Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Fiction: Professor K Strikes Again

I acually had a professor like this! He was fun and frustrating at the same time. For more great fiction, go to Dorinda's Treasures in Jars of Clay blog.

Professor K Strikes Again by Dee Yoder

My name is Mort. And when I say Mort, I mean MORT. I wear a purple lab coat and a sequined bow tie that spins and lights up when I press a hidden button. I’ve had some spectacular life experiences. Indeed, I could fill a book with them, but I’ll only share a few choice moments.

Building things is my hobby. I built a plane once using the Popular Mechanics article, “Build Your Own Solo Plane in Two Weekends.” It took me two months to accumulate the stuff, and then another month to convince my wife to let me tackle another secret project, but oh doggie, once I got started, it was a “cinch-arino”.

I worked nonstop on that cool baby for three months, but just when my wife was starting to get mean about my hobby, I surprised her with my announcement that the marvelous machine was ready to F-L-Y!

When she laid eyes on my perfected project, a look of wonder, then bewilderment, and finally amusement, spread over her face.

“Mort…you built a plane!”

“Yessirree Bob, and it’s a dandy, isn’t it?” I proclaimed proudly.

“But…Mort! It’s in the basement, for crying out loud!”

“Yeah! Um…uh-oh. Oooh…yeah.” That was a bummer realization. I deflated like last week’s birthday balloon.

Hmm…had to get it out of the basement…righto. My wife watched me in silence for a second, shook her head, and went chuckling upstairs to finish dinner. Took me two months more to take it apart and put it together again in the barn, but what a beauty!

I love my students. They tickle my funny bone with their silly questions and their serious faces. They seem to appreciate me, too. For instance, today I wrote the entire genetic plan of the red-eyed, vestigial-winged fruit fly on the chalkboards. The entire time I was scribbling out the charts, my rolling commentary kept the class howling like banshees. I never dreamed Genetics could be so humorous to them. Weird though, when I got to the end of the third board, the chart was totally wrong. Tom pointed out to me the source of my tiny error. Seems I switched the F1 parents with the F2 offspring way back on board one. Oh well. A little erasing and an hour later, the charts were complete and accurate. Too bad the class ended before I finished the F5’s.

Just before I went home, one of my students needed to come in and do a make-up lab. I told her I’d be happy to help her out. I proceeded to carefully place Professor Beech’s bounteous and beloved beaker over the Bunsen burner. My student turned out to be cautious and observant. Very astute.

“Uh, Professor K?”


“That beaker doesn’t have a Pyrex seal on the side; are you sure it’s flame safe?”

“Oh, sure, all beakers are-oops. I guess I’m going to owe Professor Beech a new bounteous beaker.”

Yessirree Bob! An ace student, for sure. She did a wonderful job helping me mop up the mess.

My favorite class is Anatomy and Physiology. The day we went to collect animal parts from the farm down the road was a glorious example of higher education. It was a happy “co-ink-a-dink”, too, that spaghetti with meat sauce was on the menu in the cafeteria. What a great way to learn where our food comes from!

I want my students to handle the merchandise, so to speak, and enjoy the natural beauty of God’s creation. I often encourage them to “get their hands in there and learn, learn, learn!” Too bad so many were squeamish that day; they missed out on observing the beautiful cerulean color of the vitreous matter of the cow’s eye. It was gorgeous!

The Anatomy class gives me the chance to exploit my favorite joke of all time. When the students come in the door, I say, “Welcome to Mort’s Mortuary! You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em!” They love that. And it’s an apropos introduction to the “Picking Up Road Kill for Further Study” lesson. Too bad the class is right after lunch. Some students don’t seem to take my little joke well; I think the carbs are a detriment to their learning experience. Makes them sluggish and pale.

That reminds me; I wonder why Brenda Bradley turned green and ran out of class yesterday? I hope she doesn’t have the flu. I’d sure hate to have her miss the “Picking Apart Your Formaldehyde-Preserved Dog Fish Shark” lesson.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dear Mr. Brown...

I received a reply from Mr. Sherrod Brown today to my email that I sent over the weekend expressing my dismay at the selection of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. His reply was, of course, a statement supporting Geithner.

I wanted to send a reply to his reply, but it came back to me as "undeliverable". Reason: it's a "do not reply" email account. I don't know about you, but that makes me laugh! It's so telling of our representatives, isn't it?

