Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Three for One Special

Have you read any good books this summer? Looking for something a little lighter to read as we head into the busy autumn season? I started writing reviews on the following three books, but I continue to struggle with that particular assignment so felt that I wasn't saying anything of merit. I decided to clump all three of these books together. Then, imagine that, by the grace of God, I was able to find the common thread in these books. Maybe it is just what I am drawn to reading.  

Just like its sister devotion, "Be Still and Let Your Nail Polish Dry", "His Grace is Sufficient" speaks to women everywhere. Women who are not perfect, women who may have messed up big-time, but as we learn, God forgives us for all of our messes. His grace will smooth over all our wrinkles and settle all our crinkles. All we need to do is keep plowing through life, with as much caffeine as we need, and God will take care of the rest.

Michelle takes the messes we have made in our lives and shows us how they can be turned around for the good. Not only things like discarded objects we pull from the garbage, but mistakes we have made in our lives. She shares stories from her own experiences and shows us how to recycle and repurpose even the sorriest incidents.

I can relate to so much about this book, because I have been there, not only physically been to Kenya, but emotionally and spiritually been to a place where I knew I was called but woke up some mornings wondering what was going on. I loved Ryan's honesty and sincerity in his memoir. Things aren't perfect, he has problems with things that an outsider wouldn't imagine should be a problem. Yet, Ryan perseveres.  Whether you're considering short-term or long-term missions or just wonder what life is like in a third world country, you have to read this book.

So see, in all three books, we are handed messes or we make messes of our own, but God is the ultimate janitor. He cleans them all up for us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Take the first step.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

With so much in the news the other day about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr., I thought I would post some of his quotes you may not have heard. 

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Life goes on

Remember this blog post from the end of July? The meaning of friendship.

I'm kind of scared to even write about this.
When I posted this picture last month, I mentioned that between these four high school friends and myself, only one had a dad still living. I'm so sorry, Sal.  I knew your dad had been sick, but I sure didn't think his time was going to be up so quickly. 

On the upside, I now have Kathy's email address and we have been sending messages back and forth. Also this week, out of the blue, another friend from high school found me on Facebook and we have been catching up. 

I guess that even when life ends, life goes on. And Sal, we will get together soon. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Be Still

Sometimes I don't get poetry. I like the word pictures that poems can paint and the stories that can be shared. But some poetry is just too deep for me. I don't understand the deeper meaning; I only understand what the words mean to me on the surface.

At the Green Lake Writers Conference last week, one of the speakers was poet Michael Belongie. Some of the poems he recited were very moving, other times, I didn't know what he was talking about.

He shared the following (the pictures of course are mine), and as near as I can tell, Father Richard Rohr should get credit for this beautiful rendition of a common Bible verse. This would be the kind of poetry that doesn't need explaining, it just needs to be taken in slowly, in the stillness of the word.

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still. 

I hope that didn't ruin the somber mood for you. I can only be still for so long. 
God is OK with that; that's how He made me to be. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bucket List Items

As you may already know, I was at the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference for a few days earlier this week. I even had the pleasure of sharing my publishing story with the attendees.
If you are able to read the print on the slide, you will see that I had two bucket-list items: to change the world and to be a writer. In the course of this past year, I feel I have achieved both of those dreams.

I took the long way home from Green Lake on Tuesday just to be able to check one more thing off of my bucket list. I have wanted to visit this place since it was in the national news in January 1975. (Click here to find out why it was in the news. And you can click here to find out more about this grand building. There's even a book about it.)

The history of the Novitiate is fascinating. And I am sure there are many more stories within these walls.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Short Track

Last winter, when I was trying to decide if I wanted to go to Kenya with my daughter or not, my husband offered me this option. I could either go to Kenya or the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference. It didn't seem like a very reasonable deal, but I could see his point. If I went to Kenya we had to cut corners somewhere and I also had to ration my time off of work.

I decided to go to Africa.

