Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mighty Tree

In the middle of the beautiful grounds of the Hotel Montana has stood a mighty mahogany tree for the last 100 years. As the hotel complex grew and changed over the years the building went on around that beautiful tree. On January 12 when the earth shook and buildings came crashing down that mahogany remained standing. There it stands in the midst of piles of concrete and steel that used to be buildings.

That tree has seen much tumult in its history. Haiti has weathered many storms over the last century and the earthquake just poured salt on an open wound. Still, that tree is very much like the Haitian people. They have been shaken, but they remain standing amidst the destruction. They are beautiful and have the will to keep going. One person on site at the Hotel Montana tweeted that she heard singing just over the hills one evening. It was for me a sign that the people will carry on. Life has shaken them, yet they sing.

Tonight I ponder the hardship Haiti has seen and will continue to see while they rebuild. I am somber with thoughts of how many have been lost and how many are still missing including our brother, David Hames. But, just as that tree still stands, our God also stands. I know that He is still in control, that He still loves us, and that He hears our cries. In all the devastation, this much I know is true.

Psalms 40:1-2 "I waited patiently for the Lord, He inclined his ear and heard my cry, And lifted me from the pit, Out of the mud and mire, He set me on a rock and put a new song in my heart."

To view pictures of the hotel and the tree visit the CNN web site

Friday, January 29, 2010

LBDA Volunteer of the Year Award - 2009

The Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA) thrives in large part because of the work of dedicated volunteers around the country. On February 5, 2010, Ronnie Gensler will be honored as the 2009 Volunteer of the Year.

Ronnie heads up the LBD Support Groups and tirelessly works to help bring new support groups into the organization. You can read more about Ronnie by visiting the LBDA Web Site.

Thanks, Ronnie, for all you do!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roller Coaster Emotions

Generally, I like roller coasters. I love the chug-chug-chug to get up the hills and then swooshing down with the wind in my hair and my heart in my throat. Generally is about 98% of the time. I didn’t like the time the coaster stopped half way up the first hill and we hung in mid air for 45 minutes while the maintenance folks fixed the track ahead.

The emotional roller coaster of the last two weeks has ranked in the 2% that I don’t like. It has been a tough ride and I can only imagine if it is this hard for me, how incredibly, virtually impossible it must be for David’s wife and family. Thoughts swing between vibrant hope and knowing that God can bring him home and the devastating thoughts of it’s been so long and is our hope running out.

Today brought the chugging up the slope of continuing to search. It was broken by an incomplete report that stated a man had been rescued alive at the Montana. As I whooshed down the track my ride ground quickly to a crawl when it was revealed that a survivor was found, but not at the Montana. I am grateful Renee has people around her to protect her from this reports. She has a hard enough ride right now already.

All I can say at this point is that my heart weeps for his family. I pray fervently that God will answer the prayers to bring David home to his family. His life on earth should not be completed yet. He is only 40, his boys are young, and the love of his life hasn’t had time to fully love him. Please God, the prayers continue, let tomorrow be our miracle.

On Monday I wrote about revival in my life. I struggled with that post and have for the last two days. Was it the right thing to write? It is true, but I shudder to think that anyone would believe that I am happy over the tragedy that brought it. I also wonder about the people who will read what I wrote and misunderstand my words to say that God created this situation just to bring revival to me. Please, please know that neither of these statements is true. Oftentimes our lessons come during times of great despair and problems. But this isn’t because God wills this; it is because with God there is beauty in the worst of circumstances.

I have more thoughts about lessons in the muddle of this, but I have already focused too much on me and not enough on the true nature of my need to post here. Right now David and his family need to be the focus. They need our prayers and support. They need our love. Please join me in lifting our voices to the Lord in supplication for our brother David! Please ask the Lord to bring him home!

