Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lurking in the shadows

I keep hearing from my friends that they keep up with the insanity of my life by reading my blog. What a riot! And I'm glad you are all there. I suppose it's nice for me to be able to type this stuff once and know that you are keeping up with me. I seem to have lost control of most of my life. We'll see if it ever comes back to some semblance of ... quiet.

Hmmm, I remember telling Alison one year that if I could just get this and that dealt with, my life should quiet down. I quit a couple of committees so that I could relieve the pressure. Ah ha ... but, the pressure never releases - it just changes.

I'll be taking time off tomorrow from work while I join my family at Children's Hospital. My nephew, Matthew is having open heart surgery to replace a defective valve. He's known about this since he was a child and it's finally time to deal with it. It occurred to me that I'm awfully fortunate to have made the life change that I did last fall. I started my new job on February 1. On Feb. 26, Max had ankle replacement surgery. A blizzard made it imperative that I stay at home with him ... so, I took time from work to care for a hobbling husband. On April 27, my father was killed and I took time off to deal with family issues. On June 1, my nephew is in Omaha to have open heart surgery and I will take time off to be with the family as we wait and pray. I can not express my gratitude enough for how God cares for me and my family.

We keep dealing with weird stresses in our lives, but God makes it possible for us to get through all of them as we continue to rely on Him for strength! (Phil 4:13).

Max and I went out to dinner this evening with Jim, Janet and Matthew, and Janet's parents, who are in town to support them through the surgery. Inlaws are interesting people. I've known Janet's parents for a long time. Carol and I actually sang for one of Janet's sister's wedding years ago. We spent Christmas with that family several times. I've always been thankful for Janet in our family. She certainly has kept Jim on the straight and narrow and has given us some amazing kids.

I guess I am just not an 'inlaw' kind of person. I don't do the whole extended family thing. Notice that I don't leap over hill and dale to get to Ohio on a regular basis to spend time with Max's family. I've been very happy to just send Max out there on his own every year. I suppose it's a bad thing and I should try to correct it, but really folks ... it's just not my thing! Bland, boring, inane banter drievs me out of my mind. What in the world do you say to people that you don't know and will never get to know well? I have no idea and it hurts my brain to figure it out.

My sister, Carol? She's simply amazing at it. She gets life stories from nearly everyone she comes into contact with. They open up to her and pour out their information ... all over her. I've watched her and walked away astounded. I'm just not good with that.

Put me in a situation where people will have intelligent conversation, though and actually engage with me - and I will never want to leave!

So, you have to know that this evening as we all went out for dinner, to ensure they would find the restaurant, I rode in Don and Doris' car. Hmmm, I haven't seen them in at the very least ... 10 years and I can imagine that I may never see them again after this weekend (they live in Denver). They live a very quiet reserved life - far from what I live (stop giggling) and much like my father are highly impressed with wealth and prestige. Again, far from how I live.

Let's just say it was an exercise in ... tolerance. Aw heck, I probably would drive them crazy!

Ok ... before I go to bed tonight (we're going to head to the hospital about 8:00 tomorrow morning), I have to tell a funny on myself.

I've been noticing that my eyes are pretty washed out ... I needed to start wearing mascara. I've been wearing a little bit for the last week or so, but I also started wearing reading glasses and most people just assumed ... or commented on the glasses.

I got some new mascara and this morning before I got out of the car at work, I put it on. And went in to work.

After awhile, Cody (the young, sound and tech director at church) walked into my office. He looked at me a bit and then asked "Do you have an appointment today?" "Ummm ... no, why?" "You've got makeup on!" (oh for heaven's sake). We laughed and moved on.

A little bit later, Julie walked into my office. And said, "Your eyes are very pretty! I love the makeup" I just laughed! Good heavens! So, later on, I walked into Jen's office. And from her mouth comes, "Your eyes are beautiful! Do you have mascara on?"

Oh, are you all kidding me? So, I either have to wear this forever or stop wearing it completely, because I truly hate having attention paid to me in this way. Well ... if you think we're done, we're not. I went out to lunch with Matt and his family and then again to dinner this evening. While we were sitting at the table tonight, Matt was beside me. He kept looking and then he said, "You're wearing makeup! That looks really nice."

I couldn't believe it. So ... there it is ... I'm stuck with wearing mascara for the rest of my life. Oh ... to top it off, Max replies to Matthew, "Have you ever seen her completely made up? She's beautiful!" Hmmm ... it sucks to be me. {grin}

Up and Down

I started writing a blog yesterday and as I re-read it, I was obviously a whiny mess, so I deleted it. However, the content was exactly what I was having trouble with. Now that I feel much more normal, I am going to restate the intention.

It's all about the tongue and the words that we feel are so important to share with the world. James speaks to this issue more than once in his epistle.

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

"All kinds of animals, birds and reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (James 3:5-8)

Now, I have had this verse preached at me and I have had it taught to me many times throughout my life. I still don't seem to absorb it! I try daily to curb my tongue and be careful of what I say, but I fail all the time.

Ok, I want to keep that verse in context with something that James says earlier:

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:19-20)

Alright, one more:

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" (James 4:1)

Oh ... James isn't done!

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curs men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be!" (James 3:9-10)

James wears me out. I can't read through his epistle without feeling an extreme amount of guilt. Right now there are so many thoughts flying through my mind, it's going to be difficult to get them all written down, but ... I'll give it a shot!

I lead worship on Sunday mornings and when I leave, I find myself talking about the events of the morning. More often than not, it's gossip. I can't tame this tongue from gossip.

My opinion matters. Now before you take offense at that statement, I'm being a bit facetious. "I" believe that my opinion matters. Notice the last line of the introduction to my blog "They Call Me the Oracle". I have a million opinions and I believe that they are all important. Not so much. When I am more concerned with stating my opinion than caring for the people around me, I am in an unhealthy place. I can't tame this tongue from sharing my opinions.

Anger has been a lifelong challenge for me. I am passionate about life and about the things and people that I love. When something crosses that line into my passion, fury erupts. I have been moderately successful at reigning in that fury over the big picture of my life, but I allow it to send me over the edge and I open my mouth and say things that are only meant to hurt and to shock. I can't tame this tongue from spewing anger.

Growing up in the church, I have always known that people pour their passions and their lives into the church and they have the same failings as I do with regards to the tongue. Dad always blocked much of that venom from coming into our home, but I know that it wounded him terribly. Once I left his protection, I became more and more aware of the pure filth that comes from church members mouths.

Over the last 15 years, I have experienced some incredible nastiness. I have been startled by the fact that it happens at all.

I giggle ... as I associate this bad behavior with a statement from a liberal pastor when explaining his view on why he didn't believe that Jesus was the divine Son of God. At least he was upfront in his belief. I didn't get side-swiped by him. I didn't need to hold him to the same standards as the rest of my Christian brethren ... he didn't believe in those standards.

