Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Many of the people I've reconnected with have been through Facebook, but certainly not all. One of the ones that's been the most entertaining is my friend Beth from high school. She and I had so much fun together when we could see each other every day. She's pointed out that being in touch every day again online feels like home. I couldn't agree more. Most of our senior year, we spent every evening together as well. She hurt her back in tennis, and couldn't go to school for at least a month. I became the "tutor". I don't know that I was much help, but it was lots of fun. As a result, her family became my second family. I don't get to see them very often, but I still think back with a smile at the fun times at the Critz house.
My cousin Katrina and I are only a month and a half apart. Due to our close age, the fact that she doesn't have other siblings, and my next sibling waited 5 years to show up, she and I have always been a bit like sisters. The last few years we've had fun shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Here's a secret. I really don't like to shop much. I also don't like crowds a whole lot. Even so I love going shopping with her on that day because it's something we always do together. This year her daughter came along. We had so much fun talking about crazy things we did together as kids and the fun we had listening to Katrina's Chipmunks tape. I'm sure Ashley thought we were nuts, but we still enjoyed it. There are few things about each other that we haven't known over the years. Having someone to share that with is a little like a favorite pair of jeans. It's just right. I've often thought about the fact that as a young girl I was blessed with so many great cousins that I didn't understand or feel the need for other friends. I know people who have no cousins. I'm convinced I get to the better end of the deal.
In contrast, Laura and I are 7 years apart. There is just something that sisters share that you can't really explain. We have very different memories about our growing up years because of the age gap. There were many phases to our relationship. She's been a cute baby, bratty little sister, high schooler that I visited when I came home from college, and now dear friend. Even though our memories don't all match, we still have so much in common. There are the obvious things. There are also the parts of us that are ingrained, but can't necessarily be explained. At one point we had 5 pairs of shoes that were identical. We had only bought one of the pairs with the knowledge that the other had some like them. Usually I can shop for gifts for her and know what she'll like. She also tends to make jewelry for me that is just the piece I needed or wanted. We have some opinions that differ, but sometimes when we talk it's surprising, even to us, that we each have some values that may differ some from the mainstream, but we just happen to agree with and understand each other completely. A friend and I were talking lately about the fact that we feel sorry for girls who don't have a sister and guys who don't have a brother. it just is what it is. There's just a bond that is stronger than DNA.
Despite the things I said about the bond sisters have, I also love the history I share with my brother. Matty and I both inherited this ridiculous ability to store useless trivia in our gray matter. We got it from our Dad. We can spend a long time one talking about old episodes of Cheers or Seinfeld. We're also both big baseball fans, so we also have fun discussing the Tigers. As we've gotten older, I enjoy our conversations about faith, the Bible, church, and how a person's history helps shape their feelings on those topics.
There is a couple that go to church with my parents at the church where I grew up, Locust Grove. Jim was the pastor when I was young. He and his wife Faith spent quite a few years in Alaska, and are now back in Sturgis. They have spent a lot of time at Locust Grove again, and are also working with the IN/MI Mennonite conference, networking with other churches in Michigan. They are the most technologically advanced pair of their generation that I know. I think Jim assists a lot of people with their tech questions/issues. Both are very active on Facebook, connecting with new people, relatives, and many that grew up knowing them as the pastor and wife when we were just children. Their gift of hospitality, compassion, and joy is so special. I don't get the benefit of spending a lot of time with them, but just love hearing about their adventures and seeing their pictures online. I think a lot of people have had a sense of homecoming since Jim and Faith came home to Michigan. Jim always thanks people for being his friend on Facebook. I don't know anyone that wouldn't want to be his friend.
My sister and her husband attend North Main Mennonite church in Nappanee. Their pastor, Ruben, and his wife Idella are another example of people I don't remember ever not knowing. We always went to church with them. In the 5th grade our family and theirs built houses just down the road from each other. We went to school with their kids. I can't tell you how many times we rode our bikes to Nottawa for ice cream. (Anyone that doesn't know about ice cream in Nottawa is definitely missing out!) They moved away to Kansas and then Iowa, but our families stayed in touch. Kevin, their son, and I even graduated from college together. Who would have thought when they moved away from Michigan to far away Kansas, that Ruben would one day be my sister's pastor in Nappanee? Their friendship has always been such a comfortable one. When I go to church with Laura, it feels like I'm visiting an aunt and uncle. They know us. We know them. Even if we tried, we can't get past that fact and the closeness that it brings.
I looked up the word history. It means ~ a past notable for its important, unusual, or interesting events. That definition certainly applies. I would suggest, though, that it also has to do with the unimportant, mundane, day-to-day, simple bits of life. While there are so many noteworthy memories in a person's life, there are far more days that are just ordinary. The people that we share them with are forever woven into the fabric that becomes pieces of a quilt. It's full of color, texture, symmetry, assymetry, mistakes, and beauty. In the grand scheme of things I'm really not that old. As I've been thinking, though, over the last few months, the history that we share with those we know is a thing to be treasured. Sure. There are parts of our history that we remember vividly and love. There are other parts that we would like to forget. At the same time, we share the threads of our lives with the threads of theirs. I have a picture in my head of a series of afghans that are each their own, but also have parts that are woven into other blankets around them. All of those people and memories help make us who we are.
