Tuesday, November 8, 2016



     A friend of mine had her purse stolen from her as she visited among friends in a restaurant. My heart went out to her, because she is overseas, single, and reaching out to help people in that foreign country. Reflecting on this robbery threw me back to a time when I was the same age as Taylor, in my late twenties. Our family of five lived out in the country near Raymondville, Texas.
     Our house sat on 1.5 acres off of a dirt road four miles from town. Surrounding us on three sides was an expansive field of sugar cane. When the crop was nearing harvest, you could not see anything else but the waving leaves covering the thick canes laden with their sweet harvest. This time of year we were hidden from the main road
     I had been a stay at home mom for about ten years and since we bought our home, I wanted to help out with the payments and I began working at Mama Knox’s Dollhouse, a home daycare. I enjoyed the routine, the children and parents, but I have to admit, I really enjoyed Mama Knox’s home made sourdough rolls the most.
     We were grateful for a job where I could still see my daughter, Audrey, every day, and when I found out I was pregnant again with our son, Jonathan, I was glad that I was in a place where I could bring my children and still help out some.
     Things were going well until one day we went home, and as we walked toward our back porch, all was strangely quiet. I couldn’t quite figure what it was until I opened the door and saw that our two cockatiels, a normal gray and an albino, bright yellow, with peach cheeks were gone along with their cage that usually hung out on the screen porch where they could enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.
Some weeks earlier, we noticed that the shower room on the porch was wet from use, which was strange since we had been gone all day and the only time we used it was to shower off the kids when they were too dirty to walk through the house to the bathroom.They preferred tub baths.
     I had been alone at the house when my husband was away at summer school, getting his teaching degree, when I would hear the outdoor spigots squeak on, water run, and then the faucets squeaked off again. I knew that we were on an immigration trail that some illegal aliens would take. One day on a hike, we discovered an abandoned house not too far from ours and I am sure it was used for a rest stop on the way. We stayed away and did not bother to investigate.
     When I heard the water run outside, I would just bless the ones out there and wish them good health and a safe journey. We did not bother them and they never bothered us. I instinctively knew that the shower was being used to clean up and that didn’t bother me either. I was glad to help someone on their way and wished them well.
     Today, however, I felt violated. All of the good will I extended in word and deed, and here were my children’s pets stolen right from inside our screened area. That is what was missing when we walked toward the back door. Every day as we exited our car, we would hear the shrill greetings from our two birds as we came closer to them. We teasingly called them our watch birds, because they alerted us to my husband’s return each day.
     Our budget was a bit tight and so I did not look forward to breaking the news to our children that no, we would not be able to run out and replace our birds. We had them for a few years. There was a breeder who lived in town. We got them when they were tiny and hand fed them so that they were very tame. The children were heart-broken.
     A few weeks later though, we came home to another incident. This time our TV, stereo, an anniversary clock, a sentimental rifle that had belonged to our grand dad,a collection of rare coins, my make-up of all things, and some antiques were missing. My cedar chest that I had received for my engagement, from my parents, was damaged and the lock was broken. It wasn’t even locked to begin with.
     Oh, the feeling of how unfair, of people rifling through my drawers and closets, of the disrespect for our privacy and our loss of some very sentimental items. The children and I loved to listen to records and they danced around and put on “shows” to these merry songs, but their favorite record was taken since it remained on the turn table, when they took the stereo. The sinking feeling in my heart left me numb.     
     I think it was more the sadness at being a target of such an act, when we tried to be generous with the little we had and always wanted others to do well. But jerking away the things that we owned and looking through our home seemed such an invasion.
     This happened again three more times that year. I wondered why I even bothered to go to work. I am sure this would not have happened had I been home.
     Friends, people we did not even know, and family gave us used TVs, stereos, and money to help replace missing items.
     The culprits were finally caught, but since we could not give serial numbers for the coins, we could not get them back. Same for the rifle, TV and stereo. We had to have pictures or something to prove these items were ours, and the only thing we had a picture of was our mantel clock, but it had been smashed and the works taken out.
     We had been short-term missionaries in Japan for a year and had taken a pastorate at a tiny Spanish-speaking church for a year until they could get a replacement. Our salary was only $300 a month with a home and utilities provided back then, so we were not materialistic. Rather, we rejoiced that all of our children enjoyed good health, that we did posses a washer and dryer, cars that worked, clothes enough for the places we needed to go and a sound roof over our heads. God always blessed us with enough and more to give away when needs arose.
     Today, I still can see the ups and downs in our lives. The challenges that arise are no less daunting. 
     Yet, our hope is not in all things going well with no wrinkle, but our hope is in the great resources of glory and the intervention for our good from a loving heavenly father.
     My children were all healthy and happy. Our freezer was full of good food I had prepared over the weekend for meals throughout the week. We had two cars, and appliances that worked. We slept on soft mattresses. I started to count the many good things we had in our lives. Good friends, family near by, jobs, a healthy church, and an acre and a half for the kids to play on.
     Choosing to look at life through the eyes of gratitude and love, and to forgive rather to become bitter and feeling victimized are rich lessons that make each new day an adventure in faith. When you are looking to find the good in every situation, you discover the miracles and treasures that are set before you daily.
     Ann Voskamp once said, “When we refuse to trust God and forget to live with thankfulness, we are living as practical atheists. We are not positional atheists (in truth, we are always positioned in Christ through faith in Him), but we are living like God does not exist.”

