Archive for January, 2013

Hanging Out with Wordmistress

One hears it so often these days.                                                          girlonswing

An example.

Wordmistress: “So, where did you go last evening, dear?”

Young Adult: “I was with Prudence.”

WM: “Oh! So what were you doing?”

YA: “Hangin’ out.”

WM, with a slight twitch: “Ah.”

What has happened to the clear, simple description of enjoying the company of one’s friends? When did people stop visiting or being with one another? Was WM napping when an entire generation decided to hang out?

Please do not misunderstand. Wordmistress is not fooled.

After all, her house has occasionally been hung out at.

People sit on or drape over the couch with smartphones. Or laptops. Or IPads. Checking Facebook. Or Twitter. Or email. Or text messages. Along with everyone else in the room. With the television on. And sporadic conversation. And possibly snacks.

Wordmistress, ever at her post on the walls of civility while the hordes of social change threaten at the gates, is not peeved, exactly. Well, that is not entirely true. WM is rather peeved, but in a resigned sort of way.

The term, in the opinion of Wordmistress, is a rather sloppy way of describing a 21st century default behavior: frequently checking social media while in the company of friends and/or family.

If this was not the case, if you were with friends and/or family and you spent the evening pleasantly conversing, or playing board games or card games, or watching a fun show or movie together, why not simply say so? Why toss an enjoyable evening into the recycling bin of postmodern slang?

Wordmistress fervently wishes you not to feel scolded, but encouraged to precision in language. While she would never hang out with you, she is certain she would enjoy the pleasure of your company.

With our phones on silent, of course. And out of sight.

Do you, dear reader, agree? Kindly leave comments here on Wordmistress’ post to share with others.


Prayer Is

If God will do what He wants to do when He wants to do it, why pray?                  prayerroots&shoots

Agnostic pundits and chronic doubters love this question. It makes, in their mossy little minds, “religious people” look like drones: thoughtless and easily led.

And it shows an astonishing misunderstanding of the practice of prayer.

Prayer is not:

  • simply a spiritual exercise
  • begging
  • trying to change God’s mind

God is not hoarding good things like health, reconciled relationships, or financial peace from us. We are not trying to pry blessings from His hand.

So what is it?

Prayer is:

  • aligning ourselves with the purposes of God
  • releasing the power of God to accomplish those purposes
  • intercession

Prayer that seeks to align us with the purposes of God frees us from our human-centric thinking. With an attitude of “not my will”, God is able to begin working out His will in the things we ask.



Do not underestimate the importance of this.

We know what we want. We know how we want it.

God, however, wants us to want what He wants. Not my will means we are willing to cooperate with the God Who loves us.

Prayer, aligned with the purposes of God, releases His power. That power, Paul said in Eph. 1:19-20, is the working of His mighty strength.

Look at that language. The working of His mighty strength.

We all want that. It is only available, however, to those who are not my willed. Who are aligned.

Prayer that intercedes is serious. We learn to pray without ceasing, throughout the day, and in time set aside.

But intercession is prayer ratcheted up. It is Moses between God’s wrath and the golden calf. It is Abraham between Lot and utter destruction. It is Paul on his face for the churches he loved.

It is Jesus in the Garden.

 Prayer sets God's will in motion.

“Not my will” sets God’s will in motion.

It should be us for our neighborhoods and cities.

Martin Luther said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s willingness.”


And it’s up to us to align and lay hold.

What’s going in your praying life?

Zinfandarling Gets Pruned: A Vineyard Tale



Hey, God! It’s me! Zinfandarling! Over here in the southeast corner of the vineyard!

Good morning.

Will You be pruning today?

Yes, that’s why I’m here.

Great! I’m sure You remember my super crop last fall. That’s going to be a great vintage! Me and my big fruity zins.


So, you’ll go easy with clippers, right? I mean, don’t mess with success and all that.


Okay. Well, have You been over in the. . .hey! You’re working pretty fast there. Are you going to thin the entire block like that?


Whoa! You do realize I’m a 50 year old head-trained vine, right? A treasure? A little fragile, maybe?


Well, I’m not appreciating the scalping here.

Your pride canes are thick. They’ll sap good growth in humility.

Well, have you seen those hoity-toity pinot noirs? They’re bristling like. . .

That’s not your business.


That’s not your business.

But, the cabernets and syrahs are. . .



Shhhh. I’m working.

But . . . OUCH! That was a big healthy spur! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

 Necessary reduction.

Necessary reduction.

That spur was a tendency to anger. It would grow much larger and increase the risk of being knocked off, damaging your trunk.


Your growth would be injured.

I’m injured now!

No, you are not.

God, I thought I was long past needing to be pruned like this.

No, you are not.


Pruning for quality.


Flavor concentration.

Have you seen the reviews? MY FLAVOR IS FINE!!!

My flavor is what is important.


My flavor is what is important.

But do you prune the chardonnays and sauvig. . .

That’s not your business.

(Long silence, except for the sound of snipping.)

 All done.

All done.

I’ll never recover.

You will be fine. Trust Me.

(Long silence, except for the sound of more snipping.)

There’ll be less wine.

There will be better wine.



Yes, it will be alright.


It’s wintertime. Pruning season. Been pruned yet? Want to share?

Why I Walk

Milestone birthdays pack a wallop. So the year I turned 40 I made two decisions.



The first was to begin exercising regularly.

Quickly, before I could talk myself out of it, I enrolled in aerobics classes at the local Junior College. These were followed by several years in a Christian women’s aerobics class. High impact, low impact, strength training exercises. We even line-danced. Loved it.

Then the class disbanded. What, oh what, to do?

I decided to walk.

From my driveway, down past where the subdivision ends, following the curve of the road, past farmhouses, sheep, horses, cows, and now a school, to the busy road that eventually leads to our church, is a mile.