And just so you know, I do appreciate that he at least responded to me when I never received even an automatic response from Senator Voinovich. But that's beside the point. I decided to post Mr. Brown's email, and then my reply here...and this will end my stuff about Geithner...I hope.

Dear Ms. Yoder:

Thank you for expressing your thoughts on the nomination of Timothy Geithner to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.

Like many Ohioans, I am disappointed that Mr. Geithner was not more careful about complying with the tax laws while he was employed by the International Monetary Fund.

But he acknowledged his mistakes and paid the back taxes he owed to the IRS. Mr. Geithner has substantial experience to bring to the most challenging economic crisis our country has faced since the Great Depression. For these reasons, Mr. Geithner’s nomination received bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate as a whole. Despite my reservations, I support his nomination to serve as Treasury Secretary.

Thank you again for sharing your views.

Sherrod Brown

Dear Mr. Brown,

Thank you for responding to my email. I appreciate your point of view, but I respectfully disagree. As I questioned in my blog: In ALLLL of the U.S., there was not another man or woman, who had paid his/her taxes in full to start with, who could not do this job properly... except Timothy Geithner?

I think this confirmation "confirms" to many, Democrat and Republican, and every person in between, that politics as usual is going on in Washington DC ("I wash your wash mine" ). *Sigh*

Unfortunately, contrary to the promises of Mr. Obama and the Democratic party, I don't expect to feel any new political winds blowing in the next four years at's still going to feel like hot air.

Again, thank you for responding,

Dee Yoder


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who Confirmed Geithner?

Well, he's in, and in case you were wondering (as I was) who confirmed him, here's the list. I noticed that Sherrod Brown, whom I contacted and whom I received a "thank you for contacting me" email reply, didn't vote at all. That's one way to avoid controversy. (CORRECTION: I WAS SENT A NOTE THAT MR. BROWN WAS NOT TRYING TO AVOID CONTROVERSY. HE IS IN HIS HOME STATE TAKING CARE OF PERSONAL FAMILY MATTERS, SO WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THE VOTE. I WANT TO BE FAIR TO HIM ON THIS ISSUE.) But Senator Voinovich, who didn't respond to my email by one jot or tittle, voted to confirm him. Thanks, Mr. Republican!

What frosts me the most is the idea being put out there by many stalwart senators that Geithner had "paid up and made it right". Really? Geithner waited until he was being "vetted" for the Treasury Secretary job to pay up and make it right. Ick. That feels slimy, but perhaps our senators are used to that slick feeling by now.

Anyway, I appreciate the near one hundred people who came to my blog and did their civic duty to express their anti-Geithner comments to their senators! We did speak up; too bad our ELECTED officials weren't listening. Here they are (and kudos to the ones with guts enough or morals enough to say "NO!"):

Grouped By Vote Position YEAs ---60
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Burris (D-IL)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Ensign (R-NV)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)

NAYs ---34
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Grassley (R-IA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sanders (I-VT)
Sessions (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting - 4
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (D-OH)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fiction: Rescuing Bogey

Here's a fun entry for Friday Fiction that's based on a bulldog that roamed our neighborhood when I was a kid. More great stories are available over at Patty Wysong's Patterings blog. Enjoy the reading!

Rescuing Bogey
by Dee Yoder

Here he comes, Jenn!”


Jennifer nudged me aside, nearly knocking me off the window seat in my bedroom. Last week, when she’d stayed overnight, she’d gotten upset when I told her about Mr. Piroska’s Basset Hound, Bogey. (He looks like Humphrey Bogart, in a weird, doggy-like way.) Bogey wanders the streets at night, gobbling the scraps that people leave for him; he’s considered the neighborhood dog. Jennifer was hopping mad about that.

“No dog should be allowed to roam. He could be hit by a car, or someone could do something mean to him,” she’d lectured. I’d rolled my eyes, and Jenn had turned on me like a cat.

“Don’t you care about him, Amanda? He’s a helpless puppy!” she’d sternly declared.

“Of course I care about him, but he’s just fine. He’s fat and happy.”

“Still…” she tossed her head. She annoyed me, sometimes, with her superior attitude.

She decided we needed to capture Bogey, so she could take him home with her. I argued against her scheme, asking how she would explain Bogey to her mom? She ignored me and plotted her plan to rescue Bogey.

