What if…?

What if  I lived in Syria instead of the USA? 

What if my little granddaughters were out

playing when the chlorine gas fell from the


What if they

couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t help them?

What if the rest of our family was already gone

from previous attacks?

What would I do?

What if I were to do that now?

Because it is someone’s child, just as innocent. 

And just as precious.

Dear God, forgive me. 

Forgive us all.

“The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.  Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”

General Omar Bradley 

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Truth or Fiction

“It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink at facts because they are not to our taste.”

~John Tyndall~

English Physicist (1820-1893)

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Once again, Poison Gas Raining Down

Several years ago, I told you about an amazing Iraqi soldier, fighting under Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm.  A member of the privileged class, he lived well and wanted for little. Amazingly, he was a Christian. When Saddam rained poison gas down on the Kurds as punishment for their lack of support for his regime, the soldier watched as it all unfolded –terrified parents desperately pushing terrified children forward in a vain attempt to get them away from the poison.  Young men running with their grandmas on their backs.  Families tossing aside the last of their worldly goods in their struggle to outrun the poison gas.

As a  Christian, the soldier could not remain on the side of the aggressor.  So he hurriedly gathered his wife and children together, then locked the front door of his lovely house.  He tossed the keys, along with the keys to his luxury car, to his neighbor as he hurried his family to join the crowd of running Kurds. He knew he would not be coming back.

Saddam Hussein is long gone. The Kurds are in another place, living a better life than they ever had in Iraq. As for the soldier, he and his family cast their lots with the Kurds, teaching and healing and demonstrating compassion.

The soldier’s compassion brought him and his family to the Kurds, but it is their faith that to this day sustains them there. They are Christians. And because of the choices one Iraqi soldier made, many Kurdish Iraqis are as well.

And now it is Syria.  The Syrian government, Iran, and Russia are together waging the same horror on a different unsuspecting part of the country.

I wonder…might a Syrian soldier cast his lot with the hopeless population and risk his life to help them?  Or an Iranian?  Or possibly even a Russian?

And what about Americans?

What about us?

Will anyone even speak up?

“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is

behaving dishonorably.”

Novelist Julian Barnes

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Is Dinner Ready? I’m Starving!

Oh, how I hate to hear that lament!  I know, I know.  It’s just a saying.  And, yes, I have said it too.  But I still hate it.  That’s because I’ve seen starving people and they look nothing like us.

And now what was awfully bad is getting horribly worse.

The deputy head of the U.N. children’s agency reports that a famine is looming in Southern Sudan.  Nobody’s fault.  The reason is the scarce rainfall.  That’s the cause, but what makes it unbearable is the blind eye “have” countries are turning toward the afflicted “have nots.” And the ones caught in the middle?  As usual it is the most helpless–the children.

Two of the ten most afflicted states will be harvesting zero crops this year. Hilda Johnson of UNICEF lamented, “The malnutrition in children there is already at a very, very high emergency level…and now there is absolutely no food.”

That’s what starving means.

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well- being of a person is at stake.  Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.~


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The Legend of the Dogwood

In Jesus’ day, so the legend goes, dogwood trees grew as large and stately as oaks, and they were covered with beautiful blossoms in white or pink.  It was a dogwood tree that was chosen for Jesus’ cross.  Despite His own agony, Jesus recognized the pain the tree felt, for it never wanted to be used for so horrific a purpose.

Certainly not for One so Holy.

So Christ made a promise to the dogwood tree:

“Never again shall a dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross.  Instead of tall and sturdy, they shall be slender and twisted.  They will still have their beautiful blossoms, but from this day forward, those blossoms will have four petals that form a cross.  At the tip of each petal, for all to see, will be a jagged wound stained with blood.  And the center of each blossom will wear a thorny crown. And from that day to the end of time, all who see a dogwood tree in bloom will remember Me.”

True story?  No.  It’s only a legend.  But isn’t it a lovely one?

Blessed Easter!


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Good Friday

Three Crosses

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5



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You Know How It Is?

You know how it is when you are scheduled to do something important and really enjoyable but you’re so tired you consider canceling  it?  When others much more important than you will be there anyway, some in much more prominent roles than yours, so you figure no one will miss you?  And it’s not really your fault you’re behind because how could you have known back then when you made the commitments how busy you would be now?  Well, yes, it is your fault for overscheduling, but not totally because you tried to say no but if you didn’t do it, who would?

You did say you would, and you do want to be asked back, and you do have material you can recycle, and who’s going to know anyway?  So you go, your recycled things in hand, and you don’t worry about BEST because you did show up, and shouldn’t they all be grateful for that?

You know how it is when someone meets you when you arrive and you’re all rumpled and sleepy, your mind cluttered and your computer bag stuffed full of that other project?  But then before you can complain about how busy you are, that other person thanks you for something you said to him several years before that changed his life and now he’s come back to thank you.  You know how that is?

