One More Mountain

Last night as we lay in bed, clean and safe, I asked Tony why he grabbed me and kissed me in the headlights of the rescue vehicle. He answered confidently,
“Because I didn’t think we’d make it”.

Some of you may recognize this from a blog I posted 5 years ago right after our 45th anniversary.  We’d just climbed, with almost disastrous results, our favorite mountain in Japan; Myoko San, as we had done on numerous anniversaries before.
It’s rather long, but if you have time, I’ll post it again today and you can grab a cup of coffee and have an exciting read.
The reason I was thinking about it recently, was that our 50th was somewhat like that climb.  We didn’t almost die and we didn’t have to call a rescue vehicle, but it a lot of ways, it was the same kind of “grueling”.
We had SO MUCH FUN!  True, we’d planned this ‘event’ for about 6 months, and the execution was not unlike launching a space shuttle or separating conjoined twins, of which I have no right of comparison.  But suffice it to say that it was a LOT of work and we could never have gotten it done without so many of you.  I can’t thank you enough, from my kids to all the relatives and near relatives that rolled up sleeves and pitched in.
Some wanted to ‘reflect’ on where we went wrong, but I told them it was of no interest to me because we’re NEVER doing it again.  Just like that mountain, we’re never revisiting it again!
And the “take away” that we’re left with from all the celebrations of party and cruise, is that both Tony and I are hearts full of gratitude.  We can’t imagine anything better than the blessing of 50 years together, beautiful children and grandchildren and sooo many friends. God has been overwhelmingly good to us.
Next week I want to propose a new tack I want to take (more ramblings no doubt), so we’ll see.  For now just enjoy the memories if you have time and we’ll see you next week!  Marsha

From August 10, 2014:

So where to begin.  Beautiful day, two small packs FULL of snacks, rice balls and water, best shape we’ve ever been in, sunny and 8:00AM.  We sail onto the trail with joyful abandon, even though within minutes my old comfortable tennis shoes blow a tread.  No worries, Tony’s penknife takes off the offending bit and we’re back on track. We pass up a water source because we have half bottles and are confidant that there will be more up ahead  (Mistake #1).  We get to the first intersection of trails at 12 PM, 2 hours slower than usual, but hey, we’re 64 and 66. By now my phone has died because it got stuck on camera mode in my back pocket.  The map was on that phone, but no worries. We’ve climbed this mountain so many times it’s like an old friend.

At the next split, we don’t find water, but it’s not too hot.  Cache one pack with snacks and the rest of the water to lighten the load (Mistake #2) and push on to the summit.

Rain begins to sprinkle, but we’re good.  Stop to ‘discuss’ throwing away the summit but I’m reluctant to give in.

Tony says, “Well, I won’t say quit unless we hear thunder”…… I’m not kidding, the words are not out of his mouth when lightning cracks and thunder rolls right overhead. Tony ponders whether imminent death is worse than resentful wife (Mistake #3). We decide to go ahead only as far as the chains, because hey, that would be dangerous in lightning! Remarkably, within about 20 minutes the sun comes out beautiful so we continue on, with inflated chests of victory.

We make the summit at 2:45.  A little late but that’s because we missed the trail at one point and ventured onto a cliff face not meant for people like us (Mistake #4).

Now we turn around and begin the descent in earnest, knowing that we’re thirsty and running behind time.  We get to the junction and the cached pack is GONE!   Alas, we remember the exuberant gang of junior high school boys we had met and also remember that ‘boys will be boys’ and snacks will turn anyone’s head.  We forgive them but wish they’d left the water.

About 5:30, we’re coming to where we should be seeing the trail to a ski area with a cable car we had planned to ride down. But by now it’s raining so hard the trail has become a log ride. It’s almost impossible to take a step without slipping. We both fall repeatedly and painfully, but by God’s grace are spared anything worse than cuts and bruises.

Eventually we come to a hut, a tiny one-room affair available to hikers.  We see that every inch is occupied by a large group, but ask if there’s a source of water anywhere. The man leads us about 200 yards down a different path to a spring, then insists that we come back up to the cabin. As we squat in the only space available, the foyer, he makes us coffee, which is better than any Starbucks I’ve ever tasted, then he gives us the facts: It’s at least two more hours to the cable car, which by now has already stopped operating. Since it spans several deep canyons, walking underneath would be impossible.  It will soon be dark and the trail from there on down is even worse. There’s no choice but to stay in the cabin with them.

