Saturday, December 17, 2011


It's December and there is something in the air. People clump together and talk. Strangers share stories with each other. I love this time of year because it is so easy to be open with others. There is something in the air that makes us want to get closer to each other. From where ever we are, or aren't with God, we have an openness that wasn't there before. Our hearts are more open this time of year. We aren't so self-focused. We hear music that brings a smile.
I was at a local store and an older man was buying a musical Santa Claus because it brought back memories. Young families are creating memories for their little ones with the Christmas Tree, food, presents. And for a child, the presents are the thing.

Well, let's admit it, we all get a little closer to being children when we see a wrapped present and wonder what inside. It is a time of year when WONDER wins over cynicism. It is a time of year when LOVE has a chance. People discover each other. People discover God. Churches get crowded.

What a wonderful time of the year. There is something in the air. And yes, that something, is real. As I was setting up the Nativity Scene this year, I had a moment of panic. There was Mary, Joseph, the manger, a few animals but where was the baby? I started to look.

It seems to me that the baby of Christmas is largely missing this year. Early shopping. Economic panic. To do lists. General business and stress have away of keeping The BABY out of Christmas.

I overheard a mother saying that she couldn't put up any Christmas decorations at her house because her daughter was using the house for a friend's baby shower and she didn't want the DECORATIONS to detract from the shower. Why would Christmas decorations detract? They did not seem important to their daughter. Did they embarrass her? Did she not know that there was ANOTHER BABY more important than her friend's coming child?

Is Christmas just decorations? Is Christmas just a family gathering? Are Christmas just presents for each other? I give you something and you give me something. Where is the Baby? We have to look.

Those who were in Bethlehem didn't know there were THE BABY, the Savior, the Good News, and the Branch of Righteousness right in their little town. They were involved in the tourists, the taxation.  The shepherds heard the message.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

They went to look. They found what they told was true and went back to work, filled with JOY. Don't be distracted and miss the real Christmas. I found the missing babe. Christmas isn't Christmas without Jesus in the manger and us drawing near to see the miracle that has happened.
 Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Personal Appeal

I want to make a personal appeal today for our non-camp work. We have acted as a catalyst to get a September to June tutoring program at place at Verbo Church in Redwood City. Twenty children now get tutoring in math, English and Bible two days a week. These children are little children. They are in first to fifth grade.

ALL OF THESE CHILDREN ARE AT RISK because of poverty. First, there is the poverty of no one to help them at home with their homework. Second, there is the poverty of just not enough money. These families struggle year round and could not pay for any tutoring help.

The children last year all improved in their school work. Children are recommended by the local schools to the progam BECAUSE THEY ARE IN DANGER OF FLUNKING OUT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. They need one to one remedial work to come up to their grade level.

Thanks to the generous grant from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church we opened this program and are in our second year. However, the children need more one to one help than anticipated and we appeal to you who read this to send a contribution. One hour costs $10. Your gift helps two ways. We are expanding the program by using teens from our summer camp and you will give a child a chance to learn the basics.

Let's remember that God loves the children and is a "father to the fatherless". Can you help?
Please mark memo of your check: tutor-me program and send to "As you have done it unto one of these little ones, you have done it unto me."

Box 2735
Menlo Park, CA. 94026


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Event

Thanks be to God, a roomful of people who had worked hard for the children gathered to enjoy a festive Thanksgiving meal on November 3rd at our Menlo Park home church.

After enjoying the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing gravy and vegetables, we settled to hear reports from our 7th annual Touchdown Camp.

Doris Bates, camp coordinator reminded us of the scripture: "The feeding of Five Thousand" when small offerings were blessed to feed the crowd. We were delighted to learn that we had so much food donations, that food left overs were shared with the youth of Verbo Church, our sponsoring church and home camp in Redwood City.

Barb Siegal, VP, gave the report for the Project Lost Sheep's account that everything was sufficient after all bills have been paid for camp. Catherine Parlanti was missed as she was ill that day.

We have seen God's faithfulness over the years and we believed that this service will come through. The board has approved a faith project - The Coin Jar Offering. Each gift card of $50 dollars can be given to each of the 20 families in the tutoring program.

Sandra Jamaillo, director of the school, told us the needs of the children in school, that they have emotional problems as well as academic ones. Little by little, with love, they are making progress. She talked about a boy in fourth grade who is intelligent but does not know how to count to 20.