Then two wonderful things happened. The Writers Conference offered what is called a "short-track", for people who couldn't make the full conference, but wanted to attend for two days. These two days would be packed with seminars. The rest of the week would allow for "full-track" attendees to work more in depth with their workshop leaders.

The second thing that helped get me to the Conference this year is that they asked me to speak. Lisa Klarner and I gave a presentation on the pros and cons of different publishing options.

I kind of had to go for at least the short-track after that.

Earlier this afternoon, I returned home from Green Lake, feeling rather melancholy and little cheated. I still had the chance to bond with my writer friends, to gain new insights into my writing career and to get lots of helpful advice.

Also, for me, just soaking up the positive energy of the Conference Center grounds is re-energizing.

Lisa and I getting ready for our presentation.  
Listening to Marshall Cook on Monday evening.  
Two of the new friends I met on my run Monday morning. 
Two years ago I started taking a yearly picture of my feet on the shores of Green Lake. I call the series of photos "Writer's Feet", but I haven't figured out what it means.  

The full moon over Green Lake on Monday night. Not too bad for the basic camera that I have. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What will you be remembered for?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

If you have been following me at all, you know I ran a 5K (my first race of any kind ever) on the Fourth of July and had hoped to run in more races this summer. Today is the first annual Don Lintereur Memorial Run and I really wanted to run in it. I just couldn’t do it; I have too many other commitments this weekend.

This is what the flyer for the race says about Don.

Don was a running icon in the Tomahawk and surrounding communities whose passion was to inspire people of all ages to develop a love and commitment to the sport of running. Don passed away on Thanksgiving 2012 after a courageous battle with kidney failure, running and competing right up until his death. Don was also a well-respected Biology teacher in the Tomahawk School District for 35 years. We hope this run, in his honor, will carry on his passion for running and his commitment to the field of education. All proceeds go toward a scholarship fund established in his name to assist THS graduates pursuing the field of education.

Do you want to know who Mr. Lintereur was to me? Besides my high school Biology teacher, he was my tutor for eight weeks while I was in junior high.  

The winter that I was a seventh grader, I broke my leg sledding. My cast went from the tip of my toes to the top of my thigh. I could get around on crutches ok, but someone decided that I shouldn’t go to school for the eight weeks that the unwieldy cast would be on. I didn’t argue with whoever made that decision.

Once a week, Mr. Lintereur came out to our house to give me my assignments for the next five days and to gather up the work that I had finished.  We’d visit a little bit, an odd concept for me since I was at that age where visiting with any adult, much less a teacher, was just plain awkward. But Mr. Lintereur saw past my teen-age-ness and talked to me like a person, laughing with me and never at me.

Then one day Mom made peanut butter cookies.

Apparently, Mr. Lintereur loved peanut butter cookies. He claimed that I should eat a lot of them as some component in the peanut butter cookie had bone-healing powers. He was a Biology teacher, remember, so he must know what he was talking about.

Which meant that my mom made peanut butter cookies every week the day before Mr. Lintereur was due to come.   

Here’s the funny thing. I have known that this run in his honor was coming up, but I wasn’t thinking about it that much since I wasn’t participating. But I have had a craving for peanut butter cookies for over a week. Friday night, I finally gave in and baked a batch. It wasn’t until I was cleaning up afterwards that my mind flashbacked to all those batches of cookies in seventh grade. 

(Mr. Lintereur's obituary. How's your obituary going to look?)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I am confused, once again.

