Sunday, January 28, 2018

Praying for our Sons and Daughters

 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and your daughter will be made well.” Luke 8:50 (New King James Version)

Jesus was traveling around the countryside preaching and teaching about the kingdom of God to all would listen. His following had grown and not only his 12 disciples, but whole crowds of people would hang on his every word going wherever He went.  

As He was walking along one day, a man came up to Him begging Jesus to come to his house and cure his 12-year-old daughter as she was dying. Jesus agreed to go, but as He went, the crowds continued to press around Him. He didn’t tell them to back off and stop impeding His way, and in fact He stopped once to cure a woman of a lifelong ailment (which is one of my very favorite story, but one for another time).

Before he gets to the man’s house, someone comes running back to Him, telling Him that He was no longer needed. The daughter has died.

The father is devastated but Jesus tells him the words above. When He gets to the house, He takes the girl’s hand and restores her to life.

Last week, while looking for something totally different, I randomly ran across this while I was skimming over a list of verses containing the word “believe”. Except with God nothing happens randomly.

Over the last two weeks, six other mothers that I know have been praying for their daughters and the trying situations that they have been in. None of them are on death’s door, but they all need to be healed, either of physical or emotional ailments. I’ve shared this verse with a few of them.

I know that all good mothers and fathers pray for their sons and daughters without ceasing. To any of you who are reading this, your faith will heal them, in one way or another.  

Lord, God, thank You for being the great Physician. Thank You for healing our bodies, when it be Your will, and for healing our souls all the time. Amen. 
My baby girl who I  have been praying for without ceasing for nearly 28 years. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Snowfall Past and Present

 I still have a long way to go to scan all of the old family photos into the computer. As in, I haven’t even made a dent! I have found quite a few gems already, though, some of them being the vast amounts of snow we seemed to get each winter when I was a kid.

These pictures were all taken in the early seventies and were pretty typical of the snow I remember every year. I also remember that school was hardly ever called off due to the weather. More than likely, they would keep the buses from running, expecting that the students who lived in town or whose parents could drive them would show up at school. On those days, Mom would say, “Jump in the car. We are going to school.” Few people that I knew had four-wheel drives either. Everyone’s rear-wheel drive four-door sedan would plow through anything.

 Aww, those were the days.
 The day before any of the snow fell this past week, school was already cancelled, based solely on the forecast. 
 It’s tough to get decent pictures in the dark in a snowstorm. But here is our deck in the backyard during the snow. 
And the next morning. 
Our driveway and garage during. 
And the next morning. 
Wishing you a safe and happy winter whatever your weather brings.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Inside a Monk's Head

 “Sometimes it’s harder to do God’s work than anyone realizes,” the old monk answered. “But what about you? You said that you used to go to church, but not anymore. Why is that?”

 She shrugged. “I guess I just got busy. I also think I got tired of all the rules that they gave us in church. I didn’t see the point.”

 “If you want rules, try being a monk, or in your case, I suppose, a nun. We have rules for everything, what time we get up, when we go to bed, when and how we pray, what we wear.” With both hands, he lifted his brown tunic a few inches off. “But I do believe that all those rules are to keep us closer to God. I think that each person needs to figure out what he needs to do to stay close to God.”

 (From “The Truth Beyond the River”, being released hopefully within the next two years.)

On my Sunday blog, I wrote about the difficulty that some people have with organized religion and all the rules. Can you imagine being a monk or a nun? Or any other deeply spiritual person who has totally devoted their life to their faith? Even forsaken who they are so they can remain on their faith journey?

I may run up against a lot of disagreement with this next thought, but as I was writing “The Truth Beyond the River” and trying to get inside the head of the old monk, I wondered something. Who really has the stronger faith? The seemingly super-devout person who has completely turned their life over to God and in the process given up their own life? Or the believer still in the trenches, crying out to Jesus when they are surrounded by heathens or those practicing a different religion?

