Sunday, April 29, 2012

What friendship means to me

Even though the daffodil has come to represent cancer awareness,
any yellow-colored flower symbolizes friendship.
These are the only flowers blooming in my yard right now.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9
New Living Translation

Sometimes, when I’m sitting around the house, in my own little anti-social world, I feel like I don’t have a lot of friends. But you know, true friends don’t have to be there every day, day in and day out. True friends are the ones who are there when you need them the most.

When my sister died, our mutual friend Phyllis jumped in the car and drove 250 miles from Minnesota even though she had been here the week before. As soon as she got here, she asked what she could do. “Sounds dumb,” I said, “but can you run to K-Mart and buy my husband some dress socks?” What a simple thing, but it really helped out.

Then I have some friends that I worked with 12 years ago. We only get together once or twice a year now, but that bond is still there so that it feels like we have never been apart.

Lastly there are the friends I saw this past Friday night. They are all medical assistants from around the state that I see two or three times a year. I’ve known many of them for 20 years and even though we communicate by e-mail or Facebook in between state meetings, we have been through all the highs and lows together.

Friday night as we were going around the circle sharing what has happened to us in the last year, I was blessed to be able to share the good fortune that my family has had this year – new jobs for my husband, my son and my daughter. I thought that was enough. But Denise chimed in, “What about your writing?”

Denise has been one of my most faithful blog followers. She’ll never know how much I appreciate her support – well maybe she’ll know now when she reads this. She is one of those friends every struggling writer needs. As many of our friends are, she is a true gift.

(And have I told you about last year’s medical assistant convention, when Denise, Nancy and I got up at four am to watch the royal wedding? Only a true friend would get me to put on a tiara at that time of day.) 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where will peculiar travel take me?

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” Kurt Vonnegut, 
Jr., from Cat’s Cradle

I must be getting old. I used to jump in the car and drive by myself clear across the state for nearly any reason. Now, I don’t like doing that so much; I’d rather stay home.

Tomorrow afternoon, however, the open road is beckoning me to the southern part of the state. I have a dinner near Waukesha at five and hope to spend the rest of the evening there socializing with old friends. Saturday morning I’ll drive down to East Troy to have breakfast with my son and see his new digs.  

I wish I could say I was excited about this trip. But those long drives don’t seem so exciting anymore and all I can think of is how much I should be doing around the house.  But I am going to go and I am going to have a good time. And who knows, I’ll definitely come home with some pictures and hopefully a few stories too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Muffins comes home

I am going to try once again to get on track and write with some sort of theme. I’m back on the animal track, planning over the next few weeks to fill you in on some of the animals I may have missed.

It was 21 years ago, early May I think, and I had just come home from the annual state CMA convention. We’d been in our house eight months. Nick was five and Val had just turned one. I pulled the car into the garage, gathered my things and ambled into the house. Before I could even hug the kids “hello”, Nick was sputtering. “You didn’t see it? You walked right through the garage and didn’t notice anything?”

I diligently went back into the garage to have a look. There on a blanket next to the riding mower was a little bundle of brown. She spied me standing in the door and wobbled to me on chubby legs.

We had been throwing around the idea of getting a dog and while I was out of town that weekend, someone offered my first husband a six-week-old puppy. Nick named her Muffins Mandie-dog Rowdy. I don’t know where it all came from, except that my sister had a dog named Mandie and this puppy was rowdy.

Val hadn’t started walking yet. As we were all sitting around the kitchen floor playing with the new addition, Val let go of the cupboard and walked to us. Either she forgot herself or she didn’t want the dog getting all the attention. But that is the story of how we got another pet and how Val learned to walk on her own two feet. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In what do you trust?

This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease. Psalm 91:2-3 New Living Translation

At 1,149 feet, the Stratosphere in Las Vegas is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. At the top, there are various thrill rides, sure to induce terror and nausea for those foolish enough to spend the money. One of the rides is call SkyJump, a controlled free fall, which is advertised as the only sky jump in North America and the highest in the world. They basically put you in a jumpsuit, attach multiple cables to you and ask you to jump off a platform 108 stories high. And you pay for this!

