Sunday, August 20, 2017

I will not be shaken

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. 
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 16:8 (NIV)

I was going to write about Job today, the guy from the Bible, not the place we go every day to make a living. I was going to write about Job today, that guy from the Bible who had a really bad spell in life, everything that possibly could go wrong in his world did – his crops failed, his livestock succumbed to illness, his family died, he was afflicted with physical ailments.

I was going to write about Job today because I’ve been feeling that way the last seven months. The emotional and mental stress I’ve been through since January 15 has worn on me like Chinese water torture. But it wasn’t until a week ago that the physical junk started weighing me down as well.

So I was going to compare myself to Job today. But when I opened up the Bible Gateway website, from which I glean all my Bible verses, to find a passage from the book of Job, the verse for today was Psalm 16:8. I can’t add anything to that. God is good and with Him by my side, I will not be shaken. Yes, this too shall pass. 

Praise God. 


Friday, August 18, 2017

This too Shall Pass

When things are not going well we say, “This too shall pass.” This actually comes from the Bible, Acts 2, which reads, “And it shall come to pass”. In recent years, I’ve heard a little something added to the end of it. “It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.”

I woke up Sunday morning with a belly ache; I blamed it on supper the night before. A chicken chimichanga, which was so good that even when I was full I pushed through and ate the whole thing. We were going to leave the next day to go camping all week, so I had lots to do – four loads of laundry, air out the bedding, put the camper up, clean it, stock it, put it back down.

The belly ache kept hanging on, with a few bouts of diarrhea throughout the day. I had checked the weather forecast for the week and it promised a few days of rain and only partly sunny the rest of the time. Highs in the mid-seventies at least. It crossed my mind that this camping trip wasn’t going to pan out.

Then, walking back to the camper late afternoon, I blew out my sandal. I know, big deal, right? Or a sign?

By dinner time, the belly ache and diarrhea had escalated so I only ate a piece of toast. That seemed to set pretty well, so a while later, I tried a bowl of cereal. The tummy did not like that. Or the lower right back.

By eight o’clock, I was in bed writhing in pain, the belly rumbling and tumbling, with a knife stabbing me in that lower right back. Hubby thought a trip to the ER was warranted, but I told him we should give it some more time. I laid down on the heating pad and tried to get comfortable. By nine, it wasn’t too bad and I slept most of the night.

Monday morning, I still had lots to do to get ready for camping. Since we couldn’t check in at the campground until three and it was just over a two-hour drive, I knew I had all morning to finish packing.

My back was only aching and my tummy only rumbling, so I took a nice hot shower. Then I ate a piece of toast. My body liked the shower all right, but not the toast so much. Nausea started rolling through my stomach like waves from a hurricane. The knife in my lower right back was joined by his friend the taser. Hubby made me cancel the campground reservations. “We can do something else this week, take a ride, stay closer to home and the hospital.”

“They have hospitals everywhere,” I retorted.

Shortly after that, however, I said, “Maybe we should go to the ER.”

Part of my problem is that every day, at the clinic where I work, I see patients who have had benign symptoms for a day or two. “My back pain is a nine on a scale of one to ten,” they tell me even though they have a smile on their face and are sitting at ease in their chair. “I woke up with a sore throat this morning, it must be strep.” “No, I didn’t take my temperature, but I know I have a fever.” “Oh, your thermometer reads 98.7? That’s a fever for me because my temperature is always low.” “I threw up an hour ago, it must be something serious.” “I’ve been coughing non-stop for weeks.” (Though they don’t cough once the whole time I am in the room with them.)

Anyway, so you can understand why I refuse to burden the medical community with my minor ailments. And actually, I was counting on the pain going away as soon as I walked into the building.

Nope, that didn’t happen.

When the doctor offered me something for pain through my IV, I naturally first declined it. When the nurse was sticking the needle into my arm, however, I asked if I could just get a small dose of pain meds. You’d think, from the way, I was curled up in a ball one minute, then thrashing the next, that they would have wanted to knock me out, with or without my permission.

