Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I've been thinking a lot about history lately. I'm not really sure what got me on this line of thinking, but it's lasted a couple months now. My sister, Laura, and I have been having an ongoing converation about it. There's been opportunity to reconnect with a few different people that I've known most of my life. We aren't necessarily in touch with each other frequently, but even after years have passed, we just KNOW each other. That's so valuable.

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

The Winner!

Rosetta is the winner! Rosetta, I'll get ahold of you to find out your address so I can put the package in the mail either Monday or Tuesday. I hope you enjoy it!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

This is the day the Lord has made

Mondays are probably my least favorite day of the week. I know. Everyone always hates Mondays. The Mamas and the Papas sang a song all about it and its woes. "Monday, Monday. Can't trust that day." There's one thing that I can seem to trust about Mondays. Along with the normal reasons that most people detest Mondays, it seems to be a more than normal day of frustration at work. It's not so much the work itself as some of the intricacies of working with people. I'm not going into more detail than that.

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

Too many to count

I know it might be the "thing" to do this week, but I'm feeling thankful. For the last while I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm sure that the upcoming holiday season has a lot to do with the course my thoughts have followed. We all know that we should be thankful all year long. That's so very true. At the same time, it's been on my mind a lot lately, so I'm going to spend at least one post, maybe the whole week listing things. It's going to be big things, little things and things in between. Then...when there are days that don't seem like so much fun or tempt the ungrateful thoughts to prevail, there's a list here ready to be referenced.

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.
~my bed.
~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.
~my job.
~a raise at a time when many get none, take a cut, or are losing their job.
~God's Word.
~the opportunity to eat every day, not to mention the luxury of more than one meal a day!
~Perrin Lake.
~a home.
~weather in all it's beauty.
~the ocean.
~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

Christmas before Thanksgiving

Yesterday I went to the post office. For several reasons, a few moves a couple years ago, leaving the country for 3 months last year, etc, I use a PO Box rather than a physical address. It's also handy because I don't need to check my mail every day or worry about theft. There's also the fact that the post office is right next to Target. Need I say more?

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

I Quit!

Believe me. I say that in the best way possible! In a time of economic uncertainty, I'm more grateful than ever for my job. In fact, we had a staff meeting at work on Monday that was prefaced by a visit from our company's CEO. More than one person was a little nervous that there would be downsizing. Not so. He had some interesting things to say- about the economy, the state of our jobs, and even some investing tips.

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

Treading Water

That's what I feel like I'm doing this week. I wish there were a way to type while I'm driving because that's when my thoughts have been the most organized and decipherable. Life has simply caught up with me. By the time I'm done with work and the expensive errands (dentist-need a crown; garage-brake service, oxygen sensor , oil change, yada yada yada) I've been running lately, I come home and am ready to fall into bed.

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

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

So I've been tagged to share a top 8 list for a few different topics. Here goes. The order they are listed is not necessarily in ranking order.

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
1. Bones
2. Jeopardy
3. Magnum PI
4. Wings
5. Baseball (if the Tigers happen to be on)
6. I Love Lucy
7. CSI
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
3. Rosetta
4. Mary
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'm still here!

So...even though my cousin Mary just moved and has 3 little boys, she's been finding more time to blog than I have. I was kindly informed that tomorrow marks 1 month since I've posted. This will meet the requirement, but not really say whole lot.

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 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, 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

My Faith Shall Be My Eyes

Heaven has been on my mind a lot lately. I have three friends who are all observing the anniversary of their mother's early death. Two, not related, each lost their mamas 20 years ago. I knew one of the mama's. The other one I did not. I also have a friend in the UK who lost her mum 10 years ago. I can't pretend to know how it feels. I have not lost a parent. My Dad has struggled with poor health pretty much all of my life. Considering the fact that I'm pushing that mark between 30 and 40 (notice I just didn't really want to type out the actual numbers:), that means he's been struggling for a long time. It's still not the same.

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. 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.

Breathless Tales
I would rather
clutch my invitation
and wait my turn
in party clothes
prim, proper
safe and clean.

But a pulsing hand
keeps driving me
over peaks
and spidered brambles.
So, I’ll pant
up to the pearled knocker
and full of tales.
by Janet Chester Bly

Sunday, September 14, 2008


A couple days ago I decided to go for a bike ride after work. It was one of those days that had been long and tiring. I didn't really feel like riding, but knew it would be good. After 9 hours on your feet, sometimes exercise of a different form, makes your tired legs feel better. I didn't really have much time, but I put a few books in my backpack to return at the library and set off.