     James, the brother of Jesus wrote,
     2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4 (NASB)
     Look for the treasure in each happening. Give your situations to him to partner with you. Then rest in the FACT that you have the Creator of the Universe and all of his resources working in your behalf. Declare his goodness and declare your praise and worship that you are his.

     “Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice.” -Philippians 4:4 (KJV)

The photo I took is of my youngest, Philip, who was not born yet when these events happened, but he also had an albino cockatiel. This gives you an idea of what one of our birds looked like--Christie

Thursday, November 3, 2016


     “So Mom, are we going to be street people?” questioned my eight year old son.
     He was astute for a third grader. Blonde hair, curious mind, industrious and thoughtful would best describe him. Fidgeting with something in his hands, always something in his hands, he waited expectantly for my response.
     What could I say that would be true? This new reality was shaking me at my foundations, yet I needed to reach out in comfort to these dear children who could not comprehend how their father’s departure would rock their secure little world.
     I searched my mind for ideas. What were we going to do? We all knew that this house belonged to the church for the next minister to live in, so with their dad resigning as pastor of the church and leaving us to “pursue his own life”, we knew we could not live their indefinitely.
     Four months earlier, my parents left as full-time missionaries to the Republic of South Africa. They were at work at a college there. My sister, Diana, and brother-in-law, Don, lived about an hour away and had their own two little ones to raise in a cozy farmhouse, nestled in citrus groves. There were five of us who needed a new home. So, where would we go next?
     I looked at Nathan and gave him a hug. I love to ruffle up his hair and then smooth it out again. Such a sweet face looking up my way. Lord, help me through this moment and give me the grace to stay calm and trust you.
     “Look at the birds of the air and see how God has given them beautiful feathers to fly. He keeps them warm, protects them, and there is plenty all around in nature for them to eat. Nathan, do you think God loves you more than a little bird?”
     “Yes, I know he does,” he nodded. His eyebrows remained bent quizzically.
     “Then don’t you think he already knows where we will go next? Do you think that he is getting a place ready for us even now?”
     “Yes, but Mom, you don’t have a job! If you get one, then you will have to leave us all alone! What are we going to do?”
     “First of all, I am going to get quiet and pray so that I can hear what God says to me about this. Then we will carefully wait in faith and see what doors open up. This way, we will know God is taking care of our needs.”
     I usually like to pray about things, but I had to think on my feet for this one. I needed some time to figure many things out for myself. Who should I go to? Where would we live? How could I afford to care for these beautiful children the way they deserved?
     I wanted to be at home and be the one caring for their needs. I could not help but get angry about leaving my precious charges to babysitters. Children need stability, love, and kindness. At the ages of two, six, eight, and ten, they were young and impressionable. They needed a solid foundation to stand the test of time.
     My mind swirled round and round. I was transported from a simple life full of family, chores, cooking, and happiness to problems too complex for my troubled mind to solve. My heart raced, as fear chased to imprison me.
     I called to get my haircut by a woman who worked out of her home and she told me how she and her husband were moving from their four-bedroom rental home, just two blocks from the Rio Hondo schools. She suggested I call their landlord. So I did. After he heard my story and plans for college, he lowered the rent and only charged me $200 a month. That was the hand of God. That I could afford.
     The children were elated to have God provide such a large house right in town for us to live in. Believe me, I was as grateful as they were to have this opportunity fall into my lap. I knew Nathan was relieved, but as an adult, I was as well. So thankful my heavenly Father took care of us all.

