The Bible Tells Me

I’m not the Bible scholar I should be. I know some verses; not as many as I ought. Still, I find most of my experiences can be framed or underscored, explained or illuminated, by Scripture. Or maybe a hymn or a worship song, a devotional or a testimony. Frequently, I have those “Oh, yeah” moments when I see God clearly in an event. Or realized that I should have seen Him.

These are the moments of “The Bible tells me.”

These essays reflect that. Do know that I can proof-text as well as anyone. I have a concordance, and I know how to use it. Well, truthfully, I do all of that online now, where I can quickly find a passage, see it in many versions, and choose the one I like best. I try not to be narrow, but instead broad, as I apply Bible words to my experiences. I know that your interpretations and understanding may be different than mine. But I also know that our God is big enough for all of us.

I have a friend who, in her prayer time, likes to tell jokes to God. “I know He knows the punch line,” she says. “But I tell them anyway. He likes it when I laugh.”

He likes it when I laugh. I’m going to hang on to that. It’s Biblical. The Bible tells me.

Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Psalm 126: 2,3 (HCSB)

Hello, Tim? This Is Mom.

I guess there’s always been some sort of disconnect between generations. The older folks have to get used to new-fangled things like cars instead of horses and buggys. And, televisions instead of radios. And radios instead of, um, people sitting around campfires and telling stories and sharing news. Mail instead of smoke signals and drums. Microwave ovens. Computers. (Insert red-faced angry emoticon here.) Emoticons instead of actual words.

Actually, I’m fond of computers. They make my life easier in lots of ways. Until they don’t.

And we’ve had a computer in the house for about 35 years. (Ollie, Mollie, Gollie, can it have been that long?) The first one was barely more than a toy, but I did a lot of writing on it. Then we bought an Apple II from a school friend of Kevin’s who was getting a new computer. Then, we bought, TA-DAH, a Mac Classic. The screen on that computer was about one-fourth the size of what I have now. THEN, we got an IMac. THEN, it got stolen. THEN, we replaced it with a new IMac, but it was RED. And then David got his own IMac (blue), and we were a two-computer family.

That was two or three computers ago, and I cannot even tell you what I have now, except that it’s bigger and faster. (Not great big, just bigger.) It came with “El Capitan” software. Then the word processing program said it could upgrade but I would need to upgrade my operating system and … (insert imagined conversations between me and Jeremy here) … so I did, rather accidentally, start the upgrading process to install the Sierra operating system and it always take so much longer than I expect, so I went to bed. Then, the next morning, THERE’S A NEW BACKGROUND PICTURE ON MY COMPUTER.

I liked the previous picture. Apparently, the previous picture actually was El Capitan. And the new picture is (you know this already, don’t you) actually Sierra. That’s how far behind the curve I am with many things “computer.”

THEN the phone said: new operating system; upgrade now! Or something like that. So I did. And, TA-DAH, I can’t find stuff on my phone. So, in a royal snit I called Jeremy. “I can’t find anything. Nothing’s where it’s supposed to be. This is making me NUTS!!! Who’s responsible for this? I know Steve Jobs died. Who’s running things now? Who is it that I want to go to Seattle and throttle?!?!?!?”

Tim Cook

This is Tim Cook who actually lives in Cupertino, California.

I suppose some folks, the younger, hipper folks, who grew up knowing how to use a computer the way my generation knew how to do things our parents couldn’t, even though nothing comes to mind right away, they like all the changes, and like changes all the time.

Both sons are basically kind and patient with me when I phone them for help. And when I phone them for help, it’s because I’ve tried and tried and cannot find the solution to whatever problem I may be having, so I’m not particularly patient. I don’t want to be walked through some scenarios and look for things to try, I want it TO WORK. NOW!

Sometimes when I phone for help, they will say: "Did you follow the steps on Jeremy's chart?"

Sometimes when I phone for help, they will say: “Did you follow the steps on Jeremy’s chart?”


Even so, Jeremy sent me a schematic for computer problem-solving. And, as you can see, there are notes on Post-Its that tell me how to do things. Still, I call, because there’s always some new thing I need help with. Which led us to a conversation about what sorts of phone calls Tim Cook might get, from his mom. “Hello? Tim, honey? HELP ME!! I can’t get this silly computer to: a) send a photo; b) send a letter; c) balance my checkbook; d) show me how to get to the zoo; e) 30,000 other things. Choose one. Or all.