A couple weeks ago Beth and I were IMing. It was late. She pointed out that I've always been able to stay up late. I honestly thought that was a disease born of too many 3am nights in college and then working nights for 3 years after college. Turns out, I've been staying up late since way before college. I needed someone who knew me 20 years ago to remind me of that. As a friend once told me, I'm glad I have someone who knows me. New friends can be fun. Getting to know someone and what makes them who they are is often an interesting process. There's something to be said, though, for the people that just know you. I so value quality time with those I love. Looking back over a cumulative sum of history that you share is a gift I'm happy to have.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Monday evenings I have Bible study at church. There are countless reasons why that should be a good end to a frustrating day. Often, though, the day has worn me out to the point that I just feel grumpy by the time I need to head to Bible study. I honestly wish it could be some other night of the week, a lot so I could head there not feeling drained. That's the night that seems to work the best, so I just get over it.
Yesterday I got out of work about an hour late. (I guess that made up for the hour I missed early in the morning getting a new crown at the dentist:) After work, I still had some preparation to do before Bible study. That meant that I didn't even get time to eat dinner before I went. On the way I was listening to a book on CD. (Marley and me. Funny book. I think it's going to be sad, but well worth it so far. Looking forward to seeing the movie around Christmas time.) I decided I wanted to listen to music. I couldn't find the CD I wanted, so I quickly put in a mix my friend originally made for her sister. The first song was Psalm 118 by Shane & Shane. Here it is. Tell me. How can you sing the words to that song, the words of the Psalm, and not be revived? When I stopped and really thought about the words I was singing, almost without thinking because I've heard them so many times, I couldn't help but stop and smile. What a great God I serve. He answers when I call. He is my salvation. His love endures forever. FOREVER. He is my strength. He is my song. I've included a few of the verses from the Psalm below.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
On a side note, but still related to music, the CD I mentioned here was A Cathedral Christmas ~ A Capella. Some of you may know who they are, but probably not all. The recording is from 1985. Not everyone is necessarily a fan of quartet music, but this CD is pretty special. The vocals are so rich that it's almost not noticeable at first that they didn't need the addition of instruments. My family listened to this tape so much that we wore it out. I've now sent copies to both of my siblings as well as my parents. Each one smiled as soon as it started playing. We also had a mix with the Muppets singing The 12 Days of Christmas with John Denver. Yep. That's pretty dated as well. What can I say? Sentimental value trumps being outdated.
I'm thinking it's time for a small gift basket. I got the chance to take the day off work today to make some caramel. One of my co-workers wanted it badly enough for her husband that she's paying me very well. So....leave a comment. I'm interested in hearing your favorite Christmas CD/song, and also your very favorite holiday candy/dessert/treat, whatever. A random winner will get a sampling of my favorite Christmas candy and music.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Here are just a few of the things I'm grateful for-(in no particular order, other than the very first)
~family. I'm grateful for all of them. Parents, siblings, siblings-in-law, great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I have a lot of family and wouldn't choose to have it any other way. They are a blessing, each and every one of them.
~water-for drinking, cooking, cleaning, watering plants, bathing, swimming, running through when it comes out of a sprinkler, playing in when it drips out the clouds (boy do I miss the warm rain in Liberia right about now), listening to as it flows and falls over whatever course it may.
~the ability to be in touch with/reconnect with people online.
~a raise at a time when many get none, take a cut, or are losing their job.
~the opportunity to eat every day, not to mention the luxury of more than one meal a day!
~weather in all it's beauty.
~friends-new friends, old friends, friends all over the world, friends right down the street, friends that love you even when you show your bad side, friends that know just how to make you laugh when you need to and are happy to hold the Kleenexes while you cry.
~differences of opinion.
Well, I can see I'm just getting started. I have to pack so I can leave for Michigan for the holiday weekend right after work tomorrow. That means I need to take a break from the attitude of gratitude and pack.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The holiday season has begun at work. Toward the end of the year a lot of people tend to have extra time off work. They've also frequently met their insurance deductibles, which means that it becomes a good time to get that nagging knee, shoulder or carpal tunnel taken care of. That means that during a time of year when most people are getting time off from work or school, an outpatient surgery center kicks into high gear. It was a long, busy week. I got off work yesterday and was just worn out.
Before going home I decided I should go to the post office to see if there were any bills that needed tending. I had also placed an order or two, so I was curious if they had come. It felt like Christmas had arrived early!!! Well, at least the opening packages part of Christmas. That really is not what Christmas is all about. Maybe I should say it felt like my birthday had arrived early. Anway....there were no bills! Not one! There was one letter with some results from bloodwork I had drawn over a month ago. The results were good. That was the first part that eased some of the fatigue of the week. Then came the packages....
I got a new bathing suit. Let it suffice to say that I'm pretty excited to say that I've been swimming laps enough this year to wear out a bathing suit. If the new one took too many more days I was going to get removed from the Y for indecency. Next in the bos was my brother's birthday gift. I'm pretty sure that I'm as excited about his gift as he will be. The next package was a CD. There was a Christmas tape our family had when I was young. I've made at least two copies over the years because I loved it so much that I didn't want to be without a copy if the tape ever unraveled. I had looked online and even called the number on the website for the recording. "Sorry. You can only purchase that recording as a cassette or an album. We've had requests for CDs, but we will not be making any." Poo! Well....a week or so ago, I was looking for something else on Amazon and lo and behold, there was my Christmas CD. I don't know what made the difference, but apparently they finally got around to changing their minds about making a CD. It cost $23.99 for that CD. I'm certain I've NEVER paid that much for a CD. I wasn't sorry a bit. I figure if we work lots of extra hours around the holiday a treat is warranted. My family doesn't know it yet, but their copies are on the way to their houses!