I’ve rambled enough. I was thinking appendix or maybe a bowel obstruction. Kidney stone was on my list, and it even crossed my mind that I had picked up some nasty bug in Kenya in April and it just now had decided to take over my intestines.

Labs and CT scan came back with everything looking good, except for a 4mm stone in the right kidney. “Here’s prescriptions for Zofran (for the nausea), Vicodin (for the pain), and Flomax (to open up the ureters so the stone might pass on its own)."


Hmm? Here I am, four days later, in not much pain, but that darn kidney is still hanging onto its little stone as if it is a ruby or a diamond. My husband is just hoping it turns out to be something valuable. We have a better chance of buying the winning lottery ticket, dear. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Night Sky

 When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? 
Psalm 8:3-4 (New International Version)

Too dark for a picture last night, but this was my spot. 
Before I went to bed last night, I thought I would hunker down on my deck and see if I could see any shooting stars. The Perseid Meteor Shower is going on now through August 24 and we are currently in the peak of it. The experts say that during this time a person can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour. It’s been more than a couple years since I intentionally watched for meteors and since it was warm and clear last night, I thought I would try it.

Why do we find shooting stars so fascinating anyway? Is it because it is something different in the night sky? Is it because, even though we know scientifically what they are, there is still a mystery to them? Is it because we want to make a wish?

I don’t know why they fascinate me either. The greater fascination for me, however, is just the night sky. A hundred-million stars, some bright and twinkling, others hardly a pin point in the black fabric. Cassiopeia, Orion, the Big Dipper – the only constellations I know and can easily find.

The distance, the vast expanse. During the day, the sky feels finite, as if there is any end to it, as if that blue is the ceiling. If there are clouds, they mark the end point.

But at night, the stars go on and on forever. They do not end.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us the stars, the moon, the sun. 
Thank You even more for Your love which does not end. Amen.
The sky this morning, where I watched for shooting stars last night.
In twenty minutes, I counted ten, two of them even left a momentary tail in the sky.

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 Kenya Log Entry 20

 I am going to make the official announcement. This is my last journal entry from our trip to Kenya this past April. We’ve been home for four months; I think it’s time to finish this out.
 Our second to the last day in Kenya, we went to downtown Nairobi for shopping. People always think that all of Africa is a modern-day wasteland, where there is no running water, no electricity, no modern business, certainly no skyscrapers
 Downtown Nairobi, however, is just like any other twenty-first century large city. You can look around and believe you are in New York City (I guess, I’ve never been to New York City and don’t plan on it any time soon).


 I wish I could have taken more pictures as we were walking around the streets. The only constant reminder of where we were was that Dan, the Maasai, was with us. 
 We shopped at Baboa’s and Haku Crafts in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. Then walked a few blocks to the City Market. The City Market was a nightmare, I think. Nothing is marked and every price has to be negotiated. They will not let you walk away without purchasing something, so you finally cave in and buy something you don’t really want at a higher price than you should have paid. Or that’s what they try to do. All I can do is keep saying, “I have no money”, as the seller physically clings to my arm, as I practically drag them out of their shop with me. It’s pretty intimidating and stressful.

 My daughter Val was a champ, though. She was like a dog with a bone, not letting go when she wanted something and at her price. No, she didn’t always win, but we didn’t get ripped off either.

 Then things got crazy. We were going to meet Samson in the van at a certain location at a certain time. Loaded down with all of our purchases (which included probably 50 pounds of soapstone – it’s heavy stuff), we ended up running down the middle of the street, between city buses, . Dan, the Maasai, being ever the gentleman, insisted on carrying most of it, though he is skinny as a rail.

 When we finally got to the van and jumped in, as it was moving, all of us were pretty winded and starting to sweat. Dan just smiled. Even carrying six of our heaviest bags loping down the street behind us, his heart rate was probably less than 60. Those Maasai!
 Some of the soapstone. 
 Some of the paintings and batiks.
All such cool stuff. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2017 Kenya Log Entry 19 (I think)

The last time I blogged about my most recent trip to Kenya, I was still sharing my adventures at Hell’s Gate. But we saw much more that day.

