Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Quietly Caring

Our friend Betty joined us for Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house.  We've been friends since school days.  When I graduated from high school and set off for college, she made me a card that was three feet tall and had the youth group sign it, and she had them chip in to buy me a gift -- a wonderful bedspread for my dorm room.  It was perfect.

In a few months Betty will have completed 30 years or driving bus for Snohomish County's Community Transit.  She's driven the bus well over 2 million miles, and she's never left the county!  She says it takes twelve years of 40-hour weeks to accumulate a million miles.  That's a lot of driving!

She thinks about others.  Whether it's clipping a news item out of the paper for someone she thinks might enjoy it or keeping tabs on her friends' children, she aware of those around her.  And she accepts everyone -- she likes you just because you're a human being!

She goes a step further and takes care of others, too.  She's steady, quietly meeting people's needs.  Nearly every day for ten years she looked in on Alice, a widow from church who lived in her own home but no longer drove.  When the house next door became available, she bought it!  She continued to visit Alice daily and help her out as needed for the next eight years.  She'd cook Sunday dinner at her house and her dad, Alice, and anyone else who'd like would come by to eat with her.  Seems she seldom goes anywhere without at least one other person riding along.

No one has to tell Betty when she is needed; she just shows up!  She seems to know intuitively that you are hurting and need someone to sit with you, or you're happy and would like to have someone laugh with you.  When my brother Tom died in 1967, Betty, a teenager herself, spent hours at our house, just sitting with my parents.  

Watching this quiet, unassuming woman go about the business of caring for people without any fanfare is a blessing to me.  And I'm grateful for her friendship.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicken Mole and Red Rice

Tom has a number of Hispanic co-workers and he's been getting interested in their cuisine.  As a guy whose liked to have his fingers in the cooking pot all his life, he created a meal worth sharing.

Tom preparing an omelet for Carol
Chicken Mole, Red Rice and Beans

Red Rice
Saute 4 cups of white rice in oil until slightly brown.  Remove to rice cooker (or heavy pot) and add 3 1/2 cups water or chicken stock, 1 tsp cumin, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and a bay leaf.  Stir together and let it cook.  Should take about 20 minutes.

Pinto Beans
Partially drain two 15-oz cans of pinto beans.  Put into a sauce pan, along with a chopped clove or garlic and 1/4 tsp cumin.  Bring to a boil, then simmer.

Chicken Mole
Cut two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into strips, then slice them into cubes.  Set aside.

Saute 1 sliced onion, 1 bell pepper cut in strips, 8 oz sliced mushroom, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and salt and pepper.  As it is cooking, add 1/3 chicken stock, 3 Tbsp catsup or tomato sauce, 1/4 tsp cumin and a dash of red wine vinegar (optional).  Cook until vegetables are soft; do not overcook.

Remove vegetables from pan.  Set aside.

Saute the chicken cubes in the same pan, in 2-3 Tbsp oil.  Half-way through the cooking, pour off the juices and then continue cooking, until the chicken is golden brown.  Add the vegetables back into the chicken and bring back up to heat.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he wil be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him --
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord --
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-3a

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Lord, bring us to tears
for the shame of our sin
and, while we're still weeping,
do it again
as we glimpse the depth
of your marvelous grace
when we lift up our eyes
to your beautiful face.
Immersed in your mercy,
freed from our fears,
we'll dance before you --
laughing through tears.

Ginger Kauffman

Friday, November 26, 2010

Share Your Christmas Traditions

Tradition!  That's what we experience this time of year.  Thanksgiving, a traditional family day in itself, ushers in the Christmas season -- at least here in North America.

Christmas lights are a major tradition in many homes.  I know of families who spend most of Thanksgiving weekend getting their outdoor lights up and shining. Most of us have meaningful decorations -- things the kids made years ago, a favorite angel collection, or maybe a handmade creche.