Thanksgiving is coming. Yesterday it felt like Christmas had come before Thanksgiving this year. Not only because I got a few packages, but also because I love the carols on the CD I got. By the time my trip to the post office was over I forgot all about my tired feet and need to unwind. I love that little things can still be such a boost. I saw a quote a couple days ago that said that happiness is enjoying the little things. It's true.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Let me begin by saying that I'm not normally a quitter. I can't even quit reading a book once I begin. I feel an overwhelming compulsion to finish what I started. I don't necessarily mean in one sitting, but I can't just put it aside. Ask my Mom about Anna Karenina. The quitting had to do with the conversational French class that I've been taking. I was in way over my head! The hint about a "conversational" language class is that it assumes that you've already studied the language and are just needing a brush-up. Oops! That wasn't real clear. I have taken a beginning conversational French class that was painfully elementary. Seriously. A third grader would have been bored. Apparently the jump to intermediate was bigger than anticipated. Last time I went to class we had "graduated" to an entirely French speaking class. Haha...when the professor speaks for 10 minutes and you understand 2 words, that's the first clue that you should just quit wasting your time and go to the Y instead. That's what I did this evening. It was so liberating!
My last post talked about the fact that I was barely treading water. Let me say the next part loud and clear. God is Good! There have been lots of bits of scripture that have spoken volumes of encouragement and blessing. For numerous reasons, things are looking up. That's a great thing to be able to say since the beautiful leaves of Autumn have fallen away, it's getting dark earlier and earlier every day, and the thermometer currently says 37 degrees. Probably all 3 people that read this will want to smack me, but I'm one of the crazy people who is actually sincerely enjoying the drop in temperature. I love winter! Bring it on.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
My cheerfulness has nothing to do with the election. I'm honestly just glad it's over. The ads, arguments on facebook, heated conversations in the break room at work, and constant news coverage were just a tiny bit excessive. Not a whole lot, just a little. I was pretty upset with the fact that my vote didn't seem to count due to a clerical error. Apparently I voted by absentee ballot even though I didn't request, receive, or complete one. Hmmm.....I filled out a "provisional ballot", but the guy that "helped" me was so scatter-brained and unorganized that I sincerely doubt that my paper ballot will even make it to the election board let alone get counted. I'm going to follow up in the next couple days as soon as I have time at work or get out early and don't have to go spend $300 at Saturn of FW. Convenient that the hours to call with questions re: my ballot are 8-4:30.
So...I've not posted much lately. This is not exactly an upbeat few paragraphs. It's just honest. I'm worn out and not doing a good job of catching up. One of the best things I've read in the last couple days is this.
"I will lie down in peace, and sleep;For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.Psalm 4:8"
That's what I need to do. Go to bed and sleep in peace. Thank you, LORD, that You have a brand of peace that has nothing to do with the economy, jobs, leaders, or any sort of stress life can throw at us. In the morning I'm going to find the right side of the bed, make a list, and tackle things one at a time. That usually works best. Do what you can. The rest will be there tomorrow.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
8 things that happened yesterday
1. Ruby (the dog I'm watching) did NOT wake me up to go out at 3:30am.
2. I took a dog to the groomer for the first time in my life.
3. I went to work.
4. None of my patients passed out. (We had quite a week, let me tell ya!)
5. My car got vacuumed.
6. My tires were checked and filled with air.
7. I spent 45 minutes leaning on the jewelry counter at Wal-Mart while I talked on the phone with my brother who lives in Virginia.
8. Once again, I managed to stay up way too late even though I had to be up at 5am on a Saturday.
8 favorite places to eat
1. My mom's kitchen for breakfast on a Saturday morning.
2. The Cheesecake Factory.
3. Munchie's on Taylor.
4. A restaurant in a castle ruin on a mountain overlooking the wineries of the Rhine River valley.
5. Jamaal's Pizzeria in Monrovia, Liberia. (For Lebanese food, not pizza!)
6. The dining hall on the Africa Mercy. (more for the company and the view than the food.)
7. Somewhere in the woods when I'm backpacking with family or friends, especially Mom and Laura.
8. Italian, most anywhere. Carraba's and Casa's rank high.
8 TV shows I love to watch
3. Magnum PI
5. Baseball (if the Tigers happen to be on)
6. I Love Lucy
8. Amazing Race (I'm not a big fan of reality, but I get sucked in b/c I want to see what's going to happen)
8 things I'm looking forward to
1. Having eyes that can handle seeing God's Glory.
2. Going to Florida for a week after Christmas with my family.
3. Going to bed in a few minutes.
4. ?Coffee with Mary and Heather if it works.
5. My next trip to who know's where.........San Francisco, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland. Plans to be made!
6. Being an aunt in February!
7. Celebrating the 60th birthday of a friend's mom who has stage 4 cancer.
8. Church tomorrow morning.
8 things on my wishlist
1. I wish I were fluent in at least one other language.
2. I wish I could return to the Africa Mercy.
3. I wish I could be in touch with one of my patients from Liberia. I still wish and pray for healing for her almost every day. I don't wish that my heart didn't hurt for her b/c I need to be reminded to keep praying.
4. I wish I were married to a Godly man.
5. I wish I lived closer to my siblings and/or parents. I miss them.
6. I wish that I would more consistently see people the way Jesus sees them.
7. I wish we had politicians that I could vote for and feel good about it.
8. I wish my dad felt better.
I have to admit I have more wishes, but I don't want to stray from theme.
8 friends I tag
1. Sarah Daphne
2. Sarah Jane
5. I wish I had more blog friends who hadn't already been tagged!
If you're not a blogger yourself, feel free to put your answers in the comments section. I'd still love to hear what you have to say.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I've just not had much to say lately. It's occurred to me that I have not been writing much, but the inspiration has just not been there. I'm going to Bible study at church on Monday's. Since I help lead a group, I think I maybe spend a little more time preparing for that than I would if I just attended. I'm also taking a French class that's kicking my derriere! (That's not a word we've covered in class, but it definitely has French flavor.) I'm also dog-sitting for 2 weeks. That doesn't really sound all that time-consuming, but I was signed up to take Ruby (that's the dog...Cairn Terrier.......same kind of dog as Toto....hence the name Ruby......as in, the slippers). Anyway...I had to take her to the groomer, and have had to do a few other things that have required more time than usual, not to mention going back and forth to my house b/c I keep forgetting things that I need to take with me to Ruby's house.
