Nov 01, 2006

Around noon, the sun begins to shine directly through my office window. As I look at my shadow, it seems to be a fairly accurate outline of me sitting at my desk. It’s dark and slightly fuzzy around the edges, but it’s definitely me. Throughout the afternoon, the black image begins to distort. The shadows lengthen, and after awhile, I don’t recognize myself in the projected silhouette. more Nov 02, 2006

My friend Gloria started a new position at work. When I asked what she was doing she replied, “Shadowing Jason.” She went on to explain, “I’m following and watching him do his job. I ask questions when I don’t understand or need to know more about a certain aspect of his work. Everywhere he goes, I go. Soon I’ll be doing the work, but Jason will still be here with me.” more Nov 03, 2006

Tiny Kindnesses

“Is this going to take much longer?” I asked the cashier, my patience waning. “No, not long. We’re just waiting for someone.” I was in line at the grocery store recently, and the customer in front of me grabbed the wrong box of cereal. Minutes later he returned with another box in hand, and the cashier resumed scanning the items in his cart. Several other hiccups occurred in his transaction, and when it was finally my turn to check out, my ice cream had started to melt and my patience had completely dissolved. more Nov 06, 2006

In college it was part of a daily routine to check our mailboxes when we were done with lunch. Most days there was nothing there, but around Thanksgiving, gifts started to appear. One of my friends received a card with a small trinket. “You are special,” was all the note read. A few days later, another friend received a similar gift, and several days after that, a third classmate found an encouraging note and package in her mailbox. more Nov 07, 2006

Grace and her mom Karen quietly let themselves into my house as I finished a piano lesson. I didn’t even look up because Grace’s lesson was next, and it was typical for them to arrive early. A few minutes later, they came into the studio room with a tall glass of diet soda, complete with ice, a slice of lemon, and a straw. A few weeks earlier I had told Karen how much I loved the small luxuries of ice, lemon and a straw with a soda. I was surprised and touched by their thoughtful gesture, and they beamed as they set it up for me near the piano. more Nov 08, 2006

“Sara, I got your name and phone number from a mutual colleague,” the caller began. “He told me about you and I saw your website and had to call. My name is Jerry.” For the next few minutes, I listened as Jerry gave me kudos and encouragement about the business and website I had at the time, and I even took notes when he offered a few suggestions to me. more Nov 09, 2006

As I took my aisle seat on the plane, I quickly realized that I was sitting in the middle of a family of five. Next to me was Dad, Jim, with a little boy, and across the aisle was Mom, Jessica, sitting between two young girls. I asked Jim if he wanted to switch seats, but he said they were fine. Throughout the flight, I chatted with them and passed sippy cups and toy trucks back and forth between Jim and Jessica. The girls were busy with coloring projects, and I was about to hand their latest drawing over to Jim when the oldest daughter, Marcy said, “This is for you.” more Nov 10, 2006

Abundance

Years ago when I first started teaching private music lessons, I took a second job to supplement my very limited income. I became a receptionist at a near-by office. Within a few days I met Melanie, another local piano teacher with a thriving studio. She was working at the office for fun and offered to send the overflow of her music students to me. With her help, in just two months I went from six to twenty-seven weekly clients and was able to teach full-time. more Nov 13, 2006

When Myron and I got married, I moved into his house. Though it was now our home, the closets were full of his clothes. Needing to make room, we went through his wardrobe. He sorted out shirts, pants, shoes, and coats that he hadn“t worn for years. Stacks of clothing began to pile up. After a long weekend of organizing, he still had more than enough clothes to wear, and I was able to put my outfits into the closet. more Nov 14, 2006

There are 168 hours in a week. I sleep an average of 56 of those hours, work an average of 40, commute about 8, and eat for about 16. Even with these rough estimates, that leaves me over 43 hours in every week. Add in time for exercise, hygiene, laundry, cleaning and errands, and I“m down to about 25 hours. Then there“s church, time with family, socializing with friends, phone conversations, email, and suddenly I have only 10 hours left. I spend time doing my hobby, catch my favorite weekly TV shows, and now I have an hour. I still have 1 extra hour! more Nov 15, 2006

My first year out of college I taught music in a small rural school district. It was my first experience of living in a town with less than a thousand people, and I felt isolated and lonely. Halfway through the school year, I got mononucleosis and was told by my doctor to stay home and rest for a month. I wondered how I was going to survive that long in my small apartment alone! To my surprise, my mom took a special trip to be with me for a few days, and several co-workers also stopped by to visit. more Nov 16, 2006

I was sorting through a stack of old mail and neglected papers when I came across a check from my friends Annie and Bill. As I looked at the date from over a year before, I remembered that they had written it for their half of a dinner bill. Now I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten with them. With some guilt and regret, I set the check aside knowing that I didn’t feel comfortable cashing it. more Nov 17, 2006