When Kevin was here over Labor Day weekend, he was doing something on my computer (10 years old), and remarked how slow it was. Indeed. And he looked up new computers and said, “If you order this by 5:00, you can get it tomorrow.” What! Huh? “The beauty of it is that I’ll be here to set it up,” he went on. So, long story short, that’s what we did.


Funny how photos of one’s own desk never look as nice and neat as the ones in catalogs, that show a desk that no one has ever actually done much work on.

Please go ahead and click to get the whole image. Yes, you’re seeing right. There’s the new computer, and on the shelf above, the old computer and a television. I’m in the process of moving things from old to new and making sure nothing important gets left behind. So, yes, there are two screens, two keyboards, and two mouses (is the plural for more than one computer mouse mouses or mice. Mice just seems wrong.)

And, as Kevin was putting all the computer stuff together, he said, casually, “you know there’s no disc player.” WHAT?!? How do I play CDs? DVDs? Apparently, I’m supposed to download music and get a streaming service. Really, I prefer going to the library and checking stuff out, for free. I’m sooooo not a modern girl. When we ordered the computer, we got an external disc drive, too. I can only make a limited number of changes at a time.





   Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Psalm 127:3 (The Message)

And so helpful, too.




I’ve Noticed This Odd Thing

Years ago, when I was teaching at the community college, on mornings I didn’t have a class, I liked to watch the Today show (while I stayed in bed and read the paper, too). One morning, the show (and probably the other news shows) was preempted by National Security Advisor, Condoleeza Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission. It was pretty interesting, and I watched it all.

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Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Pour on Water! Pour on Water!

When I was in elementary school, a lady at church had weekly choir rehearsals for children who sang in the kids’ choir in Children’s Church. I remember going, sometimes, and what I recall most is learning the round “Scotland’s Burning.”

“Scotland’s burning! Scotland’s burning! Look out! Look out! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Pour on water! Pour on water!”

We were pretty good at it.

I had a “pour on water” experience last week. Involving fire ants.

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I went out to get the mail, about a week and a half ago. When I opened the door, I startled a black swallowtail butterfly, who immediately fluttered away. I rushed back into the house to get my phone. I went back out and stood quietly by the door and waited to see if it would return.

It did. I have a miniature yellow rose bush that stays in a pot on the front porch all the time. It’s a great plant, returning from near death, sometimes more than once a summer. In the spring I plant some rue in there, too, because I like the way it looks. It’s not as heat tolerant, which I forget each year, and it gives up in July. But, I buy more in September, and it grows nicely until a frost. It also attracts butterflies.

I was really hopeful. Every day when I watered the plant, I did it carefully, not just squirting water all over the plant, as usual, but running water gently into the dirt. I don’t know what black swallowtail butterfly eggs look like, but I think they’re pretty small. So … just in case.

Last Monday, I got the sprinkler and went to gently and carefully water the rose bush/rue plants and …

I immediately put down the hose, got in the car, and drove to the nursery. My previous experience with caterpillars (not lots, but a couple of times) is that will eat up ALL of whatever it is they’re on. All. Every morsel. Once I had caterpillars on some parsley. After they ate it ALL, I was frantic. There were several of them, and I’d already put in lots of energy on them. In desperation, I went to the grocery store and bought some parsley. They did not like it at all. Too cold? Different variety? Too clean? I don’t know. But, they gave up and pupated and I got butterflies. A couple of summers ago, I had them on rue, and they ate all that up. So this time, I wasn’t taking any chances. I went to buy more rue, before they ate up what I had.

I went to the nursery nearest me. I walked around the herb section and didn’t see any. An employee came over and asked if I needed help. “I’m looking for rue,” I said. “I don’t know what that is,” she said. “It’s an herb.” “Oh, well. I’ve just been working here for two weeks.”

I explained that I had some caterpillars, and I needed some more rue. “Oh,” she said, understanding. “You want to treat the caterpillars.” She meant “get rid of them.”

“No,” I said. “I want to buy them lunch.”

So we went off to find the owners, who might know if there was any rue.

We found them working in the shrub area. She called out to them and said, “This lady wants some rue. Do we have that?”

“Yes,” said the owner, taking off her gloves and walking up to us. “They’re herbs.”

“And,” she went on, “Up by the register, I have three of them. They have caterpillars.”

“No thanks,” I said. “I’ve already got caterpillars.”

“She wants to buy them lunch,” said the first employee.

