Friday, December 21, 2012

A Party by God...

So.... The final step in all the preparations has occurred!  It has snowed!  Granted, we didn't need 13 inches to make it feel like Christmas, but it came and it has been dealt with.  The food is ready, the tables are set, the wine is chilling and almost every square foot of this house has been decorated.  Friends and family will soon pounce upon us.

I came across this fb post by evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and thought it summed up an interesting attitude about parties and gatherings at Christmas time:

"Family get-togethers at Christmas are a wonderful time, but is only a picture of what is to come. When Jesus the Son comes home what a reunion that will be! What a gathering! What a party, what feasting, what joy! Nobody who belongs there will be missing. Every born-again child of God will meet our “great elder brother,” the Son of all sons, face to face. The celebrations will go on forever. It will be the greatest family get-together of all time. Have a little foretaste this season. Merry Christmas." REINHARD BONNKE

Revelation 19:9 says, "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"  

Wedding suppers are a big deal!  A feast!  A banquet!

What kind of supper will God throw?  

What will be served?  How long will they serve?  Who will serve?  

Will there be harp music?  Singing?  Video games?  A band?  Dancing?

I'm assuming those who have passed on before me will be there...  

There are believers I want to meet... and I have some questions...

What will I wear?  

We believers are the Bride of Christ and this is our wedding supper!

We can be assured it will be fun... 

It will be joyous... 

The food will be outa-this world...  

There might even be creme brulee...

It will be beautiful... 

There will be a fabulous light from the light-source Jesus...

It will go for a long long time... 

We will be satisfied... 

And the dishes will be done by someone else...

Is there anything you hope will be there?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Great Spill

So... It's that time of year!  When December rolls around, glorious Christmas parties pop up on the calendar.  There is one particular Christmas party that we attend every year called the Charity Ball.  We have attended 30 years out of the last 31 Christmases John and I have know each other.  It's a dressy affair... tuxedoes and bow ties are appropriate... long gowns win the prize... get out those high heels...  up-do the hair if you can.  This is the night to put forth some effort in the beautification process if at all possible.

I think this party is quite fun and a December essential, however, John is not quite so enthused.  Many of our friends go and we all sit together and the ladies comment profusely about all details of dress and environment.  A great deal of effort goes into decorating the ballroom and tables and mirrors and stairways.  Even the Lady's Loo is gussied up for this affair.  I don't think the men's interest in all the details is quite so keen...

Well, THIS year I thought John and I would coordinate our ball attire (kinda like prom!)

I had purchased (on a half of half rack!!!!) a white jacket fully flounced in a tall ruffle around the neck to put with hot pink chiffon pants (23 years old!!!!) I knew my bargain jacket would be a smashing hit next to John because....

John wore his father's 55 year old white dinner jacket with his white tux shirt and red bow tie.  This dashing white dinner jacket is beautiful!  It's in perfect condition and fits John well.  John has fond memories of his father donning it and leaving to go to the Charity Ball with his stunning mother.  And now John will wear the jacket and go with his bride!  I  tried the best I could, but John looked fabulous!

Every year I get to go to the Charity Ball with the most handsome man in the whole world!

As we entered the Ball, one of John's good buddies walked right up to him and said, "Bond....James Bond...."  And it's true.  John looked just like James Bond - right out of a movie!

Dinner began.  Salads were served.  There was lots of small talk while passing bread and drinking wine.  The main entree was brought out.  More red wine was poured...

And right in the middle of an especially enthused discussion, our table mate's hand accidentally wiped out a full glass of wine... you guessed it.... all over our white jackets.

Most of the wine landed on John... in his eyes, in his ears, on the 55 year old white jacket and white shirt.  This wine spill had so much loft it was on the back of his jacket... everywhere!

John was a really good sport.  He kept smiling but felt more like "Dork... real Dork" rather than "Bond... James Bond."   We smiled and made the most of it.  We even danced spill drops to spill drops....

It was an accident and not worth getting upset about.  Stuff happens...

We Christians have all been in on a Great Spill.

This Great Spill is pivotal to our present faith and our long-term future.  We trust that the spilling of Christ's blood on the cross is what pays for our sin and shame.  In fact, this spilt blood pays the price for us to be with Jesus forever and ever.