All this to say, I really don't have much to say. Sorry for the drought. Sometime this weekend I intend to tell you all 8 things. I've read a few of yours and will work on my own, but I have to get to bed so I can get up at 0500 to go to Chicago tomorrow. Long story, really more of a necessary trip than a fun trip, but it should still be a good day.
Back to the 8 things. You know, I've gotten 4 different emails with the get-to-know-you theme going. Now I've been tagged to list my 8 things. It seems like we crave time with each other and more intimate knowledge of each other's wishes, hopes and dreams. I like the idea. I wish, though.....here comes one of my wishes.......that we could sit down over coffee a little more frequently and just talk with each other rather than type out our 8 things. Don't get me wrong. I like the idea. I enjoy them, and I plan to participate. I just crave the quality time (yes, I've read "Five Love Languages"), and think it would be more fun in person rather than bonding with my laptop. That's one of the things I miss about the Africa Mercy. There was more time to just be with people.
Thanks for checking in Mary.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I may have said this on here before. I can't remember. Other than salvation itself, one of my favorite "perks" of following Jesus is the knowledge that our loved ones who also know Him will join us in eternity. That's such a comforting thought.
Please, know that I am in no way downplaying the hurt and sadness of missing someone you love while you remain here on earth and they have gone before. I'm sure it's a pain that's there for the rest of your earthly days. I think it took 10 years before I finally quit picking up the phone to let Grandma Katie know some piece of interesting news. Literally. I picked up the phone, dialed a couple numbers, and then realized she probably wasn't going to answer. Missing a parent would be more far more acute, I'm sure.
I'm going to share a very personal dream I had when Grandma died. For a few days we had all been spending time together waiting for the funeral. There was an extra day of calling hours as we waited, in part to allow time for a family member to return from another country. As some of the cousins reminisced, we speculated about whether she could see or hear us. The night before her funeral, I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. Grandma Katie was talking to me. I could see her face as clearly as I had my whole life. I asked her about the questions we had considered. She said that it wasn't all the time, but if she really focused in, she could see and hear whatever we were doing. It was clear that she wasn't omnipresent as God is. She could only focus on one at a time. Her final words in the dream were the most profound. She gave me one of her wide grins that lit her entire face and said, "but I can reeeeally hear you singin'!" You see, Grandma loved to sing and to hear her family sing. She would slide from alto to soprano and back again. Often she wasn't exactly on key, but she let it rip! Of course that's what she would focus on if she had the ability. Often when I sing, especially when it's about Heaven, I smile with a tear knowing that she's listening. Granted....this was a dream. I feel, though, that it was also a gift. When I shared it with my other grandparents, my Grandma Eichorn quickly agreed it was a word from the Lord. I tend to agree.
So....like I said, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Without any searching on my part, two forms of media have really struck me this last week. One a poem, the other a song. If you at all have time after reading this long post, listen to the song, but also walk away pondering the poem. It's true that Heaven will be a joy that we can't imagine. As the poem points out, though, we aren't there yet. We can long for it, but I've been very challenged this week with the fact that while we long for the peace and freedom from heartache that is Heaven, we still have work to be done here.
Here's the song. The poem is below.
But a pulsing hand
So, I’ll pant
and full of tales.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Usually when I ride I take my iPod along. I did the same this time, but decided that I didn't feel like using it. You know those days when your senses just seem to be heightened? We've all had times like that. Last Wednesday was one of them for me. It seemed like my eyes, ears, and nose could barely keep up with everything they were taking in.
As I leave the complex where I live, there is a group of kids that are always playing outside. They were there, just like clockwork, laughing, shouting, cheering, mocking, singing, all of the things that kids do with each other on a late summer evening when they're soaking up the last of the warm weather.
Down the block there was a man pushing a lawn mower. There are few smells I like more than fresh-cut grass.
A block further, I found a father and son laughing as they rode their bikes in the other direction. It's not very often that one sees a father and teenage son just spending time together, but it's refreshing to see.
On the way to the library there's a 4-way stop that's a bit annoying to get through. There's a shortcut through a school parking lot, that I like to use. I still have to cross the same busy road, but there is traffic from only 2 directions rather than 4. So there I stood, straddling my bike, waiting for the traffic to clear. After I waited a couple minutes, a big white truck on a lift kit with a roaring muffler rolled to a stop in front of me. The diesel fuel was noxious and the muffler grumbled so loud it was hard to hear myself think. He sat there in the middle of the road like he was turning into the school parking lot. I moved over to be sure I didn't get run over and waited. There was no oncoming traffick, but still he didn't turn. I looked up to see if his turn signal was on and finally looked up at the cab. He was waiving for me to go. Here I had been thinking he was paying little attention, only to realize that he had stopped a line of traffick to let me through. A night in shining white armor?
As I cut behind the grocery store, the odor of the newly sealed asphalt was so strong it nearly burned my eyes. I'm pretty sure the gummy tar left some residue on my tires as I squished across the parking lot.
Just as I was thinking about the variety of things that I had smelled in just a short ride, I nearly spilled my graham crackers (that's a polite term for losing your lunch, for those of you that don't know my cousin Mary:) as I rode past a wall of dumpsters. Go figure. I'm sure a grocery store can work up a pretty good stink when they throw out expired wares.
