Friday, December 27, 2019

Thirteen-Year-Old Memories

We are one of those families who generously share our year’s happenings with acquaintances in a Christmas letter each year. Here’s one I found recently.

December, 2006

John 10:  10:  I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.

Dear Family and Friends,

What’s new with the McKinseys?  We have three kids in high school this year.  We love saying that, and we are still amazed by it.  We remember when those same three kids were in three baby seats in the back of our little white car.  Now they’re all nearly as tall as we are.

Other than that, we are basically healthy and marginally sane.  We put one foot in front of the other, each day, longing for our promised reward.

Ping-Hwei has been working at the Metal Fabricating company now for over two years, doing general factory work, packing, loading, and the like.  He seems very happy to be there.  He has a good sense of humor, and helps keep our household organized.  Ping-Hwei loves to take himself places.   He goes to the local library 3 or 4 times a week to use the computers, and takes a train to down town Cleveland several times a month to watch a movie and play the arcade games.  Our church has begun a young adult service on Tuesday evenings, and Ping-Hwei enjoys attending.

Caleb is a junior in high school.  He is a serious student of the Bible, is thinking about college in less than two years, and he’s hoping to get a guide dog next summer.  He’s still in marching band, and loves it, in spite of the football team’s record.  Caleb seems to enjoy his classes, especially psychology.  He often has psychological things to talk about, including body parts, processes, and theories.

Rebecca is a sophomore, and she has a whole new look this year—contacts, longer hair (remember that her head was shaved for a fund raiser, less than 3 years ago?), and no more braces.  She and Murray have been having a delightful(?) time this year as Rebecca learns to drive.  Kathy is thrilled because Rebecca will be able to take her places.  She is still playing the violin, and this year even practices often.  She is also thinking a lot about college.  Rebecca is very studious, stays up late, gets up early, always a textbook open.

Sarah is a freshman in high school.  She is more sweet and unpredictable than ever.  She is adapting to High School better than we might have hoped – seamlessly going from studying when she had to in middle school to studying all the time -- with all her teachers saying that she is a great student.  She sings in the choir at school and in the shower at home.  Sarah has a weekly paper route now, so she enjoys having a little money of her own.  When she is lucky, Murray even bags the papers before she gets home from school.  Sarah enjoys going for walks in this city, and has been involved with the high school youth group at church.

Benjamin is in fourth grade, and has almost hit double digits.  He’s a great math student, according to his teacher.  He is getting better about doing school work without prompting.  We can only prompt so much.  He loves reading magazines including SMART COMPUTING and PC WORLD, and has his own subscription to both of those.  For a week after he gets SMART COMPUTING, he tells Murray about the many different programs he thinks should be purchased for the household computer.  He’s still taking piano lessons, spends a lot of time using his own personal computer, and tolerates school.  For reasons unknown, Benjamin enjoys rap.  We are trying, a little, to steer him toward Christian rap. 

Murray keeps busy with helping kids with their math homework, and operating the McKinsey Family Taxi Service, math homework, teaching Sunday school, math homework, delivering food to those hungry people with Meals on Wheels, math homework, helping out with the Ohio gubernatorial and senatorial  elections (he’s never been on the winning side before), math homework.  He is thinking about getting a doctorate. In anything – sociology, theater, special education, history – he would just really love to be addressed as Doctor McKinsey.

Kathy has been working at the Cleveland Sight Center for six years now, and she enjoys the many interesting people she gets to work with.  Because of changes in the supervisory chain, she has assumed a few of the administrative duties in the department.  When she is not too tired, Kathy asks Murray to put in a West Wing CD – they are on the third year.  Kathy is having a good time watching the kids grow, develop, and mature.

Murray and Kathy will reach 20 years of marriage during this next year.  Held together by the bond of the Spirit.

We praise God for His goodness and faithfulness to us.  We pray that you know how much Jesus loves you, 

If you get emails about Nigerian money laundering schemes, stock tips, or foreign lotteries, please forward them to us.  We could always use the money.

Merry Christmas!

Murray, Kathy, Ping-Hwei, Caleb, Rebecca, Sarah, Benjamin

Friday, December 20, 2019

He Brought Abundant Life

John 10:10-11: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jesus came to bring abundant life, far greater than we could ever imagine.

Jesus gave Zacchaeus, the tax collector and sinner, the privilege of becoming generous, and having Jesus as a guest in his home.

Luke 19: 5-6: When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

For the man possessed with demons, who could not be held with chains and who spent his life crying out and cutting himself with stones, Jesus gave him back his mind.

Mark 5:15: When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

For the woman so ashamed, she came to the well when no one else would be there, he loved her so intensely she shared it with the whole town.

John 4:13-14: Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

By his grace, God called David, someone who committed adultery and murder, a man after his own heart.

Acts 13: 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

And for lonely me, he set me in the middle of a family with a delightful husband and five amazing kids.

What abundance does he bring to your life? I promise he wants to.

Ephesians 2:10: For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Christmas in Kathy's Kitchen

This year I want to bring back some of my memories from Christmas when I was a kid.

