Friday, April 29, 2011

More old pictures

1954, Jaite, Ohio, post office. Dad worked at the mill there for a while too.
1954, St Augustine, Florida, Mom, Dad, Judy, Tom and Grandma S visited there while Dad was working at the mill in Valdosta, Georgia.
1958, camping near the Soo Locks, Michigan.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Family Archives

Since I am in a transition between trips of my own right now, and also busy getting ready for the state convention of medical assisting, I thought I would just show you some pictures from way back before I was born. Enjoy. I'll be back next week.
1952, near Ontonagan on Lake Superior. My dad, brother Tom and sister Judy eating what appears to be lunch out of the side of the car.

1954, Big Island, Virginia. My sister Judy and my brother Tom with some women that were living there too. My dad was working on the mill there at the time. My family got to live in the dumpy trailer in the background, because they had kids, while these other women lived in the nicer trailer. (Doesn't Tom look like Calvin, from the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes?)

1954. My dad and my brother Tom at Natural Bridge

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Change of Pace

I’ve shared lots and lots of stories of family vacations, sometimes I was one of the kids, sometimes I was one of the parents. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, I grew up and then my kids grew up. The family vacation faded, didn’t disappear, just slowly slipped into the back burner of our lives.

In the fall of 2004, Nick went off to UW-Platteville and then thanks to his friend’s dad, was able to get a job working for his engineering firm the following summer. The job was in Washburn, just up past Ashland. We took our pop-up camper and set it up in Memorial Park right on Lake Superior. This was perfect for my son – camping all summer long and making money besides.

Val and I took a ride up there in July, ate supper with Nick, spent the night in the camper and the next day visited Bayfield. The next month, as Nick’s job was winding down, I drove up there for the night and hiked to some waterfalls, by myself, the next day. It was a melancholy – and beastly hot – time.

Another thing that happened that summer, I filled the last pages of the Travel Log. Now, I suppose I have to dig out the next journal where I documented even more journeys.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Empty Tomb

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn't find the body of the Master Jesus. Luke 24:1-3 (The Message Bible)

It is Easter morning, and I started writing the expected Easter morning trumpets and halleluiahs. Then my husband walked into the room and I came back to the 21st century. Here’s my Easter story.

My husband works as the caretaker of the cemetery in town. It is finally Spring here and he is glad to go back to work. All winter, the local funeral directors have been placing caskets, filled with the departed, into a cement block building at the edge of the cemetery. During the last few weeks, with the melting of the snow, those caskets have been pulled out of winter storage and given their final resting places. Some of those bodies were lowered into the ground with no ceremony, only the funeral director doing his job and my husband saying a silent prayer for whoever it was. Most of the time, though, the family returns for one more send off, one more good bye.

What if a family came to the cemetery on the appointed time and day, and my husband told them, “I am sorry, I don’t know what happened. Your loved one isn’t here.” The tomb is empty.

If that really happened, someone would be in trouble. I don’t think that any of the family would think that Mom or Dad was raised from the dead. But the beauty, the wonder, of Easter is that the tomb really is empty. The body may still be there, but Mom or Dad, Sister or Brother isn’t there. If they were believers, they are not dead, they have eternal life and all because that tomb was empty on the first Easter morning.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the empty tomb, words can never say how much we thank you.

(Picture is not from my husband's cemetery; it is a cemetery near Rockland in Michigan's UP.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, "Father, I place my life in your hands!" Then he breathed his last.

When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!" Luke 23:44-47 (The Message Bible)

There are so many lines in the Bible that I just love. Just the simplest few words can say so much. Here, the captain, called the Centurion in other versions of the Bible, looks up at the cross. His heart sinks. He knows that they have all messed up. Big time. Max Lucado says it here better than I ever could.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: "Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!"

But the other one made him shut up: "Have you no fear of God? You're getting the same as him. We deserve this, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom."

He said, "Don't worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise." Luke 23: 39-43 (The Message Bible)

I always wanted to write a story about these two criminals. What were they crucified for? Did they have family, mingled with Jesus' followers, who cried below their crosses? Did any of that family hear the conversation from the crosses? What if one of these people, who had never heard of Jesus before, end up becoming one of the first Christians? Or does anyone know if such a story has already been written?