So, here we were, waiting for Bogey to come again. Dog-wise, Bogey wasn’t my cup of tea. His sloppy jowls dripped drool, and he always looked so depressed. He didn’t jump around like my dog, Jip; he ambled sadly everywhere.

“C’mon!” Jennifer pulled my attention back to her plan. We left the house and ran, hunch-backed, down the driveway.

We peeked carefully around the edge of a hedge. Bogey had stopped, his forlorn eyes staring right at us. I saw his nose quivering for our scent, but he seemed uncertain about our presence; were we friend or foe? He held his tail stiffly while he made up his mind. Jenn stepped out from the shrubs, calling to Bogey as she walked toward him.

“Here, Bogey, Bogey. C’mere, sweet baby,” she called.

“Jenn, do you think he’s OK? I mean, look how big he is.” I was hanging back a step, just in case Bogey didn’t want to be rescued.

Bogey snuffled loudly and took a step back as Jenn approached him, but when she put out her hand, he sniffed her fingers as delicately as a giant, slobbering dog could and decided she was harmless. He…and I know this sounds silly, but he…smiled!

Jenn sat down next to him right in the middle of the road and crooned and petted and cajoled him onto her lap. He looked ridiculous there, but he seemed happy; he was still grinning.

“Now what, Jenn? We have to take him soon. We’re standing in the middle of the street, y’know!”

“OK. C’mon, sweet puppy…come with us.” Bogey flopped onto his back and refused to move. He turned his huge head up toward us and kept smiling while he panted, but he wouldn’t move.

Jenn surveyed her rescued victim. “Well, lets carry him then,” she finally announced.

“Carry him! Are you kidding? Look at him! He must weigh a ton, Jenn.”

“There’re two of us, Amanda. Between us, we could get him to your backyard, then I could tell Mom I found him when she picks me up tomorrow.”

I shook my head, but I knew I couldn’t talk her out of it.

We carried that lazy dog all the way to my house. He drooped limply between us, grinning and drooling the whole time, and when she put him down, he ambled a few steps and then flopped over. My arms ached and my hands were slimy from his slobbery, silly doggie smile.

“Ewww. I’m going to go in and wash, Jenn. Yuck.”

Jenn gave ol’ Bogey one last caress and finally called it a night.

The next morning after breakfast, we went to the backyard. Jenn snitched a few pieces of bacon to feed Bogey. “Just enough to tide him over,” she said. Not that dog, I thought.

When we opened the gate, Bogey was gone!

“Bogey! Where’d he go, Amanda?”

I spied a huge hole under the fence and heard a funny whine behind us. I looked around and there was Bogey, ambling up the street. He was looking over his shoulder at us, grinning his dopey, slobbery grin. His toenails clicked a song of freedom as he went on his way.

“Poor Bogey,” whispered Jenn as she watched him go.

“Does he look worried, Jenn? Dumb, slobbery dog,” I yawned.

Bogey loped away, nose in the air, smelling his breakfast.

Protest Against Timothy Geithner: Contact Your Senators Before Monday!

I have just sent comments to my Ohio Senators (Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich) to protest the confirmation of Timothy Geithner as the Treasury Secretary. I don't know about you, but a guy who can't file his taxes correctly or pay back money he owes for taxes should NOT be handling our federal monies! His confirmation was postponed until Monday...let's swamp our senator's with our protests against the confirmation of this tax offender for Treasury Secretary. Come on, President ALL of America you couldn't find a better man than this?!

Here's the link to the Senate offices:

United States Senate

And here's a link to the Dump Geithner petition:

Dump Geithner Petition

Our US Senators need to know that we want a government that can be trusted and intentionally putting a man like this in such an important job is a mistake, especially with all the bail-out monies being spent like water!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quality Versus Quantity of Life

Having the experience of seeing my dad struggle with Alzheimer's disease has led me down paths of spirituality that I'd rather never have traveled. When a terrible disease such as this one waltzes into a family, a major split in philosophy of life often occurs.