I absolutely trust that Jesus has covered my sin with His blood spill.  My sin has been removed and I am free of it.  I believe this.  I rely on this every day and I will forever thank Jesus for doing this for me.  Jesus is my Savior.

There are so many religions around the world, but none is like Christianity.  The gurus that started the other religions have not paid the price for sin.  They died and stayed dead!  Their followers keep working and working to be good and if they are good enough, they will go to some kind of heavenly place.  How will anyone know if they are good enough?  How much good is enough?

Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed Himself on a cross to pay the price for sin.  He spilled out His blood and died, was buried and then came back to life.  He was seen.  He ate with people and talked with people.  His followers saw Him go up into heaven alive and glorious.  Jesus will come back to earth again for all who believe in Him.

He paid the price for my sin and yours.  This is good news.  And there is more good news for those Who believe in Him; so many other benefits!

Find Jesus.  Thank Him for the Great Spill.   He truly is the Savior.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It Still Played!

So...  our accordion lessons are going well... actually quite well... but our accordions are not.  The accordion that I use (which my dad bought it for me in New Ulm, MN 40 years ago) has been sticking.  One of the clever little black buttons on the bass side was sticking in the 'on' position creating a monstrous drone effect much like a bagpipe.  Gross.

And Jan's accordion made a crunching sound and refused to close its bellows.

Our accordions were a mess...

My accordion was easily fixed by this accordion guru in Walker, Iowa.  Allen runs the Simanek Accordion Repair Shop in his front porch.  He's extremely knowledgeable and skilled at playing the Czech button accordion.  He has many, many accordions (and his wife does not even mind!)

I'm sure his brain can fix anything!  His shop was full of parts and pieces and oils and tools.  He was able to fix my accordion in about 10 seconds with a strategic shot of silicon.  Presto!  No more sticking!

But Jan's machine.... now that's another story.

Each week, Jan's accordion made more crunching sounds, but not all the time.  She could play it and then it would crunch.  It rattled.  But she could play it.  It was odd.

It was broken, but it still played.

One week, after so much crunching we couldn't ignore it any more, Keith (our saintly teacher) pried off the side to take a peek at the innards of Jan's beautiful accordion.

Oh my!

Now we knew what was rattling and why the bellows would not close and what was causing the crunching.

We were shocked to see the mess on the inside!  Wood was splintered and busted.  Reeds were rolling about in the crevices.  Many pieces were in the wrong places.
Keith surgically removed parts and chunks of parts... lots of chunks of parts... a pile of chunks of parts.

There was nothing left to do but put the side back on and put it in its case.  Surely it was destroyed.  But Jan strapped it back on just to see what would happen.... and sure enough, her accordion produced the most delightful sound!  Jan quickly modulated into an appropriate polka - a beautiful accordion song!

We laughed!  We high-fived!  We tee-hee'd and did the accordion jig!  It was broken but it still played!

I think that's how people are, too.

At times, we are all busted and broken.  Things happen to us. We make poor decisions.  Everyone has something in their life that is broken or disappointing.  We fail.  That's how life is.

But even when our lives are broken, we can still be used by our heavenly Father.  He might repair us, or sometimes, He might not.  A simple shot of silicon might be what's needed, or a complete overhaul.

But through it all, we can still be used.  We can still play.

And just like Jan's busted-up-on-the-inside-accordion, we can be amazingly played and produce a beautiful song for the Lord.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Restoration... a Big One!

So...  my dear husband John has a new project.  Frankly, it's not anything I can understand.  Why would anyone want to buy (yes... BUY) this old battered rejected unpainted frame of a car with it's black disgusting smelly engine that has not turned for 33 years.

John actually desired a restoration project like this!  He has been watching Ebay and craig's list and any other internet site that advertises junk yard has-beens similar to this....  He shopped for THIS!

This searching out of rusty relics delights him; his fascination with it fascinates me.

John's lovely dental assistant found this Austin Healey 100-6.  I was along when he first set eyes on it.  He couldn't sleep he was so excited to get started on this gem...

I asked John how many jobs there are to do before the car is fully restored.



More like 500.  There are at least 500 jobs to do before this project is done and running down the street doing its thing.  "Some jobs are simple and some are difficult...  If I get some of the big stuff fixed, it'll at least run...."

