Friday, December 28, 2018

Who I Want To Be

Recently I had the opportunity to join with a number of other writers in doing a devotional of the book of Matthew.

Author Camy Tang wanted to put this book together to reach out to Japanese women, and the book is coming out in English and Japanese.

I asked Camy if there was anything she’d like to say.

“I just wanted a devotional aimed at Japanese women who may not know Jesus. I'm grateful to you and all the authors who contributed, and happy that the Japanese language version of this book will soon be published. I am praying that God will use the book to help many women come to know Jesus.”
Christian Romantic Suspense as Camy Tang
Sweet Regency Romance as USA Today bestseller Camille Elliot

This has been a fun book to help put together, as well as to read. Some of the other writers who contributed are good friends, critique partners of mine. All share their own struggles and blessings, clear expressions of Jesus’ love, and interesting knowledge of the book of Matthew.

From the book:

“To you, our reader:

I and my fellow authors pray that from this devotional book, you will realize that Jesus loves you deeply. You are not alone. There is no place you have gone that is too far away from God, and He can help you to be the person who you want to be.

Camy Tang”

Below are links where the book can be purchased.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Let's Have A Party!

I’ve heard people say that all the busyness and commercialism surrounding Christmas takes away from the true reason for the season. I understand what they mean. Since the kids were little, we’ve made instead of bought almost all of our Christmas gifts.

But seriously, let’s have a party!

A line from a worship song that pinches my heart every time I hear it says, “He didn’t want Heaven without us, so Jesus brought Heaven down.”

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

And Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.”

I can’t think of a better reason for a party, (and I love parties.)

The God of the universe loves us. He wants to share Heaven with us for eternity. So, he sent his son down to Earth to rescue us, and that is what I want to celebrate this Christmas.

I love giving gifts to my children. I thank my Heavenly Father for all the gifts he’s given to help us celebrate this wonderful time.

Delicious, favorite foods. Joyful songs, ringing bells, bright, colorful decorations. Sweet, spicy smells.

I thank God that we use this time of year to get together with family, and to send and receive happy greetings from people we often don’t hear from otherwise.

I thank him for the excuse to share fun gifts with the people I love.

Like a child, I enjoy the heart-warming, mysterious story that surrounds the birth of Jesus, the old familiar bible verses and hymns that make me smile again this year.

I love all of the excitement and laughter and good times that go with this time of year.

Let’s have a party!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Heth, Psalm 119:57-63

ח Heth
You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

Father, thank you for your love, your promise of grace, your support through trouble. Help me obey you and draw closer to you.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Homemade White Bread

Welcome back to Kathy’s Kitchen, where you find delicious recipes and helpful hints from others who love to cook. Please send me your favorite recipe and a cooking tip to share from Kathy’s Kitchen

This helpful hint comes from Kathy Cretsinger of Mantle Rock Publishing.

“Remember do not put whole candy bars in an ice cream maker, or you’ll end up with whole frozen bars in your ice cream.”

The following recipe is from my mother. My husband Murray calls it farm bread. As a child I remember eating the bread while it was still warm. I don’t think it ever got cold. I love this recipe for the holidays.


1 cup cold milk
1 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons oil
1 package dry yeast
6 cups flour

Add sugar, salt, and oil to milk and stir until sugar dissolves.  Add boiling water; mixture should be lukewarm.  Stir in yeast and let stand for five minutes.  Stir in 3 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Stir in remaining flour.  Knead dough, turning it and pressing it until dough is smooth and elastic.  Grease the entire outside of dough.  Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk.  Punch down, knead, and divide into two loaves.  Place in greased pans, cover, and let rise until center of loaves are just above edge of pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Courting Danger by Nike N. Chillemi

Below is an interview with author Nike N. Chillemi about her recently released book, COURTING DANGER. Filled with faith, lively description, fascinating characters, and enough surprise to thrill this mystery lover, I highly recommend this story.

Q: Is this book part of a series, tell us a little about that? How did you come to write a series?
A: There is the Authorized Operations series which has a national security twist to it. Authorized Operations is a clandestine organization. Its operatives are former US special ops soldiers, now in civilian life, who leave that life to go on secret missions. The Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels/Dawson Hughes trilogy is part of that series. Courting Danger is the first of the Katerina "Kat" Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin novels and is also part of the larger, overarching series. I came to write this series because I fell in love with the characters and decided to use the main characters from one novel as secondary characters in the next one.
Q:  What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?
A:  I write detective novels/murder mysteries. That's also what I read. I've always loved trying to solve the puzzle of the mystery. I like to see if I can figure out who the killer is before the end of the story. Of course it's best if I can't and the author surprises me.

Courting Danger:
Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina "Kat" Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department's forensics psychologist, a man she's just started to trust.
This case has national security implications that give former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. The case could give him the chance to obtain the funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He's unmoved by the chic FBI agent sent to assist but is intrigued by Kat with whom he shares a Slavic heritage.
Kat and her partner detain two wrong suspects, giving the department negative press. The predator turns his anger on Kat, targeting her. Can Dimitri use his profiler skills to catch this killer before he hurts the woman Dimitri is growing to love?
Courting Danger Purchase Link on Amazon:
Blog:  Nike N. Chillemi ~ mystery & a merry heart

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanksgiving Song

I want to write a song, Lord, to tell you how thankful I am. Pretty words and sweet sounds to give you something lovely for all that you’ve given me.

A thrilling rise of crescendo to praise you for your gift of salvation.

A whirling twirling excitement for the many blessings you bring into my life daily.

A gentle swell of love for your willingness to be my father.

Ripples of laughter for the amazing people you have given to be my family and friends.

A steady beat of my hope to follow you better every day.

I love you, Lord.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:22-71

This was a difficult chapter for me to unravel, with many truths from Jesus hard to understand and hard to accept.

It was the day after Jesus fed the five thousand, which caused many to follow him and seek him out. Jesus told them he knew they only came, not because they cared about him, but because they’d eaten the bread. He warned them not to strive only after physical goods, which will not last, but for what will last for eternity.

Jesus told them he is the bread of life, and that he would give his life for the world. He said that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood are the only ones who will have eternal life.

After a long time to study this, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we know that Jesus is talking about spiritual things. But at that time, people grumbled against him, and many of his followers left him.

It seems that Jesus showed his human feelings then, asking if his close disciples would leave him too, and Peter gives one of his great statements:

Verses 68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Some of this chapter is hard to understand, but some things are easy, and I cling to these.

