Thursday, December 31, 2015

The End of Another Year

Here it is another New Year’s Eve and though I always hate being conventional, I guess I still should reflect on this past year.

The word that I chose last January to be my “word of the year” was anticipation. Because I had so much to anticipate in 2015. The Eagles tribute band concert, the nephew’s wedding in Dallas, an overnight trip to Lake Superior just to unwind, the daughter’s wedding in August, the cousin’s wedding in September and my third trip to Kenya in October. And wrote and organized the children’s Christmas program at church. Yes, it was a full-year. Lots of travel, lots of memories made, pictures taken. Oh, yes, and a new camera bought.  

Sometimes I wonder if it was worth it, some of those things already seem to have happened eons ago instead of only months. Sometimes I remember childhood events as well as I do what happened last summer. (I think that may be a sign of Alzheimers. Yikes.) Good thing I have those pictures.

Don’t tell my mom this, but maybe I do indeed do too much. She’s always telling me that I am so busy and that I need to take time for myself. Which I don’t get, coz with all the things I do, the only thing that isn’t for me is the day job (which I guess is for me if I want to contribute to paying the bills). I enjoy all the things I do and don’t know what else I would do. Watch TV? Seriously? I rather put in more hours at the day job than watch an evening of TV.

That would be all I know for sure at this point. I’m not going to take up television-viewing in the New Year. So what will it be? What will I do new and different in 2016? What adventures will I have? What travels will I take? What stories will I write? What lives will I touch or what lives will touch mine?

And what will my “word of the year” be? Stay tuned. The New Year is right around the corner. 
Happy New Year from the hubby and me 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Breaking it down - Tumaini Tuesday

Tumaini Volunteers is continuing with plans to return to Kenya next spring. Hopefully this week, we will have the dates pinned down and get plane reservations for our four team members.

Two weeks ago I shared what these volunteers will be doing, along with projected costs. If you have been considering making a donation and want to specify what it will be used for, here is a breakdown of the needs:
$10 will buy 100 fertilized eggs. Once these eggs are hatched and those chickens able to lay eggs of their own, the school at the SIDP camp can sell those eggs at ten cents a piece. Granted, some of those chickens hatched are going to end up being roosters and not every hen will lay an egg every day. In the long run, though, on average, your original investment of $10 can be making between $150 and $200 per month for the school.

$20 will feed these chickens for one month. Once these chicks are fully grown and laying eggs, the cost for their feed will come out of the profits of sale of the eggs, making this project self-sustainable.

$50 will train staff in how to properly raise these chicks. The healthier and happier these chickens are, the more eggs they will lay, so it is important to get them off to the right start. One woman at the school is caring for the chickens they already have, but she is willing to learn more to make this project a success. She also needs a second person to help her out and keep things running in the event she is not available.

$100 will purchase some of the building materials to expand the chicken coop and shed already in place at the school. Our volunteers and other volunteers from the SIDP camp will supply the labor.

$100 will purchase part of the incubator. Or you can so kindly donate the entire $1000 to get this out to the school right away.

$200 will purchase part of the generator. Or a single donation of $2000 will buy it. At one of the chicken projects we visited in October, the power had been out for a few days so all of the eggs in their incubator were no longer viable. Also, the weather had been warm that week so that the younger chicks survived without a heating lamp, but the weather cannot be counted on, no matter where anyone lives.

Send your donation in any of these areas to Tumaini Volunteers, PO Box 726, Wausau, WI  54402 and specify where you want your donation to be used. Also any donations of $20 or more mailed out before the end of the year will get you a print of one of the beautiful cats we saw on safari. Click on this link for more details about that. You can also click here to learn more about Southern Cross Academy and the chickens they already have. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Those First Few Days

 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
(Luke 2:21 New International Version)

Today is December 27. Just a few days ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus. We picture Him with His parents in a cramped, dirty barn, where cattle and sheep slept. We wait for the visit from the shepherds, and most people imagine those three wise men from the East showing up, even though they never made it to that stable. They visited Jesus many months, even up to two years later.

Then when the Baby was eight days old, He was taken to the temple to be circumcised (Yikes.) But what about that week in between? Did Mary and Joseph stay in Bethlehem for a few days while Mary recovered from delivery? Were they stuck in that stable? Or did someone take them into their home? Or did they take off for their own home on Christmas morning?

I like to imagine that after those shepherds went back to their fields that Mary got a few hours of sleep while Joseph kept watch over her and the Baby. Maybe in the morning, whoever owned that stable went to get their animals and was surprised to find the new family resting in the hay. Or more likely, the owner had already showed up in the night, aroused by the racket from the shepherds. If that were the case, perhaps he ran home and got his wife or other women from his household, who took over the care of Mary and Baby Jesus.

