Sunday, September 29, 2013

“The toughest job you’ll ever love.”

That’s what started it all. Started my dream of changing the world. Those Peace Corps commercials from the sixties, when I was just a kid and didn’t have a clue. But I would watch those ads, and see young Americans feeding starving children in Ethiopia or building a bridge in Colombia, and I would think, “That’s what I want to do some day.”

Instead, God sent me a husband (and then a second husband), two children, an eight to five job, a mortgage, a car payment, a dog and too many cats. Ok, maybe God didn’t do all of that. Maybe I made some choices of mine own. Maybe I took the easy path, the road more traveled, the conventional life.

In 2005, when God told me it was time to take that trip to a third world country, to make a difference, to change the world, I wasn’t easily convinced. After all, I had the husband and the kids and two dogs at that time. Plus I was old (hard to believe that I am even older now). I went to Africa, just as God had told me to do, and while I was there, I felt sure that I couldn’t make a difference and I certainly couldn’t change the world.

What changed inside of me? Did I lower my expectations? Did I accept second-best? No, but I figured it out. I can make a difference, you can make a difference. It really isn’t that hard. Just answer when God calls.

"The same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world and changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours that very first day you heard it and understood about God’s great kindness to sinners." 
Colossians 1:6 Living Bible

(If you are reading this blog on the day it posted, you still have a chance to get my memoir for free and learn all about that first trip to Africa. Simply click here.) 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"All the world's a stage"

Today’s assignment: combine two famous quotes into one pithy saying. One example might be “Man cannot live by bread alone so let them eat cake.” You get the idea.

My husband and I are on vacation this week. We spent a few days in the southeastern part of the state, visiting places in Milwaukee and Madison, and several cute little towns in between. In Waukesha, we stumbled upon this beautiful park along the river. When I found the outdoor amphitheater, I couldn’t help myself. Does anybody else have an overwhelming desire to dance when they are presented with an empty stage?

Thus my modified quote, thanks to Mr. Shakespeare and Lee Ann Womack. 
“All the world’s a stage so I hope you dance.”

When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a ballerina. Good thing I let that dream go. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tell this guy's story for me

Since hearing the news Saturday morning about the shootings at Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and continuing to follow the ongoing events there, I haven't been wearing my creativity hat. I've mostly been trying to just stay busy, clean house, spend time with the hubby, get caught up on reading. Oh, and I'm on vacation this week. Maybe a good thing. I don't want to have to focus on other people and their problems right now. Patients who haven't got a clue what life is like in a foreign country. 

But I am starting to ramble. I will not get on my soap box and vent to you, my faithful blog followers. Instead, I will offer you the opportunity to write my blog for me. 

A few weeks ago, as I wrote at the time, I took my kinship kid to our local animal park. This little opossum was so cute. Someone help me out. Tell me what he is thinking or what his story is. 

Isn't he adorable? 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Never stop looking to Jesus

We must never stop looking to Jesus. 
Hebrews 12:2a (Easy to Read Version)

One afternoon last week, a young mother brought her baby in to our clinic for her well-child checkup. As I laid the little one on the table to measure her, she kept looking at her mother with bright trusting eyes. I’d call her name to get her attention, and she would turn her head to me for just a second before turning back to Mom. At just two months old, she already knew who she adored, who supplied all of her needs and who would never let her down. 
Good thing she didn’t look at me with any devotion. When the doctor was done examining her, I returned with three immunizations.  

Most babies don’t like the first shot, but they can’t quite figure out the pain, so it’s not so bad. By the second shot, they have processed the pain and are not happy. At that point they are crying their heart out. The third shot. Well, it doesn’t matter by then. I just get the vaccines in as fast as I can. After I slap on the last Band-Aid, I tell Mom it’s ok to pick the baby up. 
The sweet little baby girl last week was no different. She just wanted to get into Mom’s arms. That tiny two-month old brain already knew that Mom would make it all right. Her tears subsided quickly.

It just reminded me of life with our heavenly Parent. We look to God with devotion when things are going well, but as soon as the pain starts or we run into problems, we forget where to turn. It isn’t until He reaches down and takes us into His loving arms, that we feel safe again, that the pain eases. That we can look to Him again with devotion, knowing that He will provide our every need.

I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master’s commands, like a maiden attending her lady,
We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy. Psalm 123:1-2 (The Message) 

(The pictures are of my kids, one of Nick and one of Val. I won't tell you which is which. They get mad enough at me when I post pictures of them.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why the name of this blog?

Of course, you already know that this blog is named after my dog, and you’ve maybe noticed that for some reason we call him the Wonder Dog. Why is that? What has he done to earn that title?

Hmm? He doesn’t do any special tricks, just the standard sit, shake, lay. It’s a struggle to get him to rollover; by that time he is just too excited. Once I give him one treat for being a good boy, I might as well forget it.

He has gotten better about staying in the yard, but still wanders off if given the chance. He doesn’t wander off to relieve himself either. No, the whole backyard, as I believe I mentioned in another blog post, is his toilet. 