We consider it, but Tony decides we simply have to go on. We have no food, no blanket and nothing dry to change into. Plus, there’s no place to even sit; and we simply can not stay with these guys, as kind as they are. (Perhaps this was probably our penultimate Mistake #5, leaving the dry hut.).

We head on, against their wishes. They gave us an umbrella (useless except as a hiking stick) and a small woman’s rain jacket, asking that we leave them at the bottom of the cable car the next day, if we made it.

From that point on, an already difficult descent becomes a nightmare. With increasing darkness, we fall more and more, insects came out in droves, biting anywhere we were exposed.

While I’m wearing a garbage bag for a raincoat, Tony tries the borrowed small ladies coat for awhile but since the hood is the only thing that covers anything on his girth, we swap bag (which fits him nicely) for coat.  (He’s using his garbage bag to keep the phone dry) By this time we’ve had a couple of phone calls from the B&B owner where we were to stay the night. He’s worried about us.

The trail is horrible, just as predicted.  I also try whistling when I remember all the hikers today wearing “bear bells” (Apparently bears don’t like to be surprised). But I have to give that up as my lips are too wet.

There are ropes and chains to hold on to from time to time.  I’m following Tony, mildly relieved now that it’s too dark to see down the precipice where we could fall, but all the while BEGGING him not to fall.  Of course we both know from experience that falling is not a voluntary choice. Once I fell down standing still, the mud is that slick.  At least the lightning has subsided.

I begin to wonder about the big things.  SO many of our friends have recently faced challenges, including two this week, where they have either lost a mate or almost.  (I guess it’s our age that is beginning to bring these experiences into focus).  We juxtaposition for lead on the trail, depending on who is more stable at the time, but either way, if Tony went over, he’d not only leave me, which would be beyond devastating, but also he carries the one tiny mag light and the working phone.  Today we can laugh about which would be worse, the loss of HIM or the rescue he represented.  At the time it wasn’t funny at all…..

The phone rings again and we have to let it ring out.  No one can answer it because we’re too wet.  iPhones depend on skin contact and if there’s water between……. Finally it rings again and we’ve found a bit of hanky in some far nether-region and dry a finger off enough to make contact.  It’s our B&B guy and he tells us he’s called the authorities and they’ll meet us on the ski slope in a 4WD, if we can just get that far.

We stop to thank God and hurry on. Finally we break thru to a ski slope (we can’t find a trail, but we just head downhill).  Within minutes we can see headlights way below, moving slowly. Tony has just face planted again, but he tells me to take the Mag light and try to get the guy’s attention.

It takes at least another half hour to get to where he waits. From out of the darkness we hear a man’s voice, “Woods san desu ka?” No sweeter sound was ever heard. The drive on down to the village is another five miles or so, which had we been walking would have taken the rest of the night, barring the onset of hypothermia, which by now is a distinct possibility.

What can we say, theologically? It should go without saying, but say it we must: God was gracious and spared our lives. But did He warn us back up there on the mountain? I believe He did; but by ignoring the warning, were we being rebellious? Perhaps. How often do we act pig headed, demanding that our selfish wishes are granted?

Well, we got our wish, we made it to the summit.  But I have to wonder if the cuts, sore muscles, bruises and insect-stung swollen eyes we suffer today are not unlike a good switching with a stick.

These last few months before we retire are going to be filled with a lot of goodbyes. Climbing Mt Myoko was one of those, remembering years and years of fun adventures on that mountain.  I think I can say it was a “proper goodbye” but as we exited the rescue vehicle, enervated by our harrowing experience, we thanked the man profusely and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll NEVER be back!”


PS. While we are thanking God for being patient with us, I came across the verse that says it all.  1Kings 20:11, “One who puts on his armor should not boast like the one who takes if off.”

Have a safe and dry week!

Golden Celebrations

While most of you are reading this, we’ll be enjoying our very last anniversary party… This is the one that our kids have especially planned with no input at all from us. It’s a ….. wait for it …… a hot dog roast over a warm and wonderful winter bonfire!

Yes, you may be having the same reaction I had when they suggested it. This is on the heels of one of the most intricate and complicated, “Cecil B. DeMills productions party for at least 130 guests that we have just executed smoothly (Big thanks to everyone),  and now you’re asking us to have a hot dog on a stick?

