Ancient of Days

When news of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi was unfolding and a video was being falsely accused, my thoughts went straight to Uriah the Hittite.

You’re probably familiar with what happened to Uriah – murdered in a cover-up – but if you’re not you can read about him here.

The bizarre blaming of a video before any facts were gathered; the blatant lying right into the grieving faces of the victims’ families; the callous, self-protecting “What difference, at this point, does it make?” smacked more and more and more of a desperate cover-up.

With every mention of Benghazi came thoughts of Uriah.

I thought of Abel, too, whose blood cried out from the ground.

And I hoped Ambassador Stevens’ blood and the blood of Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods was crying out from the ground, too.

David suffered consequences for killing Uriah:
The sword would never depart from his house.
He would be publicly humiliated.
The son born of the rape he was trying to hide would die.

Plus he was disqualified from rebuilding the temple because of all the violence to which he had been a party.

I’m not saying anyone killed Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods the way David killed Uriah, I’m just saying that if she did, she ought to be disqualified, too. I’m just asking God to avenge the blood of those four innocent men.

“As I looked,
thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.”  Daniel 7:9-10


Jesus, life, Light, pornography

Heartbroken, Hopeful & Grateful

They say a blogger shouldn’t go more than a week without posting.

This blogger went more than two weeks.

Forgive me.


Even though my shingles rash was small and only mildly itchy, even though it never blistered and it held no pain, it left me tired. Too tired to force the thoughts that were bouncing around my brain to coalesce – thoughts on politics, thoughts on the third chapter of John and a snake lifted high. Too tired to even read your posts.


Just as my energy and my brain returned, my little beagle coughed up blood. Blood and a hunk of tissue.

I threw the blanket onto which she coughed into the washer, put the hunk of tissue in a small container and put the beagle in the car.

The emergency animal hospital did a chest x-ray and saw a mass in her chest – in the caudal area behind her sweet little heart. I authorized an abdominal ultrasound. The tissue was sent off to a lab.

Two days later we were back at the hospital, this time in the oncology department for a CT scan. To determine whether the mass could be surgically removed.

It can’t.

The location of the mass, which is growing out of her lung into the space behind her heart, makes surgery too risky.

In the one week since she coughed, she’s been diagnosed, she’s had an acupuncture treatment and she has been started on Chinese Herbal Medicine, supplements to strengthen her immune system and an antibiotic for a lung infection.

Thoughts of politics and snakes on poles have been replaced with thoughts of cancer and grief. All my mental energy has been focused on decisions re: treatment options, measuring out doses and making sure she gets a walk every day to stimulate her immune system. But not too long a walk….

Today in church God spoke to me as we sang:

All the weak find their strength
At the sound of Your great Name
Hungry souls receive grace
At the sound of Your great Name
The fatherless they find their rest
At the sound of Your great Name
Sick are healed and the dead are raised
At the sound of Your great Name

I’ve been praying every day for my little friend, but I haven’t been praying over her. I haven’t been speaking His great Name to her. Now I will.

Not a single sparrow falls to the ground outside my Father’s care.

Jesus said so.

The great Name said so.

Likewise not a single beagle gets lung cancer outside His care.

He cared for her for however long she was alone on the streets, lost or abandoned.

He cared for her when some cruel monster riddled her cheerful little body with BBs.

He rescued her and He placed her in our home – with her 2 rotten teeth, swollen spleen, hepatitis and inflammatory bowel disease – to get her the surgery and medicine she needed. To envelop her in a family’s love. To strengthen her with home-cooked meals.

He cared for her then and He still cares for her now.

I am heartbroken, hopeful and grateful.

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Determined and watchful.


Curious and intelligent.





Leprosy & a Vibrant Discussion

I felt a bit like a leper yesterday. For a minute or two.

I received a text from the BSF Children’s Supervisor asking me about the shingles… how I feel, am I still contagious?

I am teaching third and fourth graders on Monday nights this year. Would I be out another week?

According to the discharge sheet I was given at Urgent Care, shingles is only contagious when the rash is present. The virus is spread via contact with the oozing blisters.

My rash is almost completely faded and it never did develop blisters. So my guess is that I am NOT contagious.  But, in an abundance of caution – to avoid the slightest chance of an epidemic of Chicken Pox running through the school program – it was decided that I should stay home until I get the all-clear from my doc on Tuesday.

“We’ll welcome you back October 8,” were the specific words that made me feel leprous.

The upside of being deemed “unclean” is that I got to sleep in this morning.

While my co-leaders were gathering at 6:30 am to prepare for Monday night, I was still snoozing. I awoke at 7:30 to the sound of the garage door opening. And I smiled.