So... each day I watch John work on jobs.  He has spent most of his free time completely dismantling the rusted frame.  With great effort, every piece of crusty stuff, every mangled wire, and every stubborn rusted-on bolt is now off the frame and displayed on the garage floor.  Some pieces are so cruddy and eaten away they crumble.

The engine is out and every drop of its smelly gruel-ish oil is also displayed on the garage floor.

John is absolutely delighted.  He knows he can replace and fix and clean and weld and paint and completely restore all of it.  Turn up the music!  Get to work!  To quote Dr. Seuss, "Oh the places we'll go, the things we will see..."  He is not dismayed by the multitude of jobs, he's delighted!

He's delighted!  He knows what he's doing.  He knows what this restoration project will become:

A beautiful. sleek, shining Austin Healey 100-6!

The other day, a man walking down the street knocking on doors making political calls wandered over to John's garage and struck up a conversation.

He asked why John was working on a manure spreader!


I'd have to agree... today when I look at the back of John's special Austin Healey it could be mistaken for a manure spreader.

I grew up on a farm and I'm familiar with manure and spreaders.  Some poor soul scoops the manure from the hog pen into the spreader.  A tractor pulls the spreader into a field and activates the chain-operated pushers which of course, push the manure to the back end of the spreader toward the flinger.  The flinger whirls around and spews the manure into the field.

It's not rocket science.  (See what you've learned from reading this!!)

Sometimes...  yes, sometimes...  There are days when my life resembles a run down Austin Healey that could be mistaken for a manure spreader.

And God, my almighty Father says no;  He calls me His child.  He delights to take me on as a special restoration project because he knows what I can become. 

He has many jobs to do to make me into what He wants me to be.  He has junk to remove and days to restore and attitudes to fix but He knows what to do when.  He knows which fixes will be simple and which will be difficult.  He knows how to get me up and running like I should.

He has jobs lined up for me to do... and it's not spreading manure.  "Oh, the places we'll go, the things we will see..." 

He's delighted.  He knows what He's doing.  He knows what I will become!

And your life is not a run down jalopy that could be mistaken for a manure spreader.  You have been carefully chosen.  You are a gem.  You are being fixed and restored day by day by day.... You are a delightful project, well worth our heavenly Father's attention and love and grace.  It's His gift to us, this grace that loves and cares and redeems and puts us back together.  He's delighted to restore your life.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10)

Be encouraged.  Be bold.  Be sure of God's unlimited love and lavish delight in you.  He's willing and able to work out the smelly parts of your life.  He's delighted to restore and redo any area of your life that is crumbling.  He has a plan.  He loves... loves... loves... to change you for the better...   He knows what He created you to be...  

Let Him...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So...  I had an interesting experience yesterday...

The Monday Morning Bible Study met yesterday and after much teeheeing and catching up on everyone's news (when some people walk in, they make everyone laugh!), I asked the question I always ask,  "Does anyone have a prayer request?"

On this particular Monday, I could tell by the vacant looks on faces that nothing really pressing came to anyone's mind, except for one friend who I'll call Ann (not her real name.)  Ann finally looked up and quietly said, "I can't find my glasses (eyeglasses)...  I've looked everywhere.  I've looked and looked and re-looked...  They are lost and cannot be found... I don't know what to do!"

We've all been there, flailing about looking for glasses that are right on our heads or worse yet, on our faces!  There is nothing more frustrating than wasting time looking for something that should be a cinch to find.  Ann had her old glasses perched on her nose so we knew she could see as she searched - that was not the problem.

Right away, a couple of us said simultaneously, "We'll go to your house and help you look!!!!"  (We are a full-service Bible Study group.)  This met with another round of teeheeing and a sigh of relief from Ann.  This conversation concluded with a confident prayer for help in finding the lost...

After class, Jan and I (that IS her real name - the same Jan that is taking accordion lessons with me) jumped up and charged over to Ann's house, confident we would find the missing specs.  Ann knew she had last seen them in her closet, so armed with flashlights, we set our sights there.  We looked under the bed... behind the toilet... in the trash... in the armpits of sweaters... I've never looked through someone else's sweater armpits before...

