Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A House, a barn and a horse

 I’ve put on a lot of miles the last two months, which means I’ve taken a lot of pictures as well. I wanted to continue in chronological order, finishing up April before moving onto May and certainly before June. But this past Sunday afternoon, when my son said, “I suppose you will blog about this right away,” I couldn’t disappoint him.

My son Nick rents a room in a restored turn of the last century farmhouse in south-eastern Wisconsin.  His landlord has a small church in the neighboring city of Whitewater and once a year he has a church service in his barn, followed by a potluck. He invited Nick to speak about our work in Kenya during this weekend’s service.  
First, though, when I got there Saturday night, Nick took me out to eat at the Bicycle Shop / Deli / General Store in the community of La Grange.
We took this picture in honor of our cat Fred who has a tobacco addiction. 
This was the guest room I got to sleep in. No air conditioning, but it does have WiFi.
 In case you forgot what the weather was like this weekend, I took this in the car on the way down. At least the car had air conditioning
 Not only is the inside of the house beautiful, the yard is simply amazing.
 The barn where the church service was held. Maddie was not willing to give up her share of the barn. 
 But at least she listened intently to what Nick had to say. 
And she was very glad when everyone left and she could just go hang out in her pasture.   

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Need Encouragement?

 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17(New International Version)

I’ve been under a lot of stress the last few weeks to the point of feeling on the verge of a having a nervous breakdown. Feeling that I cannot get through one more single day, or even one more single moment.

I didn’t have a sudden epiphany. All of my problems didn’t suddenly go away. Maybe I just got tired of stressing. Or maybe, maybe I listened to that still small voice in the back of my head, the one which tells me that everything is going to be all right. Things will happen the way they are meant to happen. That still small voice which gets me back on track every time.

I don’t know how nonbelievers do it. Where do they turn when stress drives them to the breaking point? What does their still small voice tell them?

Mine tells me to turn it over to God. And that works every time.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, thank You.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Put a Cap on Cancer

The first American Cancer Society Relay for Life that I attended was in 1998. My sister Pat was still gallantly fighting her battle and she wanted to go to the Relay to show her support. The team which her co-workers from the paper mill had formed was dedicated to her and the war she had been entrenched in for five years.

She had an old wool blanket in her truck that we took out so that she could sit on the ground after the one lap she had walked had done her in. Somehow that blanket ended up in the back of my car and it is still there, moving to each different car I’ve owned.  

June 18, 1999, I went down for the Relay for only a short time. Pat had passed away earlier that day and I really didn’t feel like facing a lot of people. But if I had thought the year before that the paper mill had devoted their team to Pat, in 1999, the support was immeasurable. Bag after bag during the luminaria ceremony bore her name.

The following year I couldn’t help but form my own team. We petered out after five or six years, but I still made an appearance at our town’s Relay for Life almost every year. This year, sadly, I need to go out of town that day. That doesn’t mean I won’t be there in spirit.

They are doing a lot of different things for the Relay for Life this year, one being the Capping Cancer Campaign. 

The streets of Tomahawk have been lined with strings of caps since last week, leading up to the Relay kicking off tomorrow morning. You can read all about it in our local paper, The Tomahawk Leader. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Church from a Foreign Land

 A year or two ago, I ran across an article about the Estonian Evangelical Martin Luther Church in Gleason, Wisconsin. For starters, I didn’t even know what Estonia was but I was intrigued enough to look it up.

Estonia is a small country on the Baltic Sea, just across the channel from Finland and north of Latvia. The country has a long, complicated history, only winning independence in around 1920, but then to be overrun by the Nazis during World War II. But before all of that, many of its people immigrated to America looking for freedom and prosperity and some of them settled in northern Wisconsin. The first Estonia church in America was built in 1914 just down the road from the farming community of Gleason.

It still stands, but, man, it needs a lot of work. 
I stopped in to see it for the first time on a rainy day the end of May. Dino rode along, but we decided not to drive up the driveway.  

Like their Facebook page and follow the slow progress (currently it’s pretty slow, let’s hope it picks up). I'd hate to see this cute church lost completely. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day and Other Things

Today is Father’s Day and yesterday was the 17th anniversary of my sister passing away. My dad’s been gone for 23 years. I miss them both every single day.

I think how much they both shaped my life. My sister’s sense of humor and quick wit. My dad’s dry sense of humor. My sister’s easy laugh and dimples. My dad’s half-smile.

