Friday, March 30, 2007



Did you know this past Tuesday was a holiday? It was Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, according to an article in the newspaper. (Note: I ran the picture of a dog because I think he's cute and quirky.)
These are a few country song titles I came across that gave me a laugh:

She Got the Gold Mine, I Got the Shaft

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, She Loves My Farmer's Tan

When the Phone Don't Ring...You'll Know It's Me

I'm So Miserable Without You...It's Almost Like Having You Here

My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend...And I Sure Do Miss Him

If You Wanna' Keep Your Beer Real Cold...Put It Next to My Ex-Wife's Heart

Before We Said I Do, We Did, But Now We Don't

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I'm delighted to interview Tricia Goyer today and find out "The Tricia Goyer Love Story."

Kristy: Tricia, tell us a little about yourself and your new book.

Tricia: Hi! I’m the wife of one, mother of three, and author of nine books, both fiction and non-fiction. A Valley of Betrayal is my newest novel from the series, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War. The back cover says: "Artist Sophie Grace has one goal: finding her beloved Michael in war-torn Spain. His work as a news photographer has taken him deep into the country wracked by civil war between ragtag Spanish patriots and Nazi-backed Franco forces. Acclaimed author Tricia Goyer creates a riveting cast of characters against the backdrop of pre-WWII Spain. Love, loss, pain, and beauty abound in this first book in her new series, Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War. "

Kristy: A great book! Readers, it can be purchased at or your local Christian bookstore. This is Tricia's professional bio, below. This will give you the real scoop about her:
Tricia Goyer was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Writer of the Year in 2003. Her book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the 2005 Gold Medallion, and her novel Night Song won First Place in the Book of the Year Contest, awarded by American Christian Fiction Writers (long historical romance category). She has written hundreds of articles, Bible study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books. Yet those things pale in comparison to her love for her family. She's married to the love of her life, John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools. Tricia's first novel, From Dust and Ashes (Moody Publishers) was inspired by true stories from World War II veterans. She heard so many great stories from veterans, she wrote three more novels in that series: Night Song, Dawn of a Thousand Nights, and Arms of Deliverance. Out of her own experiences as a teenage mother and her work with young moms, Tricia wrote Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan). She recently completed Generation Next Parenting (Multnomah) for Gen X'ers (people born between 1964-1979). In addition to writing, Tricia enjoys sharing Jesus' love through volunteering as a mentor for teenage moms in her community. And she joins the rest of her family leading children's church every week. Tricia travels around the nation as a speaker.
Kristy: Now, for your love story. Tricia, what did you say your husband's name is?

Tricia: John

Kristy: How long have you been married?

Tricia: Seventeen years on April 7!

Kristy: If you were a Christian before you met him, were you praying for a husband? (as opposed to just trusting God with your entire future?)

Tricia: I gave my heart to the Lord about three months before I met John. I was a pregnant teen, and I told God He could take over my life because I had sure messed it up! I don’t remember praying for a husband. I was mostly concerned about taking care of my baby to come … a big challenge for a 17-year-old.

Kristy: How did you meet John?

Tricia: I met John at church. He was my pastor’s son. Well, I didn’t really “meet” him, but I saw him there. Then, the day my baby, Cory, was born he came to see me. He knew my boyfriend was out of the picture, and he was just trying to be nice. He brought a card and a teddy bear for Cory.

Kristy: Was it love at first sight, or did love come softly?

Tricia: Well, at first I was in shock. Seriously … a 23-year-old, handsome Christian guy was interested in me … after I just had a baby? I would say love happened pretty quick. I truly felt he was a gift from God.

Kristy: How long did you date before marriage?

Tricia: We married after dating 9 months. We were engaged after 4 months.

Kristy: How long did you date before you kissed?

Tricia: Oh, about three weeks. John and I got along great. We talked and talked. After three weeks I thought, I think I’m falling for this guy, and the kiss just happened.

Kristy: Tell us about the time/occasion you told him you loved him.

Tricia: John was at a birthday party for my 18th birthday. He bought me a necklace with two hearts entwined. I gave him a hug and before I realized it I whispered, “I love you.” I didn’t plan it. The words just came out.

Kristy: Tell us about the proposal.

Tricia: We got my mom to babysit, and John drove one-and-a-half hours and took me to dinner. Afterward we want for a walk in the local park. John was in a silly mood. There was a small stage, and he was dancing and singing all these Mr. Rogers Neighborhood songs. I couldn’t stop laughing. Then we went for a walk, and he led me to a streetlamp. Then he stopped and got down on one knee. It was so romantic!