Ann has an organized closet with everything in it's place... all her sweaters and pants and shoes were a delight to look through and really not much of a challenge... no glasses anywhere.

Finally, as a last resort, I pulled a plastic storage box off the top shelf and lo and behold, you guessed it, the glasses were stuck to the bottom.  What a weird spot to find glasses!  The lost was found!

I couldn't help but think of the verse in the Bible that talks about lost sheep.  Jesus is speaking to a crowd and says,

 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."  (Luke 15:4-7)

I can't relate to losing a sheep, but I CAN relate to losing something as essential as glasses.  I saw how much Ann wanted to find her glasses and then how much she rejoiced over finding them.  We had a party right there in her closet!  We all whooped and hugged and did little happy dances.

Jesus is not really talking about sheep in His example. He's talking about people.  He really wants each and every person to be 'found' and safe with Him.  He does not want anyone going off and losing their connection to Him.  He does not want anyone to follow something or someone else.  He wants to take care of people.  All people.  He wants to shower people with blessings and love and forgiveness and peace and contentment and abundant life.  He wants everyone in His fold.  That's how He is.

He loves and delights in us...  He rejoices over you... and me....

And think of it... Jesus throws a party in heaven whenever someone who was 'lost' turns around and heads back to Him.  He forgives.  He loves.  He blesses... again and again.

Can you imagine the scene in heaven:  Jesus whooping... and hugging ... and giving high fives to all the angels...and doing a happy dance!!!  He delights in you!  Yes, YOU!  He rejoices over you... and me.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's in There...

So... I'm sure I'm not the only one marveling about... and reveling in... all the color here in central Iowa.  It just was not expected!  There has been so little rain and so much heat all summer that it seemed appropriate that the leaf show would be dull and uneventful.

                                                                      It's all sooooo gorgeous!

Around every corner and across every vista is a shot of color that refuses to be ignored.  I marvel at what a creative mighty God we serve!  Who else would have thought up such an ingenious plan:   "Let's see... I think I'll hit My creation with a burst of color before the white of winter..."

And to think that all that color sits in those leaves until fall comes... and then tah-daaaah!

Red, yellow, purple, magenta, orange all come busting out.... All that color pops out of those tired green leaves, but not until all the conditions are set in place and the timing is right.

Last week, during our weekly Monday Morning Bible Study (I betcha can't tell when we meet...) we were discussing the early church according to the book of Acts.  The MMBS has been meeting for almost 20 years and I'm telling you, we have had some very fine discussions and prayer times.  These folks are family to me; and frankly, I probably know these people better than most of my family members.  They are so dedicated to their faith in God and the fellowship of the group that they actually keep coming; it always amazes me!  Nearly 20 years ago, the class started as a 6 week gig and has kept going on and on and on...

Anyway... last Monday the discussion centered around the courage and boldness needed for the early church to keep on keeping on.  The city rulers of that day were really into idol and emperor worship and other really weird practices, including child sacrifice (really!)  The early Christians stuck to their new faith in Christ and were beaten and tortured and fed to animals because of it.  But even though horrible things happened to them, they kept on witnessing about Jesus and doing miracles in His Name.  New converts were added to their group, sometimes thousands at a time.

Finally one of the members of our group said what all of us were thinking, "I don't think I could withstand all that persecution.  I think I would give up.   I don't have that kind of courage and boldness to do miracles and witness, especially if it would get me into trouble..."  Eyebrows raised in agreement all around the room.

But my comment was, "It's in there (patting my heart)... "

It's just like the trees.  The leaves are green but have the potential for reds and yellows all the time; but it's not visible until the conditions are right. Boldness and courage and power, even miraculous power through Jesus, have been given to each of us and are visible at just the right time.  It's called faith.

We all know this... we just have trouble believing it... or we forget.

Believers, courage and boldness and Holy Spirit power are in you...  and love... and self-discipline....  and a whole lot more...

2 Tim. 1:7 says, "God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

Be bold!  Be courageous!  Timidity (what a great word!) is out, power is in!

P.O.W.E.R.  It's in there... and becomes visible at just the right time!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Today is "Choose a Cantata" Day!