(This is a church in Quinua, Peru, a small village about an hour's drive from Ayacucho, where I volunteered for a week in 2009. Quinua, set high in the Andes mountains, is known for its ceramics, especially the little houses which are placed on the tops of buildings as protection against evil spirits.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Wednesday

Two others, both criminals, were taken along with him for execution.

When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left.

Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing." Luke 23:32-34 (The Message Bible)

I've thought about writing something witty to go with the Bible passages this week, but most of them really say it all. There's nothing more that I could add.

(In April of 2009 I took a volunteer trip to Ayacucho, Peru. All this week my pictures will be from there. Ayacucho is known for its many churches, so it dawned on me that these pictures might fit in well this week. Stayed tuned to my blog, as some day I will tell you all about that trip.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Tuesday

At that, the crowd went wild: "Kill him! Give us Barabbas!" (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again.

But they kept shouting back, "Crucify! Crucify him!"

He tried a third time. "But for what crime? I've found nothing in him deserving death. I'm going to warn him to watch his step and let him go."

But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted. Luke 23:18-25 (The Message Bible)

(In April of 2009 I took a volunteer trip to Ayacucho, Peru. All this week my pictures will be from there. Ayacucho is known for its many churches, so it dawned on me that these pictures might fit in well this week. Stayed tuned to my blog, as some day I will tell you all about this trip.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Monday

When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, "Are you the Messiah?"

He answered, "If I said yes, you wouldn't believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn't answer me. So here's what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God's right hand, the place of power."

They all said, "So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?"

"You're the ones who keep saying it," he said.

But they had made up their minds, "Why do we need any more evidence? We've all heard him as good as say it himself."

Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against him. Luke 22: 66 – Luke 23:2 (The Message Bible)

(In April of 2009 I took a volunteer trip to Ayacucho, Peru. All this week my pictures will be from there. Ayacucho is known for its many churches, so it dawned on me that these pictures might fit in well this week. Stayed tuned to my blog, as some day I will tell you all about this trip.)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

From a crowd to a mob

Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: “Blessed is he who comes, the king in God's name! All's well in heaven! Glory in the high places!” Luke 19: 37-38 (The Message Bible)

What a difference just a few days can make! On Palm Sunday, the crowds in Jerusalem greeted Jesus with hosannas. He has returned to his hometown, victorious, like a Super Bowl champion. His fans wave flags and sing his praises; they each want to see his face, touch his robe.

Then suddenly, four days later, the tide has turned. What has happened to the cheering supporters? They are still a noisy mob, and instead of shouting accolades, they are screaming jeers, taunts. “Hosanna in the highest” has been replaced with “Crucify him”.

How could this happen? How could these people turn so quickly? What is the mob mentality all about?

Remember when you were in high school and one of the “cool” kids decided to pick on the class nerd. Everyone went along with the “cool” kid, even though they knew it was wrong. You might have been friends with the one everyone picked on. You went to his house after school or talked to him on the phone. But at school, did you defend him? Did you try to get the other kids to knock it off? Or, if you stuck by your friend, did you silently accept the taunts just like he did?

Perhaps you were the “cool” kid. You didn’t mean to start anything; you just made a few wise cracks about the brainiac you got stuck next to in study hall. But it caught on and pretty soon everybody was sneering at the kid. And you didn’t do anything to make it stop.

I went to school in that wonderful decade known as the seventies and that’s kind of what went on. From what I hear about our schools nowadays, we were actually relatively kind to everyone. What is up with the bullying that’s going on? It makes you wonder where the kids get it from. As adults, are we setting the example we should, or can we just as easily pick up that mob mentality. Maybe we aren’t shouting jeers but just what do our actions say?

Lord, be with me every day in my dealings with all people. Help me to treat all people with love and kindness, and help me to not judge anyone. Lord, above all, help me to remember what Your Son has done for us, that he silently accepted the worst bullying ever so that we would be spared that pain.

