Sunday, March 31, 2019

My Meme, along with Inspiration

  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 NIV)

I’ve gotten my inspiration from the same place in the past, and though I feel somewhat guilty about it, I will admit to it. Yes, I saw this Bible verse on a picture on Facebook. I guess it would really be called a meme. But to be sure I had to look up the definition of “meme” on the internet, and well, that almost led me down another rabbit hole.

Time to focus.

Be joyful in hope, because when there seems as if there is nothing else, there is always hope. In this life you will have trouble, so be patient with that. What’s that saying? It will be all right in the end and if it’s not all right, it’s not the end. And finally pray without ceasing.

That’s probably as many Bible passages, inspirational sayings or clichés that I’m allowed to write at one time.

Oh, and even if the words aren’t mine, the picture is, taken last summer of the Mansfield Pioneer Church. Mansfield, Michigan, was the site of one of the worst mining accident in Michigan history. I thought I blogged more about it after I was there last July. But, well, when I found that blog post, it led me down yet another rabbit hole. (You might want to click here to read it.) It's funny how, when I was looking for a picture to post, that this one kept coming back to me. After I read that blog post from last year, I guess I figured out why. 

At the end of the day, though, I still have joy, hope, patience, faith, along with a few afflictions and lots of prayers. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Flashback Friday - Spring Break

Hard to believe that since the first of this month, I’ve been posting to this blog for nine years. It’s impossible to know where time goes. Here it is the end of March, spring is here, even though the snowbanks are still five feet high. The temperatures at night hover around freezing, but the highs during the day are in the forties and close to fifty.

Looking back, March and April have always been busy months, a time for travel, it seems. I never thought of myself as one to do the “Spring Break” trip, but perhaps I have.
 March 2018, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri 
 April 2017, Rift Valley, Kenya 
April 2016, Masa Mara, Kenya (I didn't go on that trip, it was only my kids, but I was there in my heart the whole time).
April 2016, I was in Illinois instead. 
April 2014, Mississippi River, Missiouri 
 March 2008, Virginia Beach, Virginia
March 2013, Apache Junction, Arizona

Hard telling where I’ll go next. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Seeing the Gift, Being the Gift

One of the many gifts I receive each day.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NIV)

Lent began two and a half weeks ago. For years I would give something up for Lent – you know, chocolate or alcohol or swearing (because I do those last two so much, no, not at all). This year I instead had decided that since my word of the year is “gift”, that I would find the gift in each day as well as provide a gift to someone else.

Be thankful for a simple act of kindness by a stranger. Find joy in leaving work early one day. Praise God for the melting snow after such a horrendous winter.

And in return, send a thinking-of-you card to a patient. Leave a large tip for a kind waitress. Buy a small gift for a co-worker going through a bad time.

And how had that been going for me? Not so well. Being the selfish, lazy sinner that I am, I’ve continued walking through my days as I have been. Helping out a stranger when it doesn’t inconvenience me, spending money on someone else when I have extra to spend, taking time to do something for someone only when I have the time. And thanking God for the obvious gifts and forgetting to find the joy in the tiniest, most insignificant things.

But that’s why we have this season called Lent. Not to beat ourselves up over what a failure we are in God’s eyes, but to realize He loves us so much that the only time we disappoint Him is when we don’t love Him in return.

In the weeks to come, I’ll continue to try to find the gifts and be the gifts. But I’ll more importantly remember that Jesus is the greatest Gift.

(Wow! Just wow. I wrote this and then went to BibleGateway website to try to find an appropriate verse to open with. I was going to search for words like “sinner” and “gift”. Instead, because God is so amazing, when I opened the website, the verse above was the verse for the day. No need to search, instead, God has got me covered.) 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Flashback Friday - Tidbits from the Newspaper

I was going to blog about something else today, but then I lost the thing I needed – okay, I lost the recipe of the dish I made for supper last Friday and I had wanted to tell you how good it was.

So, instead, it’s time for another Flashback Friday.

Bless my momma’s heart. She saved a whole box of obituary clippings. In 2019, you can find anybody’s obituary on-line, but for those souls who left us before the internet, you might not dig up their information so easily. And not only their obituaries, but other tidbits which the newspaper ran.

My maternal grandmother, Paulina “Lena” Steinbach was born in 1893, married Richard Jahn in 1912 and died in 1964. What stories she could tell. Or maybe I’ll have to tell those stories another time. 
Beautiful, amazing lady. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

When memories knock the wind out of me

(From Star bright angels Facebook page )
“Some days the memories still knock the wind out of me.”