So.... I know that in the scope of world-wide news... in view of all the strife and famine and wars and rumors of wars... keeping in proper perspective the importance of our upcoming election with which we are pummeled by mail, by television and our obscure and innocent cell phones...  these events and calamities are all so very pertinent and are top priorities but....

                                 Today is 'Choose a Cantata' Day

        and this day leaps to the top of my days of all days for the year!


I have listened to 16 cantatas over the course of the last 7 days; more than the usual number I listen to each year in this process.  I finished up my listening in the wee hours last night and as usual lost a night's sleep over it all. You would, too if you had that many hours of "Joy, Joy Joy!!!!" and "Glo...riiiii....aaaaaas" and "Way down yonders" whirling in your head.

After evaluating each of the 16 cantatas on its worthiness, I then made spreadsheets for the top three.  Those '5' ratings are top, the '1' is so poor I could barely write the number...  I thought this charting of evaluations would help the process but actually confused me even more...  

Here are my perimeters for choosing a Christmas cantata:

The cantata should:

1. be traditional but too traditional... let's face it, if the music is too normal it gets boring...

2. be contemporary but not too contemporary... too much driving rock beat and repetition also gets boring... 

3.  be easy but not too easy... The choir should not be able to sight read the music the first time; what would we work on for 8 weeks???

4.  be difficult but not too difficult... get real!!!  The choir does not have that much time during their 8 weeks to study the music on their own...

5.  have speaking parts but not too many speaking parts... let's face it; the fun part is singing!  Uninspired speaking parts throw a wet rag on fabulous singing...

6.  have an interesting accompaniment... Jan and Bruce Randall on piano and bass, along with Bill Wilson on drums and Brad Etter on trumpet are so skilled they can whip out anything, and I mean anything... it's a shame to put dull stuff in front of them... their eyes glaze over...

7.  have an interesting part for the men in the choir!  Oh my!!!   This year, I have more male singers than you can shake a stick at!!!  And they can sing!  It would be such a shame not to feature them,  So many cantatas tiptoe around the problem of too few men and write easy, not-too-smart parts for bewildered basses and loner tenors...

8.  have an interesting part for the ladies...  the ladies in this choir are not too slouchy either!!!!  They love to sing!

9.  not be too long.... it's Christmas, for heaven's sake!!!!

10.  most of all, present Baby Jesus in a fresh and personal manner.... He is the entire reason we spend 8 weeks getting this up and rolling!  If there is no 'a-ha' moment, there is no need to put 50ish people through 20ish grueling hours of my wild arm flailing and resulting bursitis.... rehearsing and re-rehearsing tiny minutiae... filling each page with detailed symbols of "get loud" and "get louder!!!"

I mean, there is no reason to stink up all those freshly dry-cleaned robes (at 10 bucks a pop)...     if Jesus is not made much of!


                               So....  you see...  This is a big day in the life of a choir director.  

The good news is I found one!  Yes, it's true!  I found a challenging cantata that meets my criteria perfectly... well...   almost...  It will be one of the best ones of the best ones.  I can't wait to reveal it to the choir so they can revel in it with me!!!

                                                                 And you all can come:

              Sunday, Dec. 16, 10:30 at First United Methodist at 202 W. Main, Marshalltown, Iowa.

                                                                      Be there... Aloha....

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's a Vine and Branch thing...

So.... In our yard right by the porch is the most amazing vine growing on a tree.  I wish I could take credit for it but I can't.  It's beautiful all on its own.  It grows because it wants to and at this point, I doubt if I could kill it.  The roots must go under the house and to the neighbors and on to downtown... or to China, perhaps.

The fragrance is beautiful.  It's light, fresh, appealing, without being cloying or overly anything.  This vine is a pleasure to be around.  Not all of our flowering trees and plants are this accomodating.  We have a couple of trees that smell like dirty socks right about graduation party time... One whiff and the wincing begins... if you know what I mean.  But this lovely vine has a lovely fragrance that attracts humans and bumblebees.

Each little branch has a mission to bear as many flowers as possible.  Each flower is small and not overly spectacular by itself but the effect of all the flowers together is magnificent!

This vine has another mission:  it spreads.  Each of those tiny, seemingly ineffective flowers must send out about a bigillion seeds because I have tiny vines started everywhere...  I do mean everywhere...

