Thursday, January 26, 2012


As I get older- I am a little more unsure of myself, a little more hesitant, a little more apt to let younger people make the decisions.  Just a little. This is a huge admission from the original bossy-pants-of-America.  I am a little more tender.   I do know one thing for sure though: If  I were a clothing designer- I would make a million bucks designing sleepwear for menopausal women.  Here is what these young whipper-snapper clothing designers need to know about pj’s for us: 
2.100% cotton- no exceptions
3.something you can whip on and off in the middle of the night when flash-city hits. 

If  number one and number two are accomplished than number three usually doesn’t need to happen.  Believe me number 3 needs to be avoided if at all possible- at my age THAT can be really scary.   Can I tell you how many nightgowns, t-shirts, pj tops I have pitted out in the last few years?  What in the cat hair is that all about? That telltale stain under the armpit makes me use the trash can as a basketball hoop -more times than you can imagine.  Maybe disposable menopausal pajamas would be the best design… I will text Vera Wang and Versace about it tomorrow.

Erma Bombeck was and still is one of my favorite writers.  Some of you don’t remember her, but when I was growing up, my mom read her newspaper column faithfully.  She wrote about womenhood, motherhood, parenting and anything else that popped in to her brain.  She had that rare gift of being way funny, yet meaningful and tender.  I can remember my mom reading it out loud to us, and all of us laughing together- almost till we wet our pants:)  Erma wrote a book once called When you Look like your Passport Photo its Time to go Home  she chronicled a time when her husband took her to Papua New Guinea on vacation.  Since I have lived there-just that thought is hilarious to me:) Erma died of breast cancer in 1996, after a 6 year battle.  In her later years, her writing was still funny, but she was writing more about serious things, things that were close to her heart. The equal rights amendment for women, childhood cancer, being a grandma.  She became a little more tenderhearted, in my estimation.  I will blog more about Erma later- but here are a few of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes:

 "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."
 "The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again."
"Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."
”When humor goes, there goes civilization."
And my fave:
"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

*for more about Erma and her life, and some books she wrote:

Just lately, I have been feeling a little more tenderhearted, a little more fragile, even a little more weepy.  Ok- yes- I am a girl, so I even cry during re-runs of “Little House on the Prairie”  (Darn that Laura Ingalls  she can be sooo sweet and sincere! ) Life sometimes is hard, and definitely not funny.   The world is many times cold and callous, and we can be the same way, rushing through our lives. When is the last time you were touched by a story you read about a sick child?   The last time you cried about the pain of someone you don’t even know?  Tenderheartedness can be tricky.  Sappy stories sometimes makes us roll our eyes.  My husband is very tenderhearted, even though he does not cry much, hardly ever.  A few years ago we drove to southern Illinois for him to give the eulogy for a good friend and colleague of his who died suddenly.  When we got there it was just a few minutes before the funeral started.  Surprising himself and me, he started to weep uncontrollably.   The Lord was giving him a very tenderhearted moment. 

What about our God?  Is he tenderhearted? What makes His heart heavy? What makes Him grieve? A great example of Him being tenderhearted and grieving is this verse, one of my favorites by the way:)

Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.

Can you hear His anguish and pain? Can you hear His heart breaking for his people and His city? Can you hear His tenderheartedness? This verse hangs above my sink in the kitchen.  My kids are mostly grown up now. My youngest is 18 and he is trying to be a grownup:) When they went through hard times as they were growing up, I wanted to gather them under my wing like a mother hen and protect them.  I felt tenderhearted toward them.  Even now I look at this verse while I am washing dishes and pray for them.  I still want to protect them from pain and anguish and sadness.  The fact is I can’t.  And I shouldn’t.  Even though this is a “cat hair” moment, my God tells me they need the pain.  They are developing their own tenderheartedness.  Erma might say: (and she did)
"Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage."

Friday, January 20, 2012


I am getting to be an old woman.  I can tell this because of the hot flashes-because I am starting to like the old hymns in church better than the newer hipper worship songs, AND I am longing to be a grandma:)  All of these things tell me I am getting old.

But I was young once.  When I was around 32 or so, Tim and I sold or gave away almost everything we owned, joined Wycliffe Bible Translators, and moved to Papua New Guinea, with Anna and Ruth in tow.  God clearly told us to do it, and WHAT IN THE CAT HAIR are ya gonna say to that? Wycliffe’s mission is to pretty much do what the name says.  Simply put, write down or put on tape God’s Word into every viable spoken language in the world.  This is something Tim and I were passionate about long ago, and still feel the same way today. Nowadays Tim serves as the Counseling Ministries Director, and while I am currently working  outside of the org to make a little extra $, I worked for many years as a personnel administrator.   For the over 25 years we have been members of Wycliffe, it has been the adventure of a lifetime.  I would not trade it for anything.

I could go on forever about the adventures we had in PNG,  about trying to get the village chickens NOT to lay their eggs on Anna’s pillow,  about washing in the river, cooking over an open fire, learning a new language, and quite a few “didn’t make it to the outhouse” stories. I could tell you about our fabulous village papa Banuti, or Ruth lapping water out of my village sister’s prize piglet bowl.  I could tell you about living later on the mission station that had electricity about half the time, about NO NEWS from home.   To be truthful, it was hard at times.  We weren’t always safe, and in the village Tim got so sick, it was touch and go for awhile. Still, I would not trade that adventure God gave us either. But I am saving all those amazing stories for another time. 