Photo courtesy of Teressia Ward Zack

Monday, January 25, 2010


Recently I prayed for revival in my spiritual and personal life. I have been slogging along without much joy in my life. I have lost sight of the important things in life. God brought revival in a way that I never expected and while I am thankful for the new found verve I am somewhat confused by the manner in which it came. My joy in the Lord has returned, but there is no joy about the situaiton we are currently dealing with. I do not believe that God caused this horrible tragedy, but I do believe He brings good from the worst of situations.

On January 12 a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. It was devastating news, even more so when I heard that two friends of my friends were missing at the Hotel Montana. As I write these words David is still missing.

I have prayed without ceasing these last two weeks for a man I have yet to meet. My heart has been focused on the fact that God is sovereign and can perform seemingly impossible miracles. Prayer has returned to my world and I am connected to God in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. Teressia Ward Zack, a friend of David’s wrote “In the last 12 days I have learned to keep my prayers open. They are always there! Prayer isn’t something I’m thinking about, it is something I’m feeling with every part of my being.” These words describe perfectly my current feeling. Revival is seeping into the corners of my world and I like it.

On the other hand, I struggle with the fact that this reinstatement of proper order in my life has come at other’s suffering. It is said that God works in mysterious ways. I have parroted this pithy phrase myself. Here, though, I am faced with the inscrutability of God’s way. As a Christian I am hopeful that people are able to see God in me and be changed by it. I have often thought about what I would want to come from my own suffering should I ever be in a situation like the one David has been in. I would want people to see God at work and I would want them to be encouraged.

God does indeed work in mysterious ways. Genesis 50:20 starts, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” Through the happenings of the last two weeks I have been changed and based on what I am seeing on the Friends of David and Haiti Earthquake Hotel Montana Facebook sites I believe the revival is happening in many people. I am deeply saddened for those who have lost family and friends, but heartened to see the changes that are being wrought in the midst of this tragedy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sabbath Nap

"There's nothing better than a sabbath nap." ~Mildred Knuths, my mentor from back in my Plainview days

Friday, January 22, 2010

321,120 Minutes

That's how long it has been since the earthquake struck Haiti. Nine long days; 223 hours. Still the search goes on, prayers go up, and people hold on.

A survivor was pulled yesterday from what used to be the nicest hotel in Port-au-Prince. We are still waiting for word from David Hames. The page set up on Facebook to provide information has over 900 people now. It is apparent from reading the notes and stories that David is well liked, but many of the followers like myself have never met him. This tragedy is bringing people together. It is bringing people to their knees. It is bringing people back to what is important in life.

We have not given up hope. With God all things are possible and we still believe that David will return to his family. We believe God is working mightily in this situation. We are all planning to celebrate mightily with David, hopefully very soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hope for David

We are still praying for a miracle at the Hotel Montana in Haiti. Today there was another 6.1 magnitude quake. Still rescue teams are continuing to dig. There are still signs of life and we continue to pour out prayers for David's safety and peace for his wife and family.

These are some post from the "Friends of David" page on Facebook.

Kelly Williams (pastor of Vanguard Church) just spoke with Wess Stafford of Compassion. Wess said there is still a high level of optimism at the Hotel Montana tonight. The area is teeming with rescue teams (per Tim Glenn) and sounds of life continue coming from the rubble. Posted at approximately 6:30pm MST by Melanie Dobson who has been communicating with the Compassion team helping at the site.

Thanks to Dan Woolley's pictures and description, the rescue workers on the ground know exactly where David was last seen. We were told this morning that workers hear tapping in the location of Dan’s photos. The workers are finding large pockets of open area within the rubble, and we continue to pray that David is in of these pockets. We do not know how long it will take to remove the walls where David was last seen, but we are praying for silence at the Hotel this afternoon, that workers can clearly hear the location of the person tapping. And we pray that David is there along with multiple other people waiting to be rescued Posted at approximately 1pmMST by Melanie Dobson who has been communicating with the Compassion team helping at the

Thicker than Blood by CJ Darlington

January is an exciting month for CJ Darlington. Her award winning debut novel Thicker than Blood hit bookstore shelves! A fifteen year quest has resulted in sweet success and I, for one, couldn’t be happier for her. Thicker than Blood won the 2008 Christian Writer's Guild Operation First Novel.I had the pleasure of reading Thicker than Blood and I very much enjoyed the experience.