I smiled big. The hub is truly a great man.

Late last night I reminded the hub that tomorrow was October 1st and October is Donut Month.

“I think we should have donuts in the morning. I think you should go to Avon first thing and bring some home.”

Avon is a bit of a drive so I figured his words of affirmation were insincere.

But then I heard the garage door open, smiled, stretched and slid out of bed.

I smelled coffee as I descended the stairs.

There in the dimmed lights of the kitchen I spotted the box.


Looks like the hub already took one.


While the clean among us were gathered for leaders’ meeting, I was curled up on the sofa sipping good, hot coffee, eating half of this donut and then half of that, watching the Premier League.

The downside of being deemed unclean is that I missed the vibrant discussion in the leaders’ circle.

But it’s okay. The Holy Spirit and I had a vibrant discussion of our own as I worked on my lesson yesterday.

I was reading the part in John 2 where Jesus cleared the temple of commerce, of money-changers, of disrespect.

“Who gave you the authority?,” the people asked.

The study questions suggested I look at Hebrews 8-10.

Our vibrant discussion began in Hebrews 10:

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He [quoted Psalm 40:6-8]:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First He said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. [italics added by me]

The Spirit pointed out that they were offered in accordance with the lower-case-l law.

The Spirit is brilliant.

I named some of the things we, the church, offer in accordance with the lower-case-l law that God does not desire, with which He is not pleased.

Things like forbidding women to teach men.

Really silly things like requiring a man to be onstage when a woman leads worship…

Things that Jesus never said or required, neither did the capital L Law nor the Prophets.

I doubt anyone at leaders’ meeting this morning had an insight as brilliant as the Spirit’s.

I started to think about the ever-present fellowship of the Spirit. With Her (I’m not trying to get all feminist here but since mankind is made in God’s image and since 50% of mankind is female, I’m guessing at least 1/3 of God is female. Plus, ever notice that Jesus never assigned a gender to the Holy Spirit – never used a pronoun; ever notice that the female pronoun is used for Wisdom in Proverbs?) anyway, with Her a believer is never alone. She walks right in, ignoring the quarantine.

And that reminded me of the movie Ben Hur. Remember when Judah Ben Hur’s mother and sister were in the leper camp? Such a lonely, desolate place.

The kind of place Jesus went then.

The kind of place the Holy Spirit goes now.

I wish the movie had shown Jesus in those caves having vibrant discussions with those lepers.

‘Cuz you know He did.


Found these organic beauties at the Farmers Market today.  Had to do something to walk off the donuts.

full of grace.









The hub, my shingles and I went up north for a long weekend.

Yep, shingles.

Woke up Wednesday morning with a raised rash on the back of my neck. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it.  Thought maybe I brushed against a poison ivy leaf when I was picking raspberries.  But it wasn’t itchy.

The hub noticed it while I was making dinner, said it was pretty red. It was starting to itch a little.

I wouldn’t normally go to Urgent Care for a red, mildly-itchy rash, but I had been pretty tired and a little off for a couple of days and we were heading out of town in the morning.

I didn’t want to take something contagious with me.

The doc said it was shingles and that it isn’t contagious. I could, however, give chicken pox to anyone who hasn’t had them, but only if they come in direct contact with the rash.

So I packed the antiviral he prescribed, some Benadryl, in case it got really itchy and Motrin in case it started to hurt. Doc said he’d give me Norco if it got real bad.

Norco if it gets real bad?

God, I hope not.

I’ve heard stories, I’ve seen fear-mongering commercials.

We headed north Thursday morning as scheduled. First stop: Harbor Springs.

We walked the pier at twilight. Felt like a date.

Next morning we snubbed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and went into town in search of something good. No offense to the lovely, hospitable hotel.


High atop a hill sat Small Batch at the Cupola, with its welcoming porch.


Oh. Linen tablecloths. This is going to be expensive.


But the little cow creamer was cute.



Flash-fried spinach is my new favorite thing.

The hub ordered a Hansel and Gretel Waffle – gingerbread waffle topped with a maple and peach syrup and a cinnamon cream. He gave me a bite. Oh. My.


I had to snag this photo from their Facebook page to show you because his didn’t last long enough…

After breakfast we headed to Mackinac Island, taking the long, coast-hugging way so we could see the property on which my sister’s retirement dream house will soon be built; the final resting place for her ashes.


Men arrived and began clearing trees.



Arriving at the Island never loses its thrill.


You (meaning me) can’t visit Mackinac Island without saying “hi” to John.