We had our own set of Christmas traditions growing up, from the net stocking filled with hard candy, cream-filled chocolates and an orange that we received at the end of our church's Christmas program, to how we wrapped gifts, to the specific routine on Christmas morning.

How about you?

I'd like to invite you to send in a Christmas tradition from your family or culture that you'd like to share with readers.  If you have a photo or two, all the better.  Is there something unique to your family in how you celebrate Christmas?  Or maybe you grew up with cultural traditions that you'd like to share. We'd love to hear what you do in celebration Christmas.

If you have a tradition you'd like to share, send it to threeminutestonine@gmail.com.  I'll post these throughout the Christmas season.  I'm looking forward to hearing from YOU!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

Psalm 103 
(Of David)
 1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; 
       all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
       and forget not all his benefits-

 3 who forgives all your sins
       and heals all your diseases,

 4 who redeems your life from the pit
       and crowns you with love and compassion,

 5 who satisfies your desires with good things
       so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

 6 The LORD works righteousness
       and justice for all the oppressed.

 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
       his deeds to the people of Israel:

 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
       slow to anger, abounding in love.

 9 He will not always accuse,
       nor will he harbor his anger forever;

 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
       or repay us according to our iniquities.

 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
       so great is his love for those who fear him;

 12 as far as the east is from the west,
       so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 13 As a father has compassion on his children,
       so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

 14 for he knows how we are formed,
       he remembers that we are dust.

 15 As for man, his days are like grass,
       he flourishes like a flower of the field;

 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
       and its place remembers it no more.

 17 But from everlasting to everlasting
       the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
       and his righteousness with their children's children-

 18 with those who keep his covenant
       and remember to obey his precepts.

 19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
       and his kingdom rules over all.

 20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
       you mighty ones who do his bidding,
       who obey his word.

 21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
       you his servants who do his will.

 22 Praise the LORD, all his works
       everywhere in his dominion.
       Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Bible Story

I recently heard a story on the radio about a man named Michael from Ukraine.  Michael accepted Christ in his youth, but he did not own a Bible.  When he was in the military he saw another soldier in his barracks who would pull out a Bible and read it from time to time.  Michael asked to borrow the Bible as he, too was a believer, and the new friend agreed.

One day the commanding officer called the unit together.  There was speculation among the men for the purpose of the meeting but no one could guess what it was.  It seems that Michael's friend had left his Bible out one day, and someone had seen it and reported it to the commanding officer.

When the men were all gathered the commander lifted the Bible and asked, "Whose Bible is this?"  Silence.  Again, "Step forward if this is your Bible."  Again there was no answer.  Both men knew that there could be serious consequences if it became known that they were Christians.  Michael said the owner was too cowardly to come forward and the Bible wasn't his, so he didn't claim it either.  They both remained silent.

Once again: "Who owns this Bible?"  "I do," came the reply from another man in the unit, as he went forward to claim the Bible.  "Hide this Bible," the man was told by the commander, but he was not punished.

Later Michael and the Bible's owner asked him why he had claimed the Bible at the risk of punishment, even when it was not his own.  "I have wanted to read the Bible for a long time," the man told them, "and I saw this as my chance to read it."

Michael is now the Ukraine Director of the Bible League, a ministry that provides Bibles for people around the world.  On a recent Bible distribution trip to Russia and Ukraine, Dave Drui of Seattle's KGNW and John Hall of WORD in Pittsburgh had the chance to meet Michael and hear this story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Alice, the world's oldest living Holocaust survivor, is 106.  She was a concert pianist before being sent to the camps.  It was her music that helped her survive the ordeal, and it is her music that keeps her going today.

Click here to learn more about Alice, and consider sending her a birthday greeting for her 107th birthday, coming up on November 26.  (See details at the end of the video.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

Do you remember the Sunday School song that says, "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little eyes what you see.  There's a Father up above and He's looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see."  The song also includes warnings to little ears, hands, feet and mouth -- parts of the body that can get us into trouble.