Just A Little Faith

I was watching a reality show the other night. One person wasn’t feeling well, and a leader on the program said to the camera, “We’re crossing our fingers.” Suddenly, the sick man’s health took a turn for the worse. The situation was dire, and in desperation, the leader now said, “Maybe we should pray.” With heads bowed and tears flowing, the group asked God to take care of their deathly ill friend. more Nov 20, 2006

I love puzzles. I like jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, and three-dimensional brainteasers that you have to put together or take apart. My grandpa had one of the latter. I remember trying for what seemed like hours to take two small pieces of metal apart. Finally I figured it out! Unfortunately, I didn’t pay attention to how I solved it, and on my next attempt I couldn’t remember how to separate the pieces from one another. more Nov 21, 2006

In college I had a roommate who was a part of a prayer group every night. For awhile I also went with her, but then I started to hang out with some other people. While it wasn’t necessarily in my best interest to be a part of this other group, my roommate said nothing. She simply went to the prayer meeting and met me back at the dorm room each evening. more Nov 22, 2006

As a little girl I would fold my arms and nod my head like the star on “I Dream of Jeannie.” In the show, magical things would happen when she did that. She was transported from one place to another. Her whole house was instantly cleaned, and people even behaved differently. Hoping for similiar results, I would stand in the doorway of my messy room, fold my arms, close my eyes and nod my head with a silent wish of “Be clean!” It never worked. more Nov 24, 2006

Dealing with Differences

Early in November, across the United States, were mid-term elections. The next day, the Democratic Party officially held a majority in the House of Representatives. The Republican President held a press conference, and the reaction by the reporters was overwhelmingly positive. They said that they were impressed by President Bush’s attitude and comments. Why? Because they noted that instead of being adversarial, the President displayed an admirable characteristic – humility. more Nov 27, 2006

Matt, Tonya, and I had been nearly inseparable for months, so I was surprised one evening when they announced a problem. They disagreed with me about some of the spiritual beliefs I had recently shared with them. They felt that unless I changed, we could no longer be close. I was shocked and hurt, but I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. We simply disagreed on what seemed to me to be a minor point of theology. To Matt and Tonya, it was a friendship-ending issue. more Nov 28, 2006

After several days of wet and snowy weather, Myron and I were ready to get out of the house and take a walk. We held hands and chatted as we walked down the snowy gravel road. About a half mile from our house we came to a large icy patch. As we each assessed the situation, we dropped our hands and stopped talking. I decided to walk around the ice on the side of the road over some snow. Myron, who is a foot taller than I, decided to take a couple of extra large steps and march directly over it. more Nov 29, 2006

Years ago, my parents, sister, and I were visiting Grandma and Grandpa one weekend. As a young teenager in the 80’s without cable or access to MTV, I was afraid I might miss one of my favorite TV shows, “Friday Night Videos.” When I asked my family if I could watch it after the ten o’clock news, everyone said it was okay. I remember sitting in the living room with Grandpa. As we watched, he would ask, “What do you think of that one?” or comment, “That song was pretty good!” more Nov 30, 2006

Not long after Myron and I were married, I was standing in the kitchen one Saturday making breakfast. I turned away from the stove to prepare another part of the meal, and Myron started to help me. When I looked back at the stove, things were not cooking “right.” I noticed the heat had been turned down. I adjusted it up and continued fixing some of the other food. Again, when I looked back at the stove, the flame was on low. At this point, my own internal temperature began to rise. more Dec 01, 2006

The Present of Presence

As I talked with Donna, I had the sense that I was the only person in the restaurant. I had been looking forward to getting her professional insight on some important life decisions I was facing. We had less than an hour for our lunch meeting, but I quickly realized it would be long enough. She listened intently to what I was saying and nodded in response. I asked her questions, and she gave thoughtful concise answers. I left the meeting satisfied with her advice and deeply appreciative of her time. more Dec 04, 2006

Last month, my sister, Beth, and five month old nephew, Palmer, visited us. It had been several months since we had seen them, and we were delighted to see Palmer aware and responsive to his surroundings. One morning I began to sing to him as he sat on the floor. His eyes opened widely, and he smiled generously as I sang and pointed out his “Head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes.)” more Dec 05, 2006

It was Christmas, and our entire family planned a celebration at the nursing home with Grandma. She had been very ill for several months, and everyone made special plans to be there. For several days before Christmas, Grandma was too sick to get out of bed. The night before our get-together, we wondered if she would be able to get up at all. The next morning, I sat next to her bed. I asked how she was feeling, and with her eyes still shut, she said she had been resting so that she could remember everyone’s names later that day. more Dec 06, 2006

I met up with Andrea at our favorite coffee shop. It had been about a month since our last visit, and I was anxious to catch up with her. We sat down on a comfortable couch with our steaming hot drinks and began to talk. Nearly an hour later, I glanced at my watch, amazed that so much time had already passed. I asked how much longer she could stay, and we continued visiting for another thirty minutes. As we got up to leave, I felt connected and appreciated by my dear friend. more Dec 07, 2006