(As we swing into Holy Week, I am planning daily to post a Bible passage from the Passion. And for today's picture, this is one of my favorites from when I was in Kenya in 2006. These school children, outside at recess, came running out to greet us and touch us, thinking that as foreigners we could some how bless them by our touch. Read more about it. )

Friday, April 15, 2011

Where else did I fly?

Over the next several years I attended three more AAMA conventions: Greensboro, North Carolina; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Louisville, Kentucky.

Greensboro was beautiful. It was fall back home but in North Carolina in October summer was just beginning to wan. We toured Old Salem, more old houses from the 1700s, another Williamsburg look-alike, but still cool. I was the state society president that year, so was introduced at the president’s banquet. My constituents – I mean my fellow members – bought me a corsage and everything.

The following year we went to Colorado Springs. If you remember from a blog a year ago, I lived in Colorado for a short time, so was excited to return there and bum around the old stomping grounds. My goodness, the changes that 20 years can make! I was the one this trip who rented the car to drive us all around, thinking I knew where I was going. Well, that didn’t work so well. I still managed to get us to Castlewood Canyon and the outlet mall in Castle Rock. One day I even met with my former sister-in-law and we had a nice visit.

The last convention I attended was in Louisville, Kentucky. I had been through there with my husband and kids ten years before. We had toured the Slugger Bat Factory at that time, so I skipped it this trip. Instead, we went to the Glassworks, a huge old building where they make all kinds of glass things, from blown glass vases and goblets to trinkets and bobbles. They have several rooms that they rent out and one was being set up for a wedding when we were there. Best part- it was within walking distance of the hotel.

I haven’t been to a convention since 2007. There is, however, a new state society in Hawaii. When they host the convention, you might be able to rope me into going to that one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Motor City

September 2003, Detroit, Michigan. I wish I could think of good things to say about this trip. The bad certainly seemed to be everywhere, but in the end, I think it turned out all right.

The annual convention of the American Association of Medical Assistants took place in the Marriott Renaissance Center, a huge newly renovated hotel. It had over 70 stories and you had to take a separate elevator to get to the upper floors. I am claustrophobic and avoid elevators wherever possible. Well, when your room is on the 63rd floor, the stairs are kind of out of the question.

The hotel was right on the Detroit River and just across from Windsor, Canada. The boardwalk along the river was picturesque and a great place for me to take a daily walk and get some fresh air. Other than that, I didn’t get out at all. A migraine plagued me the entire five days that I was there.

But I suppose I shouldn’t complain about a cheap trip. As a delegate representing the state of Wisconsin, I had my registration, room and most meals paid for. The obligation was that we – myself and the other four delegates - had to attend the entire national House of Delegates, voting on things that could affect the entire membership of the organization. Not usually any big deal. You probably know – or can guess – how governing boards function. Boring is the first thought that comes to mind.

I thrive on boring. But it wasn’t to be the case this time.

Any state society can present a proposal to the House for a vote. I don’t remember the exact details of the 2003 resolution which threw me into a tizzy, but the gist of it was that business sessions of the AAMA would open with prayer. I guess that years before the organization had done that until some state proposed ending the practice, and now some members wanted it back. The rest of the delegates from Wisconsin spent the entire day before the House of Delegates trying to convince me that I must vote against this proposal. They said that I was representing the state and that I had to vote what the majority wanted. They said that they had brought this issue before their local chapters and the feedback they got was that this resolution was not in the best interests of the organization. My local chapter was – and still is – not much of a factor. I was alone in deciding what was best for my area.

I respect all of the women I was with in Detroit; I considered them my friends back in 2003 and I still do today. I know that some of them are devote Christians and I would never question their faith. They only felt that forcing prayer onto the national organization was not the way to go. In theory, I agreed with that, but my heart just told me that by voting against prayer, I was being like Peter when he three times denied that he knew Jesus.

The day of the House of Delegates arrived. I got through all of the boring business stuff, I got through lunch, I got through the election of officers. And then it was time for the resolution. Discussion went on and on; everyone had a strong opinion and everyone wanted their opinion heard. It felt like hours passed while the debate continued. My stomach churned and my head pounded. Just call for the vote, I kept thinking, just call for the vote and somehow God will tell me what to do.