I don't know if you were following me a year and a half ago, but I posted a picture of this sign on a blog post then. If you haven't read that post or aren't inclined to do that now, the speed bump in this parking lot was taken out over the winter so that the road could be plowed. 
 But what do you know? They never did put the speed bump back in during the summer months.
 But, believe it or not, they did install a new speed bump sign. Can anyone out there tell me what is going on? Do they think that if they hide a bright shiny sign in the tree that we will actually slow down for a bump that doesn't exist?
I was just wondering if anyone can explain this to me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Water Photo Challenge (even though I missed another deadline)

A few months back I came across yet another blog challenge. This one was a personal photo challenge. Once a month, the blogger posts the theme for the month – birds, food, weather, etc. and those taking up the challenge post on their blog the pictures they have taken on that theme. It is recommended to take new pictures for each theme, but since I have such an array of digital photo albums, I thought it would be just as easy to use what I have in the archives.

That seems to have worked well for me, seeing as this is the first month that I have taken up the challenge. Ok, and I missed this month’s deadline anyway, so what exactly am I doing? I am getting my feet wet. And since this month’s theme is water, that makes perfect sense.

Here we go, photos of water from the archives. 
This was taken at Foster Falls in Northwestern Wisconsin last spring. The power of a waterfall always leaves in awe.

With all the rain we had this past spring, it's hard to believe that this was taken the year before at Glidden, a few hours north west of where I live, where I had thought we had a mild winter and not unusually wet spring in 2012. Though this looks peaceful right now, I am sure that the swollen river had caused countless difficulties for this little town. 

And then there is the magnificence of Lake Superior. In any season, summer or ...

... or early spring, if I am thinking about water, I am thinking about Lake Superior. 

Next month's challenge is "doors and windows". I got pictures of that too. Trust me. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

God will provide

 “I tell you this: Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about what you are going to eat and drink. Do not worry about what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food? Is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They do not put grain into a building to keep. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them! Are you not more important than the birds? Which of you can make himself a little taller by worrying?  Why should you worry about clothes? Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth. But I tell you that Solomon in all his greatness was not dressed as well as one of these flowers. God clothes the grass of the field. It lives today and is burned in the stove tomorrow. How much more will He give you clothes? You have so little faith! Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ 
Matthew 6:25-31 New Life Version 

 A few weeks ago our local high school approached our church asking for donations of backpacks and supplies for homeless students in our school district. The small group of us who first heard this was taken aback. Homeless kids in our town? How was that possible? Our town is not a big city where homeless men drink from brown paper bags under train trestles or abused young mothers herd their toddlers into women’s shelters. I live in “small town America”. There are no homeless people here.

Yet, looking back, though I don’t know of any homeless adults in my life, I could name a half dozen high school kids who at one time would have been classified as homeless. For whatever reason, they were no longer welcomed in their own homes, the adults who were responsible for them no longer wanted them or these kids just couldn’t remain in the household. 

It’s tough enough being a teen-ager, but to not know which friend’s house you are going to crash at tonight or if you can sneak back into your parent’s house after they are in bed. I can’t imagine.

Please pray for these kids – I bet that you have them in your community as well. Get involved, donate to your homeless shelter, work at your local food pantry. Be aware of who is walking the streets of your town. If you get the chance, remind them that they have a Father who would never turn them out and one day a home in heaven where they can find rest. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

It Happens

We have a large lawn. It’s nice to mow with a riding mower and this is the beast which has been doing the job for the last few years.

My husband bought it second-hand and it has had a few issues. Most recently, each of the three blades on the mowing deck have taken to mowing at a different height. No matter how much time and effort my husband had put into adjusting them, it seems the lawn always came out looking like it had gotten a haircut by a first-grader.

When the belt started breaking, my husband decided he had had it with the beast. He borrowed my mom’s push mower.

Now there are certain advantages to a push mower. For starters this mower has one blade and it cuts all of the grass at the same level. Second because it is much more maneuverable than the beast, we can get at every inch of the lawn in a more efficient manner. Also, it is great exercise. Sure, the husband and I tag-teamed the job, taking turns mowing various sections of yard, but we got it done. I was also surprised at how quiet it is compared to the beast.

But there is one big disadvantage.

 Yes, the Wonder Dog. With the vast amount of knowledge in his wee brain, he tends to forget that the entire yard really should not be used as his toilet.