But as we thought about it, we were reminded by them that this was the most fun activity the kids experienced growing up. Even in the middle of rain and sleet, smoke in the eyes and the pain of napalm-like flaming marshmallows in the face, these are the times they look back on with exquisite fondness, basking in the certainty that through it all, they were loved, that they were part of something bigger than themselves, and that at the end of the day, they were family.

Last week when I was writing about God’s Call and how it led to our marriage, it suddenly dawned on me again that this was and still is an all out miracle. There’s no other way to describe it.  God saw my tears, heard my prayer and reached over and put a Divine bug in Tony’s ear.

And then this week I was reading in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, where Paul was talking to the church at Corinth. The whole “plan” thing hit me again.   My daughter’s father-in-law, Grant, preached about this several years ago and it has stayed with me.  Here’s the verse:

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

You see, both Tony and I were raised by wise builders.  We got married, and then in the tradition of our parents, continued to build. Each day brought new revelations of God’s work and purpose, not only in our own lives, but in those of our kids as well.

Somewhere in the process as our kids camped through childhood and on into adulthood, they were led to soul mates of their own. We thank God every day that they were also raised by Godly and strong builders.

Then, in keeping with that “build it right” tradition, they have extended the project and are continuing the construction of an amazing heritage. The other day, Tony overheard our son Nathan responding to the question from a fellow police officer, “How do you keep your faith, with all the ugliness you have to put up with on the job?”

His answer was immediate and without doubt. He said, “I was raised by parents who taught us the importance of keeping God in first place. Whatever happens, I know that He is in charge, and there’s nothing anyone can do to take away the fact that I’m loved and accepted.”

My heart was warmed, not only by that comment, but to hear our daughter Nicki, as well as Nathan again, say almost the exact same thing last night at our party.

And as a further joy, at the party we had the pleasure of hearing from our pastor’s wife, Beverly Blake George. Rev. Norman Blake died just 10 years after he married us, but we never forgot him. Beverly has soldiered on these ensuing 50 years with little contact with us, but she hasn’t forgotten any minute detail and was able to come out to Australia to witness what she helped start.  She is such a blessing to this day!

And so with hearts full, we will continue from here to the next adventure.  I can eat again because yes, I proved last night that I could still fit into my wedding dress! Okay, maybe it wasn’t the WHOLE dress, but the veil fit perfectly, so I’m calling it.

Life is fun.  Have a wonderful week.  Next week the family will switch out of campfire mode and board ship for a four-day “starter cruise”, just along the east side of Australia.  The little boys are ecstatic with anticipation, as are we. Beverly is joining us to instruct us on how to be classy.

And as all kids on their honeymoon, you won’t be hearing from us next week ….giggle giggle.

August 18th we’ll be back. I’ll have the glitter out of my hair by then and maybe we’ll have some more news about Weaving Sunlight, our new book that’s coming out soon.

Until then, may your days be full of all the joy that God has for you. May each day mark yet another anniversary of the commitment you and He made to each other. And may we all look forward to our own “Golden Day” when we gather at His feet and begin a celebration to end all celebrations!


Finally Fitting Together

So if you happen to have marked on your calendar, you’ll see  that we’re just about 4 days to our 50th!  Wow.  As you can imagine, the excitement level is picking up around here.  Last night Tony dreamed there was an elephant in the house and it was looking for him!  (He said apparently he was cowering in the shower) ……well, you can draw your own analogies, but at this very moment I’m torn between writing this to you and cleaning the linen closet!  The party isn’t till Saturday the 3rd, but people are going to start arriving soon.

I guess you’re wondering about that “evening-spoiling” kiss I mentioned last week.  Yes, we both realized that our “mateship summer” had blossomed into something more, which prompted a little more kissing before I headed off to college in Omaha Nebraska, again about 500 miles from Tony.

We were pretty committed to each other when we parted, but I left saying, “There’s just one thing holding us apart,” and of course not telling him what the “one thing” was. Mean ol’ me, but you remember, I was determined not to tell any guy I was going into full time Christian service and then have him “coincidentally” pull up with a similar decision.  I needed to know his decision was generated by God and no one else, and I really believed (and hoped!!) that God could make it happen.

Tony’s parting words to me were, “Now don’t expect a letter every week from me; you know I’ll be very busy.”  He was, and sure enough, I didn’t get a letter every week…… I got two or three.

We fell more and more in love and it was getting to be painful. What should I do?

Drastic situations call for drastic measures. I was just 18, but I remember suggesting to my roommate, Patti, who understood the problem, that we had better just pray about this.