While enjoying all of this magnificence, I am reminded of what Jesus said, "I am the Vine, you are the branches."  If He was visibly standing beside this amazing vine in my yard, he would say, "Yup, that is what I mean.  Please learn from it...."

Each little branch grows from one single vine and receives strength and character from the vine...

Each little branch makes blooms...

Each little branch sends out seeds....

That's what we believers in the church as supposed to do!

I am to take on the strength and character of Jesus being rooted and grounded in my faith.

I am to bear the fruit of the Spirit:  love, peace, joy, kindness, patience, gentleness.

I am to share my faith to plant seeds and encourage seeds of faith in others.

And most of all, all of us believers together should be attractive... We are supposed to smell fresh and appealing.  A church of believers is supposed to be beautiful and love to grow and grow and grow...

Frankly, watching this vine and branch thing teaches me one more thing...  All the branch has to do is stay connected to the vine.  Obviously, if a branch gets separated from the vine it will die...  The vine does all the work!  The branch cannot do anything by itself without being connected.

Could it be?  All I have to do is stay connected to Christ?  And He will do all the work???

John 15:5.  "I am the Vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ta-Da! A New Website!

So.... if you are at, you may have noticed that my website looks different.   (At least, I HOPE you can see that it looks different!)  Today is a TA-DA moment for me!

                                         This is a new website!

This has been no small project...  I have enlisted many people to help me limp through this process:            unsuspecting neighbors, a computer wiz that's related to me and my son-in-law who is now much closer to sainthood... and I have a stack of those "Dummy" books... and I've googled most every jot and tiddle along the way.

The former website was created by my sister-in-law who is very clever at learning anything new.  That website was designed to sell my newly recorded harp CD entitled "My Prayer for You."  That website was very successful and many CDs were purchased, as well as harp music.  But alas, I didn't know how to update it and had to bother her to change anything....

                                         Hence the new website!

You can still purchase harp music and CDs from this website, but the main event will be blogging...

and a list of stuff I'm playing harp for...

and information about 100 Women Who Care - Marshalltown, Iowa...

And the good news is I can change it and add to it and do most anything to it!  If you have ideas on how to improve it, shoot them my way and I'll google it!!!

So... thanks for reading this and thanks for your support!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If You're Going to Drive...

So....  I'm glad when a driver pulls out in front of me.  That's right... I'm glad!  Therefore, I'm asking all little old Dodge-driving ladies and all loaded down old pick-up trucks hauling to the dump... all snorting road implements and monster farm tractors... I'm asking all those really huge house-carrying semis and the tiny 5-mph golf carts to please pull out in front of me...  Please make it impossible for me to pass.  I thank God for you because you MAKE me slow down and take a deep breath and possibly even relax a bit.

I'm not a big speeder and I have not had the pleasure of a speeding ticket for years.  However, I do like to move along.  I do not dilly dally...  I learned to drive from my mother who learned from my great big German grandfather.  His mantra was, "If you're going to drive, DRIVE!"  Oh boy... do I remember HIS driving!  His tires would spin and throw gravel as he gunned it out of our driveway.  We used to wait and watch him do it; he was never a disappointment.

And my mother was quite a hunter - with the car.  We lived on a gravel road in a county teeming with unsuspecting pheasants.  When she saw one on the road, she would gun the gas and speed up to hit it.  She could just wing it a bit so the bones would not be crushed...  She'd jump out of the car, wring it's neck to put it out of its misery, take it home, pluck it and fry it up in a pan.  I tell you, it was fresh!  Actually, I thought all mothers did this!

(Why did the pheasant cross the road in such a hurry?  To avoid my mother's wicked tires!)

Well, I don't throw gravel in our driveway (we don't have gravel) and I don't hit crossing pheasants with my tires.  I don't drive like that... but I do lack patience.  There... I said it.  I lack patience when driving.

But I'm learning.

I'm learning to put some space between my car and the car in front of me.  I'm learning not to honk when I'm perturbed.  I'm learning to let others go first.  Sometimes I smile when I drive!  And the biggest test of all:  I'm thanking my heavenly Father when a car pulls out in front of me.  It's quite possible my heavenly Father is trying to get me to slow down and focus on where I'm going and what I will do when I get there.  Maybe I should pray.  Maybe I should give thanks.  Maybe it will be OK if it takes me an extra 30 seconds, especially if I arrive patient and peaceful, instead of agitated from cussing  out a driver in front of me.  Peaceful, patient, kind, gentle...