With the beast, the surprises which Dino leaves throughout the lawn would be run over without much notice. With the push mower however, I found myself sometimes dancing in an attempt to avoid Dino’s many offerings.

I don’t know. I can’t say that I can decide which mower is better. If I had a choice, a new riding mower would be the best route to take. Until then, it appears we will be dodging lawn bullets.  

Or maybe we should just replace Dino with a goat. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To Prove I Have a Story About Everything

And also to prove that I will take a picture of anything . . .

With my mom downsizing, she is willing to give away a lot of her stuff. You should see the dishes and table cloths that I have brought home already. I asked my husband a few weeks ago if he thought that one of Mom’s chest of drawers would be better than the one he was using. I didn’t get an answer. Imagine that.

So, I proceeded to tell him the history of the piece of furniture I was referring to.

My dad had two sisters, Clara and Emmy. When she was 20, Emmy was diagnosed with some sort of heart valve disorder and at the time the doctor’s only recommendation was that she shouldn’t have children. I can’t remember if she was married yet, but I know that she and her husband, Jeff, never did have any kids.

They lived in a few different places and in 1954, he decided they should move to California. Before they left they got rid of most of their furniture, giving a matching chest of drawers and dresser to my parents. Emmy passed away from her heart issues two weeks after they arrived in California.

From the earliest age I can remember, I had use of that chest of drawers. The dresser was my sister Pat’s.

I told my husband this story and then told him to not let that influence his decision on whether or not he wanted the chest of drawers. (Did I mention that we had bought me a new dresser in 2004, and yes, I have a story about that if you want to hear it someday.) What he had been using up until this time was some second-hand store find. Or at least I hope it was because I hope no one paid good money for this thing new.

Now it is your turn. Which is Himey’s new dresser and which is his old one? 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

God give me the words.

“When you are put into their hands, do not worry what you will say or how you will say it. The words will be given you when the time comes.” Matthew 10:19 New Life Version  

Yesterday, I attended the second annual Country Memories Farm Writers Conference. After attending last year’s conference and getting my book published, I emailed Becky McLafferty, who hosts the conference, and asked if she was looking for speakers for this year. I told her that I would love to share the journey I traveled while writing my memoir and getting it published. That silly girl. She took me up on the offer.

There I was at 1:05 Saturday afternoon, having eaten too much for lunch, standing at the front of the classroom with nine sets up puppy-dog eyes watching me, waiting for me to spew out vast amounts of knowledge. I wasn’t nervous. Honest I wasn’t. I just started talking and sharing and answering questions. And they acted like they thought I knew what I was doing!

Of all the fears in the world, getting up and talking in front of an audience is high on the list. One website I found ranked it as number 2, another website had it as number 1.

I don’t know why, but getting up in front of a group of people has never bothered me. Maybe it’s the clown in me. Maybe some deep-seeded need to be the center of attention. Whatever the case, it was still much easier for me to speak in front of those conference participates than it would be to speak to those Jesus is referring to in the scripture above.

He is talking about a time when we will be persecuted, when we are led in front of our accusers and asked to give a testimony of our actions. Will we be able to stand before those who would flog us, beat us, crucify us, and testify that we know Jesus as our Savior? Those would definitely have to be words given to me directly from God.

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son. Be with us in our time of need, strengthen us when we are persecuted. And grant us Your peace. Amen

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Good Excuse?

I have a good excuse for not blogging yesterday. I drove to Chicago (300 miles from home) to pick up my baby girl at the airport. She is home safe and sound from her three month stay in Kenya. And did you hear the news this morning? That the United States has issued warnings for American citizens traveling anywhere abroad, but specifically for northern Africa and the Middle East. There has been an al Qaeda threat that is being taken very seriously.

Coincidence that my daughter just arrived home safely? I think not. Once again, Someone is watching out for my girl. 
Talking to her Granma, shortly after we picked her up.