Michelle Bedecarre, who tutors every week with the program gave an appeal for more workers to come and help the children one on one. She talked about the joy of helping just one child do better. Lauren Younger from our group is also a regular volunteer at Verbo and does a great job with the children.

Doris Bates and Joyce Dueker offered the Coin Jar Offering with contents up for the blessing to the Lord.

Businessman Jim Dillard spoke of his experience as a volunteer at camp with his wife, Valerie. Jim is interested in volunteer development to help us expand.

Greg, a deacon from the Korean church in San Jose, explained that they had done much international work but were happy to get some guidelines for reaching out in the local area to children. There was a lively conversation around the table between our San Jose visitors, Sandra and Michelle regarding the needs of children from at risk families for tutoring.

Joyce and Sharon Lee introduced the Christmas Party which be held on December 4th. Invitations to follow. As one of our new visitors said, "it was a warm group" to experience.

We encourage you, wherever you are, to start a Project Lost Sheep group to make a difference for the "at risk" children in your area. We have groups stretching from San Mateo down to San Jose.

"Let us not be weary in well doing for in due time we shall reap." HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of you from us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One on One

One to one is the best way to communicate. I am all for e-mail and for the old telephone but if I really, really want to talk to someone I want to see them over lunch or in some way a face to face encounter.

Because of the hectic pace of the current life, it is sometimes easy to forget that this one to one is important. First, it is important to have a one to one with God. Don't we like our children to talk to us.

Also, in getting a child "up to speed" in school work there is nothing like one to one. A parent or a tutor needs to sit down with a child and help him understand.

Last year, we were able, thanks to a grant from a local church, open inside Verbo Church a tutoring program for children most at risk of failing in grades 1-5. These children were recomended to the program by the principals of the local schools.

The children were greatly helped and one young woman improved so much in math that she was able to enter school contests. Her entire personality changed as a result of her success. She had no one to help her at home.

This is what we are learning. In the poorer communities in America, the parents cannot help. They may not read their own native language. They do not read English. They have no time and can't help their own children in many cases.

Jesus said: 

The child is doomed for failure without intervention but with attention and hours and hours of tutoring help these children have a chance to win at the school game. More than that they receive a "I can do this" attitude which we all know is a secret to getting through the long, hard thing called life.

We need more one to one tutors out there.

I remember so well my own Dad who sat with me night after night as I struggled with story problems in math. What if my Dad wasn't there for me? What if my mother worked 3 jobs and didn't even read English to help me with the problem?

I would be left to struggle and fail. And no doubt I would have flunked in math that year without my one to one tutor.

Let your heart absorb what this means. A few hours of volunteer time can change the entire life of a poor child.


Recently a new fence was put up as I was thinking about the idea of training. When we have children we are training them in everything we do..good and bad. This is rather awesome. Children are informed by what they see us do. Later, they are informed by what they get from others ie their friends.

Because I like to garden one of the thoughts about the new fence was how nice it would be to have a pretty vine growing up. Of course, vines require training. You have to give them support so they will go up and over the fence not sprawl all over your patio.

Children need to be trained up so they will be tall and strong. How to do this?

We know that we are as Christians to instruct children in the way they should go. They need to be taught the Bible. The verses need to be repeated and learned and the need to see the Bible lived out in us. Wow!

The Bible promise is: 


How the vine is trained makes all the difference. Did you know that America when it started had a PRIMER that was filled with Bible verses that children memorized. Bible reading was common in families all across the country as this country grew.

As you know we cannot teach the Bible in schools today. It is not allowed. So more than ever the teaching of what makes for strong character rests in the home and in the church.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Leader - Steve Jobs

Steve Job's death has been all over the news. He made such a mark that he was "The Story" in the Wall Street Journal.  One of the lessons learned from looking at his journey was that it wasn't straight up. When he left Apple to others, the company faltered. He was the creative "visionary" plus sales person that made it come together.

Leadership in business is important. Leadership in our call is also important. We each have "something to do"...a path, a journey that we must go on. In this particular niche we are THE LEADER.

If we are a mom and wife with a husband working 12 hours a day, we must become very small and still help our husband survive.  If we are a husband at home and our wife is "knocking herself out..out there," then we must also take a serving roll in order to help her live.

Jesus said, "He who is greatest must be servant of all."