Father, keep those reminders coming to slow down... and may my new strategy be, "If I'm going to drive, drive.... with...  p a t i e n c e.....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amid Much Hysterical Laughter...

This is Jan with our teacher, Saint Keith!

So.... Do you ever think, " I really should do that" and then don't?  Inspired by harpist Deborah Henson-Conant who is constantly mastering something new on the computer, creating a new sound on her wild electric harp or connecting with someone she finds interesting, I resolved to dust off the old used accordion which has been sitting in the back of the closet for the past 32 years and learn how to really play it.  (On a  whim, my dad bought it for me about 40 years ago and my accomplishments are few.) And that's exactly what I did... I dusted off my beautiful black and silver accordion and then... abandoned it under the piano.

3 months later, 2 good buddies up at church were discussing accordions.  Ruth had her mother's accordion and Jan said she has always (really?) wanted to learn how to play one... The inevitable happened and Jan became acquainted with Ruth's mother's accordion in one quick drop-off.  It took me about 6 minutes to show Jan everything I knew and amid much hysterical laughter, we decided we needed lessons.

Mr. Accordion (Keith) works just up the street from my home and actually agreed to take us on as students.   Saint Keith really is a wonderfully patient instructor who works at the Salvation Army... and that's exactly what our accordion playing needs - salvation!  We are learning how to push the buttons and our left arm muscles now bulge from bellowing.  Once in a while, we even play a song that is recognizable... all of this amid much hysterical laughter...

A joke:  Saint Keith told us to never never leave our car unlocked when we have our accordion in it... Absolutely do not leave the car unlocked with the accordion in plain view.... because when you get back... there will be 2!!!!!

He also told us of a gig he played at a local nursing home.... He played 1 song and one of the residents loudly shouted, "OK, that's good.... you can go home now!"  Keep in mind, he is truly skilled on the accordion.  He can whip out a polka at top speed and grin at the same time!

I cannot...

But I'm trying....

It's given me something new to try... something new to fill my time... a new goal...  The timing is right, the lessons are working and the dust is flying off this old black and silver accordion...  I also get a good dose of 'laughter therapy' each week at lesson time.  I can't help but wonder what will happen with this new venture.  Will this be a new chapter in ministry for Jan and me?  Yikes...  What happens when someone enters a room strapped to an accordion and threatens to harass all the eardrums present?

John 10:10 says "I (Jesus) came that they (we) may have life, and have it to the full." (NIV)  This venture with mastering the accordion has given me something new to work on... My time is full and rich and loud, very loud.  My left arm is stronger and hopefully my mind is, too.  And I think, and Jan would agree, that amid much hysterical laughter, life is getting fuller and richer and merrier; John 10:10 is happening!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Up on a Pedestal...

So.... There it is... Isn't it beautiful!  My beloved espresso machine.

Who would have ever thought that this beautiful machine would have a melt-down and cause me to have a melt-down...

My husband gave this machine to me as a Christmas present several years ago.  He is the espresso meister in our home as he is the most skilled at making the lattes, cappuccinos, and straight shots.  In order to make the ultimate latte, he even watched a video on how to produce beautiful latte art and yes, he would leave me little love messages in the foam.  And yes...  he made... for me...  each and every day.... a cup of beauty that he hand-delivered (sometimes to me in bed!).  I do believe this makes me the most spoiled wife in the history of the world.  In fact, I  know I'm the most spoiled wife in the history of the world and I thoroughly enjoy it.

However... one day, as John flipped the switch to start the 'morning-spoilage-of-the-wife', a spark flew and the machine gasped its last.

That's when I knew just how important my blue machine and hand-delivered espresso were to me.

Too important.

I knew I had put this ritual on a pedestal and idolized it.  Could I live without it?  Not sure...   This little blue god produced something I thought I had to have every morning.  I trusted it. Did I worship it?  Was this cup of joe my morning 'savior' and therefore a bit of idolatry?  I know I'm fond of things around me but perhaps this fondness had gone overboard.

