Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Streets of Hatchet Creek, Day 17

It seems like a long time since I have blogged about the streets of my hometown. I’ve walked the same neighborhood twice in the last few weeks, so I think that I will have to blog about it twice.

Frenchtown, on the south side of town, is full of beautiful scenery, especially in the fall. Amazing the difference one week makes. And now, one more week later, a lot of the leaves are down already. I think I hit it just about right. 
September 19
September 25
September 19
September 25
September 19
September 25
And then I veered off down one of the trails from Frenchtown into Bradley Park. 
The changing leaves are so fascinating. 
And anytime you add a body of water to the fall color - 
- it is totally awesome. What a beautiful town I am blessed to live in. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You Can Thrive

Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? 
Can reeds thrive without water?
(Job 8:11 New International Version)

Jamming to the Christian radio station yesterday on my drive to Wausau to see my daughter, I sang along to one of my favorite songs. “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. I’ve written about it here before.

As the end of the song approached and I was enjoying the music as much as I was enjoying the breathtaking autumn vistas along the road, I thought, “God, it would be so cool if that newer song that I really like came on next.”

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It's time for us to do more than just survive
We were made to thrive
(from Thrive by Casting Crowns, January 28, 2014)

Didn’t take long for the tears to start running down my face. We have such a big God and yet He is willing to crawl in my car to satisfy my tiniest whim.

The cool thing about this song is that it always reminds me of the mission statement my daughter came up with for our nonprofit organization
The mission of Tumaini Volunteers is to assist developing communities in Kenya to thrive by providing sustainable projects to help make them self-sufficient.

Sure, we can all survive. The people living in poverty in Kenya can survive. But don’t we all want to thrive? Don’t we want everyone we meet to thrive as well? And whenever I think of my beautiful daughter, I’m reminded that she is living anything but an ordinary life. God has certainly blessed us.

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, I thank You from the very bottom of my heart, I thank You even from the bottom of my feet. You are such an amazing God. I have never done anything to deserve all that You have rained down upon me. Help me to take my ordinary life and share some of what I have with others. In Jesus name, Amen

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Look to the Phoenix

There has been much lamenting in my hometown the last six months or so. And I have been right there, in the trenches, documenting it all, taking and saving 150 pictures (I deleted at least another 150) since last March. Watching our old hospital, sitting vacant for eleven years, meeting its final end.
This is the original entrance to the oldest section of the hospital. 
I took this picture in February 2013, a year before the final fate of the building was decided. 
July 11, 2014
September 14, 2014
September 17, 2014
September 19, 2014
September 23, 2014

I’d like to believe though, that just like the phoenix, something good will rise from this rubble, that the assisted living facility they plan to build on this lot will serve our community as well as the old hospital had for so many years.

When I was at the site a week ago, I had further confirmation that this was not an entire waste. I happened to pull up to the building as these two sisters were hard at work, salvaging what they could from the oldest part of the hospital.

One of them plans to use this as their project for their Gold Award in Girl Scouting (comparable to the Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout), using old pieces of this doorway and marble from the window sills, to be incorporated into a memorial garden at the location of the new Sacred Heart Hospital.

I would say that I am far from done taking pictures. I promise to keep you posted. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A 24-year love affair

In the spring of 1990, my first husband and I were halfheartedly looking for a house to buy. Driving random roads around town, we watched for houses with for sale signs in the front yards, wondering if we could afford any of them. We stopped at the end of a driveway with just such a sign. The house wasn't visible from the road, so Daniel eased the car into the driveway. I immediately fell in love with what I saw. Then told him to back out quickly; there was no way we could afford it.

A few days later, while at work, Daniel started talking to a man who had a house for sale. As the man went on, it dawned on Daniel which house he was talking about. It had been on the market for a while and was not far over our budget.

Though it only had two bedrooms, this was the house I wanted. Nick was four and Val had just been born; they could share a room for a while but not forever.

We moved in twenty-four years ago today. And I’m still in love with it. 
The view when you first turn up the driveway. A lot has changed over the years, but this is the spot where I fell in love. 