So there in the dorm, like two old spinsters in our room on a Saturday night, Patti and I prayed that Tony would come to his senses!

Well, now you need to pan the camera 500 miles over to Colorado State University. There’s Tony in the basement of the Baptist Student Center, where he lived.  He was pouring over a chemistry book because there was a major exam coming soon.

As he told it, he was flipping through the pages, trying to imagine what questions might appear on the test. “What are the properties of a filtrate? What’s the formula for a bromide? Why not go into Christian service?”

“Hold it;” he thought,  “Where did that last question come from?” Tony looked back through the book but could find nothing like the question that had just smacked him upside the head. He tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. Finally, for the first time in his life, he got onto his knees and prayed, “God? Was that You?”

The rush that came over him was not to be ignored. He went to bed thinking about it, went to church the next morning and shared his experience with everyone there, then came home and wrote me a letter (remember these were the days before email). He spelled it all out, like I just did with you. Keep in mind that we had NEVER mentioned ministry in any conversation to this point.

Toward the end of the week I got that letter.  If I was the nice, trusting little girl you may have imagined me to be, you’d think that I smiled and thanked God; but unfortunately by now I’d become a certified cynic. My first thought was that Patti had been unable to keep the secret and had called him or something.  Even though she denied it, I was convinced that he was up to no good. So naturally I broke up with him.

Tony says that my letter I sent back to him was smoking when he took it out of the mailbox. I can’t remember exactly, but he insists that the words, “stupid”, “crazy” and “throw your life away” were featured. Harsh.

The next week I got a surprise in the form of HIS letter that said, “I can’t imagine why God would take away the person I love the most, but this is a decision I believe is from God, so ‘good bye’ to you too.”

I’ll never forget the sound of the quarters tumbling into the pay phone as the operator waited until I put in enough to make the call. My first words were,

“Did Patti tell you?”

“Tell me what?” he asked.

“That I’m going to marry a minister; that’s the ONE thing I’ve been taking about all this time!”

We got busy getting married.  A year and a day from that disturbing kiss, we became man and wife. And now that’s been 50 years ago. Not a bad foundation to start a life on. And God has always been faithful.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee”.    Isaiah 26:3


An Evening Spoiled (?)

This morning I’d like to bring you up to speed on our ‘run up’ to anniversary time, which is August 1st.    Things are starting to crawl toward the ever growing celebration mark, both with cleaning and laying in supplies, but it’s fun and we feel like the goal is in sight.  Tony has recently been pointing out that almost no one in either family, with the possible exception of an aunt on Tony’s side, has made it to 50 years married. Tony’s folks, who were some of the most ‘in love’ folks we ever knew, only got to 49 1/2 years before Mom up and died!

Of course we have to factor in the age we live in, better medicine, no wars, etc.  But also there’s a lot more stress, evil inputs into our hearts and minds (thank you Netflix!) and an increasing ‘me generation’ where entitlement rules, that’s growing all around us. All that to say we’re very very happy to still be on the same page after these many years.

So, last week we talked about ‘The Wink”, where we got interested in each other.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a Hallmark fairytale story ending after that, apparently we still had some stuff to work out.

I went back to my boarding school after that summer and of course “Absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder”; in fact it was the opposite.  We had decided to go our separate ways before I left Colorado.  I was into my senior year and had big challenges to think about and he, well, he was a big College guy (actually that gap represented a lot of the problem).  Anyway, we went our way and did our thing.

And in the process of all that, while I was still 17, I made a commitment to go into full time Christian work when I got thru university.  I go into this more in our upcoming book, Weaving Sunlight, but it was a REAL thing for me, giving my future to the Lord, and I decided then and there no guy I dated would know about this decision as I didn’t want to have to question any decision he might make in the future, ie: feel that he had made a similar decision because of me.  I also vowed that I would not abandon this decision and would not marry anyone who didn’t share it.

The next summer, I had graduated, considered myself ‘on my way’, when Tony asked me out again.  We’d bumped into each other a couple of times and probably deep inside I knew that there was still a spark there somewhere  (again, expounded ad naseum in the book, but I’ll be brief here).

My shocked reaction to him asking me out was, “Just friends?” to which he replied rather adamantly I thought “Oh! I wouldn’t have it any other way!” He told me later that he was dying on the inside but didn’t want anything to jeopardize the emerging relationship.