But, for those of us who call ourselves 'Christian', we have a responsibility to watch our tongue.

Our opinions are NOT that important - not nearly as important as showing grace within the love of Jesus.

Our anger is NEVER justified - it's amazing what happens when we accept that there are other points of view and reasons for an event happening as it did.

And gossip? I shouldn't have to say too much about that. Building up the individuals in the body of Christ will bring healing, destruction comes from gossip.

Now ... I've been very vague and very careful when writing this post. I never want one person (who wouldn't be reading this blog anyway) to feel that I'm speaking specifically to them. (I remember standing beside my father as people left worship, Sunday after Sunday. They would always accuse him of spying on them throughout the week. He never spoke to one specific person ... but, our guilt can certainly accuse us when we have been outside the love of God, eh?)

My friend, Rebecca has been writing about the mouth as well. Her stuff is pretty cool. We can make choices before we speak out loud. I can make choices before I say things. Mom always told me that if I didn't have something nice to say, I didn't need to say it. She was right. There is never any call for mean-spirited words - even if we think they are justified because our cause is so important. Grace ... love ... encouragement.

Actually, I'll let Paul say it from Galatians 5:22:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

There's nothing there about being right, or having an opinion or criticism. Right? Right.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Reminders of Love

Today has been a wonderful day ... and I know that I should be asleep. I lead worship with the praise band tomorrow morning - and it will come whether I'm sleeping or not! So far, I'm not.

I was looking for some papers tonight (didn't find them ... sigh) but discovered some other treasures. THIS is why I'm a packrat. Things that bring back memories to me - are treasures and will never find their way into the trash. Max and I were discussing just a little bit ago the best way to deal with our memories. You see, I want to be mobile within 10 years. So, I have a lot of 'stuff' to deal with, the least of which is all of our photographs, Max's negatives, and the clippings from several lifetimes of experiences.

We figure that we will need at least (at least? yikes!) 2 Terabytes of storage to deal with everything we want to save. My plan is to scan all of my photographs and begin burning multiple sets of DVDs, while also saving them to a hard drive - and we'll back those hard drives up. I want to toss out the photos - or give them to Carol or Jim. Anything to make them leave my personal space.

We just bought a brand new scanner - it's better than anything I ever had at Insty-Prints. It will scan all of Max's negatives - 35mm, 120mm and 4x5. Pretty awesome in our world. And it's going to be terrific at scanning all of my stuff. We just have to get busy doing it.

Well ... that was a long introduction to one of the treasures I discovered this evening.

Max and I met online, January 6 1994. I just discovered an email that I had printed out from him, January 28, 1994. He's quite pragmatic in this email, but here's why I ended up marrying him:

"...we have been talking serious about what kind of marriage we envision ... I am getting the feeling that this is not some mere fantasy infatuation - I feel the Lord in His wisdom is pointing the way for us. It is for us to see if this is part of his plan or not. But, providence has a way of being inevitable. I have been thinking that perhaps you are the reason God brought me to North Carolina, which eventually led me to meeting Jay and using his computer to meet you. I have prayed for help in the past 6 months for God to help me finally find a woman who is truly right and good for me, by whatever means He chooses to do so. I can't help but think my prayers are being answered."

What's a girl to think when she reads words like this from a man that had been exciting my mind night after night when we spoke online or on the telephone. I wasn't quite ready to meet him at that point. It would take another month and a half for Max to get past all my fears ... but, Max never let me forget that God was working on both of us to bring us together. His confidence in that fact gave me a lot of strength!

The rest of the letter from Max is pretty cool ... he's thinking out loud (on paper) about how to deal with all of the logistics of his life.

I didn't save a lot of the emails and conversations that we had - though they were on the computer. This is one that I printed out ... thank heavens. It definitely reminds me that our love came from a source other than ourselves.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Ok ... I'm about to admit to a new addiction. Max and I are totally wrapped up in the television series "LOST". This is a darned cool mystery. My sister has been watching it for the last three years. I didn't even start watching it because I'm at church every Wednesday evening. But, for the last two years, I've purchased the DVD sets for her for Christmas so that she can catch up on the episodes she missed.

She brought them to me last week.

Max and I started watching them Sunday evening. We watched 5 episodes. We watched 15 episodes on Monday (I really was sick - thank heavens I didn't have to move while watching television). We watched 7 episodes last night and six this evening. We're 8 episodes into the second season and there are two totally addicted humans in this house. It's so much fun.

And, it's one of the saddest things I've ever experienced!

Now, before I get going, I have to tell you that from here on out, there is every probability I'm going to sound extremely pious. I don't mean to ... I can't help it!

There's no "God" in this television show. At all! There are a large number of people stranded on this island with terrible things happening all around them and to them. They have no idea where they are, or what the awful things are on the island. The mystery is amazing. But, they are constantly dealing with "only out for myself" attitudes from every character. The self-sacrifices that happen are rare and only from a few people.

Living with a 'Christian Worldview' as I do, I am having a lot of trouble with this. If I were stranded on the island with this group of people, I can't imagine that I wouldn't have an affect on them. There's no affection between these people - barely any between family members that have been stranded together. They have 'funerals' for dead people where they read off a litany of the information found on the body. Locke's faith is in the island ... he believes that it is guiding him. Max says that they discovered a Bible in one of the sections of the plane and left it there when some unknown animal / being from the island destroyed the pilot (in a very gruesome death). So, of the hundreds of people on this plane, there was only one Bible? Wow ...

It seems that there are specific people that were chosen to live and made it to the island. Did all of the Christians die in the crash? Am I going to discover that Mr. Eko brings Christ to the camp? Who knows ...

These people are lost ... that's obvious. And I don't expect Hollywood to toss Christianity into a plot, that's not the purpose of my short rant here. I love this series - and am having a ball watching it. I suspect that the reason I'm so overwhelmed by this lack of God among these poor people could be that I'm watching it so intently. Maybe when I can get into the regular series this fall, I will feel like it's normal. But, right now! Being Lost means a lot more to me than having a group of people stranded on a very strange desert island. It also means that there is so little hope.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 6:19-20

I am not LOST, I'm so thankful for the hope that gets me through the desert island of this life on earth. On the day of my birth, I was stranded far from home. I'm living here, making a life that will be what I do until I die and head home again. I have hope - in a Savior that died so my life on earth would be filled with the knowledge that God is my creator and cares for me. And you know what? I have my Bible with me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Random Thoughts

I've been scrubbing in the kitchen. Let's just say that since I don't cook much and I don't spend a lot of time in there, it was in desperate need of some TLC. Hmmm ... I shouldn't speak in the past tense. I'm not done.

But, as I've been scrubbing and sniffing the clorox (side effect, not on purpose), I've been thinking about several conversations in the last few days and an email conversation I've been having back and forth with my dad's sister. They've all been processing around in my mind and I keep having a lot of thoughts that are random bouncing around. None of the conversations are tied together, so it's been really chaotic up there.