One group of loved ones may decide that quality of life has to take precedence over quantity. How often have I heard people say: "If I had to live like that, I'd rather just go ahead and die." On the surface, this sounds like a noble and heroic statement. But I've seen a good man struggle to keep each breath and each moment of life he had left be a holy mission: to honor His Creator with whatever little bit of strength and life he could muster. I saw my late husband strive to live one more more more minute...and he did it with far more grace than I think I could muster. The intensity of good men to honor living with their last breath feels to me like an honest recognition of God's genes in them. In a sense, they see each breath as holy...a holy mission from God because to keep living, in the face of pain and adversity, is do God's will to the nth degree.

I struggle now with this quality of life philosophy because in my dad, I see God. In my dad, I feel a breath from his mouth that was begun in Adam and came from God Himself. In my dad, I still see his hands and his feet and the little things that still bring him joy. In this illness, all but the barest pleasures...the ones we come into the world with: the desire to feed and to laugh and to see our loved ones faces, are often the only things left. I have learned to strip down my definition of the "good" life to mere seconds in the tiniest of moments that could be called "good". I've learned to find great treasure and great worth in seeing Dad cross his ankles and tap his means he's content. I sigh and say, "That is good...he's feeling no pain for right now."

When I stroke his soft, spiky, white hair, and his eyes close in comfort, I say, "This is good...he's feeling my love and concern for him: he knows I care." He may remember in that very moment only, and not much beyond a moment, but I've had to learn that it's enough. Life is good for that minute or two.

There are sparks of life in Dad that surprise and confound us still. When I see that, I know life is good...I know His Creator has blessed him and us...and I squelch the selfish side of me that deigns to think there should be more. I'm beginning to know that the act of living...Dad's perseverance to keep fighting...a sigh of happiness from him that shows his pleasure in something as simple as a cup of hot coffee, is a holy act ordained and given as a gift by God. I sometimes find myself wanting to say out loud: "You have given my dad so much...and You have blessed his kids so much...even in Dad's illness, You are a holy and loving God."

There are some members in my family that would not agree. Some will find this attitude unrealistic or even wrong. But in my heart and soul, more and more I am learning that the bending of the will...the surrender of the wants...the sigh that says, "I let go of how I want it" is more an act of worship than any other kind of sacrifice I could offer to the Lord. And to say to God, with hands lifted up-- holding nothing--"I am blessed" has to be one of the dearest offerings God can receive.

Quality versus quantity...the wants versus the is...the desires versus the reality...they are all a measure of a heart. Taking a life and holding each little thing as sacred, and offering back to God our loved one's futures--whatever they may be--that, to me, is recognizing the holiness in each soul that comes only from the hand of God.

For these reasons, I have come to the conclusion that Do Not Resuscitate orders are contrary to right to life thinking. To me, it is better to ALWAYS opt for life.

"Lord, thank You that each breath You breathed in my dad has Your loving DNA mingled through it. Continue to help me see each living moment that Dad has left as a gift from Your hand...and help me to know that whatever You do for Dad in the next few days, You have ordained it holy and worthy and right. In Jesus' lovely name, Amen."

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:24-28

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Alma Mater: Lee University

I decided to blog about my alma mater, Lee University, today. Lee is situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southern Tennessee in the little town of Cleveland. It is a beautiful and welcoming campus.

Lee is a Liberal Arts university with several colleges on campus. I received my BS in Biological Sciences from Lee in 1980 (yes...I'm THAT old!). It has several little claims to fame and here are some of the fun facts I found while browsing the website recently:

Lee University is widely known for its strong faculty and the outstanding traditions in Music, Bible, Education and Pre-Medical program success. Successful graduates in the School of Music include Phil Stacy (American Idol), Mark Harris (4 Him), Janna Potter Long and Melissa Greene (Avalon) and Jay DaMarcus (Rascal Flatts). The Lee University festival choir at Lee was honored in the past by being included in the recording of a new CD, which features the "Best Choirs in America" The Festival Choir is made up of all six vocal music groups.
Lee choirs have featured on inspirational channel and several have been featured on joint recordings with Alvin Slaughter, Ron Kenoly, and Bill Gaither.

In addition to the famous alumni, here's a bit about the science department:

The Department of Natural Science and Mathematics has become very popular in preparing students for professional schools in medical related fields. Even in the highly competitive world of graduate studies in the medical fields, this department enjoys a very high acceptance rate of students to continue their medical training at institutions of their choice. A large part of this success is due to personal attention by the faculty that compliments the solid course content in these major fields of study.