They were both so intelligent and absorbed books like my garden absorbs rain water, as if reading was necessary for life. They were both tenacious perfectionists, unable to finish a job until it was done to their satisfaction. And yet, as tough as they were on the outside, they had soft hearts, reviling suffering or injustice.

I picture them in heaven competitively playing cribbage or throwing horseshoes, building things which they had only imagined here on earth. And hopefully they are waiting for the day – way in the future – when the rest of the family I can join them.     

The best picture I've been able to find of Pat and Dad

Friday, June 17, 2016

Closing the Book on Illinois

            As promised earlier in the week, today I will finish telling you about our trip to Illinois in April.
             The Old Illinois State Police Headquarters of District 6. Built in 1941, the building is shaped like a pistol, which maybe at the time sounded like a good idea, but in the year 2016, um, probably not. It closed down in 2004, and is a pretty cool empty building now
            Down the road, between Pontiac and Chenoa, somewhere near Ocuya, we ran across this potter’s field, The Livingston County Poor Farm Cemetery. So quaint yet sad. Sad too that it wasn’t listed in any of the books or maps I had. People should know of these kinds of places to be able to pay tribute to the poor, these were probably hard working people who just didn’t have any money. So sad.
            Drove to downtown Chenoa just to see the pharmacy and the blue shoe sign. The lady working in the pharmacy was not real cordial, but I suppose she gets tired of people just walking in to nose around. We should have bought something, but like I say, she just wasn’t very friendly. People in those businesses need to try harder, considering it was the only business in town. 

              After Chenoa, we decided it was time to head back home. On our way to the Walmart in Morris, we drove through El Paso and passed this amazing building, The Elms. 
              The Elms restaurant was open for business from 1946 until 2004. At some point in that time it also contained a hotel. Prior to being a restaurant, it was the home of James H. Wathen, one of the founders of El Paso and mayor in 1869 and 1870. He never married and died in 1902 as one of the town’s wealthiest residents. What a shame that this grand house has fallen into this sorry state. 
             Stopped next at the WWII Canteen Monument in Streator. It is a tribute to the citizens who met the trains filled with returning servicemen, offering them their first home-cooked American meal. 
              Drove through Marseilles again, after our first day in the area when we stumbled on the Middle East Conflict Memorial there. Found some other memorials in town as well as the old train depot.
             This is the Norway Store in the little town of Norway, the first Norwegian settlement in America. 
             It didn’t look like much on the outside, but inside the building is a complete fully-stocked grocery store and little café, with cute Norwegian décor hanging around. 
             Last, the Norsk Museum, which we didn’t get to go into because it wasn’t open for the season yet.
             That would be it for our April vacation to north-central Illinois. Oddly enough, I was once again in Illinois just a few weeks ago. I bet you can’t wait to see those pictures!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Almost done in Illinois

It’s Flag Day. Am I ever going to get a break and be able to post what I want without feeling like I have to recognize the day? 

I’m going to plan on two more posts about our trip to Illinois, one today and one the end of the week and then you can find infinite relief in knowing you will never hear about it again. 

Pontiac, Illinois probably had the most things to see of any place we visited. From the murals on the walls of the buildings 

To the International Walldog Mural and Sign Art Museum 

To the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum 

To the Pontiac Automobile Museum 

To the Livingston County Courthouse 

To the Livingston County War Museum which I already blogged about 

To whatever the story was behind all the cute little cars on the street corners 

To the swinging bridges 

And last to the Old Log Cabin restaurant 

We missed a few spots, but wandered around this one which wasn’t even in my Illinois Route 66 Visitors Guide
Hard to believe there is anything left. Oh, I think I have enough left for next time.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Old Becomes New

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (New International Version)

Earlier this Spring, Hubby and I went to a junk sale and picked up a pile of great finds. My active imagination and too many episodes of American Pickers, had me picturing turning my tarnished treasures into gold. 

Hubby found the spigot, and the kettle was a joint effort. I didn’t know if I could get flowers to grow in it, but they seem to have taken off. 

I wanted to put some kind of letters in the spaces of this headboard, but haven’t been able to find any (ok, honestly, I really hadn’t looked.) 

Then in an eclectic shop in Le Claire, Iowa, last weekend, I found the perfect letters. Except for not having an A, but I turned the V upside down and I don’t even think you can tell. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we could turn all the trash we find into such treasures? Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with our sinful hearts? But we can, by giving all of our faults and failures to Jesus. He can make the most rusted person shine like gold. 

Thank you, Lord God for giving us a second chance at life, a chance to come clean and shine. Amen.