Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Where Have I Been?

 It feels like more than ten days since I’ve posted a blog here. Twenty days ago, I said I was going to cut back on my blogging, but did I really mean that much? What have I been doing? Have I been off on some exotic, fun-filled vacation? Or have I been sick in bed? Or taking care of a loved one? Maybe I have just been sooo busy with all the things that I am always so busy with?

Nope, really nothing like that. First of all, I’ve been healthy (as much as usual, anyway), and no one else has been sick or in crisis that I have put my life on hold for. I surely have not been on vacation somewhere. I certainly would have found the time to sneak in some pictures of it if I had been. How about that too busy excuse? Well, maybe.

So far this month I’ve been to a wedding for one friend, started helping plan another wedding, gone to two graduation parties, had a reunion with seven others who I lived in a dorm with while in college too many years ago to count. Umm, I’m looking at my calendar. Boy, June is almost over, isn’t?

I took one day off work early in the month to take a ride with some old girlfriends. I had two appointments at the lawyer’s office, I worked a Saturday, had a meeting of our nonprofit, made it to church only twice. Worked some late nights and early mornings at the day job. Worked on my veges and my flowers out in the yard. And on top of all that, the highway that takes us into town has been torn up, so sometimes, I go around the long way to town and sometimes I take a chance on the gravel, but either way, it takes longer to drive those five miles.

Oh, and started the month off with my husband's retirement party!

I’m not complaining, or I better not, coz guess what? My July calendar is just about as full. I have a short reprieve for a few weeks in August and then almost every weekend in September and October I have something going on already.

Hubby and I were talking the other night about starting to think about vacation for next year. We’ve been wanting to take a big trip somewhere. I’m kinda thinkin’ no. Thinkin’ finding a cabin in the woods somewhere. But next summer is like eleven months away. Maybe I need to find that cabin sooner than that.

Well, wish me luck with that. But don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. Gonna just power through it like I always do. Hope you are having a relaxing summer. Soak up some of that for me. 
 But I am blessed to be surrounded by friends. 
The girls I haven't seen hardly at all in more than thirty years. 
And the girls I already got together with twice this month.
And family and friends who joined us in wishing Hubby well in retirement. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Memory for Father's Day

 “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” Deuteronomy 1:30-31 (New International Version)

I already had a Bible verse picked out for today, I was all ready to go with it. Then I remembered it was Father’s Day. What can I say about that?

When I first started this blog eight years ago, I wrote about the story of my life and how I got where I am today. One of those journeys which shaped me was how I moved to Colorado and how I came home again. I won’t reshare that now, just one glimpse of those days.

My friend Brenda and I moved to Colorado in the fall of 1984. The following spring, Mom and Dad came out to visit, or more like to check up on us. They called one night from Sterling to say that just couldn’t make it the last 150 miles, that they were going to camp there and see us the next morning. When I got off the phone, I looked at Brenda and my soon-to-be first husband and said we should drive out to meet them. That night, in the dark, over two hours away.

I can’t remember what time we left, but I think we got to the campground after midnight. All was quiet, and I didn’t want to wake them up, or anyone else in their tents and campers fast asleep. Brenda, Dan, and I tried to get as comfortable as we could in his Datsun and sleep until dawn.

As the sun was coming up, I peeked out the steamed up windows of the compact car and saw Dad walking around the camp. I flew open the door and ran to him. He was so surprised to see me when I threw myself into his arms. He laughed and hugged me back.

My dad, as most fathers of his generation, was not demonstrative. That was the first time I remember hugging him. I’m sure there were other times, and I do remember a few after that. But there was something about that morning, the cool stillness, surrounded by people sleeping in their own campsites. Mom inside their fifth wheel trailer probably just starting to wake up. Me, 1,200 hundred miles away from home for the past nine months. But there was Dad that morning, in that moment, no one else in the world.

Backing up a bit, when I left for that adventure to Colorado, Dad had given me something. So simple and almost silly, but I still carry it with me today.

Thank You, God, Heavenly Father, for sending fathers to their children. Guide them and guard them in the vital task they have been given. Amen.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Reflection and a Nairobi Neighborhood

  I still can’t believe that it has only been six weeks since I returned from my last trip to Kenya. I fear that I have been there so many times, that I am becoming complacent, as if each trip is now just like running to Wal-mart or taking a day-ride to Michigan.