Somewhat taken aback that he didn’t seem that interested on a romantic level, I agreed.  And so this time, we took it slow and easy.  We went and did everything, learning to enjoy each other for what we were, and finding out we had a lot in common.  I got to know the guy behind all the bravado and he……..well, one night, July 31st, as he was dropping me at my house after we’d seen a movie, he said, rather nonchalantly, “Well, at the risk of spoiling a perfectly good evening,” then leaned way over to the passenger side and gave me a kiss!

Well, he sure ruined the evening, that’s for sure.  As much as I enjoyed the kiss, I went into the house with my head spinning. Remember my rule?  I wouldn’t tell any boy about my commitment to ministry and yet here I’d gone and fallen in love with a guy who I wouldn’t marry at this point.  He was headed straight for a career as an English teacher.

Maybe you wonder what happened?

….. Stay tuned.  J


That Wonderful Wink

So last week Tony got ahold of my blog and before I could send it, he added the teaser, “Wait till next week to find out what happened at church”.

Well, it’s been 50+ years, so I had to ask him, “What happened at church?”

And then he winked at me.

Oh!  Now I remember!!

I saw him for the first time at his parents’ house.  We were 17 and 19 and his folks were the youth directors of our tiny little youth group. They were so cool we had ’Training Union’ at their house before church!!  I was vaguely aware that they had a son, but to hear them talk, he was off at war or something.  Actually, he was touring Europe with a bunch of students, including a girlfriend, for the summer.  He had graduated from high school the year before but somehow had qualified to go.

And then, when I walked into their living room, there he was, back from the ‘war’. I was introduced and we had our Bible study.  From there we all jumped into our individual cars and proceeded on to the evening service at church, as you did back in the day.

And so when I walked into the sanctuary, I didn’t notice him till I turned my head, and there he was, sitting in the “Choir”.  I use the term loosely because it consisted of the 8 or 10 people who could actually carry a tune. I don’t remember them ever doing a special number or anything, and certainly never at night, but there he sat, facing our congregation of about 30.

“Wonderful”, I thought as I settled into my seat,  “Now I can take my time and get a good look at him during the sermon.”

To catch you up to speed in my life, I had just finished my Junior year of High school, He had just finished his Freshman year at college.

So I got comfortable and began my feast.  That was until this smiling guy, ostensibly looking off into the distance, WINKED at me!

I was mortified.  I left the service the minute it was over and didn’t hear another thing from him…..for…..OK, well, until about 3 days later, when he (at the urging of both my sister and his mother) called and asked me for a date.  We never mentioned the ‘Wink’ again……

Years later, long after we were married, he told me the truth.  “If you’d have winked back I would have run for the hills,” he said. “But because you blushed red and avoided me, I knew there was a purity and innocence I was interested in pursuing.”

Last Sunday we attended an annual “Hymn Sing” at a local church.  We may have been the youngest there, but we had to admit we’re not that young since we knew all the hymns!

And then they played (as a special) that old song, “I’ll walk with God”.  Tony and I both got goosebumps and teared up at the same time as we listened to the words.  On the way home we tried to remember why this song was so important.

You guessed it, the next morning, I got out our old and faded wedding album and there it was.  It was the song, sung by a talented and booming baritone, that was used for us to light our one candle.

I’ll put the words here in case you want to remember them.  I can’t believe that at our young age we had such mature thoughts.

I’ll walk with God from this day on

His helping hand, I’ll lean upon

This is my prayer, my humble plea

May the Lord be ever with me

There is no death, though eyes grow dim

There is no fear when I’m near to Him

I’ll lean on Him forever

And He’ll forsake me never

He will not fail me

As long as my faith is strong

Whatever road I may walk along

I’ll walk with God, I’ll take His hand

I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand

I’ll pray to Him, each day to Him

And He’ll hear the words that I say

His hand will guide my throne and rod

And I’ll never walk alone

While I walk with God

Every one of those words have played true in our lives.  Maybe it’s because the both of us were so shy and naive.

Sorry we put the wrong address for the website blog last week. It’s (No middle letter G).

Keep on Walkin!


Location Location

Today I’m happy to announce that it looks like many of you made the change of address to the new Blog apparently seamlessly.  I believe now you can make comments so have fun with that!

I promised you that for the next little while I’m going to give you some excerpts from our upcoming book, Weaving Sunlight. This is not shameless advertising, and you don’t even need to buy a copy. Basically we wrote it to ourselves so that we could see what God has done in our lives these last 50 years! Tony has a favorite song that he’s planning to sing at our anniversary celebration, by Andrew Peterson called “Dancin in the Minefields”. There’s one part where he still can’t get through without choking up, I suppose because it’s just a little too close to home. The words go, “At the end of all my faith, to end of all my days, when I forget my name … remind me.”