James would consider the mouth the biggest culprit.

In his New Testament letter, he talks a lot about taming the tongue.  He says it is "a small part of the body but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell"! (James 3:5&6).  It's enough to make you never want to say a word!

Keeping our mouths shut helps, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  According to Jesus, "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34).  So what we say simply reveals what's in our hearts.

Sometimes the things that come out of our mouths shock us.  Did I just say that?  Is that really what I think?  It should cause us to examine our hearts, our motives, our attitudes.  And as we honestly bring these things to Jesus, He cleanses us.

Here are some things we can do that will help our little mouths be careful what they say:

1. Keep our hearts right with God.

2. Ask Him to set a guard over our mouths and keep watch over the door of our lips (Psalm 141:3).

3. Speak of God's goodness.  Psalm 71:15 declares, "My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure."

4. Avoid "obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking," (Ephesians 5:4) which are so much a part of this world's conversations.

5. Follow the counsel of Paul in Colossians 4:6 -- "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

On Getting Fit, Part 2

Speaking of exercise, I'm wondering if I didn't sign up for the wrong class!  This looks even more fun than the one I'm in!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Grandma

Grandma in 1984
with Amy, her
I had a classy grandma.  I never had any trouble figuring out how old she was because she was born in 1900, fifty years before me.  I passed her up in size by the time I was 10 or 11, and that made me a little sad -- not because I minded being tall or I minded Grandma being short, but because she had some really pretty dresses that I wished I could borrow.  They were flamboyant, covered with multi-colored flowers, and I really wished they'd fit me.

When we were young, my grandparents lived in Bellingham, where Grandad pastored the Free Methodist Church.  It was on Alabama street, right around the corner from a feather shop. The living room/dining room that spread across the front of the house allowed enough room for the whole family to visit for holidays.  We'd climb the steps and throw open the door to the house warmed by the roasting turkey, the stove with every burner heating up some delicious dish and the people we loved gathered to spend the day.  We twelve grandkids would spill into the back yard when the weather was decent but make our own fun inside the house on a foul-weather day.   It felt like stepping into C.S. Lewis' wardrobe when we played in the closet of one of upstairs bedrooms that we liked to explore.  Later we'd bump our way down the stairs on our bottoms, back to check out what the adults were doing, then through the kitchen to find the Chiclets Grandma had stashed in a drawer and down the stairs to the unfinished basement to play some made-up game.  It's the house I keep looking for but never find.  When I read, it's the house that most often becomes the home of the characters in my book.

Sometimes the girls would gather in Grandma and Grandad's bedroom to look at Grandma's pretty things.  We especially loved her little porcelain lady that glowed in the dark.  One by one we'd step into her closet and, nestled between her dresses and Grandad's suits, we'd see in the deep darkness the beautiful porcelain lady, emitting a beautiful glow.

Later in the day, after we'd made our own fun, we'd go to Grandma's game cupboard and pull out coloring books or table games or paper and pencils for drawing. Or we'd gather around the piano and sing.  There was always something wonderful to do at Grandma's house.

Grandma liked to work with her hands.  For my birthday one year she gave me a ceramic wall hanging she made for my room.  It hangs there today.  I also have a lovely covered dish that she made in her ceramics class that Mom passed on to me. She did some painting and sewing too, but I'm not sure she ever found a use for the fancy feathers from the shop in Bellingham.

She also loved to bake. Thinking about Grandma reminds me of date pinwheel cookies, snowballs, bon bons and a delicious recipe made with Special K cereal and butterscotch chips.  Melt-in-your-mouth delicacies, compliments of Grandma.

My sweetest memories of my grandparents are in their later years, when I worked at Warm Beach and they lived on the campgrounds.  I would stop in to see them after work or follow them home after an evening service and we'd sit around their table, enjoying a meal or some tea and cookies, and just chat.  They were so interested in my life and glad for the company.  We'd read the Bible together and pray, and sometimes I'd stay overnight with them.  Unhurried, lovely times to just be together.