It is surely not for me to say. But sometimes our faith is tested the most when that is all we have insulating us. Know what I mean?    
As mentioned, my second novel, “The Truth Beyond the River”, is a long way from publication, but if anyone wants to read it in its current raw state, message me and I can email it to you. If you rather read a finished product, Where the Sky Meets the Sand is available at (click here) or I can get you a signed copy. I am also still looking for reviews of it on – both positive and negative. Thanks. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Receiving Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

Over the years, it seems as if more and more people – especially the younger generations – are falling away from Christianity. They don’t like all the rules and regulations, they don’t want to believe in an omnipresent God who they feel can treat them like puppets, they don’t think it is right that they are being judged, and the list goes on.

I think for starters, nonbelievers or those who have fallen away from their faith need to know the difference between religion and Christianity. Christianity is the belief in the Triune God and knowing that by faith we are saved. Religion is all the stuff that people pile on top of that – or instead of that. The rules and regulations, things like who can take communion in your church or what hoops divorced people have to jump through to get remarried or who can be a sponsor when your baby gets baptized.

Though the Old Testament gave the people not only Ten Commandments, but chapter upon chapter of rules to follow, Jesus gave us only two. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind... Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37 & 39) To me, that means, put God first in all things, followed by everyone else.

When we fail to keep those two simple commandments, we turn to God and ask Him to forgive our weaknesses. Our forgiveness is granted because Jesus already took away all of our sins. That’s it. That’s what I believe and what I hope all those who profess to be Christians believe.  

Yes, we should belong to a church family, but that is to grow closer to God, to remember who we are and who He is, and to have a support system when we are weak. We need to read our Bibles for the same reasons. We turn to God in prayer not only when we need forgiveness, but to thank Him for all He has given us and to ask for His help in our own lives and in the lives of those who are in need.

Reading about other religions, instead of finding anything with less rules and regulations, an “easier” religion, I found that most of them have even more elaborate steps to follow. (I won’t go into it, but here is one website which spells out the beliefs of the world’s major religions.

Don’t think that I’m looking for the easy way out, though. I’m looking for – and have found – the one true thing.  

Lord, God Almighty, thank You for coming into my life, thank You for sending Your Son to be my Savior, thank You for blessing me with Your grace. Amen

Friday, January 19, 2018

Going Where the Journey Leads

As you all know, my first trip to Kenya was in 2006 with Life Missions. At the time, I never would have guessed how that trip would change my life. Thanks to those two weeks in Africa, I was drawn to another volunteer trip, this one to Peru in 2009. When I came home from that trip, I signed up to mentor a Kinship kid, Ciaara, who brought a whole new perspective into my life and gave me a whole new set of adventures.

If it hadn’t been for that first trip to Kenya, I wouldn’t have returned there three more times and my daughter Val wouldn’t have returned four more times. We would never have formed our own non-profit organization, Tumaini Volunteers. I never would have written a memoir about that first trip and may never have had any books published.

I may not even be writing this post right now. I started it when Val went back to Kenya in 2010 for six months; she began a travel blog at the time and challenged me to write my own blog.   

Jen and Dave Bell were our team leaders on that first trip, and though we haven’t been in direct contact since 2013, I still follow their work. They’ve been living fulltime in Kenya since that trip we took with them in 2006. They’ve been through a few changes, but are currently running Mahili pa Maisha, an infant rescue center outside of Nairobi.

Last summer, they published a book about their lives and how they came to be where they are, how they continued to follow each twist and turn in the road which God sent them down. “Lick and Turn” chronicles not only their time in Africa, but the journey it took to get there.

Every turn in my life seems to have led to another step in my journey. I guess we all have a journey to take, whether it leads us overseas or not. No matter where life is telling you to go, just go there.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where Was I Wednesday?

I’m going to post a new feature here, once a month or so, or when I don’t have time to write a lengthy post. A friend of mine from high school has a Facebook page where you can post a picture of a place you visited, and people try to guess where you had been. It gave me this idea.