Verses 28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Verses 37-40 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Sweet Memories, What Are These Kids Talking About?

Note: At this time, Caleb was six, Rebecca five and Sarah four.

May 5, 1996: Yesterday Caleb came into our room and said, "The other day a kid said a really bad word at school." "What was it?" I asked, worried what he might have heard at school. "Shut up," Caleb whispered with concern.

 We took the kids to a Wranglers (minor league in Wichita) baseball game last night. We had talked to them a lot about how much fun it would be. We were there a little early, so that soon after the first inning started, Sarah asked me, "Is the game almost over?" A little later she told me, "Mommy, your watch says it's time to go home." Rebecca, about the same time said to Murray, "When will the game be done?" Murray answered “not for a while yet,” and she said, "When will we have fun?"

We had vegetable noodle soup for supper, and when Murray took the lid off, and Sarah saw it, she said, a little sadly, and a little indignantly, "I don't like many color soup."

Caleb just said that his stomach hurt. I suggested he could sit down for a minute, on the couch or the rocking chair or something. He said hopefully, "Or I could sit on your lap."

May 10, 1996: Caleb usually takes his lunch to school, but yesterday he had a hot lunch. When he came home, I asked him what he'd had for lunch. Enthusiastically, he replied, "Oh, Mommy, that's a good question!" And he told me what he had.

May 17, 1996: Sarah got a cut on her finger from a piece of paper yesterday, so she told Murray she had a "Paper clip" on her finger.

Rebecca wrote Murray a note in school today. I asked her to read it to me, and she said she couldn't read it because she'd just written a bunch of lines, with each line having a bunch of just one letter. She said it was a "joke note" and giggled excitedly.

I was just hugging Sarah while she lay on the couch. I was looking at her face, and told her it was a wonderful face, and asked if she would give it to me. She asked, "Will we still have our heart when we give it to Jesus?" I said yes. She said, "Then if I give you my face, I'll still have it." And she said she'd give it to me.

May 26, 1996: The other day we were praying for Frank (a friend whose wife died) that he wouldn't be too sad. And Sarah said that Donna wasn't dead anymore; she said Donna is alive in Heaven with Jesus.

Today Rebecca brought Deborah to Rhoda (a new cat to an old cat) and put their noses together. Murray asked if she was trying to get them to be friends. She said, "Yes. I'm visiting them."

At lunch today, Murray asked Sarah to pray, and to pray about a lot of things. Sarah said, "Dear God, thank You for everything and everything and everything, and everything. Amen."

June 3, 1996: Country Side Christian Church invited our church to come there for a picnic the other day. We were singing, and one of the songs we sang was "You came from Heaven to Earth to show the Way." Sarah said, "We have that song at our church. Maybe they love Jesus."

June 14, 1996: Tonight at supper, Caleb said, "Oh, I forgot about tomorrow! My cats are coming back." We have no idea what he's talking about.

June 17, 1996: Last night we, again, had a hard time getting the kids to go to sleep, especially the girls. After we were in bed, Sarah came and knocked on our door, and said she wanted to ask us a question, hypothetically, it seemed. She said innocently, "What would happen if there was a sister and another sister, and they were talking, and a Mommy and a Daddy told them to be quiet, and they kept talking?" We could hardly stop laughing.

June 21, 1996: Sometimes I've told the kids things like "Cut it out"and "Knock it off" when I wanted them to stop something. The other night Rebecca was talking to Caleb: "Stop it. Cut it out. Knock it down." After Murray smacked Sarah on her cute head with the Values section of the newspaper, Sarah also said to him, "Knock it down."

At lunch today, Rebecca asked me, "Why can't brothers and sisters marry each other?" I kept saying that they just couldn't, and she kept asking why. Finally I said it was against the law; the police say no. She asked, "What would the police do to you?" I said I didn't know, and she asked, "Can Caleb and I try it out?"

June 22, 1996: Rebecca has marriage on the brain these days. Last night she told Rodney, "When I grow up, I'm gonna marry you." (Rodney is my brother.)

We had pork 'n’ beans for supper. Sarah asked what pork was, and I explained what it was and that there wasn't really any meat in there, they just called it that for fun, and someone said it was pretend meat. Sarah asked, "But are there really beans?"

Friday, November 2, 2018

Psalm 119:49-56: Zayin

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.

Dear Father, many times this world brings me sorrow, with the wickedness I see around me, and the hurt people give me. Thank you for the comfort and joy from clinging to and obeying your word.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How Many States Have I been In?

Let’s add Wisconsin to the list.

We’d only been home a week from our trip to Iowa and Missouri, and we were off again to visit Sarah in Madison.

I find road trips full of fascinating things.

Ping-Hwei notices the trailer trucks that share the road with us—where they’re from, company names, how many locks they have. What does Murray think they are carrying? How much might the driver charge for the load? Where will he park when he’s done working?

We were concerned when they saw one truck where the back wheels kept zigging and zagging. “Is the driver awake?” I asked. “He seems to be keeping the front wheels going straight,” Murray said.

We paid tolls on roads in Ohio and Indiana, but in Illinois, it seemed like every ten or fifteen minutes we had to stop to pay, $1.90; $1.50; $1.80; $0.60. “Again?” I said.

I came out of the bathroom at one gas station we stopped at and said to Murray, “They have a painting on the wall in there.” “That’s nice,” Murray said. “Yeah. And since they’re nice enough to do that, wouldn’t you think they’d have paper towels?”

Murray pointed out the Capitol Building in Madison to Ping-Hwei, and we got to thinking about how many State Capitals Sarah has lived in. Madison, Wisconsin. Montgomery, Alabama. And, we can’t forget Little Rock, Arkansas. “She didn’t live there,” I said. “But she was born there. That definitely counts.”

Then I remembered a car game we’d play with the kids when they were younger. Murray would go through all the states according to a map in his mind, and we’d all see how many of the capitals we could name.

Sarah sympathized with Ping-Hwei for having to share a hotel room with us. “They both snore,” she told him. “They snore,” he agreed, and smiled.

When we got back to the hotel, Ping-Hwei turned on the baseball game, The National League play-offs. Murray checked out the internet on his kindle. I worked on my computer. We were both awake, but I surely heard someone snoring through the ballgame.

Murray talks to everyone. We came downstairs for breakfast in the hotel, and a man sitting at one table wore a T-shirt that said “retired.” Murray asked him, “How long did you work before you retired?” The lady in front of us when we were getting food got two hard boiled eggs. “You are a smart woman,” Murray told her.

