I love planning things–trips, parties, what I’m going to say. The other day, I said to Bake (my hubs) that I hope I don’t die suddenly, because I’d rather have a chance to plan it well. OK, you get the picture.

red roses close up photography

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So — our 50th anniversary is coming up in January. Let me digress momentarily. That fact is a miracle all on its own. I’m from a divorced couple, Bake grew up with beatings that kept him from going to school some days–broken folks. I never expected, ever, to make it past our 14th year, but God. So, here we are, anticipating our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

The kids did us a bang up party for our 40th, so I’m thinking I can plan this one. Hipdewoops. We’re going to dance. And dance some more, to songs that put the lyrics to our life. We’re going to renew our vows. (Over that I am sweating blood because Bake can say some of the sweetest things to me, and I so want to do the same for him.) And we’re going to eat cake, and toast every good thing we can think of in life and marriage. People we love have already agreed to help us put this shindig together and now I am purusing (incredibly expensive) invitations.

Back in the day, 1969 to be exact, I planned my wedding on a shoestring. Bake was headed for Vietnam, so we had two weeks to get ready. I used the leftover of what my dad had paid for my dorm room to fund the wedding, since we would be moving into our $75 a month apartment, the second floor of these old people’s house (criminy, they must have been about our age now). Their only stipulation was that we take our shoes off when we came in at night.

Back then, we had a dorm friend who agreed to take photos. Tuesday, my buddy Leslee, graphic artist turned prize-winning photographer, will take our anniversary photo.

My mom made my dress, knee length. The dress I wear to our 50th will be floor length. I made my cake. Our pastor’s wife, Heather, is going to make us a cake on the theme of a rose garden, and it will be a doozy because she’s talented beyond belief.

At our wedding, sisters who sang well rendered One Hand One Heart. At our 50th party, my buddy of years will sing a beautiful song about soul mates, and her voice is honey.

My grandmother played the piano at our wedding, and my dad flipped the lights off because he thought candlelight would be nice. Good thing my grandmother could play by ear. At our 50th, there’ll be a sound guy.

Bake’s dad, pastor and heroic POW, officated at our wedding. He’s gone on to live with Jesus. Our pastor, Jim, who explains the Gospel better than anyone in the world, will introduce our vows at our 50th.

There were no written invitations to our wedding. The guy who ran the dorm cafeteria stood on a chair and invited everyone, and the little mission where I first understood the Gospel overflowed with folks. They were even looking in the windows on a snowy day. There may be no invitations to our 50th if I don’t find some that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

We decorated my wedding with pine trees, silk ribbon and a set of candlelabras. My family lived in the Sierras then. My bff, Georgia, who can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, will head the decorating team for our 50th.

The love Bake and I shared back in the day has blossomed and deepened, and I sure didn’t plan that. But I’m glad God did.


Adults Abused as Children

For about ten years, my husband, the marriage and family therapist, and I led Stepping Stones, a support group for adults abused as children. It was peculiar in that we didn’t sit around commiserating, but studied Scripture on how to climb out of that pit together. The topics are:

  • Face the Problem
  • Assess the Damage and Make the Commitment to Recover
  • Correct Your View of God
  • Set Healthy Boundaries
  • Improve Your Self-Image
  • Overcome Fear
  • Learn to Control Anger and Depression
  • Increase Your Capacity to Trust
  • Deal With Sexual Issues
  • Give and Accept Forgiveness
  • Determine Whether to Confront Your Abuser
  • Life Beyond Survival

So, we’re thinking about putting the material online for people who don’t live near us to use to recover. Anybody out there interested in something like this? If so, what do you think would be a fair price? If you’re out there feeling alone with your secret, I’m talking to you, and praying for you.

Lifelong Learning

Have you noticed that there are some things you learn over and over again? Instantly, your mind went to how to work the technological marvel that is now television, or the personal computer, right? That’s not exactly what I had in mind. It’s not how many times your spouse tells you the same thing they said they told you before, either. (Though it’s possible they never told you at all, just sayin’.)  It’s more about principles of living. Please apply this to wherever you get your principles of living from. I get mine from the Bible. It knocks me out how I can read a passage I’ve read before, and realize I don’t remember ever reading this. Some people say this is because I’m in a different stage of life when I read it today than I was when I read it the last time. The idea being that I’m applying what I’m reading differently. Perhaps. Some say I’ve read so much in the in between time, that it just slipped my mind. I guess. What sort of knocks me out, though, is that often, when I come to something again, it simplifies the complication of my life. For example, I tend to get all weirded out about whether I’m a rule follower, the kind of person who does stuff to get God’s approval instead of doing stuff based on following what He tells us to do. Then I come to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Simple, if I’m loving, I’m good. It’s lifelong learning because I have to keep reminding myself. Could be worse, though, reminding myself to love is simple and grand.