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


I could use your help praying for several people I know. Some of the situations are pretty sensitive. Some would just feel conspicuous if they were mentioned by name. Let it suffice to say, I can quickly list off unneccessary drama, illness, marriages in need of Divine Intervention, parents hurting terribly for their adult children, big decisions to be made, and people just plain hurting. The list is a mile long and probably none of us need to walk a mile to find the same situations in or near each of our own lives. Some days are easier than others. Some days you just need to let people know you could use your help. Today it's not so much me that needs the help but lots of people I care about. So......thanks in advance.

Psalm 59:16-17
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


This past week while at work I got a call from someone at one of ONE's other offices. She said there was a delivery there for me. Since I was obviously not at the same place, she'd send it to the surgery center where I work. I was so confused. The person on the phone did not identify herself or her location. I only knew it was the southwest office because the caller ID told me. When asked if it was personal or for the surgery center, she said personal and mumbled the word cousin. Now, my dad's cousin also works at ONE. She has a bit of an ornery streak in her sometimes, so I figured it was from her. The rest of the afternoon, I was looking over my shoulder, but no delivery ever came.

Tuesday morning I got up and swam at the Y before work. I even had time to go to Panera for a souffle' and some time for devotions. It was a good start and I was determined to have a good day at work. (Let it suffice to say that was tough a couple days this last week.) After about a half an hour, someone asked if I had gotten my bag at the front desk. Bag? What bag? Oh! The delivery! I walked up front, still perplexed. Here's what I found.

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'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


Come unto Me." Matthew 11:28

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

What a good weekend!

I had such a rejuvenatinng weekend. I just realized, though, that before I say anything about that, I need to add the pix from the 4th of July that I forgot to post a couple weeks ago.

That's my "little" brother fishing on the end of the dock. It's been a pretty dry summer. As a result it took him over an hour to find a worm. I think he maybe gave up and just used a lure. heheh.....he took some ribbing over that! The kayaks my aunt and uncle have been storing at Grandma's are providing hours of fun this summer!
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. promised.....the men at work!

Doesn't it look like Matt's asking for another drink? 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. 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

Time to catch up

So I'm finally getting back at it. The last month or so has been busier than I expected. Needless to say, I haven't taken much time to blog. The first week of the month I spent with family. Matt and Mindy, my brother and sister-in-law were in Michigan where we grew up for a week of vacation. It was fun to spend time with them and catch up. Twice a year is definitely not enough! I miss them a lot. Not all of us went both directions, but two of the days included riding the Kal-Haven Trail. The sunset pictures in this post were taken off the lighthouse pier in South Haven. There will be more pix from the 4th of July another day.
Two of my very favorite people!

I like the cloud in this one. It looks like it's at the beginning of a road wandering off to who know's where. Maybe the road they take when they ride off in the sun set, literally.

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.
The following weekend I spent some time at my sister's house watching girlie movies and enjoying some DeBrand's (notice this link is brown for the chocolate:) If you like chocolate and have never had DeBrand's, you're missing out, let me tell ya!

This last week, my mom bought herself a new knee (refer to previous post). She told me on Saturday that the pain afterward was worse than birthing me. Granted, I was only 5lb. 13oz. but I was her first, so I'm sure it was no picnic. I'm happy to say it's much better now. She's home and recovering nicely. This last weekend I got to go be nurse, cook, gardener, physical therapist, and dictator. That last description was hers. I think deep down, she appreciated it, but she came as close as my mom will to cussing at me once or twice when I was helping her with the physical therapy. I called her today to check in. When I called today, she said she hadn't done her exercises this morning because she had to go to the hospital for routine post-op blood work, and then to see a friend at the doctor's office. I told her I'd give her a reprieve, but she better do them after lunch. She just laughed and said, "I thought you went back to Fort Wayne". She was quickly reminded that if she doesn't want my "encouragement" she should not answer her phone;) I'm glad to know her pain is better, and she's actually moving very well.

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?
Tell you what. That is a sad note, but I'm not going to end there. If you read this post and respond before I leave for work tomorrow, I'll send you a sample from DeBrand's. Your comment needs to include your favorite kind of chocolate! (This is really just an excuse for me to go to DeBrand's, don't be fooled!!! hahaha)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Don't give up on me!

