Category Archives: Travels

Places I’ve been and places I want to go.

So Close, So Far

I28Haiti-articleLarge go onto my computer in the morning to check Facebook.  Another typical day.  I have a couple of messages from friends, both asking me how I am doing.  I respond to the first one, giving the details of my busy schedule, the chores like grocery shopping and preparing for the holidays and I complain a bit about how much clutter I have in my home.  The other one asks and I reply, “We are well.”  Because we are.  You see my first friend who asked lives a few miles away in a home similar to mine with a family similar to mine.  The second friend lives 1577 miles away in Haiti, the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. It is difficult to admit to my Haitian friend that the things that make me busy, also make me blessed.

Only 706 miles from Miami, FL is a country where 50% of the population is undernourished. 2,500,000 people live in extreme poverty and they are currently going through dangerous civil unrest.  It hasn’t been safe for the children who are blessed to afford school to even attend and the schools have not even begun for the 2019/2020 school year yet.  How can this be?  How can a country be so close and yet so far away?

I’ve had the privilege of going to Haiti and meeting some wonderful, hard-working people who want to improve their situation but are fighting an uphill battle. They face uncertain conditions because they were born in an unstable country. They are raising families in a country where 2 out of 3 people live on less than $2 a day. I am blessed to be raising a family in a country where most people I know spend more than $2 a day on junk food we don’t even need.

I share this with you to let you know that I want to help my neighbors.  I want to help the Haitian people. Last year I was able to go and help them physically.  At this point, it wouldn’t be safe for me to travel there to help, so I hope to raise funds to send in place of me.  I hope you will join me in this effort. If you ever want to take the money you spend on junk food and put it to good use instead, feel free to give it to Hearts 4 Haiti and we will see that it helps someone in Haiti who needs it.

So how are you doing today? I hope you can answer “well.”

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Too Much Stuff

IMG_1366I just came upstairs from organizing and going through bins and tubs in my basement.  Boxes and boxes of Fall decorations, Framed photos from years gone by, mementos and keepsakes that come with five kids.  Too Much Stuff.

I brought some Fall decorations up, but it’s too early to get out the Turkeys so that bin will go back downstairs to wait a few weeks.  I worked and worked all day and finally, I sat down to eat a snack and check Facebook.  I received a message from my friend Vilbon. Vilbon is a struggling dentist in Haiti.  He’s a dentist and yet very few people have funds to pay for dental care, so Vilbon is poor.

His innocent question came up on the screen.  “Hi! How are you?” I reply “Good, You?” “With God good.” I thought I might enjoy having a conversation with him while I rest a bit, but then I realized that I don’t have much to say.  I dread that he might ask, “What are you doing?”  Would I have to admit that I spent my entire day organizing unimportant things?  That I have so much stuff that I have a pile in my garage that needs to go to Goodwill and another pile of stuff that needs to go to the garbage? Can my conversation include stories like I share with my other friends? Stories about needing to throw out the unused lettuce, struggles with my kids not having enough drawer space for all of their clothes or the fact that I had to drive the truck because I didn’t want to have to stop to put gas in the car? I don’t think so. I can’t let someone in extreme poverty know how much surplus I have!

Vilbon knows I’m blessed.  Just as Vilbon knows you are too if you live in the United States.  All of us have too much stuff! Our blessings often become our burdens. Since visiting Haiti, I have been trying to be more mindful of what I have, what I buy and what I donate. I am a work in progress. I will probably always have more than I want to tell Vilbon about, but I hope that simply by knowing him, my perspective will change and I will be able to give what I have to someone else who doesn’t have as much.

Vilbon still messages me. The notification comes up on the computer and It is an opportunity for me to check myself.  What is it at that moment that I have that I am probably taking for granted? What is the condition in my home at the moment vs. the condition in his environment? I hope that the change of perspective creates in me a more grateful heart!

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17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17

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It’s my Anniversary…and yours too!