The next thing I smelled was high on my list of favorites. Books. Old books. New books. Used books. My nose is happy every time I walk into the library. The only thing better is Barnes and Noble where they combine 2 favorites, books and coffee.
On the way home, there were some leaves blowing across the road. I don't know why. Fall has not fallen. Few leaves have even turned. Maybe they were there just for me and my olfactory delight. If they would have been burning, I would have had to slow down to take it in longer. Stop and smell the roses.......stop and smell the burning leaves.
Finally, I got home, put my bike away and headed out again for a take-out hawaiian pizza at B. Antonio's. (Our church's school was having a fund-raiser, so I had to do my part:) Mmmmmmm.....what better way to top off the afternoon than with ham, pineapple, bacon, and cheese?
Sometimes all it takes is the simple things to take your mind off a less than perfect day. God knew what he was doing when he gave us multiple senses. I tend to use them without consideing their value. Every once in a while, it's good to be reminded.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
17 O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Several of my co-workers walked up and said, "OH! You got a candle! Who's it from? It's not even your birthday!" Nope, it's not a candle, it's salsa from my lovely cousin Heather. I was the lucky winner on her blog. How lucky am I?! It made my day! Look closer. Not only did a get a jar of homemade salsa, there's chocolate. How can a girl wrong with so much chocolate?
Now really, is salsa really that big of a deal? No. It's the thought. How many people get a homemade jar of salsa (with chocolate) packaged in a cute bag delivered to them at work? Not only was it delivered, but poor Donovan went to the Southwest office first and then brought it to the surgery center. Heather said he had appointments all over town, but still......it's a 20-30 minute drive depending on the traffic. I knew I had won, but expected to get it in the mail. That would have been fun all by itself, but this just made it that much better.
Apparently I'm pretty easy to please. Sure, big expensive gifts are sometimes nice, but really the small, thoughtful ones mean so much more. It really made my day. The rest of the week was a tough one. If that bright spot hadn't been there, the week would have felt like more of a total bust.
Thanks again, Heather and Donovan. Hopefully it works out to actually get to see you next time. I'm looking forward to breaking into the salsa with some chips and a good movie sometime in the future!
Friday, August 22, 2008
God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God's will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.
Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.
This was the August 19th entry from My Utmost for His Highest. It's been on my mind a lot the last week. There have been times in the past that I kept up with Chambers' devotional for a year at a time or at least pretty regularly. I can't say that I've been so diligent in the last while. That in itself isn't bad, but I honestly can't say that I've been consistent with studying the Word the last several months. Whether it's with the guidance of some sort of devotional, studying a theme or book of the Bible on your own, or just opening It and reading every day, I'm convinced that it's imperative to spend time in the Word every day.
The above paragraph sounds good. I believe what I said. I mean what I said. I've not been living what I said. My brother and I have talked several times before about how much we enjoy Utmost. Oswald Chambers is deep. There is a more recently edited version that is slightly easier to read. Being a lover of words, I like the original version. Many times as I've read it, I've been amazed at the fact that a particular day's entry appears to have been written just for me. That was once again the case on the 19th of August. I've not been spending the time in the Word that I should. My relationship with God has been coasting, which always translates to skidding backward.
The above entry was a good smack in the head. I needed it. It's easy to come up with many excuses for the leakage that Chambers mentions. I like that description. It makes sense. It's true, what he says, that there is nothing more important than keeping right spiritually. Coming up with a myriad of reasons for allowing the leakage, or not even noticing the early stages of the trickle that quickly become a hemorrhage would be easy to do. It's a slippery slope to be avoided. I knew I was skidding a bit, but probably not being honest with myself about the current status. Reading this entry brought things back into perspective. Repairing the leak is not always easy. It is, however, quite simple. There's not a complicated formula to be followed. It's time to shore up the leak and move on.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This was the first of a couple races. The course goes around the neighbor's buoy and back. The first one past the dock is the winner. I love the bright colors in this pic. From far to near, the kayakers are Luke Eichorn(one of my cousins), Matt (my brother), Joel Eichorn (another cousin), and Mindy(my sister in law).
Matt won! But it wasn't without some real grit and determination! The next pic shows my mom grilling. Note there are a few after. In all of them the women are hard at work. Isn't this a holiday? A day of rest? Just wait until you see the men hard at work as well.
Notice the women had two grills going to feed everyone. Vicki and Fran are doing a good job of setting out the rest of the non-grilled items.
And...........as promised.....the men at work!
Doesn't it look like Matt's asking for another drink?
Hahaha....it was a good day, but it cracked me up to watch lunch being prepared. I always thought grilling was looked at as men's work. Apparently not so much.
This last weekend was a good one. I went to my parent's in Michigan to enjoy more time at the lake. How could you not want more of what's in the pix above? There weren't so many people, but it was nice to relax.
Friday evening we enjoyed watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I was definitely impressed with the detail and precision that went into such a show! I had to wonder, though, about all of the talk of harmony and unity, thoughts of China taking steps toward opening their doors to the world. At the same time they didn't allow Joey Cheek's visa because of his stance on what's going on in Darfur and China's involvement. I need to educate myself about the whole thing a bit more, but it smacks of hypocrisy a bit. Also, I was chatting online this evening with a friend who's working on the Africa Mercy. She said that she loved the opening ceremony, but was also bothered by the expense of it all. One of the Liberian translators on the ship pointed out that Liberia could be rebuilt for the cost of the opening ceremony. Hmmmm...food for thought.
Saturday we slept in, ate a yummy breakfast, hung out by the lake, reading and resting, and then had some fresh sweet corn and burgers on the grill. What a restful day!
This afternoon after church my sister, Laura, and her husband Jeremy rode their cycle up from Goshen. We spent the afternoon at the lake getting sun and kayaking.
