Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When the Analogy Just Pops Up


Over the weekend, I wanted to write a manifesto and share my views on the world situation, particularly the current state of affairs here in the U.S. I don’t get politics. I try to understand it but I have a misfiring synapse in my brain. Oh, I know what it is, I’m basically a good person and I have common sense. I don’t think we see that combination in Washington anymore.  Or in the media.

But I wasn’t going to go there today. I was going to go back to Africa instead.

I think with all the craziness in the world, now is the time to travel to another country and make a difference, bring change. I know it doesn’t make sense. But Life is just too short to sit around and worry and wonder. Am I going to be okay?

A lot of people do question my sanity. Why would you risk your life to travel to Africa now?

Why wouldn’t I? And am I really risking my life? Or anything?

Are there really people out there who took a chance and whatever the outcome, said, I shouldn’t have done that? Coz I think there are way more people who said, I should have taken the risk and done that thing I was afraid to do but which was pressing on my heart.

If you know me personally or have been following me on social media, you may realize that I have been under a lot of stress lately. Last night, I had a dream about a tornado coming down the street at me, which should say something about my mental status. What probably says even more is that, in this dream, I ran back into the house to get my camera.

I guess that’s why I go back to Africa. No matter what tornado – or trial  or task - is on the horizon, I’m going to turn my back on it just long enough to grab my camera – or my guts or my faith. When I’m ready, I’m going back out in the street and meet it head-on.

Huh. I really didn’t see that analogy coming. I thought it was just a crazy dream about my stress. Oh, and in the dream, by the time I got back outside with my camera, the tornado was turning away. 

There is still time to donate to our volunteer trip in April. We need $6,500 to complete the rabbit project, $1,200 to cover expenses of our team leader and another few hundred to purchase all the fun merchandise we bring back to sell for fund-raising. You can mail a check made out to Tumaini Volunteers, Inc. to PO Box 726, Wausau, WI  54402, or donate directly to our website here. We are currently only about $1,000 short, so every little bit will help. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

How's Your Job Going?

 Servants, you must respect your masters and do whatever they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are tough and cruel. Praise the Lord if you are punished for doing right! Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong; but if you do right and suffer for it, and are patient beneath the blows, God is well pleased. This suffering is all part of the work God has given you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example.1 Peter 2:18-21 Living Bible

I don’t write a lot about my day job. If I did, I am afraid it would be mostly to complain. Instead I should be happy and grateful that I have the job that I do, that I am ‘gainfully employed’. Overall, I have a good job and like it most of the time. However I do feel justified in complaining about it yesterday.

It was Saturday, and the way our schedule works (or used to work before we became so short-handed), I should only have to work one Saturday every other month. God gave us caller ID for a reason, yet, even after knowing who was calling at 8:22 yesterday morning, I still answered the phone. And I went in to work when my manager asked me to. And the day went downhill from there.

Then last night I read these words in 1 Peter. As horrible as any of my days at work may have been, no one has ever beaten me. Not physically anyway, maybe brow-beaten, but I still don’t feel I should complain. Not when considering the beating which Jesus took for all of us.

Lord, thank You for giving me a job which helps to support me and my family. Help me to be grateful and respectful of my employer. I know I need Your help with that. Amen 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Don't I Wish

If you are on Facebook, you occasionally see questions bounced around by your friends, such as do you still wash dishes by hand or do you have an artificial Christmas tree? These are put out there, I suppose, as conversation starters or to see who you have what in common with. Another such question I’ve seen is “do you still remember your house phone number from when you were a child?”

I always find it hard to believe that someone wouldn’t remember that number. I suppose the current generation of young adults were raised on cell-phones, so they won’t understand. But for anyone raised in the eighties or before, for any of us who were born and raised in the same house, or even the same town, forgetting that phone number would be like forgetting our birthdate.

And for a lot of us, it might still be the number we call when we need to talk to Mom and Dad.

When I was in my early twenties, living in Colorado with a new husband and a new baby in a new house, I would call that number and as soon as I heard the ring on the other end, I felt like I was at home. I was safe and secure. I could be a kid again coz Mom or Dad would answer that phone back in Wisconsin and they would still take care of me.