I’m not going to make you guess where I was though. And I may have shared some of these pictures before. But here they are, simply for your viewing. And if you haven’t been here, or even heard of it, maybe you’ll want to visit too. Some day I think it would be cool to retrace all the travels from my childhood and recreate the pictures. 

 At Rock City in Chattanooga Tennessee. The first two pictures are of Fat Man’s Squeeze, or something like. The third picture is of an overlook. “See seven states” or something like that. They were from our trip in 1972. The picture below is when we went back in 1978, and shows Lover’s Leap in the background.
Have you been to Rock City? Or at least seen the barns around the country with “See Rock City” painted on the side. Oh for the days when advertising was that easy. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Lord's Purpose

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 New International Version)

For the last couple of years, I’ve chosen a “word for the year”, a word that I’m supposed to keep in my heart and my head, a word to keep me focused, a word to bring me back to where I belong when I wander.

I started this in 2014 and my first word was Acceptance, followed by Anticipation the following year and Possibility in 2016. I still had that word, Possibility, up on my desk to look at and reflect on, until last week when I returned to Tuesday morning Bible study and our fearless leader reminded me that my word for 2017 had been Peace. Of course, I disagreed with her.

Then last night, I checked the prayer journal which I abandoned when I quit Bible study shortly after the first of last year, and lo and behold, there were the words 'Peace, Serenity', in my own handwriting.

I spent two years with Possibility in my head and my heart, when I should have been focusing on Peace for the past 365 days! Does that explain why 2017 was such a mess? No, not at all. It is what it is. Perhaps if I would have been reminding myself to go in Peace, I would have kept it together better, but I survived. All is well.

And here we are, two weeks into the new year. I greeted 2018 in anticipation of accepting whatever it handed me, while remembering that all things are possible, and now I know also to be at peace with myself and the world around me.

I came across the verse above while I was cleaning out some papers in my night stand. And then when I returned to Tuesday morning Bible study last week, it was also the opening verse in the book we are reading.

I’ve chosen Bible verses to go along with my various ‘words’ the last four years. However, this year, the verse chose me first and I will have to take my ‘word’ from it. But not just one word this year. The Lord’s Purpose.

Because I want to remember this year that it is His will for me that will get me where I need to go this year. And that it’s not all about my plans, but about His. 

Thank You, Lord, God. Amen 

Friday, January 12, 2018

More Technology Woes and a Simpler Life

Wednesday, I wrote a very short, not so sweet, post about my word processing woes. Because it was so – what is the word? – incohesive? Whiny? How typical of me, of anyone living in the luxury of the first-world, to have a meltdown about this.

As I mentioned the other day, the subscription for my Microsoft Word ran out. I didn’t even know I had a subscription – I thought I had the whole package, on my laptop, for all eternity. But no, only a year’s worth of the product had been purchased. So my word processing was disabled. And I had a meltdown.

I came to my senses Wednesday night, sucked it up and bought the lifetime product. After watching it download for several hours, I finally went to bed. Yesterday morning, when I got up, it was still trying to download. Have you guessed that I have very slow internet where I live and sometimes it randomly cuts out completely?

More frustration on my part.

So I packed up my laptop and took it to work with me and hooked it up to their internet. Lo and behold, it took less than five minutes to download.

It makes me so humble as well as ashamed of myself that I let this get to me. I had just posted last week about the little boy Ole who wore shoes made of the rubber from old tires. And he was more than happy with them. And here, I can’t handle 24 hours without being able to type my stuff.

Back in the day, it took much less to make me happy.

One year for Christmas, Dad had to check out the new gadget I had gotten as a gift.