Kristy: Tell us about your wedding? How many bridesmaids? Flowers you and they carried? Colors?

Tricia: I had three bridesmaids—my best friends. My color was peach, basically because we found cheap bridesmaids dresses in that color! The flowers were silk. We were poor, young kids … it was nothing fancy but I loved it!

Kristy: Did you buy, borrow, or make your wedding gown? What was it like?

Tricia: My mom found a gown when she was out of town visiting a friend. It was a $1,200 dress for $400, and she tried to explain it. I said, “Uh, okay.” My mom had been with me to try on dresses, and she knew what I liked. Amazingly it fit perfect!

Kristy: Did he smash the cake in your mouth, or was he a gentleman and gently put it in?

Tricia: We smashed cake at our wedding shower. (The church put it on for both of us.) At the wedding we decided to be nice.

Kristy: Where did you honeymoon?

Tricia: Hahaha … we were SO poor. We drove one-and-a-half hours to Redding, California and stayed at a Red Lion Motel. Nothing fancy at all! Since then we’ve been to Europe together. We also go away once a year, so we’re making up for it.

Kristy: Thanks for sharing, Tricia. It was a touching love story.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


A recent article in the newspaper caught my eye entitled, "Happiness In A Tube." It's about the fusses between husbands and wives about the toothpaste tube. The writer says, "In the olden days, toothpaste was a paste, and it came in stiff, foil-like tubes. Squeezing from the bottom of the tube was critical. But few could resist placing a big thumb print in the plump middle of a new tube." He goes on to say that this caused many a fight in his own marriage.
"But thes days," the writer says, "toothpaste is more likely a gel, and it comes in a pliable tube or even a squeeze bottle. Squeeze anywhere. It doesn't matter."
Milton and I solved this pesky little problem early on. We each got our own tubes, and it's been that way for years. Before that, I'm the one who usually grabbed it and squeezed it in the middle--it's easier and faster. He didn't like it because it created more work for him. He had to squeeze the bulging parts through the skinny parts and work it up to the opening, taking more time.
Oh well. As the writer said, those days are gone with the new types of toothpaste tubes. "Marital bliss in a tube," he quips.
Was the toothpaste tube a bugaboo in your marriage?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The other day, the doorbell rang, and when I answered it, my neighbor was standing there. "Come see. Come see." She dashed across my yard toward hers, waving for me to follow her, which I did. "You're growing bananas!" We ran to the side of my house, and there, in the middle of the cold-damaged brown fonds of one of my tropical banana trees were two new stalks of bananas growing as pretty as you please! She came to tell me, because only days before, I had lamented to her about the cold damage to my banana trees as well as to my pygmy palms, and she had assured me they'd be lush and green again. I knew that from previous years' experience, but I still didn't like the damage they'd sustained. I wrote about this last week, here on my blog. You can click here to read that post.

This is a picture of the two stalks of bananas after I pruned the trees and removed the brown fronds.

This is a closeup. The big purple thing will "hatch" more stalks, my neighbor said. In fact, the tall pointed pink and yellow thing was once a big purple thing encasing the stalks.

In my previous post, I talked about damage that sometimes comes in marriage, and in our relationships with others. I talked about how the sun will eventually heal the cold damage on my plants and, the Son will eventually heal the damage in our relationships, as we pray about it and trust Him to work on our behalf.

Seeing my stalks of bananas signified new life to me. And even though I had to prune the brown fronds of my banana trees, leaving no fronds at all--the poor trees look so bare, they remind me of skinny totem poles--I know they'll once again flourish.

If you've sustained damage in your marriage or in a relationship with a friend or relative or coworker, take heart! Believe for healing.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Succeeding Through Failure
By Milton Dykes

It may sound impossible, but you can succeed even through failure. There is something that can be learned from every setback that can help move you closer to your goal. No sane person begins the day with the idea of making a mess of the opportunity the day offers, but the fact is, each of us is inevitably going to face detours, delays, and disappointments. Your dreams and visions may appear to be shattered, but you can rise up through the failure to move to the higher plan and purpose of God.

Thomas Edison, the great inventor, said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another set forward.” The great General George S. Patton noted, “The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” You can rise above the setbacks of life and move forward to new opportunities before you, if you choose to do it. Choosing to try again with God's help is the secret to succeeding through failure.