Right now I want to discuss HAMAMAS.  This is an awesome word.  In Pidgeon, the language we spoke in PNG, it means, happy, glad, content, ecstatic, elated, euphoric.  To “HAMAMASIM” someone was to make them very happy.  I feel sooo HAMAMAS when I use my hot flash extinguisher –AHHHHHH.  Ya know that feeling you get when you take the fam to the beach- and it is a struggle packing, getting there, unpacking, but then you hit the beach and lay in the sun…HAMAMAS  fer sure. 

Yes it is true, I am getting old.  Sometimes when I talk to people who don’t know much about missions and taking God’s Word to places that have never had it, I say too much and they get bored. They would rather talk about American sports or Hollywood or the latest Christian celebrity pastor’s book they read.  I like this stuff too, and I am way in to my sports teams.  But what makes me the most hamamas now is hearing of a young person who has caught the fire of Bible Translation and wants to help with the many languages left in the world.  Sometimes I tell people “I am just and old woman who loves missions.”  Yes I am getting older, I have aches and pains and hot flashes and menopause.   But I am not out.  I am still as passionate about missions and my Jesus as I was when I was 32.

As I think about my life there are lots of things that make me HAMAMAS.  My wonderful husband, my kids, my good friends, my family.  There is one thing that makes me feel pretty choked up when I think of it.  When Tim and I left PNG we received and unassuming little certificate that still hangs in our house to this day. It tells of the 23 translations completed in the country while we were there helping.  I would not trade that little certificate for tickets to the super bowl- I treasure it close to my heart. 
(*please see my facebook page for a great video of what God is doing in Cameroon, Africa! WOOT!)

What are you passionate about? What drives you?  What makes you so hamamas you could just jump up and down for hours straight?  Sometimes when I think about  the MANY languages left in the world that don’t have even one word of the Bible translated- I scratch my head.  I say to my God, “Lord, about this tower of Babel thing?  WHAT IN THE CAT HAIR were you thinking? …He seems to say back to me: “Denise, I got it….just wait til you see what I’ve got…”
Revelation 15:4
Who will not fear You, Lord, and bring glory to Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations, (tribes and tongues) will come and worship together before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Friday, January 13, 2012


I spend my afternoons and early evenings hanging out with an autistic teenage boy who for the sake of his privacy in this blog I will call “Dave”.  Dave and I have lots of adventures together.  He knows for a fact that if we go into a store he is NOT allowed to flap or run up and down or yell and repeat quotes from his favorite Disney movies. 

 Sometimes he messes up if he gets really excited, then we have to TALK.  My actual job title is “home and community specialist”.  Basically I am simply trying to train him to live his life as independently and safely as he possibly can. I do daily programming with him that includes community activities, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and shopping.  All the stuff  we do daily.  Dave has many things he loves:  movies, animals of any kind, video games, and the computer.  At the end of each day, (if he has done well) he gets to print out pictures he has saved on his computer (usually animals) to put in his overflowing file of papers he carries around with him.  This is EXTREMELY important to him.  He wouldn’t trade this time for winning the lottery- believe me.

It has come to my attention that he is not so different than any of us.  We all have things we love, and we all collect stuff.  We all have to do things daily that may not be our favorite things to do.  Sometimes we look weird out in the community. When Dave and I disagree on what he should be doing, he gets irritated with me.  If he is just a little irritated he will say: (not really to me but kind of just to the air) “yes sir right away sir”.  If he gets a little more ticked he says: “sword……shield”.  If he is extremely uptight about what I have asked him to do, he will yell “TITANIC”  at the top of his lungs.   Hmmm…  Yup- I think I might sometimes want to SINK the person bossing me around all the time:)

 Ok I know we are not all autistic and believe me I know Dave has lots of challenges.  Autism is one of the fastest growing disabilities in the world. Latest statistics say 1 in 150 births result in some form of autism. Educate yourself on autism HERE: 

But DAVE and I have lots of fun too.  He thinks it is way funny when I sing silly songs to him. I am teaching him to say “WHAT IN THE CAT HAIR?” when we get amazed at anything.  He likes to watch the scene in “Follow that Bird’  (the Big Bird  movie)  where Bert and Ernie are flying in that little airplane upside down.  He watches it upside down on the couch AND he like the Portuguese subtitles.  THAT in itself is awesome. SEE THAT HERE:

I can't help but think the reason he likes this song so much might be because of the upside down world that is his life. But the best thing about Dave, is that he teaches me lessons about life daily.  It would take me forever to enumerate them all, but the most important one is patience.  Because Dave is autistic he also has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This is fairly typical with autistic folks. He straightens the books that I lay on the table, the kitchen faucet has to always be a certain way, and all the doors in the house have to be closed. He repeats this process many times a day.  Before we leave to go out into the community he has a ritual he follows that has to do with packing up his backpack with the stuff he thinks he needs.  If I am in a hurry that does not matter to him.  I can’t boss him into hurrying. If I try to, TITANIC  comes up fairly soon in the conversation.  I am a fairly impatient person, but because of Dave, I am learning. He has been as much my teacher s I have been his.

When Dave and I get to Heaven someday,  I am planning to talk and laugh with him about the time we spent together on this earth.  I know according to Scripture we will both be made perfect and complete.  In Paradise I believe we will be able to communicate with each other better. 

Although sometimes it is hard to tell right now, I think for the most part he enjoys our time together.  When I get to Heaven,  I might say to my God, “Lord, about this autism thing- What in the Cat hair?"  But then again because of the lessons I am learning, I might just say;  Thanks.