I love you, Grandma.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Getting Fit

I joined an exercise group last week.  It's a national program called Enhance Fitness, an hour of light aerobic exercise which meets three times a week.  My friend Irene is the instructor and the participants are all senior citizens -- well, we're over 55 anyway.  We aren't as lively a group as the one on this video, but surely we have more interesting conversations!

Take yesterday, for example.  For whatever reason, cows were the topic of our banter during the workout.  We learned how to milk a cow till she's dry; we heard about a cow who could jump a fence flat-footed, without having to take a run at it (which makes the nursery rhyme cow who jumped over the moon a bit more plausible!); we heard the story of a farmer whose own cows charged him when he was walking home through their pasture in the dark.

We have writers and nurses and business people in the class, former teachers and a pastor.  I've heard stories about the group's picnics and salmon dinners (this is a group who loves food, hence the need for the exercise?) and heard the loving stories of former participants.  Yesterday I learned how, just three years ago, one couple met over an avocado salad!

There are folks who bring in one-liners and cartoons for the wall.  And there are people in the class whose very presence brightens the room.

And to top it off, I'm feeling more energetic. All of this for $3 a session!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

With Praise for an Opal

Townie's memorial service was last Saturday.  Friends I hadn't seen in years were there, most of them as impacted by her life as I was.  People shared about her good cooking and her hospitality.  One fellow worker said that even her boxed lemon cake tasted marvelous.  An African student she had "adopted" said that Townie was concerned that he spent too much time at her house when he should be out with people his own age.  He said her food was delicious and her company quite satisfying for him.

She had a breakfast for international women students every Saturday, but the guys were jealous.  Please couldn't they come?  No, it's just for the girls.  But please, they really wanted to attend.  Well, OK, but they'd have to dress the part.  The next week three guys showed up in poodle skirts!

Others shared about the influence Townie had on their lives.  She was always available to offer whatever was needed, whether it was to help with immigration issues or teach them English or the Bible.

I received the following poem from Greg Asimakoupoulos, pastor of Mercer Island Covenant Church.  He was a student at SPU when I was, and it seems he was as blessed by her as the rest of us.

With Praise for an Opal 

An opal is a precious gem
with fire in its stone.
It beautifies a suffering world
where millions feel alone.

An opal perched upon a ring
can give a person hope
as can an opal round a neck
attached to a gold rope.

And there's an Opal I recall
I knew in college days
who helped the internationals
come to the USA.

A fire blazed within her heart
fueled by her faith and love.
A faith in One who loves the world
The One she'd sung hymns of.

Inspired, she would not just sing.
She lived the lyrics too.
This Opal (we called "Townie" then)
served Christ in what she'd do.

The Asian, Latin, African
the Indian and more
found tea and hospitality
once inside Townie's door.

And now the Savior of the world
has opened Heaven's door
to welcome Opal home at last
beyond the crystal shore.

by Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos
Mercer Island Covenant Church
(Seattle Pacific Class of 1974)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Felling weary?  Do you need a midday pick-me-up?  You think a latte will do it?  Maybe what you need is PAPA3.

When Roger Schoenhals began to notice that, even though he'd spent a sweet time with the Lord in the morning he was feeling in need of prayer as the afternoon wore on, he decided to pause and pray at 3:00 every day.  As he shared the idea with others, a network was formed of people around the world who pause at 3:00 and intentionally turn their hearts to the Lord.  They spend just a few minutes in prayer, praising God and lifting requests to Him.

There are no dues, no rules, no commitments to sign.  Just a daily devotional sent to you if you'd like to join the fellowship of believers who desire to strengthen their relationship with the Lord through prayer and see God's kingdom advanced.