I’ve made rice krispy treats, Murray and I made fudge, and I still plan to bake Boston brown bread, all wonderful things my Mom made when I was growing up. I hope they’re half as delightful as I remember.

Helpful hint: I found this recently in a crockpot chili recipe.

“Keep hot dishwater in the sink so you can clean up the kitchen as you go and while the food is baking or cooking.”


4 cups sugar
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
¼ cup margarine
1 pint marshmallow cream
12 ounce package chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nuts, optional

Bring sugar, milk, and butter to a boil.  Let boil nine minutes, stirring frequently.  Use heavy pan.  Remove from heat; add remaining ingredients; stir until chocolate chips and marshmallow cream are melted.  Pour into buttered 9 by 13 inch pan and cool.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Christmas Prayer

I found this from a couple years ago and decided I wanted to remind myself of it again.

Father God, at this precious season, your children want to celebrate the joy of the gift you gave us, your son to pay the price for our biggest need.

But many families are filled with heartache at this time of year, for sorrow and loss, for terrifying disease, with many fears and uncertainties.

Thank you, Father, that you are the God who cares about our daily sorrows, who comforts our hearts in ways our minds do not understand. Lord, please wipe our tears this Christmas.

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

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46: 1

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

Thank You, Lord, For Being My Father

There is a phrase which has become important to me: “I need holding.”

Maybe it’s something one of my kids said when they were small; I don’t know. But I often find myself saying it to God.

God says he cares for us as a father cares for his children.

And yes, he holds us, but he doesn’t stop there as a father. He challenges us to do our best, promising he will help us. He saves us when we’re in trouble. How I thank him

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

1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 86:5: O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

Joshua 1:9: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

Lamentations 3:57-58: “You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’
You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life.”

So this is the gift I want to give to my Father:

Psalm 95:1-2: Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Sweet Memories; Sometimes I'm embarrassed to Remember My Part But...

January 2, 1997: This afternoon Rebecca asked me, "Mommy, were you born in 1927?" I said no, and she asked, "Before that?"

Sarah got some more birthday money today, and excitedly she said that it could be for Ping-Hwei.

January 4, 1997: Yesterday Rebecca told me, "Today is a yesterday and a tomorrow and today."

January 5, 1997: Caleb came in to my room to comb his hair tonight, and he said, "Feel my furry feathers."

The kids wanted to try to brush their teeth with baking soda tonight. Rebecca hated it, and Sarah wouldn't even try. She said, "I don't like it." Murray asked her, "Have you ever tried it?" To which Sarah said, "Well, I just believe I won't like it." Caleb liked it; he said, "It tastes like fried rice."

January 7, 1997: Sarah was playing very nicely with her doll house yesterday, making up little stories about the people. I pointed it out to Murray and he asked her if she was having fun playing by herself. She said, "I'm playing by myself, but I'm not lonely."

I gave Sarah a chocolate cinnamon roll for lunch, and as soon as she knew what it was, she said, "I don't want all this other food on my plate."

A little later Sarah said, "Mommy, I love you." "Because I gave you cinnamon rolls?" I asked. "Well, I can't just love you because you gave me cinnamon rolls," she said, and thought a minute. Then she said, "I love you all the time, and because you gave me cinnamon rolls."

January 12, 1997: We have a little musical button we give the kids to play with on their birthdays that plays the tune to happy birthday. Both Caleb and Sarah asked this time when they had it and listened to it, "How does the button know my name?"

January 14, 1997: When we told Caleb tonight that Daddy really had broken his right foot last night (after he broke his left ankle last August), he said, "He broke two feet! That's kind of silly."

January 15, 1997: This morning Sarah told me, "Once in awhile, I wonder how God made us, so I look at my body to see."

Yesterday Sarah went with Murray to the doctor. One of the young ladies who helped with his foot told them she had a three-year-old and a baby ten weeks old. Sarah asked if she had a husband. The lady said no, and Sarah asked why not. The lady said she hadn't found anyone she wanted to spend her life with yet. Sarah asked Murray if he'd ask the lady a question, and he said not a chance, worried she was going to say something more about the husband situation. So Sarah asked the lady herself, "Do you love Jesus?" The lady said sure she did; didn't everybody? Sarah shook her head negatively and said, "No. Some people don't."

January 17, 1997: Someone called yesterday while I was vacuuming, and Sarah answered the phone, then accidentally hung it up. She said she didn't know who it was and didn't understand everything he said. I asked, "Did you hear anything he said?" She said, "I heard it all; I just didn't understand everything."

Last night we found bumps on Caleb and thought he might have chicken pox. Murray was talking with Rebecca about it in the car later, just the two of them. Rebecca said he shouldn't talk to Caleb about it, because it made him nervous. Then she said, "And you're still talking about it!" Murray said that Caleb wasn't there, so he couldn't hear. She said, "I could tell him."

January 20, 1997: Last night Rebecca was getting ready for bed, and I said something to her, maybe grumpily, and she did the same thing, then said, "I'm going to be just like you when I grow up." I said, "You probably will." She went on, "Grouchy all day long."