It was homecoming weekend when we were there, which caused much ado, with heavy traffic, finding a hotel, parking. Interesting weather for the game—rain; sleet/hail; for a short time, heavy snow; and bright sunlight.

At church the next day, the lady who asked us to greet each other said, “You can ask the person next to you where they were during the mini snowstorm yesterday.” Another man there called it a flash blizzard.

Sarah is crazy busy with graduate school. She was concerned she hadn’t planned any activities for our visit, but we don’t need much to entertain us.

I examined every area of Sarah’s apartment, including the water purification device on the kitchen faucet, and their instant pot/pressure cooker. The instant pot looked very usable, with round buttons to push that I could feel individually and could operate. “I like it,” I said. “Maybe we should get one.”

This was also my first time meeting Sarah’s roommate Angel. She is fun and funny, and played along with Murray’s teasing. He asked if she’d got her hair cut, and said something about noticing things that changed about her in the two months since he’d seen her. She said, “I grew two inches since then too, can’t you tell?”

Angel is doing Sarah’s family genealogy for a class project, so Sarah asked us some questions Saturday. She found Murray’s history much more fascinating than mine. I grew up in one house, went to one high school, and two colleges, one for bachelors and one for masters. Murray had many homes, cities, and schools through high school, and seven colleges.

Ping-Hwei had a success. Murray went to the machine outside our hotel room to get a soda for me, and the bottle didn’t fall down. He came back in and gave Ping-Hwei money for another soda. He told Ping-Hwei to look at this machine and see if he could see the missing one, otherwise to go downstairs by the front desk and get one.

Ping-Hwei came back in a few minutes with four bottles that fell out of the machine for him. We’re sorry for the three people before us who didn’t get their drinks, but Ping-Hwei was a happy man.

I’m always delighted wherever we go to find people who love Jesus. We visited a great church on campus, Blackhawk church; they called themselves Christ followers.

Murray told me the band had acoustic guitars, two electric guitars, and drums. I was okay with that; I don’t mind loud music in church.

I’m sure the music was good, but I didn’t so much notice the instruments. There were several songs I didn’t know, but I was able to hear the words and follow along. I loved that.

They’re starting a new series about examining yourself, checking out your blind spot, using the book of Amos.

The minister talked about surface grace, where Christians might just think about having a way to get to Heaven. He said we need to go deeper into grace, see the sacrifice and commitment. God’s sacrifice and commitment. When we choose to follow Christ, we are inviting God to mess up our lives, get into the rooms we might prefer to keep locked away from him.

He said Israel had a blood oath with God; punishment for sin. The church has a blood oath; the punishment for our sin falls on Christ.

Sunday afternoon I stayed at Sarah’s apartment and worked on my computer for a couple hours while Murray, Ping-Hwei, and Sarah went shopping. Murray said that before they left, I needed to be sure I knew where the bathroom was, how to get a drink, and how to get out of the house in case of a fire.

He was serious.

On the way home to Ohio, a lady at a toll booth greeted Murray with a big smile. She said, “Thank you very much. Have a good day.” Murray waited for her to give him change. She said, “You’re wearing a Green Bay Shirt. You don’t get any change.”

I am so easily entertained on a vacation. I loved my first trip to Wisconsin.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dreams Are Funny

Time to take a shower. I opened the microwave door so I could climb in.

What? I couldn’t get in.

Head first. Nope. Feet first. I couldn’t fit.

What’s going on? This is how I always take a shower. I always fit comfortably inside the microwave with the door closed.

Frustrated, I gave up and went to the bathroom. Inside the tub; close the curtain. This was so uncomfortable for me.

I needed to find all my stuff and keep it organized. Shampoo. Razor. Where was my body wash? Other unhelpful bottles kept falling off the shelves around the tub.

I could never get the water pressure right. Why wouldn’t the stream point the direction I wanted?

Family members kept coming into the bathroom—hurrying me up; saying I better leave their bath supplies alone. Can’t I have a little peace and privacy?

Worst of all? I finally got to washing myself, and I’d find a piece of clothing I’d forgotten to take off. Pull it off. Throw it over the shower curtain. Wash off . . . There’s another garment I have to remove.

No wonder I wake up so many mornings feeling like I’ve got no rest.

Friday, October 12, 2018

We Go West

This week we did our twice yearly trip to Iowa to visit our daughter Rebecca, then to Missouri to visit my mom and brothers.

Obviously, I don’t get out enough. I came out of the bathroom and was waiting for Murray when we’d stopped during our drive, and a man walked by me and said, “Greetings, Earthling. Salutations.” I was so tickled.

Cracker Barrel seemed a fun place to stop for lunch, and it was. I got a fried chicken salad, so yummy, which didn’t come with anything according to the menu, but the server asked if I wanted any cornbread or biscuits.

Murray ordered a breakfast plate, which included, in part, biscuits and gravy and a bowl of grits. The server came by and asked if he’d like more biscuits, and he said what he’d really like was some more grits. “We love Grits,” he told her. She brought him a larger bowl the second time.

Murray starts a conversation with everyone along the way. He met a regular customer of that Cracker Barrel—he called the cashier by name—and when the man learned we were from Cleveland, he shared delightedly about when he visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On Saturday we went with Rebecca to a fundraiser in Carroll, where slightly flawed, not usually noticeably so, sportswear was being sold. I asked Rebecca to look for shorts for me, and she brought me a pair for a four-year-old. I said that probably wasn’t for me, and she said, “Just checkin’.”

Rebecca’s kitty Milly is definitely growing more used to us. She hissed her love for us whenever she could, and she only bit me once enough to draw blood.

I love visiting the animal shelter where Rebecca volunteers. As soon as we open the door into the area where the dogs stay, everyone in the room greets us with such loud excitement.

Murray talks to the GPS app on his phone a lot as we travel, and the voice said something new and delightful this trip. He’d ask how many miles to somewhere, and she responded, “If you’re driving . . .”

To add enjoyment to everyone else in the car, for the rest of the trip, I would respond back to her, “If you’re crawling . . . if you’re sitting on the ground and scooting . . . if you’re doing cartwheels . . .”

I always enjoy listening to the ducks and roosters on the farm when we visit Mom. Since my last visit, my brother Jim has acquired a donkey. I went outside and tried to get him to answer my braying, but he did not cooperate.

Jim also has a huge white, wooly dog named Fred, who weighs 160 pounds. When I first met Fred a year or so ago, I made him nervous by getting excited and rushing toward him. He’s not comfortable with strangers.