Life’s disappointments can be like a shell that restricts life. Alfred Lord Tennyson put it this way: “The shell must break before the bird can fly.” We can allow our destinies to be held back by the hard layers of failure that can build up. All of us are going to fail sometime, but we must be determined to break the shell of doubt and despair that can restrict us from sowing new seeds of opportunity.

Let me encourage you to be determined in the face of failure and try again. Did you know that Walt Disney declared bankruptcy five times before he succeeded? Did you know that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, was cut from his high school basketball team? Did you know that John Grisham, who has more than 80 million books in print worldwide, was turned down by 35 publishers before getting published? Charles Swindoll said, “The person who succeeds is not the one who holds back, fearing failure, nor the one who never fails, but rather the one who moves on in spite of failure."

The difference between people who succeed and people who fail? Successful people get over their setbacks and transcend their limitations. From a biblical standpoint, we have the promise of God that He will help us succeed in spite of our shortcomings. God has a plan and path that leads to victory if we will trust Him during our disappointing failures. Samson failed. David failed. Simon Peter failed. John Mark failed, and on the list goes. Yet God was merciful to all of them and moved them from their failings to great success. This can happen for you too!

Friday, March 23, 2007


More beach activities with our friends Sandra and Don (see my post two days ago). We sailed on the lake. We walked. We biked. On the sand and on the "Switchback" trail (interpretation: roots and hills so profuse, Sandra and I ended up walking our bikes some of the way; the guys kidded us). We saw a few jellyfish. Uuueee! We made S'Mores by the campfire.
Yum, yum. Can you tell we have a new digital camera and like to use it? :)

This last shot, the one of Milton and me walking on the beach, reminds me of the scripture: "And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'" (Romans 10:15). Well, I'm not saying our feet are beautiful, but we are sent by God to preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things. We are mightily blessed. Thank You, Lord, for Your call on our lives. And Lord, help me to be a good wife to this good man!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I'm delighted to interview Dr. Richard Mabry today and find out "The Dr. Richard Mabry Love Story." I'm also delighted to be on his blog today, where he interviewed me (click here to read it).

Tell us a little about yourself—a short bio, published books, manuscripts you're working on.

RM: Thanks for having me, Kristy. I’m a retired physician, having left practice in 2002 after twenty-six years in private practice and ten years as a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. At that point I’d written or edited eight medical textbooks and over a hundred professional papers, and I figured I was through with writing. I thought I was going to work on my golf game in retirement, but as I explain below, God had other plans.

In addition to my non-fiction book, I’ve had articles published in Upper Room, In Touch magazine, and Grief Digest. I’ve written two mainstream Christian fiction novels, both under consideration for publication, and I’m almost through with the draft of the third, my first venture into the area of suspense. There are more details on my web site: and on my blog:

What is your wife's name?

First, a word of explanation. My first wife, Cynthia, died in 1999, just a few months after our fortieth anniversary. I was devastated. My journey of recovery after her death, and the journaling I did during that time, formed the basis for my book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse.

(Kristy's note: It's a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it for anyone who's grieving.)

Then, God blessed me a second time, and a year-and-a-half after I lost Cynthia, Kay and I were married. Her name is actually Karla Kay, but she’s always been Kay to me and to everyone who knows her—except the government and our insurance carrier.

How long have you been married?

Kay and I celebrated our sixth anniversary in February. However, figuring that we weren’t spring chickens anymore, we decided to count each year as five, so I guess this last one was our pearl anniversary. (Don’t remind her—I didn’t give her pearls).

Were you praying for a wife (as opposed to just trusting God with your entire future)?

Frankly, I didn’t think I would ever marry again. It took me a long time to trust that God would someday reveal to me why I was still alive. No, I didn’t pray for a wife, but obviously God knew I needed one.

How did you meet her?

Kay knew both Cynthia and me because she’d worked for me off and on for twenty-five years. When I closed my private office and moved to the local medical school as a professor, I made sure my employees had job opportunities there. Kay quickly moved out of the secretarial area into billing, so I rarely saw much of her, except when I miscoded a claim. When Cynthia died, Kay had been alone for over fifteen years. About eight months after Cynthia died, I realized I needed to be able to sit down and unburden myself to someone. I thought about it, and because Kay probably knew me better than anyone, with considerable trepidation I asked her to have dinner with me one night, just to talk. We didn’t know what God was starting in our lives at that time.

Was it love at first sight, or did love come softly?