But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear, child! Make a show of how much you love me so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet. Psalm 86:11b (MSG)

Friday, April 22, 2016


All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15 (NIV)

Remember those times with your friends where you laughed so hard that you couldn't stop? I remember getting tickled at my dad sneezing out loud during an evening church service, while I was in the mezzanine sitting with my friends. I was used to hearing his full bodied sneezes in falsetto to keep from harming his vocal chords when we were at home, but seeing my friends' reactions after hearing him, I got tickled and silently rocked back and forth in laughter, trying not to disturb or make a scene. (I love you Dad!)

I also remember how my sister and I would get tickled talking about something and we would just cackle and laugh while everyone else wondered what had happened to us.  Sometimes we would laugh until tears were running down our faces or we had to excuse ourselves to the smallest room in the house while we got those "what are those two doing over there" looks from our kids.

Last night, in our fifth class of HEALTHY AND FREE, the lesson was on movement. We walked into the portable that was usually set up with our tables and chairs, only to find everything stacked up and pushed to the sides after the cleaning crew had worked it over.  

With all of the rain we've been having lately, in my plans was an activation activity to demonstrate a couple ways to add movement for bad weather days. One was taken from a fun family game that started as a dance competition where one person made a certain movement and everyone copied.  Kids and adults together could play and have fun.

We played with this to some upbeat music by Natalie Grant and giggled like a bunch of 5th grade girls. Stress was leaving our bodies from daily work and mundane tasks that seem to never end. 

Next we tried something different and all faced toward the outside of the circle, so as not to feel so intimidated. We all moved freely to individual routines paced by the rhythm of another song. The music faded and I looked around and saw that no one was ready to stop, so I started up another song. Near the middle of our free moves, a new member entered the dimly lit room to find all of us stepping and moving in our own worlds. She just stepped right in and joined us. Holy Spirit was very present and I could have gone on for another hour, but there was a lesson with discussion that waited to take place.

Breathing heavily and heated up, we grinned, sighed, and arranged chairs to introduce ourselves to this young woman, our brave new friend. 

She admitted that she had only come four times to our church and had so wanted to come to the ladies study. She was hungry for a spiritual experience and when she walked in her first thought was, "What have I gotten myself into?"

We all cracked up! But our video talked about all of the positive benefits of movement, including endorphins being released, and she knew the Lord wanted her to hear just this for the stressful pace she keeps.

E.E. Cummings stated, "The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."

Movement feels good, yes, but salted with the laughter this evening, it was "medicine to our bones".

I was reading on how studies actually prove that laughter boosts the immune system, soothes stomach aches, balances blood pressure, and improves mental functions.

Laughter is truly a gift that I plan on unwrapping more often. This contagious gift spreads delight, silliness, and fills me with new life and hope.

Next time you text or Facebook LOL, really let yourself go with a belly laugh.  Don't hold it in! If someone overhears, well, maybe they need a dose of this priceless medicine as well. 

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Proverbs 17:22

Bump it up a notch and LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Healthy and Free is by Beni Johnson.  It is a study that discusses ways to promote health for our body, soul, and spirit.  It contains her book, a study guide, and a DVD if you are interested in it for a study then order it from Bethel Store, Redding, CA or from Amazon.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  Psalm 145:3 (NIV)

4-9-16, 1 a.m., sitting at the BURN at Legacy Church NB where more than 50 attended for 12 hours in pursuit God's presence, I was soaking and resting in the atmosphere of worship, then all of a sudden I had the urge to write.  I had no idea what, but I took out my journal and pen and this is what came out of it.