IMG_1444Last week my husband and I had an empty nest for about 36 hours.  Our daughter was going to a football game and then spending the night at a friend’s.  We decided to make the most of our time and plan a near-to-home getaway.  So, after she got on the school bus, we loaded our bikes, visited our parents and headed out for a beautiful autumn day.  We found a trail and admired the falling leaves and the creek and scenery along our 10-mile bike trip.  We then went to our river house and relaxed (I relaxed by reading, he relaxed by mowing the grass…but he says that’s how he relaxes!)  We decided to dress up and go out to dinner at a new restaurant.  I donned my black dress and we headed out.  We made a quick stop at the Widnoon Ice Cream stand to catch our last bit of ice cream before it closed for the season and then we went to the restaurant and had a lovely meal and some really fun conversation.  It was a really nice date.

The thing about the entire date though was that when we called for the reservations, the host at The Meredith Inn asked if we were celebrating anything special.  I thought about that a lot during the evening.  Were we?  Anything special?  This was definitely a date that felt like it should’ve been an anniversary.  (We’ve celebrated anniversaries before with very little fanfare.)  So, what were we celebrating?  Since it felt like an anniversary, I decided to call it that and in fact, it was my anniversary.  Since I journal daily, I can tell you exactly what it was the anniversary of!

In 2018, I was spending time with friends in Florida….so it was the anniversary of a wonderful trip. I could’ve also been celebrating the 9th anniversary of a day when I pitched a fit and I was in a bad mood (yep, I wrote that down too.)  Other years I attended college visitation with a child, hosted Godly Girls, watched George fix plumbing, listened to political banter (and prayed about it.) This date was the 2nd anniversary of a lunch date with a friend, the 8th anniversary of receiving the call giving us an adoption date and the 7th anniversary of the new porch at the Petroleum Valley Youth Center. So, I wonder, if we had responded to the host that yes, we were celebrating something special, would she have agreed?

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
–Psalm 118:24
The fact that this actual day didn’t have any special meaning to us, did not mean that we shouldn’t have been celebrating something special.  Each day is a gift and we need to take some time to recognize it.  We should celebrate each day like it is something special…because it is.  Thank you host, for reminding me!

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Tuesday News Day!

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Sarah is working on a new procedure at work, Nicole bought a TV, Lori had her friends build a human pyramid, Kevin made a new friend, Paul saw a movie, Linda was sick with the flu, Kaylee had a school snow day, Cale bought a couch and George has been busy cleaning up after the house flooded. These are all examples of the latest news in our family.

Starting in January 2019, I wanted to come up with a way to stay in communication with all of my kids who live in varying parts of the country and to try to keep them in contact with each other.  Hence, the creation of Tuesday’s News Day!  The group text is sent to Seattle, Denver, Richmond, New Castle and to some within the same house.  I begin with a short recap text of what I’ve been up to in the last week and invite the rest to chime in.  It’s been such a fun, easy way to learn more about each other and what our typical or less than typical week looks like.

Scrolling past over the last 8 weeks I see where I finished reading Little Women, George is grateful for the book Cale bought him for Christmas, Nicole spent time in Florida, Kevin has been trying new recipes, Sarah binged on a podcast, Cale is trying to walk more, Lori took a Lyra class, Kaylee was cast in a musical & Paul went with his Dad to see the movie Escape Room.

Though I wish we all lived closer, I take comfort in knowing that on Tuesday, my phone will chime multiple times as people report in.  Gone are the days of waiting for handwritten letters in the mail, even live voice phone calls are sometimes hard to fit in, but the well-timed Tuesday text brings joy to all!

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“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”  –Romans 10:15 NKJ

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I’m so grateful to those who bring glad tidings!!

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Halfway There

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The plans are made, or at least the plans were made. We are all going, we are inviting friends, everyone is excited, “let’s do this!” Then, one by way, attitudes change, things come up, schedules conflict, fatigue at the end of the week, the excitement wanes and instead of enthusiasm, you are met with obligation. We are all going, but only half of us want to. The “want-tos” have to tolerate the “have-tos” and the whole event has changed. This event is no longer something even the “want-tos” want to attend.

So, do we go or cut our losses? Completely discouraged, I try to decide.  I turn on my computer and see the video link of my son’s cross country bicycle trip.  I don’t bother playing it, I’ve seen it a million times and can visualize it completely.  It usually inspires me, but I’m not even sure I want to be inspired.  How would it make me continue on in making plans for this failing event? The video shows a lot of close-up footage of his feet on the pedals going round and round. Spinning sprocket, he just kept going. However, today, though not in the video, I think I’ll join him in the times he sat at the side of the road and cried.  (I’m sure he did.) I’m sure as he pedaled on and on, at times he stopped and sat. “Nope. Not going any further. Not doing another thing.”

