Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Speechless

December 1971, our backyard
I could call this post “Snowpocalypse” or “Wintermageddon”, but instead I will just remain speechless. I’ve lived through some abysmal winters here in northern Wisconsin. When I was a kid, it seemed like we got this much snow every year and most Januarys it hovered in the minus digits for at least a week or two at a time. Maybe we’ve all become whimps because of a long string of mild winters. Even last winter wasn’t that bad, except that it never, ever ended. I think we got two feet of snow in April.


The winter of 2018-2019 got off to a slow start. Not much happening in December or January. But the last few weeks? Don’t even ask. It leaves me speechless. But not without pictures.  
 For starters, above is our grill on the deck on January 4. Below is yesterday afternoon.

 Above was from Friday morning. Below yesterday afternoon. The snowbanks are rising.
And at 6:00 this morning as Hubby went out to deal with it. Again. 

 Above, the deck last Thursday afternoon. Below, yesterday afternoon.
And at 6:00 this morning. That path is all I have the strength to shovel. 

 And these poor babies.
Then, some artsy pictures.






 Last, the view out my office window.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Gift of Love

If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love. 3 If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.

8 All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge—these gifts will disappear. 9 Now we know so little, even with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most gifted is still so poor. 10 But when we have been made perfect and complete, then the need for these inadequate special gifts will come to an end, and they will disappear.

13 There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 (Living Bible)

         Since the first of the year, having chosen the word “gift” as my word for 2019, I’ve been sharing Bible verses which use that word. With Valentine’s Day coming up later this week, it seemed that these passages were most appropriate. Count how many times the word “gift” is used.

Don’t get bogged down by those gifts of prophecy and speaking in tongues. I think they are still around, just not in the way we think. The point is that in the end, when Jesus returns for His people, all that is going to be left is love. We won’t even need faith or hope, because as Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When we see Jesus face to face, we don’t need any more assurance than that.

Thank You, Lord God, for sending Your Son to fill us with Your unending love. Amen

Friday, February 8, 2019

Hoping History Stops Repeating Itself

    Around January 27, I noticed a few things popping up on Facebook, statics such as that 22% of millennials in the U.S. weren’t sure what the Holocaust was. Or that 41 percent of them believe two million or fewer Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Or that two-thirds weren’t sure what Auschwitz was. And even though I thought I knew my history (such as that 5 to 6 million Jews were actually murdered during this dark time), I finally just now am getting around to learning the significance of January 27.

On January 27, 1945, the Nazi's largest concentration camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland was liberated. During just that camp’s existence, up to 1 million Jews,75,000 Poles, 21,000 Gypsies, and 15,000 Soviet POWs were killed there.

Unfortunately, and very sadly, there are people who, even after hearing these statistics, still don’t believe them. Even vehemently deny them, opting to believe some crazy anti-semitic conspiracy theory instead. I wonder if these people also deny that more recently thousands of innocent people were victims of genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The thing is history does repeat itself. Which is one of the reasons why January 27 is designated as Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day in which we should learn from the lessons of the past and realize that genocide does not just take place on its own. It begins with misunderstanding and prejudice and grows into discrimination, racism and hatred.
At the Dachau Concentration Camp Site in Germany, when my daughter was there with her class in 2008.
At least, maybe some of our kids will remember. 
    There are many memoirs written on the subject, from “The Diary of Anne Frank” to “Left to Tell”. The most recent one I’ve read is “A Boy from Bustina: A Son. A Survivor. A Witness” by Andrew Burian.

A sheltered boy from the small town of Bustina (then Czechoslovakia, now Ukraine), Andrew had a beautiful carefree childhood. At the age of thirteen, his world was shattered. Andrew's wartime odyssey began with deportation from his hometown to Mateszalka ghetto in Hungary. From there, Andrew and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he survived countless selections and near-death experiences. In the freezing winter of 1945, he survived the infamous 'death march' evacuation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and was loaded into a cattle car for the long journey to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Andrew survived another death-march to the Gunskirchen concentration camp from which he was ultimately liberated by the U.S. Army. Andrew's journey took him through Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, England and, finally, the USA where he made a new life. (from Amazon.com)

Mr. Burian’s story was amazing and moving, and I would recommend anyone to read it. But the book was also gut-wrenching at times. Visions of the horrible experiences the author and so many others lived through during the Holocaust floated before me, haunting me. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. This is the kind of book that everyone should read. It's only in learning more about the dark times of WWII that we can hopefully learn and not relive those times. With all the madness going on in the world today, I fear that something like the Holocaust could indeed happen again. By remembering our past, hopefully, we can avoid reliving it.

On the bright side, the author shared what these experiences taught him and most importantly, what his father had taught him. Things which got the author through the darkest days. Things which could help any of us as well.

Thank you, Mr. Burain, for honestly and openly sharing your life with us. God bless.
For more information on the Holocaust, click on this link. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Coming to the Clinic – Part 10 – No Bones About It

Last month, I resurrected this series on how “you too can be the perfect patient.” I feel I’m at the point where I could change the title to “this is why you need to get those screenings that your health care provider recommends.” And you might be thinking, if you recall the whole colon screening blogs, that I share too much information. Guess what? I’m not finished yet.

