How many times have you heard this? My life stinks. I’m going nowhere. I’ve had this problem all my life; it will never go away. I just can’t find the energy anymore. I don’t think God loves me. I’m tired of fighting.

We’ve all had moments like that.  Yes, even Christians feel this way.  Almost every day of our lives we get discouraged. Life is the pits sometimes. There are days when you don’t even want to wake up and face another one. However, the Bible tells us, time and time again, not to be afraid or discouraged.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

Over and over we read these words in scripture.  They must be important if so much emphasis is placed on them.  It sounds so simple, but not so much. God also tells us that our life isn’t always going to be a bed of roses. The discouragement is real; the suffering doesn’t always simply go away. The real encouragement comes in knowing that God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. He will never give up on us, even though we sometimes might give up on Him.

Even in our darkest hours, we can be confident that we are not walking this planet alone.  Jesus is right at our side, guiding and guarding each step that we take.


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A peaceful walk within the woods, can stir imagination,

The crunch of twigs and unknown things, all adds to this sensation,

A regiment of trees stand tall, and line a peaceful lake,

Enduring every element, the brunt of it they take,

A quiet breeze soon captivates and gives you some relief,

It trembles through each giant tree and tickles every leaf,

When life is filled with hope unknown, when all seems lost and over,

The breath of God is living truth that all our sins He’ll cover,

He fills our lives with confidence, He’ll never let us wander,

He carries us through all our trials, His love He does not squander.

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Paul designed and painted this set for “Such a Time as This,” the story of Esther.

When I was directing my children’s theater and wanted to be sure that the background for my actors enhanced their acting abilities, I called on the one man I knew who could fill the bill -my husband, Paul.  Over our 53 year marriage, we’ve become quite a team.  I guess you could even call us the dynamic duo at times.  However this has not always been as easy as it seems.

Being a visual sort of fellow, his vision often overshadows my analytical side and that sometimes leads to conflict.  He’s learned over time that I need to see what’s going to happen so I can plan staging around it. I’ve learned that he needs to know what I have planned before he can concept an idea.  Until we get our act together, there are bound to be a few discussions.

When we began using drama as an outreach tool, the first play was a musical adaptation of the story of Esther.  I was put in touch with a young musician who put my lyrics to music.  I’d never met the woman, but we collaborated over the internet and came up with a number of songs to add to the performance.  As each song came back to me, I’d weep a little as if seeing some dream fulfilled.

With each costume made, from harem girls to Bible characters, Mr. & Mrs. Haman and King Xerxes and his first wife the story was beginning to come tolife.  However I had no idea what the set would bring.  Paul crafted another work of art which depicted the city of Babylon and the outlandish gods worshipped there.  Not only was it pleasing to the eye, it helped tremendously to move the story forward.


Paul has a vision that transcends normal thinking.  His versatility as an artist spans many areas.  When doing a version of “Pinnochio, the set included the Jolly Roger along with the intimidating crocodile peeking out of the ocean.  When I needed pirate props he carved wooden swords and flint lock pistols.  When we did “Robin Hood,” I knew I could call on him to create a lyre out of a large gourd – a target complete with an arrow within an arrow and many more interesting props.

His years of coming up with ideas for others through his work in the ad business, has expanded over many different avenues.  Even now, he continues to teach his craft to others, makes art, has a great passion for everything he does and lives every moment to the max.  How did I get so lucky?



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It was one of those down times on the roller coaster of our early married life. My husband was about to embark on a new job in a different state and we had no insurance.  I had remained in our old state until our house would sell.  All three of our kids had the chicken pox.  The only vehicle we had available to us was a broken down Ford Fairlaine, which barely made it to the end of the driveway.

I was beginning to feel our house would never sell and that we’d be apart for the rest of our marriage or at least until the kids were out of college.  It was in that dark time that the phone rang.  It was a doctor from hospital in St. Paul, MN. He said my husband had admitted himself to the ER after experiencing tachycardia (rapid heart rate). He said if there was anyway I could get there as soon as possible, the better it would be.

We had just recovered from a long time of unemployment. Our bank account had about 45 cents in it.  I couldn’t drive that old beater more than a mile.  My kids were contagious, and according to the doctor, my husband didn’t have long for this world.   I called my parents and asked if they could drive to our town and let me use their car to reach him.  Just after hanging up, my husband was on the phone.

Apparently, he heard the doctor making the call and felt sure that it wasn’t necessary for me to make a trip.  He was in a hospital ward, mind you.  There were no private phones, no cell phones – just lines of hospital beds holding sick people.  So he detached his IV and all the cords which attached to the machines showing his vitals and ran down the hall to a pay phone.  Of course pandemonium set in as lights were going off and on and alerts were sounding.  They thought my husband had crashed.  Imagine their surprise, when they found he was no longer in his bed!

He spent a few days in that ward as a large number of tests were run.  He felt like he was sitting in a cab watching the meter running – as dollar signs turned over and over.  His stress over not being able to pay the huge bill only added to his distress  Tests were done to see what was causing his rapid heart rate.  Stress tests were done.  Any anxiety or depression they were looking for, didn’t show up until he was there for a few days.

During his time there, a drug addict pulled out his IV and was bleeding profusely.  Paul administered first aid.  An elderly gentlemen streaked the nurses’ station creating quite a stir.  Someone got in bed with him and proceeded to wet the bed.  Paul’s room was right next to the communal rest room.  I suppose the poor fellow thought he was there.