This is going to be a super short post. Don't give up on me, all 3 of you that read this blog! Somehow between work and trips out of town, life has gotten busier than I expected in July. I have a few things to add, it's just not going to be for a few more days!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Holes-Editing Note

I'm laughing as I type this. To fully appreciate this short post it's necessary to first read Holes, the post just below this. I talked to my Mom this evening. I had emailed her telling her she might want to check my blog. We talked a while and then she said that she had read the blog. She thougth it was nice, but she had a correction. Ardi wasn't the one that crawled up on the roof to take the pictures from above. She did that too! I forgot to mention in the original post that she is buying a new knee July 23. She used her left leg to do the climbing, and then pulled the right one up. What was that I said about stubborness? I think a little bit proud of it too, as well she should be. Makes me look bad that I chickened out and then my Mom who needs a new knee did it. You win some, you lose some.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I've had a few things I would like to write about, but I've been without the pictures that I needed to give impact to what I wanted to say. Here's one of the posts. Hopefully 1 or 2 more in the next couple days.

About a week ago my mom called to ask if we've ever watched a movie titled "Holes". We sure have. She then asked what it was about, so I told her. If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, it's pretty entertaining. Actually I haven't read the book, but we all know it's usually better. I'm usually more of a realist. There is some definite fantasy, but I still like the story. Here I go wandering from the point. After I told Mom about the movie I asked why she was randomly calling to ask about it. "Well, I've been digging so many holes, I finally remembered the name of the movie".

Here's what happpened. My parents have had some plumbing work done by a friend. He asked when the septic tank was last pumped. Ummm......never. I think their house is about 22 yr. old. So it was time to dig to find the top of the tank. Mom and Dad discussed where it was, and came to a consensus. Quite a few that regularly stop here to read know Dad. For the few that don't, he's blind and his health doesn't allow him to help with things like digging. (Side note...he could sure use any prayers you're able to lift for him. His health has been far from stellar. Feeling awful all the time has been very exhausting for him.) So Mom dug in (pun intended). After a little while my uncle showed up and helped for awhile. They worked a few hours on Saturday morning with no luck. The following Monday another family friend (Thanks Sam) came over and helped look some more, using the tricks he had in his bag. Still no tank.

I think Mom called with her question on Wednesday evening. She had dug and dug to no avail. I suggested that she follow the pipe from the side of the house, but knew that would be the long way around the house to get to the barn, so to speak. A day or so later, she decided that even though she didn't really want to go that route, it was not looking hopeful just digging in the places they thought the tank was.
Here's a picture from the roof, taken by same uncle who did some of the digging. Thanks Ardi! I tried climbing the antenna to get to the roof, but chickened out. I think my legs must have gotten shorter because it sure was a lot easier when I was 10. Hmmm. You can see a pretty definite line of holes, following the pipe.

These are some of the more random holes where we were all sure the tank was. I wish you could see them up close because they look much larger when you're standing right by them. The ones following the pipe are each about 18 in. wide by 2-3 ft. deep. Thats a LOT of digging.
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

Just What I Needed

My cousin Mary recently wrote a blog titled Beautiful. That almost fits, but not quite, not to mention the fact that even though I like the way she thinks, I don't want to steal her work.

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? 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


The title in all caps is deliberate. When it was said, it was with such passion that there's really no other way to convey it. The statment has been made many times, but the time worth talking about was this last Sunday immediately after church. Grant Delagrange said it. Quite a few of you reading this know Grant. For those of you that don't, it's your loss. I'm not sure how old he is, but I'm thinking around 17. Grant has Down's Syndrome. That's not really the important part of the story. The only reason it's relevant is that often I think that those with Down's tend to be a little more forthright than some of the rest of us.

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'll think about that tomorrow

I'm feeling pretty reflective this evening. Actually, I'm feeling pretty tired. I ought to be in bed, but after being busy or out of town for the last 4 or 5 days, I've been catching up on emails and news online via blogs, facebook, etc. Even though I don't live near family, I enjoy the opportunity to keep up at least a little bit thanks to this web we rely on so much.

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

A Walk to Beautiful

This post is one of the nearest and dearest to my heart. Each of these ladies pictured below carries a piece of my heart with them. I will never get those pieces back. I can honestly say, though, that I consider the giving of those pieces one of the biggest privileges I will ever have. If we had a couple hours I could tell you lots of stories about each of them. For now, though, let it suffice to say that they were all patients that I cared for and fell in love with in Liberia last summer.