Well, God jumped in like He thankfully does sometimes. Instead of calling for the vote, someone – was it the Speaker of the House – I forget a lot of the details of parliamentary procedure – doesn’t really matter, because whoever it was moved instead that we kill the proposal. Instead of voting for or against it, we were going to vote to just make it go away.

Maybe another day I would be asked to stand up and defend my faith when it wasn’t the popular thing to do, but that fall day in Detroit, God bailed me out in my hour of need.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The City of Roses

I won’t bore you again with how I fell into the medical field but it’s time to tell you how I fell into the AAMA.

A few years after I graduated from medical assistant school, I took the certification exam to become a certified medical assistant. About that time is when I learned all about the American Association of Medical Assistants and their affiliate, the Wisconsin Society of Medical Assistants.

(Yes, I know. Boring! But bear with me.)

It didn’t take long for me to become entrenched in the state society, even to the point of running (on opposed) for president in 2004. The road to any presidency involves a few things. In this particular instance, it meant traveling to Chicago for a board meeting, followed by a trip to Portland, Oregon, for the national convention.

Ok, finally, you are thinking – the non-family trip she has promised us.

Portland is a beautiful city. We had a fantastic view of Mount Hood outside of our hotel window. And speaking of mountains, we took one day off, rented a mini-van and a group of us drove up to Mount St. Helens, a mere 50 miles away. Even though it had erupted nearly 25 years prior to my visit, the crater still resembled a moonscape, grey and barren. Outlying areas stilled showed evidence of the eruption which killed 57 people in May of 1980.

On the flip side, Portland is known as the City of Roses, so another day I took a bus tour to the beautiful International Rose Test Garden. Also included was a stop at the Pittock Mansion. By now you must be aware of my fascination with old houses, of any size, but the big fancy ones have to be the most fascinating.

Honestly, I did attend the required AAMA convention events (speakers and business sessions and receptions), but it hardly seems worth flying across country to a whole new city without seeing as much as you can. The one thing I missed was Powell’s Bookstore, known as the largest independent bookstore in the country, perhaps the world. It contains one million books and takes up an entire city block. I must get back there some day.

And I must admit, my head hanging, that these pictures are off the internet. I just didn’t want to take the time to scan my pictures and then tweak them to bring them up to the high standards you expect from my blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where are you when the rooster crows?

Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about." At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." He went out and cried and cried and cried. Luke 22:61-62 (The Message)

Jesus knows his time has come. The disciples guarantee that they are there for him, that they will stick by him. Jesus picks out Peter and tells him, "Peter, you will deny me three times before the cock crows." Peter swears that that would never happen. And yet when the cock crows, their eyes meet and Peter realizes what he has done.

Just like Peter, we tell ourselves that we would never deny knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior. If only it were that easy.

Someone at work tells us some gossip that we can't wait to share. We receive a rather inappropriate e-mail. We know it's not right, but we still giggle and then we forward it to others. We're in the Wal-Mart parking lot and see a young woman struggling with packages and two small children. We turn the other way, telling ourselves that someone else will help her. If, when we turn away, we were to see Jesus' face, would we weep just like Peter?

(From now until Easter, my Sunday blog will be taken from the book of Luke, looking at the last days to the last hours of Jesus’ life on this Earth. I pray that I can share something meaningful with you.)

The picture today is another one that my daughter took while in Kenya. A young child brought this chicken to the clinic as payment for medical care. One of the women who runs the clinic promptly cut off its head and cooked it for dinner. I have pictures of that too, if you are interested.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mid-spring reflection

I’ve been writing about my travels for over a year now. I’ve gone from the early 1960’s to 2004 so far. You are probably thinking that I should be getting caught up pretty soon. Guess again.

Even if you take out my trip to Kenya in 2006, I have put on a few miles in the last seven years. I am such a bum. What is up with that? Can’t I ever stay home and just enjoy my own backyard. What is with my Dorothy-syndrome?

I was going to be reflective today, make some inspiring corollary to lead into next week’s blog about a few non-family trips, which would then lead – somehow - into Holy Week, but I’m just not quite there.