I promised Jim I would be cautious and careful this time, and I got to give Fred an examination, rubbing his big nose and shaking his giant paw.

On Tuesday we had lunch at Dave’s Pizza with my brother Rodney and our cousin Lorie. When we were seated, Lorie began a conversation with Ping-Hwei and asked, “What are you doing now?” He replied, “I’m on vacation.”

There could be no truer words, but it made us laugh for days. We all might need to get out more.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Letters To Camp

For many years, all of our kids attended summer camp at Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for kids with disabilities and their siblings near Springfield, Missouri.

When packing last night for our trip west tomorrow, Ping-Hwei found in a suitcase a handful of letters we sent Benjamin while he was at camp in 2006. Murray’s braille letters were a delight.

In one he wrote out the words to “Daisy, Daisy, Give me your Answer, do,” then instructed Benjamin to sing it to a counselor or nurse.

In another letter, he wrote out the words to “B-I-N-G-O,” with a few changes. “I had a donkey whose name was Benjie, B-E-N-J-I-E . . .”

Then there was this note from Murray, as he waited at his Mom’s house in Branson, Missouri while the kids were at Camp Barnabas.


“Sounds like a kitchen appliance, doesn’t it?

“What’s up today? We’re just kind of lazing around, waiting for you guys to come back. When you guys get back, we have a lot planned.

“First, we are going to rent a houseboat and go to Arkansas. Then we’re going to jump out of the boat and swim to Louisiana, then we will take a train to Texas.

“After resting, we will take a hot air balloon to New Mexico. After parachuting out of the balloon, we will take pedal cars to Arizona. Next we will lie on the ground and roll to California.

“Then hop, skip and jump to Nevada, then completely jump over Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Then we will skateboard through Kansas and back to Branson. Get some rest. This trip will take a lot of energy.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Helpful Hints and Salsa Chicken

Welcome back to Kathy’s Kitchen, where you find delicious recipes and learn helpful hints from the kitchen adventures of others who love to cook. Please send me your favorite recipes and helpful hints to share from Kathy’s Kitchen.

This helpful hint is from my friend Laura.

“When allowing your children to cook, be sure to give them very detailed instructions. For example: When cooking corn on the cob, always add water to the pan. When making fudge, be sure child understands which amount is for sugar and which is for salt.”

This recipe is from my cousin Cheryl. It sounds so yummy, I plan to make it next week.

Salsa Chicken (Freezer Meal)

3-4 chicken breasts
Jar of salsa
Packet of taco seasoning
Can of black beans (drained)
Frozen corn

Place chicken breasts in CrockPot. Stir other ingredients together and pour over chicken breasts. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  If you want this to be a freezer meal instead, just put all the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and freeze. Then, when you want to use, soak the bag in water for a few minutes until the ingredients loosen from the sides of the bag. Dump contents into the CrockPot and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Carman Sings For Ohio

The Christian singer Carman has always been an important part of our lives.

I’ve listened to Carman since the early or mid-80s, but in January of 1988, Murray and I saw him live on the University of Missouri campus. Murray accepted Jesus as his Savior that night.

We listened to Carman in the car a lot when the kids were young, and they knew and asked for his songs—“Jesus is the Way,” “Addicted to Jesus.” When Rebecca was in her teens and we’d hear “the Champion,” she said, “That’s my favorite song ever.”

Murray, with different members of the family at different times, has seen Carman in concert six or eight times over the years, from large arenas to small churches.

Last Saturday night, Murray, Ping-Hwei, and I drove two hours down to Marion, Ohio, to see him again.

We had a lovely time. Carman sang some old favorites, such as “Lazarus, come Forth.” There were one or two new songs I’d never heard. We sang some old-time hymns—“I surrender All,” “My Jesus, I Love You,”—and we had church.

Carman talked about the cancer he found out about back in 2013 and went through nine months of chemo therapy for. He said when they first told him he had cancer, he said, “Wait. You don’t know who I am. I’m the ‘I love Jesus, yes I do’ boy.”

He praised God that he is now cancer free, though in 2013, they thought he had only a short time to live. He said, “No matter how much other people might say you’ve done for Jesus, Jesus said, ‘Unto whom much has been given, much shall be required.’” (Luke 12:48)

There was no charge for the concert, and he didn’t take up an offering. He gave attendees the opportunity to participate in a ministry to support children in poor parts of the world.

We signed up, so we got to meet Carman and his wife and have our pictures taken with them. Murray had the opportunity to tell him, “Kathy and I saw you in January of 1988, and I gave my life to Jesus that night.”

Ping-Hwei and I each bought a shirt, and we got several new CDs, or “records” as Carman called them.

Murray said, “Well, that was fun, getting to say hey to Carman.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Sweet Memories, I love these guys

March 17, 1996: We were talking to Morgan (Murray’s brother in Missouri) on the speaker phone yesterday, about how warm it was here and there, and Rebecca asked him, "Is it Saturday there?" She knows sometimes it's not the same day in Taiwan as here.

March 19, 1996: At church Sunday, Murray said that our friend Kathy was behind a railing where the piano and organ are. Sarah asked her how she got out of there. Kathy told her she didn't know how to get out. So Sarah asked her, "Does somebody bring you food?"

March 22, 1996: Last night I made soup for supper. Sarah was whining and didn't want to eat it. First, she didn't like the meat, then she didn't like the green beans. Murray finally convinced her to take a bite of part of the ingredients, and asked if she liked it. She must have nodded, because he told her to thank me for making it. She said, "Mommy, thank you for some of the soup."

The other night when Sarah was eating supper, she explained to us that after she put a spoon of food in her mouth, she looked at the spoon when she took it out, and there was no food on it. (An interesting discovery.:))

March 25, 1996: The other day Sarah said to me, "Mommy, I wish Renato would come to our house again." Yesterday, she said, "I hope Renato loves Jesus." (Renato was an exchange student from Brazil who lived with us the year before this.)

A couple times recently, Rebecca has been doing something with adults. Then, after hearing the other kids playing loudly downstairs, she said, "I think I want to go down there with them, because they sound like they're having fun."

March 26, 1996: After the kids wash hands for a meal, we always tell them not to pet the kitty. Yesterday at lunch time, Caleb said his foot messed with Rhoda. Then he said, "My foot needs to wash its hands."

Rebecca used to call the tune or melody of a song the "violin" of the song. (Not too many years later, she became a violinist.)