Front of the house; moving day, September 22, 1990
 Back of the house, September 22, 1990
 A few months after the addition which gained us that third bedroom, September 22, 1999. On the right is Shadow one of our Cocker spaniels who died in 2007.
 Back yard after the garage became the living room. We have a clothes line too. 
September 22, 1999
 And here we are in September 2014. Another dog in the yard, Dino, of course.
Back yard, September 2014. We have had the deck for quite a few years. A new roof two years ago. Himey is currently painting the house, so I can't guarantee these are the last pictures you will see. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Patterns in the World

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
Romans 12:2 New International Version (NIV)

I won this quilt in a raffle for the Relay for Life a few years ago. Naturally it is too pretty to use, so I hung it on my bedroom wall. Someone spent many hours on this, laying all the pieces out so that once the quilt was sewn, it would display this pretty pattern. 

When I was in co-worker’s office the other day, I told her how beautiful this quilt was on her wall. She said that it was her favorite and that she didn’t have a pattern for it when she started.
She explained the whole process she went through, starting with the wildlife scenes and then adding to it. Running out and buying more material when she didn’t have anything that worked in a certain block.

I already had this quilting blog spinning around in my mind when I went to church last night. It is that time of year where the ladies spread out the quilts they have made for world relief. In a few weeks, their hard-work will be packed up and shipped to those in need in third world countries.
And my own quilting? Well, this is how good it is going - I couldn’t find the quilt pieces I started working on years ago.

So, what does this all have to do with anything? Sometimes we work with a pattern, sometimes we work by the seat of our pants. We work with what we have, but when we are hard up, we run to the store and buy what we need. The outcome is never the same. each finished product is a one-of-a-kind, each ends up somewhere else. And in my case, there may not be an outcome yet for many years, but that doesn’t mean I am a failure, I just am on a different schedule.

Which is how we should live our lives. Sometimes things go as planned, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we have what we need, sometimes we don’t. But in the end all things work out according to God’s plan.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How's your health?

Tonight I completed my online health assessment for our health insurance. I’ve been fighting doing it for years, and if I told you why you would say that it’s not my physical health that is an issue, but my mental health. So we won’t discuss that.  

I’ve worked in the medical field for over 27 years. It’s not like I really need a computer-generated program to tell me what my health concerns are. But if they really send me a check for $150 for doing this assessment, in addition to completing my biometrics screen, well, I guess I’ll take the money.

I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke. My total cholesterol is 168, my fasting blood sugar 93. My BMI is 24 (depending on which chart you use, that can be borderline overweight, but our health insurance congratulated me on it, so they must think it’s ok). My blood pressure was 112/68 (or something close to that. I’m not going to drag it out again).

I don’t eat beef. They asked if I ever eat lamb. I don’t know if that is good for you or not, but on principle I avoid eating all baby animals. I do eat processed meats once or twice a week (hard telling what adult or baby animals are in there). I fudged the rest of my diet by a little bit. I think about eating fruits and vegetables, I want to eat them, but somehow they rarely find their way into my bag in the morning.

They didn’t ask about chocolate, though. Probably a good thing.

They did ask about sleep. That is probably my biggest health risk. I need more sleep, but there are just not enough hours in the day. Which leads to the next question. Stress. I must have really fudged those answers. Otherwise lights would have started blinking on the computer screen, words flashing across the screen: “We have called 911 for you. Please stay where you are and the ambulance will be there shortly.”

The only other concern this computer-generated questionnaire had was that I am not active enough. Which we all know is not true, but I think they define exercise as a sustained yet somewhat relaxing activity that raises your heart rate but gets you in a zen-kind of a place. Instead of activity which only raises your blood pressure and your stress level.

So I told the computer program that I would put a reasonable amount of effort into getting the proper amount and type of exercise and I would at least think about getting more sleep. Life is too short to live forever.

Oh, and I got my flu shot today. 

How are your biometrics scores? How long will your life be? 
 You want to avoid this place.
And this place.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Streets of Hatchet Creek - Day 16

This past weekend was the big Fall Ride, when 50,000 Harleys rumble into town. Ok, I don’t know if there have ever been that many, but this year, I suspect, thanks to the weather, that number was really down. Sunday night, when I walked the main drag, west on Somo Avenue and back east up Wisconsin Ave, you surely never would have guessed that even twenty-five motorcycles had been in town. Things dry up pretty quickly in small-town America.

Here are some panoramics from my walk. 

 I guess we don’t have to welcome the bikers anymore, just pray they all got home safely.
 All the Harley merchandise has been packed up.
 And there won’t be too much rumble for another year.