Don’t I wish that was still the case. Instead of things being the other way around.  
Mom and Dad with their dog Mac the first time they came out to visit me in Colorado. 
Garden of The Gods, Colorado Springs, 1984

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Who is For Us?

Once again, I was wandering through various Bible passages, looking up ones which would give me strength in my weakness and remind me that God has got it covered, He has got my back. I found a verse from Romans chapter 8 and ended up reading the entire chapter. Though I picked out a few verses, because the chapter is a bit long to reprint here, I think you need to go find your Bible and read the entire chapter yourself. Or click here to read it in Biblegateway. Then maybe commit your favorite verse to memory.

10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Go, Pack, Go

In follow-up to Sunday’s blog as well as a certain football game Sunday afternoon, I found a story which I have yet to share.

I went to my first Green Bay Packers game sometime in the mid-seventies, with my mom, dad and sister Pat. I don’t remember much about the game except that it had to be early in the season – maybe even preseason – because it was warm and sunny and Mom was worried we would get sun-burned. I think we played the L.A. Rams.

I returned to Green Bay on December 22, 1990, for the tenth coldest game in NFL history. When the Packers were trailing the Lions at the start of the fourth quarter, we called it a day and headed to the warmth of our car.

Sometime before that frigid day, we took my son Nick to his first Packer game. Or my cousin did. Here’s how it went down.

I don’t know where we got four tickets from, but we offered one to my cousin Dick who wasn’t living too far from Green Bay at the time. He had come home for the weekend and offered to drive Nick, who couldn’t have been more than five at the time, to the game. My husband and I would drive our car down and meet them at the stadium.

We were driving a Ford Tempo at the time, which had been a lemon from day one, so we were starting to look for something different. On the way to the game we stopped at a dealership between here and there to see what they had. We thought the little Honda Civic looked pretty good, so we thought we would come back the following week to check it out when the dealership was open.

Didn’t turn out quite that way. See, the Tempo died in the parking lot. From somewhere, because this was way before cell phones, we called my sister and then another cousin who lived in that town, to see if either had a vehicle we could borrow for the day. My cousin loaned us their beast of a sedan which had a ridiculous oil leak. I think we added two quarts on the way there and two on the way home again.

We would have skipped the game altogether, but my five year old son was already there, with no ride home.  I don’t remember a thing about the game. Though Nick says he remembers that day, I wonder how much he really does.  
Oh, and we did buy that Honda Civic.

Glad Nick has made it to a few more recent games. And good luck, Packers, this Sunday. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What a mother treasures

  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 
Luke 2:19

 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:51 (New International Version)

My son, my firstborn, will turn 31 years old next week. I remember the night I went into labor with him and the early morning hour when he was born. I remember rocking him in his grandmother’s rocking chair in his bedroom. He was a good baby and didn’t need much rocking. I’m the one who needed that time to just hold him and study his tiny round face.

Babies grow up way too fast. Before a mother knows it, they are walking and talking and spending part of the summer with his grandparents, 1200 miles away. He doesn’t remember that summer, but his grandma still does.

Yup, before a mother knows it, her baby is off to kindergarten and in a blink of the eye, he is graduating from high school. In all those years, the moments to be treasured add up like the stars in the sky.

What moments did Mary treasure? And could she imagine the pain she would experience when her Son was in His thirties?

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to live life her with us and to suffer and die for us so that we may know eternal life. Amen.    

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

And here's the rest of the story

Christmas 2010

If you follow my writing blog or follow me on Facebook, you probably already saw most of the pictures in this post, but I wanted to share the rest of the story.

For starters, for many years I wore this sweater vest at Christmas, thinking that it was kind of cute. I had an epiphany shortly before the holidays this year and realized that this could qualify as an ugly sweater. Time to upgrade my wardrobe. 

However, the Hubby and I were invited to a party this year, where we were asked to wear our ugly sweaters. I thought about resurrecting my standard sweater vest and leaving the Hubby on his own, but then I had an idea. One I came up with on my own, by the way, without consulting Pinterest.