March 27, 1996: We were talking last night about maybe getting rid of Rhoda, because Sarah is so scared of her, and because Rhoda has been so crazy lately. We told the kids that maybe we could get some other pet, and Sarah insisted that she wanted an elephant.

March 28, 1996: Last night we had dinner with some friends of ours. The man, Ken's, son Josh is visiting this week from Colorado. He's fourteen, and we were talking in the car later about what a nice kid he is. I said we should tell Ken that Josh is really a nice guy. Rebecca said, "But he already knows that."

April 3, 1996: The other day, Murray took the kids to the mall, and they went into the eye glasses place to get Sarah's glasses adjusted. The man tried to put them on Rebecca later instead of Sarah. Sarah told me, "Then he said in a man's voice (and she made her voice deep)'I'm sorry.'"

April 18, 1996: The other night Caleb said to Murray, "I'm going to give you something; you'll like it. It's a hug!" And he hugged him.

April 26, 1996: Rebecca knows we have wax in our ears. She says the sleepers in our eyes is eye wax, and the junk in our noses is nose wax.

April 29, 1996: Yesterday, Rebecca was running around in the dining room, and Sarah said, "Rebecca, don't gallop like that!"

When I told Rebecca good-night, she said, "Good-night. I hope you dream of me."

May 2, 1996: Yesterday I was really tired, so Murray took the kids by himself to dinner and then to church. After church, he called and asked if I wanted him to bring me some food. He went to McDonalds, and Caleb asked what he'd got for me. Murray said a hamburger and fries, and Caleb said, "Oh, when I'm a daddy, and I can't go to church, that's what I want for supper!"

Friday, September 7, 2018

Intentional Gratitude

I recently read about intentional gratitude in the book, IF I’M FOUND, by Terri Blackstock, an author of Christian suspense I’ve loved for years. This book is one of a series she published recently.

Ms. Blackstock talked about Intentional gratitude in her author’s note; it was something a friend shared with her.

When we’re feeling down about situations in our lives, when we want to complain, we can remind ourselves to have intentional gratitude toward god. When things seem bad, look for things to thank god for.

This is something we have to be active about, even if we don’t want to; not depending on feelings. Look at the things around us at this moment, the simplest things that have happened to us today.

I tried it, right at the time I first read about it. I thanked God for the surprise popsicle I’d just found in the basement freezer. Almost immediately, I had reason to thank him for bringing the right Scripture to my mind when I wanted to get mad at someone. And for how relieved I felt when I didn’t spout off.

Ms. Blackstock reminded me of Philippians 4:8, keeping our minds on good things, and of the verse in 1 Thessalonians about praying constantly. She said she realized she’d ignored reasons to thank God for things. She didn’t see God working because she hadn’t been looking for him.

The author said as her characters in the series start seeing god working in their lives more frequently, she hopes her readers will too.

I thank Ms. Blackstock, her friend, and God for this reminder. I pray that the words intentional gratitude will remain in my mind and become part of my daily routine.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Kathy Camping?

We went camping last weekend. Sort of.

We rented an RV/trailer on a camp ground a bit more than an hour from home.

People who camp in tents or out in the open will say I’m a wimp, and I am. But even in this RV, with a microwave and air conditioning and TV and WIFI (part of the time,) this is not what I call fun.

Our son Ping-Hwei has talked for years about either buying or renting an RV. My husband Murray and I put it off as long as we could.

Then a friend told us about renting these campers already set up. So, for Ping-Hwei, Murray scheduled one for last weekend.

Then Murray said to me, “I’d like you to go too.”

Hadn’t seen that coming. But off we went.

Once we finally figured out how to make the toilet work, I decided I’d survive. My phone rarely worked in the camper, and Murray’s only did on one end of the room, but, like I said, the internet worked part of the time, so I kept busy with knitting and working on my computer.

Murray sat out on the steps to read his bible, but when it started raining, I was excited we really had an excuse for staying in.

Any time someone took a step, the little camper shook rigorously. I asked Murray if he thought it might tip over on its side. He said, “I can’t guarantee it won’t, but I doubt it.”

We knew this wasn’t going to be a hotel, so we brought a lot of things—food, a few dishes, toilet paper, towels. Never occurred to us to bring pillows or sheets. But hey, we’ were camping after all. The water in the shower was even nice and warm. For a minute.

The area touched some of my rural upbringing senses. The smell of flowers and hay or cut grass as we drove along the road. A couple people with fun country accents.

The sound of crickets. And maybe cicadas? Tree frogs? Okay, so I don’t know which. It’s been a long time since I spent much time on the farm, after all.

No, I didn’t get to stay in the camper. We’d promised Ping-Hwei we’d go to a restaurant for omelets on Saturday. Yummy.

Afterward, Murray wanted to drive to see a ferry boat. On the way, we stopped to check out the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. Murray was excited to be able to see some islands.

Of course I’ve heard of lighthouses, read about them in books. But I really didn’t have any idea what they looked like.

Murray said, “It’s a cylinder.” “You mean like a silo?” (My farm girl background coming out again.) Murray said, “Yeah. Let’s say a silo.”

He described about how big it probably was on the bottom, then going up to a smaller top, maybe seventy feet tall, he said. He was thrilled when he read that it was sixty-five feet tall.

Murray read a couple historical signs to me about the Lake and the Lighthouse, then he realized we could go in and climb the steps to the top. I was willing. That would be something different to do.

But then he saw another sign that said it was closed because of weather. It was windy an raining a little, and it said they couldn’t have people in there in case of lightning or too much wind.

I walked along the outside of the lighthouse a little, so I could feel how it curved around. And as we walked away I was amazed to hear these words come out of my mouth. “If we come back next year, maybe we could climb the stairs in the Lighthouse then.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

Anxious For Nothing


Mr. Lucado bases this book on Philippians 4:4-8, and uses the word C-A-L-M: Celebrate, Ask, Leave, Meditate.

Philippians 4:4-8:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Celebrate; rejoice in the Lord always. This is not a feeling but a decision to depend on God.

The author said anxiety is not a sin; it’s an emotion. Like anger, anxiety is not the sin. Sin comes with how we handle the emotions.

Be anxious about nothing does not mean to never be anxious, but not to allow ourselves to remain in a constant state of anxiety.

Mr. Lucado said some people will need counseling and/or medication to deal with their anxiety, and he said we should not let that make us feel like a person of less worth. As someone who has dealt with chronic depression and anxiety for years, this was a comfort for me to hear from a well-respected Christian leader.

