Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - my own backyard

I've been distracted the last few weeks, as every time I look out a window of my house, I seem to find one of these. 
Out my office window
Out my dining room window
Out my back door
Out the patio door
Sometimes I think I am surrounded. But it is worth it. Aren't they beautiful?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"You surround them with Your shield of Love"

1 O Lord, hear me as I pray;
    pay attention to my groaning.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
4 O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
    you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
5 Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
    for you hate all who do evil.
6 You will destroy those who tell lies.
    The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love.

Psalm 5, New Living Translation 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Century Ago

2-20-15. Today’s date. Or the date one hundred years ago.

World War I was raging across Europe. I wish I had paid attention in History class in High School. I do remember that the whole war was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. That always seemed a bit extreme to me, but I suppose wars have been won and lost over what I would consider even more trivial events.

But back to Europe at that time. Can you imagine living in a country in the midst of war? For my entire lifetime, I have seen images of war on the nightly news, but I don’t know if any of us can truly appreciate it unless we have been there. How does anyone go about their day to day lives? Go shopping? Hold down a job? Sleep at night? Knowing that at any moment, a bomb could hit the building next door? Or your building?

Germany, being the instigator she is, had to have been at the center of things. Having been born and raised on the other side, all I learned about was air raids on Great Britain and how the Anne Frank family lived in the room upstairs in Holland. But there were so many good and innocent people living in Germany at the time. One group of them was the Loehmer family.

Oh, how I wish I knew more about them. How I wish one of them were still alive or had kept a detailed diary. From what I have learned, though, there wasn’t money for extra paper and pencil to chronicle something as wasteful as a diary.

Somewhere in that bleak landscape, the Loehmer family welcomed another son on this date one hundred years ago. My dad. 
Dad on his wedding day, July 6, 1945
 After Mom and Dad got married, he was in an adult confirmation class at church. He is the dashing (although short) man in the middle in the back row. 
Dad with my brother and sister. The caption on this picture reads: "April 26, 1952, near Ontonagan on Lake Superior, 85 degrees out" 
My dad (on the left) with his brothers Fritz and Frank, at Fritz's granddaughter's wedding. I can't remember the year, but I know it was in the late 70s. But don't these three look like escapees from a Dean Martin movie?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Can You Give Up?

I have done this other years, even though I am not Catholic. Maybe I continue it in tribute to all my friends from high school, who year after year, moaned about the torture they had to endure during this season.

Yes, today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The first day of 40 days (which is actually 46 days but they don’t count Sundays) of reverence and reflection. During Lent, all of my Catholic friends had to give something up (in addition to giving up meat on Fridays). If they were feeling particularly sovereign, they would actually give up something that meant something to them, such as drinking soda or going to the movie (I grew up in a simpler time). More often, they would give up something that really wasn’t painful at all, such as eating oatmeal or talking in class. 

But I started out talking about me and what I was going to give up this year. That would be chocolate. Then right away, just like my Catholic friends who said that they could give up giving up something on Sundays, I started making my own rules as to what really constitutes chocolate. Isn’t there a verse in the Bible about me being weak and God being strong?

Then yesterday, I found this website on someone’s Facebook page. What really should we give up for Lent? A food product or a bad habit? How about doing something that really changes your life for the following six weeks? And we find ourselves carrying over into the entire year?

Well, I read the list over. It does look harder than giving up chocolate. It is early in the day, though, as I write this; I will figure it out. 
For example, just how much chocolate is in this bunny anyway? Coz I just can't count white chocolate as chocolate. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is Love?

I had a few thoughts for today’s blog, and then Life happened, as it so often does. In light of the celebration of Valentine’s Day yesterday, I decided to resort to the obvious.

 I may speak in different languages, whether human or even of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. 2 I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and I may have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. 5 Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs done against it. 6 Love is never happy when others do wrong, but it is always happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits.

8 Love will never end. But all those gifts will come to an end—even the gift of prophecy, the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages, and the gift of knowledge. 9 These will all end because this knowledge and these prophecies we have are not complete. 10 But when perfection comes, the things that are not complete will end.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, and I made plans like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways. 12 It is the same with us. Now we see God as if we are looking at a reflection in a mirror. But then, in the future, we will see him right before our eyes. Now I know only a part, but at that time I will know fully, as God has known me. 13 So these three things continue: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 Easy-to-Read Version 

Maybe not my most original post, but you can’t beat a sure thing. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friendship Friday

Jan in 2011, always a very beautiful lady.