Instead I am looking out my dining room window. It may be sunny and 57 degrees out, but the snow lingers. Evidenced by the picture below. Not much of a flower garden right now is it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Dam and Big Chocolates

No one is supposed to go to Las Vegas without seeing Hoover Dam, no one that is except my friend Jenny, but that’s her story not mine.

When I took my daughter Val to Vegas in August of 2004, we signed up for the obligatory bus trip to the Dam, with a few stops on the way back. Most memorable thing about the Dam itself was going through security. The security guard, a large, friendly black woman, took each of our bags and scanned them. My big old backpack held most of our stuff and didn’t impress the woman too much. Val’s purse though, totally unlike her current purses, brought a smile to the guard’s face. “And then we have the itty bitty purse.”

After the Dam and a quick look at Lake Mead, we stopped at the Hacienda Casino for lunch. The buffet wasn’t bad, but then the bus driver thought everyone wanted some time to gamble. I don’t remember that being on the brochure, but it was kind of late then. Val and I returned to the bus and took a well-needed nap.

The next stop, however, made up for any casino. Ethel M’s Chocolates. We couldn’t buy much because it would just melt in the heat, but my daughter and I can match anybody when it comes to eating free samples.

All in all, the trip went well. Hmm? Pretty scary that she’s going to be legal in just one week.

Sorry that the picture is not of Hoover or Ethel - just some old castle on the strip.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Valerie Las Vegas

Nick graduated from high school the end of May 2004 and sometime that summer he went to Germany with his class. So once again not wanting Val to feel left out, I took her to Las Vegas in August for some bizarre reason. I don’t know why I thought that going to Vegas with my then 14-year-old daughter was a good idea, but we wanted to fly someplace exotic and Vegas was the only place in the budget.

We stayed at the Tropicana and basically spent most of our days just wandering around the strip. One day we rode the Monorail to the Stratosphere and went to the top of it just to get our picture taken – by a stranger and not by the overpriced semi-professional photographer who takes everyone’s picture while they are waiting for the elevator ride to the top and then super-imposes your image unto the Las Vegas skyline. Sorry, buddy, you ain’t goin’ make any money off of me. (Sorry I didn’t scan the picture of us that the stranger took.)

As you can guess, it was beastly hot outside all day every day. I thought we could just walk from casino to casino, resting and cooling off inside in between. But those security guys just inside the doors wouldn’t let me loiter for a minute with a minor. I told them, “Seriously? We are not even near any slots or tables.”

“Doesn’t matter, ma’am, she can only walk through, she can’t stop inside.” I felt like a criminal.

Oh, but Val still had fun, so I shouldn’t have stressed over it. We ate too much food at all the buffets, but either walked or sweat it all off. We dawdled in every store we found, but kept our purchases within our budget. They sell EVERYTHING in Vegas (and I don’t mean that either, for Pete’s sake).

The coolest part I thought were the fountains set to music inside of Bellagio. “In the summer time, when the weather is high you can chase right up and touch the sky.” Ok, reading the lyrics online just now, probably again not appropriate for my 14-year-old daughter, but it has such a catchy beat.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Prayer in the Garden

He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation." Luke 22:45-46 (The Message)

Taking several of the disciples with him, Jesus had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He did this on occasion, but this time was different. He knew his time had come and he needed to pray to his Father for strength.

He had warned his disciples once already that they should stay alert. But instead of being there for the Master, they fell asleep. This is where, in the book of Matthew, we hear the famous line “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

As much as I hate to admit it, this is probably the incident where I am most like the disciples. Ask my husband, ask some of my co-workers. I can lay awake in bed half the night, but put me somewhere quiet for five minutes in the middle of the day and I am asleep. I have turned nap-taking into a fine art. But sometimes, even for me, taking a nap is just not appropriate.

Lord, give me the strength to stay alert, to not give into temptation as I go through the many trials of daily life. Nothing I encounter today, or any day, will be like what you encountered on the cross for me. And when you return to this earth, may you not catch me napping.

(From now until Easter, my Sunday blog will be taken from the book of Luke, looking at the last days to the last hours of Jesus’ life on this Earth. I pray that I can share something meaningful with you. Today's picture is of the rose garden at the Green Lake Conference Center, where I attended the writer's conference which inspired me to start a Sunday devotional blog.)