What was it? 
 A tape recorder. So that I could set it next to the radio and when one of my favorite songs came on, I could hit record. Then I could listen to those songs, on tape, whenever I wanted instead of waiting for them to come on WIFC. It would be a few more years before I bought my own stereo and started my collection of LPs and 45s.   
My life was so much simpler then. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Having Issues But Need to Keep it in Perspective

For about two weeks, every time I open up a Word document, I’ve gotten a message stating that my subscription is about to expire and that I need to reactivate it. I’d click on the box saying “reactivate” and various options would come up, the cheapest being $69.99 a year. What? Didn’t we buy Microsoft Word when we bought the laptop last year? When I dug out the paperwork, it clearly stated that a one year subscription came with the purchase. How is that possible? The program is on my laptop. How is it just going to go away in a year.

Well, it did. Or at least the ability to do anything with all those documents did. Hundreds of them. Hundreds of files and stories and blog posts and poems and recipes and everything which is saved in that laptop. I just don’t get it. Even files which I wrote previously in a different version of Word have now been sucked into the Word 2016 abyss and though I can view them, I can’t make any changes to them.

So, as I was dealing with all of that last night, I realized that a blog post just was not going to happen today. Yet, here I am this morning, typing this saga into the living room desktop.
I have a few options – pay the $69.99 to be allowed the honor of using Word for another twelve months (and then pay again), or pay $149.99 to be granted perpetual use of Word (with no yearly updates, whatever that is). I’ve thought about trying to put Word 2010, which is on the desktop on the laptop. Or just saying the heck with it. I know there are other options besides Word, but I don’t have the time to figure them out now. I’m regretting donating my Smith Corona to Goodwill years ago.

Why does technology have to be so difficult? And expensive? I haven’t done anything about this yet. My son seems to think he can solve my problems and get me back up and running for cheap. We’ll see.

Hope you are having a better week than I am. Also, I’m trying to keep my first-world problems in perspective. Will keep you posted.  

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The End of the Christmas Season

 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11 (New International Version)

For many Christians around the world, yesterday, January 6, was Epiphany. It is most commonly the day on which we observe the Wise men arriving at the home of the newborn baby Jesus. Since the Wise men were not Jewish, their visit is more important than just the gifts they brought to the Savior. The Wise men represent the gentiles, so they signify that Jesus came to save everyone not just the Jews.  

The word 'Epiphany' comes from the Greek word for 'manifestation' or ‘revelation’. Thus, it is the day we celebrate God manifesting or revealing His son Jesus to us, to all mankind.

According to Webster’s Dictionary an epiphany can be the appearance or manifestation of a divine being, but can also be the sudden perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, an intuitive grasp of reality through something simple and striking, an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, or a revealing scene or moment. It’s the ‘ah-ha’ moment we sometimes experience when we feel as if we’ve see the light.

Isn’t that appropriate? As seeing Jesus is also seeing the Light.

One other thing I discovered in my research of epiphany is that it also commemorates the end of the Christmas season. Some cultures believe that it is the day on which we should remove all of our Christmas decorations and if you don’t, you need to leave them up until next year or you will suffer bad luck. Good thing I don’t believe in superstitions, or my Christmas decorations would have to stay up year-round.

Are your decorations all tucked away until next year? Mine aren’t. I wish I could leave them up year-round, not only because of their beauty, but to remind me of God’s revealing of His Son.

Thank You, Father God, for sending us Your Son as an innocent Baby. Thank You for loving us so much that You were willing to sacrifice Him for our own salvation. Amen

Friday, January 5, 2018

What's on your feet?

After Hubby and I were off last week, I am still trying to get back in my groove. We spent last week staying up until ten o’clock and getting up at six, or even later. Like normal people. Now that Hubby is back to work, we’re trying to get to bed by 8:30, so he can get up by 4:30. Which means, I don’t have much time in the evenings to get anything done and here it is three in the morning and I can’t sleep.

Yup, that’s my usual schedule.

So, here I am at 3:21 trying to decide what to write for my Friday blog. I finally wrote down my list of ideas, but have decided it’s time to share an excerpt from my novel, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”. Last fall, I was occasionally posting passages from the ‘lost files’, but today I thought I should post something that is actually in the book.  