On my way back to where I had parked the car. I sure couldn’t figure out the tiger.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. Proverbs 28:27 New International Version

A week ago last Friday, my daughter called and said she had some news. I waited for her to spill it and in those two seconds, I began to wonder if I would see this as good news or bad news.

She couldn’t wait for long though to tell me that her nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers Inc., had achieved tax exempt status. Which means that now anyone who donates to it can deduct that donation on their income taxes, which means people with extra money have further incentive to share their money with us.

Since I returned from Africa in May of 2013, I have set up a booth at I believe six events. At these shows, I have been selling the Kenyan arts and crafts which we had brought back with us or which our Kenyan friends had routed to us. All of the money raised at those craft shows goes right back to Tumaini. Inevitably, while I am telling our story to anyone who is willing to stop long enough to hear it, someone will say something that rubs me the wrong way. Here are the things I have heard:

1) But we have poor people in this country. True, we do. And luckily there are many government and private programs to help these people. I do realize too that some of these people slip through the cracks, either they are too proud to ask for assistance, they don’t know that help is out there, or some loophole prevents them from getting any aid. I have worked in the medical field for over 25 years, so I know that this is true. And it frustrates me. But I still believe these people have more resources available than those living in third world countries do.

2) But the people living over there really don’t have it that bad. Really? Really? And you can say that because you have been there?  Coz I have been there twice and my daughter has been there three times. All together, the two of us have spent nearly a year in Kenya. We weren’t there as tourists, instead we saw how the majority of the residents live. Not in plush hotels, not in safari resorts, but in slums and hovels and mud huts. Most of them live without running water or reliable electricity. There is no such thing as insurance, of any kind. If you get sick, you may find help at a local clinic run by a charity, or you may end up dying alone at home from a simple infection that no one in America would ever die from. There’s no foster care system to take in the thousands of children who have been orphaned or abandoned by parents who simply can’t afford them. I hate to tell you this, but it really is that bad.

3) But I don’t have that kind of money. What kind of money would that be? The average Kenyan lives on less than a dollar a day. I am just going to make up a figure and say that 80% of Americans can find an extra thirty dollars a month somewhere in their budget that they could spend on a worthwhile charity. If you don’t want to send it overseas (as in example 1), than give that money to a local charity.

4) But I’ve heard that there is so much corruption that my donation won’t really end up helping the needy. Finally a statement I can agree with. But all that this means is that you have to check out the organization you are sending your money to. Just like in this country, some nonprofit organizations have CEOs who garner an obscene income, and only a very small percentage of your donation goes directly to those who really need it.  If you should choose to give your hard-earned money to Tumaini Volunteers, I will show you exactly where your money is going, who it is going to help and how it is going to change their life. Or better yet, you can sign up for a volunteer trip with us and come see for yourself.

Ok, so that’s me on my soapbox this week. I will promptly climb down now and return to my normal life. No, hold it, I don’t have a normal life, so that’s not going to happen.

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.1 Peter 3:8 New International Version 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gone, just gone

Wow, look at that. I have had this post planned for a while now, not thinking about the date. Yet there it is, the anniversary of when our lives changed here in the United States. We were suddenly as vulnerable as the rest of the world. I think though that since 9-11-01, we have let our guard down. We've begun to think that the good ol’ USA is invincible, that we will always be safe here. I sure hope people wake up pretty soon. It is not good out there in the world, and all the badness is right at our doorstep.

But I wasn't going to write about that today. But (sigh) my pictures sure fit.

What I really wanted was to open with a quote. I wasn't able to find the exact quote, so my apologies to Margaret Mitchell. The premise is that Scarlett is returning to her home, the plantation Tara, following the Civil War. It is night-time and there is cloud cover. Just as she is thinking the following line, there is a break in the clouds and the moon comes out.

“Was Tara still standing or was it gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia?”

Every day for the last six months, as I would drive down Lincoln Avenue, I would think of that line as I approached the old Sacred Heart Hospital and wonder if it was going to still be standing. I’ve taken over a hundred pictures since March, since it was announced that they were tearing the old hospital down.
March 30
August 13 
August 19
September 3 
 The cloud cover broke and this is what met me the other day. 
September 9 
Considering the eyesore which our old hospital had become, it is probably best that it comes down. But do we want our homes, our schools and our churches to meet the same fate?