Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morning:Why are you looking for the living in the graveyard?

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.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, "Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?" Then they remembered Jesus' words.

They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn't believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up. 
Luke 24:1-11, The Message Bible

Doesn’t that just figure. The women have probably been awake since Good Friday, secretly getting things ready for Sunday morning when they could properly put to rest the body of their Lord. Ok, so maybe the women were sleep deprived. Maybe they had imagined the whole thing. I suppose the apostles would think 

But wouldn’t you want to believe it? Wouldn’t you want to believe that, yes, your Lord had risen from the dead just like He said He would? Wouldn’t you jump to your feet and go check it out? 

Well, Peter did.

But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that's all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head. 
Luke 24:12, The Message Bible

But still he didn’t believe. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Vigil: The Long Wait til Morning

The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded. Luke 23: 55-56, The Message Bible

Jesus has just died, his body has been laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. His disciples have gone quietly away, to reflect and talk amongst themselves about what has happened. The women, however – as women have evidently done for millennium – have work to do. They know that the body needs to be prepared for a proper burial, but the long events of Good Friday, have led right up to sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath. Jewish law strictly forbid anyone from doing any work on the Sabbath. The women went home from the cross at sunset on Friday and waited patiently until sunrise on Sunday to return to the tomb to take care of the body of their Master.

What did they do on that Saturday, as the hours stretched on? They no doubt were busy in prayer. They certainly talked, in hushed whispers, fearful of the Jewish leaders who had put their Lord to death. They shed a few tears. And they waited.

We have to wait too. And the wait seems long at times. As we wait for the return of our Lord and Savior. But we know He is coming again! We know what to expect in the morning. 
My daugther waiting for the sunset at Saikeri, Kenya. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: there is nothing more to say

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.

Luke 23:44-46, The Message Bible. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday: Are you part of the crowd?

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 Bible

Who were these people? Is it possible they were the same ones who just days before welcomed Jesus to their city with more than just open arms, but with palm branches and halleluiahs? And now they wanted him crucified? Surely someone in the crowd saw how wrong this was and stood up to the rest. Not hardly.

I wish I could believe that all of the believers had suddenly left Jerusalem that day, that the entire population had indeed been replaced with thieves and other criminals, people who would want another criminal released instead of a man of peace.  Wouldn’t that be easier to understand?

We still see the same thing in our society today. How often is it that the noisy few are the ones to be heard, the ones who quickly gather others around them?

I’m not a sociologist or any kind of professional in human nature. I don’t know why it is so hard to stand up for what you believe in. I don’t know why it is so much easier to cave to the few strong people around you, no matter if you agree or not.

All I do know is that somehow God was able to forgive them all. And that means that mankind still has a chance. 
No, not an angry crowd, but a crowd just the same. A group of Maasai, and white volunteers, gather at Saikeri for their own mini-olympics. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Wednesday: May Your will be done

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 Bible

Since He had entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, Jesus knew what was coming this week, He knew how it was going to end. He knew that He would submit to His Father’s will.

None of us have ever endured anything close to what Jesus went through when He died on the cross for us. But even in our day to day lives, we still ask for problems to be solved, for our days to be easy, for a cure to what ails us. Don’t we usually pray, “God, just grant me what I want”, instead of “God, may Your will be done.”  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holy Tuesday: Who would you die for?

Peter said, "Master, I'm ready for anything with you. I'd go to jail for you. I'd die for you!" Luke 22:33, The Message Bible

Jesus has warned His disciples that they are about to be tested. He singles out Peter, telling him that He has been especially praying for him. Peter is as passionate as ever, swearing that he would never betray his Master.

His words remind me of the song “Everything I do I do it for you” by Bryan Adams from the movie Robin Hood. “I would fight for you, I'd lie for you, walk the wire for you, I'd die for you”.

Who would you die for? Who would you give up everything for? Would you?

Peter swore that he would and yet within hours he denied that he knew Jesus. Not just once, not twice, but three times. He had three chances to be arrested as a believer in Jesus Christ, three chances to give his life for his Lord and he blew it. Would you? 