Neither Kay nor I dreamed what was happening as we had a few dinners together. We’d leave work and go eat somewhere near the campus. When I was “talked out,” I took her back to get her car, and we both drove home. No big deal. We both figured this was just a friend being supportive of another friend. I began to realize it was getting serious when, after six weeks of seeing each other like that, I went to Cancun to lecture and as soon as I got to my room, I opened the doors and phoned her in her office so she could hear the waves crashing on the beach. It was so natural to want to share it with her.

How long did you date before marriage?

It’s hard to know exactly when it turned into “dating,” but I guess we dated about eight months before we were married. Honestly, we both tried to drag our feet, thinking this was going too fast. Of course, our friends were all saying, “Hey, you don’t have that many years left. Don’t hold back.”

Tell us about the time/occasion you told her you loved her.

We’d been dating for about three months. It had reached the point where I would call her or she’d call me every evening. One evening, just as she was about to hang up, she said, “I love you.” I immediately yelled, “Hey! Don’t hang up. Say that again?” So she beat me to the punch. I’d been holding back, thinking maybe I was rushing her. I came to find out that she thought she’d just throw it out and hang up, giving me a chance to back out if it scared me. Of course, it was just the opposite. Needless to say, my “I love you” followed hers, and I repeated it in person at the first opportunity.

Tell us about the proposal.

I guess it came in stages. We’d been going out to eat at local Tex-Mex restaurants, interspersed with some German and Italian spots. That night I took her to an upscale restaurant, Beau Nash. Since we were sort of early, we had the room almost to ourselves. Glass walls all around, greenery everywhere, a lovely evening outside. (Did I tell you that there was a tornado the night we first went out to eat together, and rained every time thereafter for the first month?). Anyway, the setting was perfect. I held her hand, and said, “Kay, I’d like to propose a committed monogamous relationship.” I thought she’d never stop laughing. The formal proposal came soon after. I said, “Kay, I love you and I want you to marry me.” Fortunately, she said “yes.”

Tell us about your wedding.

It was a family gathering in the parlor of our church, preceded by lunch for everyone at our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, La Calle Doce. Our minister of music sang Be Thou My Vision and Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and a dear friend played the piano. No wedding march—we just stood up and our minister read the vows. We each had written things to say to each other and to our families. I still have those words, and I cry when I read them.

Wasn't there something humorous that happened at the ceremony?

RM: Yes. The pastor was afraid he might inadvertently say Cynthia instead of Kay. He worried and worried about not making that slip. At the end of the ceremony, he had us turn to face our families and said, “May I present Dr. and Mrs. Kay Mabry.” Well, he got the Kay part right, anyway!

Thanks, Dr. Richard. We enjoyed these tidbits about you and Kay.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Late yesterday afternoon, we drove over to our friends' campsite in a beautiful stand of woods on the Atlantic Ocean. Talk about heavenly? I'll say!

And they know how to camp: a luxurious 31-foot trailer with electric push-out sides that make a big living room and dining area, plus a master bedroom, bath, kitchen, and a mini-bedroom.

Here we are in reclining lawn chairs, enjoying the Life of Riley (relaxation) right before we grilled luscious steaks over an open fire. While there, we rode bikes, walked, and took a jaunt down to the ocean. As I walked on the beach, I couldn't help thinking of all the verses in the Bible that mention the sea. The beach always lulls me; it's so peaceful--the views as well as the sounds. I love going there, as often as I can.

First, I thought of the scriptures that talk about Jesus sitting by the sea and teaching by the sea.

Then I thought of the promise to the Israelites. They would be so profuse, God compared them to the sands of the sea when He spoke these words to Abraham: "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore...through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me" (Genesis 22:17). That's a lot of descendants and blessings, judging by these pictures of the sand (I even came upon some sand castles).

Psalm 24:1,2 says: "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters."

Psalm 93:4 says: "Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea--the Lord on high is mighty."

That's some awfully big "mighty" because this one ocean--and there are so many on earth--is so vast and so deep.

Here's a really neat scripture that'll help you when you're in a tight. I'm sure you know it. It's the story of the Israelites reaching the Red Sea when the Egyptians were chasing them. What to do? What to do?

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left...Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians...The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen--the entire army of Pharoah...not one of them survived" (Exodus 14:21,22,26,28).

God will help you in your trouble! He will deliver you!