When my husband and I were in Las Vegas last month, we witnessed a young woman participate in this activity. The crowd standing along the railing watching her was as afraid as she was. Most of us were screaming encouragement at the same time as our stomachs were doing flip-flops. After several minutes and further instructions from the guy on ledge managing her guide wires, she finally jumped. A collective intake of breath ensued from us witnesses and then she was gone. I don’t know that I would ever have that much faith in a roll of cable.

Lucky for me I don’t have to trust in a roll of cable or any other manmade device. I put my trust in the Lord. Not only will He be there keeping me safe and secure no matter what life throws at me, I am pretty sure He will never push me off the top of a thousand foot building. And I know for certain, that if I fell on my own, He would catch me.

(That spike out there on the railing scared me as much as anything. Yikes.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Last Brewster Story. Promise

"Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer." Bruce Graham

I really wasn’t going to go here again, but it is too quiet in the house.

Brewster went home with his mom a few hours ago. He had become somewhat of a terror, knocking things over, harassing the smaller cat. I swore I would miss him, but it is so quiet in here without him. Maybe I just need to turn on the TV for a change, and stop counting on the critters for entertainment.

"If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way." Mark Twain (And Brewster didn’t even have a tail.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Do you hoard?

I know that Easter is long past (or was it really only just over a week ago?), but I was talking to someone on Facebook last night which conjured up a story.

Did everyone else, when you were a kid, get a chocolate rabbit in your Easter basket? I would gobble mine down within minutes. No savoring the ears or dwelling on the paws or saving the tail. Nope, my Easter rabbit was devoured as quickly as I could chew.

My sister, Pat, on the other hand, would still have her chocolate bunny Memorial Day weekend. She would nibble a paw one day and a half an ear the next, all the while gloating, because she still had hers and I didn’t. She did the same thing with our Halloween candy, hoarding hers until Christmas.

But, not to worry. I was the baby in the family and if I whined to Mom enough, she would either make Pat share her chocolate or she would just get me more of my own. What a horrible kid I was! How did I ever turn out to be the semi-caring adult that I am? And better yet, how did Pat ever let me become her friend? It's all a mystery.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What's your weather doing today?

Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 Good News Translation

Twenty-two years ago today it was Easter Sunday and I was sitting in a hospital bed. But that was a good thing, as my beautiful daughter had been born the day before.

On the off chance that Val reads today’s blog, though, I won’t talk about her. She hates it when I blog about her. Instead, because I remember that weekend so clearly, let me tell you what the weather was like. Incredibly it was very similar to this year’s.

Saturday, April 14, 1990, was warm and sunny, a wonderful day to be outside trying to get a jump on spring yard work. Then the 16th, the day I brought Val home from the hospital, there was three inches of snow on the ground. My, how the weather changes. There’s a saying here in Wisconsin (and I bet in about 49 other states), if you don’t like the weather right now, hang around, it will change shortly.

Like the weather, there are a lot of things we can’t count on in this world. Lucky for us Christians, there is one thing we can always count on, one thing that never changes, and that is the love that our Lord and Savior feels for us. Whether it is sunny or snowing, Jesus will stay at our sides.

And for those of you in the Plains States waking up this morning to tornado damage, keep the faith. There are many, including me, who are praying for you.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being our friend and our savior. Thank you for staying the course whatever happens. Be with those who are facing challenges today, whether brought about by bad weather or difficult circumstances. Send your Holy Spirit into the lives of those who are struggling, keep them strong in faith and grant them Your peace. Amen

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What was your heart meant to do?

“The heart really wants to beat.” Matthew Bock, organ procurement

Way back the first weekend in March, when we still had snow on the ground, I drove to Waupaca early one Saturday morning to earn some CEUs for my day job. As always, the speakers were engaging, the meal was excellent and the company of others working as medical assistants throughout the state of Wisconsin was rewarding. I maybe only see these women a few times a year, but they are all dear friends.

One of the speakers was Matthew Bock who works in organ procurement with UW Hospitals. He is part of the team who goes in when someone’s death is imminent, takes out their usable organs and flies back to the hospital to plant these organs into the lucky recipient. His stories were fascinating and full of hope, hope when things are inconceivably grim.