I was feeling melancholy all day yesterday. I know why and it's not a big deal. Then when I sat down at the computer to write this post, checking Facebook first, someone had posted this picture. Another God moment. It doesn’t help the feeling of sadness, doesn’t lift the cloud from my soul. But I know the depression will dissipate, that it will catch the wind and blow off in another direction.

In the meantime, we have our memories. And the Bible too. Here’s the passage that came up when I did a search for “memories”.    

Timothy’s Encouraging Report
But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (New International Version)

God is good. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Done with Winter and much more

I think everyone across the country is done with winter. Watching video of the “bomb cyclone” out west yesterday, I feel guilty that I ever complained about the weather here in Wisconsin. With our snowpack starting to melt, it is possible to believe that we will get through this winter and that spring will come.

And then another problem came my way. But first here is the progress of winter on my deck. 
 February 7
 February 12
 February 24
 March 4
 March 10
 March 14 - And here is where the latest problem shows up. You probably wouldn't notice that shadow just above the end of the deck, but . . .
. . . this is what that shadow turns into when I zoom in. Some hair or amoeba got inside the lens of my camera. (Actually, it just dawned on me exactly what that looks like, but I rather not say.)

I did some research on the internet. The on-line Nikon experts estimated it could cost up to $137 to get that hair out of the lens. I could buy a whole new similar camera for just under $400. My other two options? Admit that I am not a professional photographer, so I shouldn’t care about that hair in the middle of my pictures, and plus, if I think I’m a writer, I should be painting pictures with words anyway.

Or I learn to take pictures with my phone, like the rest of the modern world. Any suggestions?  

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Smallest Things

“Aren't five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one sparrow is forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” (Luke 12:6-7, Good News Translation)

A few weeks ago, a friend spent the night at our house and left behind an article of clothing. It’s been sitting here these few weeks, and finally Monday night, I threw it in with a load clothes and washed it. I thought I would surprise her by mailing it to her. (Not to speak ill of this piece of clothing, but the postage would cost more than a replacement.)

Out of the blue, she messaged me Thursday, saying she could come to town Friday to go out for Fish Fry if I was available. I laughed when she said that then she could pick up her clothes.

Friday morning, I had to run to the next town to pick up some stuff. One of the things I was looking for was cake pans for church; they never seem to have enough. I stopped at the second-hand store and bought a nearly-new 9 x 13 pan for $1.20. Next, I stopped at Walmart and they had the same size for $1.50! Figures. So I bought one there as well.

I got home, washed them, pulled out my beat-up cake pans, and decided that the worst one had to go. (You know, the 40-day Lenten challenge of getting rid of something every day. Score.) If I knew I could pick up one at Walmart for a buck and a half, I would have done it forever ago.

A few hours later, my friend showed up to go out to eat. She has her house up for sale and hopes to move in the spring, so has been downsizing. She brought me a few things she thought I might use. You guessed it, one of them was a stoneware baking dish, the size for baking a cake (or bars, which is what I did last night).

I know, all of it is silliness, but I just don’t believe in coincidence. I know God has got bigger things to do, but He always takes time to remind me that the small things matter too.

Thank You, Lord, for all the big things and all the small things that you do in my life. Amen
Flowers from a co-worker this week. A small, but beautiful thing. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Planning A Vacation?

  Jenny shrugged out of her wool coat. The late afternoon snow had made her commute home longer than usual, adding to an already long day. As she set the mail on the kitchen counter, a pile of glossy publications caught her eye.
“Jenny?” Paul’s voice called from the study. “That you?”
“What’s on the counter?” she called back, shuffling through the brochures and advertisements. Obviously, her husband had another vacation in mind and his destination appeared to be Africa.
He came into the room and wrapped his arms around her thin waist. She snuggled her blonde head into his shoulder. No matter how long or tiring the day, this was where she could find rest.
“So, what do you think?” He pulled away from her and grabbed the information he had picked up at the travel agency. “We’ve never been on a safari.”
She kicked off her pumps and collapsed on the sofa, tucking her feet up under her. The pictures did look inviting. Wide grassy plains, blue skies, wildlife everywhere in its natural habitat, roaming free. Hippos, elephants, leopards, zebra, and magnificent lions. Victoria Falls, the pink flamingoes at Lake Nakuru. 
She looked out the patio windows, the snow continuing to fall on the Chicago cityscape. From their ninth floor apartment, the lights still illuminated the sky. At any time of day or night, in any season, the view was fantastic. They were just high enough to see Lake Michigan on a rare clear day, yet low enough to catch the interesting architecture of the neighborhood. She had to admit that she loved to travel, but she loved her home just as much. (From Chapter 2, “Where the Sky Meets the Sand”)

Is anybody else planning summer vacations? Or maybe you can't wait for summer and are going somewhere warm and sunny in the next month? I think that’s the only thing keeping me going, as we face more snow in the forecast this weekend.
If you want to escape to Africa without getting on a plane, you’ll want to read “Where the Sky Meets the Sand.” You can buy a copy at or message me and I’ll mail you one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Unexpected Gift

When I started the car after work just a month ago, this is what showed up.  
Lights are on, lights are on bright. I don’t have my seat belt on. Yet. I have a low tire, or several. And the check engine light is on. Way too much color on the panel, eh?