This is still true. God looks at our attitude. Lots of times, mine needs a major makeover. It is very hard for us get small enough to let God get big enough. If we belong to Him then He is the ultimate leader and we keep learning and obeying and getting correcting through all of the journey.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Discipline isn't a fun word and yet we are all subject to disciplines as a part of the way things are.

If we eat more calories than we expend we will gain weight. In order to change that we have to be disciplined in both exercise and diet. No surprise here. In the spiritual life there are disciplines also.

First there is the discipline of taking time for God. Daniel, as the Daniel who got thrown in the lion's den, took time to pray three times a day to his God. It was this discipline of prayer that got him in trouble because the king had ordered that all must bow down to a gold image of himself.

Daniel was disciplined in his priorities. He knew that God came matter what. And yes, the lions didn't gobble him up because God shut the mouth of the lions. Instead Daniel's accusers were "lunch" for the lions before they hit the bottom of the pit.

Having a strong position of trust in God isn't something that just comes in a day. It comes as there are some very trying circumstances in our life THAT CAN ONLY BE SOLVED BY GOD.

I'd like to say that I am disciplined to trust like Daniel but I have a ways to go. Do you have something you really don't like to do but God has you in the discipline of doing it now.

Maybe it is a job that you know is going to end and you get paid but have no satisfaction.

Maybe it is a season of discipline in the financial area. Many of us are learning to cut way, way back on expenditures. We just need to be careful. In fact, there is so much poverty here in America including 22% in children, that I hope we are starting to wake up to the needs under our feet.

In learning a new sport there is discipline. The great tennis player didn't just emerge. There had been countless hours of practice behind that beautiful win.

Let us not be discouraged in well doing because we are getting stronger in that direction. God knows how much discipline each of us needs and His discipline is for our good and for giving us a future and a hope.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Abiding

Focus. Stayed focus. Don't loose your focus.

We all have heard this and are aware that without it we might not get anything done.  Focus is not the same is abiding. Abiding, in the sense that the Lord asked us, is living in a vital relationship to him so that we are like a living organism drawing from Him what we need day by day.

We cannot do any kind of ministry work that bears fruit without this "relationship" underneath. This is why prayer has been and always will be "homebase" for Project Lost Sheep. When we aren't seemingly doing anything out there we are praying and hope that we are praying for everything. 

Prayer is communication. It is a two way conversation. Part of it is worship and adoration and petition but part is receiving, getting a direction from the Holy Spirit and waiting to know what to do with that direction.  Abiding isn't easy. It takes focus. Yes, the focus on the Lord's agenda, not ours. Sometimes there are "lulls" in what we do "out there". These lulls are times to fill up and be instruccted

We open the Bible. We pray. We meet with others to share and pray. Se find direction. We move out but not out of our own will but of the One we abide in.  Jesus said, "Without me you can do nothing."

Think about it.

What We Do

We are asked frequently what we do besides camp. We work year round in various ways. The follow up to the campers is done by Verbo Church. For example, 29 mothers of campers recently went to a women's gathering. These women will be invited back again. 

After camp 50 children got to ride on a float sponsored by the police who are very interested in working with Verbo Church on positive youth activities.  25 children will be selected to be in an after school tutoring program at Verbo Church. They will get free tutoring in math and English, be read stories from the Bible. This is the second year of this program, partially funded by a local church and the rest coming in from Project Lost Sheep support.

Well...keep posted because there are many more things happening too much for this blog.  Let us never give up on caring and giving to people. Those who love like know Got.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why We Need To Befriend Neighbors

Put yourself in this picture. You are new to the block. Your husband works a great deal. Your son doesn't drive. You are young and healthy but you take a spill. You think you have a sprained ankle. Your husband leaves on a business trip. Your injury gets worse. You now have what looks like a grapefruit on your ankle. And you are in so much pain. You have to hop.

You can't even hop to the house next door but you remember that there was a neighbor who gave you a phone number. You can that number.  "I need help" you say.

Let's share our information. Sometime..the one calling out for help might be you.

Camp Food

Everyone gets hungry at camp. Imagine 160 hungry children...about 30 youth volunteers and 20 or so adults. Our Seventh Touchdown Camp had lots of food and food surprises. The surprises were that some of the new volunteers went out and bought or got donated food for camp. We also got milk from McDonald's and lots of cereal and snacks from Second Harvest, thanks to our president Patty Cardona's efforts and going after these.