When certain organs are transplanted, it’s sometimes hard to see that they are doing anything, hard to tell right away if you really made a difference. The heart, though. Matt shared that when they are done implanting a new heart and they take the patient off of bypass, in most cases, boom, the heart just starts working. Sometimes it takes a little tap, but somehow that heart knows what it needs to do. It wants to get back in a body, get sewn up to all the blood vessels and start to beat again. It’s what a heart was meant to do.

What was your heart meant to do?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Just a quick note in case anyone is following my work in progress. I am on chapter 16 and have written 33,112 words so far on my novel. The working title of it is "Tale of An African Boy", but as I am writing, so many other characters want their stories told that I may have to change the title when I am finished. I don't know if I shared this picture with you or not, but these boys were the original inspiration for this story. It is the picture I have on the desktop of my laptop, as a constant reminder of my need to stay focused. One of my team mates from my mission trip to Kenya took this picture - I should figure out who it was and give them credit, shouldn't I?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Brewster's Big Blog

i get to use the computer.
i been here a long time and i be leaving next week and now i get to use the computer.

i guess i was pretty little when i came here.
i didn't think i grew that much.
my momma coming home next week and taking me home.

but the people i been living with have been good to me.
and the cats have been good to me.
i like to beat up on the little white one and i get yelled at.

the dog is ok.
he doesn't have too much to do with me.

i am going to miss it here.
but i can't wait to see my momma.

i hope she is going to be happy to see me.

i hope i get to see these cats and the dog and their people again someday.

i hope i have fun when i get home.

i hope . . . i get to use a computer again some day.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Morning

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?"

They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"

He said, "What has happened?"

They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."

Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared. Luke 24:13-31 The Message

Don't let Jesus disappear from your life. Keep him with you every day in everything you do.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: "This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!" Luke 23:47

Jesus’s body is hanging on the cross. He has just breathed his last. The captain, the man put in charge of making sure that this man actually dies, looks up at the lifeless form. He realizes that the man in the middle, the one they called Jesus, was innocent, had been wrongly accused and killed. He thinks “nuts we screwed up!”

Ever feel that way? Like you have just made a big mistake and you just don’t see any way to turn back? But that is the whole point of Jesus’s death on the cross. There is no mistake we can make that won’t be forgiven. He died for every one of our sins, so that we would receive forgiveness.

Yes, Jesus was innocent, but he still paid for our guilt.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

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

If it is possible to like anything about the crucifixion, this would be the scene. Two convicted criminals both sentenced to death, but one is going to eternal death and one is going to eternal life. Jesus is breathing his last, having endured horrible pain and suffering, but he is still willing to reach out and offer salvation to yet another miserable sinner.

And that promise, “Today you will join me paradise.” Don’t we all someday want to hear that?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday

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 23:23-25 The Message

It is so hard to believe that this same crowd was the one who welcomed Jesus to town just days before. Shouting praises and hosannas, they saw Jesus as their victor, their savior from Roman rule. How did the tide turn so quickly?

What happens when you drop a tiny pebble into a still body of water? That ripple continues in every direction. And all it took was one voice in the crowd to turn it into an angry mob.

When you have a chance to be the pebble, which way will you turn things?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Wednesday

He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face. Luke 22:41-44 (The Message)

Just like everybody else out there, I think I know what I want. I think I know what would be best for myself and my family and friends. If I pray to God that relatives with medical issues would be healed or that friends with financial difficulties would have a sudden windfall, I know that He hears my prayers. But when my prayers are said with total sincerity and unselfishness, why doesn’t He answer? I am not asking for anything for myself; I’m asking for help for loved ones. Surely God will answer those prayers.

For anyone who thinks that God doesn’t answer our prayers, or even hear them, this is the line to remember. “Not my will, but thine will be done.” God knows what is best for every one of us. He didn’t bail out His own son in his time of need, because He knew what had to happen next. And God isn’t going to bail us or our family or our friends out every time. He’s going to bail us out when He knows it is the right time.

But no matter what we pray for, God will be there and He will hear us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Tuesday

I can’t believe that I have neglected Lent so much this year. I don’t know where the last six weeks have gone, but here we are in Holy Week already.

When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." Luke 22:14-16 (The Message)

So this is how Jesus began the Last Supper. What a downer. Can you imagine what the disciples thought after hearing a line like that? Little did they know what the next 24 hours would bring.