Oct 212014

babyFifty-nine years ago today, baby “Wayne” (as his family called him) was born in Reid Memorial Hospital, Richmond, Indiana, home of the Purdue Boilermakers, due east of Indianapolis near the Ohio border.


It’s a rare and wonderful experience to meet and interact with a “famous” person, without knowing who they are. That’s how I met Wayne, forty years later, in March of 1995, in the Navajo Nation near Window Rock, Arizona, 1995 - Window Rock AZ 2during a week-long stay at Hilltop Christian School on the reservation with my mother and father, Christian author and film maker, Ken Anderson. Our purpose: to collaborate with local Navajo believers on an exploratory Teen Missions video script with the working title, “Forgiveness.”


I was alone at the guest house one morning when he burst in like a prairie twister, looking for someone who wasn’t there. We talked briefly. He looked scruffy, wearing only a white t-shirt and tattered denim shorts (even though it was snowing outside). He seemed uncomfortable, nervous, distracted, and out of place. I had no idea who he was.scruffy


Over time, I learned he was a fellow Hoosier, just two years older than I, and, more significantly, that he was Richard Wayne Mullins, better known as Rich Mullins, the extremely gifted musician through whom God had produced such classics as Sing Your Praise to the Lord (Amy Grant’s first hit), Awesome God, and Step by Step (Sometimes by Step).


hoganWhat I didn’t know, was that Rich was actually living in a hogan on the reservation. Though nearly 40, he was about to graduate from Friends University with a degree he pursued just to officially qualify to teach music education to the native children at Hilltop.


One evening, I sat on the living room floor at a small youth group gathering as Rich talked about writing Awesome God, and Step by Step (with Beaker), then played guitar and led us in those, and other, worship songs.


I noticed him several times that week, working on various service projects around the compound with college students who had come to minister on spring break.


The last night of our stay, Rich generously played piano and shared from his heart for about a hundred people in the school auditorium. It was my first exposure to the more innovative spiritual insights and incisive music and lyrics of this agitated, eccentric, poet-prophet. Rich seemed ill-suited in his own skin and misplaced on the planet. I found his spiritual transparency and musical talent alarming and magnetic. As a delightfully childlike treat, he divided us into sections and taught us to “make rain” using just our hands to produce simple sound effects, which, when combined, did sound remarkably like rain.

Though his music made millions, Rich gave everything away to Christian ministries and the poor, except for an allowance equal to the average American salary. Following in the bare footsteps of St. Francis, he literally accepted the same invitation Jesus gave to the rich young ruler in Luke 12:15-21, to give up everything and become rich toward God.

closeness quote

When I learned of his death in a traffic accident two and a half years later, my first reaction was relief. It seemed he didn’t really want to be here anyway, and now he was released to explore the boundless love of God unfettered by earth’s limitations.

Once when a friend told him that the friend’s grandmother had just died, Rich simply replied, “Good for her.”


In his own words, from the song “Elijah”:

 When I leave I want to go out like Elijah
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye


Be sure to check out Ragamuffin, the 2014 movie on the life of Rich Mullins. As of this posting, it can be found on Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play. Also, here’s most of a Wheaton College chapel concert at my alma mater, just 5 months before he died.

© 2014 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Oct 042012

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'”

Genesis 1:26-27

We have beautiful comical reddish/brown squirrels in my neighborhood. They travel the overhead lines like little acrobats, frequently breakfasting at my bird feeder.

Earlier this week, a friend called to report an injured squirrel in her yard.

When I was a little girl, Dad taught me that helping suffering/dying creatures is part of exercising our dominion over creation. I remember once we were walking the dirt lane by the little dam on Center Lake, and came across a painted turtle that had been partially crushed by a car. Gently, and with the utmost respect and solemnity, he explained that the turtle was suffering and could not survive with such damage. He told me that creatures depend on us sometimes to end their suffering. Once he was sure I understood through my tears, he swiftly fulfilled the duty of dispatch dominion.

That was on my mind as I drove the half mile to my friend’s, with ax and gloves in the trunk.

We stood a good long time evaluating the critter’s condition. There was no blood or visible damage, but he was breathing very fast and shallow, moving only infrequently and without proper coordination, and he had been crying.

Then something happened that I’ve never seen before.

Two other squirrels, one small and young like this one, and a larger older female, took turns visiting the injured fellow, then slowly approaching us, coming within a foot or less, sometimes standing on back legs, looking intently at us, then running back to him. At first I backed away, fearing maybe they were guarding the injured one.

This happened several times, until eventually I realized they might actually be pleading with us to take action.

With that possibility in mind, and having satisfied ourselves of his desperate condition, we stepped up to our responsibility.

“You have made him (man) to have dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.”

Psalm 8:6-7

As similar, and sometimes apparently merciful, as it might seem, I do not support euthanizing humans or aborting less-than-perfect fetuses. Scripture is clear that dispatch dominion ends at the bright border of humanity, except for the limited sphere of government-controlled capital punishment. We are created in God’s image and our times are in His hands. He gives the breath of life, and it is solely His prerogative to take it back again.

Oh how I cried after burying that furry little fellow. Death hurts the dying and the living. But I took consolation in having fulfilled my calling as a thinking Christian woman by helping my fellow creature in his hour of need and exercising one important aspect of creation dominion.