I just love time with family and rejuvenation at the lake. There's nothing like time spent near water to just make things seem right in the world. Not all is right, but it feels a little closer after a rejuvenating day.
While there are issues with some of the things going on in China, I still love the Olympics. I LOVE them! That same friend on the AFM said she'll take the Olympics over sleep any day. I agree! I'm looking forward to the next two weeks!
Monday, July 28, 2008
This water lilly is in the lake just off the dock at my Grandma's house. Some see weeds, some see beauty. The lilly pads may grow a bit faster than desired, but the flowers sure are beautiful! For me there aren't many things more entrancing than watching light dance on water.
I'm going to end on a pretty sad note. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day we, as crew on the Africa Mercy, lost our mate, Colin. He drowned in the rip currents off the Liberian beach just 2 days before his 22nd birthday. I didn't know him well, but I had friends who did, one in particular who was at the beach with him that day. Would you please keep his family and those he left behind in your prayers?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This past weekend, I was in Sturgis on Saturday to celebrate Father's Day with my Dad because I had to be in Fort Wayne on Sunday. Friday evening out she went again determined to find that tank. I was doing the dishes and then heading out to help. Determined she was because about 10 minutes later she came back inside just bursting with pride. SHE FOUND IT!!!!
I have to say I'm pretty proud of my mom on this one. My Grandma Eichorn said it well. "She just doesn't give up easy, does she?" Sometimes a stubborn streak needs correction. Other times, though, you just have to respect it. Who ever thought so much work would be involved just for the privilege of sucking poo from a concrete box?
Here's the theme song from the movie. Needless to say I played that one for Gerri a time or two.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Today was a rough day. Thursdays are typically the roughest day at work. We have 2 surgeons working on Thursdays that are both very good and they both have a lot of experience. That means they are very efficient, which translates into the ability to do a lot of surgeries in a short amount of time. If you're working in the recovery room, the buck stops there. Patients need time to recover. That process can be expedited to a degree, but facts are facts. It takes time. It's true. Sometimes people are interested in staying all day to be pampered. (Ever see the video titled "Man Cold" on youtube? Men tend to be the campers in recovery:) When there are only so many beds and only so many nurses, there comes a numbers problem. The surgeons are fast. The patients can only be ushered through so quickly without the nurses being rude or uncaring. As the nurse, I must admit, you sometimes feel forced between a rock and a hard place. Today was made one worse by the fact that one of the small number of nurses was ill and not able to be at work. Ugh! Good morning, aren't you glad tomorrow's Friday? Anyway...you get the picture. I ran my tail off at work. The humidity has not helped. It managed to seep into every nook and cranny of the day, causing all of us at work to find our clothes sticking to us and wishing we could all sit with a personal fan. (hahaha...I thought I left the humidity in Liberia. Rainy season has started again there. Indiana still doesn't compare, but today and tomorrow, if Curtis Smith is right, are going to do their best to compete with West Africa's rainy season. Really...if I'm going to have rainy season, I'd like to be able to see my ladies, go to the market, and eat some monkey fruit!)
You know it's bad when you're working so hard that your patient whose blood pressure was uncomfortably low and was horribly nauseated is apologizing to you. She told me she was sorry that she was causing so much extra work for me, and felt bad that I had to do more charting because of her. When she said it, I apologized thinking maybe I had done something to make her feel like she was a nuisance. She assured me that I had not. She just said that she and her husband had been watching the staff all day and didn't know how we had been able to keep up the pace we were. She noticed that no one really disappeared long enough to have gone for lunch, let alone a coffee break. She was simply voicing her appreciation. It was nice to hear, but I hate the days that you can try all you want, and you still just don't quite achieve the gracefullness to run full tilt and make it look like you're strolling.
By the time I got off work I was starving, tired, hot, ready for a shower, and my legs were just plain aching. My first thought was that pizza or maybe chocolate would make it better. Instead, I went to Pizza Hut and got salad carry-out. Let's be honest. I made the healthy choice, but I was ready to let someone else do the cutting and chopping. (Good deal by the way....a large salad is HUGE and it's only $5.50) I then went home, ate, watched the news, and checked my email. While I would have loved to just sit right there on the couch and be a zombie the rest of the evening, I made myself get up and go for a ride on my new bike I got a few weeks ago. It wasn't all that far, but I rode maybe 5 miles or so, pushing it fairly hard. Finally, I came home, put the lovely Norah Jones in the CD player, showered, and then listened to George Winston while I spent some time working on a Bible study I recently started.
Here's a picture of my bike, a stimulus check at work. Actually, I had saved $ for it a year ago, but then went out of the country, so I put it on hold and got it once the weather started getting nice. Still sure doesn't hurt the economy and is a whole lot cheaper than gas!
Yes, the pizza, diet pepsi, and chocolate would have been lovely. No, a sit on the couch after a grueling day would not have been out of line. By the time I got home from the ride, though, my legs were no longer achy. I felt like I had sweat the stress of the day away. I know that doesn't paint a pretty picture, but you know it helps! I was just in a better frame of mind. Goodness knows time in the Word only improved things. Don't you love how That Thing is truly living and breathing?
Well...that's it. Around 11am, if you would have told me that I'd be sitting here at the computer tonight thinking about what a good day it was, I might have thought about taking a swing. It was good, though. All of my patients lived. (That sounds cold, but sometimes when it's rough, that's the goal. Ask another nurse.) My patients were very appreciative and sweet. All of them. If they had felt like I was rushing them through, they would not have said thank you. As I realized several weeks ago...I've not had a workday yet that has not ended. That was true again today. It's unbelievably muggy today, but when you ride your bike, the faster you go, the stronger the breeze. The salad was DELICIOUS! There are so many truths in what I've read in the Bible in the last few days, that I would have to write a long time to process it all. I'm so glad our God is bigger and more multi-faceted than we are. It started out rough, but it ended up being just what I needed.