Weaving Sunlight was written as a reminder of the times we’re apt to forget as we get older. And to do that, we have to back to where it all started: at church. That’s where we first met, Evergreen Baptist Church, in Colorado. There we got to know each other, became friends, fell in love, were called to ministry, and eventually got married.

In the years since that time, the church moved (and when I say “moved” I mean they jacked it up and drug it) to another site a few miles away. The Post Office bought the land where it had sat, and I still can’t go in there without feeling something a little more meaningful than buying a stamp.

But I know, as I’m sure you know as well, the Church, for us, is not that bit of dirt under the post office, nor is the building we drug off and renovated. No, it’s much more than that, and looking back over 50 years, it’s even more than we’ve come to imagine.

Our kids grew up in church, whether the building was in America, Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand or Australia. We used to tell them, “Unless you’re on fire, you’re going to church today.” They laugh about that today, but back when they were kids, they never were sure if we were serious or not. But they went to church, made friends at church, found Christ at church and each in their own way, got married in church. When we lived in Japan where earthquakes are common, we told our kids, “If you’re away from home and an earthquake stops everything, find a church, go there and wait. We’ll find you.”

It’s such an encouragement to see them carrying those values on to the next generation. Granted, going to a worship service in their churches is quite unlike what we grew up with, especially in terms of music. But we can still see the family atmosphere where they worship, and in their own way, they’re still making memories that one of these days they will choose to write about.

I suspect you have your own idea about what the Church today should and should not be like. It took an elderly deacon to remind a pastor friend of ours that “The church is not a coffee shop!” But in the pastor’s defense, I believe he still wants the church to be a place where family can gather, worship and grow in the Lord; and if a cup of coffee can help in that process, it can’t be all bad.

Phillip Yancey, renowned Christian author, is said to have come back to Jesus in a church in my childhood neighborhood in Evergreen.  I remember it well because my mother was incensed that they served coffee and donuts in the lobby before the services. She thought the whole lot of them should go where the coffee would be eternally boiling, and all I wanted was to go there and get a free donut.

Sadly, our church had no free coffee and donuts. It was more like Garrison Keillor’s imaginary church in Minnesota, “The Church of our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility”. But that was the era of the church I grew up in. And whether you’re looking at the Church back then or the Church today, I can still insist that, “Good things happen in church.”

Next time, I’ll share with you the mind-blowing thing that happened at Evergreen Church that would determine our destiny as man and wife.

Until then, see you at church!


Changes Coming

Today I’m going to make some announcements about change, (see below), but first I thought you might enjoy a Facebook post I made five years ago.  There’s nothing spiritual about it so apologies to those of you who are sharing this in Sunday school.  It does involve a meeting we had with fellow missionaries in Tokyo, and the outcome.

Here goes:

Last night we met with the Posse as we do every week. This time we chose a new watering hole in the classy area of Shinjuku called “St Marcs Choco Croux”.  While I don’t usually trust those Frenchy trappers, it looked glittery and inviting.  We bellied up to the bar, jawed and knocked back coffee for hours.  Someone suggested trying the hot dogs…

Long after sundown we all yawned and said goodbye, split up, mounted our ponies and started across the wild badlands back to our shack.  We said goodbye to our deputy friend as he boarded the stage coach.

Well, I guess he’s some kind of greenhorn because turns out, he had to stop the stage and leap off, barely managing to do so before he tossed his cookies.  We however, got well on our way before the rumblings began and we spurred our mounts toward safety.

All night in the full moon we jockeyed for time in the one holer:  one ‘doing their business’ and the other one outside dancing in the moonlight.

Now almost 24 hours have passed.  We’re propped up against a tree wondering who’ll poke the signal fire.  Tony did decide to go for help this morning, but his horse got one sniff of him and wouldn’t let him ride, so he crawled back to the ditch.

Sometime last night I even hallucinated that I was back on that old ranch called Bangkok, but no, this is the modern, high tech spread called Tokyo.  Who’d imagine that the snake-eyed varmint called “food poisoning” could have snuck in the door!

Next week we’re going to watch our backs

And this time I’m going to skip the hotdogs and go for Chocolate!