CJ’s book was thrilling and encouraging at the same time. It was one of those stories that I just had to keep reading to find out what happened and didn’t want to stop until I knew. CJ has managed to navigate her way through some tough themes and situations with grace and insight that belies her years.

Christy and May Williams are two sisters separated by time and the grief of losing their parents. Both have gone on with life while feeling the hole they left in each other’s lives. When circumstances bring them back together after 15 years they are faced with working through their differences or again going separate ways all the while trying to clear Christy’s name.

I won’t spoil the ending for you because I definitely recommend you read the book. This first book has been a delight to read and I have no doubt that we will see CJ’s name on the bookstore shelves again. For more information about CJ and her writing visit website here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting and Still Holding Out Hope

A week ago today a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas have been devasted by the damage. People are homeless, food and water are scarce, tens of thousands are dead, and people are still missing.

Over the course of the last week I have come to "know" two men that were in the Hotel Montana at the time of the quake. I have never met Dan Woolley or David Hames, but I have friends who are their friends. Both men were buried in the rubble. Dan was rescued last Thursday after 65 hours. We all praised God when he was found. We are all rejoicing with his family!

Today, though, David is still missing. It has been seven days. His family is desperate for word of him. He was with Dan at the time of the quake and Dan has helped rescuers to try to pinpoint where he might be. He was carrying a backpack with water and granola bars so he has sustenance to have held him through the last week. And, from what I have heard, he has a faith that sustains him.

There is still hope. Reports have come across today of people still being found alive. As of yesterday rescuers were still hearing signs of life in the rubble of the hotel. God is bigger than this situation and He can still bring life out of this situation.

I have been awed by the depth of emotion I feel at this situation. I am always moved when disaster strikes and people are hurting, but this feels personal. I don't totally understand it. All I know is that I must pray for David and his family.

The people waiting for word of David have not given up hope. Today at 10:53am MST people around the world who have been touched by the story joined their prayers and lifted their voices to the Lord. We are still praising God and still asking for David to come home. We won't give up hope.

Photo of David from Friends of David Facebook site.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's a Dog's Life Part II

Once upon the time a little white doggie named Timmy lived at the Humane Society. Forlornly he sat in the corner of his cage when the couple came to visit.

"We should take him." The woman said to the man. "He needs a good home and we have a good home."

That day Timmy became my parent's retirement child. He was renamed Scamp and he has lived the good life since then.

Chilling on the deck

Dibs, I get the pillow

How much is that doggie in the window?

Dapper Christmas Doggie

You gonna eat that cookie?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mmmmm....Musashi Madness

Mmmmmm. Teriyaki chicken at Musashi is to die for. In fact, I am pretty sure they serve it in heaven. For some twenty or more years this chicken has tickled my taste buds and headlined my cravings.

Oh yes, I love Musashi!

Many a birthday celebration took place at the restaurant. At least one first date happened there. When I lived in Oregon I dreamed of finding a way to have teriyaki chicken shipped to me. When I returned to visit it was the one place that was always on my list.

Over the years the food has remained virtually the same. I know when I walk in there that the teriyaki chicken will please. It will be as good as I remembered. It will be like finding a long lost friend. Oh yeah, it is that good.

Honestly, though, it’s more than great chicken. It’s the whole experience. The little restaurant has a distinctive Japanese look. Red lanterns light the entry way. By the door is the little bowl of salt that Japanese custom says keeps the evil spirits away.

Inside, sweet little oriental ladies wearing traditional Japanese kimonos wait to seat me at one of  the large hibachi tables. My table mates may have come with me or they may be someone I’ve never met. The waitress brings the warm, moist towels used to cleanse the hands before dinner. I love those towels. The comfort of the warmth just makes me want to bury my hands in them until the heat dissipates.