The last verse that references the sea makes my eyes grow moist: "You (the Lord) will have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

That's good news! He's hurled our sins into the ocean, never to be found or remembered! That's worth rejoicing over!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


The English language has lots of ways to say endearments. In fact, one dictionary of slang lists about 600 separate terms related to the word woman, though all aren't flattering. Here's a glimpse from around the world:
The Irish, ever a poetic race, use the words mavourneen and machree interchangeably. Both mean exactly the same thing: darling.
Jamaican English calls a woman an uman or sister. A sweetheart is a stucky.
The Scots think of birds when they think of females. A girlfriend may be known as a wee (small) cocksparrow; a wife, a hen.
Dulce (pronounced "dool-sa") is used for girlfriend in the Southwest U.S. It might come from the Latin word for sweet.
Here are some endearments some people use: Moochie and Skinnycups. Birdie and Birdine. Wiggler and hedgehog. Killer and Thumper. Mumbles and Scarecrow. Curly and Bigbeam. Boobadoo and Bitsa. Cleverboots and Snort Snort. (Info gathered from The Sweetheart Book.)
Do you and your special someone have nicknames for each other? Wanna' share? If you don't have nicknames, make some up today. Have fun in marriage.

Monday, March 19, 2007


"Eat Mor Chikin"
by Milton Dykes
I’m sure you’ve seen the billboards of the cows promoting eating chicken over beef. I chuckle every time I pass by one of those signs. S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-Fil-A Company, has used his faith in God and commitment to Christian principles to make his company one of the fastest growing fast food restaurants in America. His business is closed on Sunday, and all of his employees are trained to have a pleasing servant’s heart. It is a great company with a great business with great success.

Mr. Cathy shared five principles of success in his book, It's Easier to Succeed Than To Fail. They are:

1. It’s easier to succeed because failure exacts a high price in terms of time when you have to do the job over again.
2. It’s easier to succeed because success eliminates the agony and frustration of defeat.
3. It’s easier to succeed because money spent to fail must be spent again to succeed.
4. It’s easier to succeed because a person’s credibility decreases with each failure, making it harder to succeed the second time.
5. And, it’s easier to succeed because the joy and expression of affirmation come from succeeding, whereas feelings of discouragement and discontent accompany failure.

For the cows promoting eating more chicken, it is obvious that it is far easier for them to succeed in their promotion than to fail. Failure to them could, in effect, cost them their lives. While that is somewhat humorous, it has some serious implications for life: it is easier to succeed than to fail.

For believers, the good news is that God has called us to success and not failure. Jesus promised abundant life. God has promised to “load us with daily benefits.” That sound like success to me.
With God, it is easier to succeed than to fail.

Friday, March 16, 2007



Okay, what's in your refrigerator? Anybody want to take the challenge of taking a pic of it and giving us a link in my Comments section? At the top of my fridge is a banana cream pie a parishioner made for us. Yum, yum. And fruit juices, grape and apple. There are plastic containers of leftover rice (Southern staple for all meals :) ) and gravy and creamed corn. There's strawberry bagel spread and other stuff behind. Next shelf has a large container of bottled water and fresh strawberries (yeah, they're in season) and Cool Whip and flavored coffee creamers and canned fruits and OJ. Next are bagels and breads. Next are containers of leftover chicken (to go with the rice and gravy) and leftover spaghetti and spaghetti sauce and then eggs. I interviewed an excellent cook for an article when I wrote for a New York Times subsidiary, and she said, "I cook it up, and then we eat it up." I like to say, "I don't serve leftovers. I just double-cook." I'll tell you what, when you're in a hurry and you've got to rush to a meeting, a piping hot plate of spaghetti and sauce that you had last night or the night before tastes wonderful. Behind all those things are eight cans of Slim-Fast I bought months ago when my daughter was on it. This reminds me: throw them out tomorrow. Next is the produce drawer full of salad makings and potatoes. Last is the bottled water drawer, and if we have company Coke and IBC root beer. Milk, butter, jellies, and condiments are on the door.

This is a picture of my "spilled" cup of coffee. Lotsa people do doubletakes when they walk in my kitchen and see that (teehee)!