I don’t know. I don’t think anyone else knows either. So what do you think? What do you picture took place in those first few days after the first Christmas?

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us Your Son that first Christmas. Thank you for allowing us to get to know Your Son and to accept Him into our lives and be our Savior. Amen.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Who is the Light?


Christ Comes to the World
 Before the world began, there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  All things were made through him. Nothing was made without him.  In him there was life. That life was light for the people of the world. The Light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overpowered the Light.

 There was a man named John who was sent by God.  He came to tell people about the Light. Through him all people could hear about the Light and believe.  John was not the Light, but he came to tell people about the Light.  The true Light was coming into the world. The true Light gives light to all. (John 1:1-9 International Children’s Bible)

The writer of this book of the Gospel, the Apostle John (and not John the Baptist who he writes about here), writes in a cryptic manner. His words are beautiful and poetic, sometimes to the point where you wouldn’t know what he’s referring to unless you are already familiar with the Bible stories.

Here of course the Light that John writes about is Jesus. And there’s not much more I can add to that. Jesus is the Light and shines His Light on us all. 

The theme for our Christmas program at church last night was "Jesus is the Light." Though our number of kids is small, they did a great job, sharing the Light of Jesus with us. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Flashback Friday - My Childhood Best Christmas Gift

Hard to believe that I posted this story five years. Not much has changed since then. This dollhouse is still in my basement, neglected but no less loved. 

I can’t remember the year, I’m just not that good, but I was probably five or six years old. Or maybe I was only four. Sometime that particular fall, my sister Pat and I were banished from the garage. I remember trying to peak in the window, but I just wasn’t tall enough. I remember wondering, wondering, wondering what could be going on in there. What was Dad doing in the garage late into the evening. Why wasn’t he spending nights on the couch watching TV with us like usual.

Christmas morning there was a note on the tree. Pat read it and her eyes grew larger. She ran for the basement stairs, and I naturally followed.

There it was at the bottom of the stairs. This wondrous dollhouse. a three-story A-frame with real stairs and built-in kitchen cabinets. Mom had made curtains for it and cardboard living room furniture, upholstered in real upholstery fabric. The kitchen floor was covered in the same linoleum as our kitchen upstairs.

And the adventures we would have. Or I should say, the adventures our dolls would have. We were only interlopers, giants manipulating their lives during the day. At night, we truly believed, their lives went on without us.

It’s in my basement now, and hasn’t been played with in years and years, as you can tell by the dust. Much to my dismay, Val never really played with it. Maybe because she didn’t have an older sister showing her the way. Or maybe coz Super Mario Brothers was just more exciting.

I don't know if any other little girls will ever play with my dollhouse. But as much as my husband gives me a hard time about getting rid of it, it's not going to go anywhere. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tumaini Tuesday - need a big cat print?

Tumaini Volunteers met on Saturday for a productive meeting. We have four people (including repeat travelers Val and Denise) who are ready to make the trip back to Kenya next spring. My son Nick has been wanting to go and I think we have finally convinced him that he needs to do this. He went to Ghana Africa twice with Engineers Without Borders while he was in college, so he knows what a trip like this will entail. Our fourth volunteer is a friend’s son who has a degree in film production. He is volunteering his time to join us and film some of our activities. We are really excited to have him join us and produce a short documentary of not only the work of Tumaini Volunteers but of the great need in Kenya.

I know that I have shared many of the stories of our nonprofit organization and our experiences in Kenya. I have probably hinted at our need for funds and have also reminded you that we are tax exempt. I don’t think that I have blatantly asked for donations, but sometimes I need to throw subtlety out the window.

It is going to cost approximately $4000 to complete the chicken project we have planned. That cost includes $1000 for an incubator, $2000 for a generator, $500 for expanding the current chicken coop and buildings, and $500 additional start-up costs. The cost for our volunteers to make this trip, including airfare, room, board and transportation while in country will be about $2000 each. We have offered to pay the expenses of our videographer and hope to pay for the costs of our team leader. That means we need a total of $8000 in the bank within the next few months. Our current balance is just over $3000. We have a ways to go, but I am confident we can do it.