Remember when you heard that one of your aging female relatives broke a hip? Auntie fell in the kitchen, no one knew why, and x-rays show a fracture that’s going to require surgery to repair, and with Auntie’s age, there’s still a chance that this isn’t going to heal. Next thing you know, Auntie’s in the hospital with a pneumonia that she doesn’t recover from. You’ve heard that story, right? You know someone who’s gone down that road, right?

Chances are Auntie had severe osteoporosis and that hip was actually fractured before she fell. Just the normal wear and tear of walking around on that hip caused it to break and that’s why she fell.

Osteoporosis, as you probably already know, is when the bones lose density or mass, making them weak, brittle and easy to break. If you are a postmenopausal woman, your health care provider will probably recommend a bone density. Being female puts you at risk of developing osteoporosis and broken bones. Here are some facts:
·       
        * 80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women.
·          * Nearly half of women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
·          * A woman’s risk of breaking a hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.

Why are us women targeted by this disease?
·          * Women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.
·         * Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause. This is why the chance of developing osteoporosis increases after menopause.
You can find out if you have osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia, by getting a bone density test. Also called a bone mass measurement test, it estimates the amount of bone in your hip, spine and sometimes other bones. It’s recommended having this done every two years.

When my health care provider suggested that I have this test, I agreed. Other than being a postmenopausal woman, my risk factors are close to nil. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol, I get plenty of exercise and I have a reasonable amount of bone-growing calcium in my diet.

So, when my provider said my test came back with osteopenia, I was floored. I thought, good thing I still have my mom’s wheeled walker, I’m gonna need it.
All I can do is take a daily calcium supplement with vitamin D and continue as much weight-bearing exercise as the bone spurs in my heels will allow. Oh, and one last thing – this is the only disease I know of where you are at higher risk if you are too thin. So, at least I do get to keep consuming the chocolate! 


Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Gift of Children

   Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 127:3-5 (New International Version)

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have already seen these pictures. 

I have to share them again because I am so blessed to have such amazing kids. When I brag about them, people sometimes say it’s because I’m such a good Mom. I take absolutely no credit for that; my son and daughter turned out to be the caring, giving kids they are little thanks to me.

My word for 2019 is “gift”, so I have been sharing various Bible verses about that word. Today, with my kids just back from another volunteer trip to Kenya, I am remembered of the wonderful gift they are to me. They are also a gift to the people we work with in Kenya.

My quiver may only contain two arrows, but they fill my quiver to capacity.


Lord, Father in Heaven, thank You for the gift of two amazing children. You have blessed me completely. Amen.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Team Takes a Day Off

Last Wednesday I told you a little bit about the team that our nonprofit, Tumaini Volunteers, sent to Kenya. The Anyoraa Community Center they have been working on is coming along, and I hope to show you pictures of the entire project next week, when it is finished (keeping my fingers crossed, as they only have one more full day there).

They did take the day off yesterday to go on safari. I can’t even count the number of pictures they posted in our Google album. Here are just a few random ones.




This beauty, though, gets more than a single shot.
 He was eating a small antelope up in the tree when the team and their guide found him.
 
 And watched him for a long time from the safety of their safari van.
 Just an awesome animal. Beyond words beautiful. 
The team got to eat lunch too.
Back to work, guys. You’ll be heading home soon.  

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nothing More I Can Say

I’ve been reading the book of Jeremiah in my nightly Bible reading. When I came to chapter 25 the other night, the blood in my veins ran cold. Of course, the context of this passage is the prophet Jeremiah trying to save his people from certain destruction. But I think God would say these same things to us. What in the world are we doing to our world and our brothers and sisters, and how can we not expect to incur God’s wrath because of it. (Sorry this is so long; I did cut out a few verses, but it was hard to glean it further.)  
  
4 And though the Lord has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention. 5 They said, “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. 6 Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.”

7 “But you did not listen to me,” declares the Lord, “and you have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.”

8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 . . . I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland.

27 “Then tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Drink, get drunk and vomit, and fall to rise no more because of the sword I will send among you.’ 28 But if they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink, tell them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: You must drink it! 29 See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears my Name, and will you indeed go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, for I am calling down a sword on all who live on the earth, declares the Lord Almighty.’

30 “Now prophesy all these words against them and say to them:

“‘The Lord will roar from on high;
    he will thunder from his holy dwelling
    and roar mightily against his land.
He will shout like those who tread the grapes,
    shout against all who live on the earth.
31 The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
    for the Lord will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind
    and put the wicked to the sword,’”
declares the Lord.

32 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Look! Disaster is spreading
    from nation to nation;
a mighty storm is rising
    from the ends of the earth.”

33 At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere—from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like dung lying on the ground.

34 Weep and wail, you shepherds;
    roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock.
For your time to be slaughtered has come;
    you will fall like the best of the rams.
35 The shepherds will have nowhere to flee,
    the leaders of the flock no place to escape.
36 Hear the cry of the shepherds,
    the wailing of the leaders of the flock,
    for the Lord is destroying their pasture.
37 The peaceful meadows will be laid waste
    because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
38 Like a lion he will leave his lair,
    and their land will become desolate
because of the sword of the oppressor
    and because of the Lord’s fierce anger.

(Various verses from Jeremiah, chapter 25, New International Version)

And there’s nothing more I can say.