We went and found the rue plants, and found another one with a teeeeny little caterpillar on it. “No, thanks,” I said again. “I have the caterpillar part.” I bought four (other) small plants and took them home. By then, it was afternoon and warm, so I left the caterpillars munching their way through what I had, and waited until the next morning, when I could work in cooler temperatures and shade. I dug up the rue plant that had the caterpillars on it and put it in a small container. I put that into the middle of the caterpillar habitat (yes, I have a caterpillar habitat), and put the four new rue plants around it. And waited.

That’s where we are, as of Thursday evening. I’ll keep you up to date.


“And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:30 (New International Version)

Yes. That’s pretty much what I’ve observed.


X’s & Y’s


Sugar and spice and everything nice/snips and snails and puppy dog tails

kidsWe learned those poetic lines, when I was a child, to describe what little girls and little boys were “made of.”  But, maybe the parents of boys were offended to think that their sons did not have all sorts of nice things included inside them, also. And maybe parents of daughters thought that an appreciation of nature and God’s good world was an appropriate topic for girls, too.

All in all, it’s really inappropriate to tag an entire people group with identical qualities, whether positive or negative. “All blondes are unintelligent.” “Left-handed people are more creative than right-handed people.” “All men are (fill in the blank with your idea).” “Women should always (include your own belief here).” We all have some biases, and sometimes they’re really wrong. We’ve grown up with the attitudes and viewpoints of the people around us, some may be spot-on, but some of them may be truly inaccurate.

There’s lots of information about the differences in male brains and female brains. And there’s lots of information that says all those differences end up being negligible. Some experts say that boys are hard-wired for some behaviors and girls for other behaviors. Other professionals say that those differences can be attributed to how boys and girls are raised.

There’s research and there’s also anecdotal information. My sister’s older son’s first purposeful sounds were the vroom, vroom sounds he made as he pushed toy cars and trucks across the floor. Her younger son’s first sounds were bang, bang sounds as he pointed his fingers around the room, as though to shoot things off the walls. Her third child, a daughter, who lived in a world of vroom-vrooms, and bang-bangs, made first sounds that were the gentler mews of kitties and babies. Interesting. (The daughter grew up to be a teacher. The car guy became a lawyer. And the gun guy, after high school, became a soldier. And after college, he became a police officer. Also interesting.)

Maybe more important than the x chromosomes and y chromosomes that we hand down to our kids, are the genetic messages that hold the information for physical traits that encourage different heights and weights and body types and eye/hand coordination, or the mental genetic wiring that helps with math or reading or an ear for music and rhythm or for ease in learning different languages. Kids come with some inborn abilities, but there’s so much else that parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and school friends and teachers and so on and so on, give to our children.

All that said …

That amazing zoo was created a couple of years ago. Last Sunday, for “God Created Animals,” I put the zoo animals in the block area again. These boys also made a zoo.

I’m sure the kids have seen instructional videos and learned about the cycle of life. Lions do eat zebras and giraffes, and tigers do chase after deer and antelope and wild boar. And that pacing jaguar Peter and I saw at our local zoo last week may indeed be considering a jail break attempt. It’s just really interesting to me how different the play of boys and the play of girls can be. Not all the time. But sometimes.


 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (The Message)


I understand that this passage refers to spiritual gifts. But everyone also comes with some innate abilities or leanings or interests. Some of what we have is honed by our family situations, our school experiences, our neighborhoods, and how we are encouraged or discouraged as we grow. I want to provide an environment where kids can choose interesting things to do and work alone or with others as they are creative and purposeful in their activities. I want to make good choices myself as I’m deciding when to say, “That’s a good idea,” and when to say, “That’s enough. Time to make another choice.”

Is It Real? Or …

Peter was here last weekend, and we went to the zoo. Friday was a great day. Overcast, not too hot, not many people, (school has started). When we were looking at the bison, I could see, just beyond the zoo’s perimeter, the traffic light and sign from an intersection at one of the park’s exits. I picked Peter up so he could see it and said, “We’ll leave the zoo from that park exit. When we go through the light, you’ll know that the bison are right on the other side.” He seemed unimpressed.

But, when we did go through that light, and I pointed out the back of the bison exhibit and said, “That’s where the bison are walking around, right now,” he said, “Awwwww.”

As we passed through the next light, leaving the park, he said, “I saw an arrow with a red circle and a line.” So, for several blocks, I explained about two-way streets and one-way streets, and how people leaving the park might not realize that the cross street was a one-way street. And how a left-turn choice might lead to a crash. Fortuitously, the street leaving the park is a broad, two-way street that splits after a mile or so into one-way streets. Nice segue.