January 22, 1997: A week or so ago, Murray and the kids were listening to a tape of music Ping-Hwei got at the library. A song played for only four or five seconds when Caleb said, "That's from the Nut Cracker." Murray took the tape out and read it, and it was from the Nut Cracker. Caleb went with his class from school to see the Nut Cracker before Christmas.

This morning, the girls were wanting to do something quickly, and kept saying, "Hurry! Hurry!" Caleb told them that if they kept being so excited, he'd have to use an exclamation point.

The other night we were struggling with Sarah at supper, trying to get her to eat some beans. Finally she got a spoonful into her mouth. In a second she said, "Daddy, I can't swallow this."

A few weeks ago the kids were in the car with Murray, and he said something about some kind of ceremony. Delightedly Rebecca said, "He said Sarah-moanee!" They have decided that a "moanee" was a person's tummy, and they often talk about their "Caleb-moanee" or "Rebecca-moanee." The other night a friend with a baby was over. Sarah said happily, "I see her moanee."

Friday, November 15, 2019

May Today Be Your Isaiah 43

Have you sat in a church service and said about the sermon, “This message was specifically meant for me today?” That’s what happened to me this week.

Our church closed in August, and we’ve been looking for a new church home. We’ve been meeting with a launch team for a church which plans to start in February.

In the meantime, we’ve been visiting different churches around the area. My husband Murray is having fun, getting to visit churches we might otherwise never go to. I’ll be happy to get settled again.

This was an excellent week. We visited a church in Cleveland which has some great history. The current building is from the 1870s. In the 1850s, James Garfield, later President of the United States, sometimes preached there.

This week they studied from Isaiah chapters 42 and 43, and it’s what I needed to hear.

Recently, I’ve been allowing the devil to bring me down by reminding me of my past. I believe I’ve been forgiven, but…

Isaiah 42: 9: See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

Chapter 42 tells of times of Israel’s sin and their consequences. The former things have taken place. We cannot deny that.

But then comes chapter 43.

Isaiah 43:1-2: But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

God says we are his. For those of us who have asked God to be our Savior, He promises to be with us. We may pass through sweeping rivers and flaming fires of trouble, but we are not alone.

Verses 18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

No, I cannot deny the former things of my past. But God says not to dwell on it. He will make a new thing for my life, like a path through the wilderness, streams in a wasteland. What an amazing promise from a loving God.

Verse 25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Because of who God is, he forgives us.

At the end of the service, the minister said, “May today be your Isaiah 43.” I pray that for you as well.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Millie's Christmas was a Gift to Me

My children’s Christmas storybook, Millie’s Christmas, was released on October 22.

This story was a surprise gift to me several years ago.

I wanted a project to force myself to write every day. It was December, so I decided to write a Christmas story.

I normally write women’s fiction for adults. But years ago, I’d written a story about a family of dogs, and my daughter Rebecca liked it. I decided to write a story told from the point of view of a kitten.

When I started, I had no plan of how the story would go. Each day, I just wrote what popped into my head. Soon, God gave me this sweet family story which has become one of my favorites of my own writing.

Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!
Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.
When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness, and find joy in Christmas.

I believe people of any age can enjoy this story. Children and adults can laugh at the funny dog and cat hijinks. The family is easy to love.

Millie’s Christmas might be read to children who are facing sadness at the holidays, to remind them that Jesus is always close to us.

I hope you will enjoy my story. Remember that Christmas is all about Jesus and the love he provides us with each day.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Psalm 119:97-104 Mem

מ Mem
Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
    so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
    for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

Father God, I ask you to help me grow to be able to claim this prayer. Remind me to keep your word close to me, so I can stand against my enemy the devil. Thank you that your teachings show me the wrong paths and how to avoid them. Thank you for your words which do become sweeter to me each day.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Road Trips!

Yes, road trips. We made two in September and October, and Murray and Ping-Hwei and I are so easily entertained, we came away with many fun memories.

In September we took our trip west, first to Iowa to visit Rebecca, then to visit my mom and brothers in Missouri.

I enjoy Rebecca so much. I told Murray I wish I could see her more than two days twice a year, and then I realized that’s how often my mom gets to see me too.

Visiting the animal shelter where Rebecca volunteers is always a highlight. When we come in, we’re greeted with a cacophony of dogs barking and cats meowing at us. Rebecca brought me two dogs, one fluffy and bouncy and happy.

The other she said was a long dog. And truly he was, but even better than that--his ears were eight inches long and opened up like an umbrella.

I played with cats in cages who loved to lick and bite. They licked a lot. First I thought they could still taste the orange I’d had for breakfast, but after I washed my hands, they still continued to lick, so I figured they just thought they were dogs.

Rebecca and Steve took us to see their garden, lots of hot peppers and tomatoes, a really tall sunflower, green onions, herbs, a watermelon the size of a basketball.

We brought home some of their homemade salsa, some made with tomatoes and peppers, others made with watermelon or pineapple. Pretty good stuff really, although most of the time I needed lots of water while I ate them.

