Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Far and away
I run to you.
I've never caught up-
But what else can I do?
I've tried to break in
And you've somehow shut off...
To the figure I say
Once was mine.

I see you inside
The tango of peace
versus insanity;
I pray its release
In the dark watches
Of night
Find relief in His Word,
In His blood,
In His Promises.

Tell me how
to catch up;
Catch up to your heart.
I'll break in,
Hold your hand,
and I'll try not to talk.
It's the words
more than anything
that betray me.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Mario 2008 - On our Sudan Trip

Today is Mario’s Birthday. 

By some incredible grace that God had for me (still unexplained and incredibly undeserved) Mario married me on December 29, 1987.  He was way out of my league.  He stood six foot-two, solid muscle and had a tanned, boyish face that was unusually handsome, like a movie star.  Since he had grown up skinny and funny-looking, he didn't have a big ego attached to his outward appearance and it made him even more attractive.   

For some reason, he adored me.  I would catch him looking at me while I was telling a story and his eyes would be starry and transfixed.  No other guy ever looked at me like that. 

I met him at the Inaugural Ball of the Lieutenant Governor of California in 1982.  My friend, Lisa Beutler and I were working the reception area, welcoming guests to the grand affair held at the California Railroad Museum.  The built in “security detail” were State Park Rangers, an elite group to which Lisa belonged.  I was convinced that she had arranged it all.

Afterwards, we all went out to dinner and I sat out most of the conversation while they all discussed Law Enforcement and Union business.  I was convinced I had no life because I was nineteen and I worked with old people.  My new social network was cops who were old and boring.  Lisa was 30– Mario, 27.

Years later (when I was 23) I applied for a job at a State Park where Mario was the supervising ranger.  I was hired while he was away as a lowly Park-Aid, smiling and welcoming visitors, taking fees and explaining the rules to all who entered.  Mario returned from his trip and informed me that I was hired illegally – I literally pleaded for my job.  Later that day, he secured it, taking pity on me as a single mother.  I found out later that he was recently divorced and was also a single father.  We began to share stories and experiences at work. 

Before long, we were connecting on many levels.  He was fun to work for, gave me clear direction and appreciated my work.   I trusted him as a friend  and a boss; valued his advice, and sought it regularly.  One night after work; after a long discussion about parenting, our deep dreams and the not-too- distant-future, we parted ways.  Mario asked if he could give me a hug goodbye.

I froze.

I was sure that a hug with Mario would not be a simple thing.  I was frightened of igniting something, but before I could say no, he was already walking toward me.  Our embrace was supernaturally beautiful.

As soon as I laid my head against his chest, I was home. His arms went around me and we fit perfectly together.  It was as if heaven opened and doves came down, bringing the songs of angels and blessings from God.  In the dead of night I felt warm and safe and all lit up inside. 

Our hug lasted for about three minutes. 

As soon as we released each other, I knew he was mine.  I knew I was his.  It was perfect. 
That hug was twenty-seven years ago. 

We spoke vows to each other the following December, where I promised to value him and love him all the days of my life.   Mario’s vows were written himself, passionate and bold and spoken with tears that made me look shyly down at the rings we just exchanged.  I read them over and over again later.  How could this man feel this way about me

Even greater than the vows that Mario wrote and spoke to me at that altar twenty six years ago are his daily decisions to be who he is.  He has decided everyday to be faithful to me; to love me and be thankful for me.  He has been a sensitive and protective father, a loyal friend and a genuine man of God.  He keeps his word, is kind to strangers and keeps cool under pressure.  Because he is a gentle giant, I call him my tender warrior.

Shortly after we started dating, my mother told him to beware of my laugh.  She warned him not to say anything too funny of he didn’t want to be embarrassed in public. 

“Embarrassed?” Mario asked her, incredulously.  “Janet’s laugh is LIFE!”  I watched him say this and realized he meant it.  He wasn’t trying to rack up points; he genuinely loved my laugh.  He genuinely loved me for me.

Today is his birthday.

I don’t know why God gave him to me.  I really don’t deserve to be this happy in marriage.   He is a stunning specimen of a man, a genuine and honest friend to me with the tenderest  heart toward God. 

I don’t know many people like Mario; the world needs more of them. 

Happy Birthday, honey.  I absolutely do not deserve you.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


1970's stock family photo
No one I know....  

King David, a man who God Himself said was after His heart, was known as a tolerant father of children who rebelled and did not respect him.  His own beautiful son, Absalom, staged a revolt to overthrow him so fiercely that King David cast off his crown and ran for the hills. Later, when the commander of David’s Army killed Absalom, David cried out: “Absalom! Absalom!  If only it were me instead of you!”