I can say that my own experiences at Lee were fantastic! I still have moments when I dream of returning to that safe and lovely place...and even go so far as to check the employment openings once in a while! It is a lovely campus and my time spent at Lee was worth every penny of the hard-earned tuition.

Thank you, Lee University, for giving me a quality education and a quality experience that I count as one of God's greatest blessings in my life. I conclude with the campus verse that students and faculty alike spoke together at the end of every chapel service:

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." Psalms 19:14 King James Version

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Fiction: Pheobe-the-Wise

By Dee Yoder

“Man, did you see who you’re scheduled to swim rats with today?” my colleague, and locker companion asks with a laugh.

“Nope. Haven’t looked at the schedule. I presume I’m going to be setting up my mouse study in Repro,” I mutter while I pull on my scrubs.

“You presume wrongly, Nerd-man. You have to help Phoebe-the-Wise run behaviorals on her F1 babies.”


“Sarah’s gone on vacation, my man.”

“What’s she running? Startle Response? Eye Exams?”

“Eye exams-you wish!”

I snort, “Not with Phoebe, I don’t. Lights on or lights off, she’s not one to mess with.”

“Yeah, know whatcha mean,” Perry says as he launches his dirty lab coat into the wash pile. “Christian. No chance for-“

“Gotta go.”

For some reason, though I don’t know Phoebe Wise that well, I don’t want Perry talking bad about her. I’ve only worked with her a few times before, but she caught my attention. Quiet. A little shy, but really smart. Hard worker. She’s never let me down any of the times she’s taken my studies on my weekends off.

I check the schedule to see which room the behaviorals are in. Well, looks like we’ll be swimming the F1 generation today. I hate that behavioral. Boring and long. Some of the rats are quick studies, but some can take the whole sixty seconds and still not swim their way to the end of the maze. Sixty seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time until you multiply it by fifty critters.

“Hi Ben,” Phoebe says with a smile when I enter the room.

“Gotta swim ‘em, huh?”

“Yeah. The pups are so big already; I think most of them are smart, though.”

“Are these Group Ones?”

“Nope. Swam those guys yesterday. These are the Twos, and they seem to be pretty normal.”

I like Group Ones best. Defective genes rarely affect the control animals, but the higher groups could have potential delay deformities. With Group Twos whose parents have defective genes we could end up with more animals not being able to figure out the maze, which means a longer amount of time in this room.

“I’m ready, Ben”

“Okay. Go ahead and drop the first guy.” I set the timer.

Phoebe leans over the tank and gently releases the first male into the water. He swims in a circle for a second and then takes off around the perimeter of the maze. Phoebe has nice hair that lies along the back of her neck like a scarf. I watch her eyes follow the pup around the maze. Her smile is still in place, and she chuckles gently as she records the rat’s swift progress.



“Why are you a Christian?”

My question startles her, and she delays answering me while she retrieves the pup from the water.

“I needed peace, Ben,” she finally answers.

Her eyes meet mine, and I get the feeling she’s reading my mind.

“Peace. Huh. Well, I know how lack of peace feels,” I say with a laugh.

“You do?”

“Yeah. Peace and my mom with her schizophrenia do not mix.”

She doesn’t reply right away, but when I glance up, she says suddenly, “Do you want me to pray for you, Ben?”

Now how did she know I was thinking that? She’s looking at me with such genuine concern that I feel tears gathering at the edge of my eyelids. Whoa. Time to get back to work. Get a grip, Ben.

“Forget it, Phoebe. I was just being nosey.”

We finish the rats in less than three hours, and I head out the door to my next assignment.
Phoebe catches my eye just before I close the door to her study, and her gentle smile makes me stop.


“Yes, Ben?”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have you say a prayer or two. For my Mom, I mean.”

“For you, too?”

I don’t answer her, but she stays put in front of me. Again, my throat aches suddenly with a sad kind of longing, and Phoebe seems to know it, too. She pats my arm before heading back to her study.

“I’ll be praying, Ben.”

I nod mutely and turn to leave. One last time I glance back at Phoebe, and even her shoulders seem set with purpose and strength. “What makes Phoebe-the-Wise so wise?” I ask myself. “Is it some kind of spiritual gift that only Christians have?” I don’t know, but I plan to find out. Someday.