Rejoice always, because of God’s Sovereignty, because he’s always in control. Rejoice always because of god’s mercy and forgiveness. Because God is always near, we don’t need to be anxious about anything. “Anxiety is needless because Jesus is near.”

Ask. Pray. Pray specifically, in detail, a child honoring their father with what they need. Sprinkle our requests with “thank yous,” thanking God for what we already have when we’re asking for more.

Leave our anxieties with God. He is our Father, who, when we gave our lives to him, took control and responsibility for us. We are his children and are free to call on all of his promises. His peace, which transcends understanding, will guard our minds.

When I was going through one of the hardest times in my life with anxiety, a man from my church first introduced the meaning of verse 7 to me. Many of my worries were irrational, and most of the time, I knew they were, but they still crushed me. He told me God could give me peace, even if I didn’t know why.

I haven’t found all the answers to all the things I fear and worry about, but God has given me peace still. Many times over the years, I have found such comfort from this verse.

Meditate on good things. The author said we don’t have to run every thought through the list in verse 8. We just need to keep our mind focused on Jesus, like abiding in the vine in John 15. Jesus holds up to all these qualities, so work to have our thoughts match up to Jesus.

We need to take action for these verses to work for us. We actively need to think about good things, the bible, hymns, God’s promises. Determine to learn more of god’s promises. We have to choose to put these things into our minds to get rid of the bad thoughts and anxieties the devil shoves at us.

I have enjoyed reading Max Lucado’s books for years, and I thank God for this Christian brother who is an encouragement for me.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Slipping Through My Fingers

Sarah left home this morning. I got up at 1:15 to say good-by. She said, “It doesn’t feel like I’m moving out. It feels like I’m going on a little trip.”

“To me, it feels like you’re moving out,” I said.

I’ve known for months that Sarah was moving this August for graduate school. But the last week, I still sometimes had a shock, and my heart pinched a little sharper every day, when I thought about her not being in my home any more.

Her last day of work was two weeks ago, so especially for the last couple weeks, she’s been working like crazy. She’s gone shopping for school clothes and supplies and the growing number of things she needs for her apartment.

She’s been making phone calls and filling out paperwork—mostly on the computer—to get everything set up for the apartment, insurance, school fees, medical insurance. She’s gone through most of her possessions in the house here, dividing things between throw-away, give-away, keep stored here, and take with her. And then there’s laundry, packing, and...

She ran around the house, moving from one job to another, and I enjoyed when she stop to talk to me about what she was doing.

For the last four years, at least three of my five children have still lived at home, though they are adults and have jobs. But now Sarah is moving away to attend graduate school in Library and Information Science.

I know I will survive this. Rebecca moved away four years ago to another state. Benjamin moved into his own apartment a year ago. And although I miss them, I’m not sad about not seeing them every day.

But I tell Sarah god gave me an extra gift since she moved back here after college. I love the memories of my children when they were little. But for the last four years, I have been able to have her close to me as an adult.

So many fun and wonderful things to remember.

There is a heater vent on the wall between the stairs and Sarah’s room. Often, as I climbed the stairs, I’d talk to her through it, and she was kind enough to answer me.

One July afternoon, Sarah spent several hours in the attic, separating clothes and books and such to take with her when she moved to Wisconsin. When she came downstairs she asked me if I wanted to touch her face. I said sure. I figured she’d found a mask or some other silly thing she’d put on her face. But she laid my hand on her forehead, covered thick with sweat. She said, “I have to take a shower.” As she was going upstairs, she stopped and said to me, “And if you ever put my hand on your sweaty face, I’ll kill you.”

I loved when she’d just sit and talk to me—about work, about her journey to start graduate school, about books she read, about the current season of “the Voice.”

When Sarah first moved home, she read several long books to me. We’ve attended movies. She’s helped me order surprise gifts for Murray.

When Benjamin moved into his own apartment last year, wanting to be a part of his new experience, I made a list of everything I could think of he’d need to buy. From disinfectant wipes to a toilet plunger; from a table and chairs to nail clippers; from a spatula and can opener to scissors and pillow cases; from toilet paper to adapted equipment like labeling dots and a liquid level indicator.

When Sarah saw the list she said, “I like this. I’m going to use it when I get my own apartment.” I believe she did look at it again now as she’s been shopping, and I’ve made her show me almost everything she bought.

As the days drew close, I was amazed by the idea of her not being a part of our home anymore. We have Caleb and Ping-Hwei for now. Ping-Hwei, who constantly makes us laugh. And Caleb, who often sits and chats with me before he leaves for work or when he gets home. For whatever time God gives me with them, I am thankful.

A couple months ago, I asked Sarah if we could go to one more movie together before she left. She asked if I’d ever seen “Mamma Mia.” I hadn’t

She said the second one, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again,” was coming out this summer, and before we went to see it, we should watch the first one together.

We did, as part of a lovely Fourth of July celebration.

Both movies were truly a good mother-daughter story. In the first, I found an Abba song I’d never heard before, “Slipping through My Fingers,” about a mother watching her little girl grow up, moving further from her as the mother tried to hang on. Of the two movies, this song most touched my heart.

Loading the truck last night was quite an adventure. At the end, they were happy to count only four things Sarah had to leave behind. Before Sarah and Murray drove away this morning, she gave me a couple of long hugs. “I’ll probably call you a lot with cooking questions,” she said.

Oh, please do.

Slipping through my fingers. I won’t try to hang on. I want her to find new dreams. But it will take a while to get used to not hearing this young woman’s voice in my home every day.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:16-21, Matthew 14:22-33

I love this story about Jesus, and Peter, walking on the water. Read both accounts in Matthew and John to view the whole picture.

Jesus was always training the disciples. I’m guessing he could just have shown up on the boat with them, but he chose to stretch their faith and belief by walking on the water.

They were afraid. They thought he was a ghost. But when he came on the boat and safely brought them to the other side, they worshiped him.

This is a comfort to me. When I’m buffeted and weak in faith, Jesus will still help me.

And my friend Peter. Yes, he became afraid, and Jesus had to ask why he had doubted, but Peter had the guts to step out on the water in the first place. And he didn’t hesitate to ask for help when he needed it.

Matthew 14:33: Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Gift I Had to Learn to Love

This article is scheduled to be published in the Summer, 2018 issue of Dialogue Magazine. I posted the first part of the story on my birthday back in February.


My 57th birthday was on February 23, but my husband Murray couldn’t wait and gave me my gift a week early. Our phone company had a great deal on an IPhone. Murray was so excited when he handed me the box to open.

