Take A Look At My Books!

Oct. 19, 2019


“The best things in life are unexpected because there were no expectations.”

Eli Khamarov

“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“The key to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

Sean Connery

I received a small box in the mail earlier this week. This was an occasion for celebration as, probably just like you, what I mostly get in the mail is bills, catalogs – how is it possible for me to receive catalogs from all over the world from companies I’ve never heard of where I’ve never bought anything – political materials, guilt-inducing letters from every charity known to man, frequently including a dime or a nickel that I must pry out, rather than just tossing it, which then exposes me to pathetic pleadings to save it, whatever it is. No, I’m not a heartless, selfish person who doesn’t do anything to help the world be a better place. I’m just selective about where I send my checks. John, my best friend and husband of fifty years – who has been dancing with the angels for two years now as of October 9th – was an ardent supporter of clean water for people all over the world. He supported World Vision’s clean water program and I have continued to walk in his footsteps to provide clean water. It mattered to him and it matters to me.

But I digress! I was talking about the small box I received. It was a totally unexpected gift from my friend, Darren Pollock, who is the father of two of the most adorable children, an Adjunct Professor at Fuller Seminary, a Pastor at Panorama Presbyterian Church, a theologian, and a great singer. What was the totally unexpected gift? The picture shows it all, well, almost all. Inside were six Cadbury caramel filled chocolate eggs. These things are a particular addiction of mine and I was whining about how I couldn’t seem to find any of them at Easter time. Hence, Darren’s generous gift. I am rationing them and not sharing with anyone, I don’t care how closely related we are.

The best unexpected gifts, for me, would be a letter or a card which arrives at the exact moment one needs a word of encouragement. Texts are in that group also, especially texts with pictures attached. Also for me, every day God sends me an unexpected gift in a sunrise and a sunset which are beyond beautiful. They are different every day and I send them to friends and family as an unexpected gift and occasionally put a bunch of them up on Facebook. I’m not the world’s greatest photographer, but it’s hard to mess up a picture of a sunset that takes your breath away.

Christmas is coming when gifts are pretty much expected, but I thought I’d tell you about a couple of the most expensive and possibly unexpected gifts ever given:

1. Mike Tyson gave then-wife Robin Givens a 24-carat gold bathtub costing, at that time, a mere $2.3 million. (Seriously? A gold bathtub? What do you clean it with?)

2. As a Christmas present in 1968, Richard Burton made good on a promise he made to his then-wife, Liz Taylor, of a perfect ruby ring, an 8.24 karat Van Cleef & Arpels diamond and ruby ring, a bauble costing a mere $4.2 million. (Too much responsibility! I’d lose it, I’m afraid.)

Personally, those unexpected gifts aren’t anything I’d ever want. A box of Cadbury caramel chocolate eggs, on the other hand, are a fabulous gift. God has given me so many gifts that I am grateful for: pretty good health, an amazing loving family, a beautiful home, friends, and a 50 year marriage to a wonderful man.

Walking this morning it occurred to me that the greatest unexpected gift I ever received was the day John said to me, “I can’t marry someone who isn’t a believer.” This was in 1967, friends and neighbors. I promptly said, “Where do I go to sign up?” and he told me how to ask Jesus into my heart. I did and God has been working on me ever since. Let me quote this wonderful song by Chris Tomlin one more time...

Amazing Love

“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again.

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
It’s my joy to honor you
In all I do
I honor you.”

Maybe an unexpected gift will come your way today!


Sep. 28, 2019

“He turned the water into wine, He turned the water into wine.

In the little Canan town the word went all around,

 that he turned the water into wine.”

Johnny Cash

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus mother was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone Jesus’ mother said to Him, “they have no more wine.” John 2:1-3

Weddings were the highlight of everybody’s social calendar in those days. The feast was very important and might go on for a week, unlike a lot of the weddings we attend these days where it’s a short ceremony leading up to waiting around hours for pictures to be taken. We all hope there will be really great hors d’oeuvres, decent wine and maybe a sit down dinner with filet mignon or salmon, incredible wedding cake, a little dancing and you’re outta there. In first-century Palestine, to fail in proper hospitality was a serious offense. Running out of wine was more than a minor social embarrassment, since the family had an obligation to provide a feast of the socially required standard. There wasn’t a great variety in beverages – no Diet Coke or Sprite - and your choices were water or wine. Running out of wine would mean that you would be the town joke forevermore. Needless to say, there was no BevMo down the block and the best man and a couple of ushers couldn’t just jump on their mules and run down for a couple of cases of Mumm’s Cordon Rouge (high end wedding) or Cook’s Brut (lower end wedding) even then nobody would have served Andre or Two-Buck Chuck!