After the long hike into and back out of the canyon. 
              Just    have    to    walk    this    last    walk.
 Yes, I made it. We all did. 
 A short drive later, we were rewarded with a hearty Kenyan lunch. Apparently at the break room of the thermal power plant. 
 Next, was the even better reward – soaking in the thermal hot springs. I could have spent the rest of the trip there
But no, we drove off to Lake Naivasha for the boat trip. We were all thinking on the ride there that we were so exhausted that we would have been happy turning around and heading home. 
 Glad we didn’t. 
 Birds. 
 Birds. 
 And more Birds. 
 Then some warthogs.
 Then zebra and baby wildebeest. 
And zebra, wildebeest and gazelle. 
 Last. Hippos. 
 
And Hippos. 
 And more Hippos. 
 Yikes! It was a long day, but completely worth it! I love Kenya. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Leaving My Heart at Green Lake

I’ve written about this place before.
And the reasons why it means so much to me.
And how it was because of this place and the writers’ conference held there each year that my first book was published.  
The Green Lake Christian Writers Conference on the beautiful grounds of the Green Lake Conference Center had been held for 68 years. I attended in one form or another for five years. I made some cherished friends, shared lots of laughs, embraced the peace of the conference grounds, learned a lot about the craft of writing. And as already mentioned, was given the opportunity to have my memoir published.

At the conference one year, my project for the week was to work on the opening scene of my first novel. As you already know, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand” is finally ready for publication.
Also, on my way home from the conference another year, I met the inspiration for the novel I’m currently working on.
This year’s conference was scheduled to start today and even though I wasn’t planning on attending, I was crushed when I found out last week that it was cancelled due to low registration.

I know that things change, and time marches on. Maybe 69 years is too long a time for an event to continue to be held. How many marriages have lasted that long? I hope though that next year the writers’ conference will be resurrected, that new blood will take over and young blood will be drawn to attend. And if it be God’s will, I’ll return as well. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

When You Need a Miracle

When I was living in Colorado, I was on my way to work one morning, when I came upon an accident. A semi-truck at the side of the road, a smashed pickup nearby. The car of the physician’s assistant I worked with parked next to the fire truck that had just arrived.

When I got to work, I told our receptionist that Randy was going to be late as it looked like he was assisting at the scene of an accident. Turns out, he was not only there, trying to save the life of the driver of the pickup, but he had seen it happen.

Randy had pulled up to the stop sign on the busy highway and looked across the intersection to the pickup at the stop sign opposite. He looked straight into the driver’s face, watched him look both ways and then saw him pull out right in front of the semi-truck.

We found out later that he was on his way to traffic court and would probably have lost his license. If he wasn't able to drive, he'd probably lose his job. His girlfriend was pregnant. It seemed he felt he was at the end of his rope. Randy was sure he had pulled out in front of the semi on purpose. He was declared dead at the scene. 



Every time I hear this song, watch this video, I think of that incident. I wonder what would have made that young man change his mind, realize that no matter what was going on in his life, it really wasn’t that bad.

I’ve been going to share this story for a long time. I don’t know what I was waiting for.

No matter what is going on in your life, no matter how grim things seem, no matter how desperate, there is always a reason to live. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Making a List

Yesterday afternoon an idea came into my head of what I wanted to blog about today. That idea was followed by about three more. And now that it’s time to sit down and actually write this post, I pretty much have nothin’ in my head. Or maybe I have too much in my head and none of those thoughts are coming together. Or duking it out to declare a definitive victor.