Have a fun Friday! Lord knows, we need it. We had four deaths last week (my husband is a pastor), and we did a lot of comforting.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Yesterday, the title of my post, below, was "Time Passes Quickly, and the Sun Heals the Damage." It's about the cold damage my tropical plants--banana trees and three-headed pygmy palms--recently sustained, and the fact that soon, they'll be pretty and green thanks to a healthy dose of Florida sun. I related this to the damage that's sometimes done in marriage and the blessing that can come as the Son brings healing.
One of my commenters blessed me. I even used one of her lines as the title of my post today. Here are her comments:
Those first "hits" (not physical ones) take a lot out of you, because you're not expecting them. And because they hurt. But over time, it's not as bad, hopefully, not because you've gotten used to the pain, but because the "hits" are fewer and farther between and because they fall on a mature, softened heart.
I just had a minor disagreement with my husband just minutes ago. In years past, the same disagreement would have escalated into a full-blown war--when we were quick with our tongues and slow with our hearts. In a nutshell, I made a mistake with huge potential consequences for his business. I felt as though he was beating me up when he reminded me of the consequences and chastised me--just a wee bit-- for making the mistake.
But it's okay. Because he called back after a few minutes--we've learned that a "cooling off," however brief, helps loads--and he reminded me that we've come too far together for either of us to be overly sensitive and get bent out of shape, and that we'll trust God together that my mistake will return void.
The Spirit had already reminded me that my husband was letting off a little steam out of frustration and that I had probably been a little too touchy about his remarks because I heard the words but forgot to look at his heart. It was nice, and a sign of how far we've both grown, to have him call back to smooth my ruffled feathers.
He had to run into a meeting, but I'll be sure to tell him how much I appreciated that second call when he gets home this evening.
Marriage, the institution, can sustain much damage if we allow God to help us weather the elements. Thanks for letting me get that out. Just so happened that I read your blog immediately following the episode.
Man, that's some good counsel! My prayer is that we will all follow in her footsteps when the next disagreement comes up in our marriages. Notice I said the next disagreement. Isn't that the way it is in marriage? WINK

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Pictured are my tropical plants and the cold damage they recently sustained. Banana trees and three-headed pygmy palm trees. If temps dip below 40, they're in danger, and even though we live in Florida, we recently got a few nights of high 30s temps. Though we covered my palms with blankets, they still got burned by the cold. The banana trees are simply too big and profuse to try and cover.
Now, I have a good half a day's work staring me in the face to prune them. It'll be hard work. I know from experience. And nasty work, at least pruning the banana trees. I have to use several tools, including a long knife, hedge clippers, and a fancy kind of clipper. Some of the banana trees, I'll prune down to their trunks, and that's where the nasty work is--a thick, gooey substance oozes as I do it, making a huge mess.
Then I have to cut the clippings into manageable lengths. Then I have to line a large garbage can with black yard bags and fill bag after bag with the clippings, then drag them around to the other side of the house until it's yard trash pick-up day.
To prune my palms, I don special gloves and gently bend the brown fronds down to the trunks, being careful not to let the sharp needles prick my arms. At trunk level, I clip the fronds, and then I go through the putting-them-in-the-black-bags routine, again being careful not to let them cut my arms.

Within a short amount of time, both the banana trees and the pygmy palms are full and lush and green. I know that from experience. I'll post a picture of them in their state of glorious health and vibrancy--when they reach it.
What's this have to do with marriage or relationships?
I'm getting there.
Yesterday, I was standing in the yard talking to my neighbor, lamenting the cold damage.
"They'll bounce back," she said. "They'll be green in no time."
"I know. But if they hadn't gotten cold damage, they'd be growing taller right now instead of just recovering."
Again, she assured me they'd be fine, and when I looked at her yardful of mature plants and thought about how much longer she'd lived here and how much damage--and growth--she'd seen in those years, I knew she was right. Another thought hit me: Time passes quickly, and the sun heals the damage.
What's this have to do with marriage or relationships?
Ah, I'm here.
Sometimes in relationships, you sustain damage. Things go awry. I can think of lots of things that can happen in relationships or marriages. The wronged party's first thought might be, This is it. It's over. I'm done.
But I have personally witnessed marriages and relationships bouncing back after severe damage. I have seen a spouse who had a moral failure make it right and never do it again and the marriage solidify. I have seen other problems couples have encountered, and they went on to experience blessing.
There is hope. A marriage on the rocks can make it over the rocks and find sure footing. I've seen it happen.
So if your marriage or relationship is suffering, just remember: Time passes quickly, and the Son heals the damage.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


These pictures are of our trip to the zoo. We had a great time. Our daughter and her two little boys visited us over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, Milton and I were getting ready for church. Alexander, who's seven, was brushing his teeth in the master bathroom. I said something to Milton, and he said something to me (ain't none of your business!), and I suppose it sounded "sharp" to Alexander.
"Papa," he said, "you're not supposed to fuss with your wife. You're a preacher!"
We both laughed uproariously.
Milton gave me a hug then turned to Alexander. "Alexander," he said, "we don't fuss long. And we always make up."
Alexander grinned.
"I love your Nana," Milton continued. "And she loves me. That's what's important."