We also thank Lou from Gourmet Frank under VP Barbara Siegal who got all we needed for lunches. The men at Verbo stepped up to the plate and barbecued the chicken at the park the last day. Before lunch the children all enjoyed pinatas given also through Verbo. Children had small treasures of candy to take home.

I am smiling because at the brunch we shared the story of the boy who shared his lunch with Jesus (otherwise known as the miracle of feeding the 5,000). Jesus blessed the small lunch and it turned into enough and more than enough.  How do you know if God is in it? There is always overflow. We were able to leave food for the youth camping trip just about to happen.

God promises, even in famine, to keep his loved ones alive. Don't look at your resources. They will never be enough. Look up. There is a very loving God who provides what we need. Our Project Lost Sheep team knows the truth of this. Let's offer our little and see God work!


Sports are an important part of Touchdown Camp. We walk the children over to a local school and park and they get to play games like kick ball, soccer, hula hoop, water balloons.

Along the way they get to talk to the youth volunteers from Verbo and the adult volunteers from Project Lost Sheep. It is always a joy to see children outside and having fun knowing that these children do not get much of this in their day to day life.

Once in a while we discover a real athlete. This year a camper came to me with a skinned knee. She wasn't going to participate. We sat for a bit. I watched her dash to the restrooms and could see her knees were okay. When she came back I told her she was a really good runner.

"Let's see you run all the way to the end of the field and then meet me back at the bench." Before I could say more she was flying across the field to the end in the most beautiful running form. A natural runner. She was panting when she flopped beside me.

"You are really a good runner," I told her. "When you get to high school, I want you to try out for track." "In the meantime, just remember you really are good at this."

She nodded. "I think I'll go and play," she said and left without a backward glance. Sometimes we need to tell a young person what we see that will guide them in the future. Let's encourage one another. Let's tell someone today what we see that they really do well. Especially, let's compliment a child, a neighbor's or our own.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Classroom Size

Today I had a chance encounter with an elementary school teacher who works in east San Jose area. Her third grade class will have 4 more students than last year.

That means that her time will have to stretch and the one to one time will be less than last year. Those who need help the most will not get more, but less, help. Is it any wonder that US is running behind other nations now in many fields?

The elementary school years are the most critical. They are the base on which the rest of learning extends.

Many of the children we work with in Project Lost Sheep simply have no way to keep up because they don't have the help at home they need. The mother may work three jobs and have as many more mouths to feed. The main emphasis of the poor in America, and yes, we have many very poor children even in California, is to survive. When you worry about food, and you didn't have much education yourself, helping with "book things" can be the bottom of your list.

I am happy to tell you all that for the second year in a row, Verbo Church, where we hold camp, has received a partial grant to have an after school program in which 25 children will get help with homework two times a week. The staff is willing to go to 4 days. ALL THAT IS NEEDED WOULD BE SOME PARTNERS TO GIVE.

For 25,000 more per year the after school program could "roller blade" the behind children to get "up to speed" for the very aggressive program ahead.

I mentioned to the school teacher that 40% of the children from at risk backgrounds in Santa Clara County will not graudate from high school. The teacher nodded her head sadly. She knows that she is fighting a huge battle that cannot be won without outside help. The answer has to come from those "outside the system".

Hello, high tech people. Want a challenge? Why not start getting behind some of the non-profits working with children in your own backyard? Give us some computers for after school programs. Give us some funds to pay tutors and directors and buy materials. Give a little back from all that has come to you.

Children who are ignored will be adults who are problems and we will all be the poorer for it. Jesus said, "As you have done it unto one of the least of these my children, you have done it unto me." One day, all of us rich and poor will be held accountable for what we did and for what we didn't do.

Flip Flops

You all know what flip flops are.  And you have seen them on feet. Nice for the beach. Not good for Touchdown Camp.

But, last year, I saw a number of children wearing them. They wore these because their  parent could not afford a simple athletic shoe.  It was sad to see a 10 year old girl, who was pretty good, try to play basketball in her flip flops. Something germinated in my heart over this year and now we are collecting used athletic shoes.  Why not? Most shoes are outgrown before they are worn out on children.