In Missouri, even in the middle of September, we had weather in the 90s. We had such a short summer in Ohio, I actually loved standing outside in the hot weather. For short periods of time.

We went to Mom’s quilting group, mostly retired women. But one lady comes with her five year old daughter, who is a delight. One of the ladies told me, “She’s put some life into this old place. Never boring around here now.”

Murray told people at quilting that he found out there’s a knitting-quilting group at our library, and he told someone there that he quilted. They asked how much, and he said, “Oh, about twice a year.”

My brother Jim had newborn twin calves right at the time we visited. That’s rare; Mom said she thinks they’d only had twins once in all the years she and Dad raised cows. So that was fun, getting to hear about Jim bottle feeding them until the mama and calves all got used to each other.

We visited Sarah in Wisconsin this past weekend.

It’s almost embarrassing the things that can please us as we drive along. When Murray refused to take the exact directions of his phone’s GPS, it would beep and say, “Make a U-turn; make a U-turn!” Almost frantic. Ping-Hwei and I always laugh at this; Murray is not so amused.

When the GPS mentioned how heavy the traffic was and that there was roadwork up ahead, I started considering other things they should be able to do. “If they can do that, they should be able to say when to stop and go at traffic lights. That would be so helpful for blind drivers.”

Passing by one of the lakes in Madison, Murray told Ping-Hwei, “Look at that big lake.” I said it wasn’t as big as our lake. Murray said no, it wasn’t a Great Lake. I said no, but it was an Okay Lake. Murray said it was a perfectly Decent Lake.

Another time as we drove through Madison, Murray, Ping-Hwei, and Sarah noticed people fishing in a boat on the lake. Ping-Hwei said he’d like to go fishing and wondered about cooking the fish. Sarah said no, you’d release them again after you caught them.

I talked about when I was a kid, and Daddy and my brothers went fishing, and brought the fish home to clean and eat. I remembered how Daddy would give me the lungs of the fish to play with. “They were slimy, but they were like little bubbles I could pop.” Sarah was disgusted. “Oh, Mom, did you wash your hands?” “Never since then,” I replied.

Sarah had a lot of school work to do while we were there, so boring people that we are, we were perfectly happy to just sit around her apartment, on our computers or kindles, chatting on and off. She said she liked having us around to chat at. For the first day anyway.

We went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. When the host asked how many were in our party, we spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out if there were four or five of us. With that, plus our normal loudness, Sarah will probably never go to that restaurant again.

So many smiles I brought home from these trips.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Remind Me of What I Need to Know

Proverbs 4:20-22:
“Pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body.”

When I was in college, more than 35 years ago, I was part of a campus ministry, Christian Campus House, on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, with church services, bible studies, ministries, and fun!

I thank God for the friends I made there, and all I learned about his word.

One habit I learned was memorizing Scripture.

So many good reasons. It puts things into our minds to think about that are good. It helps us bring up the verses we need about a certain subject, to talk about, to write about, when our daily troubles need certain comfort.

I did memorization for years. At one time I memorized the book of James.

Then I used the excuse of raising a family and working to keep me from memorizing.

After my accident seven years ago, when I no longer worked outside the home, and my children were grown and didn’t need my moment to moment care, so that I had plenty of time, I used another bad excuse. I was brain injured. I wouldn’t be able to memorize the bible anymore.

A couple years ago, God was generous enough to teach me otherwise. I went to a women’s retreat where memorization was again recommended. I thought, “Well, I guess I could try.”

What a glorious couple of years it has been.

I’ve remembered verses that I had memorized before, and, surely more slowly, I’m learning new ones. And the truth still remains. It helps me as I go through the day, God bringing to my memory reminders of how I can obey him in this situation, comforts for my problems and other people’s as well, answers to questions about faith.

I’ve started working on memorizing James again.

Some other gems I’m feeding myself:

John 3:30:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Psalm 139: 23-24: 
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 86:5:
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

Philippians 2:3-5:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Joshua 1:9
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lamentations, A Beautiful Kernel of Hope

The older I get, the more the Old Testament of the Bible is opening up to me.

I’ve just finished reading the book of Lamentations. Such a writing of sorrow.

It’s a short book, just five chapters written mostly in poetic verse.

I’ve always been glad to find Psalms with David’s cries of pain and anger. It reminds me that I can take anything I’m feeling to god.

But when I started reading Lamentations last week, I was so brought down. So much pain and horror. Because of their sin, Israel had been crushed by their enemies. They’d been crushed by God.

Lamentations 1: 4-5: 
The roads to Zion mourn,
    for no one comes to her appointed festivals.
All her gateways are desolate,
    her priests groan,
her young women grieve,
    and she is in bitter anguish.
Her foes have become her masters;
    her enemies are at ease.
The Lord has brought her grief
    because of her many sins.
Her children have gone into exile,
    captive before the foe.

Lamentations 4:13:
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed within her
    the blood of the righteous.