You'll find the story of how this all began and get your questions answered at Pause and Pray at Three.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Grandad

Grandad in 1984
with great-grandson
Meet my grandad, S.E. Fosket.  He was born in Missouri (he'd say "Missour-ah") in 1897 and moved to the Horse Heaven Hills of eastern Washington as a boy.  The S.E. stood for Samuel Etna.  Even though Grandad only ever went by Etna, we named our Samuel for him.

Grandad was a preacher.  When he preached about Heaven his eyes would light up and even his bald head would seem to shine with the joy he expressed in his anticipation of Heaven.  Because of Grandad's radiant hope, I learned early to not fear death and what it holds for believers in Christ.  Heaven offers a strong draw for me.

Grandad wasn't very tall, maybe five feet, six inches or so.  Neither were Grandma or Dad's two sisters.  Where did my dad get his height, I wonder!  He was six-feet-two!  Before my brother Tom had his growth spurt I remember him complaining to Mom.  "I wan't to be a preacher, but I'm too short.  I need to be tall to preach."  "Grandad's not tall, and he's a good preacher," Mom replied.  That was enough to satisfy Tom.

After his retirement, Grandad built a house at Warm Beach Camp.  All the counters were low, just for Grandma.  His garden was spectacular.  And he played a mean game of Dominoes.

I remember him helping Dad as we were adding on to our house.  Grandad was in the bathroom, nailing away, when suddenly the hammer smacked him a good one.  "Oh, baby!" was all he said.

One of my fondest memories of Grandad was the way he'd gather the family around and pray for us as we were headed out the door.  The way my dad does now when we are gathered around the table just before we eat, not just a perfunctory prayer but a heart-felt prayer of blessing on the people God has entrusted him with.

I know you would have loved my grandad if you'd had a chance to meet him.  But you can see him in Heaven!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

Elizabeth Coastworth

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mr Popper Would be so Pleased!

The other day I mentioned that one of our favorite books we read when the boys were younger was Mr Popper's Penguins.  Well, here's a real-life story about a penguin in Japan.  Mr Popper, this one's for you!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Delicious Fall Dessert -- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Roll

Here's a great holiday dessert, easy to make, delicious, and gluten-free!
Pumpkin Roll

¾ c Four Flour Bean Mix* or GF Mix*
½ t (scant) xanthan gum
1 t baking powder
1 t Egg Replacer (if using GF Mix)
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
½ t nutmeg
3 eggs
1 c sugar
2/3 c canned pumpkin
1 t lemon juice
Nondairy whipped topping for filling
1 t vanilla powder

Preheat oven to 375.   Cut wax paper to fit an11’ X 16” jelly roll pan. Grease the pan well, fit paper into pan and grease paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, Egg Replacer (if used), cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light.  Mix in the pumpkin and lemon juice.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the prepared pan, spreading well so the batter is even.  Bake  for 15 minutes.

Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto a clean, flat-textured tea towel that has been rubbed with powered sugar.  Remove the paper and roll up (from the 11-inch side) in the towel, folding some of the towel over the cake at the beginning.  Let cool.  Unroll and fill with a thick spread of nondairy whipped topping flavored with the powdered vanilla.  Reroll without the towel and seal in foil.  Refrigerate until serving.    Makes 8 servings.

From The Gluten-Free Gourmet by Bette Hagman

*Four Flour Bean Mix                  FOR 9 CUPS
2/3 part Garfava bean flour            2 cups Garfava bean flour         
1/3 part sorghum flour                     1 cup sorghum flour
1 part cornstarch                                3 cups cornstarch
1 part tapioca flour                             3 cups tapioca flour

*Gluten-free Mix                             FOR 9 CUPS
2 parts white rice flour                      6 cups white rice flour
2/3 part potato starch flour             2 cup potato starch flour
1/3 part tapioca flour                         1 cup tapioca flour

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sermon Notes -- Ephesians 4:20-24

Here are some thoughts from Pastor Pat's message on Ephesians 4:20-24:

Martin Luther described sin as a human being curved in on itself.