Yesterday at lunch with a bunch of friends, I began thinking about me and how odd I really am. But, if I try to think too far down that road, I make myself more than I really am. So, I stop thinking that way. Because I'm no different than anyone else in most ways. Many of us so desperately want to be unique, to stand out in the world ... we want that 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol spoke of. But, do we really? We want people to recognize in us that quality that sets us apart from the rest of humanity.

Last night I was watching "Paula's Party" on the Food Network with friends. Paula Deen is terrific. I love her. She doesn't mind being who she is. There are no apologies for what she says and does. What you see is what you get with her - and she's wonderful!

I'm getting closer and closer to being that person. I don't want to apologize for what I think and what I say. (unless I wound someone - then I need to say 'I'm sorry' right now!) But, I want to live my life with the confidence that the decisions I make will be enough for who I am. I don't want to question myself or have other people question me. I want to know that when I am walking with the Lord, I am doing it with confidence. That He and I will spend time talking about things before I wade into them and that I will stroll forward knowing that He and I have discussed it first.

The day that mom told us she was dying and probably only had 2 weeks left was transformational to me. That really was a day that I made a decision about life. It was a conscious thought process that I remember. I was no longer going to be guilty about decisions I made in life. Life was too short. If I made a decision, I would stand by it until I had to walk away from it. One way or other, I was going to be assured that my decisions would be appropriate and would be guilt free.

Now, I don't always follow that dictum in my life. Sometimes life is too difficult and I make rash decisions. But, for the most part, I want to live like that and I try to live like that. I'm not going to apologize for who I am.

When I was young, I was actually two separate personalities (no, not the schizophrenic kind). I put on a persona when I walked out the door. My father was a well-respected man in the community and he had a lot riding on that respect. People needed to know that he was a good man and that his family supported his life. Mom instilled this in us from the beginning. So, when I left the house, I became my father's daughter. I was good in school, I was a talented musician, I didn't talk back, I respected my parents, I did the things that were necessary for promoting his ministry. I was head of the youth group and raised more funds for trips, etc. than anyone else. I taught Sunday School, I sang in the choirs, played handbells, directed either choir when necessary, sang in church with my sister and with every Christian group there was. I excelled in school, participated in all of the right activities. I was a good girl.

Then, I would get home and I was angry. Dad wasn't much fun at home. He was stressed because of his work, he gave everything he had to the people in his church. He and mom fought a lot ... when he was home. We were glad to have him leave to go back to the church in the evenings for meetings because we had some freedom. We could watch television without Dad thinking we should be doing something productive.

Does this fit in with the image I've painted of Dad over the last few weeks? It should ... because what Dad did was give his life to the people that surrounded him. Our family was expected to be his support system and restore strength to him when he walked in the door of our home. That was a lot to expect of small children, but mom taught us how to do it. She loved him more than anything.

I don't resent him for any of this - it's what we did to get through life. But, I made decisions during those days that I didn't like. I wasn't who I wanted to be. I was Dad's daughter - not Diane Greenwood. Diane wanted to be out partying with her friends, but they wouldn't even ask me because they knew I would turn them down ... I was Dad's daughter.

Dad didn't believe in drinking ... at all. It was such a strong belief that he wouldn't even let us shop at a local grocery store because they sold beer. Fortunately another store in town didn't. (this was the 70s). I couldn't hang out with my friends at a local pizza joint because they sold alcohol. I never ate broasted chicken because it was generally sold in bars in small town Iowa.

By the way, I did hang out at the pizza place - because mom made sure that I wasn't completely held back by my father's strict demands on our lifestyle. As long as he didn't see me going in or out, I was fine.

But, this was a weird life to live! I don't wear makeup because the one night I was putting it on for a dance I was going to, Dad told me that too much makeup would make me look like a whore! Mom tried to cushion that, but in it crept. So, makeup never became a part of my life. I will wear it sometimes, don't get me wrong - I'm not an idiot ... it's just another of those things that I left for other pursuits.

I didn't drink alcohol until I was a senior in college - it wasn't until Dad moved away from the Omaha area that I really did a lot of drinking. I couldn't stand the thought that someone would tell him they saw me in a bar. That would destroy him!

For years I was a specific person because of the affect that my lifestyle would have on Dad's ministry and his life. I was so careful.

Here's more confession. I have a very foul mouth. I'm not proud of it. But, my husband laughed at me because my foul mouth could snap on and off depending on whether or not I was around Dad. Max told me that I had my own version of the Hays Code (Movie Production Codes from 1930-1967 that governed violence, vulgarity, nudity, etc.) going on. When we were driving up during the week after Dad's death, Max informed me that I was finally released from the Hays Code. Whatever {grin}.

But, even still, with Dad gone, I feel like I have to be a different person because people know that I am a leader in the church. I can't be real around everyone. I worry about their acceptance of me. Of course I'm careful to never do anything that would lead someone astray. I'm not stupid. That's a God thing for me. But, I want to be who I am! All of who I am. Not apologizing for things because I'm worried about what someone will think or how they will react.

I want to be wholly Diane Greenwood Muir. I'm 47 years old, for heaven's sake. I think it's about time that I quit worrying about what people think. So, if it scares you ... run from me. I don't have time to deal with that.

I love God ... I love His Word - more than I can say! I love that I can walk with Jesus Christ every day of my life. I love my husband - even though we have a very unconventional marriage - according to the world. I love my friends, even though most of them are a lot younger than me and challenge my thinking daily. I love my family, even though they may never let me be all of who I am - because they know me only one way. I love my job, even though it means that I have an expectation to be the 'good Christian girl' when I walk into the office - I beat off that expectation on a regular basis, by the way.

But, in all of those things - I'm not a skinny little thing ... spending hours each day worrying about every bite that goes in my mouth, I like adult beverages - sometimes they relax me after a stressful period in my life. I swear and curse - sometimes too much, but there it is, it's part of me. I gossip. I hate that about myself and I'm always trying to change it, but until Jesus returns, I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be able to erase it completely from my life. I spend too much money on books, music, movies and going out to eat. I love geeky tech things - and though I should probably be giving all my money to the poor ... I fail miserably at that.

I am a failure in so many ways. It's ok! Because I tell you I accept myself the way that I am, that doesn't mean that I will stay this way forever. I am constantly trying to be better - but, by golly, I'm going to be measuring myself against God's yardstick, not the world's. I don't have time for self-recrimination, or judgmental attitudes from people around me.

I will always be who I am. For the most part, I love who I have become. All of that crap you read about my father earlier in this post? That stuff is just one of the textures of my personality. Don't feel sorry for me. I certainly don't (unless I'm hormonal and really feeling sorry for myself - and then it's simply a reaction to a chemical imbalance). Dad was a wonderful man. He was a human man. He rose above humanness so many times and other times he simply gave in to it. Don't we all?