Since he was in a university hospital, a large staff of doctors, nurses and interns were making rounds one day.  One of the interns suggested checking for hyper-active thyroid.  They did and discovered that he indeed did suffer from this condition.  It was a relief, but only added to more anxiety.

He was led down a long hall way.  At the end of the hall was a room with a danger sign.  This was the room they led him to.  He was told to wait.  While waiting he noticed a metal cup with a syringe.  After a few minutes of waiting and wondering what would happen next, a young nurse came in draped in a radio active apron.  She carried a metal container with heavily gloved hands.  She took the syringe and drew some of the liquid from the metal container and placed it in the cup.  Paul was told to drink it.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t very reassuring for him to do so, after all the precautions he witnessed.  The radio active iodine was administered to kill his thyroid and rid him of this problem.

So the story ended well, at least until the bill arrived.

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I hope I look as dignified as this old, grey, mare. 

After a long rest, I’ve decided it’s time to get back in the saddle again.  My last physical indicated that I’m in pretty good health for an old lady, but I need to get some exercise.  So I’ve been spending some time at the “Y” with my Silver Sneaker friends.

When I need motivation, I simply look over at the elderly gentleman, who resembles Tim Conway portraying an old man.  This dear man is obviously a few years older than me, but he’s there every time and even though each move is torturous for him, he continues to press on.  The fact that there’s a mirror facing us is quite a motivator too.  The one hour workout is designed to make us more flexible, get moving and work on areas that are troublesome as we age.

Yesterday was an off day, so I decided to dig into some gardening.  I garden on my hands and knees because it’s causes less stress on my back.  I stumbled into a patch of ants (they love our sandy soil.)  I vigorously pulled weeds that had resurfaced.  I put in a few new plants to dress up the area and by the time I was finished, I looked like the last rose of summer.  Sweat poured from my aging body.  My hair was soaking wet.  My knees and feet were covered with dirt and I didn’t smell very good. At that point my body cried out for relief.

I got to thinking about how quickly we fall out of shape.  When we stray from God’s Word and His plan for our lives, we get run down too.  Our minds turn to other things for satisfaction.  Without His guidance, we are like a stubborn, old, grey mare.  Things go out of focus quickly.  We think we can control our own destiny.  We try to manage, but fail.  A daily dose of God’s Word can give us the strength, physically, mentally and spiritually to get through every day.

We need motivation like we need oxygen.  God fills our lungs with hope, faith and determination to fend off the enemy.  He holds us near, walks with us and lifts us when we fall.  Even though our bodies can’t do what they used to do, he provides strength to get us through the difficulties of life.  Right now, He’s pushing me out of the door and off to the gym.

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Not so long ago,

The ground was frozen and

Covered with a blanket of snow,

Now an early summer sun beats ferociously,

Upon the landscape,

Humidity fills the air,

Hovering like a cloud of heavy weight,

The weather is much like life –

It can change in an instant,

One minute you’re sweltering and melting,

The next, you’re searching for a jacket,

Minnesota heat is somewhat a luxury,

For a few brief moments we come out of our winter hibernation,

Bask in the rays of the sun,

Dip our toes in a peaceful, warm lake,

Man the sails and pursue the wind,

We’ve learned to enjoy every warm moment,

Because there is so little of it.


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This guy wears many hats, as I’ve already written.  One of his favorites is anything bearing the Stetson name and he really looks good in it.  To me, the cowboy in Paul, is the most attractive.

As a boy, he would play cowboys and Indians in his little Roy Rogers’ cowboy hat, vest, fringed shirt and pistol packing holsters on the flat roof of the funeral home.  In his mind he had been transported to a place outside the confines of the city.  His range was covered with tar, but to him it was the wide open spaces.

Later he had the opportunity to work for a farmer out near the lake home and learned about making hay, lifting bales of it, and sneezing his way through hay fever season because of it.  That didn’t deter the young boy.  He loved the outdoors.  He loved being away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life.  He loved the freedom it allowed him.

When he grew into a man and worked in the advertising business, one of his accounts was a major ammunitions company.  Since the internet had not yet been invented, photography on location was necessary, which required trips out west and into mountainous areas.  One such trip took him into the Wind River Mountains – a natural area, where great shots could be captured in the beauty of God’s creation.

The trip required the use of horses and pack animals for all the photography gear and supplies.  It was right up his alley.  As they reached the top of the mountain, the air was thin, but the weather cooperated long enough to get some wonderful pictures to enhance the client’s product.

As time went by, the skies began to fill with clouds and it wasn’t long before it was snowing.  The snow continued and continued until there was no way they would be able to travel the now treacherous trail back.  Another adventure for this man wasn’t met with trepidation.   Every survival skill was set into motion again.  Of course they made it back, but they waited a few days to make the trip.

During that time, he made a connection with a dude ranch and was able to sell them on doing an advertising brochure.  The deal was sweet.  Our entire family would spend a week at the dude ranch in exchange for the cost of the advertising.  There are great advantages to being a good salesman – another hat that Paul wears well.

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What does a plein air artist do when the weather simply won’t allow for outdoor painting?  It’s too hot, humid, cloudy and even a little windy.  They retreat to the recesses of the studio and paint a still life.  The true artist never lets a day go by without lifting a brush – even if it means painting a wall.

So he gathers an assortment of objects of various size and shape – group them into an interesting composition – fill the pallet with globs of color, prepare the canvas, get comfortable and begin.  Capturing light and shadows, they highlight and shadow.  They play with color and dance around the canvas to the music of creativity.

The day will come when the paint will no longer flow.  I pray it will last forever.


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