John is the extraordinary father of my delightful niece, Mary.


He’s also the Senior Vice President of the Grand Hotel. If you don’t know the Grand, click here. It’s quite special. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start you’ve been there before.

One of these days I’m going to interview John and tell you all about him. In the meantime, this is his bike.


It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Many who visit Mackinac Island never venture beyond the town, except to rent bikes and ride around the entire perimeter of the island.

I prefer the interior.


I like to hike to Arch Rock.


And check out the view.



If you know anything about Mackinac Island, you know there are NO motorized vehicles (except an ambulance).



It’s all horses, feet and bicycles.

After lunch we strolled along the boardwalk, strolled past John’s house.


Browsed some shops. Bought some fudge.


And caught the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. That’s the Mighty Mac in the distance.

The hub wanted to show me something so we took another short detour on the way back to Harbor Springs.


In a beautiful park-like setting behind a Catholic church in the middle of nowhere waits a magnificent bronze sculpture.



It weighs 7 tons and is 28 feet tall from head to toe.


Truly a site to behold. Love the glow of the late-day sun on the tip of the cross.

Back in Harbor Springs we prowled the streets looking for somewhere not-fancy for dinner.


There was a bar on the corner, down by the water, with a note taped to its door: “Friday Fish Fry $10.99.”

As we stood inside waiting to be seated, the hostess asked if we were there for the fish.  The hub nodded. “I’ll save you one,” she said, “there are only 3 left.”

In the morning I took my complimentary envelope of oatmeal to go as we checked out of the hotel and went forth.


Early morning coffee in Charlevoix.


Lunch in Leland.



I make friends with beagles wherever I go.


This is Bella. And her mom.


You (meaning me) can’t be on the Leelanau Peninsula without stopping at Karl’s aka Brisling Pottery.

IMG_3237 (1).jpg

Who am I to disobey?






Treasures in tow, we headed to the hub’s favorite Leelanau wineries.

I lost a round of miniature golf. Only because I’m sick.

And then over to the Mission Peninsula to check into our B & B.

Dinner was pizza at a picnic table at the old State Hospital grounds.




Those are pickled pears julienned on that pizza. A little tangy and very tasty.


Yes, we did go back for breakfast the next day. I mean, look at that stuff.



Rain Man.

The final day of our get-away began with fruit, yogurt, peach and lavender jam on english muffins, pleasant conversation and a goodbye to our B & B hosts.

It was another weather-blessed day so why not head to the tip of the peninsula, to the lighthouse and climb to the top?


On no-more-than-four-inch steps.

While I climbed and took photos, the hub struck up an over-the-fence conversation with a stranger. It was all about fishing Lake Charlevoix.


Hey, why not stop at a couple more wineries on the way back down the peninsula?


The vines were pregnant, ready to deliver.


Harvest is this week.


With the warm weather we’ve had, Chateau Chantal says 2016 is going to be a very good year. Keep that in mind when you buy Michigan wine.


I can’t have any because I seem to have developed an allergy to sulfites.

But you go ahead. I’m going back to the Pleasanton Bakery. Yes, I did already have breakfast. So what?


Pleasanton Bakery chocolate almond croissant + Higher Grounds brew of the day = good.

Some coffee shops charge $5 for a cafe miel and I pay it. But at Higher Grounds I buy a $2.75 cup of their daily brew and add the honey, cinnamon and cream myself. And it’s really good.



As you know from a recent post, I love it when old things are re-purposed. That’s why I love the old State Hospital. The old asylum.


I wonder what this building will be.


The hub isn’t going to read this post. He’s going to think it’s way too long. But he wanted to show me one more thing as we headed home.


He ignored the “Private Property, No Tresspassing” signs like he owned the place and drove me through the woods and onto the grounds of the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club. He’s been there fly fishing a couple of times with my brother-in-law, Mike. He’s going back again in a couple of weeks. He wanted to show me and that’s okay. I like show and tell.

Stopping for lunch in Clare on the way home is kind of a tradition. A tradition we haven’t kept in several years. Lunch at Bob’s Broasted Chicken in the Saturday Evening Post Bar.

Back when the rooster was white, you could feed a family of four for $20.

Now that he has a new paint job, it’s $14 for 2.


This photo-bombing patron ought to be in church.

I don’t know if it was the broasted chicken or all the ground we covered, but the rest of the ride home was kinda’ rough.

Might have been a little too much fun for an old gray mare with shingles.

Rainy day today.






Food, life

Pumpkin Time

I’ve been cooking pumpkins.