Peter asks a lot of questions and gets lots of explanations. At this rate, he’ll probably be able to pass the written portion of the Driver’s test next year, when he turns four.

As we approached a light, several blocks on, he said, “Is that a fake tree or a real tree?”

“Where? What tree?” He pointed. Behind us. I looked all around and didn’t see what he meant, and the light changed and we had to move on. I turned and went around a couple of blocks, back to where we were. I drove as slowly as I could, hoping not to annoy the drivers around us, and tried to see what he meant.

“That tree?” “No.” “There. That one?” “No.” Then,

“That tree, Mimi.” I saw which one he meant and agreed. No wonder he thought it might be a fake tree.

img_1787I tried to explain what I thought might have happened to the tree. For some reason, they seem to have cut off the entire top of it, removing all the branches so that it was, basically, a tall stump. Maybe the branches had gotten so large and spread so wide that they trimmed it all the way back to the trunk, so it wouldn’t be in the way of traffic on the street or people walking by on the sidewalk. Maybe they thought the tree was dead. But, the tree began to put out branches and leaves again. And the way those new branches and leaves grew did make it look like a fake tree. Like a Dr. Seuss-type pompom-topped tree. Maybe they did it on purpose. It’s certainly interesting. But I’m not sure it’ll catch on.

I’ll have to start driving up that street more often, and see if the new tree-pruning technique gains popularity with other neighbors.


God told Jeremiah, “Up on your feet! Go to the potter’s house. When you get there, I’ll tell you what I have to say.”

So I went to the potter’s house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.

Then God’s Message came to me: “Can’t I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?” God’s Decree! “Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 (The Message)

I don’t know how this tree happened to have been pruned so severely. But somebody must have thought it was the appropriate choice. Then the tree, with its internal God-given guidance, started growing, the best it knows how. The real thing. Unusual. But real.

Meanwhile, some zoo photos.


I Think Everybody Who’s Running for Office Should Just Go . . .


… outside.


I spent most of the day outside Monday, and I felt calmer and more focused and more centered and, just happier.


I know that things, politically, running-for-officewise, are only going to get worse, as state and local campaigns begin in earnest in the coming weeks. People will be arguing and blaming, exaggerating and posturing (see definition 13), and, well, lying (not everybody, but some of the bodies). Things will become more and more tense as we wend our way to November. By election day, I know that I’ll be weary of it all.

I think we could all benefit from spending some time out of doors.

All the candidates, over the next weeks and months, should be required to spend time outside. Even those candidates who have to be guarded by Secret Service agents. Maybe especially those candidates who are under guard all the time. You can’t tell me that the Secret Service folks don’t have the power to empty out a park so that a candidate can walk around, safely, enjoying the trees and the flowers and the clouds and the blue sky, completely uninterrupted for an hour or so each day.

AND, don’t tell me that they don’t have time for wandering around each day. As busy and overworked and over scheduled and frazzled as they are at the end of every day? They NEED an hour of contemplative, uninterrupted thoughtfulness. It could be the key to making some good decisions, formulating some helpful strategies. And if it happens outside, all the better.

You know, it doesn't really look like this in one night's time. You have to go out lots of nights, to see each phase.

You know, it doesn’t really look like this in one night’s time. You have to go out lots of nights, to see each phase.

sunrise-173392__180It could be early, early in the morning. Watching a sunrise or two each week? Who wouldn’t find that inspiring! It could be late, late at night. Tracking the phases of the moon over four weeks time? That can only improve a busy, over-worked candidate’s appreciation for orderliness and careful planning.



We, as the ordinary folks who are the targets of all the television, radio, and online politicking, deserve messages from people who have put in thoughtful, sensible, and honest information that will actually HELP us make good decisions. And candidates can’t be thoughtful if they’re spending all their time in planes, trains, and automobiles, and inside halls, auditoriums, and smoke-filled-rooms.

Here’s the scenario I want to hear about: A candidate gets out of a heavily guarded limousine, on the way to a political function. At the door, the candidate is stopped and a federal official says, “I’m sorry. You can’t speak here, yet. You haven’t logged in your hour of outside time today.” It’s akin to toddlers and naptime. They’re just so much easier to deal with and so much more pleasant to be around if they’ve had their afternoon naps. Same with a candidate, I think. Sooo much nicer after an hour outdoors.

Umbrellas and rain boots are all right. Big coats are okay; winter’s on the way. And they don’t even have to walk around. They can sit comfortably in a nice, covered pavilion. They can relax, resting on a little bridge. However, riding from hole to hole in a golf cart can’t count. (Honestly!)