Side note...I added a link to MLB, major league baseball. I've been a Tigers fan since I was old enough to know what baseball was. It's painful again this year, being a fan of theirs, but I'm not going to be fickle, just because it's another lean year. Been meaning to add it for a while, and finally got around to it.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Here are a few things about Grant that are important. He loves Jesus. He loves music. He loves to worship. He loves being with his church family. I think that he would be hard-pressed to answer whether he loves Doug Hood or Jeff Eager more. (Doug's our worship leader and Jeff is the drummer) It's always a treat singing with the worship team for more reasons than one. One of them, though, is that you always know that at least one person in the congregation will be right up front worshipping with their whole self. That's Grant. This last Sunday we had a great time of worship together. The service was switched around a bit. We did almost all of the singing after the sermon. The last song we sang was "I saw the Light". It's a great song. My favorite part of the whole service was Grant's comment at the end. He walked past the front of the stage with a huge sigh, sounding like he had just run a few miles. He breathlessly exclaimed, "I CAN'T HARDLY TAKE IT ANYMORE!"
Why aren't we all like that? Yes, it's because he likes Doug and Jeff, and they were playing the song. Yes, he likes singing. Yes, he was probably even more charged because a few of the guys put their shades on near the end of the song as they sang about the Light. But really, the reason he could hardly take it anymore is because he loves to worship. He LOVES it. He loves his Jesus and wants to let him know. He was so full of passion that he literally could hardly take it anymore. He's not ashamed to let anyone know that. We could all take a lesson. Too bad only those of us still on the stage got to hear it. I appreciated the sermon, the choice of songs, and the sharing time, but the thing I appreciated most Sunday was Grant's challenge. He didn't realize he challenged me, but I've been thinking about it since.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I have so many things on my brain that there's no way to sort them all out. I'll have to work on that in the next several days. I haven't felt much opportunity to do that over the last week or two. I'm not complaining, though, because I love having family and friends to occupy my time with. It's much more enjoyable than hanging out with just myself.
The things to think about.
- My friend's mom is living with terminal cancer. How can I make the road just a bit easier considering their family is somewhat spread out? Her mom just moved to Fort Wayne this weekend, so it will be an adjustment for all. I think it will be a relief, if for no other reason than the price of gas.
- Last week I heard a good sermon about Daniel in the lion's den. We've all heard it before. The main point this time was that King Darius decreed that all people would worship Daniel's living God. He's a living God, and still lives today. He's there for us and will not let us be eaten by the lions. This Sunday I heard a sermon from Isaiah 49. The Lord promises that it's easier for a nursing mother to forget a newborn than it is for Him to forget us. That's a promise we can hold in our fist and never let go of. Satan does not get permission to pry our fingers loose on this one. There are days it's easy to believe, and other days not so much. It's there in black and white, though. I LOVE it when God teaches me the same lesson in several ways, from several people, over time, from different parts of His Word!
- Today is Memorial Day. I grew up with a heritage of non-violent resolution to conflict. At the same time, we all get the day off work to honor those who have died fighting for our freedom. How do you reconcile that? This is an issue that I've spent a lot of time thinking about over the years. There are questions that each person has to answer for themselves according to what scripture says. I must say I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy!
- What a busy weekend with helping with a move, bike rides, babysitting, church, lunch, installing doors, installing an air conditioner that didn't want to be installed, canoeing, visiting, grilling out with the family. I don't know that theres's much of anywhere in the world that's better for my soul than time spent on Perrin Lake.
- I've received two, maybe three different emails with a link to the same 8 minute video about laminin. I filed it away for future viewing the first couple times, knowing there was a good chance I'd never get to it. I finally watched it this evening b/c it occured to me that maybe if it's showed up 3 times, I should listen. It was interesting. Christ, and what He did for us on the cross and then the resurrection, truly needs to be the glue that holds us together. It is already, but we, I, need to be more aware of it every minute of every day.
- I've read a blog lately that has addressed the manner in which some people approach missionary work and the people that are being served. There's a bit of irony in what the person is ranting about and what she, herself, is doing. It's not my battle, but I'm closely enough involved to feel quite offended by it. It's been bothering me for a week. I've come to no resolution, but it's still peeking it's ugly head into my brain several times a day.
- My friend's Grandpa died a couple days ago. I just learned about it today. As I was talking to a family member on the phone this evening she shared about how much she's learned about him in the last few days. An accident, health, and probably difference in age have all had an effect on how much she got to know the real Willie. We've always thought he was a pretty quiet man. Turns out he was quite a pal in his younger years. Why don't I take the time to get to know people on a closer level? A large percentage of the time, I'm the one who's missing out, especially with those who have decades of wisdom to be tapped.
- My friend and I have been holding each other accountable to memorize scripture. We started with Ephesians 1, struggled with some of the repetitive phrases, moved to Psalm 103 (which I love, by the way!), and have returned to Ephesians 1. This week we will complete it. There is a lot of valuable stuff packed into those two chapters. I listened to an audio Bible some while I drove to MI and back, practising the complete chapter. I've read and listened to the chapter at least 50 times over the last couple months. After all of those times, the last verse hit my like a two-by-four out of nowhere.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
We are the church. I'm the church. You're the church. What does it mean to be the fullness of Christ? How are we supposed to help Him fill everything in every way? What does that look like? Are we getting the job done? Wow!
