Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ready for May

Since starting this blog over six years ago, I don’t think I have had a month where I have been as lax as I have been this month. Even when I was in Africa for two weeks on two separate occasions, I had blogs ready to post before I left and then got right back at it when I got home.

I know that I have been busy. 
Vacation in Illinois the first week of the month. I took over 900 pictures and am still sorting through them. I don’t know why I think I have to snap a shot of every single thing I see, yet there it is. All those photos in a file on the laptop.
Those first two weeks of the month, both my kids were in Kenya. You would think that wouldn’t stop me from having a life, but yet it did. Waking up at two am every morning, knowing that it was mid-morning there and wondering if they were anywhere that had WiFi so that I could message them and they could message me back. 
 The weekend they got home, my son downloaded onto my computer a thousand pictures which he had taken. I seem to think that I should go through them now as well and do some editing and posting. But, THEY ARE NOT MY PICTURES. So I need to let that go.
Last weekend I had my CMA conference in Manitowoc. Not only did I attend two full days of educational sessions, my partner-in-crime Denise and I set up tables to sell our Kenyan merchandise. Made a good profit, all to go back to Kenya and our nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers.
Last but not least, or so I think, tomorrow night I am giving a talk at Good Samaritan church in Eland, Wisconsin. So I had to update my powerpoint with pictures from the latest trip and pack up a smaller bag of African goods to display.

Umm, is that it? Right about now I am thinking, “Bring on May.”   

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stained Glass Windows

"People are like stained - glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Who doesn't like stained glass windows? I think every house should come with some. I wish my house had them.
These are just some of the magnificent windows we saw at the Joliet Area Historical Museum when we vacationed in Illinois earlier this month. The museum is inside the former Ottawa Street Methodist Church and has thankfully retained the beautiful windows from the building's former life. Eventually I will get around to sharing the rest of the pictures and stories from that trip to northern Illinois, but in the meantime, here are those windows.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What do you collect?

Friday morning, Hubby and I went to Mondovi to a junk sale. I bet that 20 or 30 years ago, people would say, “A junk sale? Why would anyone buy someone else’s junk?” Today, however, it seems pretty popular. From local rummage sales to shows like “American Pickers”, everyone wants to get their hands on old stuff.

Why is that? Coz I sure know that I have enough old junk of my own, yet I went to that sale two days ago and picked up some new old junk.

Why do we collect the junk we do? Why can’t we part with some stuff? Why do some people become hoarders? And what’s going to happen to all that junk when you die? Coz I am positive you can’t take any of it to heaven with you.  

It’s interesting that in the Old Testament, whenever any groups went out to war, the winner always took the spoils – the gold, silver, animals and all the other possessions owned by the defeated party. They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals. (Numbers 31:11 New International Version)

In the New Testament, however, Jesus says:

            “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 New International Version

So while it is fun collecting all kinds of treasures here on earth, we need to remember what is important and keep our eyes on the prize – Heaven. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Downtown Ottawa

Ottawa, Illinois, is an adorable historic town in north-central Illinois. On vacation near there last week, we spent a morning touring the downtown, but I think we could have spent several days there. We probably would have seen more of the town, taking a walking tour, except that the temperature was in the mid-thirties that particular day. The only good thing about that was that we were the only people out and about. 
 I already alluded to Washington Park in my blog post of April 5, so I won’t repeat myself. I will share one more picture though.
 A series of outdoor murals brings the history of Ottawa to life, including this one of General W.H.L. Wallace, who had been a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s.
 The LaSalle County Courthouse
 Jordan Block Park. As cold as it was outside that day, it was great to see flowers blooming and green grass.
 We didn’t buy any Wisconsin Kringle at the Ottawa bakery, but we did pick up some treats for later.
 The Scouting Heritage Museum. The little old man who was volunteering there that day followed us around the entire time, talking non-stop, making it hard to enjoy the museum, but he meant well. (That’s a picture of a scouting uniform, and not the little old man.)
 Before we left the downtown area, we took a tour of Reddick Mansion

 It was built before the Civil War for an Irish immigrant, William Reddick. At the time it was the most lavish home in the Midwest, having been built for a whopping $25,000, certainly a small fortune at the time. 

 One last cool old building, the Ottawa Visitor’s Center. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Snowy start and finish to vacation

 Last Friday, with heavy snow falling, we returned home from a one week’s vacation to north-central Illinois. I wasn’t expecting summer-like conditions, no sunning on the beach, but I thought that the weather would be bearable 320 miles south of here. I was wrong. We changed plans a bit, only spending two days outside all day, and doing a lot of driving and viewing from the car the rest of the time.