And that's so true. What's important in a marriage is that couples work through their differences.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Terry Fox ran 3,339 miles across Canada at almost 26 miles a day with a prosthesis due to the loss of one leg to cancer. His efforts led to the development of the Terry Fox fund which has raised almost $350 million for cancer research. When asked how he managed to keep going in his cross country run, with exhaustion and fatigue setting in with yet thousands of miles to go, he answered, “I just kePT running to the next telephone pole.” In other words he stayed focused on short incremental distances that he felt he could do, and that led to running over 3,000 miles!

It is amazing what can get done if we’re just determined to stay focused and committed to the task. There is a Japanese proverb that reads, “Fall down seven times, get up eight times.” Norman Vincent Peale said, “It is always too soon to quit.” We should never give up on our hopes and dreams even when it seems almost impossible.

Consider this:

1. Admiral Robert Peary attempted to reach the North Pole seven times before he made it on try number eight.

2. In its first 28 attempts to send rockets into space, NASA had 20 failures.

3. Oscar Hamilton had five flop shows that lasted less than a combined total of 6 weeks before Oklahoma!, which ran for almost 269 weeks and grossed $7 million.

4. Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections and was let go from various jobs before he was elected President of the United States.

5. The disciples fished all night before they caught more than a boat full when they followed the directions of our Lord.

I can still hear the words of the lady runner who passed me near the end of my first 15k (9.3 miles) run. She was repeating over and over, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” As she passed me, those words got in my spirit, and I, too, completed the race through Christ who strengthens me.

What dream do you have that you are tempted to give up? If it is a God-given dream, let God show you the way to turn your dream into reality. He has a way of turning impossible situations into glorious testimonies. Just run to one more telephone pole. Give God a chance to see you through. He will not fail.

Friday, March 09, 2007


"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love." -- Charlie Brown
In honor of Charlie Brown's statement , here's a joke for you:
Ted was in trouble. He forgot his wedding anniversary. His wife was really, really ticked off. She told him, "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in 4 seconds. And it better be there!"
The next morning, Ted got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window, and sure enough there was a small gift-wrapped box in the middle of the driveway.
Confused, she put on her robe, ran out to the driveway, and brought the box back in the house. She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.
Funeral services for Ted have been scheduled for Monday.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


J. Allan Petersen, who wrote extensively about marriage, said:

Most people get married believing a myth--that marriage is a beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for: companionship, sexual fulfillment, intimacy, friendship. The truth is that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. You must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage; love is in people, and people put it into marriage. There is no romance in marriage; people have to infuse it into their marriages.

A couple must learn the art and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising--keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.


Is your box (marriage) empty or full?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


If this story is true, it's a tender love story with a delightful O'Henry twist:

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with a rose on her lapel.

His interest in her had begun 13 months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf, he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell.

With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next 13 months, the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting--at 7 p.m. at Grand Central Station in New York City.

"You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."

So at 7 p.m., he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.

John himself tells the story from here:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears. Her eyes were as blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive.

I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sir?" she said.

Almost uncontrollably, I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the beautiful blonde girl. A woman well past 40, Hollis had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. A red rose was tucked in her lapel. She was more than plump, her thick-ankle feet thrust into low-heeled shoes.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.

I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow the beautiful blonde, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle.

I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather book that had introduced me to Hollis and with which she would now identify me. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard," I said, "and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me. May I take you to dinner?"

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just walked by begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Hollis's wisdom: the true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

"Tell me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "and I will tell you who you are."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Yesterday I was in line at the store waiting to check out.

"Sit," said a woman behind me, in a stern voice.

I turned and saw two adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed children, a boy and girl, in the child's portion of a grocery cart.

"Sit," the woman commanded again.

A lover of children, I cooed at them, then said to the mother, "How old are they? They're so cute."

"They're both two."

"Oh, then they're twins?"

She nodded, not cracking a smile.

"My niece had twins last week, and they're a boy and a girl."

"Sit," she said.

The twins were squirming.

I started talking to the tiny little girl, telling her how pretty she was, how pretty her big blue eyes were.

She pointed to her eyes and said, "Eyes."

I continued talking and cooing to the children, but the mother was stone-faced. I noticed the children were far below their age level in talking and pronunciation. No wonder, I thought, with a mother like that. All she can deliver is a stern edict. She's not even interacting with them. Doesn't she realize how a mother's supposed to be? How a mother's supposed to treat her children? L-O-V-I-N-G-L-Y?

"They're a gift from God, you know?" I said.