Yet, in the middle of this writing of desolation, are some of my favorite verses of hope.

Lamentations 3:21-23:
But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

As I understand better God’s hatred for sin, I am filled with more wonder at his amazing love.

John 3:16-17:
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.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Forever and Ever Amen by Randy Travis

Forever and Ever Amen, a beautiful memoir by Randy Travis, published 2019.

I’ve been a fan of Randy Travis for many years. The winter after Murray and I got married in 1987, Randy was in concert in Columbia, Missouri. Murray’s brother Morgan was visiting us right then and went to the concert with us.

I remember that Randy was somewhat hoarse during the show that night, but I still loved it. It’s not unusual even now to hear me singing his songs around the house from time to time.

In this book, Randy talks frankly about his life from childhood. You get to meet a good number of country music stars you’ll recognize. Randy talks about his road to success, and also honestly tells of things he did that he is sorry about.

He discusses his Christian faith, how he’s walked away, how he’s come back to God, about the forgiveness he’s received.

He also discusses the stroke he had—I believe and 2013—and all the struggling he’s gone through since then. He tells of how his wife Mary has stayed by him and loved him through his recovery and rehabilitation.

And he told of the successes he’s made during his recovery. I felt like my own story was similar to his, with my recovery from brain injury, and my walking away from and back to God’s forgiveness.

My mother also likes Randy Travis and has told me about times she’s seen him on TV since his stroke. Fortunately, I was able to give her a copy of the book before she bought one for herself.

If you’re a country music fan, I am sure you will love this book. Even if you’re not, it is a beautiful story of struggles and growth and joy from the grace of God.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Lamedh Psalm 119:89-96

ל Lamedh
Your word, Lord, is eternal;
    it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
    you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
    for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
    I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
    for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
    I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
    but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
    but your commands are boundless.

Thank you, Father, for giving me stability. I am so tempted to let this world toss me about. Thank you for your word which touches me with comfort, gives me direction of how to go, fills me with purpose, gives me joy. I love you, Lord.

Friday, September 20, 2019

I Want to Hug You, Lord

I want to hug you, Lord,
For the great start you’ve given me this morning,
For the new things you’re teaching me about your word,
For the happiness you give me with my husband, my children, my friends,
For all the new things you teach me about Jesus,
About your love,
For the times when I can feel you hugging me.
Help me today to hug you back.
Help me to hug those around me.
I love you, Lord.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

My Voice rises to God, and He Will Hear Me

I recently read a book by Brandilyn Collins, Over the Edge. This book impressed me in so many ways.

Janessa has Lyme disease. Her body is weak and filled with pain. Sometimes she feels as if she’s being suffocated.

Her husband leaves her and takes their daughter with him. Her best friend wants to help but has her own family to care for.

Janessa craves comfort from somewhere.

She makes her way with difficulty to the kitchen where her bible is in a drawer. She struggles to get it to the table and sits down.

The Bible opens to the Psalms, and she is glad. She wants to read David’s prayers of rage and his demands for God to help him.

Psalm 77:1: My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;
My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.

Though she is still sick, and her circumstances have not changed, she chooses to believe this.

I have been in this kind of position, looking for comfort, finally turning to God.

As a writer, I often find myself examining books I read for pleasure, noticing techniques and writing skills. Sentence structure, word usage, scene description.

I am impressed by the skills Ms. Collins uses to describe a scene and create a mood which draws the reader into the story. As I read OVER THE EDGE, I found myself trying to breathe, feeling weak, having difficulty forcing my mind to find the words I want, struggling to move forward in whatever I am doing, as though I had Lyme disease.

I pray that God will help me grow in this skill as a writer, to be able to capture my readers that much.

Plus, OVER THE EDGE is a great suspense story, with excellent twists and surprises.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Day of Reckoning by Valerie Goree

I’d like to introduce you to author Valerie Goree.

Her latest book, Day of reckoning, delivers fast-paced suspense, faith, romance, and a glimpse into a family who deals with disabilities in healthy ways.

Thank you for hosting me today, Kathy. Day of Reckoning is my latest romantic suspense novel. It is a stand-alone sequel to Weep in the Night. Both stories feature agents who work for the International Retrieval Organization. Lela was introduced in Weep, and now she has her own story in Day of Reckoning. One aspect I love about writing fiction is creating my story world. The IRO—a top-notch detective agency of sorts—has unlimited resources, and therefore my agents have everything they need to accomplish their tasks.

As a seasoned operative, Lela is assigned the kidnapping case of businessman, Chuck Davenport. When her boss allows Jay Vashon, Chuck’s brother-in-law to assist, Lela accepts the help with reservations, especially when Jay prays at the most inopportune times.

Jay would do anything to help bring Chuck home, even work with feisty Agent Ortiz. As Jay and Lela decipher clues Chuck sends to his son with special needs, they are forced to work in close proximity.

Can Jay break through the barrier Lela has constructed around her heart? Will Lela be able to overcome her distrust of men and God?

And Chuck? Can the pair locate him before the ransom deadline?