And as for fame ... oh well. It's not all it's cracked up to be. Oh ... and Cody ... I know this is a long post and you'll yell at me about it, but, ummm ... I'm not apologizing for it!

I Love Saturdays!

I really do love Saturdays. This is my day. When I owned Insty-Prints, Saturday was a relief from the stress of the week. No one was calling, I didn't have to open and deal with bills, no customers were bugging me, employees weren't driving me crazy. It was a great day. But, now that I am in a job that I love, Saturday is different! It's even better! I'm not trying to de-stress after a really awful week, I'm just enjoying the day.

Max took off this morning to play with his buddies. A long day of video games, I suspect. Good for him. He hasn't had a chance to hang out with these guys since they closed CompUSA and I know that after spending day in/day out with them, they probably miss each other (even though they would never admit it). I told him to come home when he comes home tonight. He'll have fun.

While he's having fun, I'll have freedom! I don't have to talk to anyone (do you know that I'm a hermit? Sheesh! I really am ... on a short-term basis), and I can putter around doing whatever I'd like to do. I'm cleaning, bit by bit; I have movies running in the background; I'll probably do some scanning (we got an amazing new scanner this week); right this moment I'm writing; I have some books I want to read. There is a beautiful breeze rushing in through the open windows, what a great day!

Did I tell you that Max is walking?!?!?! He's WALKING! Oh ... after surgery on Feb. 26th, it seemed like an interminable amount of time with him hobbled and laid up. It's so exciting! He's doing great, too. He pretty much put down his crutches and walked. (I know, I know - I sound like Benny Hinn). We've been praying for this day for 3 months. Why would I think that God wouldn't honor those prayers? There is some stiffness in the ankle and his calf and thigh muscles need to be rebuilt, so he is still limping a bit, but no pain ... and no crutches. GLORY!

It's Saturday, I'm going to hide in my house and do my thing and I'll come out early tomorrow morning for worship. It is the small things that God gives me that make me realize how much He loves me. Today I'll love the 6th day of His week and enjoy it for all it has to offer!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I'm back in "downpour" by James MacDonald. It occurs to me that an awful lot of authors are talking about personal revival. When I read "Come Thirsty" by Max Lucado last fall, I was impacted by the words "quenching thirst". I am (we are?) desperate to fill up this dried out life that I seem to live and to be living fully through God. More than anything! Why is it so difficult? (that's a rhetorical question).

I haven't even gotten out of the introduction yet. Alright, I'm also trying to figure out whether I want to write all over this book (which is what the author intended) or if I should find another way to write out the answers to the questions he poses so that I can share this book with others when I am finished. This is a crisis for me! (hehe) When I'm moved by something, I share it with others. However, I suppose that I could just buy a few more copies of the book. When I fell in love with Brennan Manning's "Ragamuffin Gospel", I went through at least 10 copies of the book. (If you haven't read that - do so!). Oh well, I will figure it out ...

So today, we begin with prayer ... MacDonald writes one out for me to begin with and then asks me to continue my prayer.

...Thank you for the promise that if I draw near to You, You will draw near to me.

Lord, help me to remember that: life is a gift from You! ...You wouldn't have placed me on this earth without a plan for me. ...Your plan for me is so much greater than anything I could dream up on my own.

Teach me to trust You when: feels like I'm failing. one is paying any attention to what I want to share about You. is mundane and I think it's my fault.

Forgive me for: ... my arrogance. ...for not believing that EVERYTHING is possible with You. ... for thinking that I can control things on my own.

Lord, I remember when our relationship was like: ... a first love. Everything was so exciting and new. I couldn't wait to open my Bible. I knew that every word in there was a conversation with You. when I couldn't wait to see my friends because we were all talking about what You were doing in our lives. I wasn't cynical about what You could do in my life and I knew that I could do everything with You!

I want that back again. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Last night I got a small package. It was an envelope filled with sympathy cards from some of Dad's former churches. There were a few cards in there from his family and some from people that he went to high school with. Priscilla is overwhelmed with cards and I told her I would be glad to write thank yous to people that she didn't know. More than likely, I knew these people. Even if it was when I was just a youngling!

I've been reading through the cards and my heart is filled up! Memories from time spent among these people in their churches flood my mind. It's pretty cool.

Geneva Samuels from Morning Sun, Iowa. She was the organist in our church while we were there. She never played slowly and she could play chords like crazy! Those are two things I learned from her. I learned all about I, IV, V chords in every key. I recognized her handwriting on the card from all of the notes in my piano lesson books. I was pretty young when I started taking lessons from her. In the card that she wrote to Priscilla, this was what she said:

"Rev. Greenwood was a blessing to the Morning Sun community. After helping Diane learn to play the piano, Rev. Greenwood gave me encouraging words, that I did o.k. Since I did not take any piano lessons, I was only helping her the best I knew how. To make a long story short, I am still giving piano lessons and this has been a real joy of my life."

Do you see what that man did? He gave a woman courage to do something new because he allowed her to teach his daughter. And, though he may not have realized what he was doing at the time, he was adding texture to the musical life that I was about to embark on. Since we moved around a lot, I had many different piano teachers. I learned something amazing from each of them. From Geneva, I learned gospel piano; how to accompany using chords and how to be an accompanist. I also learned how to accompany a church congregation. Don't let 'em tell you how to play - play out and lead them!

I think about her all the time when people are astounded at how I can transpose or how I can hear what chords are. While I was too young at the time for all of this information to have been processed through her teaching - she was the beginning of much of it for me.

So, I wrote her a letter today, telling her how she impacted MY life as a music teacher. Pretty cool how Dad gave both of us a gift the day that he asked if she could give me piano lessons. Pretty darned cool.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drag and Drop

My mom used to say that when she died, she planned to grab as many souls on her way outta here and when they got halfway there, she would turn and ask, "Do you want me to drop you now?" She was intentional on getting people to heaven.

Sometimes I start feeling that way. But, it isn't about souls getting to heaven, but people having peace and feeling the love of Jesus in their lives. Alright, sometimes it's getting souls to heaven, but more often than not, I'm really concerned about the body of Christ and the extreme lack of peace, joy and comfort that seems to permeate their lives.

When I start reading an amazing book, I want EVERYONE to read it. I want everyone to understand the life-changing words that I'm consuming. Words have the power to uplift me. They can drag me out of the pit and give me hope, they challenge me to be more than I am, they give me a cause to believe in. When an author writes to my heart, I get stirred up!

And I turn around to share that information, but no one wants to listen. Oh, I'm not whining about this. I'm way beyond whining. I hate it! The people I care about are so stuck in their lives that they aren't ready to make any changes - they love wallowing in self pity. (If you think this applies to you, that's fine, but I can pretty much guarantee that those I'm speaking of aren't reading my blog).