For more great fiction, stop by Lynn Squire's Faith, Fiction, Fun, and Fanciful

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Literary Agents

While searching for a list of literary agents that represent Christian authors, I came across this post written by Michael S. Hyatt (President and CEO at Thomas Nelson Publishers). His blog, From Where I Sit, has a list of agents with whom his company is familiar.

I plan to take a day or two to read through this list and check out these agents. Mr. Hyatt's blog is chock full of informative posts that are of great value for the green writer (like me). I really want to set aside a week devoted only to researching the next step, assessing my book's status, and further compiling my novel. Now if only I could find a week that is not filled with "other" stuff!

I truly intend to carry on with this entire process, and I know I will get to most of the to-do lists eventually, but sometimes, the tedious, and seemingly never-ending steps to learn about being published, overwhelm me! I like to read the verse that I've posted at the top of my blog when I feel discouraged because it reminds me that God is the true author of all I write, and as such, He will lead and direct me each step on the way. In the meantime, here's the verse and I hope it blesses you and encourages you as much as it does me:

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3, The Holy Bible, NIV

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hospital Vigil

It's quiet here, save for the soft sfffft sound of the ventilator. It's Sunday night, after dinner, and I'm sitting in my dad's ICU room in the dark. The weather channel is playing in the background because Dad loves weather as much as a meteorologist does. We're hoping he'll listen and hear familiar things as he goes in and out of sleep.

He has begun to waken and his eyes search the area right around his pillow until he locks onto the eyes of his family. He hasn't been responding to the staff, but the last time he had pneumonia, he did the same thing. For his family, he opens his eyes and shakes his head--slightly. All the vital signs are stable and for now, we're content just to watch and wait and offer him reassurance and comfort when he looks for us.

As I sit here, I think of how many life and death experiences our family has known within these hospital walls. Tears of sadness and tears of joy have all been shed in this place. Fifty-two years ago yesterday, I made my debut in the world in this building and as I watch over Dad for a time tonight, I think back to what a day it must have been for him and Mom that snowy January Thursday. My sister was just a baby, too...thirteen months Mom was worried about her and anxious to get home. Dad has always loved his kids and enjoyed every minute he spent with them, so I imagine that day years ago was a happy moment for him. I have him to thank for my name as Mom allowed him to to name me. (She gave my sister her name.). He chose to name me after his mom and my mom.

But not all of our memories here have been happy ones. I said goodbye to my son's father in these dad was with my husband, in fact, when he took his last breath. I had called Dad to spell me for a time so I could take my little boy home, get him a clean set of clothes, and drop him off with my mom before heading back to the hospital for the night. For whatever reason, while I was gone, Jim slipped home to Heaven When the hospital tracked me down at my mom's house, I just didn't think I could face what awaited me at the hospital, but Dad stayed with me and helped me do the things I had to do. I remember how tightly he held my hand as he walked me to the elevator on the Cancer floor for the last time. I had a feeling that if he could have taken my grief and pain away from me, he would have. To spare him, I tried my best not to cry, but the burden of sorrow was nearly too much to carry. I remember feeling very weak and faint...almost like a balloon that could easily float through the ceiling of that tormenting place. I dare say that if I could have floated away from the pain that night, I would have...Dad right beside me. But what rooted us to the earth then and now, was love of my of family...and a dim, though honestly weak, faith that God could somehow get me through this horrible moment in time.

So now it's my turn to sit by him and scramble from my chair to his bedside when he struggles with the straps that hold his hands to his side, or when he wakes and becomes aware of the tubes in his throat. His eyes slowly open and he has even smiled at us through his medical miseries, and I try to stroke away the fear while whispering, "It's going to be're getting stronger every day...don't worry." He grasps my fingers when I hold his hand as I lean over his bed, and there is a little relaxing of his eyebrows as he watches me silently. We have the same gray/blue eyes...and we're familiar to each other.

Hospital vigils are often not fun, and having the blessings of modern medicine can bring with it fears and relief, but being there for one another through all of them is the constant that ties these events together. Through it all, we go on and we keep holding hands, and stroking foreheads, and offering love and comfort...and living our lives, as much as possible, in and out of these familiar, yet impersonal, hospital walls.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Party-Line Pooper

The Party-Line Pooper
By Dee Yoder

My sister, Audrey, is tapping her foot as she hovers like a vulture over the phone.

“That Mrs. Humphrey is always hogging the line. What could a woman that old have to talk about anyway? She spends hours on end gossiping her head off,” she grumbles.