  I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want one trip to blur into the next. Each time I journey to Africa, I want it to be something new and different, something fresh and alive. Maybe that’s why I continue to dredge up this most recent trip, telling you about each and every new day, waking up in my narrow bed with its thin mattress in the volunteer house in the neighborhood of Kidfarmaco in the village of Kikuyu. The damp morning air and the roosters crowing me awake at four thirty am. The smell of cabbage cooking, of wet cement, of twenty warm men, women and children crowded into a twelve passenger bus. The taste and texture of freshly-fried chapati.

  But alas, here I am home again. For now. Maybe for a year or two. But I know I will go back.
In the meantime, here is another day from that most recent trip.

  Our host said that a few of the other volunteers were doing a medical outreach and a teaching at a school, and I asked to tag along.
  The school was in the neighborhood of Kawangware, a short matatu ride from the volunteer house.

  Then it was a bit of a hike through the muddy streets.
   Gladways School is a private school run by a church organization. One of the problems with having been to Kenya so many times is that I am negligent in photographing everything I see. I don’t feel like a tourist while I’m there and don’t want that label attached to me by having camera in hand at all times.
   Believe it or not, I feel as if I missed a lot of good photo ops this trip. The streets in this neighborhood actually were vibrant and full of life. All I shot was mud and refuse.
 The two American volunteers, Ali and Hillary, were of course prepared for their talk on health issues. I contributed only scanty information. The two girls, both RNs, did a great job on their own.

  After that we walked to WEMA hospital. Looking at Google Maps, it was maybe half a mile away, but it seemed much longer, as you can imagine walking through those muddy streets.
  The clinic wasn’t seeing many patients that day, so we were tasked with washing down all of the exam rooms and hospital rooms. What is wrong with me that I didn’t get any before pictures? 
  Perhaps you can imagine all the mud out in the street finding its way into these rooms. 

   It was quite the contrast from the green, wide-open spaces of the land of the Maasai. But I really didn’t mind.  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Give Freely to Others

From Psalm 37 (from the International Children’s Bible)
17 The power of the wicked will be broken.
    But the Lord supports those who do right.
18 The Lord watches over the lives of the innocent.
    Their reward will last forever.
19 They will not be ashamed when trouble comes.
    They will be full in times of hunger.
20 But the wicked will die.
    The Lord’s enemies will be like the flowers of the fields.
    They will disappear like smoke.
21 The wicked people borrow but don’t pay back.
    But those who do right give freely to others.
22 Those people the Lord blesses will inherit the land.
    But those he curses will be sent away.
23 When a man’s steps follow the Lord,
    God is pleased with his ways.
24 If he stumbles, he will not fall,
    because the Lord holds his hand.

Three years ago, I shared the first sixteen verses from chapter 37 in the book of Psalms. I don’t know why it has taken me this long to post the rest of it. Each line says so much, and as with so many verses from the Bible, there is really nothing more I can add.

  The Lord watches over the lives of the innocent. Their reward will last forever.

  But those who do right give freely to others.
Those people the Lord blesses will inherit the land.
  When a man’s steps follow the Lord, God is pleased with his ways.
If he stumbles, he will not fall, because the Lord holds his hand.

Good stuff!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Cutting Back

I’ve been thinking about this for a week or two but have come to the conclusion that I won’t be blogging here three times a week, at least for the summer. I have so much going on the next three months, and I think I need any spare time to just unwind and not think about what I am going to write here next.

I’ll still write a Sunday inspirational blog, but then only post one more time during the week. I’m not even going to make a commitment of which day that will be. I want to spend the summer months chillin’, only doing the things I have to do and meeting the deadlines I have to meet.

In case anyone is wondering about my series on being the perfect patient, I’ll be writing a few more episodes of “Coming to the Clinic” this summer. I’ll also finish up telling you about my recent trip to Kenya. There are a few more ideas bumping around in my brain, so you never know what I will write next. Oh, and of course, always pictures!

Have a great summer! And watch for me in a couple days.   
Even puppies gotta chill once in a while.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Is Anything Wrong?