I've started reading "downpour" by James MacDonald. Oh my goodness! (oh, I'm reading so many books right now - my brain might explode). So ... I'm going to expose you to the beginning of this book. It's actually the introduction to the book. Do you want to enjoy a 'happening' relationship with God or are you happy where you are at? I hope that you are never happy where you are at ... the status quo is a bad place to be. But, MacDonald tells me that if I'm going to enter into this commitment, I need to make some promises:

1. Dissatisfaction (read Matthew 15:8) I promise to be dissatisfied with anything less than a genuine personal experience with God. More heartfelt worship and more progress in personal righteousness. I want to FEEL that I'm in God's family and experience true joy and peace. I want a real, growing, dynamic relationship with God and I'm not settling for anything less.

2. Verification (read Acts 17:11) I promise to set God's Word high above human teaching and to handle it with the respect it deserves. Learn from the Lord. I won't just skim the Bible, but I will read it.

3. Compartmentalization (read I Corinthians 10:26) I promise to give God access to every area of my life. I won't separate what I will and will not trust God with. Nothing will be off-limits to God.

4. Personalization (read Matthew 7:5) I promise to make this about me and God alone. I will focus on my need for personal revival and will not drift off to what others need to learn.

5. Application (read I Corinthians 8:1) I promise to put into practice what I am learning. I will work at applying everything I am learning on a daily basis.

Now, if you approached learning about God by making these promises, what would happen? If I sign the book under each of these promises - what could happen? If I really chose to make a commitment to coming close to God, what might happen?

I've been praying for a revival to happen in churches across this country. But, maybe I need to be praying for a personal revival. I'm not satisfied with my spiritual life. I'm not satisfied with staying the same when it comes to my prayer life or my relationship with God. I want more and more and more! I want to be fully soaked as God pours Himself out. What am I so afraid of?

I want to grab all of you and drag you to the throne with me, but before I get there, I will ask "Would you like me to drop you now?" You don't have to answer. Your answer will be in your response to what God is calling you to do and to be. If you fade away and allow your spiritual life to become blase and bland, that's an answer. If you leap in and ask what else you can do to learn and to help lead others to God, that's an answer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


It's always so hard to go through amazing weekends like the Beth Moore conference and then return to reality. not that I don't love my reality, but is there a way that I can maintain that intense sense of being in God's presence 24/7?

Actually, I think it would wear me out. I doubt that I could function normally with my head continually processing on the things of God. I don't multitask THAT well. But, oh my ... it would be amazing to even approach that sense of worship on a moment by moment basis.

I spent way too much money on books and CDs at the conference. One of the books I walked away with has the potential of changing my life. IF I can accept the reality of what the guy is trying to teach me! "Freedom from Busyness: Biblical Help for Overloaded People" by Michael Zigarelli. Did you know that multitasking makes you stupid? Uh oh. This is not a good thing in my world. I do my very best to multitask so that I can accomplish as much as possible in a single moment. He says "Habitual multitasking culminates in greater stress and in short-term memory loss." Hmmm ... he might be right!

Some of the chapter titles in this book really intrigue me: Too Busy for God, Too Busy for your Marriage, Too Busy for Other People. Hmmm ... I'm there with that one! All of those.

Freedom through Saying No: The Bible on Saying No, Give Yourself Permission to Say No, Say No to Perfectionism, Say No to Your Kids, Say No to TV. Of all of those, there is only one I don't have to focus on - I have no kids. Good heavens! I am in deep doo doo!

Freedom through Slowing Down: Fast is the Enemy of Love (wow, that hits me hard - I want nothing more than to love and show love), God Wants You to Rest (uh oh), Minimize Multitasking and Live in the Moment (alright, already! I'm going to work on it!), Reframe Your Prayer Life, An Email is Not Enough. Sheesh - Leave me alone!

Freedom through Simple Living. Ok ... fine! So, I'm going to process through this book the way it recommends that I do and we'll see what happens. There are 20 lessons that I need to work through and see if I can pull my life back into something that is exciting to live and not tedious.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life. But, if I could make a better life for myself and my husband by simply being aware of where I'm pushing things too hard, why wouldn't I try it?

There are a lot of things that I want to read over the next few weeks. Because not only did I buy books at the conference, we went to Parables afterwards and I found a couple of other books that leaped off the shelf at me. I can't wait to find out what God has to say to me through these books. I'll never give up learning, so ... off I go!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Anxiety vs. Prayer

Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell have hit Omaha - like a windstorm! They opened up their hearts to God, asked us to do the same, the Holy Spirit blew in and parted our hair down the middle of our heads. Praise God!

I'm sorry that Travis Cottrell is the worship leader for Beth Moore for only one reason. He reaches out to tens of thousands of women and there are a lot of men out there who would worship well under his leadership. This young man (I can say that, I'm much older than he is) is amazing in this leadership role. But, you know what? I actually ended up crying while he was praying. Now ... the buddies in my group were crying through the entire evening. Gotta love it! I certainly did.

You know, there are a few amazing songs that I have sung while leading worship. It's amazing how God uses these things to remind me of His glory and grace. I have been in love with the song "In the Sanctuary" by Kurt Carr for many years. I tried to find a way to make it happen and then finally, it did a couple of years ago. GLORY! When the opening chords began playing tonight, I just wanted to weep. Thank you, Lord.

Tonight Beth spoke on anxiety - and it's antithesis - prayer. She used the passage Philippians 4:4-13. Anxiety destroys us in so many ways. However, prayer focuses our minds on the One that can take care of all of the things we worry about. Vs. 6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

There is another antithetical statement there - Don't be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer ... present your requests to god. I don't think I've ever really considered the power of that statement. She emphasized that when God says 'everything' in this statement, He means it. EVERYTHING! There is nothing that God can't deal with. Oh, I know in my head that it is true, but somehow I have difficulty just anchoring that information into my heart and soul! Everything! My finances, my family, my work, my stresses ... everything that I worry about and am anxious about - God's got it.

I've said those words over and over ... but, tonight as I stood there while we worshipped at the end of the evening, I realized that I spend much too much time trying to deal with everything myself.

Colossians 3:15 - Let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts. When I make Christ the ruler of my heart and of my anxiety. When I quit trying to run my own life and allow Him to surround my 'stuff' with His crown ... His peace will reign.

You see, this is why I love Beth Moore. She takes the most obvious information and transforms it into words that stir my soul, my heart and ... my mind. I'm thankful that she allows her brokenness and her humanity to come before the throne and be real before our God. Through all that she learns, she translates the information for us.

It occurs to me - that much like my parents, she isn't going to leave this earth without dragging a lot of us along with her! Praise the Lord!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bad blogger

I'm a bad blogger. But, I have an excuse for not getting anything more up this week. I've had 3 days of no computer at work. Monday ... nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero. Tuesday it was back up ... sort of. Ok, not really. He brought it back, and it had major problems. I couldn't get email to come into my inbox and I couldn't get the internet to work. Ok, begin checking the programs off one by one.