“Maybe her sister is sick, Boogerhead,” I say with a “tsk.” She stops tapping long enough to stare me down.

Our eyes lock stubbornly until she breaks the tension by suddenly smacking me on the head with her brush. I leap on her with a heathen yell, and we crash to the floor as she holds me down with one strong arm while she wiggles her other arm’s fingers under my nose.

“Ooooo…burn…burn… you weakling, you!” she taunts.

I thrash around, helpless against her power, until she hears the phone ringing. “Allllll riiiiight!” she shouts, dropping my head like a hot potato. I feel and hear it bounce against the floor. Owie.


I watch her face as she chats with her boyfriend. Gag. Her eyes look sparkly like they do when she gets the flu, and she draws out her vowel sounds like some kind of idiot.

“Ohhh, Rooogerrr…you’re sooooo fuuuunneeee. You just make my daaay, Sweetie.”

Eww. I’m gonna heave my dinner. I’m amazed that she can sound so sweet, when just a minute ago she was beating my brains out. I sit up and the movement catches her attention. She frowns and starts shooing me away from her. I pretend I don’t know what she means. “What?” I mouth silently, my eyebrows raised innocently.

She purses her lips and then mouths back, “Get. Out.” She points her bony finger at the door in emphasis. I smile. “Whaaaaattttt?” I mouth again slowly. “I can’t hear you…”

She rushes at me; shoving and pushing me out of the room, the whole time talking her gooey-icky love-speak to Rogggeeerrrr. I let her get rid of me, but with one last turn of my head, I stick out my tongue, waggling it aggressively for good measure. Slam! The door nearly takes my tongue off.

I saunter down the hall and peek in at Mom and her friend, Mary. Mary swirls a delicate pinky in the air at me in greeting. I pinky-wave back as they go right on yakking. I shake my head; those two are gossip machines.

Just as I start to head out the front door, I spy the phone in the living room and a wicked fun idea pops into my head. I sneak to the phone and lift the receiver slowly…softly. I put it to my ear in time to hear Roger let loose with a sloppy swack. I gag mutely. For effect, I screw up my face and hold my nose with the pointer finger and thumb of my left hand.

“Hello? Hello? This is Mrs. Humphrey and I need this phone! Do you hear me? It’s an emergency!” I mimic.

“Wha-? Mrs. Humphrey?! You just had the line for an hour! I’m talking to my boyfriend-“

“Boyfriend? Who is this? Is this that little Franklin girl? You’re too young for a boyfriend, and, besides, you have that disease that spreads when you kiss!”

I stifle a giggle when I heard Roger gasp.

“Disease?! Why…that’s just a downright fib! Roger! Roger! I tell you she’s fibbing! Roger…Rooogggerrrr??” Click.

About this time, the door to our bedroom opens, and Audrey comes down the hall, dragging the phone line behind her. Her face is beet-red and her mouth is open wide in preparation of a wail. Her eyes widen when she spies me dropping the receiver on the table; I sprint for the door.

“You wretch!” she screeches. A flip-flop sails past my head as I jump off the porch and run for the hills. “Don’t you EVER come back, you Pest-of-the-World Little Sis!”

I laugh all the way to the curb where my best bud, Jeffery, is waiting. He smiles as I approach. Suddenly, he jumps up and rushes to meet me. Before I can stop him, he plants the wettest, ickiest kiss ever right on my lips! I’m stunned and then I notice Mrs. Humphrey standing in her garden, her mouth open in shock. She drops her rose pruners, stares at us for a second, and hurriedly shuffles to her house.

“What’d you do that for?” I yell at Jeffery.

Suddenly, the phone starts ringing inside my house. “I’ll get it” Audrey calls.

“Oh nooooo,” I moan.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7, The Holy Bible, NIV

Thursday, January 8, 2009


MULTIPLE BLES8INGS: SURVIVING TO THRIVING with TWINS and SEXTUPLETS is written by Jon and Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson. If you've ever watched the television series with this amazing family, you'll be familiar with the Gosselins. Their story, on TV, is remarkable, but reading the behind-the-scenes happenings and events that led to their eight children family (in only TWO pregnancies!)is equally remarkable.