American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner Valerie Massey Goree resides with her husband on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

After serving as missionaries in her home country of Zimbabwe and raising two children, Glenn and Valerie moved to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired, Valerie spends her time writing, and spoiling her grandchildren.

Novels include: Deceive Me Once; Colors of Deceit; Weep in the Night; and stand-alone sequel Day of Reckoning.

Check Valerie’s website to learn more about her books:

Valerie loves to hear from her readers.


Purchase links:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sweet Memories, Old and in the Making

December, 1996:
We left the three little kids with our friends the Cowans the other night while we went to an adult church dinner. Murray tried to pay Brenda for taking care of the kids, but she gave him the money back. I didn't know this, and I asked Rebecca the next day if she knew if Daddy had given Brenda any money when he picked them up. "No, I think SHE gave HIM some money."

I was reading to Sarah the other day about how King Herod killed all the baby boys in Bethlehem, trying to kill Jesus. Sarah said, "But he didn't get Jesus, because he went to Egypt. But if he did kill Jesus, Jesus could make himself back alive again, because He's God."

Sarah has memorized Philippians 1, 9-11 a long time ago, which is our church's prayer. The other day she said that for our lunch-time prayer, and then said, "Mommy, I want you to tell me what all that means."

Murray called home the other day, and when Kathy hung up from talking with him, Sarah said, "I knew that was Daddy because you talked in your normal voice. Why do you talk like a lady when other people call?"

December 13, 1996: Sarah was in the car with Murray, and she likes to put the keys in the ignition. She was having trouble figuring out which key, and she said, "Now, be patient, I'll get it."

December 23, 1996: The other day at lunch, I put my hands on the sides of Sarah's head. Sarah said that we should do that from now on when we pray. She said, "Let's hold the ears instead of holding hands when we pray."

Today at lunch, I was reading the kids stories about when God created the world. They were asking all sorts of questions about how He did it. “How did He do it?” “Did He just say it and it was done?” “Did He make it up out of His imagination?” “Where did He get the seeds for the plants?” We read a little more about it, and Sarah said, "He made a miracle!"

The other day at breakfast, we finished reading a passage from Mark, and Kathy said that tomorrow we would read about when Jesus was arrested. Rebecca said, "Oh, good!" Kathy said we shouldn't be happy about that, we should be sad because Jesus would be hurt and then die. Sarah said, "But I'm a teentsy bit happy because we don't have to be punished."

December 25, 1996: Today Caleb had hot chocolate for breakfast. He took a swallow and said, "Mommy, I drank a baboon."

December 30, 1996: The kids stayed at three different homes this weekend while we went to Colorado. We heard that they called each other while we were gone, and discussed what they each had to eat.

Sarah received a monetary gift from Grandma Brinkmann for her birthday. When she opened the envelope, she exclaimed, "I got $100!"(or whatever). She danced around excitedly and said, "I can give it to Jesus!"

And let’s make a new sweet memory. My children’s Christmas book, Millie’s Christmas, comes out on October 22.

Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!

Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.

When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness, and find joy in Christmas.

Share this story with a child you love, struggling with sadness at Christmas. Jesus’ love and truth remain solid.

Friday, August 23, 2019

What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

What’s so Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. I read this book years ago, and again recently. I wanted to share some of the ideas here.

Is grace the aroma our church gives out to the world? Is that what they think of when they think of Christians?

Remember how much Jesus loves you. Like a shepherd who would leave ninety-nine sheep alone to look for the one who was lost. He is the doctor come for the sick, not the well; for sinners, not the righteous.

There is nothing I can do to make God love me more. There is nothing I can do to make him love me less. He already loves me as much as an infinite God can.

What is so amazing about grace? It’s unfair, unnatural, scandalous. Yet it heals. And the wounds that grow in us when we do not offer forgiveness to others who have hurt us sour and crush us.

In the Lord’s prayer, Matthew 6, Jesus says we must forgive as God has forgiven us. That’s not as scary as it sounds. Because truly, we can only forgive with his help, and he will help us if we ask.

God requires us to forgive, not just to benefit the person who wronged us, but because when I forgive another, I let myself out of the prison of bitterness I’ve kept myself locked up in. God wants that peace for us.

On the cross, Jesus forgave people who had not asked for forgiveness, who had not repented. That is a beautiful example for us.

Philip Yancey told many stories of unbelievable, scandalous forgiveness.

He gives an excellent chapter about how Christians who Scripturally disagree with homosexuality still show love to the people they disagree with. He talks about repentance and forgiveness for racism and other deadly sins against whole peoples.

In this world, we may not see large amounts of forgiveness happen in our lifetime. But we can let it happen one person at a time with those we’ve wronged and with those who have wronged us.

Forgiveness for personal one to one sin may take years, but God is patient and gentle in how he deals with us.

Grace abuse. Romans chapters 6 and 7.

Should we sin more to make grace abound? No, we died to sin. So we should no longer give it life.