Chapter 6
“JENNY,” PAUL WHISPERED. “How is the boy?”
She slowly roused, sitting up straight in the uncomfortable chair next to their bed. “He’s been sleeping all afternoon.”
She looked at the bed, which made him appear so small, so defenseless. His thin frame barely made a lump under the covers. She glanced at the floor next to the bed and the two dark objects lying there that she hadn’t noticed before.
She walked to the bed and studied the pile. They were definitely made of rubber and one side looked like the tread of a tire. He does have shoes, it dawned on her. Rough sandals made of used tires.
“Oh, Paul,” she cried. “Look at his shoes. What kind of shoes are those?”
Paul tilted his head as if in thought. “They’re shoes that protect the soles of his feet. That’s all he needs.”
But what is protecting his soul?

Not a very long passage, but with it still being the post-Christmas season, it was fitting to have another reminder of all the things we had under our trees Christmas morning and of all the thing we take for granted.

Another reminder is that I am still looking for reviews of the book. If you haven’t posted yours yet, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes today to do so. Once I reach my goal of 40 reviews on Amazon, I’ll stop bugging you about it. Thanks!
It didn't take me long to find not one, but two pictures with such shoes.
The first one is Maasai boys - the one of the right could be Ole. The second is actually my daughter's feet.
She took both pictures when she was in Kenya for six months in 2010. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Meet Brother Cecil

All during the month of December, as I was researching and writing about all the things we see which remind us of Christmas, from bells to angels to Christmas trees, I was also thinking of all the things I could write about once January came and I could blog about whatever I wanted. Yet here I am, today, trying to think of something.

Oh, a few of those ideas are still bouncing around in my head, but they also are going to take too long to write about. I always write my articles or stories the night before and then post them first thing in the morning. I’m tired tonight, it’s getting late and I want to get to bed.

I decided to share with you an excerpt from my current WIP (“work in progress”). The title is “The Truth Beyond the River” and that’s all I’m going to tell you about it right now. I finished writing it in November and am going to spend the next couple months editing it. Just like with the first novel, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, as much as I love the story now, by the time I am done with it, I will be so sick of it. Most writers would probably say the same thing.

Brother Cecil hung the hoe on its hook and turned to leave the empty barn. He slid the door shut behind him and secured the latch. With a sigh, he began the long march back to the Big House, his robes rustling as he walked. In the heat of the early July afternoon, he hardly broke a sweat. Years in the long wool robes had acclimated his body. That, or perhaps the years had thinned his blood. Any amount of heat brought welcome relief from the cold ache in his bones.
Behind the barn, the open field sat vacant. The cattle had all been sold and slaughtered, no doubt already on their way to someone’s kitchen table. Only a few chickens remained in the chicken coop, and he was grateful for the fresh eggs they blessed him with each day.
Brother Cecil stopped beside the three-acre garden plot to inspect his plants. Green beans half the length of his index finger but not much bigger around than a pencil lead clung to the small plants. The corn plants were not a foot-high, a bad sign with the Fourth of July looming. Knowing since early winter that he would be here alone come harvest, he had sparsely planted the garden - a row of beans, a row of corn, a trail of peas along the fence, a hill of squash, a half dozen tomato plants.
In the distance, the picturesque chapel stood as a sentinel over the grounds. Its only stained-glass window, the round one over the front double doors, seemed to glow even though there should be no light inside. Brother Cecil shook his head.
“Surely God is still inside,” he said out loud though no one was within hearing, except the sparrows who had taken up residence in the barn. “Ah, the good Lord is out here though, too. Eh?” He looked up at the blue sky and winked.

 Hope you liked it and want to read more. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for a bit. In the meantime, however, if you haven’t read “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, it’s about time you did. And don’t forget to post a review of it on My goal is to have 40 reviews and I’m only halfway there.

Promise to be more ambitious later in the week. 
Though Brother Cecil didn't see sandhill cranes in his field that day, this is what it may have looked like. This picture was taken this past summer just a few miles from where I imagine Brother Cecil's home to be.