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.

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.

I tried to add a few more, but the image upload quit working on me. I just lost electricity, so who knows, maybe this won't even post. Sure am glad I have a membership to the Y so I can get ready in the morning if it doesn't come back on!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Deck 8

I really should have posted this yesterday while it was still fresh in my mind. Actually, if I were as tech. savvy as my friend Mary from work, I would have had my laptop in church with me to take notes, and could have written in the moment. My memory is still pretty good, so I think I'll be fine.

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

Spring Cleaning

A photo doesn't really do it justice, but I wanted to show off a couple paintings that I bought in the craft market in Monrovia, and just recently had framed. This is my first venture in having something professionally framed. Not cheap! I knew that going in, but still.....come one. It's salty to say the least. I have to say I'm very glad that I only paid $22 for both. I had a hard time deciding between the 2, so the vendor gave me a deal on the pair. I love blues and greens and that was what really drew me to these 2. They're each about 2 ft. by 3 ft. so they look much smaller in the photos than they do in realy life.

It's been a pretty ho-hum sort of week. Work has had it's annoyances, but the work week is over! Actually several weeks ago we were having a particularly trying work day. My friend Michelle and I were talking about it. Before I had really taken the time to think through the comment, I pointed out that I've not had a work day yet that has not ended. Good to know. Some days you just keep plugging through with the mere goal of surviving. This last week felt a bit like that, but the work week ended just like every other one always has. Thank goodness. The good news is that we only have one surgery that will require time in the recovery room, so several of us got to be downstaffed. The reward for trudging on was a 3-day weekend. I love it!

Another bonus at the end of the week was renewed faith in the fact that good things come to those who wait. It's not anything major, like my ship coming in or anything, but I felt like I won something. I've been thinking that I'd like to replace my computer chair. It's really not a computer chair, it's a VERY old dining room chair that my parents bought used when they got married. Anyway...I've looked at new ones, but was reluctant to spend the money. For some reason they decided at work that it's time to replace the board room chairs. They're nice. High- backed, swiveling, reclining, telescoping based, leather chairs with arm rests. Really I don't know why they need to be replace. They look like new. Just as I was leaving work I happend to run into my supervisor in the hall. The old chairs were only being given to the supervisors. She said that she doesn't want hers, and that I should go take it if I could use one for any reason. Hmm......glad I didn't buy one last weekend when I was looking. This one is much nicer, and it's free. I LOVE free!!!!!!!
I'm going to mention this at least once more, and I may even send out an email. Remember to watch PBS on May 13. "A Walk to Beautiful" will be airing. It's a documentary about VVF. I'm excited for others I know to get a little bit better opportunity to see first-hand what the lives are like of the ladies I cared for last summer.
Well, the title said spring cleaning. That's ultimately my goal for this weekend. I was supposed to be doing that when I sat down to check my emails and blogs. Now here I am writing rather than cleaning. Gotta get back to it. Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

What a dreary day! Yesterday it was 69 degrees here. Today it feels like 34 with the wind chill. Yes, I said wind chill. What's the date? April 12. We should NOT have to be dealing with wind chill in April. I would much rather be dealing with humidity, and I don't even like humidity. After an experience of being lost and thirsty to the point of real concern once while we were backpacking, my sister and I have become good at reminding ourselves that it's all in perspective. We were on our hands and knees drinking water out of a tiny stream only about one half inch deep. We stopped to pray for direction and over the next hill we again found the trail. was all in perspective. We felt hopelessly lost and yet were so near wheere we needed to be. My dad is in the hospital. It looks like he's going to be alright, but it's been a pretty crappy week, literally. My friend's mom that I mentioned several days ago has learned that she has stage 4 cancer in at least 3 areas of her body. It's all in perspective. Yes, today is a lazy, gloomy day, but the sun will shine again. Until then, I have decided to take the day to take it easy, look at some pictures of rain that's worse than it is here, and days in the last year that have been much nicer than today.

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!
Now, we're going to Miami. I had a free airline ticket to use, so my sister and I went for a long weekend the end of January. The first one is Southbeach. The great thing about going to the beach there is that no matter what you do or wear, you will still not be the oddest person people saw that day.

Just a few reminders of the fact that teh sun is, in fact, just beyond the clouds. Still keeping it in perspective.