This is the prison at Ayacucho, Peru. 
 We went inside, only after we had been stamped and frisked and had turned in our passports. In all my travels I had never been so afraid. 
I lived down that fear so that I could take this little boy, Wilmar, out of the prison where he lived with his mother, so he could spend a few hours acting like a regular kid. I also knew that I would get my passport back when I brought him back. Would I have been willing to step into that prison without that promise? Absolutely not. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Monday: More than a shared meal

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 Bible

Jesus and his disciples have gathered in the upper room for the Passover meal. The disciples have no idea what their Master is talking about. Yet, they place their trust in Him. They have witnessed too much while they followed Him, and He has hinted at this in the past.

He blesses the wine and the bread, and offers it to them as His very body and blood. What must they have thought then?

It wasn’t until further in the meal, when Jesus tells them that one of them will betray Him that they question His words. “Who, Lord, who would betray you? Certainly not me,” they all respond and then they begin arguing amongst themselves.

How incredibly patient their Lord was with them, and how incredibly patient He must be with us, when we just don’t get the important stuff. We only get wound up when things directly involve us. How very much like those early disciples we are.

Instead of thinking of ourselves, we should be thinking of our Savior, turning our hearts towards Him. 
Breakfast at Mosiro. What's more important? The meal or those you share it with?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The first Palm Sunday

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:12-13, New International Version

A king’s welcome. The humble teacher who had been traveling the countryside arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The crowd goes crazy! They are so happy to see this man, so willing to greet him with all the accolades they can.

But as we know, this week those accolades are going to spiral downward. In just five days those cheers turn to jeers. And much worse. And Jesus knows what’s coming.

How do you think he reacted to all that attention on that first Palm Sunday? Waving and smiling to the crowd, basking in the limelight? Or with head turned down, studying his hands as they grasped the donkey’s mane? Maybe he shook his head ever so slightly, thinking, “people, you have no clue”. 
From my own PALM tree collection. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

For Val

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” From: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss

How can you not love Dr. Seuss? My daughter Val got the book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” as a graduation gift. What a great book! What wonderful inspiration!

It doesn’t matter if you are graduating from high school or college, or taking a new job or relearning an old one. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are – the world is out there, yours for the taking. You can be anything you want to be, you can go anywhere you want to go.

And don’t let anyone say that you can’t!

“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…”

And if you end up in that useless place, don’t stop, just race through to the other side. And remember to learn something along the way.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.”

But you’ll move nothing by just sitting there. So go for it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The PALM tree room

In early 1993, my first husband moved out. In the spring my dad died and that fall my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Can you say “stressful”? I’d rather say it just all stunk. Two good things came of that year. Pebbles and Bam-bam came home to live and in the summer my sister Pat and I started to finish my basement.

I had a computer sitting upstairs on a table in the living room. Pat and I were both writing then, and I longed for an office of my own. We came up with the brainstorm that she and I would build two rooms in my unfinished basement, a playroom for the kids and an office for me.

I remember that first day. We worked for hours and then looked around and it didn’t seem like we had accomplished anything, maybe a few sheets of drywall were up. We looked at each other and said in unison, “Dairy Queen”.

Somehow we got the office finished. Nearly. I mean it sure wasn’t perfect, but I was happy. The playroom, on the other hand, well it’s my husband’s man-cave now, so it is perfect for him. 

 This picture was from 2011 when I was actually doing most of my writing upstairs at the dining room table. I had just cleaned up the old office and made it my craft room - as if I craft.
 Here's the office in the basement, being used as an office. It is where all of the edits on my book took place.
 Here it is a nearly empty room. The desk was moved upstairs to Val's old bedroom. So what did this room become?
Well, Val's bedroom, of course. And where did the palm tree theme come from? In 2000, a year after Pat died, I started a Relay for Life team in her honor. Her initials spell PAL, so add an M for memorial and you have the PALM team. Over the years, I collected a few palm trees which we decorated our Relay for Life campsite with. What a better place for these PALMs to reside now.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 New Living Translation

As I go through each week, I am constantly on the lookout for blog material. Earlier this week, when I learned that my husband’s aunt had died, I thought, “ah, ha, a funeral. That should provide me with good material.” (I thought that only after I felt bad for the family and sent up a prayer that God was with them. Honest.)

Saturday morning, as I was sitting in the church, looking around, listening to the eulogy, humming along to the songs, I wasn’t finding anything in particular that I could write about. Then, bless her heart, one of the cousins stood up to share about her aunt and she used the verse above. What a great verse for a funeral, don’t you think?