I really wish I could teach him how to pick up the phone and bring it to me when I need to make a call. Or could he get me a cold beverage from the frig like that one dog on the commercial (not that he would bring me a beer, because there are none in my frig).

He can’t seem to understand what weekends are for. He has it in his head that seven days a week we all need to bound out of bed at five a.m.

But he sure loves his kids, any kids. Any child between the ages of four and forty-four comes in my front door and the dumb dog runs and brings every toy in the house as an offering. No, not really, he will keep bringing things until someone starts playing fetch with him.

He does know the following phrases, “Go get a toy”, “Go to the back door”, “Who’s here?” He does not know “Go find the kitty”. Again, I have blogged about those escapades that my husband and I partake of on winter nights when it is time to eradicate the cats from the house. The dog does not participate in this.

And yet there are times when he shines. When my mom comes over, walking slowly, slightly hunched, needing to hang on to something as she navigates my house. Dino stays at her side, he doesn’t jump, he doesn’t get under her feet like he constantly does to me. When she sits down, he sits next to her. Asking for nothing but a pat on the head. Ok, that’s not true at all. He knows that she will feed him table scraps, and he will take them as gently as if a snowflake were falling from the sky.

And when I am sick, when I am in bed with a migraine like I was earlier this week, he will not leave me. He follows me from bed to bath to couch and back again as I try to find some kind of relief. He lays at my side and his brown eyes intently watch me, raising one brow-less brow and then the other.

Oh, I guess he is ok for being a dumb mutt. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

From Kenya to Uganda to Wisconsin

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Galatians 2:10 New International Version

Today is the big day. The organizational meeting for Tumaini Volunteers, Inc., the nonprofit that my daughter Val is forming to help the people of Kenya. I pray that it all goes well and we have a good turnout. 

And because we serve a God who is bigger than all of our plans, yesterday I met a man who runs an orphanage in Uganda. Joseph is here in America for a month to raise awareness and funds for Bulamu Children’s Village. He is staying with a fellow writer while he is in Wisconsin, so I drove 155 miles one way to attend the Pens of Praise writers group, knowing that he would be there.

He kept saying that he is not a writer, yet he shared a moving devotion which he had written. His words took me right back to Africa and I could picture the children gathering around, begging for their daily ration of biscuits.

The children. “Sigh”. May God be with them, no matter where they live, no matter their circumstances. May God free them from their poverty, whether they are lacking in physical or spiritual things.

Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14 New International Version 

Can you believe that I didn't take any pictures yesterday? And what a beautiful setting we were in! I pulled these pictures off of Debby Erdmann's Facebook page. Thanks, Debby, for the hospitality and all the work you do for the orphans of Bulamu.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Challenge of Windows and Doors

A couple months ago, I discovered another blog challenge, A Personal Photo Challenge. I thought it sounded like a great idea as it would be a chance to show off some of my more obscure photos, or to even have an excuse to take obscure photos. If you have been following me at all, though, you know that I have my hands into so many other things, that I don't know what makes me think I can take this on as well. But when the photo challenge for this month posted in August, I though, ah, ha, I got this one. 

The theme is "Windows and Doors". I already had some cool pictures which I thought would work, but that day back in August, when I stopped at the Novitiate near Gresham? Would any other place offer more awesome windows and doors? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Remember and to never forget

Our entire world had changed on September 11, 2001. Living in the relative safety of northern Wisconsin, things like terrorist attacks were a distant tragedy. I prayed for the victims and the survivors and all of the affected families. I cried that evening when I drove into our yard after work and saw that Nick and Val had lowered our flag to half-mast. I called my friend in Minnesota just to hear her voice. My brother-in-law had been in Washington that morning on his way to the Pentagon. My prayers included a tearful thank-you that God had kept my loved ones out of harm’s way.

Five years after that, I felt safe in Africa. Except for the quilt-fetching incident in the slums, I was confident nothing bad would personally happen to me or the team. While we were in Kenya, however, just days before we were to leave, fourteen suspected terrorists were arrested in the London airport. With the liquids they planned to carry onto their planes, they hoped to construct bombs. Security worldwide went on high alert. 

(Excerpt from Chapter 16, A Time of war and a time of peace, "A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: One Woman's Trip to Africa - My Story"

Ok, maybe I am a day late with this, but are we are ever too late to share, to remember, to look forward with hope and to pray without ceasing. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I was driving home from a writers conference this summer, taking the back roads, when I came across a sign for Hayman Falls. 
I may not have been to every waterfalls in my fair state, but I thought that I had heard of every one of them. Naturally, I was intrigued and followed the signs to this small parking area. I put on my walking shoes and started up the trail.
A very picturesque river. Apparently it's the Embarrass River. Wonder where that name came from?
Still walking. Did I mention that it was close to 90 degrees out and humid?
Oh, looks like I must be getting close.
Is this it? I believe so. I could have kept walking I suppose. At one point there was a dam somewhere along here and that is probably where the falls came in. The water looked pretty calm though the further upstream I went.

