Thursday, July 31, 2014


My mom & pop- Christmas 2013
Life is full of left turns. I know this well, yet when one happens I’m still surprised. At the beginning of the week I was all set to spend a week with my grandbabies at our Christian camp. I was anticipating lots of giggles and splashes in the creek. Instead, I’m sitting in a hospital room several hundred miles from camp watching my dad cling to what’s left of his life. He has advanced Alzheimers and has had a recent trauma that has caused his symptoms to slip into yet another debilitating stage. I’m not convinced he will leave this room.
Some folks have said I’m living the life of Job right now. Within the last year, I’ve lost my husband and my dog; my mom has had cancer and a heart attack; my dad’s Alzheimers continues to steal my dad, and the journey of mourning continues to be uphill and bumpy. But here’s how I view my life...
Yes, my life now is proof that God’s promises are real. He promised me that death would not win. I have no doubt that Gary now sits at His feet. God promised that I would not be left alone. And, I haven’t been. He has used others to bring His comfort, and His Spirit to nudge me toward recovery. God promised me that my strength would come through Him. Since I’ve been able to do things I simply do not have the capabilities to do, I have to assume it is God’s doings.
See, what I mean? Victorious!
There is no way on earth I should still be standing, much less hopeful. But I am hopeful. I see a future opening up to me, although the view of it is only brief, like looking through a slit in a curtain, but  I have seen it, at least the promise of it.
I’m still hopeful after all that’s happened. See? Victorious!
The heartache has not killed me. It has not robbed me of my breath. I live though the hurt and one day I will live past the hurt.
I still ride my pink bike. I still trim my roses. I still sit by our pond. I still walk to the mailbox. And, recently I adopted a two-legged turtle named Pie. See? Victorious!
Left turns can be wicked, but you don’t have to get lost on them. Unfortunately, left turns tend to take us down the road too often traveled. Travel them with an eye toward victory.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Being favored...

WCYC- Gary & I on the bridge for the last time.
Well, I’m off again. This time I am at Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp. For the last twenty-five years or so, my family and I have spent at least two weeks of every summer in the north Wisconsin woods. This particular session is for high school students, seventy-five of them to be exact. They’ve come in every shape and size possible for 15- 17 year-olds, and from all kinds of backgrounds. Our thirty or so counselors have just fourteen days to learn names, play, and teach what needs to be taught. This session started in hyper-speed and has steam-rolled from there. It’s wonderful, tiring and life-changing for us all.
The first week has ended and the second week begins tomorrow. This year I’m teaching a Bible class and an improv class... my usual. It’s hard to explain how fun this all is. My Bible class consists of eight students eager to learn. Most of them are familiar with the text and have some thought-provoking questions of their own. They’ve kept me on my toes. And, my Improv class has been filled to capacity with twenty-six campers. For forty-five minutes, I do nothing but laugh. I’m loving it.
Of course, WCYC is yet another place I need to reclaim for myself. Gary and I always came here together. For years he was the director or a member of the head-staff. For years, I served right along beside him. Now, at every campfire I find myself looking around for his face. Every song we sing, I listen for his tenor voice. I expect him to come walking up on the hill every afternoon after rest period. I see activities he instituted being carried on by staff members and campers who never knew him. His leadership is still felt. The atmosphere of respect and responsibility he created, still permeates throughout the camp. Little phrases he spoke are being repeated from folks who have no idea from whom they came. Gary loved this place. I love this place and I feel strongly I’m supposed to be here. But I’ve got to tell you; it’s excruciating to walk under these pine trees without him. Hiking down to the creek and standing near the upper falls pulls my heart in two. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to pack up, get in my car and high-tail it out of here. So, why haven’t I?
Three reasons really. One, I love the people here. We have served together for many years, and I love meeting the new counselors (most whom are former campers) and working along side of them. Two, being around teenagers is a hoot. Their zest for life, their angst, and their vulnerability and tender hearts, after all these years, still melt my heart. And finally, God has called me here. I’m sure of it. He knows how hard this is for me, yet He still expects me to be obedient.
The bottom line is that I feel favored by God. Not the kind of ‘favored’ that gets me an extra scoop of ice cream or anything like that, but the kind of ‘favor’ that God dished out to Mary (unwed mother), or the Apostle Paul (shipwrecked) or Joseph (kidnapped and put in prison) from the scriptures. It seems when God favors one; they just might need to duck!
Sorrow and hardship have come my way, yet I’m beginning to feel myself respond with a stronger self than I would have ever thought possible. My days and nights are still laced with grief; however, they are also woven throughout with people and service I love.
I am favored.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

God among the volcanoes

Sorry for the long absence. Just know, I haven’t been idle. Since the Hubs death, I’ve been working hard to find my way. I want my life to matter and to continue what Gary and I started. Our hearts have always been mission focused. That focus has led us down many different paths through the years. The most recent path led me to Guatemala. I had the great privilege to work beside some amazing folks. Our group consisted of a medical team and a teaching team. However, we found ourselves crossing lines all the time. At an orphanage our doctors read to children. At a health post the teaching team passed out toothbrushes and toothpaste. We meshed beautifully and went where we were needed on any given day.
I was assigned to the teaching team. My job was to write puppet scripts, create a portable puppet screen and be ready to perform the skits for the girls in the orphanage. My puppet squad was fantastic. With the help of a translator, Esturado, the dragon, and little friends, Mita and Marco were able to show the benefits of trusting God in all circumstances, even if you happen to run across some giants along the way, like the shepherd boy, David; or find yourself in a scary predicament like the Apostle Peter and his gang when they were stranded on a boat during a fierce storm. It seems puppets translate in any language, right along with puppies or babies.
One day as I was helping at the health post, I was able to get a rousing game of Duck, Duck, Goose going among the myriad of children who were waiting in the long lines with their moms to see our doctors. I found out that giggles and a game of creative chase translate in any language as well.
I lost my heart to the girls in the orphanage. From ages eight to eighteen every girl had a heartache residing just behind those lovely, large almond eyes. Drug and alcohol abuse run rampant in Guatemala and has left many motherless and fatherless children in their wake. I found that smiles, hugs and kisses know no barriers and translates no matter your mother tongue. We sang and prayed together. We played games, colored pictures and shared stories. They welcomed us into their home and crawled up on our laps and reminded us how beautiful God intended us all to be.
Guatemala is a breathtaking country surrounded by volcanoes, rich soil and fertile farmland. But don’t let its beauty fool you—life there is rugged and unforgiving. Poverty, corruption, violence, poor education and the lack of good medical care are evils that taunt and torture those who are struggling to grasp at a life.
God is busy there kindling hope, comforting mourners, and shielding the courageous. The needs of His Guatemalan children are great. My one-week as a guest in their country did not change the world, or anyone’s world. But it did alter mine and begin to open me up further from the inside out. I went to give but of course, it was I who received the gifts. Dark eyes. Brown skin. Tight hugs. New friends. I saw Jesus weep in the orphanage. I witnessed His care in the damp, concrete hovel we called a clinic. I felt the cool of His hands from a hug from a little child who had no idea how old she was. 
 Yes, our God is big, and I am convinced He is most faithful to those whose heart-language translates His Name as Love. May God get the glory forever and ever. Amen.