Yep, I love this place.

Chefs in their big hats roll their carts up to the table. They start with a little fire show. The grill lights up with the flames. Using a spatula each plate gets a touch of the show.

Veggies are grilled. Meats are sliced, diced and cooked to perfection. Again the plates are filled with alcohol and set aflame. Shrimp is flipped onto plates. Knives shimmer as they perform maneuvers that would land me in the ER were I to try them. It’s more than dinner, it’s a show.

The food is worth the wait. From the broth soup through the house dressing on the salad into the zucchini and onions the carnival for my taste buds culminates in the oh so tangy and sweet teriyaki chicken.

I am tempted to write poetry to the chicken; a love sonnet for my teriyaki.

It has been too long since I have partaken of the delights, too long since my sis and I had a girl’s night out. We shouldn’t have waited for so long for either one. But never fear, a birthday is coming and that means another opportunity to enjoy the deliciousness.

Did I mention that I love Musashi?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hope for Haiti

By now I am sure you have heard about the earthquake in Haiti. An earthquake of this magnitude would wreak havoc anywhere. Haiti, though, is not just anywhere. It is one of the poorest countries in the world; it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti shares its island home of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. At one time the two countries were united as one nation. Today they have an uneasy relationship. Political unrest over shadows the country. The infrastructure is poor and could not stand up to the quake. Poverty is a way of life in Haiti. People struggle to stay alive and feed their families on good days. Days that bring devastation the size of this earthquake are so far from good they don’t even appear to exist in the same spectrum.

Now Port-au-Prince is buried under rubble. Thousands, possibly more, are dead or missing. People cannot return to their homes because of the instability. Rescue workers can’t keep up. Good Samaritans and family members are digging, often with bare hands, through the remains of houses to help find survivors. Hospitals and other medical facilities were quickly overwhelmed. Fresh water is becoming a problem. Life has spiraled down for the Haitian people. They need our prayers and our help.

Prayer is always the best first step. Please join me in praying mightily for Haiti. Relief agencies are seeking financial help and other donations. If you don’t know where to start, the American Red Cross is a good place to turn. Every little bit helps; won’t you?

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hope in the Midst of Loss

Last week was a tough week for my company. A week ago today eight good people lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It was a reduction in force; a budget decision. It was a hard choice. No one in the company took it lightly. Everyone was affected. For the people who were laid off it was a life changing situation that they had no part in deciding. Those who were left behind feel the guilt and discomfort. No one wants to see this happen. These people were their coworkers, friends. The management feels the weight of what happened. One senior manager told people he could not sleep the night before knowing what was going to happen. We all were saddened at the loss.

During the midst of that awful Wednesday a text came to me with a picture. My friend had delivered a beautiful baby boy at 1:31 that day. It was a joyous occasion. She and her husband have planned for years for this day. They have yearned to share their love with a little one. They have struggled through a long battle of attempting to conceive. And they have suffered the loss of a wee baby before birth. But now their dream of being parents has been fulfilled. This precious baby is a week old and he is treasured. He has amazing parents who will move heaven and earth for him. Momma is quoted as saying, “I am so content, it is a whole new life now.” The expectancy has been completed and now it is time for new life.

Babies are wonderful, aren’t they? They proclaim a sense of hope to the world. I think that babies are God’s way of showing us that He still has faith in the human race. Despite the problems and turmoil of this world, new life is still bestowed on us and for that I am glad. We are blessed by each little one that comes. Their sweetness reminds us of what is good in this world. In the midst of loss there is still hope.

Congratulations to you, my friends! You are loved.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Real McCoy

Four minutes into the biggest game of his football career things went drastically wrong. A hard hit left him with a pinched nerve and no feeling in his arm. He came out of the game and his backup, a first year quarterback who had little playing time, was sent in. The backup played hard, but the game was lost. It was a true story of disappointment and loss. No one would have faulted him for being bitter, but Colt McCoy rose to the occasion and displayed a humility and graciousness that is not often seen in our world today.