The hubby checked the tires the next morning, and I naturally put my seatbelt on before I put the car in gear. That check engine light? It had been on for a while, and we had already taken the car to the garage to have it checked. You know mechanics. They said there was nothing wrong with the car and not to worry about that light. Which was okay, except what if something changed and suddenly there was something wrong with the engine. How would I know?

When I started the car yesterday morning – shazam - the check engine light was off. (No, I didn’t take a picture. Do you think I’m totally nuts?)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the first day on the somber journey to Good Friday and the glory of Easter morning. On Sunday, I posted that I would find a gift in each day between now and then, and though I won’t tell you about each and every one of them, I’ll share a few. That check engine light going off? I know it is a very small thing, but it was still a gift to me. One less thing to worry about. And a reminder that with Jesus riding shotgun, we really don’t have to worry about anything. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Gifts and Sacrifices

 “To love him [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mark 12:33 New International Version (NIV)

     This coming week we celebrate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. In past years, I’ve occasionally “given” up something for Lent, usually something inconsequential such as chocolate. Other times, I’ve attempted to spend the six weeks until Easter giving up Facebook or getting rid of the junk around my house or attempting the impossible-to-measure “being nicer to people”. And ask me how any of that went? You know it didn’t go well. Just like the rest of us, I am a first-rate sinner – weak in spirit and selfish in body. God has blessed me, however, with a moderate amount of creativity.

The first of the year, I chose the word “gift” as my word of the year. It makes sense then, that during this time of sacrifice, that I concentrate on that. What gifts have I received and what gifts have I given?

Hence, from now until Easter Sunday, I will try each day to offer a gift to someone else, whether a physical gift such as a book or a jacket or a cookie. Or it could be a gift of time or talent. Can I clear the snow off someone’s car after work or mail an inspirational note to someone having a difficult time? Whatever I do, I cannot mention here or anywhere else. There is a verse about that (Matthew 6:1)!

What I will mention here, however, is the gift which I find in each day. Whether it’s the sunshine melting our snow or a loaf of baked bread from a patient or my husband vacuuming the house for me (he did that yesterday! He is a gift to me each day).

And maybe, after these six weeks are up, after we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus, after I realize there is nothing I can do which will ever pay back that kind of sacrifice, maybe – hopefully - I will continue to remember the gifts.

Thank You, Lord God, for every gift You give us. Help me to use these gifts to share You with others. Amen.     
A lot of gifts can't be wrapped

Friday, March 1, 2019

Streets of Snow and Ice

 It has been a very long time since I posted about walking the streets of my town. From the weather to a bad foot to having no time, I have a myriad of reasons. Today, I thought it was time to at least take a drive around my little city of Tomahawk, Wisconsin to capture at least some of the impressive amounts of snow we’ve had so far this year.

No one knows where we can possibly put any more snow, yet here it is the first of March, the month during which we historically acquire the greatest snowfall. Will keep you posted. . . 

Memorial Park looking across the Wisconsin River
 Looking south across the river towards Memorial Park
 The Bridge Inn Hotel. Out of town snowmobilers might be spending the night there. 
 Home of the Kwahamots Water Ski Team. Probably not on the water today. 
The reason why we don't bury people until spring around here. 
 Oh, my, just a little bit of ice on the door at Dollar General.
 More ice on the eaves
 Ice on a lot of eaves
 At SARA Park recreation center too
 The icicles form that way from the wind blowing at the building
 Ice at the public library
 Along with the snow and snowbanks which are everywhere in town
The old Hy-Rider building
 The old VFW hall in Jersey City. Been a while since I've been past it.
I mostly was driving today, as what sidewalks are shoveled look like this, which makes me a little claustrophobic
 I always wonder about the houses of the "snowbirds", who is watching their houses while they are south for the winter. 
 What if they come home from their warm winter to this? It looks like this may have collapsed a while ago, but is hard to tell. If anyone reading this knows whose house this is, maybe they should contact them. It's about a half mile east of the radio station on Mohawk Drive. 

And even if we don’t get any more snow, where is this going to go when it melts?