I got some sad news yesterday. A wonderful woman who I was blessed to know for only a few short years died in a car accident on Tuesday.

I’ve written here before about my experiences at the Green Lake Writers Conferences and I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much out of those gatherings had it not been for the talent and passion of this woman. She was the warmest, sweetest person I have ever met and was filled with both faith and humor. It would be impossible to not have your life changed upon first meeting her. When I met her in Green Lake in 2010, I was instantly charmed by her.

Jan in 2012, always cheering everyone on.

But enough of that. A hole has been left in the world now that she has gone to join her Heavenly Father, but there are so many other holes which have been filled just because she once live among us.

For more information, click here 
Jan in 2013, the last year I attended the conference. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - just venting again

Photo taken from the website posting this article. 
I wasn’t going to do Wildlife Wednesday, because I was afraid you would get tired of me constantly being on my soapbox, but when I saw this article on-line this morning, I knew I had to jump on that soapbox again.

Can you believe it? In whose world is it ever okay to hunt an endangered animal? What is wrong with these people? Or am I misreading this? Does it really say they are considering making it legal to trade rhino horns?

I kind of get what they are thinking. Same as making marijuana legal in this country – that then there is control over what’s going on. You can regulate it, tax it, put limits on how much is available, someone besides the criminals is making money. Ok, maybe that will work with a plant that people can grow, but an animal?

According to the World Wildlife Fund there are just over 4,800 wild black rhinos in Africa, putting their status as “critically endangered”. Estimates are that there are 20,000 white rhinos, so they are only considered “near threatened”.

Near threatened? That is the list that the Monarch butterfly and the Albacore Tuna are on, if that puts it in perspective for you. I really did not think that the white rhino was doing that well. I think that if there were 20,000 human beings left on the planet, they would all be in a bit of a panic. I don’t know. It would probably be a good thing if the human population got that low. I bet then the black rhino population would surge.

 Just venting again. 
Absolutely beautiful animals. And don't you want to take that baby home?
Picture from the WWF website. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sleeping with the Lion and the Lamb

Psalm 4

O God, you have declared me perfect in your eyes; you have always cared for me in my distress; now hear me as I call again. Have mercy on me. Hear my prayer.

2 The Lord God asks, “Sons of men, will you forever turn my glory into shame by worshiping these silly idols, when every claim that’s made for them is false?”

3 Mark this well: The Lord has set apart the redeemed for himself. Therefore he will listen to me and answer when I call to him. 4 Stand before the Lord in awe, and do not sin against him. Lie quietly upon your bed in silent meditation. 5 Put your trust in the Lord, and offer him pleasing sacrifices.

6 Many say that God will never help us. Prove them wrong, O Lord, by letting the light of your face shine down upon us. 7 Yes, the gladness you have given me is far greater than their joys at harvest time as they gaze at their bountiful crops. 8 I will lie down in peace and sleep, for though I am alone, O Lord, you will keep me safe.

Psalm 4, The Living Bible 

Back to reading the book of Psalms. Here is another beautiful song written by David . The last lines make me think of the picture of the lion lying down with the lamb. Sorry I don't have a picture of them together. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Us Goofy Lutheran Ladies

The Lutheran Ladies are sassy, have strong-spined opinions, and have stepped out of your office, your kid's soccer club, or your church to live on these pages. They deal with change--sometimes poorly--but with humor and heartache, they're on life's journey.

In Book One: Plucking One String, Vera Henley has pulled the strings of the Lutheran Ladies Circle for years; now everything has unraveled. Traditions are changing, even the annual rummage sale can't escape modernization. And the independent Circle women are cheering the changes--all except for Vera. Her humorous efforts to stop time are often heart-breaking. And when her high-maintenance, crazy aunt introduces even more rebellion and upheaval, Vera is forced to pick through the chaos and choose: Which threads of change should she pluck--and which should she let go?