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
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Feb 012012

My dear old boxer friend Max died this afternoon. He lived a good long life and entered the big sleep gently and with dignity. Several weeks ago, a friend encouraged me to ponder the lessons God has been teaching through this great companion, which continues to be a God-glorifying exercise. Here now, for your consideration, is a sampling of:

Lessons Learned with Mr. Max

“Look to the animals, and they will teach you…” Job 12:7

  1. Be willing to lay your life down for your friends
  2. Communicate, even if it means tipping over your toy box
  3. Know your job and do it. Stay focused
  4. Choose friends wisely. Pour your life into a few select souls
  5. Greet loved ones enthusiastically
  6. Walk guests to the gate
  7. Growl before you bark
  8. Don’t beg
  9. Learn and honor others’ boundaries
  10. Open your heart to the love around you
  11. If you have a choice between drinking from your bowl, or the pond, choose the pond
  12. Some of the best communications have no words
  13. Accept and embrace others with your eyes
  14. Find out where the doggie door is and learn to use it
  15. Home is where your loved one’s are
  16. Just when you think you’ve reached the end, there might be more.
  17. Lose yourself for awhile in something wholesome you enjoy
  18. Don’t jump on people
  19. Get out in the sun at least 10 minutes every day
  20. Don’t try to force others to do what you want, even if you can
  21. Respect authority; rest in it.
  22. Be ready to play at a moment’s notice
  23. Sit. Staaaayyyy. Love waits patiently
  24. Take a nap when you need one
  25. On a leash, you’re free from the pressure of deciding where to go
  26. Cats are more fun to chase than to catch
  27. Ask for what you want, then be grateful for what you get
  28. Be content to stay in your own yard
  29. Never give up. Defy the odds
  30. When you’re happy, wag all over

On this occasion, as possibly less of a thinking Christian woman, and more of a grieving Christian woman, I’ve taken the liberty of modifying a poem called The Last Battle, and am dedicating it to Mr. Max, in case it might help someone else with a terminally ill pet.

With Love and Thanks

If it should be that I grow weak, too tired to play, too pained to sleep, then you will do what must be done, I’m trusting you, you are the one.

You’ll be sad I understand, but don’t let grief restrain your hand, for on this day, more than the rest, I need your love to stand the test.

We’ve had so many happy years, I understand your aching tears, but don’t ask me to suffer so, just please, do this and help me go.

Take me where my needs they’ll tend, and stay with me until the end. Your scent, your sound, your eyes, your touch will comfort me so very much.

Please hold me firm and speak to me, until my eyes no longer see. I know in time that you’ll agree, it’s one more kindness that you’ve done for me.

Although my tail has waved its last, all pain and suffering now is past. Great Master, I pray her soul You’ll lift – good life, good death such precious gifts.

Don’t grieve too much it fell to you, this sad and painful thing to do; we’ve been so close these many years, my love and thanks flow with your tears.

© 2012 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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Jun 212011

Do you like rats?

What a question! Of course many people keep rats as pets, and I understand they can be very sweet, but probably the majority of people have them solidly on their disfavored list.

My grandpa’s sister, Ida, was bitten on the lip by a rat when the Jones family was living in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie as homesteaders. One night Ida thought she was hugging her dolly in bed. Apparently wild rats don’t like to be hugged by little girls!

Back to the present, I’m currently on an active vector control campaign, using strategically placed Rat Zappers to patrol the deck near the bird feeder. Caught #26 last night (we’ve been at it for about a year). Southern California weather is idyllic, that’s a fact, but it attracts more than just tourists!

Imagine my surprise at finding a rat, apparently dead, in the laundry room Saturday morning, directly under my next footfall. A rat in the house! Oh, that is the absolute worst! On closer examination, it was not dead but clearly breathing and looking at me with fearful, plaintive brown eyes. I’ll spare you the actual image, knowing how distasteful even a picture of a rat might be to some. The little guy’s head was stuck between the washing machine and the threshold. I really thought that wild critters had better sense.

What to do? Put on thick leather gloves, took him by the body, and gently worked his head free. So there I was, holding a rat. Now what to do?!

Thought about just tossing him in the Rat Zapper and ending it quickly, but that seemed so proactively violent. No, that wouldn’t do.

So I put him in the flower bed and expected him to scamper off, but he just laid there. Stunned, exhausted, injured, I didn’t know. Asked several people for advice, including my wildlife knowledgeable brother, and finally decided if the rodent was still there after 2 hours, I would dispatch him mercifully.

At the appointed time of execution, I laid him out on the ground and raised the shovel. Oh those brown eyes and long whiskers! Twice I raised the shovel, but just couldn’t do it, so I put the shovel down and offered the condemned some water, which he drank and drank.

Put him back in the flower bed, covered him with leaves, and decided to let God and nature take it from there. After 4 hours I gave him more water. By the next day, there was no sign of the perp. I wish I’d marked his ear or something so I could recognize him if he ever ended up in the Zapper. I still hope he perishes, just not directly at my hand.

Practical justice dictated death for the trespasser. Compassionate mercy prevailed.

The Thinking Christian Woman can discern between justice and mercy, administering each, in its time, in love, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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