(I got my little notebook out of my purse right then and wrote down Romans 8:38 so that I wouldn’t forget. And my husband gave me one of those looks.)

There are so many bad things that happen to us as we go through our sinful lives. It’s so easy, when things are going wrong, to ask, “Where is God? Why has He abandoned me? Doesn’t He love me?” But He will never abandon us, He is always there for us, He loves us no matter what. We just need to remember that and seek Him first. He’s there. Always. I promise. And more importantly, He promises.

Thank you, Lord God, for always being there for us, and for sending Your Son to take away our sins. Help us remember to turn to You first in every time of trial. Amen.

 Can the wide expanse of Lake Superior separate us from God? Nooo.
 Can we fly so high in an airplane that we are separated from God?  Nooo.
Can a cage at the zoo separate us from God? Nooo.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Another Dimension in Book Reviews

Do you sign up on every blog you can to win the free stuff the author is giving away? I am always tempted to do that, but then when the free stuff comes – which is almost always a book – I feel obligated to drop everything, read the book and then give it a glowing review. I know that is just the nagging guilt in my head, and that book reviewers always close their article with, “I did not give this book a good review just because I got it for free.”

Sigh. What’s a girl to do who has a penchant for free stuff, who does all her shopping at Goodwill and won’t shop in a regular store unless she has coupons?

So here we are with another book review to write. With a buildup like the one above, you are probably thinking that this book stunk. It really didn’t.

I won “Seventh Dimension – The Door” by Lorilyn Roberts by commenting on someone else’s blog. It is a Christian young adult fantasy and actually I had wanted to get it to share with my Kinship kid (that has yet to happen, but hopefully this weekend I’ll remember to give it to her).

Maybe it was because of the genre, but I really didn’t know at first if I could finish this book. When the animals started talking, I said to myself that I don’t have time for this. But I hung in there and I’m glad that I did. Like I said, it took a while to get into it, but by the time I was half-way through, I couldn’t put it down. I just couldn’t see how this was all going to get wrapped up into a satisfying ending. But it did.

The book tells the coming-of-age story of Shale Snyder who gets pulled into a world far from her own. Or is it that far away? The more I read about her adventures, the more comfortable I was in her new environment – a place which I have read about many times.

Putting my prejudices against talking animals aside (and this is actually explained later on in the book), I would give the book 4 out of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ode to my daughter's old room

How long have you lived in your current home? Have you made many changes in that time?

Last September I had been in this same house for 22 years. I’ve made a few changes over the years. 

Hopefully soon I’ll scan in the pictures which tell the story of why I fell in love with this house, but for now I wanted to show off the latest changes I’ve made.

When we bought this house, it only had two bedrooms. For many years, Nick and Val shared one room. As they got older, we put each of their beds on opposite sides of the room and lined their two dressers down the middle, so that they had the tiniest shred of privacy.

In 1999, we put on an addition (which will no doubt be blogged as well), and each of the kids got their own room. Val stayed in the same room. We did some painting, stenciled, Granma made a comforter. 
November 12, 1999 
When Val was a senior, we took in a foreign exchange student and Val lost her bed frame. Poor kid, practically sleeping on the floor til she went off to college the next fall.
November 1, 2007
Then I don't remember where Val lived, but I apparently turned her bedroom into my sewing room.
April 4, 2010
 She must have come home at some time because I turned the room back into her bedroom. Kind of.
March 6, 2013
 Then it dawned on me that she probably wasn't coming home again, so I took over her room one more time.
March 9, 2013
 I turned it into my office, aka Snoopy room. Let the creative juices flow.
March 11, 2013
What's the saying about you can never go home again? But at least you can read a Peanuts cartoon there.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The picture of health

 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.  He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Philippians 3:20-21 New Living Translation

The other day at work I was asked to attend a meeting to brain storm ways to bring a new model of health and wellness to our patients. One of our doctor’s had recently given a presentation to the community on the “circle of health” and the goal was to further that idea. To achieve proper health all these different factors are involved, such as weight management, proper nutrition and exercise. Other things such as your spirituality, stress management, outlets for creativity and having a purpose in your life are all equally important.

