These Scrabble letters, which sit on a little table in my office at home, prompt a smile out of me every time I look at them. They are the first “word” our oldest, Rebekah, spoke. She was not even one, as I recall, when she literally threw a book at me and said, “Readabook.”

I guess she was mimicking my continual question, “Do you want to read a book?”

I don’t know why I even asked the question at all. She always did. Still does–just devours things in less than half the time they take me.

I’ve been reviewing fiction elements with my students in the last couple of weeks: the rudiments of plot structure, character development, setting, symbolism, point of view, theme…as well allegory, archetype, persona, style, figurative language.

The one thing that brought a giggle or two, though, was my one piece of advice: Readaboook.

“It can save you a lot of time,” I said.

This always puzzles my students, because we read long, complex works that are not easy at all…not even for me.

But yes, reading fiction can save you a lot of time, because you get to experience OTHER people’s problems and watch THEM go through the learning curve of internal character development and external conflict. So, we can learn vicariously…instead of going through those hardships ourselves.

Because if we don’t read, we certainly will.

Readabook. It’ll save time.

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He cares for you

A flower on my finger

A flower on my finger

Does God care about little things?

The verse from 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I’ve never wanted to trouble God. I’ve dumped big stuff — cares about my kids, a job loss, shrinking income, surgeries — in his lap.

But little things? Hurts and disappointments? No–he has better things to take care of, I had convinced myself.

I had a hard day last week. As I wrote in last week’s blog, I had decided, though, that if there were flowers when I got home, everything would be okay. There weren’t but later a dear, thoughtful friend brought some by.

He cares for me. 

In a blog a couple weeks ago I wrote about losing my wedding and engagement rings and how Craig had sweetly suggested we get his ring — which he never wore — sized down for me. So there it was . . . another beautiful ring.

He cares for me.

But a crazy thing happened last weekend to tie the two together. Craig and I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon together driving our mountain roads to a cute little town called Graeagle. The jeweler there had sized Craig’s big ring down to size little for me, so we were taking another ring there to get repaired. This was the ring Craig had found many years ago — which I was now wearing instead of an engagement ring.

We drove away but a mile or so down the road Craig asked if I wanted to go back and look again at another ring I had admired. We did and bought it — lovely emeralds circling a diamond in an elevated, airy setting. Half price, too!

So, I showed it to a friend at school today . . . a friend with whom I’d shared my flower story last week.

And she said, “Oh, Janet, and it’s a flower!”

Oh, my, it WAS a flower! All I had needed last week was a flower . . . and now it is sitting on my finger in emeralds and a diamond . . . to forever remind me . . .

He does care for me . . . through the big things, through the little things.

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Why you need friends


Sometimes we need a little help from our girlfriends.

Sometimes we need a little help from our girlfriends.

Yesterday was a hard day. I was really emotional, anticipating yet another disappointment — which did happen.

On the way home from teaching teenagers, I had a thought: If there are flowers when I get home, everything will be okay. Somehow flowers could be the eraser of the bad penmanship that had marked my day.

But there were no flowers.

So, I got out yesterday’s KFC leftovers and sat with the containers on the living room couch, watching yesterday’s SF Giants’ win, which I hoped would rouse an orange cheer from something underneath the gray sadness inside of me.

And then there was a knock on the door. There stood Jane, with a grin and a hug and a huge vase of lovely flowers.

My girlfriend Jane made my day.

My girlfriend Jane made my day.

We  juggled the flowers in an embrace, both crying.

When I closed the door, I had flowers — beautiful flowers — on my counter . . . and I put away the KFC and gave thanks for a girlfriend who would listen to God and follow his nudge to be someone’s eraser that day.

If you’d like a copy of Girlfriend Gatherings: Creative Ways to Stay Connected, just contact me or check out the link: <br />

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Do you lose things?

Why do I wear my husband's wedding ring?

Why do I wear my husband’s wedding ring?

Yes, I am a loser.

I lose things – sadly, beautiful, never-to-be-found-again things.

A beautiful real gold bracelet Craig gave me when we were dating (stolen out of my car).

A white gold watch from him during our engagement (I think the movers stole it).

And the diamond in my engagement ring – THREE TIMES!

The first time I had been doing housework, and when I realized it was gone, I combed the house on hands and knees.

After that fruitless search – seemingly making matters worse – the hose on my washer came out of the wall, pouring water all over our center hallway and adjoining bedrooms. To mop up the mess I had to pull the washer out so as to get the goo underneath.

It was there, right in the middle of that gunk: my diamond. Somehow it had dislodged while I was doing laundry – and then God in his goodness yanked that hose out of the wall so the diamond would not go down the drain.

The second time I lost that diamond, again, I was doing housework. Again, I found it in a pile of yuckiness from the vacuum bag that I spread out all over the floor.

The third time I lost that diamond I found it quickly on the floor in the car . . . and got the dumb beautiful, VVSI (very, very slight imperfection) thing fortressed into what the jeweler said would be a “no fail” setting.

Right. So, last summer when a prong failed, I took the ring for repair. Guaranteed now for a year.

Right. Two months later the prong was failing, so I took the ring off and put it in a ziplock baggie into my wallet. When I the baggie fell out onto the ground one day, I zipped it into a compartment in my handbag.