I think my first words were, “I wanted an IPad.”

My mother taught me better manners than that.

I said an IPad would be good, to help me to read e-books. But for now, I could do everything I needed to do with my cheap flip-phone, even text.

Not a very grateful response to an expensive gift.

For weeks I had trouble learning to use the IPhone. People told me to give it time; I would learn. “I doubt it.” Grumble, grumble.

At first I could, usually, answer calls, as well as make calls and send texts by using the speech feature. But reading texts, listening to voice mails, using any function listed on the screen? Those attempts made me want to cry.

And sure, I could make a call, but what about when the recording on the other end said to push one or six or two, or to press the star or pound key? Grumble, grumble.

My sons Benjamin and Caleb, both blind, use an IPhone. Caleb said almost every blind person he knows has one.

Well, that stiffened my spine a little. I refused to let myself be one of the only blind people who couldn’t use something, a former rehab teacher, who liked to feel capable of learning new technology.

Of course, the people Caleb knows are younger than I am, with far more flexible brains and fingers. Caleb worked with me from the beginning. He is an encouraging and patient teacher. Yet we must remember the rough, raw student-material he has to work with.

On one web site I found while looking for IPhone manuals, it said that people who’d never used an Apple product, or even a smart phone, would find learning to use an IPhone a difficult and frustrating process. It might take them several months.

That made me feel a little better. I wasn’t the only dunce.

And it’s true. I’m used to using computers and devices with definite, clear buttons to push. Here we had flicks and slides and drags, and finding the correct place on the screen. How was that supposed to be more accessible to blind people?

And not only did I not show Murray the proper thanks for his gift, but I was constantly irritable about it. Sometimes I wanted to yell, “If you didn’t give me this dumb thing, I wouldn’t be having all this trouble!”

My mother definitely taught me better manners than that.

I was complaining and asking Benjamin a question about the phone one day, and he asked if I’d like him to sit with me sometime and work on it. As we did that, and he was showing me which gestures to do for what, he figured out that I wasn’t positioning my fingers correctly. He explained how I should be doing it, using the whole first pad of the finger, not just the nail tip. I said, “You mean the part I read braille with?”

It started working so much better for me. I was able to use the number keypad on the screen. Most of the time. I found some functions on the screen and was able to do the actions.

I was bubbly. I had successes. I wanted to share how excited I was with Murray.

And I felt so silly about how I’d been acting.

For a time, I discovered so many things I could do—listen to voicemails; read texts; hear the news; listen to YouTube; read books; check the weather.

I’ve slowed down some now, no new things in a while. I can’t do emails or use the internet. But I’m satisfied, and I believe I can learn to do more if I work at it.

When I think back on how I said the IPhone was too hard because it wasn’t like my easy, push-button keyboard, I laugh at myself. Was I referring to my computer that shuts itself down in the middle of my work? The one where just hovering my hand above the mousepad changes what window I’m working in? The internet which skitters all over the place, and I can’t figure out what to do. The desk-top that adds new programs I never asked for, or deletes the ones I use every day without asking me. Right. That simple keyboard.

Do I still have trouble with my IPhone? Sure, and I still complain about it sometimes. Caleb is so lucky. He lives with me, so he gets to help me with problems every time he’s around and a new difficulty arises.

But I laugh more often than I want to cry. When a problem comes up, I believe we’ll figure it out. And yes, I love my IPhone. Who would ever want a silly flip-phone?

Friday, July 27, 2018

And The Angels were Silent

This is another book by an author who has often brought me hope, encouragement, and a greater knowledge of the Bible: AND THE ANGELS WERE SILENT by Max Lucado.

The last week of Jesus’s life. He knew what was ahead, and he dreaded it. But he kept his focus on those who needed him. He continued to show and teach crucial points.

In Matthew 20 he taught about the land owner who was generous with the workers who stood around all day and no one hired them. Just as God is generous with those of us who no one wants.

Two brave men, blind beggars, kept calling to Jesus to help them, even though the crowd tried to silence them. Jesus took the time to stop and treat them with compassion.

Jesus knew what was going to happen to him at the end of this week, but he continued rigorously meeting our needs. In Matthew 23 he spoke harshly against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who made salvation so hard for people to obtain.

In Matthew 24, he encouraged his disciples, and us, saying those who hold on to God through horrible sorrows and troubles will be saved.

And John 17 shows us that Jesus thought of believers who are alive today, and prayed for us, on his last night as he walked to the garden.

John 17: 20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

At the end of the book is a section which an individual, or a study group, can use for discussion and Bible study. I often don’t pay attention to these question sections at the end of books. But this one impressed me, with thoughtful questions and an in-depth Scripture listing.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Psalm 119:41-48, Waw

ו Waw
May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
    your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

I am so grateful for the gift of love for the bible that was given to me when I was in college.

Such priceless, beautiful words that come from this passage:





Unfailing love



Thank you, Father, for your ever-springing gifts.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Helpful Hints From Kathy's Kitchen

The first time I cooked was when I moved into a houseful of girls in college. After much help, a lot of frustration, and a few tears, I learned to love cooking.

It wasn’t long before I was able to laugh with my friends over some of the mishaps I had. From time to time you could hear any of the girls in the house call out: “Helpful hint from Kathy’s kitchen.” Examples:  “For best results, remove fork from plate before closing microwave door … To save time when serving brownies, leave utensil in pan while brownies are baking … For cleaner kitchen, turn off mixer before lifting it from cake batter … When baking hamburgers, use deeper pan than cookie sheet, unless, of course, you prefer to have grease running out of oven onto kitchen floor …” And so on.

Thirty-five years later, after many hours and experiences with cooking, I decided to start up Kathy’s Kitchen again. This time, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes, as well as some others have shared with me.

And you never know when a new helpful hint might also appear.

Please send me any recipe, or special hint, you’d like to be distributed by Kathy’s Kitchen.

This first recipe is from the kitchen of my mother, Lila Mae Brinkmann. One of my favorites when I was growing up.


Boil two cups water; Add two cups raisins, two heaping teaspoons baking soda and two heaping tablespoons margarine.  Let this mixture soak for four or five hours.  Then add two teaspoons cinnamon, three cups flour, two cups sugar, and two eggs.  Mix and pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.

Variation: My mom always made several round loaves out of these, pouring the batter into 16-ounce vegetable cans. They were such cute little loaves.

This method never worked well for me. Helpful hint: “To save time cutting bread, after baking, simply dump loaf out of can onto serving plate. It will fall into several edible pieces.”