What else am I too attached to?  What else do I have perched on a pedestal?  Has my heart grown too fond of things?


Scripture comes down very hard on idol worship  It's very clear what God means when He says, "Thou shall have no other gods before me."   I know I cannot rustle up a golden calf in my closet, but things around me compete for my heart and attention and pull my focus and worship off the one true God.  Are these things idols in my life?  I don't want to choose earthly things over You, Lord.  Guide me as I launch an inventory...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Passion for What?

So.... I thought I knew what passion was... and I thought I had a fair amount of it... until I met Deborah Henson Conant this past week.  There are many words I would use to describe her:  energetic with enthusiasm, expressive and articulate and inquisitive about everything.  She was instantly interested in and friendly to everyone she met. But the word that would top her chart would be passionate.  She was passionate to express herself on the harp.  She was passionate to change the world's opinion of what a harp can do.  She was passionate to expand her boundaries and learn more.  She had enough passion to think bigger this year than last year.  Think more. Do more. Be more. Have more. Passion.

Deborah Henson Conant is a world class jazz harpist. She was contracted to give a concert in my hometown with the Community Concert Association.  John and I are on the Board of the local Association and we were flabbergasted to see her name on the roster as a Community Concert Artist.  We had been following her schedule for several years, hoping she would at least perform in the Midwest so we could drive to see her.  I remember so clearly putting up a bit of a fuss to have the Board vote to bring her here.  Our persuasion skills won and Deborah was scheduled.

It was by mistake that Deborah ended up actually living in our house all 3 nights she was here.  Phone conversations flew between her agent and me.  I misunderstood what 'staying with someone local' meant.  The agent meant a B & B-style establishment and I thought she meant IN MY HOUSE.  I eventually offered to feed, board, drive and take care of Deborah's every need and the agent accepted.  Done deal.  I knew this was surely going to be an experience.

Upon arrival at our house, Deborah quickly offered to give me a private harp lesson which actually is a very huge privilege; a life changing event.  Last year I had learned one of her signature pieces "The Nightingale."  It's a beautiful melodic slow-tempo harp solo that encourages the listener to relax and reflect.  It's just a darn pretty song. It's simple but not quite simple enough as I stumbled through it.

[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="World famous jazz harpist patiently suggesting some changes to student..."]World famous jazz harpist patiently suggesting some changes to student...[/caption]

As I played it for Deborah, who was limitless in her patience, she encouraged and suggested and positively enchanted John and me.  What followed was a spontaneous whirlwind of harp, piano and singing at the top of her voice.  Her passion doused us like a tidal wave.

Needless to say, Deborah's Community Concert was a raving success.

As I drove Deborah back to the airport, she asked me what I would do if I could do anything... Dream big...  I was slow with an answer. What is my passion?  If I had great talent, would I travel and play the harp?  Never...  Would I like to be famous?  Nope, definitely not... I looked at her with a slack-jaw expression and had no answer, but have been thinking about that question ever since.  What is my passion?

I think my answer would revolve around experiencing and hearing my Heavenly Father. I think I am passionate about exposing people to Him - be it through songs, prayers, conversations or a simple sweet sound from my harp.  I am passionate about being the hyphen between a person's heart and God's heart.  There is no need to be famous or travel about.  There are so many of these heart  connections that can be made right here... and need to be made right now...

[caption id="attachment_271" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The amazing woman in the red gloves is Deborah...."]The amazing woman in the red gloves is Deborah....[/caption]

Monday, February 6, 2012

Deborah Henson-Conant is coming to Marshalltown, Iowa!

[caption id="attachment_261" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Deborah Henson-Conant"]Deborah Henson-Conant[/caption]

So.... Deborah Henson-Conant is coming to Marshalltown, Iowa!  I still can't believe it!   My husband and I have been watching her online event schedule for several years hoping to hit a concert of this fabulous jazz harpist, but Deborah has not been closer than 2 states away.   And now she is coming here!  I mean, HERE here...  we are hosting Deborah for 3 days!  She is coming to town to give a concert with the Community Concert Series on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14 at 7:00 in the HS auditorium.  And she is staying with us on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday...   In our house!!!

So go to her website: and take a look!  She is coming here!

How does one get ready for a internationally known jazz harpist?