Ok, I wasn't disappointed, though, but perhaps that's why it's called the Embarrass River. But this waterfalls isn't nearly embarrassing as this:
Really? Someone thinks that someone is going to steal this bench from the middle of the woods?

I looked up the Embarrass River on Wikipedia. The French word for obstruction is embarrass. So that would explain that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Are you living on an ark?

All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Genesis 8:19 New International Version

Yesterday I went to the local zoo with my Kinship kid. She has been there many times and loves seeing (and naming) all of the animals.

For myself, it wasn't quite so much fun. Having seen these animals in the wild, in their natural habitat, it is so hard for my heart to not break seeing them behind bars, knowing that their habitat is now a fraction of what it would be in the wild.

I know that zoos serve their purpose. They are there to educate people about these magnificent creatures in a way that looking at pictures in books cannot come close to achieving. Zoos also allow some of our most endangered species to survive. Efforts in many of the world’s zoos and animal preserves are keeping these animals from becoming extinct.

It wasn’t until I looked up the story of Noah that something dawned on me. Conditions in that ark had to be worse than nearly any of our country’s zoos. And even though it hadn’t been for the lifetime of these animals, they had to be scared and uncomfortable.

Just like those animals on the ark, sometimes we are scared and uncomfortable. Maybe our boat is different, but we are still cramped, if not physically, then often times emotionally and spiritually. We feel like we aren’t living where we should, that this isn’t the life we were meant for.

But this life here on Earth isn’t eternity. It is a short piece of all time. One day we will be set free. We will be in heaven, able to roam the vast spaces we were meant to roam, live the life that God set out for us.  

 Then I saw this zebra. Do you see a word in the stripes on his back? At first it looked like it read “Jesus”, but I can also see the word “life”. But aren’t those really the same words?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Let me help you, Mom

Mom feels bad that she totally forgot to write her blog last night, so this morning, while she was running around trying to get to a meeting at work by 7 am, I looked at her with my big brown eyes and said,
"Let me do it for you." So here I am.

Mom has got a lot on her plate right now - what does that mean anyway? "A lot on your plate". Is it like having a lot of food in the food bowl? Because that never happens to my bowl. I empty it just as soon as I can.

Anyway, I should write something inspiring like Mom always does, but I kind of have food on the brain right now. Of course, when do I not have food on my brain? The only other thing I think of is sleeping on the bed all day while Mom and Dad are gone and going for a run with Mom. I am glad that Mom still takes me for a run when she can. I love going for a run. It is my favorite thing next to eating and sleeping. Oops, I guess I told you that already.

Wow, I don't know how Mom does it. I can't type much more. The puppy paws are starting to cramp.

But one more thing. You may be hearing from me more now. Mom says that she is publishing a second book and will be busy working on that every night until it comes out later this fall. I don't know what this book is about, but I don't think I am in it. I think she needs to keep writing until she comes up with a book about me. I mean, really? Is it enough to name your blog after me? I don't think so.

I gotta go nap. This wore me out. Have a good day!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

There's no place like home.

There's no place like home, except maybe when it get hitched behind a tractor and driven 180 miles down the road. Even though this mobile home was Mom's home for 17 years, lucky for me, it was never my home. I think I maybe slept here three times. But it is still sad to see it be driven off. The good thing is now that this home has a new home where it can keep its owner happy and cozy for many more years. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

There truly is a time for all things.

 There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time.
There is a time to be born and a time to die.
 There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants.
 There is a time to kill and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy and a time to build.
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad and a time to dance with joy.
 There is a time to throw weapons down and a time to pick them up.
There is a time to hug someone and a time to stop holding so tightly.
 There is a time to look for something and a time to consider it lost.
There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.
 There is a time to tear cloth and a time to sew it.
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
 There is a time to love and a time to hate.
There is a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (Easy-to-Read Version)

Out of this whole list, the hardest for us to fathom is why God would ever declare there is a time for war. But throughout the Old Testament, it seems those Israelites were doing nothing but making war. It was all part of God’s plan for the great nation of Israel. His chosen people were supposed to dominate their part of the world, so with God as the divine commander, they conquered many nations. In the end, though, because they were a sinful people, it didn’t turn out so well for them.

In our modern times, we ask ourselves what the purpose for war is. Thankfully there hasn’t been a world war in my lifetime, yet it seems we are always on the cusp of one. As various nations go after each other, we have to wonder which one of these events will lead to the “big one”. It’s so scary, isn’t it?

On days like this, when I don’t want to listen to the news, don’t want to know what is going on in the world or in our nation’s capital, I turn my fears over to God. All these things will happen in His time, He is the ultimate Commander in Chief.

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, let us put our trust in You. Let us lay our fears at Your feet. Guide those making decisions which will affect us all. And send Your Holy Spirit into the hearts of non-believers so that they can know Your peace. Amen