What I need to do is make a list of all the things I still need to blog about, put it on a schedule and then do it. Here’s a start:

1)     Finish journaling about our trip to Kenya in April. You may find it hard to believe, but no, I have not shared all the details of the trip. There are actually a lot of recent, much shorter trips which I have taken and not told you much about either.
2)     I still have all those old pictures of my mom’s to scan into the computer and then I’d love to keep sharing some of those each week.
3)     Along with those really old pictures, I want to scan the pictures which I took back in the 80s and 90s, mostly of me and my sister Pat camping. And compare them to some of those same places which I have been to more recently.
4)     The middle of July, when I found out the release date for my novel, I said I was going to start posting some of the “lost files”, the scenes which I had to delete from the finished book because I was bogged down with too many points of view.
5)     Then wouldn’t it be nice to share something informational?  I love researching random stuff on-line and writing my own little mini research papers. Aren’t I a weirdo?

As you can tell, I have a hard time staying focused on one thing. The experts tell me that a person’s blog needs to concentrate on one thing – either you write book reviews or travel blogs or research the history of your state or whatever grabs you that you want to write about and your readers want to read about.

I don’t know. I’ve published one memoir, two devotionals and a novel now. Floating around in my laptop are three more memoirs, two more devotionals, a novel and a novella. You don’t even want to know what’s floating around in my head!

So, I guess if any of my faithful followers have a problem with my lack of specialty, let me know. I probably won’t change how I do things, but I still value your opinions. I’d also love to hear of any other subjects you’d like me to write about, as if I need more ideas!

Finally, a few pictures of the things I still need to blog about. 
Have a great day!!!




Sunday, July 30, 2017

When One Can't Sleep

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:6-7 (New Living Translation)

As my husband was leaving for work this morning at 5:30, and I was in bed reading, he admonished me to go back to sleep. But as all of us know who suffer from insomnia, that is not a command we can obey. We can’t just shut off our brains, or the pain, or whatever it is that’s keeping us awake. It’s better to get up and face the day and fight through the fatigue. Okay, that’s probably not the best way to do it, but that’s what I end up having to do.

Yes, I know that God has granted me His peace, I know that Jesus Christ guards my every moment, both waking and sleeping. But sometimes, a person still just cannot sleep. To which all I can say is, this too shall pass.

Lord, Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Faithfulness. Thank You for sending Your Son to be by my side in every trial. And Lord, if it be Your will, let me get a good night’s sleep tonight. Amen. 
One of the most peaceful places I've been to. The Baltimore River in Michigan's UP. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

On my writing

I’ve been reading “On Writing” by Stephen King. The book opens with not one, not two, but three forewords. I think that only a writer of King’s caliber can get away with that. Most articles on writing which I’ve read suggest you jump right into chapter 1, skipping a foreword or a prologue or anything else which slows down the beginning of the action. I would tend to agree, often skipping the five pages of acknowledgements until after I’ve read the book (even though my new novel begins with a prologue, but it couldn’t be helped). I do however want to know what’s in the author’s head, what or who inspired them and where this story came.

Which is why I ended my novel with “Why I wrote this book”. Here is an edited excerpt from it.

 “The first time I traveled to Africa was on a mission trip with my daughter in 2006. Neither one of us ever imagined we would return. Yet, in 2010, my daughter, trying to find her role in life, volunteered in Kenya for six months, traveling throughout the country and working in a variety of capacities. It was while she was gone, that Kenya resurfaced in my mind and I started writing a memoir of our first trip. It was also during that time that I dreamed about a young boy living in the bush of Kenya. That dream would become the opening scene of this book.

 “In my multiple travels to Kenya, I’ve been to the magnificent Rift Valley and have met various Maasai people living there. The adults have all been gracious and hospitable, and the children ridiculously friendly.

“It is my wish that in reading this book you not only grow closer to God, but that you are inspired to make a difference either at home or in a third world country.”
This picture is from our first trip to Kenya and one of these boys is who I see when I think of the boy in my novel. The picture’s not included in the book, but I hope that from my description of him, this is who you see in your head.  