The one thing that surprised me most about this book is the spiritual depth in both Jon and Kate Gosseling. Each chapter of the book begins with a scripture, and their many decisions, leading to the birth of their twins and then the sextuplets, was bathed in prayer. Though Kate and Jon sometimes come across as angry or brittle with each other in the TV series, much more love and compassion is written in the book and it gives a deeper sense of who each of these remarkable young people are together and as parents.

I read the entire book in one evening, as did my son, so it is not a heavy work of nonfiction: it is fun, happy, and spiritually satisfying. It has many photos scattered through the pages, as well as a small section documenting Kate's diary which she kept while on bed rest waiting for the birth of the sextuplets.

I recommend this book to fans of the TV series and to other readers who will enjoy getting to know more about this loving and unique family. Their experience is well worth reading about and will warm your heart besides!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writing Gadgets, Widgets, and Games

Today I have writer's block, so I decided to see what kind of gadgets, widgets, or games I could find on the Internet to distract me from my brain freeze. Here's a few fun things to try.

Need a character name? Click HERE to generate one.

Need to translate something? Click HERE

How about adding a randomly generated title to your newest work? (This is an especially useful tool if you don't care whether it matches your story.) Click HERE

If you'd like to write SOMETHING, but need a nudge, click HERE for a creative writing prompt (remember those from high school?!).

Would you like to create a poem with an engine? (OK, the purpose of this one escapes me, but it's a widget so here it is, and here's a little warning, some of the choices are a bit "spicy"): Poem Engine

And finally, here is a page full of links to Language Arts or Word games (think Scrabble, Boggle, Bones, etc.): BUNCHA WORD GAMES

Well. Now that I've written a blog about absolutely nothing of importance, I'm outta here! Have fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fall on the Earth


"God's voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth...’" Job 37:6

When I found this verse recently, I thought, "I can't remember ever reading that before."

Somehow, knowing God directs the snowfall, my heart understands that the gentle flakes have more meaning. Or maybe it's really that snow has more purpose

I've had to remind myself in winters past about the importance of snow, especially when it's March and a sunny day hasn't been seen in weeks. Instead, the snow covers every vestige of grass or growing thing by several inches. 

At those times, I have to audibly remind myself, "More snow means a better growing season." 

There are times, though, when I can't see beyond the cold and the white and the depressing feeling of being stuck inside. I can't see even two weeks into the future to know that a warm day or two will completely obliterate the seemingly invincible snow. That's when I have to get out the calendar and count the days until the rotation of the earth will bring us closer to the sun's warmth once again.

When my life feels cold, dreary, or depressing, just like that calendar, I have to get out my Bible and remind myself of the ways in which the Son brings me closer to the warmth of my Father's Heart. 

Snowy days will pass, and snowy times of icy fear or frosty feelings will also pass when I wait for God's timing to fully come. Knowing this, helps me hang on; helps me wait and watch for that first sign of spiritual warming. That awesome time when God promises my soul will "thrive like a green leaf"...again. (Proverbs 11:28)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to School

It's back to school for us today and even though we had a nice Christmas break, it's never enough time, is it?

A few things we're looking forward to in the second half of the school year is Biology (we have a new microscope-oooohh-can't WAIT to try it out!), preparing for the Education Expo in March, and more field trips!

We never miss the Maple Syrup Festival at Malabar farm State Park. It is usually cold and snowy, but there's nothing like gathering in the sugar shack, with its steaming eaves and sweet smells, to watch the boiling down demonstration of the collected maple syrup. And then we get to try the maple sugar, maple candy, and bring home a little jug of maple syrup. There are Civil War encampments and Pioneer campsite demonstrations as well as displays of the local Native American's hollow log technique of boiling out the water to collect the sweet sugar and syrup. Though our feet slowly freeze and our noses get cold, it's fun and more than that, it's a family tradition!

In spring, we go back to Malabar for Spring Plowing Days. Turning over the soil and thinking of seeds to plant helps us know that the summer days of sunshine and warmth aren't too far ahead, even if we have to shove the snow off the garden to see the soil.

We try to take a weekend in the midst of February or March to get away from home for the weekend and see a change of scenery. It breaks the long boring days of winter into manageable chunks of time...dreary days interspersed with fun days (a heated indoor pool works wonders!).

In the meantime, classes resume and some semblance of order to our days return. The long and happy vacation is all but a memory, but there's only 354 days until NEXT Christmas!