AND–they have to be alone. COMPLETELY alone. No aides. Nobody with papers in their hands. Not a schedule in sight. NOTHING. Just the candidate and the sky and the clouds and the flora and fauna of wherever they happen to be at that point in their political travels. Trees or large cactus plants. Ocean or creek. Trails, lakes, little ponds. Flowery meadows, flashing seas,* purple mountains majesties, amber waves of grain.** Whatever nature happens to be wherever they’ve traveled to or wherever they live. An hour. Every day.

Now that’s some campaigning I can get behind.


The Lord will guide you continually,
    and satisfy your needs in parched places,
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:11 (New Revised Standard Version)


and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.


One hour. Outside. Every day. Alone. Okay. Maybe they don’t have to actually be completely alone. If security isn’t an issue, there can certainly be other people in the park—picnicking, hiking on a trail, lolling by the beach. But nobody else who’s part of the campaign and all its parched places. At all.






*From the hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, text by Henry Van Dyke

** From America, the Beautiful, text by Katharine Lee Bates


I Think It’s Safe to Go Back to Target Now

Target logoI think I’ve mentioned before how much I like to shop at Target. And how I understand that they are using all sorts of marketing techniques (which I know I don’t even recognize) to get me to shop there. I just know that when I walk in the door, I want to shop. But I’ve been a little reluctant to venture in the place for the past couple of weeks. (Oh, I’ve gone, all right. I just go fast.) It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time!!

target insideAnd because many, many people feel the same way I do about Target, there are lots of moms and dads and teens and kids milling around. In all areas of the store, not just the school supply aisles. (Yes, I saw the article last week in the paper that said that Target’s sales had slipped the past quarter, or so, but, frankly, it looks like we’re making up the difference here in my Target.)

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Stamp Acts

Mother and/or Daddy must have thought, at some time in my childhood, that I should be a stamp collector. They bought a book and a package of stamps. In the package of stamps, as I remember it, there were lots of stamps, but many were duplicates. The thinking, I suppose, was that I would trade some of those with other young stamp collectors. Then you were supposed to attach (with the appropriate stamp attacher) the stamps in the little book, on the matching stamp pictures. Many of them, as I remember, had Queen Elizabeth on them. It seems like all the mail that came to the house had the same stamps on them, and I lost interest. I stopped paying any attention to stamps, and the only stamps we used in our house were those that came on a roll. Very convenient, but not particularly interesting.

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t realize that there were lots of other kinds of stamps that we could have been buying. I didn’t learn that until, and I am being really honest here, I came home for a friend’s wedding, a year and a half after we’d gotten married. While I was here in Waco, she and I were out running errands, and we stopped by the post office. She had run out of the attractive stamps that she’d chosen for her wedding invitations. “I think these are so pretty,” she said, as she purchased them. “They look nice on the envelopes.” I agreed. They did look nice on the envelopes.

That didn’t make me start being a stamp collector. I’m not a stamp collector now. But I do go looking for pretty stamps when I visit the post office.

Recently, at the post office, I found the cutest stamps. I found some really pretty ones, too. And I like the forever stamps, that you buy at one price, and they stay current and usable, no matter how much the price of stamps rises. Of course, when I use them all up, I have to buy replacements at whatever the current first-class stamp price is.

And I have to confess that I still prefer to send off real, snail-type mail. I do pay some bills online, and I do send some greeting cards that way, too. I like to get those kinds of good wishes, but there’s something about pulling a special envelope out of the mail box and opening it up and finding a card, a note, a photograph. And, here is what else I do. I like to use address labels that look nice with the stamps I’m putting on the envelopes.


I know, I know. In this day and age, it seems a little, um, weird? Ridiculous? Silly? But it makes me happy. It sparks joy. Do you think it makes my mail carrier smile a little bit? Okay. Probably not. Maybe I’ll ask some morning, if I’m outside when it gets picked up.


A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
    but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (New Revised Standard Version)

Several years ago, I was at the post office, mailing something and getting stamps. I asked for first class stamps and requested “something attractive.” flagstampThe postal worker searched through his drawer and came up empty. “Really?” I said. “Nothing pretty?” He looked at me and reached into the next drawer. He pulled out a regular, old, ordinary roll of stamps and put it in my hand. “These are the most beautiful ones we have,” he said. I bought the roll of American flag stamps and went home humbled and happy.