I have not been a football fan and I didn’t watch the game. I would have never known about Colt except for the fact that what he did after the game was exceptional and caught the attention of news people around the country. I heard it on the radio the next day.

You see, in the aftermath of the game when the other team was celebrating and being interviewed about their win a reporter talked to Colt and asked him how he felt. He was obviously broken up as he responded. He said it was unfortunate that he didn’t get to play. He congratulated Alabama and went on to say his team fought well and that Garry Gilbert stepped in and played the best he could. Then he gave glory to God.

You can watch his interview here.

This young man is a class act. He has his priorities straight. He was a gracious loser. Colt has been tagged as a promising player in the NFL draft. That future is somewhat uncertain as he recovers from this injury. I can tell you, though, that regardless of what he does in the future he will be a success. And, I can guarantee my readers that if Colt recovers and joins an NFL team I will be a football fan next season!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Clothed in White

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Yesterday an arctic cold front barreled into the country from Canada dropping temperatures and bringing snow. As I drove home I enjoyed the beauty of the snow covered landscape. The trees that have been brown and dreary in their winter hibernation had been covered in beautiful white clothes. Their ugliness was transformed and they were amazing.

It reminded me of my walk with Christ. I was once dead, brown, and ugly in my sin. Today I am clothed in white because He chose to die on the cross for me. I am thankful for the beauty His incredible sacrifice brings into my life.

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ~Revelation 3:5

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brain But Not Brain

Last weekend I was hanging out flipping through the channels. I am not usually a channel surfer, but sometimes when I am bored (procrastinating) I resort to flipping mindlessly. I came upon a marathon of the TV show House, MD. For those of you who may not be familiar, this show is the story of a perfectionist doctor with an irreverent bed side manner. Gregory House is a physician whose specialty I have yet to figure out because he seems to be versed in pretty much all of them. And, I am not quite sure whether the cloud of doctors hovering around him are peers or residents. Dr. House, simply called House, gets all the patients that have stumped everyone else and does not rest until he and his team has answers for those patients. I have never been a House watcher, but it caught my attention and cured my boredom (but not the procrastination.) I watched enough episodes to know that I enjoyed it and that there were some lessons to be learned from the arrogant and intelligent House.

What, you may ask, is there to be learned from such a show? Well, never fear, I plan to tell you just that.

The medical problems faced are varied and never as easy as swab the throat, yes you have strep throat. They involve skin coming off in sheets, unexplained bleeding, incredible tumors, and my personal favorite, a left hand that had a mind of its own. The conditions that are eventually diagnosed, treated, and recovered from are not your run of the mill cancers or infections. (Sorry, I know cancers aren’t run of the mill and I am not trying to be cavalier.) Answers are slow coming and suffering is great. Often the patient hangs on the brink of death before the solution is found. As the doctors work feverishly to come up with ideas House challenges them to think outside the box, dare to try something different, and most of all never give up hope.

One episode included a young woman with cornea transplants. All of the other recipients of organs from the same donor died violent, painful deaths in a matter of days of each other. House’s team brought the woman into the hospital in hopes of preventing her death. What they found was that she wasn’t near dying, but that her vision was not what it should be and she wasn’t able to see certain images. After multiple theories that didn’t pan out, House figured out the mystery. The organ donor had cancer before he died although it didn’t kill him. Once in the recipients the cancer cells mutated to become much like the tissue they were near. So the woman had a mass growing in her brain that was not cancer and not brain tissue; brain but not brain. It was interfering with her vision and when the doctors removed it they were able to save her vision. It was only because House has the ability to think outside the box that he was able to realize the problem.

Dr. House knew the only way to save the woman was to figure out which tissue was brain, but not brain so that it could be removed. He advocated trying a procedure that had its dangers. It involved removing a piece of her skull and using an untried procedure to show which part of the brain needed to be removed. That allowed the surgeon to successfully treat the patient. House met lots of opposition about the procedure. Most of the docs involved wanted to go with the safer route of chemotherapy. Still, House believed that the only way to really ensure the woman’s recovery was to try the unexpected. He was not afraid to dare in an attempt for a more favorable outcome.