It’ll be safe there.

Right. After a trip visiting one of our sons and his family I noticed that the ring was gone. That compartment let things fall into the bottom of the handbag.

So, after a full day of bawling and calling and falling into a really sad bad way, I told my husband.

I didn’t tell him at first, because the stories of my losing valuable jewelry sometimes wound their ways into responses to my “You don’t appreciate me” comments.

But instead of his making me feel even worse, he said, “We’ll just take my ring and have it sized for you with a diamond.”

His ring. The one I always gave him a hard time about for not wearing. The one he said that if he wore, he would lose a finger over in some farm machine. The one locked in his safe. He. Does. Not. Lose. Things.

One lovely day this spring we went to Gold Rush Jewelry in Graeagle, California, and for about seventy-five dollars that kind man made Craig’s even more beautiful ring into mine. Like my rings it has engraved symbols of love on it: two hearts, clasped hands, a star with a cross, an open Bible. I love it and decided a diamond was superfluous. His giving me his ring was enough of a gift for a girl who tends to lose All Things Diamond.

And that is the end of my Happily Ever After Story, except for one thing. I DO have a diamond ring. I wear it on my ring finger.

I lose things -- Craig finds things. We're a good pair.

I lose things — Craig finds things. We’re a good pair.

This ring was also lost – by someone about fifteen years ago. My husband found it and two others in the gutter outside a two-dollar movie theater. I took the rings to the local police station in Sparks, Nevada, and a nice policeman called me several months later and said to pick them up – no one had claimed them. It has thirteen little diamonds on it, with spaces for two others that are missing. Somehow that seems appropriate for me.

I’ve suggested to Craig that maybe he shouldn’t buy me expensive jewelry anymore – I always lose the silly things.

But just in case he insists sometime, there is this gorgeous quartz gold ring at the Gold Rush Jewelry store . . .

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Picking up hitchhikers


Would you pick up a hitchhiker?

I sped by the two hitchhiking women as I left my little mountain town headed toward Reno.

And then it clicked–they were locals, ladies I had seen about town from time to time. So I stopped and put my car in reverse, watching in my rear view mirror as they jogged toward me.

They were on their way back to Reno where they now live — and had come back to town for an errand. An older, weather-worn woman and a younger woman, late 20s or early 30s–pregnant and sunburned. No wonder. They had walked half the forty-two mile distance before they had gotten rides to my town.

“Thank you,” the older woman said. “The winds were something terrible.”

They shared a large plastic bottle of sparkling water back and forth.

We made small talk about the weather. I wondered about their circumstances and reason for attempting such a trip, but I kept my questions to myself.

“You’re an angel,” the older woman said as I pulled to the curb in downtown Reno. “Thank you for picking me up again.”


“You picked me up some years ago.”

Even though I had no memory of picking anyone up before and even though mental red flags were waving about their “errand” and even though I dropped them off outside a casino, I decided our encounter was a divine one.

You just never know what form angels will take.

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Are you a first responder?


Are you a first responder? I don’t mean an EMT or fireman or someone in law enforcement. They are amazing . . . and certainly deserve our respect and admiration and support.

But I’m talking about prayer.

When you read on Facebook that someone has been in accident or is in surgery or otherwise ill, do you immediately respond in prayer?

When a problem comes up at home or at work, do you respond in frustration or anger . . . or in prayer?

Prayerwalking taught me that prayer that should be our first response rather than a last resort. Seeing the needs in my community prompts me to pray. When I hear a family arguing, I ask the Lord to bring peace — and Himself — to those folks. When I see graffiti as I drive through Reno, I ask my Father God to be the father of those youth. When the teens in my English classes are hurting about a friend in need, I pray that the Great Healer will love on them all.

I’m becoming a first responder, because I have found that prayer is the best problem solving strategy.

I invite you to find out more about first response in prayer and other prayer topics in Daily PrayerWalk:


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New-fashioned prayer meeting


Many churches have had a history of the Wednesday night prayer meeting, when families would spend an hour or so at their places of worship — children with special Bible lessons and adults in prayer for one another.

While that old-fashioned practice has waned in the last couple of decades, a new one is taking its place — an online prayer gathering.

One pastor, Bill Giovanetti of Neighborhood Church in Reddinghas an online prayer meeting Wednesday nights on his Facebook page. Weekly he invites his Facebook friends to post a prayer request — asking those who post to pray for at least the person above them in the comments.

Bill says he grew up with Wednesday prayer meetings, many of which have been supplanted with regular small group meetings. However, he says he doesn’t lament the end of the traditional prayer groups because so many more are now meeting online. He sees it as “an increase in prayer” instead.

He has found that the online prayer group has borne much fruit: “I actually hear from people from my grade school days who probably aren’t saved but who remind me when I forget. . . . They love it and say it gets them through their week.”

Bill has two suggestions for those who want to start an online prayer meeting:

  • Emphasize that the purpose is NOT for counseling and advice–but simply for prayer.
  • Do not post specific prayers, which Bill says could make the “place less safe for those who would ask for prayer.”

Just imagine how many people could feel supported if we all either started a Wednesday night prayer meeting online — and how many needs could be met!

I’m starting one this week! See you online in prayer!

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