I was able to finish the newsletter - but only because I spent two hours Tuesday night at home working on it. I called the IT guys back. "It's time to wipe the drive, guys." They had cloned all of my information - and obviously had cloned the problems as well. So, poor Aaron came back and spent the afternoon with me. By the end of Wednesday, my computer was acting much more normally and I was getting closer. But, I couldn't sit in my office. I had rehearsals. I also had a million programs I had to reload as well as printer drivers, fonts and everything else.

Back to work at 7:15 this morning. I got the bulletin done in record time and spent the rest of the morning trying to make the computer my own again. I like things a certain way and it takes a little doing for me to get there. But, I'm almost done! Wheeeeeee!!!

I took Max to CompUSA to pick up his final checks this afternoon. Poor guy. It's all done ... for real now! He was pretty down, so I just took him back to work with me. We stopped and picked up the laptop and headed out to church. That was a mistake! I didn't get any work done. Everyone came in to chat with him and he 'held court'. What a riot. Actually, it was a lot of fun.

Ok, tomorrow Beth Moore will be in Omaha with Travis Cottrell leading worship. I can't wait! This is going to be an amazing weekend. I've had the tickets since last fall. I am not missing this! Worshipping with Travis Cottrell is one of the most powerful experiences I've ever been through. You just have no idea. He's a phenomenal musician and that excellence just pours out when he leads worship.

I'll tell you all about it!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A sense of humor

You know ... there are those days when the only thing that gets you through is the fact that you have to laugh! Today was one of those.

I got to work this morning, planning to be back to normal. I was actually pretty excited about it! A chance to think about something other than my own stuff. I needed to work on the newsletter and get started on some of the other pieces that need to be published. Cool. In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, "I'm ready! I'm ready!"

I walked into my office, dropped the purse, kicked off my shoes, tapped on the keyboard to wake my computer up and ... there was a message on the screen that the boot disk didn't work. What? Oh, you're kidding me. I pressed a key and the message repeated. Alright, I've been around computers long enough, I can handle this. I did a hard restart on the computer and the message came back. Yikes! I called Max (because I wasn't calling the IT guys if I could avoid sounding stupid). He told me there might be a problem with my hard drive. I needed to call the IT guys.

Alright, so I made the call and began working on some of the things I needed to get into the mail - thank you cards, etc. Aaron came in and again... I've been around computers and computer technicians long enough that I knew enough to walk away and let the poor guy figure out what was happening.

Pretty soon he came to find me. "I'm going to have to take this back to the office. The hard drive is dead." {shoulders slump, smile turns upside down, a slight sag to the head}. And I watched helplessly as he walked out with my computer in his arms.

Now, for anyone else in the office, it wouldn't have been such a crisis. All of their data is on the main server. But, somehow mine had never gotten connected to the server and all of my data is on my computer. And, since I run heavy graphics software, my computer has a large amount of RAM and can hold that graphics software. Argh ... I can't do any work. There is no other computer in the office that I can install the software on and I can't access my own stuff from another computer. What malice has been wrought in my life?

I tried not to twitch and foam at the mouth. People came in to chat with me, offer comfort on my loss (of Dad, not the computer) and I tried to keep busy. I had a conversation with the business director about the layout of the new Creative Suite offices and then, I was done. I had done everything I could without access to my computer and I was going out of my mind. So, I left about 3:15 - picked Max up (it was his last day at CompUSA - the store is now officially closed) and the two of us came home to be vegetables for the evening.

I'm not hurrying in to work tomorrow morning. I'm going to do our laundry and just be late to work. no reason to be there ... no computer to get busy on. Hopefully Aaron will show up with my baby all freshened up and ready to go again and hopefully he will have been able to recover my data. I'm PRAYING that he is smart enough to rescue the .pst file.

But, as I sat helplessly in my office this afternoon (have you begun feeling sorry for me yet? {giggle}), I realized this isn't the first time I've lost everything on a computer. My poor husband has killed my emails more than once over the years and both he and I recovered from those terrible tragedies. All of life is temporal. Time passes, information comes and goes. I can rebuild everything that I had on the computer, it's not worth my stress. But, here's praying that I don't even have to think about it!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Normal Life

I'm not sure if I am there yet, but I'm trying hard to approach normalcy again. It's weird to realize that I just spent a week of my life dealing with death! My family has never focused on death. There is life, there is eternal life. Death is a moment between those two events.

The Memorial service yesterday was an amazing experience. Dad's friends from 3 different churches talked about his life and the impact that life had on them personally. But, one of them became a pastor, one of them works with youth, and another has been leading people to Jesus since she knew dad. His life affected these three people, who will, in turn encourage and change the life of others. That's a legacy!

Sonna Jennings from Sigourney has been a personal friend of our family for as long as I can remember. She invited people to come to Jesus. It didn't come from a pastor, it came from a woman who responded to an altar call many years ago. She was my mother's best friend and her son was my brother's friend. Their family soon became a part of my family. But, as she spoke yesterday, she asked us if we were confident that we would be in heaven were we to die. She remembered her training in Evangelism Explosion and has no fears when presenting the Gospel to those that might need it.

Yesterday was actually a time of healing for many past issues in our family. It's strange how we set things aside and don't even realize that there was a black hole in our hearts. A close friend of mine for many years had drifted far away from me. She came yesterday to honor the man that had given God back to her and to let me know that though we had drifted apart, her love for me was deep and very strong. Dad gave her back to me!

My junior high / high school boyfriend came. Alone. He drove up from Des Moines to be there for me. He loved my parents. He used to spend a lot of hours with mom - trying to escape the pain of a life that he was trying so hard not to live. He has lived a hard life since then. I have prayed for him over the years ... hoping that life would somehow be good to him. I loved him deeply ... 3 loves in my life ... he was the first. My heart was full when I saw him. Love never leaves ... it just adjusts to the circumstances. Dad gave him back to me.

I met the man who considered Dad his best friend ... like a brother. He was influential in dad's decision to become not only a pastor, but to attend Boston University. He introduced dad to my mother and then performed their marriage in the chapel at Boston University. He wept yesterday over the loss of a friend. I knew him only when I was a child, I haven't seen him in years. As we hugged, I realized that Dad was giving me a part of his past.

It was another chance to spend time with old friends and dad's extended family. Lots of cousins. Everytime I face another funeral with them, I realize that I need to find a way to keep them close to my heart. I love this family. Ok ... not all of them ... all of the time. But, they are my family. We have a lot of special people in common. Tragedy draws us together and reminds us that blood is thicker than water. Dad gave me that reminder.

We three kids spent a lot of time at Bell's Dell. Our friends and family were there with us. We spent time talking and playing, purging the place of junk and making plans for changes we want to see happen and will make happen on our own. We began planning trips up there with our friends. Trying to find a way to fill the place with laughter, fun and joy. Dad has given his three kids and his grandchildren a future.