Romans 7:24-25: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Legalism. He talked about how through the years, believers have added extra rules to God’s laws and rules. Jesus spoke much against this hypocrisy. The alternatives to hypocrisy are only perfection and honesty. Since we cannot be perfect, our only hope is honesty, being honest with God about our sin, repenting, and finding his grace.

Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Legalism has always been a struggle for me, using rules to pressure myself and also others.

Over the years, I have caused myself so much pain from trying to be perfect with the rules I set for myself to be right with God. Reading this book reminded me that I also laid that kind of legalism on others, including my children. I pray now that they will learn more of how much God loves them, and that they will find that love and grace as the way to direct their lives.

The highest duty of Christians is to give grace. Because we have received, and still receive daily, so much grace.

As the church, Jesus’s body on earth, people in need should gather to us, just as people in need, sinners, hurting people, gathered around Jesus when he lived on earth.

Jesus, who never sinned, never treated sinners with disgust. Instead he welcomed them and offered them grace. Like the woman at the well in John 4, instead of turning from her or treating her with disgust, he treated her as a person who was really thirsty.

Yancey suggests we might do the same with those we have trouble with or disagree with. I pray this will become a natural part of my life.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Healer of My Heart

Though my heart is torn, it’s white again.
Though I sank to the depths of hell, you lifted me up.
Though I failed you again and again, you forgot it all.
And when my heart aches,
And my eyes flow with sorrow,
You wipe them dry and tell me,
“Beloved child, I would have come just for you.”

Isaiah 1: 18:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Psalm 103: 12-13:
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Friday, August 9, 2019

Lost in the Storm, Tamera Lynn Kraft

Will war bring them love or will they be Lost in the Storm!

Lavena, a journalist during the Civil War, wants to become a war correspondent. She finally gets her chance, but there’s a catch. She has to get an interview from a war hero who has refused to tell his story to every other journalist, and she has to accomplish this impossible task in a month or she’ll lose her job.

Captain Cage, the war hero, has a secret that will destroy his military career and reputation. Now, a new journalist is trying to get him to tell what he’s been hiding. He wants to ignore her, but from the moment she came into camp, he can’t get her out of his mind.

Leading up to the turbulent Battles for the city of Chattanooga, will Lavena and Cage find the courage to love and forgive, or will they be swept away by their past mistakes that don’t want to stay buried?

Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they're willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.

Ladies of Oberlin, Book 2   By Tamera Lynn Kraft

  About the Author   Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.    Tamera’s been married for forty years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren. She has been a children’s pastor for over twenty years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.   You can contact Tamera online at her website: 

I loved this story.

A beautiful picture of bravery of both women and men. A story of forgiveness, an unexpected love story. Great history.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Happiness is Scriptural

This Sunday will be the last meeting of our church. We’re having a celebration, sharing time with each other, remembering good things, praising God. I know we’ll cry, but we will find joy.

For our last month together our pastor Todd used the time to study two very important Bible topics, humility and happiness.

Happiness is Scriptural, spiritual. It’s okay for us to desire to be happy. God is happy, with himself, his creation, his people. He is the source of all happiness.

Todd said there are at least two thousand times happiness or a synonym is mentioned in the bible—pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, well-being, joy.

People need to see a smile on our faces, hear it in our voices. We don’t need to be so serious.

Happiness is not shallow.

Of course there are hard times, but Paul wrote about joy from prison in Philippians, and Zephaniah did during hard times for Israel. We can be happy because of our knowledge of God and what he’s done for us. We need to let what we know in our hearts show up on our faces as a witness to people in the world.

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

Genesis 1:31: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Psalm 4:7: You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.

Todd said the word for happiness in that verse was like a festival!

We need to stay close to God, the source of happiness, like backing up to a fire to keep warm. Todd told a funny story about that, but I won’t share it. You’ll have to ask him.

Psalm 16: 11: You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Fullness of joy, not just a little bit.

Philippians 4:4: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Paul thought it was so important, he repeated it. In this verse and throughout Philippians.

1 Timothy 6: 6, 17: But godliness with contentment is great gain. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Be careful not to let the devil steal our joy.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 15:11-12: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Psalm 32:1 Blessed (Happy) is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Another thief of happiness is worry.

Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Todd told us about happiness habits.

Thanking God. Specifically about the things around us, in our house, in our days.

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.

Stay in God’s word daily; stay close to the source of happiness.

Giving to others; encouragement, financially, everyday help.

Acts 20:35: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Friday, July 26, 2019

Thank You Dialogue

I started writing stories when I was about ten. In my teen years, I had two poems and ten short stories published in magazines. Nine of those short stories were published in DIALOGUE Magazine.

DIALOGUE has been running for 57 years. On the front cover, it says, “A world of ideas for visually impaired people of all ages.”

It contains personal stories from blind and visually impaired people, special equipment which might interest them, career information, news tips, recipes, and more and more.

In the 70s, they published fiction short stories, and that’s where I first was published.

Forty years later, I still remember one lesson I learned about writing from DIALOGUE.

When they returned one of my short stories, they told me that other people solved the main character’s problems, instead of her figuring out any of it on her own. That is a story technique I have always remembered and tried to use.