Yeah, me too.  So I tossed my other project back into the car, prayed for forgiveness and for last minute help, and got to work.  And, oh, what a week it was!

“Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” 

~Galatians 6:10~


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The Family of God

As I prepare to head to the Mount Hermon Writers Conference, a years-ago trip keeps running through my mind.  A wildfire was threatening our Southern California house, so my husband stayed home to evacuate it.  I went to Cairo, Egypt alone.


All alone in Cairo–except for the 20 million people who lived there–I suddenly realized I was the only woman walking the sidewalks and hailing taxis without a male escort.  Crossing the street was like running across a freeway…no crosswalks, no lights, and no stopping for pedestrians.  For some reason I wasn’t comforted by the soldiers posted on every corner, all armed with machine guns.


On my last night in Cairo, a Christian couple from Australia I had met that morning invited me to join them and three Egyptian Coptic Christians (two only spoke Arabic), and a distraught man from Kenya who, weeping, begged us to pray with him. He said an aggressive group of Scientologists were in the process of taking over their orphanage for children with AIDS  and he didn’t know what to do. For two hours, the seven of us prayed together in three languages.  Seven of us at a table with eight chairs:  “One for Jesus with us,” the Kenyan man said.

And He was.  He truly was.


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Writing: Questions and Answers

Wow!  I wasn’t expecting so many questions on the last post. Unfortunately, they didn’t come on my site.  You all were so eager to get answers that you sent them through email and Facebook.  One of you even sent it via LinkedIn.  I cannot answer them all on this post, but here are my quick answers to some of  your questions:

  1.  From PhyllisWhat was your first published writing?  Answer:  Nothing spectacular.  It was a filler for Kiplinger’s Changing Times (First published in 1947, the first magazine with a financial focus.)  Now, I know little about finances, and I can’t remember why I  sent a filler to that magazine.  But a friend from Estonia had sent me a Christmas card, and she signed it with what she thought to be an Americanism:  Best wishes for a year of health, education, and welfare.  I sent that to Kiplinger’s and they paid me $25.  I was overjoyed!
  2. From Scott–Sounds like you travel a lot for your writing. Are you ever scared? Answer:  I do travel a lot.  My Passport is close to an inch thick.  Yes, sometimes I’m scared, but I’m more excited to talk to the people.  I was followed by government people in China, lost in India, taken hostage by Marxist terrorists in Nepal, got malaria in India, and I’d do it all again!
  3. From Dizzy–Do you know many  languages? Answer:  No, but I sure wish I did!  Sometimes I have translators, some of which are good and some…well, not.  Once in Senegal, West Africa, I asked a young women if she was sorry she had left her home in Ghana and come to a place where she knew no one.  Her answer was emotional and animated, and was several minutes long.  The translator’s translation?  “She said no.”
  4. From Andrea–Do you have an office?  If so, do you keep it neatly organized?  Answer: Yes, I do have an office at home.  And, no, I do not keep it neat.  But I do keep it organized.  (As I tried for so long to get my mother to understand, neat rooms are not inspiring rooms.  My office has character.)
  5. From Bella–Do you read much?  Answer:  Not as much as I would like, nor as I should.  It’s a matter of time.   But I do read a daily newspaper, and I am in a book club that meets monthly.  Also I am constantly sent books for  comments or endorsements, though many of those go unread.  But your question, Bella, has inspired me to increase my reading.  Thank you!
  6. From Frankie–What is the most important thing you can say to us new writers?  Answer: First, learn the craft of writing. (Take a class. Read books on writing.  Go to a good writers conference.)  Second, Write and write and write some more.  Don’t give up. Everyone gets better and better.  No one gets worse and worse.

Write on!


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“How Did You Get Started as a Writer?”

On planes and trains, in bookstores, in grocery stores.  In the USA, in Canada, in countries over seas.  On vacation, on research trips, around town.  Everywhere, it seems, I get the same question:  How did you get started as a writer? Fortunately, I have a great answer:  “I went to the writers conference at Mount Hermon.”

A good writers conference isn’t the only way to get started, but in my opinion, it ranks at the very top of the list.  Why?  First of all, because you will have workshops where you can learn the craft.  This is absolutely essential, because writing is a craft.  Second, a good writers conference will give you an opportunity to have your writing critiqued, sometimes with personal help.  Third, you will meet editors and agents who will be looking for new writers.  And the excellent conferences–including Mount Hermon–also have opportunities to meet with those professionals and show them your work.  And another thing that is truly rare:  you will meet other conferees who don’t see you as competition, but will help you succeed.  They will rejoice with you on your successes and they will comfort you in your disappointments.  Mount Hermon is a Christian writers conference, and you will see those attributes displayed everywhere: in the conferees, the directors, and the faculty.

Do you ever wonder how you might get started as a writer? Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference will be held March 23 -27.  Check it out at https://www.inspirewriters.com/events/mount-hermon-writers-conference-2018/

I hope to see you there!

 An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin



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