And now for the announcements.  We are ONE MONTH away from our 50th Wedding Anniversary!  I remember sewing a wedding dress for a young girl when I had been married only 2 or 3 years.  She intimated to me that she wasn’t sure about her upcoming wedding; after all, she said, “FIFTY years is such a long time!”  I wondered at the time how she could not be looking forward to that prospect here at the beginning, but I just kept sewing……. sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

And now we’ve raced thru our lives and here we stand, one month away from a goal that has almost never been achieved in our family….. of course, we understand that this has been completely by God’s good grace.

And so if ‘The Good Lord’s willing and the Creek don’t rise’  (you know that phrase originated from the tenuous peace the settlers had with the Creek Indians), we’ll be sharing some excerpts from our upcoming book, “Weaving Sunlight” for the next month or so.

But the important news is also that we are MOVING THE BLOG SITE for those of you who read this online .  From next week on (and even this week), we’ll be located at Hope you’ll follow me as we transition over!

God bless you all and let’s keep enjoying the journey together!


Drop Your Arms

I came across an interesting passage in the Bible this morning.

But let me digress; these last few weeks have been a bit “weird”, to say the least.  Not physically, but mentally.  As it turns out, I had my yearly scheduled birthday, bringing me one year from the Big Decade that I’ve been anticipating with both thankfulness and dread for these last nine years.

If that wasn’t enough of a downer on the “life is mortal” theme, my brother-in-law has been quite ill, even to the point of having to cancel a world class cruise/trip that he and my sister were looking forward to taking.

But wait, there’s more.  Dispersed thru this “enough trouble” was a particularly nasty family feud.  I thanked God daily that it wasn’t in MY immediate family, but it is in a sense, since it’s my extended family.  I’ll spare you the details, you can probably just fill in the blanks with someone from your own family.  The point was, we just kept scratching our heads at each new development and saying, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

So you could say things haven’t been all roses around here.

But then, I came across this verse in the Book of Job.  Actually reading Oswald Chambers this morning directed it to my attention, and caused me to remember that I’ve walked thru much darker days than what we’ve been experiencing now.

Job 42:10 says this,  After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

When our son lay dying, people would come up to me with all kinds of condolences.  They would say things like, “Oh I lost a child when I was pregnant and I know just how you feel”; or “My 5 yr-old died, and I can tell you all about how your should feel. You know, those sorts of ‘helpful comments’ that are not always so helpful.   I think I managed to remain polite to these dear friends, but what I really wanted was to punch them in the face. I felt that they had absolutely NO idea of how this was for me, and for them to smile and suggest they ‘knew’ what was going on in the innermost reaches of my heart just resulted in twisting my hurting soul in a way that made me mad.

I think Job must have gritted his teeth more than once when his ‘friends’ tried to help, first by consoling him and then pointing out what he might have done wrong.  And then in the early verses of Job, chapter 42, God is telling Job’s friends that He’s going to cause Job to pray for THEM because of their poor advice, and they had better be thankful.

And (I believe) God worked in Job’s heart so that he could actually turn around and do just that; pray for his friends. The reason I believe God worked in Job’s heart is because I know He once worked in mine.

After Trevor died, the day came when we returned to Japan and to our home, to the place we had left over a year earlier with so much joy and anticipation. Going through Trevor’s room and seeing everything he had set up so carefully for his return just brought the grief back all the more.

I had hardly begun the process of packing up his room when the phone rang. It was a Japanese friend. Without even a greeting, she said, “My son died the day he was born.”  That’s all she said, and what I felt that moment surprised me.  I actually felt SORRY for her!  Why?  Because she didn’t have 16 wonderful years with her son like I did.

You see, God changed my heart there somewhere.  He took away my anger and feelings of injustice and made me a little bit nicer again.

Feeling that rather unknown twinge of pity for someone else, I knew then that I was going to get well. That old feeling, long neglected, of reaching out beyond myself made me feel alive and loved again. And I knew then and there that eventually I could get well.

And thankfully, God is doing something similar in that family “situation” I mentioned above. So we’re all breathing a sigh of relief, thanking God that He can and still does step into peoples’ lives and lead them to sensibility.

He did it for Job and his friends; He did it for me. He’ll do it for you. The first step is often the hardest. Stop clutching yourself for comfort, drop your arms, then lift them toward someone who needs you. Pray for that person, invest yourself in someone else’s needs, and miraculously you’ll find your own being taken care of as well.