I read somewhere that Libby’s actually cans kabocha squash puree, not pumpkin puree, and they get away with it because squash and pumpkins are in the same family. That’s why when you open a can of their puree it is much more orange than the yellowish flesh of the pie pumpkins you cook and puree yourself.

Plus kabocha squash are sometimes called “Japanese pumpkins,” even though kabocha is the Japanese word for squash.

I’ve been cooking pumpkins and “pumpkins” in my crock pot ever since they showed up in the market a couple of weeks ago. I cut up two pie pumpkins, stuck them in the crock pot on low for about six hours – ’til they were nice and soft – and then pureed them.

There is something really satisfying about having two jars of pureed pumpkin in the fridge. To feed the friends.

Two jars of pumpkin only lasts a few days because it is a staple of their diets.

So I cooked a green kabocha. And then I cooked another one.

Raw kabocha squash is REALLY hard to cut. So I didn’t cut it.  I just scrubbed it and stuck the whole thing in the crock.  After three or four hours I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and put it back in the pot to finish cooking.  I cut the second squash just around the stem once it was soft enough – didn’t even take it out of the crock –  to release some steam.

I was experimenting to see how lazy I can get away with being.  Really lazy, as it turns out.

Alas, my stash is running low.


So today I put a red kabocha in the pot.

The market had it labeled a red kuri, but I think they’re wrong.


It has the squat shape and the creamy striping of a red kabocha.

The red are supposed to be sweeter than the green variety, so good.

Because my friends have not been the only beneficiaries of all this fiber and vitamin A.

I stirred some of the pie pumpkin into my pasta sauce last week.

I made “pumpkin” (kabocha), chocolate chip cookies late, late Friday night – even though I had to be up at 5:30 Saturday morning for a meeting. When you gotta’ have ’em, you gotta’ have ’em.

Annnnnd I made pumpkin pancakes this morning.



Mix 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams), 2 Tbsp. sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, about 40 scrapes of a nutmeg against a grater and 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl whisk together 1 egg, 2 Tbsp. melted butter, 4 ounces lowfat kefir, 4 ounces milk (I used fat-free) and 6 Tbsp. HOMEMADE kabocha squash puree. Whisk in some smugness if you want.

They were delicious.

“Absolutely delicious,” according to our guest visiting from Toronto.

Speaking of pumpkins, we took this little pumpkin eater and her brother on an outing this gorgeous almost-autumn day.

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She spotted a leaf floating in the lake and apparently thought it was alive because she kept licking her lips. She was so determined she had to be carried off the pier.

She was like me and those pumpkin cookies…

Tomorrow I’m writing about God.


faith, life


This was a day’s worth of raspberries last summer – and every summer, for that matter, since I planted two raspberry bushes ten years ago.



Every day, for weeks, I would pick a whole bowl of berries, wash them and make them into something delicious.

For three or four weeks in July and then a second yield in the Fall.

This is how many raspberries I picked today:


And one lone strawberry, not quite ripe, but if I waited ’til then it would be gone.

In July I ate not a single berry from my garden. Not a single one. They grew and ripened, but not for me.

My grandma went to war with some birds over her raspberries one summer. Then she ripped the bushes out.

“If I can’t have them, then neither can they,” she reportedly said.

I’m not like that.

I’ll share.


I’ve been blessed with an abundance of berries every summer and fall for 10 years.

This year, apparently, was for the birds.

Perhaps God rotates the flocks. Lets them feast in my garden this year, then sends them to your garden next year.

Perhaps that’s what’s meant by tithing our first fruits.

I don’t mind that.

I don’t mind feeding the birds and the squirrels and the chippies once every ten years.

So long as their movable feast moves on…




Sparkle and Roar & a February Fix

Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.

“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.

“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.

“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”

“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”

“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”

True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town.  They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.

“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”

“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.

In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.

The walk of shame.

“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”

“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”




And we were.

I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.

The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.

After I made my movie,  I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting

Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.

So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.

We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.

I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.

If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”

But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.

In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.

After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.



lunch with legends


Can you identify all four?

After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.

She returned with a story:

Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”

Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”

Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”

Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”

Restroom fell quiet for a minute.

All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.




The pier at sunset on Saturday.

Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.

I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.

But I couldn’t think of anything.

It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.




That’s my lemongrass, rose, holy basil iced tea third seat from the left.

But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.

We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.


It wasn’t.

We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.




I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.

I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.

And good.

There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.

If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.

Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.

Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.

Life is good.

P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan:

The Electric Cheetah

Madcap Coffee Company

Snug Harbor

Electric Hero


The Sparrows Coffee, Tea & Newstand