We found the sweaters at St Vinnie’s. If you haven’t been to one of the thrift stores run by St Vincent De Paul, I suggest you go find one. My plain red turtleneck was $3. Hubby’s was marked at $4, but was 50% off clearance. 
 This was what I hoped to put on them. Most of which were items laying around the house. The little round ornaments on the tree and the grey buttons on the snowman are recycled from the clinic I work at. They are the tops off of vials of injectables. What can I say? There were a lot worse things I could have slipped home in the pockets of my scrub pants.    
 I’ve been planning these sweaters in my head for a couple weeks, but couldn’t start work on them until we had purchased the blank canvases, which was Wednesday. I spent Friday gathering supplies. 

 Then when Hubby got home from work, we had to model them with the tree and snowman pinned on. I worked Saturday morning, so didn’t start sewing until Saturday afternoon, forgetting that I also needed to put together a dish to pass at the party. But that’s how I roll.
 Didn’t get the snowman’s hat on in time. 
But took care of it Sunday morning, before I packed away the sweaters until next year. 
 Don’t you just want to invite us to your party?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Flying Free

This is the final installment of my Christmas inspirational blogs. Since the first Sunday in December, I have been reposting an updated issue of the blogs I posted five years ago. I thought they were kind of cute, so decided they were worth revisiting. All the pictures are of animals either my daughter or I photographed on our trips to Kenya. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” Luke 2:22-24 (New International Version)
Dove 1: What are you doing out there?

Visitor: Who me?

Dove 1: You’re the only one out there. The rest of us are stuck in these cages.

Visitor: I’m sorry about that. What are you doing in there?

Dove 1: I asked you first.

Visitor: Well, see that couple over there, the one with the baby?

Dove 2: The people who are looking to buy one or two of us?

Visitor: Yes. I have been following them all over the country side for months. Their baby was born about six weeks ago, and I think He is the reason I have been tracking them.

Dove 1: But you don’t know why you are following them?

Dove 2: That doesn’t make any sense.

Visitor: I know. I just wish I could talk to them. Find out who the baby is. Other animals I have talked to have said that He is a savior and a king.

Dove 1: All I know is that if you don’t want to end up in one of these cages with us, you should fly away. You should appreciate your freedom while you have it.

Just then a man lifted the cage with the two doves in it and handed it to Joseph.

Dove 1: Fly away now!

With that, the visitor raised his wings and did as the caged bird had commanded. He flew high into the air above the crowded city. Yes, indeed, he had his freedom. Looking down on all those people in the market place on their way to the temple, it dawned on him.  That’s why the baby had been born. That’s why He was called Savior and King. He had come to grant them all freedom, the freedom from sin, that only comes from believing in Him, in Jesus Christ.

(This picture is of my daughter when she was staying in Saikeri, Kenya in 2010. 
It remains one of my all time favorites. I hope you enjoyed this series of blog posts. 
Have a happy New Year and may all your travels be safe.) 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Before a ramble turns into a rant

First official non-Christmas blog of the new year. And what do I have to show for it? What wonderful things do I have to say? What words of wisdom should I share this first week of the new year which will make the following 51 weeks good? What can I write that will change the world?

You may have read my story before. How, when I was in middle-school, I got it into my head that I wanted to change the world. I wanted to end hunger in third world countries. I wanted to be the catalyst to cause warring factions to put down their weapons. I wanted to blanket the earth with peace and prosperity. I wanted to win the Pulitzer prize. And I didn’t want anyone to know it was me. I didn’t want the fame or fortune or my name to become a household word. I just wanted the world to be a better place, I wanted people to be happy.

And if I thought I saw sadness back in the early seventies, look how far we have digressed. We aren’t just fighting wars across the world with people we don't understand. We are fighting wars against the people we deal with on a personal level every day, who live down the street or next door. New diseases continue to pop up and ravage our bodies. There are as many homeless people as ever. Children worldwide are going to bed hungry with no fresh water to drink, no clean toilet to use and no Mom or Dad to tuck them in at night.

I believe that we have the ability to eliminate pollution and reverse the effects of global warming and cure cancer. We can supply enough healthy food and safe water to the world. Yet none of those things are happening. Those things are all getting worse. And why is that? Why is our world spinning out of control and hate is spreading like wildfire and everything is going down the tubes?

I don’t want to turn this ramble into a rant. I think that almost everyone realizes what the problem is and everybody is like “oh, yes, I’m sick and tired of the way things are too. I want the world to be a better place. We can’t go on like this for much longer.”