So there. Now you know what's going on in my head. I should read through this to see if any of it makes sense. Remember what I said at the beginning? I'm tired. I need to get to bed. I know that while I was driving there were even more things going on in my head. I can't bring them all to mind now. This is enough. My brain is full and needs to rest. My heart is full with the time I got to spend with people I love. As Scarlett O'Hara said..."I'll think about that tomorrow".
Monday, May 12, 2008
I'm not going to write a lot because I don't want you to get bogged down in the text and miss the point of this post. There is a documentary on PBS tomorrow night, Tues. 5-13-08, at 8pm. It's titled A Walk to Beautiful. It tells the stories of some of the patients at the fistula hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That's not where I was, but it shares the stories of many women just like the ones below. The documentary is very moving. Be prepared to be sad and enouraged at the same time. I only saw 10 minutes of it, and I was very moved!
Here's the link. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/beautiful/
The kicker? This is going to compete with American Idol. I know that's tough for a lot of people. I can tell you that the hour you spend watching will not be a waste. Maybe you could tape one and watch the other. Just an idea.
Monday, April 28, 2008
We sang Glory in the Highest yesterday in church. You can listen to it here if it doesn't pop into your head. I don't know about the rest of you, but every once in a while a wave of emotion hits me more quickly than I know how to handle. I nearly had to sit down in tears, happy ones, not sad. That's what happened during worship. I love that song. You know how sometimes a song, or a smell, or a taste takes you right back to another time and place? All of a sudden I found myself on Deck 8 of the Africa Mercy. I'm here now, and I know I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm not exactly sure why, but that's for my Father to know and me to trust. Sometimes, though, during worship, He takes us back to other sweet times with Him. Deck 8 is one of those times/places for me.
Deck 8 is one of the few places one can go on a ship with 350-380 crew and a hospital full of patients. For single crew members, the only place you can really call your own, is your pillow. Even then, if you're on the bottom bunk, you cabin mates may use it for a sofa. Needless to say, some days you need some alone time. I was sad to realize when I sat down to post this that I don't have any good photos of Deck 8. At the end are a few to try to give you an idea. It's the very top of the ship. There are cranes, storage for old resin lawn chairs, the bridge (where the capt. and officers sail the ship from), extra small freight containers, AC vents, lifeboats, and a lot of machines that look like things that someone with no sailing experience should leave alone. The other thing that is to be found there is a lot of open space and solitude. Especially if you're wise enough to go there around 1 or 2am, you feel like you have the whole ship to yourself. It's a great place to go to pray, sing, be still, read the Word, or listen to your iPod.
At least once everyother day I found time to go to Deck 8 to get away from it all for a little while. During the night you could see the stars, hear the waves, watch the UN guards patrolling the dock (or budding romances that weren't yet ready to expose their relationship to the grapevine;), smell the saltwater, not to mention the funk coming from water in the bay that wasn't fit to swim in. You could also look out over the city. It naturally brought me to prayer, both for the crew and patients in the 7 decks below me, as well as the people of Liberia that I know He loves and wants to draw to Himself.
You don't need to be in exactly the same spot every time to replicate sweet times with Jesus, but when a memory hits you so hard, it's hard to not want to return. Yesterday as we sang, that's where I was. The beauty of Deck 8 is that between the roar of the diesel engines and the wind, I could listen to that song over and over on my iPod, singing as loud as my lungs would take me. Even so, the people on the dock rarely heard, or at least were kind enough not to jump off the dock in misery:) I love to sing in the car and the shower. I love to sing with others too, but it's fun to let it rip when no one else is listening. (I know y'all know what I'm talking about.) More than once one of the ship's Nepalese guards came around the corner of the funnel to find me belting one out all by myself. hehe
This isn't a great picture of Deck 8, but you can see, on the ship on the right, that there is a lot of busyness going on on the top of the ship.
The side of the funnel. Every time I looked at the funnel, I had to think of Loveboat.
The Peet family, from England, was living in the city, and then came to volunteer on the ship. Much later than expected, their pool that they had ordered finally arrived. To the benefit of the crew, it now sits on Deck 8. This is a recent photo of Sally trying it out.
Oh yeah, you can watch some amazing sunsets from Deck 8 as well. I never tire of the beauty of water, clouds and light! Thanks for letting me ramble and reminisce. Hopefully we all can find our own Deck 8 from time to time.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
These are push-carts that can be rented in Monrovia. Very few people own vehicles, so when they need to get a large item from A to B, they use one of these. It gets tipped upright, much like a wheel-barrow, the item is strapped to the bars, and off you go, pushing your cart through town.
Our roads have suffered through this long winter. It's nothing compared to what it could be. Here are a couple pictures to keep it all in perspective as far as what bad roads really look like.
This is Jamaica Road. It's one of the main roads in Monrovia. It would be comparable to Anthony or Lima Rd. in Fort Wayne. In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about walking to church on Jamaica Road. This is taken on the way to church.
Just to keep things in perspective, now we're going to reminisce about prettier days. The first full day I went was in Liberia we went to Cece Beach. These are some examples fo different days there. Yes, the life of a missionary is a lot of hard work and difficult experience, but let me be the first to day it's not all bad.
A reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done cleaning up after the war.
If you were lucky enough to be the first ones at the beach, this whole area was swept smooth with palm fronds.
We had some of the most adorable children living on the ship with their families. It was nice having all age ranges represented. The youngest was months old and the oldest was 72. You're never too young or old to serve.
This is Libby. Her name is Liberty, and she was an orphan in Liberia. Her adoptive parents are from the UK. She was definitely my favorite person on the AFM. The first time I met her, she was very annoyed to be forced to be friendly to yet another new person. After I had asked her name a couple times and her mum gave her no choice. She put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes, and said, "I'm Wibby!" She prompty stomped off. It took another 2 weeks to get her to respond to me again. I LOVED her!