“Dear woman, why do you involve me? Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water” so they filled them to the brim. Then He told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so and the banquet master tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:4-10

My friend, Rich Johnson, who is a member of the praise and worship team at Bethany Church in Sierra Madre, recently had the opportunity to deliver a small sermonette on the subject of the water into wine. He spoke of Jesus’ mother’s involvement. He referred to her as Jesus’ Mom, but with a different meaning than just the name most of us call our mother. Rich used Mom as Mother Of Messiah. She didn’t want this young couple and their families to be humiliated before everyone they knew and so she asked Jesus for His help. He responded as most of us do when our mother asks us to do something, “Hey, Why me! I’m not ready yet!” She knew He would do the right thing and said no more to Him about it. And look what happened! Dom Perignon all around and the astonished bridegroom was incredibly grateful to whoever had saved them all from social disaster.

“Dear Woman,” what Jesus called her when she wanted His help at this wedding, where He performed His first miracle, and “Dear Woman” is what He called her as He hung on the cross. “Dear Woman, here is your son,” indicating his disciple, John, and to his beloved disciple, John, “Here is your mother.” Dear Woman. Mom is what He meant. Just Mom.

My daughter-in-law, Michon’s, mom passed away this week and today is her memorial service. Michon has written wonderful memories of her mom and will speak wonderful memories today. Her mom is in heaven now and has already met Jesus’ Mom. What a glorious thought!

“Whatever He tells you, do it.”

Sep. 28, 2019
Sep. 21, 2018

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...

The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R. R. Martin

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free!” Frederick Douglass

Recently, I came across a review of a book by Anne Bogel, “I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.”

“For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time,” Anne says, “ – it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.”

When I was about 8 years old, my mother and her best friend, Florene, had taken me and Florene’s two children, Glen and Marsha, who were about my age, to the beach to spend the day. I was lying on my towel squinting against the sun and reading. Glen and Marsha were in the water but I could have cared less. I was reading. My mother said to me, “You’ll never have any character lines on your face because you never stop reading long enough to develop any character!” I wittily replied, “Huh?” and continued reading. Well, I’ve developed plenty of character lines and have never stopped reading.

When we were first married, John discovered that I read constantly and I even brought several books on our honeymoon. He got used to the fact that I had a book propped up in the kitchen, one in the dressing room and had several on my nightstand. He read mostly technical journals when we first met and eventually married, but subscriptions to everything IEEE puts out eventually lose their charm when one’s life partner reads one amusing passages from Fannie Flagg’s “Standing In The Rainbow” or death defying excerpts from John Caldwell’s book, “Desperate Voyage,” like the one below, especially when we had actually MET John Caldwell! 

“From Perlas to Galapagos, and from Galapagos on west, I had uttered such curses as I doubt have ever been heard over the keel of a ship. In every squall, gale, calm, cloudburst, and contrary current, I had unloosed a flood of invective to shame a mule skinner. But more than that...in the height of my extremities I had profaned God Himself. On many an occasion I became so bold as to defy Him, deny Him, and swear I would profess atheism all the rest of my life. I even invited Him on deck – man to man – anything but the obstructing persecution of the elements, anything but the slow crawl when I wanted speed. And now, lost, foodless, without instruments, I humbly bent my knees to the deck and laid my folded hands upon the cabin. With eyes raised, I sent off a most heartfelt plea for forgiveness, a piteous appeal to Pagan’s real Captain.” Now I ask you, doesn’t that beat the heck out of what’s doing with transducers?

Books can infuriate us. Yes, indeed, I read the first chapter of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and threw it in the trash. Thoroughly enjoyed the recent movie, “Book Club,” with Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and so forth, but was dismayed when the book Jane Fonda forced on her friends was “Fifty Shades of Grey!”

I read “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Winsor as a pre-teen and it made such an impression on me that I forbade my own pre-teen daughter, Leah, ever to read it as it was just too sexy. It was pretty racy, even making the Black Plague sound hot and bothered, but nothing like what’s being published now. She still hasn’t read it.

“Little Women,” “Gone With The Wind,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Huckleberry Finn,”  anything and everything by Pat Conroy, including his cookbook. And my favorite team, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child...these guys created FBI Special Agent A X L Pendergast, one of the quirkiest, most enigmatic, brilliant persons ever drawn on a page. Jack London, C. S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, and about a hundred others are my favorite authors. Recently read and thoroughly enjoyed:  “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles.

Childhood favorites, all “The Black Stallion” books by Walter Farley, “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry, “Lassie,” “Lad: A Dog” I loved them all. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Reading, friends and neighbors, never gets old. Reading can keep you from feeling alone, from feeling sorry for yourself. Can help you while away the time waiting for doctors, airplanes, other people. Reading is always our friend. What book made you fall  in love with reading?


Jul. 9, 2018