ROAR!  I hear you ROAR!
You stir me out of my complacency
I hear your earnest desire
To find your beloved seeking
Seeking You as well as You are seeking after me
You always seek my heart
Your face as well I seek

I chase after your lovingkindness
Your everlasting love floods me
Oh, I can't contain it...yet
I come back for more
Oh my love, my love, my love, oh....

I listen when You speak softly to me
In the wee hours I wake and You're here
Waiting, watching ever patiently
Looking for my eyes to be turned
Turned toward You in eagerness
To seek your face...only yours
To seek after You and your ways
Your ways I love to follow after
I love to follow and never stray

Help me Lord...I hear the roar!

You're on your while horse coming
Come oil pots fill again
Fill me until I can hold no more
Then come again...
                   come again...
                             come again...
                            come again...
          come again...
Come again...
Never stop-------never stop

I hear the ROAR--------I wait
I wait for your fire again
Fire fall all around, in, and throughout
Every nation waits on You
Thirsty for the cleansing fire
Purify us...a bride made ready
Ready Lord for your use bringing...
Bringing all your beloved home again

Your beloved, we will walk together
Holding hands we will shout of You
Together we will proclaim your glory
Tell the next one your story
Pray for the weak and extend a hand
Washing off the world with your word

Sending the lame off with no limp
Sending the blind off with seeing eyes
Sending the wounded off with wholeness
Wholeness that only You can give
There is nothing that can fail at your ROAR!

Oh I hear your ROAR and I shiver
I shiver in excitement at who You are
At what breaks when you are near
At what changes when you declare
Life and freedom from the curses
Curses break...lies fail at your voice

ROAR on ROAR on ROAR on and on...
I can hardly take it but
Then I can't take it to be absent
Your sweet presence is sweet honey
Dripping all over me...yes oh yes

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  
Luke 12:32 (NIV)

When I lose my way
When I tend to stray
Gently you nudge me
I turn to you and see

Your radiant love pours out
Embraces my heart just as I am
Your radiant love flows warmly
Soothing this weary traveler.

You fill me completely
Your love washes o’er me
I feel restoration, 
I am free.

No more condemnation
I feel my salvation
One look from you, 
You’re everything I need.

When I lose all hope
When I cannot see tomorrow
Gently you nudge me
I turn to you and see.

Your radiant love poured out
Embracing my heart just as I am
You radiant love flows warmly
Soothing this weary traveler.

When I lose all faith
When I allow fear to creep in
Gently you nudge me
I turn to you and see

When I lose my way
When I tend to stray
Then you gently nudge me
I turn to you and see...

Your radiant love pours out
To embrace my heart in spite of me

Your love pours out
To soothe this weary traveler
You remind me of your power
While surrounded by your love.

You fill me completely
Your love washes o’er me
I feel restoration
As I am set free.

No more condemnation
I receive my salvation
One loving look from you
You’re everything I need.

When I lose all hope
When I cannot see tomorrow
Gently you nudge me
I turn to you and see clearly.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Give and it shall be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured you.  Luke 6:38 (NASB)

Bills piling up faster than the money coming in seems the usual this time of the month.  Holding onto the tithe a little longer until I see the rest of the deposits coming that would go for our impatient bills is a temptation, but only as a fleeting thought.  Too many years of experience have taught me to be generous and trust God for his provision.

I just read an older book of Jack Taylor’s, GOD’S MIRACULOUS PLAN OF ECONOMY where he told how John D. Rockefeller at age fifty-five was only eating crackers and milk and for five years could not sleep for an hour solid without waking up due to his debilitating illnesses.  He reconciled himself to dying soon, and was miserable, even with so much wealth.  

So he decided to do something he had not done up to this point in his life.  He started giving away his money to start universities, start foundations, money went all over to benefit others outside of his family.  
At the end of the first year, after he started this giving spree, Rockefeller was completely healed of all of his maladies and never suffered from these health related illnesses again.  He actually lived thirty-five more years until the ripe old age of ninety-seven.