            Over the last month, my blog posts during the week have all been about my most recent trip to Kenya. I’ve written about probably more incidents than I’ve needed to and posted as many pictures as I could. I wish I could post them all and tell you about the most intimate details of the trip, but as it is, I’ve no doubt bored you enough.
            I realize that it is time to move on. We only spent three days and two nights in the Rift Valley, in the land of the Maasai. I do want to tell you a little about the rest of our short week in Kenya, but thought I would share just a few final pictures.
            The thing about these pictures is that, even though I just took them one month ago, it appears I wrote about them several years ago. All of these pictures could have been taken from my novel, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, which I started writing in January of 2011. Crazy, huh? 
Jenny walked several yards into the Savannah, scanning the horizon for life. Where was Ole? Surely, he had been more than excited to see her again. She had pictured him sitting at the camp the entire day, waiting for her, cooking a stack of chapatis for them.
           The men and older boys spent their days and often their nights out on the plains with their herds of cattle and other livestock, leaving the women behind to raise the younger children, find food, and gather water from the river, which was an hour’s walk away. The women also had to build new huts and repair the old ones. They raised all of the children together and shared in all of the work.

The bus stopped next to the closest structure. It was a small brick building, approximately twelve-foot square with no glass in its four windows. The door was hanging open, and they could see that the inside was empty except for dust.
Further along what would be considered main street, three more buildings stood on each side of the street. Several were also made of cement block, but the remaining were constructed of patched pieces of plywood. A few cattle grazed between the buildings and chickens scratched and pecked at the ground everywhere.

            Oddly enough, every time I return to Kenya, I realize inaccuracies in the book. Nothing major, just little things that bug me. Sometimes things I always knew about, but there was no way to change it without complicating the narration. Hopefully, any readers who can spot these flaws aren’t disappointed with the overall story. And if you haven’t read “Where they Sky Meets the Sand” perhaps you should and see if you can find anything wrong. 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Our Youth

 You are young, but do not let anyone treat you as if you were not important. Be an example to show the believers how they should live. Show them with your words, with the way you live, with your love, with your faith, and with your pure life. Continue to read the Scriptures to the people, strengthen them, and teach them. Do these things until I come. Remember to use the gift that you have. That gift was given to you through a prophecy when the group of elders laid their hands on you. Continue to do those things. Give your life to doing them. Then everyone can see that your work is progressing. Be careful in your life and in your teaching. Continue to live and teach rightly. Then you will save yourself and those people who listen to you.
(1 Timothy 4:12-16 International Children’s Bible)

I’ve always loved the words of Timothy, both the first and second books he penned. He offers advice which is useful throughout the ages. Today is high school graduation in my hometown and I hope some of those kids have read those lines. 

I look around at the craziness going on in our world today. I’m fearful, sometimes, of what the future will be like for our young people. Of course, we must put our faith in God, that things will turn out according to His divine plan. And pray for this upcoming generation, that they figure it out; it will soon be up to them.

Heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit into the young people of this world, granting them peace, love and insight into Your holy plan. Amen. 
Just one of many youth groups at Lifest in Oshkosh last year, ready to tackle whatever task they were given for the day. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Finding Peace Among the Chaos

Accept my apologies for not posting a blog on Wednesday. It has been – umm – another one of those weeks. I wasn’t going to write today either, but here I am on my day off, way behind on my sleep, but wide awake at 5:30. My mind running around in every different direction.

Last weekend the temperature was unseasonably warm, almost unbearably so. Well into the nineties with our typical high humidity. Sunday I was downtown from seven a.m. until almost four, doing a craft show for our non-profit. We had a tent, so I was thankfully in the shade, and even though I drank as much water as I could stomach, I think I still got somewhat dehydrated. I was completely wiped out by the time I got home.
Then the kids came over for a cookout, which was so nice, but I was about falling asleep on them. Went to bed by 7:30, I think.

Monday, Memorial Day, I cleaned the whole house and planted the garden, in the unrelenting heat. I was once again exhausted by the end of the day and aching all over.  

Of course, Tuesday at work, thanks to the holiday, felt like two days rolled into one. Hmm? But most days feel like that for me.

But on the bright side, yesterday, they installed actual high-speed internet in our house. I was skeptical that it would be remarkably faster, but it is true. We went from three whatever measurement they use (gigs or bytes or something) up to forty-five. That’s a very big jump. And by the way, for only an extra $5 a month, and I think a $10 installation fee.

The other big news is that today is Hubby’s last day at work. He’s retiring from the state of Wisconsin after seven years. Someday, after the dust has settled, I’ll write about those years, all the challenges Hubby faced, the heartbreak and the glimmers of hope. But for now, I just wish him peace. In the fall he will begin another installment of his life – returning to driving school bus – but for the summer, I hope he gets lots of rest and finds the time to complete the honey-do list I am going to write for him today. (Shoot, I forgot to take a picture of him, heading off in his uniform for the last time!)

May you all have a peaceful weekend.