Friday, July 6, 2018

Share My Hope

This week was the celebration of the birth of our country. I do thank God for the privileges and benefits of living in the United States.

Recently, though, I was talking with someone very special to me about how scary life is right now, not only in other parts of the world, but also right here in our own country.

Harsh disagreement, uncertainty about the future, and the heartbreaking, senseless killing. It reminded me of a line from an old song: “This world is not my home.”

This world is not our hope.

Yes, God wants us to work hard, to be faithful citizens and loving neighbors. But ultimately, for those of us who claim faith in Jesus, this world is not our hope. We need to remember this when times are hard, and even more importantly, we need to share our hope with those around us.

The time we have on earth is less than a speck of dust compared with the eternity we have with God, and that eternity starts right now.

God gives us people, events, places, work, and possessions which are beautiful and which we can and should enjoy. But, in the broken world we live in, there are also always horrible things happening around us, sometimes to us.

In Heaven, we will have no more horror. No more crying, no sorrow, no pain and suffering. More wonder than we can possibly imagine. (Revelation 21)

But the greatest part of my faith is what starts right now, what God promises even during the ugliness that happens in this world. He is my loving Father.

He is with me right now. He is holding me, and comforting me, and guiding me. I am never alone, no matter what happens. I want to share this hope with everybody around me.

As God’s children, we are not only given this hope, we are given the right to ask for it.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:13

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalms 68:19

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Gift of My Oldest Son

“I have a gift for you.” Ping-Hwei often says this to me, and it is always true. More than that, he is a gift from God.

If Ping-Hwei tells me, “Open your mouth,” I always trust that he will give me something yummy to eat. Other times when he tells me he has a gift, it always is, maybe the cat to hold, a toy or candy he or Murray has bought for me; it’s always something good.

Ping-Hwei was fourteen when he joined our family. He was homeless before he came to the children’s home in Taiwan, The Home Of God’s Love, which gave us all our sons. He was about ten at that time, had been living in the streets, and would never tell them anything about his family or anything else about his life before that.

He spoke very little English when he came to us, but in a few months’ time, he would no longer speak Chinese. This may be because of his disability; we’re not sure.

Although in many ways, he is childlike, in other ways he is quite capable. Murray says God has given Ping-Hwei the gift of finding things. When something is lost to everyone else in our home, Ping-Hwei is often able to locate it. We call him “the finding man.”

He insists on having a newspaper in our house; in fact he purchases it for us. He loves to check sports scores and is quick about finding ads for sales for things we need.

Ping-Hwei is a capable user of his smart phone, Kindle, and computer. He loves photographs and will often tell Murray, “Take a picture,” whether it is of a family member, cat or dog, a special dish we’re having for dinner, or something we’ve discovered on a TRIP.

He is a joker. He loves to hide things from people, especially Murray.

Once we were visiting my mother, and Murray left the dinner table for a couple of minutes. Ping-Hwei grabbed Murray’s plate and hid it in the refrigerator.

My mom said, “Don’t hide your dad’s food,” but I said, “No, no, this is a fun thing.”

Recently, Ping-Hwei said our cat Eli scratched him. He picked Eli up the next evening and said, “Kitty, don’t scratch me. Next time I’ll cook you for dinner.”

I’ll tell you how I know Ping-Hwei loves me.

Murray was out of town for a couple of days not long ago. One morning I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to make coffee the night before. When I got downstairs, I found that Ping-Hwei had the coffee all ready for me to turn on.

And he doesn’t drink coffee.

Ping-Hwei loves church, and he’s made many friends at church over the years with his huge smile and love of jokes.

He also enjoys his birthday. He will be 36 on July 1, and he has been planning his celebration for months.

I thank God for the 22 years of joy he has given me so far with my son Ping-Hwei.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Father's Day Memory

We had a gentle Father’s Day celebration this year. Murray picked take-out from taco bell for his lunch choice. He received a variety of gifts—movies, books, snacks. Ping-Hwei gave him three piggy banks. Murray calls them his hog farm.

At church our pastor reminded us of several things.

Let’s have joy, because God is our tender, compassionate father.

He encouraged fathers to bring their children to Jesus.

And he reminded all of us to be thankful for our fathers and what they did for us.

I thought about my father, Darwin Henry Fritz Brinkmann, who has been gone now for almost ten years.

As a child and teenager, I had plenty of struggles with my father, as many people have. Looking back now, a parent of many years myself, I have a better understanding of him. A greater appreciation.

As a young Christian, I found it easy to look down my nose at my father’s faith. But, this is what I know for sure. Along with my mother, my father made sure we attended church every week. I can still hear his clear sweet voice singing hymns on the pew to my right.

Dad lost most of the strength in his left arm, due to polio. But he never let that stop him from performing the daily, hard work necessary as a farmer.

Farming was a strenuous job, but he loved it. We would drive to look at crops newly sprung up, and I remember him saying, “Isn’t that pretty?”

He’d watch young animals in their first frisky movements and say, “Cute isn’t it?”

My daughter Rebecca told me one of her best memories of her Grandpa was his big smile. I laugh when I remember him doting over one of my babies, looking up, and saying, “Cute, isn’t it?”

My dad’s been dead for almost ten years, and for quite a few years before that, his health, physical and mental, had diminished. But I thank God for the lovely memories I have of my daddy.

When I was a young girl, and he and I were alone in the car, he would sing with me. He taught me songs such as “Liza Jane,” “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah,” “mare-zee-dotes,” and “You get a line and I’ll get a pole, Honey.”

As a little girl Daddy found me crying because I’d broken the head off one of my dolls. Comforting me in the best way he knew he said, “Mom can fix it.” (Poor Mom)

Two days after Murray and I eloped, my parents came to visit us. Daddy told Murray he wanted to come see me, because, he reminded Murray, I was his daughter.

I didn’t get to visit my dad on his 80th birthday—February 29, 2008—but my mom and brothers did, and Mom told me about it.

Keeping up with the jokes that went around every time he had an actual birthday, Daddy told staff at the nursing home, “I’m only twenty; I’m younger than you.”

So, though sometimes my memories seem dim, I thank God for the privilege of the father I had, and I thank him for these sweet memories.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Psalm 119:33-40, He

I’m not sure why, but this part brought tears to my eyes. The writer asked God to teach him and help him obey God’s ways—to give him delight, to spare him selfishness and disgrace, so he’d make it to the end.

Father God, I make this request too.

ה He

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.