Up until this time, as a Baptist, he tithed to the church, but offerings above and beyond that he had not given.  It was after he started giving on a generous level that he received his healing.  He was not a perfect saint, but the principle is very obvious here as to what the turning point was in his life and for which he credits his longevity.

So what am I supposed to give?  Everything!  I am to give God my all! Time, money, work, talent, and anything else he taps me on the shoulder for.  As the scripture says, we will be given according to what we use to bless others. 

Looking down at the baby gift for the next door neighbor I smile. I look forward to blessing the parents and seeing their sweet new baby girl.  The gift is not all that matters, sure it will take care of some needs, but by coming face to face and admiring their precious little baby girl, it displays a gift of love and time that makes an impression on hearts and lets them know they are valued and thought of.  I pray they will know how God loves them.

I know how he delights in us because even today when I was preparing for our Thursday Nites ladies study group, God just kept dropping ideas into my head to get Valentine’s candy for the women and to enclose a scripture telling them that they are His beloved.

I know how I love to hear that I am the apple of my husband’s eye.  How much more comforting and pleasing is it for us to know we are cherished in God’s eyes.  He designed each one of us so uniquely for the destiny and adventures we would live in life.

Give, and it shall be given you.  Since God gave, we can give out of his vast resources.

All of nature demonstrates the benevolence of giving.  What did we do to deserve the beautiful apples that the trees gives away so generously? or the tomato plant that bore the green tomatoes until they ripened?  Look around and see that this is the basic rule of life.  Be in the moment and be ready to give what you have in your hand to bless another.

I can promise you, when your heart is pure and you give with joy, your hands will never be empty.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


The oldest of my six children about 31 years ago.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  John 13:14,15 (NIV)

     "Stop that!"
     "Stop that!" mimicked her big brother.
     "Why do you keep repeating everything I say?" whined a four year old big eyed brunette.
     "Why do you keep repeating everything I say?" grinned my oldest looking to see if anyone else noticed the discomfort he was causing his sister.
     Power.  How this taunting turned his little sister's world upside down.  I overheard the last part of their volley and gave my son that look with my head shaking slowly from left to right.
     "Uh uh.  Enough."  Then when the silliness was over, I pulled them in for a hug.
     "How about coming into the kitchen and helping me out with a small project.  Let's make some 'Happy Candy'.  I'll mix up the powdered milk, peanut butter, wheat germ, and honey, and then you can help me roll it into little balls."
     Broad smiles erupted as they anticipated eating one of those rare sweet treats I allowed my four older ones to enjoy back then.
     As we shaped our 'candy', I remembered a time when I was twenty and worked as a teacher assistant for the first and second grade teachers.  I tutored children or helped them individually practice lessons that they needed to repeat, or that they hadn't finished.  Usually, it took a great deal of patience.  The repetition of the sounds of the letters or waiting while the words were sounded out, almost being stuttered through insecurity in an effort to make sense out of the letters they were sounding.  These were supposed to form words, sentences, paragraphs, and emote feelings or take a person to another time and world.
     One afternoon, a teacher sent me a very different student to work with.  What a relief!  She could read like the wind.  Her voice rose and fell and spoke with just the right inflections and flowed like a mountain stream over smooth stones.  I enjoyed the reprieve.  We talked about her book and she even invented a new twist that she thought would make the story much better.  Clever.  We laughed out loud at the way the tale would end if she had her way.
     After church, I ran into her mother, Mrs. Snyder, and I described what a pleasure it was to listen to her first grader read and about our time together at school.  She was relieved to hear that the teacher allowed her daughter to go out of the classroom and receive some special attention instead of just loading her up with more work to do since she usually finished her work early.
     Mrs. Snyder told me that she loved her youngest daughter's imagination.  Before supper, she played school everyday, lining up all of her dolls.  She learned a lot about what went on each day in class while her daughter impersonated the teacher.  She confided to me just how impressionable children are.  They learn from those around them then copy tone of voice, verbal expressions, and body language, even when we don't think they are listening.
     I pondered that conversation and I remembered it for quite some time.  I wanted to live a good life before the children I taught each day and someday, I would have my own.  As a mother-to-be, I soaked up the advice from my former 4-H leader, who was also a great mom.
     Still I wondered that afternoon during a time of meditation, 'Exactly how am I going to be ready to mentor and lead my own children, when some times I still act like such a child myself?'
       I decided pay closer attention and pick up ideas by observing other warm hearted mothers.  Some baked, some sat around and played with their kids, some hugged and ruffled their children's hair, and others spent time reading book after book at bedtime as their children snuggled close.  Noted.
     Soon after that, I ran across the book, IN HIS STEPS, in which I read about a church group that was challenged to live each day and to make decisions by asking themselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" (WWJD) This book was not the greatest fiction book.  It was predictable and simple to read, but the words..."What would Jesus do?" kept repeating themselves over and over in my mind.
     I also realized a deeper truth.  I could please God like a little child by following the blueprint of one unique, compassionate, and gentle young man from history.  The Bible gave me a great deal of food for thought on what God wanted us to be like.  The beatitudes, fruit of the spirit, ten commandments, and then parables and proverbs.  I loved to read the red letter version, so I could see just exactly what Jesus spent his time on earth teaching.  He spent his time healing, performing miracles and always there was a lesson to discuss.  However, he never did this for fame, money, or to control.  He simply loved people all around him who were clamoring for his help to find purpose, love, and peace in an imperfect world.
     Back then, I realized that life is not only about me and what I want to get out of it.  Life is about connecting to brand new moms pushing their carriages along my sidewalk, dads washing their cars, young boys playing football in the street, and the Schwann's man faithfully knocking on my door.                    
     Each person needs to know how significant and amazing they are.  People need to see their wonderful gifts, purpose, and destiny that only they can achieve.  That is what Jesus has done for me, so I want to copycat his loving care for me.
     Placing the lid on the plastic container.  I ruffled one blonde head and then a brunette one.  What a wonderful task to have in life: treasure hunting.