As already mentioned we are a tax-exempt charity, so any donations you make will be tax-deductible. Why don’t you make that tax-deductible donation today and claim it on your 2015 taxes. Make your check out to Tumaini Volunteers and mail it to PO Box 726, Wausau, WI  54402. Or make a donation via our website at

If you make a $20 donation before the end of the year, I will send you an 8 x 10 print of any one of the following pictures of the gorgeous cats. Specify which one you want when you make your donation.  
Thanks for all your support.
Adorable cheetah cub 
Lion and wildebeests 
Simba chillin'

Help us bring hope to East Africa.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It is Ridiculous

But now at last, God sent his Son to bring his message to us. God created the universe by his Son, and everything will someday belong to the Son. 3 God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way. By his own mighty word, he holds the universe together. Hebrews 1:2-3 (Contemporary English Version)

Last Sunday I used one of the Bible passages from the Christmas program I’ve been working on at church and thought it would be easy to just use the rest of the verses from the program for the rest of December. This particular passage says a lot, but that doesn’t mean it has been inspiring me with wisdom as I try to write this blog post. So I’ve been sitting at the computer surfing the ‘net. And because I act like an old woman, I had to check the obituaries. I know, am I old or just morbid? Maybe nosy?

But I found out that my friend Kathy’s mom passed away Friday. I wrote about it when her dad died a few years ago. I pulled up that blog post and looked at the picture of us goof balls from high school. Of my four best friends, we only have two moms left – Sal’s and mine. I guess we are all old.

But God holds the universe together and He will hold us together when life gets us down and He will get us through each day. And the awesome thing is that because God the Father sent His Son to us, we know that we can all meet up again in Heaven someday. And then think of the party we can have. 

Ok, but now it just got ridiculous.

I wanted to send Kathy a thinking-of-you email, but her address wasn't in my contact's list. So I looked back through all my emails to her last one, this past January. And she had posted this video.

Maybe we aren't getting old. Every day is a new day, day one, another day to do everything we want to do.

God is so good. It is ridiculous.

* * * * * * * * * *
Well, I wish I had a short term memory
Wish the only thing my eyes could see
Was the future burning bright right in front of me
But I can't stop looking back
.  .  .  .  .
It's day one of the best of my life
I'm marching on to the beat of a brand new drum
Yeah, here I come
The future has begun
Day One 

(Lyrics by Matthew West

Friday, December 11, 2015

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Wow. Hard to believe I wrote this post a year ago on December 5. On that date this year, a week ago, we had barely an inch of snow on the ground. Today, with temperatures well into the 30s all week, that small amount of snow is gone. And the forecast is not looking good for a white Christmas. 

I know that it has been a long time since I walked the streets of my town and shared about it here. I admitted a while back that I am just not as fond of winter as I used to be. And if I am outside, I will be wearing mittens, which are not conducive to photography. Yet here I am. One last time this year. (No guarantees what the new year will bring.)

A week ago Saturday night was the yearly Christmas parade downtown Tomahawk. The parade covers an entire two blocks. I know, how crazy-huge is that! And there were probably more people in the parade than were watching it. Sometimes I wish I were living in the 60s again where these home-town things were cool (and not just in the physical sense).

Anyway, so here is the line-up getting ready.

The horse-drawn sleigh bringing Santa to town.

Lastly, there is a Christmas tree Winter Wonderland in the empty lot behind the Rodeo Saloon. Any group or organization can sign up for a tree and decorate it, then the trees are donated to needy families or other charitable causes.

The hubby had made an appointment for my car at eight this Friday morning. The forecast was to be somewhat reasonable, so I thought I would use that time to take in the wintery sights of downtown. Here is that tree lot with most of the trees gone.

For the outdoor winter enthusiast, I would say that miniature golf is out.

I don’t think there will be any horse-shoe throwing at the American Legion either.

Luckily, though, the city crew is always out getting the snow off of our streets.

The dreary-looking morning didn’t clear up before my car was finished and I was able to head home.

If you don’t hear from me before the 25th, have a Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tumaini Tuesday - the flooded ravine

I've written about this ravine before. 
 It separates the school from the homes at the SIDP camp at Maai Mahiu.
 When the school was built, the ravine was nominal, nothing that couldn't be crossed year-round.
And it still can be crossed ten or more months out of the year. But during the rainy season it becomes a raging torrent. Our friend who works at the school posted a video of the flood on Facebook. Sorry that I am not tech-savvy enough to post it here, but please click on this link to see it on our Facebook page.
The ravine is just on the other side of that fence, within yards of the school yard.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Living in Darkness, waiting for the Light

 Now those people live in darkness.
    But they will see a great light.
They live in a place that is very dark.
    But a light will shine on them.
 God, you will cause the nation to grow.
    You will make the people happy.
And they will show their happiness to you.
    It will be like the joy during harvest time.
It will be like the joy of people
    taking what they have won in war.
(Isaiah 9:2-3 International Children’s Bible)

Last night I finished putting together our children’s Christmas program for church. This is the fourth year I’ve written the program. But saying I “wrote” it is misleading, I just put together the Bible passages and the songs that fit (I get a lot of help with the songs from our organist). I don’t pull the Bible verses out of my head, I Goggle things like “verses for Christmas programs”. It’s really not so hard.