The TV was on in the background, I had one last load of laundry in the dryer, and I just started making supper when the phone rang. “Hello,” I said as I put the phone in the crook of my neck and turned down the volume on the TV. It was Myron calling to tell me that he was on his way home. As I stirred the food on the stove, he asked how my day was. “It was fine; how about yours?” I asked. He replied and then said he’d be home soon. We hung up a few moments later, and I continued cooking, cleaning, and watching the news. more Dec 08, 2006

Great Expectations

Recently Myron and I were at our old house taking care of loose ends. Myron worked on a few superficial home repairs as I did some cleaning. We arrived early in the morning and planned to work until we needed to leave for another commitment around 2:00. By 1:45 we were both working intensely to finish, but shortly after 2:00 we realized we needed more time. As we drove away from the house, I noticed that I felt exhausted and irritated. more Dec 11, 2006

“Could you maybe send me my birthday present a few days early?” my five-year old friend Kathy asked recently. She found out that our baby is due shortly after her birthday next year. Anticipating that I will be busy once the baby arrives (she just acquired a baby brother, so she understands), she made her request clear and early. In her question I heard her say, “I understand you’ll be busy, so please plan ahead and don’t forget about me.” more Dec 12, 2006

As I reached into my PO Box, I was relieved find an envelope from a client. My outstanding invoice with them was significant, and I had already earmarked most of my earnings from them. As I opened the envelope and scanned the check, I noticed that it was made out for remarkably less than what I had earned. In fact, after some quick calculations, I realized they paid me for only about ten percent of my actual billable time. Confused, I went home and checked my records. To my surprise, there was a mistake on the invoice. more Dec 13, 2006

Seven and a half years ago I moved to Colorado from Minnesota. I prepared myself to feel out of place and uncomfortable for awhile. To my surprise, in just a few short months, I quickly felt even more at home in Denver than I had in Minneapolis. I had a church family, a relatively low-stress job, and friends that were great cooks and wonderful conversationalists. more Dec 14, 2006

Like many moms-to-be, I have been reading What to Expect when You’re Expecting. The book discusses the physical and emotional changes one may experience on this journey to motherhood. As go through my pregnancy, I have also created a personal list of hopes and expectations. Specifically, I expect: a baby girl around February 11th; a deeper understanding of sleep deprivation; that I will not be a perfect mom; and to learn about love like I have never known. more Dec 15, 2006

Seeing Christ at Christmas

My father-in-law made a special request last year. For months before Christmas, he repeatedly asked for a homemade cassette tape of Myron and me singing hymns. We were reluctant at first – maybe because we were a bit self-conscious, but also because it didn’t seem like a very elegant gift. more Dec 18, 2006

A little over a month ago a good friend hosted a baby shower for me. Family and friends arrived from all over the country to help us celebrate. We played games, ate great food, and opened lots of gifts. Baby received a number of adorable outfits, blankets, toys, books, and practical necessities. Several friends also said they had more to give us, but that we should simply come to their homes to get the additional baby items. I was so amazed at the generosity of everyone’s gifts and love. more Dec 19, 2006

A few months ago my husband and I were invited to a party at a neighbor’s house. We didn’t know much about the get together, so we showed up without any gifts or food. It felt awkward to walk in empty-handed, but we were quickly greeted with smiles and hugs. After a few hours of visiting with them and their friends, we felt even more welcomed and comfortable. more Dec 20, 2006

I looked at the picture on the box and still wasn’t sure what it was. I only knew that Myron had requested a radio speaker for Christmas, and this was it. Though I wasn’t sure what I was buying, it was on his list, complete with the specific part and order number, and he was really excited about how he could use it. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to spend my Christmas budget on this one gift rather than getting several smaller ones for him. As he happily opened the box at Christmas, I knew I had made the right choice. more Dec 21, 2006

After hours of travel, the first thing I do when I see my family at Christmas is throw my arms around them. We exchange smiles, hugs and noisy greetings after months of being apart. These gifts of love are given long before we unwrap the presents we’ve purchased. In the same way, the Magi knelt and worshiped Jesus before offering Him their royal presents. Their adoration was even more important than the gifts they had carried for many miles. more Dec 22, 2006

Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! more Dec 25, 2006

Whatever we are feeling – whether we experience joy, peace, stress or grief this morning – we can rely on God’s love for us. more Dec 26, 2006

Like a snowman, I may not look exactly like my Creator, but I can bring a smile to others by just being me. more Dec 27, 2006

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17. Click here for the context of this familiar verse. more Dec 28, 2006

The presents I gave my friends and family this Christmas were selected uniquely for each of them. In the same way, God gives us gifts designed specifically for each of us. more Dec 29, 2006

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