Our first full day there, Sunday, turned out to be the best weather wise. Though it started out at 40 degrees, the sun was out all day and it warmed to 70 degrees. Unfortunately, the constant wind blowing didn’t make it feel that warm.

We made a mad dash through as many parks as we could, knowing that the forecast for the rest of the week wasn’t very promising.

Morris City Park and Pool. 
 Gebhard Woods State Park in Morris.
 Mt Carmel Cemetery outside Morris 
 Illini State Park in Marseilles.  
Council Overhang at Starved Rock State Park  
Ottawa Canyon and Falls at Starved Rock State Park
 Kaskaskia Canyon and Falls at Starved Rock State Park.
Upper Dells at Matthiessen State Park  
Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park  
Actually, with a total of 900 taken on this trip, I don't think this few pictures from each day is going to be enough. Do you want to see more at each place or should I zoom through the week and not bore you to death? 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Snow, Snow, Go Away

 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 New Living Translation

A co-worker emails a daily Bible verse and a week ago, she sent this one. A great passage, but I can’t get past the word “snow”. Because here it is almost the middle of April and we still have snow on the ground.

On Friday, as Hubby and I were driving home from vacation, there were white-out conditions and we got a fresh four inches in the backyard. We’ve had a relatively mild winter, few days where the temperatures stayed below zero and no big snow storms, so we’ve been anticipating an equally pleasant spring. But it’s as if old man winter is just spreading the season out this time, making up for lost time in January and February.  

As the Bible passage above says, we need the moisture to water the ground so our plants can come up. But why can’t that moisture be rain and not snow? The saying isn’t “April snow showers bring May flowers”.

“It will accomplish all I want it to,” God says. So whether snow, rain, monsoon, or even drought, God’s got His plan and we have to go with it.

Lord, Heavenly Father, thank you for the weather You send. Help us to see Your glory in whatever is in our skies above. Amen

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chicken Work

I don't want to steal the thunder from my daughter and the rest of the team she is in Kenya with, so you need to click on this link to see the blog my son has been posting while they have been there.

Just in case you don't want to bother going to that link, here are some pictures to tease you.

So go check it out. And let me know when you are ready to join one of us on a trip to Kenya to make a difference.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Food for Thought on this Election Day

Today is the primary election in Wisconsin. I can’t – and I won’t – talk politics here or tell you who you should or shouldn’t vote for. Instead let’s look at a different presidential election.   

It began on August 21, 1858, in Washington Park in Ottawa, Illinois, when Stephen Douglas of the Democratic party debated a little known Republican lawyer named Abraham Lincoln for a Senate seat. The most heated topics of the day were slavery and state’s rights. Lincoln, as we all know, believed that slavery was wrong and that as a united nation, all states needed to stand together to abolish it. Douglas, on the other hand, believed that each state should be allowed to decide if slavery was right for them.
Lincoln lost the Senate seat to Douglas, but two years later he would win the presidential election. The Civil War broke out immediately afterward and we all know how it ended. Slavery was brought to an end.

No man has a right to own any other man. That was the basic premise on which this country was founded and it was upheld at the cost of many American lives, on both sides of the issue.

How would our country’s history have been different if it hadn’t been for Lincoln? If the northern states hadn’t prevailed in bringing an end to slavery? Are the issues any different in 2016? Aren’t our freedoms just as important now as they were in the 1800s?

Just food for thought. Now get out and vote. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Stone was Rolled Away

 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. Mark 16:2-4 New Living Translation

Last Sunday, Easter, we celebrated the empty tomb. The stone had been rolled away and Jesus had risen from the dead. As Christians we know that this act granted us forgiveness from sins and that at the time of our deaths we will be raised as well.

But who wants to think only of dying? Does being a believer mean all we have to look forward to is our last breaths on this Earth?

That’s where the stone comes in, a large stone, so large that it had taken several of the Roman soldiers to roll it into place. The women who went to the tomb that first Easter to care for Jesus’ body had no idea how they would ever roll that stone away.

Yet, God had barely lifted a finger to move it. He barely has to lift a finger to remove our heavy stones, the burdens of our lives. There is no weight, no physical affliction, no emotional pain that is weighing us down that is too much for God to eliminate.

Lord, God, thank you for sending Your only Son to cure of us our sins. Help us to find peace and joy in knowing that the stone was rolled away. Amen
When I starting writing this post, I had a picture in mind that I wanted to use. It is of a huge boulder which rolled into a house near Alma, Wisconsin, many years ago. I could not find that picture or any of the pictures I took between 2008 and 2010. As disappointing as that is, I guess God wanted me to use a different picture. This is from the Wari Ruins in the Andes mountains of Peru. I was there in 2009, and the pictures from that trip are the only ones I seem to have from that year. 

Rock in the house at Alma