Where the Sky Meets the Sand” is available as an ebook and as a paperback for preorder. I’ll let you know when I get my own supply if you want a signed copy. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waterfalling

A week ago, I shared pictures and memories of a day outside exploring with my brother and sister. Today, you get to hear about another such day, only this time with two old friends. We only get together a couple times a year, but have been doing it for 20 years. A third friend was supposed to join us but something came up. Next time, Barb. 
 Linda wanted to see waterfalls, and since I knew where some were that she had never been to, I volunteered to play tour guide. And Joy was just along for the ride. 
 First up was Bond Falls. An easy walk from the parking lot. Beautiful. But every time I’ve been there, there have been too many other people around. Same thing this time. But I was still able to get lots of pictures without people in the way. 

 At least the wildlife wasn’t bothered by the people. 
 We swung around to Agate Falls. I wanted to scale the fence and crawl on the rocks and get closer, but Joy wouldn’t let me
 Finally we stopped at my favorite waterfalls. Haven’t been there in many years, coz it is a bit of a hike into it. 
 Linda was game for the trail, though we didn’t realize how muddy it was going to be. 
 Maybe not the biggest waterfall in the UP, but to me, the most peaceful. I’ve blogged about it before. O-Kun-De-Kun falls fills me with memories. Good times. 
 Last stop was Old Victoria, but it is getting late. I have to get going, but I promise to fill in the details another time.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Marching On

                     Betty had asked Jenny if she attended a local church.
                     “No, why?” Jenny had answered before giving it any thought.
                     “Sometimes it helps make things easier. Gives you a direction, a place to turn when you are hurting.” Betty rested her hand on Jenny’s arm. “I can suggest a few, if you have a preference of denomination.”
                     “No … um … there’s definitely no denomination.” 
                     “You could come with me some Sunday. I could pick you up.”
                     Jenny’s eyes narrowed. “Is this part of your job? Are you supposed to convert me or something?” Betty had been so upfront with her so far and Jenny felt she could trust her. Why was she pulling the whole church thing now?
                     “It’s not part of my job.” The woman laughed. “It’s part of me. I couldn’t say I was a Christian if I didn’t reach out to nonbelievers. At least try to reach them.”

My novel, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, was released in ebook version last week and will be available in paperback after September 1. This is a short excerpt from chapter 14. When I write a scene like that, I feel like a hypocrite. Have I shared my faith with others? Have I tried to reach out to the lost? A loud “no” reverberates in my head when I ask myself that.

Yet, people tell me that I reach others with my writing. I suppose that is true, to a certain extent at least, but I always feel that I should be doing more.

What I have to remember though, what I have to tell myself, is that God made me the way I am for a reason. Yes, sometimes I need to get out of my comfort zone and actually talk to people, which is a struggle because I’m very shy, insecure, and introverted. I think that’s why I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so I can live like a hermit and not leave my house.

I seem to have gotten off track.

What I really mean to say is that God grants us each gifts, whether it is healing the sick, feeding the homeless or preaching the gospel. Our job is to share those gifts with others, with those in need. Once in a while, though, we will be asked to stretch ourselves, to offer to others things which cost us something, whether monetarily, physically or emotionally. At those times, all we can do is ask for God’s guidance and strength, and then march on to do what we have to do.

Heavenly Father, thank you for granting me so many gifts and I pray for your guidance in using these gifts to benefit others. Amen
Sometimes we have to march through the mud, whether it's comfortable or not. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Here's a sad fact

This is going to be another, short quick post, with more pictures than anything else. 
This is my Uncle Robert and Aunt Helen (my mom's brother and sister), taken around 1920.
My Aunt Helen marrying Uncle Bob in 1942. His brother was their best man and her cousin was their maid of honor. The best man and maid of honor had gotten married in 1939. So brothers married cousins. Right? 
 My Aunt Helen's kids in 1955.
 My Uncle Robert with his wife and kids also in 1955. 
 This is my family, in 1959, before I was born. 
I don't want to go into lengthy detail, but I've lost four of the relatives in these pictures in the last five months. As I post this, I am heading off to the funeral of one of them. One of my favorite cousins, Gail. Here she is at her wedding in 1970. Have you ever seen a happier bride? 
Holy cow, and here's a really sad fact, if I 'm counting right, out of all these pictures, only six of these people are left. I think I'll quit going through the old family photos for a while.