As I’ve said before, for 30 years, I almost never wrote, because of work, school and family. I also stopped reading braille magazines.

Seven years ago, since I stopped working for health reasons, I started reading and writing again, thank God.

I read Dialogue again, and they published eleven articles from me, about being a blind Mom and wife and employee; about being a more mature blind person than I used to be; about braille; about writing; about dealing with new disabilities after brain injury.

As of June of this year, DIALOGUE Magazine is suspending publication due to financial reasons. I will miss them. I thank God for them.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Three Smiles


God has given me another precious gift. I’ve been enjoying new memories with my kids as adults. Now my prayer is that god will help me remember to bite my tongue on advice unless I’m asked. And maybe even then. I’ll share some of those new memories in the upcoming weeks.


In June of this year, my friend Nina in Arizona sent me this lovely message. With her permission, I am sharing it:

“Hi Kathy, It's quiet here. We are waiting for the monsoons to come and the days are hot and dry.

“Ravens built a nest on an electrical power line scaffold and we watched them from afar as they tended to the chicks. And then one day, they were out of the nest and two of the youngsters spent their first day as grownups hopping around on our back porch.

“Big as chickens they were. The poor things looked confused, hot and thirsty with their bills wide open and their wings trailing on the ground. I tossed some cooked chicken bits outside and they ate a few but mostly they hopped awkwardly on and around chairs, a table and two loungers.

“Evening came and we could hear the parents calling with their raspy croaks to come home for the evening. The two youngsters tried to fly- one took off and sailed across the wash and up again into the scaffolding to join mom and dad. The other one appeared completely lost and he banged against the windows, only getting aloft for a few seconds.

“He tried again and again and finally, he managed to glide off and away but never managed to get up to the top of the scaffolding in the evening gloom.

“I thought about how much raven children are like human children, wanting to leave, unsure of their independence and how good parents try and keep a watchful eye. The day the two ravens were in our tiny yard, the parents could see and hear them. Perhaps they considered our place to be a safe spot, much like parents dropping off young teens at the mall for the first time.”

And the third smile?

I’ve received the book cover for my children’s story, “Millie’s Christmas,” which will be released by Mantle Rock Publishing on October 22.

I will share more about that soon also.

Friday, July 12, 2019

A LOST MELODY: A Book I Will Definitely Read Again

A LOST MELODY by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith.

I thank God for the gifts he gives me each day, including books which touch me in new and wondrous ways. As I’ve said before, God still has many surprises for me.

Jill is dealing with her lost career as a concert pianist because of an injury. Her fiancé, Greg, is trying to start his lifelong dream of serving in politics.

Then, to save hundreds of lives, Jill follows her instincts and changes both hers and Greg’s futures.

Jill wonders if she’s going insane. Greg’s supporters tell him to distance himself from Jill, that she’s ruining his career.

Both have to stretch their faith in God, pray to Him, and ask for his wisdom and will in their lives in a way they’ve never done before.

Well-written; excellent story pace, fun characters. Amazing ending.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Pop My bubble

At church last Sunday we discussed humility. Our pastor Todd passed out bubblegum as a little prop and invited us to pop bubbles during the rest of the service if we liked. I tried to pop one at Murray, but I’ve never been good at that.

Humility is like popping our bubble that the world is all about me; the world revolves around me. How many times have I heard that before? But it popped my bubble in a new way this week.

Why does my family talk to me while I’m working? Why did someone leave the door half open? Didn’t they know I might run into it? Why won’t my family come closer to me when they speak? Don’t they know I can’t hear well enough to understand them otherwise? Why isn’t everybody’s first thought always about what I need or want?

Todd said C.S. Lewis said that pride is a spiritual cancer. Wow. Isn’t that true? Pride in myself, centering my thoughts on me, keeps me from being the wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend I need to be to the people I love. It halts my ability to give them the attention they deserve and need. Thinking about myself first keeps me from being the daughter God has created me to be.

And our greatest example is Jesus. He did think the world revolved around us instead of him, so he came down to take our punishment.

Philippians 2: 5-8: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Eight Things Christians Can Do Each Day

Recently I mentioned that I try to remind myself to sing “Jesus Loves Me” each morning. The following was shared with me online recently, and I believe it’s another good everyday reminder.

8 Statements Christians Should Make Each Day

If you are a Christian, you can start each day by telling yourself these wonderful truths. You might want to memorize this list or run it off and keep it by your bed to read each morning!

1. I am God’s child.

John 1:12: To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

1 John 3:1: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

2. Although I deserved death, Jesus forgave my sins and promises me eternal life!

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. Whatever happens today, I will not be alone.

Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor
any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4. Not only is God ever-present, He is my Helper. 

Hebrews 13:5-6: God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

5. I can obey God’s commands today because He gives me His power.

Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

6. I can resist the devil today and he will flee from me.

James 4:7: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

7. God has purposes for me today and I long to fulfill them.

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

8. As I walk with God, He will use even the worst things in my life for my good today and every day!

Romans 8:28: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.