Can you help? 
Please drop off used Athletic Shoes or mail them to:

Verbo Church
2798 Bay Road
Redwood City, CA. 94026

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's Good to Give

How many appeals we get to give and we may respond to a few or not respond thinking that we can't.

Many non-profits in America are close to closing doors in this long, long recession. This would be such a shame as countless hours of volunteer work and so much benefit to communities has happened.

I would say this is the time for America to discover; IT IS GOOD TO GIVE.  It was a life lesson for us as a young couple when we decided to give regularly. When we were poor, I saw how God made the little we had enough.

One particularly vivid memory was needing a long dress for a Christmas party and having a very small budget for it. Well, I went shopping and there was the perfect dress marked down and marked down and marked down. I had just enough cash!  It was that kind of thing that built my faith that I could give and see God multiply what was left. That dress I still have: a reminder that God knows and God provides.

Why is it good to give?
1) Because giving reminds us that what we have has been given to us.

2) Because there is a blessing in giving. Jesus said: IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.

Are you afraid for your finances? There are people who have stockpiles of money and yet are afraid that they don't have enough or won't have enough. The rich need to be rich in good deeds so they won't think that money can save them and so that money won't become an idol that controls them. When we help someone else by our giving, we receive an expanded sense of peace and joy. These are priceless gifts.

3) It's good to give because we can't take anything out of this world. Stuff is stuff. America has hungry children. America has hungry families. America has bright children who need after school tutoring. America has neighbors who could use a vacation. The list is endless.  Let's open our eyes and our wallets and discover that it is very good to give. Try giving consistently every month to whatever God puts on your heart.

I was talking to the treasurer of Project Lost Sheep yesterday about a woman named Dorothy who gave small amounts to Project Lost Sheep every month for years. She rented an apartment in affluent Menlo Park. She was elderly and I suspect living on social security. One day I went to visit Dorothy and told her how much I appreciated her consistent support of our work for the children. Her home was filled with peace and she was a happy woman.

What really surprised me was that she not only gave to us but she gave to a number of other charities EVERY MONTH. Dorothy had learned that it was a good thing to give and she lived it!

How To Stay Young

You have heard of the expression "young at heart". I think it is in the heart that we either stay young or grow old. A young heart will be teachable. Young children are always learning something new. They know that others have something to teach them.

To master a skill that is practical will keep you fresh. This summer I took two courses in digital photography. Now I can operate the camera and do basic editing plus e mailing. It was fun to be creative and make a collage out of my photos.

Learning somthing new is refreshing. To stay young you need to be able to slow down and focus on something very carefully. Ever seen a child of four look at a bug on the ground. Very intense. That child is watching the bug: nothing else.

Volunteering with children will remind you of how you used to be. Children are so open. Their hearts are on their sleeves.  A few years ago at a TOUCHDOWN CAMP, I had a 10 year old girl come up and give me three real hugs. I was letting groups of children go through the line to pick up food.

When I asked her why the hugs, she said.  "One hug was for breakfast, one for snack and this hug is for lunch."

Children really show you how they feel. I have forgotten much about that camp but I DO KNOW I GOT SOME REAL HUGS. These hugs were from a little girl from a very poor area of San Francisco (Hunter's Point) brought down to camp in Redwood City.

Children show us the way. Let's get younger by welcoming them and helping them. I look forward to volunteering at camp each year because I have a real dose of children and get to help them, but I always come away having received something new. It refreshes me to see them play sports, learn a craft, play games. I love their laughter and smiles.
There is a touch of heaven when we get young enough in our heart to receive.

Fresh Breeze

How welcome is a fresh breeze in summer. Unity in Christian community is like a fresh breeze. We all get refreshed and energized when we work together. We experienced this unity at our brunch at Sue Stevicks house. There old and new supporters shared and laughed: enjoyed a great brunch (see pictures previous).

We were glad to be together and glad to be working together towards camp. The children presented the different aspects of camp from: cooking to Bible stories to sports.

A new part this year will be guitar lessons taught by "Junior" the pastor's son and very popular with campers as a college roll model.

Talk about fresh breeze: imagine yourself as a child of 10 who has been inside an apartment (small) most of summer.  Now it is camp. You get to be outside EVERY MORNING doing sports. You get to have food and fun and you get to learn new things.

Surely angels bend their wings when we extend ourselves to bless the chldren of our city.

Saturday, July 16, 2011