Our old self is being corrupted.  Put it off.  Put on a new self.
This requires a new attitude, the same one that was in Christ (see Ephesians 2:5-11).

We need to allow the Holy Spirit to restructure how we think.
It requires a direct encounter with the love of God in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is not about trying harder in Jesus.  It is about being crucified with Christ.  Christ has displaced me in myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hymn of the Month -- The Canaan Hymns

You may not have heard of the Canaan Hymns, the songs of the Chinese church.  Since the early 1990s, God has been using Xiao Min, a peasant girl who neither finished junior high school nor is able to read music, to write more than 1100 hymns that have inspired Chinese Christians all over the world.

The songs are beautiful, powerful, and filled with praise and hunger for God. The 50-minute video below introduces the hymns and the hymnist, Xiao Min, and expresses the faith of the Christians in China and their humble sincerity and love for one another.  If you prefer the video in six shorter segments, just click here.  I encourage you to watch it.  You may not know the songs, but after experiencing the video you will know something of the life and faith of our brothers and sisters in China.  And your heart will be enlarged as you see God's grace at work.

Want more?  You can read an interview with Xiao Min here.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I don't know what it's like where you live, but when we get to November and I see roses blooming, I am always awestruck.  I thought we had our "last rose of summer" a couple of weeks ago, but these beauties are now gracing our table, picked from our front yard.

I think it's a calling card from God, just reminding us that He loves to surprise us.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A New Kind of Problem

At dinner the other night we were talking about a relatively new field of study, positive psychology.  This emerging science focuses on people's strengths and virtues, on how to live more fulfilling lives and interact more effectively in society, rather than simply treating mental illness.  You might say it's the study of happiness.

Tommy said, "So a man goes to the psychiatrist and says, 'Doctor, I think there's something right with me, but I can't figure out what it is!'"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Great Celebrations

I missed a couple of parties over the past week that I certainly would have enjoyed attending.

Townie leading a women's Bible study
at her house at age 100
Last Saturday Opal Townsend (Townie) celebrated her 104th birthday at Warm Beach Senior Community.  That is remarkable enough, but her guests were of many nationalities.

When I began college at Seattle Pacific in 1968, Townie was our resident director, our dorm mom.  She was also the International Student Advisor.  I spent quite a bit of time at Townie's those first couple of years, and her apartment was always filled with fascinating people and things from around the world.  She loved the students and unofficially "adopted" many of them.  When she reached her 70th birthday she was compelled to retire from SPU, so she joined the staff of ISI (International Students Inc) and worked with internationals for another 20 years.

People were drawn to Townie by her genuine love and kindness.  She accepted everyone; she shared her love for Christ with them freely and naturally.

There were always Bible studies in her home, usually followed by a potluck dinner.  It was such a joy to be a part of these opportunities to meet students from all over the world, to sing together, to watch as the students grew in their understanding and openness to the Gospel, and to fellowship together over foods from their home countries.

Townie and friends at our house
Townie is the reason I worked in international student ministry myself.

At her party last week I'm told that, after the entertainment, her friend Carol, the emcee, handed her the mic.  "Townie, I don't know if you want to talk or if you want others to.  It's up to you."  And for the next 45 minutes, Townie interacted with the party-goers, asking one to share how they met, filling in forgotten details, then reminiscing with another while the everyone else listened in as they ate their cake and ice cream.  An Austrian woman who now lives in the Northwest was there.  "Townie visited me in my home many years ago," she told the group, "and she led my sister to the Lord.  That changed our whole family."  Versions of that same story could be told by scores of others worldwide. 

Townie's daughter approached her mom and suggested she thank the people for coming and then say good-bye.  Townie smiled and nodded and, holding the microphone firmly in her hands, greeted another of her guests.