This won't be the end of my thoughts about my father, but I hope to be done with the death. Remembering his life will be a phenomenal experience. I took for granted what he did in his life. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to express the pride that I have knowing that I am his daughter. I never want to be anything less than what he hoped for me. I want people to know Jesus because he taught me how to share the love of Jesus.

Sonna asked me for a poem by Edwin Markham that Dad used to recite. This is descriptive of my father ... and I believe is descriptive of the life I want to live. Oh, Lord ... I pray that I can become LOVE!

He drew a circle that shut me out -
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How are you doing?

This is the one question that I get asked every time I turn around. It's a great question, meant to encourage me to talk about what is happening in my head and my heart. But, this week? There are times when I have had absolutely no idea how I was doing. I was simply 'doing'.

It's amazing how much of the week was spent on auto-pilot.

How am I doing? I'm tired.

I've not been in my own bed for much of the week and that does not encourage quality sleep. I have been sleeping, but not really well. Last night I was finally home for a night and I was up until 1:30 am getting things ready to leave again this evening. When Carol and I left last Friday, I threw things together for an overnight - which turned into two nights. I didn't have enough of my stuff with me for that type of trip. When we left Monday afternoon again, I had been exhausted Sunday night, thought I would have time Monday morning, but after working for a bit at church, I was throwing things together again - this time planning for my uncle's funeral. I didn't have enough of my stuff then either. I forgot the travel bag! How insane is that? Oh, I had my shampoo and deoderant, but things like nail clippers and lotion just weren't there. I never had time to deal with those things and just kept moving through the week.

Last night I made sure that I actually 'packed'. We'll see how well I did. But, it did keep me up late. Carol and I are dropping off a van at the airport this morning for Priscilla's son's ex-wife who is flying in for the funeral. That has to happen early and then I'm off to work for most of the day.

So, I'm tired. As I was driving down to Uncle John's funeral yesterday, my eyes were burning and I kept yawning. Max generally does most of the driving when we're on the road, especially when I'm under stress. But, his ankle replacement is certainly putting a crimp on him taking care of me!

How am I doing? I'm frustrated.

This death has been really difficult in our family. My dad remarried after my mother's death. They've been married for 19 years and in all that time we have never been able to grow close to his second wife. She's quite different than our family and those differences frustrate us. Dad (and consequently the three of us kids) has never been about public exposure. We run 'under the radar' as much as possible. Our family has always been about accommodating everyone else. We make an extreme effort to make others comfortable. When people walk into our home or our space, they are made to feel welcome and anything they need is immediately taken care of. But, it's not this way now. Oh ... I am certain that dad would have made people feel more than welcome when he was around, but he's not anymore. We set aside our grief when mom died to make sure that the people who were coming in for the funeral could grieve. We knew that the next day would give us plenty of time to fall apart. But, it's not that way.

Oh, the three of us have set things aside. We've had to listen while her family goes on and on about their grief and all that is going to change in their world because of dad's death. We've had to invite people into her home because she stands at the door when they come to offer condolences rather than move back and allow them to enter. We had to leave things that are memories behind at the house because she needed to be surrounded by her friends and family. We've set aside our desires (and dad's wishes) for the funeral and events surrounding it - because as she has informed us over and over - the funeral is for the living. Well, the funeral is for her.

But, we all know that we will continue to grieve as a family and that can come later. My frustrations in this area are a strong emotion, and I know that they are exacerbated by grief. It's ok ... I'll get them dealt with.

How are you doing? I'm sad.

I just lost my father. My mom died in 1987 and my dad is gone now. I'm 47 years old and the stories and memories are gone. All I have left is what I have in my own mind. We are finding a lot of memorabilia - dad was quite the saver, but some of them have now lost the stories that were attached to them. We found a 1956 tourist's guide to New York City. Did dad buy that when he went to visit his sister that lived there? There is a 1955 guide to Washington, DC. Why is that there? Was that a trip to visit his sister's new husband? What about all of these pictures? What are the stories behind them? Can you tell me one more time about my birth? How the local town operator put one call out to the entire community to let them know that the preacher had a baby? Or about how you bought Bell's Dell.

My links to the past have been severed. I have to become the link for the next generation and I guess I wasn't ready to do that.

My father was a great source of theological discussion. He knew his stuff! For the last 30 years, he has helped me as I've questioned things in Christianity. Dad knew scripture so well that he quoted it chapter and verse with little to no effort. He knew authors. Not all of those that we know of now, but E Stanley Jones, Dwight Moody, he knew Augustine and the church fathers. He was brilliant, and he was moderate. He could interpret extreme liberal teaching and could explain extreme conservative teaching. He was a treasure that in his last years was only being shared with a very close group of people. I hope they know how fortunate they were.

How am I doing? I'm ok.

I know that Dad is in heaven. I know that his death was the best thing that could have happened for him. He was doing what he loved and it happened quickly. There was no long drawn-out series of debilitating (moreso than Parkinson's, cancer, a minor heart attack) health problems. He was still going out to Bell's Dell regularly, he was still fishing with his brothers, he was still going to church on Sunday and bible study each week, he was still going out to eat with friends and he was still having fun with his family. And then ... he was in heaven. Could a man ask for more? I doubt it.

I cry, but not because I don't know the truth. My tears are selfish. When I cry, it is all about me and what I will miss and what I have lost. God will heal all of that pain, in His time. He will bring me to a point that what I think I have lost is replaced with new memories. But, even 20 years after mom's death, I still cry when I think about how much I miss her. So, my tears will flow whenever my heart aches at the loss. It's alright. There's a place for tears in heaven ... I don't think God wanted us to operate without them.

If you don't see me cry - it's ok. I save those for when I'm falling apart completely in the privacy of my home. If you do see me cry - don't try to tell me it's ok. I know it is!

Check this verse out - I Corinthians 15:50-54.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

You see, I know the truth of these verses. Death is something that is associated with the temporary life we live here on earth. Victory will swallow death and there will be no more tears or mourning. The thing that takes me to the point of this entire week will be gone. It's a promise from the Father and I trust those promises.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Greenwood Family

Today was Uncle John's funeral. We got up early this morning and headed down to Clarinda. I stopped at Uncle Art's house to leave Leica in an outdoor kennel. It was perfect. We talked for a few minutes until it was time to leave for the church. Max and I took off and when we arrived, we were escorted into a room where the family gathered. Lots of cousins!

There were 23 of us cousins. I remember one single time when all of us were gathered at Grandma and Grandpa's house. That was a wonderful party. I quietly sat on the living room floor and listened to everyone telling tales and laughing and enjoying themselves together. It only happened once.

I'm part of one of the youngest families of cousins, so most of my cousins were much older. They were already 'cool', in high school or college. I just wanted to hang around them. So, I stayed quiet, hoping no one would notice how late it was and that I was still up. I moved myself into a corner and enjoyed myself. I'm sure that mom and dad knew what was happening, but they didn't care. That night was special!