Beneath his crusty and irreverent demeanor House is driven by the need to help his patients. It is more important than what people think of him. He doesn’t stop until he has exhausted all avenues in an attempt to save a life and improve someone’s quality of life. He never gives up hope even when it seems there are no answers. He marches on in his quest to make a difference one patient at a time.

So, yes, I procrastinated this weekend and didn’t accomplish as much I had hoped. I am also a little dismayed at having an obsession with this show, especially after I found that there are six seasons for me to catch up on. However, it wasn’t totally wasted. I have been reminded to dream the impossible, to be brave enough to try, and never give up hope of making a difference.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Out of Balance

The washing machine is going to town in the laundry room, the rattling and whining echoes through the house. Something is off balance in the workings of the machine. Yes, it still works; the clothes will be clean when they come out. But, the noise is bad and from what the Internet “experts” say this noise could be the sign of something serious going on in the machine. It is quite apparent that something needs to be done.

Life is like this washing machine. Things can be spinning around perfectly when suddenly things go out of whack. An off kilter life makes a lot of noise. Troubles at work, frustrations at home, minor annoyances creating big blow ups; all can be signs of an out of balance life. Ignoring these noises won’t make them go away. Ignoring them will just cause the noise to increase until the life breaks down.

So what’s the cure when life is out of balance? Searching for the source of the noise is the best way to start. Take the cover off your life and look at the inner workings. When you find the imbalance that is where you need to focus your energies.

Proverbs 14:30 A sound heart is life to the body

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to 2010

Party like it’s Y2K10! I totally stole that so I should definitely not take credit for it. It came from a friend of a friend and it made me laugh so I appropriated it.

It’s now 1am MST. The ball has dropped, champagne has been drunk, horns have been blown, silly hats have been worn, and the New Year has been toasted. I am snuggled warm and toasty on my couch with my lap top trying to convince my kitty boy that I still love him even though I was out later than usual and his ten o’clock snack became a midnight snack tonight. He’s not having it right now and is giving me the cold shoulder. Since Wilson is leaving on my own, I thought there was no better time than now to write this, my first post of 2010.

Tonight I had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year with my friend Renee and our friend Amy and our other friend Amie. (Is it just me or are you all thinking about the “Newhart Show” with Larry and his brother Darrel and his other brother Darrel? If you weren’t, you are now, huh?) Anyway, I received a text from Renee this morning asking me if I wanted to join them. I haven't talked to Renee is ages so I was thrilled. It was just what I needed at the end of this year. So, I joined them as the Philharmonic provided fabulous music and then we went in search of a place to watch the ball drop.

As we waited for midnight we talked about goals for 2010. I had to laugh when I discovered that Amy and I share three objectives this year. The amazing thing about this is that Amy and I haven’t really spent any time together for a long time. We just happen to be on the same wave length on what’s important at this point in time.

All week I have been thinking about what my fifth should be. You know how I am. I have four and there just seems to be the need to have a nice prime number like five. Tonight the last goal suddenly became clear to me. Since I am really feeling the accountability thing these days I decided I would let you all join me in my quest by sending my list of desired accomplishments out into cyberspace to make them real.

So, anyhoo, here goes with the five things I am working to accomplish in Y2K10:

1) Finish writing/editing/revising my novel in time to submit it to Operation First Novel

2) Regaining my physical fitness and getting my health back on track

3) Working through Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” in a quest to become more financially fit

4) Market the Lewy Body Support Group I would like to start in order to support others who are walking that road

5) Kiss a stranger (you had to be there to get this one)

There you have it. The big five. My prime targets. ( Smile, pun intended!) The holy grails of 2010. Feel free to ask me how I am progressing and to share your goals for the New Year.