Tom and I missed the party but we stopped by on Sunday to see her.  Her breathing was difficult and her color was poor.  "I'm dying, but I don't know when," she told us.  And so were we, we assured her.  Our visit was short, but, as all my visits with Townie have been over the years, very sweet.  I bent to kiss her on the forehead and tell her that I loved her.  "That's what everybody says," she told me.  "I just hope I loved you all enough."  Oh, it was indeed enough, yes, it was enough.

Carol called yesterday, Thursday, to tell me that Townie is now in Heaven with her Lord.  Her Mexican "son,"who now lives in Turkey, had arrived and went to her room to see her.  "Hola, Mama.  Este es Carlos!" he said.  She opened her eyes and smiled.  "I know you!" she said, then closed her eyes. 

Moments later she was with Jesus.  And as she arrived, I suspect Heaven exploded with joy as all the folks who are there because of Townie welcomed her Home.  That's the other party I'm sorry I had to miss!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Luci Swindoll, an Amazing Lady

It's just possible that you know Chuck Swindoll, author, pastor and radio speaker.  But I wonder, do you know his sister, Luci?  She, too, is an author and speaker and, like her brother, is known for her humor as well as her insights into life and scripture.  Luci has been a part of Women of Faith since its beginning, fifteen years ago. And I got to hear her last weekend.

At Women of Faith Luci quoted her grandmother: "A day is wasted if you don't fall over in a heap laughing."  Good philosophy, Grandma Swindoll!

If you know Luci, you know that she worked for Mobil Oil for 30 years.  But did you know what she did for the company?  She was a cartographer -- she made maps!  You may know that she loves the arts -- literature, fine art, music.  She told us that when they were kids and Luci, her two brothers and her parents were settled in their rooms for the night, one of them would begin to sing.  Others would join in and soon, from all the bedrooms, in four-part harmony, hymns would fill the house. Did you know that Luci went on to be an opera singer?

Luci challenged us to step out and take challenges.  "Do it because nobody said you couldn't!" she admonished us.

You can't help but love this wise, winsome 78-year-old woman of God. She says, "Faith is my protoplasm. Without my faith in Christ, I would be a very different person."  And I'm guessing she wouldn't be half as interesting.

If you want to get to know Luci better, check out this great interview I found online. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby Talk

In our Sunday School class this week, a gentleman named Jack shared a great story.

When he turned fifty, his wife was 45 and their children were grown.  "Why don't we have another baby?" his wife asked him.  "Wouldn't it be nice to be able to raise another child?"

Now Jack was a boater.  He told us that he owned a boat, not a large one, but large enough.  So in answer to his wife he said, "OK.  Let's give the idea 24 hours to percolate.  After that we'll talk about this again.  But if we decide to have a baby, I want to move onto the boat with the child and stay out on the water for 18 years.  Then he or she will never have to deal with peer pressure, just parent pressure."

"We didn't have another baby!" he told us.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Simply Trusting

I attended the Women of Faith conference in Seattle over the weekend.  Sheila Walsh, who has walked through deep waters that are teaching her to trust God, shared three questions that she asks herself to determine whether or not she is fully trusting Him.

1. Do you ever feel a need to control what's going on around you?
2. When something unexpected happens, are you more filled with fear and anxiety or a quiet confidence?
3. Do you ever feel slightly disconnected to God and those close to you?

Sheila's message of trust was straight from her heart.  She told of a man who came into her room when she was in a psychiatric hospital in the pit of her life.  She identified him as an angel.  Walking up to her, he handed her a small stuffed lamb and said, "The Shepherd knows where you are."

"The greatest gift we can give God is to trust Him," Sheila told us.  "Trust is how we show Him our love...All your stuff is covered by Him...It's not your job to get yourself all the way home; it's the Shepherd's job...Listen for His voice...One of these days He'll have taken you all the way Home."

Simply trusting every day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly
Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall,
Trusting Jesus -- that is all.
Edgar P. Stites

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)