So what has got to give? And what are you going to do about it? 

I guess I wasn't done with Christmas after all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Last Shot at the Christmas Specials

I really meant to blog last week, but Christmas rather caught up to me and I realized that somethings are just more important.

On the first three Tuesdays of December, I had posted my favorite Christmas specials – Rudolph, Charlie Brown and Ralphie. Even though Christmas is long past (really? Coz to my mind it’s been barely a week), I still want to tell you a few of my other favorite Christmas shows.

First, here’s a confession. The only one of these shows which I watched this year was “A Christmas Story”. What kind of a sad confession is that? I wish I could tell you that last week when I wasn’t posting to this blog all week that I was getting caught up on my TV watching, but that would be a lie. I do not know what I was doing. Getting caught up instead on the after-Christmas laziness, I guess.

So here’s another confession, I am a big Jimmy Stewart fan. How can you not be? I love every movie I’ve seen that he’s been in. He is so kind-hearted and gentle and soft-spoken. Ok, he kind of always reminded me of my dad. So, of course, “It’s a Wonderful Life” has to be yet another one of my favorite Christmas shows.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they hate that movie. I don’t know how that’s possible, and I suppose I should listen to their explanation, but instead, I am like – talk to the hand. There’s no plausible explanation for not loving a movie that asks the question each and every one of us has asked at some point. “What if I had never been born?”

My recommendation to all you who disagree with me, go watch it again.

Moving along, I want to mention another movie, which isn’t a classic, yet. But it could be some day. That would be “Elf”. Maybe in some ways it is like “Wonderful Life”. Take a simple, sweet man and try to turn him into something he’s not, but in the end, the spirit of Christmas always wins out.

I just thought of another one and now it left my mind just like. Oh, but I would include the original Grinch with Boris Karloff if I were making up a list. The remake? Not so much. Speaking of remakes, how many “Christmas Carol” versions are there? My favorite? The one with Mr Magoo. What does that tell you about me?

Then there are two shows from my childhood which I haven’t seen in probably 40 years, so maybe I made this up. “The Littlest Angel” with Johnny Whittaker and “The Snow Queen”, which is the story that “Frozen” was based on, and probably not a Christmas show at all, but it has snow in it and I can’t even find it on IMDb. And I don’t remember much about it, but it had to be from the mid-sixties.

Maybe I need to learn how to use Netflix.

Have I missed your favorite Christmas show?  And could you watch it year-round? 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Is the Quest Nearly Finished?

Even though it is New Year's Day, I am still working on this year’s Christmas editions of my Sunday blogs. Since the first Sunday in December, I have been sharing updated versions of the blogs I posted five years ago. Though Christmas is over for most people, I feel that the entire Christmas message still needs to be told. All the pictures are of animals either my daughter or I photographed on our trips to Kenya. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
 (Matthew 2:9-12 New Living Translation)

Visitor: Hi, there. You guys look tired.

Camel 1: Not so much.

Camel 2: Really? We just trekked half-way across the world, loaded down with all sorts of stuff.

Camel 1: Are you truly whining? We are camels, we were born to carry heavy loads for days on end. We do not whine.

Visitor: I didn’t mean to start anything. Why did you come all this way?

Camel 1: Our masters were on a quest to find the new-born king. We have been following the king’s star for a very long time. Our masters are well-educated men who knew the meaning of the star and it brought us here.

Visitor: Something brought me here too, but it wasn’t a star.

Camel 2: What was it then?

Visitor: Something drawing me to the baby. You say he is a king?

Camel 1: The king of the Jews.

Visitor: Hmm? But I’m not a Jew, so why do you think I care so much about this child?

Camel 1: Maybe he really came to be the king of all.

Visitor: Wow, but he’s so little, so young. And his parents are so poor. How can he be a king?

Camel 2: We are just camels. How should we know? We don’t need a king. We have our masters who care for us and feed us. And then work us half to death.

Camel 1: Stop your whining. All I know is that our masters are good men. They have brought expensive gifts to this boy-king. You need to just keep following him. You will get your answers.

Visitor: Thank you so much. I have been questioning all the animals that I have met along the way, but you have been the most helpful of all of them.

Camel 1: Good luck on your own quest. Have faith.