For about 13 years I have walked 2 miles a day, 6 days a week, year round.

What are the benefits?  Well, the Mayo Clinic lists the following:

  • Lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Higher HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduction in risk of or management of type 2 diabetes
  • Weight management
  • Mood improvement
  • Strength and fitness

Wow. And you don’t need special equipment. And anyone can do it. And the only place you have to go is out your front door.

Before you begin:

  • Purchase good walking shoes. They don’t need to be prohibitively expensive, but they should be specifically for walking and made by a reputable company.
  • Choose comfortable clothing. You don’t need to look like either a slob or a fashion plate, but you do need clothes that feel good.
  • Get in your car. Choose a direction. Drive a mile. A whole mile. Note where that point is.

Time to get going:

  • Start with a shorter distance.
  • Walk with a straight back, shoulders back and down. Pumping your arms brings your heart rate up faster.
  • Warm up with a slower pace for 5 minutes, then pick it up until your heart rate is eventually elevated for at least 20 minutes of your walk. “Pick it up” means walking briskly. “Briskly” means at a rapid pace. You know what that means. Don’t cheat.
  • Cool down for the last 5 minutes of your walk.
  • Stretch. You can find cool stretches all over the web.

Why a mile?

  • There are 1,440 minutes in a day. Walking the way I have described will get you a mile in 40 minutes.  That is 1/36 of a day. You may have to sacrifice some TV shows (mindless), or some of the news (depressing), or spend fewer minutes scrolling through FB or your Twitter feed (time-devouring).

That 40 minutes will get you better health, a mental lift, and more time actually out in your neighborhood.

exercisecartoonYes, I’ve added some hand and ankle weight exercises throughout the week, but they are in addition to, not in place of, that daily 2 miles.

I will share more about the actual experience of walking in my next post. Today, however, if you do not have an exercise plan for this brand new year, consider my suggestion. It’s easy. It’s doable.

Do it until you can’t do without it. Your life span will thank you.

Okay, the second decision was to learn to scuba dive. More about that later.

Is exercise one of your New Year’s goals? Have you started yet? Hey, what about walking?!

Why You Should Read the One Year Bible

The one that started it all.

The one that started it all.

In 1991, my beloved grandmother, Irene Daisy Wheeler, passed away. While sorting through her things I came across a still-shrinked-wrapped, hardcover copy of the One Year Bible. It was the New International Version and came with a small green journal.

That discovery changed my relationship with the Bible.

The format intrigued me. The daily readings started in January at the beginning of  Genesis, Matthew, Psalms, and Proverbs. A 4-track parallel course through the Word.

I started on a regimen of daily reading for the next 20 years.

That first NIV became what I call my “working” copy. I read every book with a pencil and this Bible was no exception. I made comments in the margins. Asked questions in the margins. I transferred the textual notes from the back of the Bible into the body for easier reference.

After a number of years, I purchased a New Kings James Version. I spent the first year transferring all my notes from the NIV to the new Bible during my daily reading.

They are important to me.

They are my conversation with God’s Word.

Here are a few benefits I’ve experienced:

  • It provides a disciplined approach to reading the Bible.
  • It provides an interesting way to get through the Bible in a year.
  • It helps establish the narrative of the Bible in my mind.

    Highly recommended.

    Highly recommended.

Now, of course, with YouVersion, you can read it on your computer, your IPhone (or any cell phone), your IPad, your IWhatever. Apps with every creative kind of incentive are available.

The point is to read. And to think about what you’re reading.

It is true that His Word is forever settled in heaven. But I also want it settled in my mind and heart and spirit. The One Year Bible has made that a reality for me.

I encourage you at the start of this New Year to try it. If you don’t have one, buy a parallel Bible in the version of your choice (check “excerpts” to be sure). Don’t worry if you are behind. Read a couple of days at a time and you’ll be caught up in no time at all.

Just get started. This marvelous journey of 365 days begins with Day One.

Do you have a daily reading plan? If not, what would prevent you from trying this?

Our Family Letter 2013


Dear friends:

Of all the delights in the world, family is sweetest.

This past year was a remarkable one for our family. We welcomed our second grandchild, Isaac Samuel, on May 16th.  He and his 2 year old sister, Natalia, have proved to us that the rumors are true: there is nothing in the world more wonderful than being a grandparent.

In August, our son, Nicolas, was installed as Lead Pastor of our church, Christ Tabernacle. He and his wife, Dana. are moving our beloved fellowship into the future with joy and a great framework for growth.

Sam holds the position of Elder Pastor. No, we aren’t retired, and, no, we can’t imagine leaving Sonoma County. But the vision and direction have been passed to the next generation of anointed leadership. These changes have been gratifying for us and the church and we thank the Lord for His hand in every detail.


Since the transition, Sam’s artistic talents have blossomed. Our church lobby glows with his LED creations.

You just never  know.

Our daughter, Jessica, continues to live and work here in Santa Rosa. We were so thankful to have  our lovely girl with us at Christmastime, as the others were out of town. Together we went to a performance of Nutcracker (or, “Men in Tights” as Sam called it) and to see Les Mis. Yes, we got a little teary.

On September 29th, our Aaron married his Jennifer in her hometown of Crescent City, CA.  The wedding took place in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near the beach. Sam performed the vows.

We are unsure how we managed to acquire two of the most wonderful daughters-in-law anywhere. Our sons have exquisite taste.

Debra had several articles published in 2012. Maintaining a blog has been a great writing discipline and great fun.

We wish you, our dear friends and family around the world, a blessed New Year. In all of the challenges that await us, we have a magnificent God well able to help us succeed.  So let’s look to the future with glad hearts.

Sam and Debra

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