Vegetable Garden Gospel

I have grown quite a few vegetable gardens since I started at about age nine. Stuff I’ve learned might be an interesting topic. For example:

  • It’s fun to sing “In the Garden” while you weed, water and tie up the tomato vines.
  • My father may have been right about cussing at the vegetables making them grow. I think I prefer cussing at the gophers, though.
  • Gophers really love bean roots.
  • Waiting until school is out to plant will make most of the vegetables ready after school has already started again.
  • Snails like everything.
  • Dogs and cats are messy.
  • Working in the early morning can’t really be called working.
  • A fresh anything is better than store-bought, or even farmer’s market bought.
  • Don’t grow corn unless you plan to use the stalks because you only get one or two cobs and then what do you do with the rest?
  • If you don’t water, it won’t grow.
  • If you water too much, it won’t grow.
  • You can plot stories in a vegetable garden.
  • You can squish tomato worms in a vegetable garden, especially when someone has pissed you off.
  • You can pray, with a lot of focus, in a vegetable garden, especially any time you want.
  • Owning a vegetable garden is playing God in a sense, because you get to determine everything, what vegetables grow, which way the rows go, whether to chemically fertilize or mulch or use pesticides or go for organic.
  • The knowledge of vegetable growing is transferable to younger generations.
  • Sunshine is good for your attitude.
  • Dirt between your toes builds character.
  • You can garden whether you’re young, middle or old, but if you’re old you might want to get a garden bench to weed from.
  • Wear gloves to till and rake.
  • Do not wear gloves to weed.
  • Weeds are fast.
  • Weed every week, or you’ll be sorry.
  • Tomato vines are kind of scratchy.
  • If you’re the impatient type, fried green tomatoes are really good.
  • Sometimes, vegetables won’t grow, no matter what.
  • Bees are your friends, but mosquitoes aren’t.
  • Plant the shade lovers in the shade, and the sun lovers in the sun.

Now I titled this Vegetable Garden Gospel, and you’re wondering where the gospel part is, aren’t you? Get ready, every single thing you do has Jesus at the center, from squishing tomato worms to cussing gophers to tieing up tomato vines. And that’s true, not just in the garden, but everywhere. So whatever you do, do all to His glory. I just kind of like hanging around with Him in the garden.


I’ve been reading this book called Weird. Its premise is that there’s a God kind of weird, like loving your enemies, and not working till you drop. Did you know that Martha’s problem in the Mary and Martha story was not that she was cleaning up and cooking her best for Jesus, but that she was ticked off at Mary enough to whine to Jesus to make Mary help.
Two principles:
Principle One: Don’t plan stuff you can’t pull off and then get your undies in a bunch because your designated helper won’t help. 
Principle Two: Sit your butt down and spend some time with the Creator of the universe. He doesn’t need cherries jubilee for desert or no dust on the door frames, he needs a living relationship with you. (Jane, are you listening?)
There were these two ladies, Hattie Mae and Bessie Leona, and they were God-fearing, church-going, tough-love mothering daughters of the King of kings. Happened that though they went to the same church, Hattie Mae lived on the heights where the street lights were all still on at night and Bessie Leona lived in the bottoms where you better take a flashlight if the sun had gone down. And then,
The church decided to have a blow-out Memorial Day picnic and invite anybody who wanted to come. Hattie Mae was in her element. She had the gifts of hospitality, generosity, kindness, wisdom, self-control, teaching, preaching and faith. She volunteered to chair the picnic committee while in the process of listing the people whom she could delegate things to.
Bessie Leona thought the picnic might lead some folks to Jesus, so she sat down and talked it over with Him. It went something like this: “Lord, You know we’re planning a big picnic. Do You think that’s a good idea?”
“Anything’s a good idea, Bessie. You just need to make the Gospel the center, and don’t let the picnic get ahead of the people.”
“Well, how should I help?”
“You are good at making people feel comfortable, why don’t you serve food or go among the tables visiting?”
“Oh yes, I would love going among the tables visiting. I’ll do that.”
“Have a good time, then. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Lord. Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it. It’s how I roll.”
So Bessie went about her wifing and mothering until Hattie came over.
Hattie Mae looked a little worried about sitting on Bessie’s worn couch, but she started right in. “Bessie, I came today because I want you to chair the location committee for the Memorial Day Picnic.”
“Oh, I’d like to, Hattie, but Jesus thinks I should go among the tables visiting. I don’t want to get distracted.”
“Is that so? Jesus is talking to you, is He?”
“Yes, isn’t He talking to you?”
“Bessie, are you getting enough sleep?”
“I think so. Are you asking Him about these people you’re having chair the committees?”
Hattie twisted the hem of her blouse between her thumb and first finger. “There are things God just expects you to put on your big girl panties and do. I can figure out committee chairs on my own. I save talking to Jesus for the big deal stuff.”
“He’s busy.”
“I don’t think so.”
Hattie’s voice got louder. “Well, He sure was too busy when I asked him not to let my mother die. I had just had her first grandson, and she never even got to see him.”
Bessie breathed in. She hadn’t known  Hattie then.
“I’m so sorry, Hattie. These hard things seem so senseless.”
“You have not because you ask not, my foot.”
“You asked and asked, I imagine.”
“And He said no. He said no, Bessie.”
“You probably don’t even ask him about big things anymore, I imagine. You stopped asking and started working instead.”
“How long has it been since that happened?”
“Thirty-five years.”
“Can you tell why he said no?”
“Jesus did answer you. He said no. Can you tell why yet?”
“She was real sick. I guess if she had lived she would have been one of those people who can’t get around and don’t know who anyone is. I guess.” Hattie looked down at her lap for a long time. “Maybe He was being kind, and I just didn’t realize it because I wanted so much for her to meet my Sam.”
“Maybe. Would you like some coffee or tea?”
“I would, coffee please.”
When Bessie returned with the coffee, Hattie was looking out the window. “How long have you lived here?”
“All my life.” Bessie handed her the coffee and sat next to her on the couch.
“Are you happy?”
“I am. I think it doesn’t really matter where you live.”
“What am I going to do about the location if you don’t chair the committee?”
“Why don’t we ask Jesus?”
“I guess it’s time I apologize for snubbing Him all these years, too.”
They bowed their heads together and Jesus wept.