Saturday, January 2, 2016


Betty and Frank Lusk, celebrating 65 years together September 2015.
I ran across these lyrics a few months ago.  As I reread them, I could hear my father singing the solo in the negro spiritual, then I heard the choir answer with the refrains.

Thanks Dad and Mom for such a rich heritage.  I love you! Happy Life in 2016!


I'm gonna tell you 'bout the coming of the judgment
Fare thee well, fare thee well
I'm gonna tell you 'bout the coming of the judgment
Fare thee well, fare thee well

There's a better day a coming, fare thee well, fare thee well
Yes there's a better day a coming, fare thee well, fare thee well

In that great gettin' up morning, fare thee well, fare thee well
In that great gettin' up morning, fare thee well, fare thee well
In that great gettin' up morning, fare thee well, fare thee well
In that great gettin' up morning, fare thee well, fare thee well

Oh preacher fold your bible, fare thee well, fare thee well
Oh preacher fold your bible, fare thee well, fare thee well
For the last souls converted, fare thee well, fare thee well
Yes for the last souls converted, fare thee well, fare thee well

Blow your trumpet Gabriel, fare thee well, fare thee well
Blow your trumpet Gabriel, fare thee well, fare thee well
Lord, how loud shall I blow it, fare thee well, fare thee well
Blow it right and calm and easy, fare thee well, fare thee well
Do not 'larm all my people, fare thee well, fare thee well
Tell them all come to the judgment, fare thee well, fare thee well

Then you see that fork of lightening, fare thee well, fare thee well
Then you hear that rumbling thunder, fare thee well, fare thee well
Then you see dem stars a falling, fare thee well, fare thee well
Then you see the world on fire, fare thee well, fare thee well
Then you see dem sinners rising, fare thee well, fare thee well
See 'em marching home for heaven, fare thee well, fare thee well

Farewell poor sinners, fare thee well, fare thee well
Farewell poor sinners, fare thee well, fare thee well

Here is a link to a choir singing the song in case you are not familiar with it.

In Dat Great Gettin Up Morning