She looked uninterested and shrugged then turned away.

I felt so bad inside for those children as I waited in line and kept hearing her bark out orders to sit. I thought of all the women with empty arms, and here, this woman had two precious children, and it appeared she had no motherly love. As I expected, they got bored and started whining, and then I felt really bad--irked, even. Didn't she know you're supposed to provide snacks for little children in waiting situations? And maybe a book--even read to them? Or give them a favorite toy? Apparently, she had no parenting skills whatsoever.

It was my turn to get checked out. I turned around and told her to go ahead of me. She didn't even thank me, just pushed her buggy around me.

Seconds after she reached the cash register and talked with the cashier, she muttered an angry, "This isn't my day!" and stormed off in a huff.

"What was that all about?" I asked the cashier.

"She wanted to cash a check, and it was missing a signature."

As I drove home, I thought, That certainly wasn't a Christian love story. Christ's love is patient and kind and longsuffering, and it isn't rude or easily angered (1 Corinthians 13, the famous "Love Chapter"). Oh, I know a mother can get harried. I've been to the grocery store lately with my daughter who has a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. But this lady had deep problems, and my heart ached for her, and for her children.

"Lord, wherever this young mother is right now, bless her. Encourage her. Show her Your love. Equip her to care for these precious little souls. Take care of them. Protect them. Keep them in Your love and watchful care. Amen."

Monday, March 05, 2007


Last Sunday a parishioner gave me a remarkable gift—my own “Easy” button. It is sitting on my desk right now, and I’ve punched it a few times this week. All you have to do is punch the red button on top and a recorded voice says, “That was easy.” You may have seen the Staples’ TV commercial where the guy hits the button, and the problem is solved quickly. Boy, I wish I had gotten this gift a long time ago!

The truth is, that’s just not how life works—except with the Lord. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30). When we choose to follow after the ways of the Lord, He has promised that following Him will produce blessing and life beyond anything we can imagine. He takes all of life’s tough places and turns them into good. Some things may yet be hard when we follow the Lord, but He works it for our good.

Recently, I prayed with someone who was facing major surgery. Then I quoted Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Later, they told me this verse helped them through this time.

That is what I mean about God’s yoke. It makes life’s tough places easier.

Friday, March 02, 2007



One tomato, two tomato, three tomato, four, five potato, six potato, seven tater, o'er. That's right. It's potato, not tomato. But I want to talk about tomatoes today.
Pictured on my kitchen counter, above, is an ugly ripe tomato. Pictured on my ebony Yamaha piano is an ugly ripe tomato. Pictured on my family room mantle is an ugly ripe tomato. Pictured on my kitchen table in a sandwich is an
ugly ripe tomato. It is not a vine ripe tomato. It is not a hot house tomato. It is not a cherry tomato. It is not a plum tomato. It is not an heirloom tomato.
It is not a beefsteak tomato. It is an ugly ripe tomato.
An ugly ripe tomato isn't as easy to put in a salad as a cherry tomato. You just wash cherry tomatoes and throw them in with the lettuce, and viola, you have salad. An ugly ripe tomato isn't as cheap as a plum tomato. An ugly ripe tomato isn't as pretty as a vine ripe tomato--that one comes in a cluster on a little green stem with lots of green leaves. An ugly ripe tomato isn't as large as a beefsteak tomato. An ugly ripe tomato isn't organic like a hot house tomato.
But it tastes soooooo good, better than all of those I've named. It actually has a taste, unlike some of those I've named. It's delicious, in fact. It adds a great deal to a sandwich. Without it, the sandwich would be lacking.
What does an ugly ripe tomato have to do with marriage?
I'm glad you asked.
Sometimes in marriage, your mate doesn't look as good as other people's mates. Your mate might not be as talented as other people's mates. Your mate might not be as __________ (you fill in the blank) as other people's mates.
But your mate is yours, and there are advantages to being with your mate. You need to look at the good things your mate does not what s/he doesn't. Love covers a multitude of "sins," the Bible says, and this verse can apply to this.
Another way to take this would be for people looking for mates. Sometimes, people look for a beautiful or handsome mate. They look for a talented or charming mate. They look for a ________________ (you fill in the blank). But what they need to do is look beyond the outward appearance...
...just like I do when I'm choosing my tomatoes.
I'm telling ya. An ugly ripe tomato is ugly...but it's sooooo delicious!
I have a great sense of fun and, well, quirk. That's the reason for the various poses of my ugly ripe tomato, which by the way, has been eaten!