When I discovered this ebook for free on, I had to get it. It sounded so familiar. The outside world imagines that not only the Lutheran Ladies, but all church ladies are saints - sewing clothes for third world children, cooking once a week at the soup kitchen, being the first to volunteer for the winter outerwear drive, and certainly never thinking – much less saying – a cross thing to another soul. Well, welcome to the real world. All of us church ladies are sinners like everyone else. We cop attitudes, we can be slobs, we don’t volunteer at every opportunity. We are human, but we continue to serve Jello salad at every occasion and we will attend all the major church functions.

The true joy of reading this book for me was that a few years ago a group of women from my own church decided to start our own women’s group. Our thought was that all the older women in their own women’s groups were getting older and someday the next generation was going to have to take over. So there we are – getting ourselves in way over our heads, coming up with more ideas than we can possibly ever bring to fruition, but maybe, hopefully, there will be a generation to follow us.

My words of advice? Get involved, where ever you are, and don’t be afraid to speak up. All things can be changed. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Bunny Tale

On my way home from town on Sunday, I ran over a chipmunk. As he sprinted under my car, I debated whether I should brake or accelerate, trying to calculate just what his speed was in relation to mine. Before I could decide, I heard the sickening thunk. I looked in my review mirror and saw his tiny limp body.

That brought back some memories. I had just returned home from my second year of college. My parents had gone camping for the weekend. A friend (a male friend!) from college called to say that he and his family were in town camping for the weekend and would I like to go fishing.

I naturally said, yes, though fishing wasn’t high on my list of favorite activities, but it was a sunny day and any sunny day in a boat on the lake would be a good one. I changed clothes and jumped in Mom’s car. I swear I never heard any instructions about not running around in her car.

I truly was driving safely, watching the road, hands at two and ten o’clock. I was not speeding to get to town. But that darn rabbit came out of nowhere. I slammed on the brakes this time.

Thunk. It was the first time I had ever hit anything with the car. I stopped in the middle of the road and looked in the mirror. His fluffy bunny body lay twitching near the yellow center line.

What should I do, I asked myself. Surely I couldn’t save him. Should I carry him (kick him?) to the side of the road? Let his final resting place be the gravel ditch? The grassy bank?

His body stopped twitching and lay still on the road. I looked ahead, down the road towards town.

Sigh. There was really nothing I could do. I drove on.

When I returned home later that evening, his body was gone. 

Was I too much of a softy then? Am I still? Isn’t that okay though? Isn’t it better to be kindhearted to all of God’s creatures? And why can’t the rest of the world have that kind of compassion? Have any kind of compassion towards other human beings? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How was your hometown?

It is February 1 already. Where did the month of January go? Next Sunday, I promise to move onto new inspiration on my Sunday blog. I just wanted to share one last excerpt from "The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days".
Last summer I started walking the streets of my town and sharing them here. I think that every town and city has something good going for it. 

As well as a few places to avoid.  
And some animals to avoid. 

But apparently the town where Jesus was raised had very few positive attributes. 

Day 31
On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was a fulfillment of the prophetic words, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23)
A verse from the book of John doesn’t make it sound as if Nazareth was a respected city.
“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. (John 1:46 NLT)
What do we know about the city of Nazareth at the time of Jesus? Nazareth, in the province of Galilee, was north of Jerusalem and near the city of Cana. There were rocky precipices around the city, from which a person could not be thrown and survive. In fact, in Luke 4:29, we’re told a crowd, disagreeing with Jesus’ teaching, tried throwing Him from one such cliff. The city was generally known for having a lack of culture, residents with an unpolished dialect, and a degree of moral negligence.
There is no mention of Nazareth in the Old Testament, so where does the prophecy that Jesus would be a Nazarene or a resident of Nazareth come from? Because the town and its people were so looked down upon, the terms “Nazarene” and “despised” were considered synonymous. Likewise, in several places in the Old Testament, Jesus is referred to as one who would be despised (Isaiah 53:3, Psalm 22:6).

What kind of town do you come from? Did it have tree-lined streets, beds of blooming flowers on every corner, and several whitewashed churches? Or was it filled with empty brick buildings, polluted air, and more than its fair share of taverns and liquor stores? How much of your current life was influenced by your childhood hometown?