Because my brain never shuts down and I can take the tiniest tidbit and expound on it, I changed the circle of health to the hierarchy of health. It looks something like this.

*Person who is the picture of health –
is physically active, mentally sharp, emotionally stable,
eats right, gets enough sleep, enjoys their job, volunteers,
has a loving family, etc, etc (as if this person exists)

*Person who eats ok, works out occassionally, 
but has a lot of stress at home and at work

*The vast majority of us

*Person who smokes two packs a day
and eats most meals at McDonald’s

*Person in a vegetative state in long-term care

The question is where on this list is someone who has died. When I was first picturing this in my head, the first thought is to put a dead person on the very bottom of the list, right? That would be where a lot of people end up, people who are not saved, who do not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

For me and for other believers, I would put the dead on the top of the list. Except of course, those are people who are only dead by the world’s standards. As Christians we are on top of this list because we are very much alive in heaven. That is the only way this couch-potato, junk-food lover will ever get to the top of this list.

Lord thank You for giving us our human bodies, with all of the frailties and weaknesses. Thank You for making these bodies temporary and for providing us with the perfect bodies once we reach Your kingdom. Amen
The Windmill is legend in our town. No one can hardly wait for it to open in the spring to get the first ice cream cone of the season. There is a biking trail that takes you there from town. Can you really burn off those ice cream calories on a fourteen mile round trip bike ride?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Show your courage

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”  Mary Anne Radmacher

I end a lot of my days feeling as if I have not roared all day, have not made a noise, have not stood up and been counted. Most days I crawl in bed wondering just what I did that day. Have I ever had a day where I was courageous? (Except for that little interview LIVE on TV last week, which I promise I will not bring up again.)

But I think that every day we do have courage. Even if it is just getting through, or getting by. We waited patiently in line at the grocery store. We didn’t retaliate at the inattentive driver who almost took us out at the stop sign. We smiled at a stranger. We laughed at an elderly gentleman’s joke which wasn’t funny.

And tomorrow morning, if it is God’s plan for us, we will get up and get out of bed. And have many more of those moments. 
And when you can't roar, it's OK to purr. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The final week

Since the first of February, I have been writing about my dad’s life. Since it is March already, I will wrap up this series of stories. 

In April of 1993, Dad was up all hours of the night, sometimes becoming belligerent, sometimes just wandering.  He would put things, mostly his dentures, in the strangest places, sometimes it was in the linen closet amongst the bath towels, sometimes it was in the birdfeeder. 

With the support of us four kids, Mom finally made the decision to put him in the nursing home, on an Alzheimer’s unit. She checked him in on a Friday morning, April 22. He seemed to adapt rather quickly, contentedly pacing the halls with the rest of the residents. 

Mom told the staff that she had started puréeing his food because he would sometimes choke on whole foods.  It’s not that the staff ignored her comments, or that they thought they knew better; things happen and they are not anyone’s fault.  Saturday night, while eating his dinner of whole food, Dad choked on something.  It wasn’t long before the nursing home staff realized he had aspirated some food, resulting in aspiration pneumonia. 

Sunday morning, Mom got the phone call – Dad wasn’t doing well. The physician on call wanted to put in a feeding tube, he didn’t feel there was anything else that could be done. Both Mom and Dad had decided long before that they never wanted a feeding tube.

Eventually, Mom was able to reach their own doctor, and he agreed to admit Dad to the hospital for IV fluids and antibiotics.

Four days later, Dad was still in the hospital when his doctor came in on rounds as usual, asking Dad how he was doing.  The other three days that week Dad hadn’t responded.  That morning he clearly answered, “not so good”.  Mom and I looked at each other. Was this a good sign? Or not?

Later that afternoon, while I was visiting Dad, with Mom at his side, she got a phone call from one of my cousins. My cousin and her husband had planned a trip to Alaska to see her brother, but with my dad not doing well, she thought they should cancel.   

Mom, though, told her several times over the phone, “You should go, we will all be all right, you just need to go.”

Shortly after Mom hung up the phone, Dad let out at a slow breath. Then nothing. After a few moments, he took one more breath, in and out. Then nothing. Finally one last slow breath, in and out. Then nothing.

Later, Mom recalled the conversation with her niece. She felt sure that her words were what let Dad peacefully slip from this world. “You just need to go, we will all be all right.”

And somehow, we were.