Love ya like a sister,



A couple of weeks ago Tony and I were asked to provide dinner for our young people at a church gathering.

I had a little flashback to my own youth and a time when we had all that energy…..

We had a youth director in our little church.  I was in high school.  He was a married man with a wife and some kids.  I think he had a furniture store or something.  The reason I don’t know more about him is because, well, he was euh, OLD!  like 35 or something!!

But he was always ‘around’ for us.  Every week he taught us an extremely boring Wednesday night Bible Study, and I can’t remember a single thing about it………except that during it, God spoke to me in a tangible way about giving my life to Full time Christian Service.  I did that in one of his Bible Studies at age 17.

Back to the present, as we cooked and slaved for the kids, we got more and more tired, and wanted to sit down but it was time to get to the business of dishing up to 50 smiling faces, oohing and awwing about “American Chili”.  I was smiling on the outside and accepting their heart felt thanks, but truth be known, all I could really think was that my feet hurt and my back was about to go out!

And then I remembered “Old” Emerson.  I remember once my girlfriend  and I came by his house unannounced with Tony in tow.  He lived in another state and was a virtual unknown, but he was visiting me and we felt that he was good enough to show off to a person that I considered important enough to be in on the adventure.

There was nothing in Emerson’s house to eat, his wife and kids were at a sports event or something, but the 4 of us gathered around the kitchen and talked and laughed for an hour, sharing a head of lettuce.

This man was no flash in the pan.  He had little to offer……..except himself.  And God used him mightily.

I think the next time they ask us to feed the teens, we will, even if we drag home and are bathed and in bed at nine!

What If?

Today is Pentecost Sunday.

And as we continue with the ‘report’ on our recent trip to the Holy Land, I’d like to take you now to the Upper Room.

Of course anyone within earshot of the Woods’ household can’t talk about that without recalling Tony’s latest discipleship course, Anagaion, which is Greek for “Upper Room” a word found in several verses in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts.

You’ll remember that’s where Jesus did some of His finest teaching, first during Passover and then, in the six weeks following the Resurrection and leading up to Pentecost.  What a significant place! Shared fellowship, shared worship, new teaching, culminating in one of the most unforgettable experiences ever: the coming of God’s Holy Spirit. It is in this place (also known as the Cynacle) that the personalities of many of the disciples were revealed: Peter’s denial, Thomas’ doubt, Judas’ betrayal.

So we had a chance to walk up to and through this holy place, and even though it’s gone through several “renovations” over the centuries, it’s impossible to enter without feeling the significance of the room. Christians are not alone, in fact, since the Cynacle is also considered sacred by both Muslims and Jews, but for different reasons.

As we gathered together in the somewhat smallish room, we realized at once that the acoustics are fantastic, making even a poor singer sound beautiful.  I wonder if that’s why the disciples were led to “sing a hymn” before they left the place that evening of the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:30)?

Then, in Acts, chapter 2, we see the disciples waiting as they had been commanded, when suddenly (verse 2), there was a sound like “the rush of a violent wind” followed by tongues of fire and a very audible time of worship that led those nearby to conclude that the guys were drunk (At 9:00 in the morning, no less)! But after an explanation by the Apostle Peter, many turned to Christ and more than three thousand were baptized as a result.

Standing in that room, remembering all that had happened there, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to sing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. Immediately the whole room was filled with the sounds of the Doxology as everyone joined in. And apparently that’s okay with the caretakers of the Cynacle.

But there are two rules that are strictly enforced to all three religions who share the room.   No one is allowed to make any structural changes to the room, as that might give one religion a sense of more status.  The government of Israel is in charge of doing all maintenance.

We were told that breaking the second and even more important rule would result in our being evicted from the premise. That rule? While you can teach, sing or eat, no one, but No one, is allowed to pray.

We were not told exactly why this rule exists; only that it does.  I think it probably has something to do with the fact that the place is held in such reverence by all three World Religions, and somehow to pull in exhortations to a favored god might result in repercussions from the other two.

But I find the unspoken question most telling: What might happen if people prayed there?

Now, I’m not gathering support for an international prayer team to go storm the place, because in fact I have no doubt that a lot of silent prayers have gone up from the confines of that room, in spite of what the rules say. I know mine did.

But the question is relevant on this special Sunday, and it’s one I want to leave with you, wherever you happen to be today:

What might happen if people prayed here?  What might happen if people prayed anywhere?

Hoping ya’ll have a great and exciting Sunday!