Constantine the Great, a powerful Roman Emporer that conquered and ruled Europe in the fourth century, put to death his own beloved son, Crispus, after learning that he had attempted to rape his new wife, Fausta.  Shortly after his son’s execution, it was revealed to the Constantine that Fausta had made up the charges to dethrone Crispus and secure a future for her own sons.  Constantine killed Fausta as well, leaving him alone with an ocean of regret.

Thomas Boleyn,  the father of Anne and Mary, had an apetite for power so insatiable that he pressured his daughter, Anne, to marry King Henry VIII, even though Henry was already married at the time. Henry was also given Boleyn's elder daughter Mary, as company for the young Anne. Three years after the controversial marriage ruined the lives of many, Anne fell out of favor with the king and was beheaded on charges of high treason. Her brother, George, suffered the same fate. all the while Thomas, did nothing to protect any of his children. 

All of these fathers did this for their children: they loved them, provided for their education, gave them whatever money could buy, and engaged in family banquets with them.  Isn’t that what fathers of today are told to do for their own children? 

None of these fathers were considered good.  Why?  They lacked a simple ingredient in all  Fathers that are the heavies in their homes: they lacked wisdom.

Dads that are popular are usually not the best ones.  Weak Dads aren’t always seen as weak: they are sometimes very popular, pandering to their own kids and their friends by bending all of the rules in the house to suit the child.  They usually play right alongside of their kids, teaching them their own bad habits, living through their own kids’ experiences and manipulating obedience with a lot of money thrown around as incentive.

All of the good Fathers that I have met have a mixture of authority and wisdom that seems boring and a little overbearing.  Some of them have senses of humor, some are affectionate.  Some are jerks.  They lay down the law, set curfews and  kick their kids’ butts when they don’t respect them.  They make unpopular decisions that their kids hate and then act like they don’t care, even if they do.

Good fathers are strong; even in the face of opposition.

Me and my Papa.
I remember my own father, Jack, an Irish Catholic no-nonsense man I respected and feared. He made so many mistakes, but he led me.  He led all five of us, which was no easy feat.   I had long periods of rebellion but he stayed the course.  I remember thinking of him as unbending and unyielding and he actually wasn’t.  He was just firm.

I think of Mario, my warm-hearted, Teddy Bear of a husband who could instantly become a Grizzly when it came to reining in our own kids, especially the boys.  Our daughter charmed him a little more than the boys did, but even then…he was strong; the rock we all needed.  Because of Mario's provision, we lived in a house, paid our bills and had enough money to take our kids on vacation somewhere nice every year. 


didn't always agree with Mario's parenting decisions.  Many times, I thought he was being too tough on the kids.  I thought his decisions seemed so harsh and final, even when it seemed like they weren't working.  In the end, he was the Father.  He was, I have realized, the backbone of our family.

Today is Father’s Day.  It is the day that I remember my own Dad, Jack – and my husband Mario.  Two incredible Fathers, despite their humanity.  These men are golden columns in my life: pillars of wisdom and truth.

They were the ones that made all of the unpopular decisions that ended up being just as they said: for the best.

Thank You.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I haven’t blogged since the beginning of May.

It’s early evening, I haven’t had dinner and my bones ache from all of the work I have been doing on the house.  I just want to go to bed and sleep  - I am stretched thin and not as young as I once was.  

I came home from South Africa and jumped into my life here.  People have two reactions: “Glad to have you back!” and “Now that you’re back can you…”  Everyone seems glad we are home.  Few have asked for details of the work there.

Some days I wake up, thinking that I am still living in South Africa.  I came home with Mario and we made a  new start.  The trouble is, I have a sinking feeling that the South African part of my life is drifting away.  I have no remedy for my South African soul-hunger – I find no South African ex-pats here!  I honestly need help knowing that this particular portion of my life won’t just fade away. 

Right now in South Africa it’s winter.  The days are cold; the nights are colder.  June 6.

Today is Portia’s birthday - she is 33.

Portia is my amazingly special friend who filled my life with a special sense of wonder in God’s supernatural ability to make all things right.  If you want a specimen of a Spirit-filled South African woman, you can look at Portia.  She prays constantly and walks with freedom and joy.  She radiates peace and beauty and I miss her.


Today she will celebrate her birthday in simplicity.  She has a lot of friends at work and in school and they will most likely bring her a cake and she will blow out the candles.  It will be the first year in seven years that I will not make that cake, sing to her and watch her blow out the candles.

I just spoke to her on the phone…she is already at work (it’s 7 a.m.).  When I asked her what she is going to do today I could hear her smiling.

“I don’t know yet,” she said.  “Something special.” 

Of course.

Portia's 30th