After printing out the program, I still wanted to write this blog post. It dawned on me, why reinvent the wheel? Just take the three Bible readings you already researched for the program and use them for the next three weeks leading up to Christmas.

I went to bed before getting that done.

This morning, eating breakfast while reading the news on the internet, I thought that maybe instead I should write about the crisis our world is in. Between terrorist attacks, gun control, Syrian refugees, and the whole clash over religion, society seems to be spiraling towards the End Times.

But because God is good, even though there are many out there who disagree, He gave me the Bible verse above which I pulled off the internet several weeks ago to use in our Christmas program because the program’s theme is “Jesus is the Light”, not even thinking it has any further implications than that.

The verse is prophesying the coming of Jesus on the first Christmas. But isn’t it foretelling much more? What do you think?

Lord God, Heavenly Father, be with us during these turbulent times. Give us the wisdom to make the right decisions and the strength to act on them. Amen  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Flashback Friday - Christmas Cookies

I first posted this five years ago. I'm trying to figure out when I will make my roll-outs this year. It's not looking good.

Every year, without fail, when I was a kid growing up at home, the Friday after Thanksgiving was the day to make roll-out Christmas cookies. In the afternoon, Mom would roll-out and bake double batch after double batch. Then in the evening, after a leftover turkey supper, we would get to work decorating them, assembly line style.

Mom would frost them, always and only with white butter frosting. Then my sister Pat and I would trade off sprinkling them with the proper colored sugar, green for trees, red for poinsettias, yellow for bells. Whoever was not sugaring, would put on the accessories. A few mulitcolored sprinkles on the trees, three (no more, no less) silver non-pareils in the center of the poinsettias, two red cinnamon beads for berries on the holly. They were all beautiful - and all exactly the same. It never even crossed our young minds to be creative and try something new. We were too afraid of throwing Mom off. (I think she was menopausal my entire childhood.)

As each cookie sheet was filled with cookies, Dad would take them to the deep freeze in the basement. Once they were frozen they would be carefully and categorically stacked in a huge round Tupperware container to be returned to the freezer until Christmas.

When Christmas rolled around, as the Christmas cookie platter emptied every other day or so, we ventured into the freezer to fill it with Spritz, Peanut Blossoms, Christmas balls, and our beloved roll-outs. There were so many cookies down there and Mom was so stingy on dispursing them, that sometimes the Tupperware container didn't empty until February.

Luckily, Pat and I kept an eye on the situation and whenever we were playing with our toys in the basement, we would snitch a cookie or two. Mom pretended that she didn't know, but now that I'm a mother, I know better.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tumaini Tuesday #1

After returning from Kenya the 18th of October, I spent a month blogging about that trip, and have been sporadic and wandering aimlessly on this blog ever since. I decided it was time to get back on a schedule and bring back my focus. Which means that today is the first Tumaini Tuesday. (How corny, right?)

My plan is to spend just one night a week writing about Africa and promoting our nonprofit, Tumaini Volunteers. Even though I have so much to say on those topics, if I continue to share it all at one time, I may not only run out of material, I may bore you and lose your interest, if I haven’t already.

First, in case you have just stumbled upon this blog, or if you are a faithful reader who has forgotten some of what I ramble about, “tumaini” means hope in Swahili, the national language of Kenya. My daughter, Val, came up with the name after spending three months in Kenya in 2013 researching the logistics of starting her own nonprofit organization to bring hope to those living in dire situations.

It has been so much work and I cannot believe the hours she has spent on this. But this is where her passion lies and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I also never thought she would be hounding me this hard to keep up my end of the organization. I try not to let her down.

The mission of Tumaini Volunteers is to assist developing communities in Kenya to thrive by providing sustainable projects to help make them self-sufficient. We hope to achieve this by taking groups of volunteers to Kenya to implement these projects. In Val’s own words, many charities throw money at the problem instead of getting on the ground and really making a difference. It is like the story of giving a man a fish and you feed him for one day, or teach him to fish and you feed him for life. Right? The thing to know about that story is that many Kenyans don’t like fish. Which is why we have to do our research.

I hope this has helped you understand a little more about us. Come back next Tuesday to learn more about how we plan to get these projects going, or maybe I will just share a new story from previous trips. You never know where I will take you next.