What now? How long can I sit here? What do I do or think while I’m not moving forward and not going back? Can I just stay here? I wish I could, but decisions need to be made and plans need canceled or carried out. I’m halfway there and it’s not a good place to be. The start was fun, halfway there is hard, who knows what the finish will be? My son kept going…he kept pedaling….in the end, I believe he was blessed, but geez, halfway there must’ve been really hard.

Halfway there, Ugh. I guess I can’t sit here any longer. I will make the best of the plans.  Maybe change the goal a bit, lower the expectations and concede that the “have-tos” are probably not going to change their position, but, the intent was good in the beginning and if we just keep going, we may actually win a few over and have a good time.  Sometimes when you are halfway there, you are at the top of the hill.  Let’s hope so.

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Photo by suzukii xingfu on Pexels.com

 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.                                    –Acts 20:242 

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.      –2 Timothy 4:7

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A Good Commercial

51088684-blank-billboard-with-urban-background-advertising-commercial-frame-advertisement-blank-outdoor-boardYears ago George and I were invited to travel with 2 other couples.  These childless couples traveled a lot for business, so they were flying first class while George and I were flying coach. This was back in the day when First Class was really something special.  At the airport, the one man asked if there was any way that George and I could be bumped up to first class using his frequent flyer miles.  There was only one seat left in first class, so George allowed me the treat of sitting up front.

I was seated by a businessman and I started to read my Christian Parenting magazine.  He smiled at me and said, “Are you a Christian?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  He said, “Well, what does that mean?”  I hem-hawed around and stumbled with my words.  I’m not even exactly sure what I said, but I know that I stuttered a lot.  He very kindly said, “Well, sounds to me, like you need to work on a better commercial for Christianity in case you get the opportunity to answer that question again.”  I’m not sure what I replied, but then he smiled, stood up and said something like, “Let me show you a good answer.”

He went back to coach and found George.  He told George that he wanted to him to go to first class and sit with his wife and he took the center seat in the back of the plane.

We still aren’t sure we have a good commercial, but we never forget his.

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…           1 Peter 3:15

 

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No Purse, No Bag, No Sandals

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I woke this morning full of anxiety.  We have so much to do.  So many fun events on the schedule and so much planning to make them happen.  I tried to rest my mind and journal, read, and meditate, but my mind kept speeding along and always returning to the stress involved in preparing to go to Creation Festival Northeast.  I have never attended this festival and camping with 70,000 people could prove to be a big stretch for me.  I don’t camp.  We have a house on the river and sometimes we refer to it as “going to camp,” but the truth is it is carpeted and has all the modern conveniences necessary.  Not truly a “camp.”  So, I’m planning on going camping.  I need to pack sunscreen, rain gear and …even forks?!  So much to think about.

I don’t think I worry much about my appearance and the fact that I will probably camp sans makeup is not a concern, but this morning while trying to quiet my soul to pray, I remembered that I won’t have a hair dryer.  My hair is a mess without a hair dryer.  I won’t need to curl it or straighten it, but I do need a hair dryer.  OK, so that is another challenge I will have to face.  In addition to remembering to pack toilet paper, bug spray and a pan to boil water for my morning cup of tea, I now have to consider a hat!

Oh Lord, how can I focus on my devotions with all of this reeling through my mind?! Because of the habit of rising each morning and doing it, I sit at the table and begin.  My heart’s not in it, but I will be disciplined and seek peace through scripture.  Today I am on Day #22 of a Summer Bible Reading Challenge and I am reading through the New Testament in 3 months.  It is scheduled and each day I know which chapters to read.  Today’s selection was Luke 22, 23 and 24.  As I mentioned, I wasn’t really in a very good place to be comprehending, but I kept reading.  I laughed out loud when I got to Luke 22:35:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.

Oh Lord, what a sense of humor you have!  So, if you sent them out without purse, bag or sandals, I guess I can go without a hair dryer!

 

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