Today, a good portion of us were gathered again. Some of them I haven't seen in 20-30 years! Some of them had an incredible impact on me as a child, others ... not so much. Today, some of them ignored me (I guess being high and mighty is appropriate for them - ack), others came to comfort me, others were just glad to see me. I listened as my cousin Charles told me about his son. He was so proud! Dan graduated from ISU with an engineering degree and is employed by Caterpillar in Peoria, IL as an engineer. Charles' mother, Ruth would have desperately wanted him to finish college, but he was needed on the farm. So, this graduation was a big deal in the family. The pride in his voice was apparent. His sister, Cathy is so tender-hearted. All she wanted to do was care for the people that needed love today.

I could go through the 7 Greenwood families one by one - these families are so well-known to me. We span all of the personality types and we range from insane to mundane. My husband has thoroughly enjoyed the tales during our drives back and forth through Iowa this week.

I called my nephew, Matthew today. He got a 23 on his ACTs and was really excited! After congratulating him, he began asking about the family. Oh, I have stories and I'd love for him to have some of these stories in his mind. We talked about Grandma Greenwood. She was a wonderful grandmother. The epitome of a grandma. She had long, gray hair that she tied into a bun. But, at night, she would let it down and brush it 40 times. We'd sit and talk and she pulled the brush through her thin hair. When I saw her the next morning, it was always wound up again. She was soft. She wore cotton print dresses that smelled terrific! That was because we always hung her laundry on the lines outside. That was always a chore that I helped her with. It was a joy to be with her. But, when she sat down on the sofa and invited me to sit beside her, I would nestle in her arms and feel the softness of her. The dress, her skin, everything about her was soft.

Grandma raised 8 children, she lost her youngest, David at the age of 10 to polio. That made my father the youngest child. Those seven remaining children had families, who have had families and her legacy is carried through. If you ask any of us what that legacy is, it is our faith. Grandpa was a preacher, but Grandma was faith epitomized.

Today's tribute to Uncle John was atribute to his mother and the way that she raised her children. We're very fortunate.

Bell's Dell

I don't know how much I've blogged about this place before, but it occurs to me that tonight would be a great time.

In 1964, my father decided that since he was an 'itinerant' pastor and would never probably own a home (United Methodist's like to provide parsonages for their pastors), he needed a permanent location for our family. He and mom had been discussing a camper, but as they were driving around Iowa, they discovered this amazingly beautiful land! Lo and behold, it was for sale. Dad picked up 17 acres for $75 / acre. Hillside, meadows, trees, ravines, a flat spot that was perfect for a living area and it bordered a protected river (meaning that no industry could be within a certain space of the river). Wow!

The park directly across the road was called Bell's Mill park. There was a grist mill there in the 1800s and a man named Bell had owned all of that land. Mom and Dad promptly named our land ... Bell's Dell. It fit and it has stuck!

This place became our home! We moved every 4-5 years when I was growing up, and through that time we built a cabin on it, put running water in (an outdoor privy is COLD in the winter) and we even have air conditioning! We spent a lot of time up there (up there because we mostly lived in southeast Iowa and this was in north central Iowa) as children. Dad would take two Sundays in a row off and we would have a ball.

Carol, Jim and I have spent a lot of time together there this week. We had thought we would clear Dad's excess stuff out of his house so that Priscilla wouldn't have to deal with it, but that became less important as her family came in and her friends spent a lot of time with her. We'll deal with it later. But, we DID begin spending a lot of time together sitting around and planning our future with Bell's Dell.

This afternoon, a couple from up the hill and around the bend stopped in to tell us how much they were going to miss Dad. Of course they asked what our intentions for the place were. When they found that we were going to keep it in the family, they were so excited! And they offered to help us whenever they could. Their son went fishing a lot with Dad. In fact, I suspect that Matt kept a pretty good eye on Dad. That old man was a danger to himself!

One of the reasons we are handling this death so well is that we knew dad would die fishing. Now, one of the reasons that we aren't handling it so well, is that we never expected this! Dad fished IN the river. He would walk that river up and down and all over the place. Our bank was too high to easily access the river. He had a rope that he pulled himself up and down on. He would set trot lines in the river and he had minnow traps set. Fishing was really important to him! Carol found out several times that he had fallen in the river and had actually floated downstream aways before he got a purchase and then walked back up the river and pulled himself out and up to the cabin. Yikes! Stupid old man. But, it was definitely his love. We figured that would be how he died.

I learned to fish with Dad. When he was younger, he got himself all suited up in waders and a fishing vest. I had my own pair - well, they were a cut off pair of his. I set trot lines with him. We would check them every 4 hours. He woke me up, I pulled on my very wet blue jeans, walked down to the river with him and held the buckets while he pulled the fish off and re-baited the hooks. We all have fishing stories with dad. Dad taught us to love and respect the river. We weren't very old when we were learning to swim. I may not be the master swimmer that Dad was, but I am not afraid of the water and I'm pretty certain there isn't much in that river that would kill me.

We sat around last night and tonight reminiscing and talking about the future. We have a lot of plans for the place. When we were younger, we brought numerous youth groups up for retreats, we had family retreats. All of our friends loved Bell's Dell as much as we did. Men couldn't wait to get up there with dad and wire the cabin, or put in plumbing. In fact, it was a group from one of his churches that built the main part of the cabin. They loved Dad and they loved Bell's Dell. He loved to share it with them.

There's not much there that is fancy. In fact, I don't think there is anything there that is fancy. Some of the walls aren't finished (dad didn't want to pay higher taxes), the bathroom is a pathetic excuse, but it does work and I'm thankful, the place smells like mildew, or in the winter like a fireplace. But, it is ours.

Mom wrote an amazing poem about the place - it tells the tales that we know: Ballad of Bell's Dell. However, I want to close with this one that she wrote:


Long years I thought of it and now
I have bought my garden;
I saw it, desired it, asked for it,
And gave the man some money for it.
It is my garden now, isn't it?

My mind answers yes, my soul, no!
I cannot own what is universal;
I cannot lay claim to ageless change;
I cannot buy the memories of other footsteps
Treading the same winding paths.

My garden is a meadow, a hill,
A river, trees, gooseberries, thistles,
The spring-popped morel, the dainty columbine,
The delicate warm breeze of summer
Laughing gently at my folly.

It is bugs, myriad swarms of clinging,
Flying, buzzing insects, sticking to my
Sweaty skin as I labor to trim,
Control, govern the lush new growth
Of a wanton spring.

But I cannot own these things.
Does one entrap the wind, command
It to gently soothe a hot, dusty face?
Does one really own free-flying birds
And deer who call my garden home?

I may live here, too, at peace with
The wild things whose roots stretch far
Deeper into this black dirt than mine. I am
Merely a guest, content to
Borrow the beauty of my garden.

The trees will grow here long after
I die. They will watch others till
My garden. The over-arching boughs of
The leaning walnut on the hillside gives
Its benediction to my garden.

Margie Greenwood
Bell's Dell
May 28, 1969