October 25, 2011

How Many of Me Are There?

In this part of Oregon I share my name with several Kathy Davises, and the name Kathleen Davis is just about as common. Online the most prominent Kathy Davis I encounter is a well-known greeting card artist. I would love to have created her colorful designs myself but no, I didn't. I found one who is a lawyer and another who I thought was a bit odd. No, that wasn't me, either! At Adams Elementary School in the 60s it seemed there were Kathys in every classroom. I believe it was in 2nd grade that there were 3 of us, and believe-it-or-not, one of them was a blonde-haired girl named Cathy Davis! I was brown-haired Kathy Sheldon, and I honestly don't remember the other Kathy. That was the first year I distinguished myself by asking to be called Kathleen. Aside from my husband, these days there are only 2 or 3 people who still call me that. At one point, I remember, I wished for a dreamy princess name like Cinderella or something. So glad THAT dream didn't come true! Cinderella Sheldon Davis, oh dear! That's why I stuck my maiden name in my title for my new website. I may still be a little bit envious of people with simple but unique author's names like Dorcas Smucker, but I'll get over it. I'm thankful for what I've been given. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= I'm in the process of relocating my blog. WordPress hosts my writings now at KathySheldonDavis.com. This new location will give me room to grow and more fascinating things to learn about blog writing and other very cool stuff. Check it out and leave a comment if you like. Your thoughts would be interesting to me. Thanks a bunch!

October 17, 2011

As Unto the Lord

Last night I sat quietly by the woodstove to absorb some heat before heading off to bed. I was distracted periodically by my concerns about my inability to sleep sometimes, but what I was contemplating was that I needed to do everything my hands find to do "heartily as unto the Lord." That's how I remember the King James version putting it, anyway. I've been accused of "thinking too much," and that could be true. I do find myself overly concerned about my hands finding the right thing to do. But I think the scripture isn't speaking about the appropriateness of the task, but rather why it's being done. Or for whom it is being done, as unto the Lord! On my list today: 1. Make sure transcripts are done on time. 2. Visit my parents in Eugene and talk about them keeping my recumbent exercise bike and me using their sewing machine case instead of sending it to Goodwill. Since I've been down with a cold I've neglected our chats. 3. Make a healthy meal for my family. 4. Get some exercise myself. 5. Go to the parent-teacher conferences tonight at Junction City High School. 6. All of the above as unto the Lord.

October 15, 2011

Who Needs a Time Out?

I wonder if I need more time-outs the older I get. I can sure tell when it's been too long since my last one! I can get persnickety and sour and have trouble keeping my peace, and that's just not fun! If it goes on too long I see flies buzzing around my head, so to speak. My sourness starts stinkin' and my words get sharp. And even though I see those words heading towards my mouth and I'm not liking them much, I feel unable to package them correctly before they start tumbling out my mouth. Thankfully, this evening I was able to see them coming and zip my lips before much damage was done. So now everyone's in bed and I'm confined in my little corner with my Bible, my journal, my pen and my ornery self. Sometimes I read the scriptures chapter after chapter and see that many things I'd heard before are woven together with new ideas I'm just now uncovering. Sometimes I read and take notes. Sometimes I copy a few lines so I can look at them more carefully and refer to them later. Sometimes I just write my prayers and thoughts. Sometimes I doodle, and sometimes I doze. Then I fold it all up and put it in his hands and go to bed. You might say that time-outs are quite effective at my age!

October 11, 2011

The Old Kitchen Aid

My mother-in-law endowed me with her 1950s Kitchen Aid several years ago, and I respectfully stored it away as a family heirloom. My daughter showed me the error of my ways however, explaining that our friend Mrs. Meyers had replaced hers with a new one and regretted letting the old one go. I think it was one of those "they just don't make things like they used to" moments. So, on Amy's recommendation I got it out and put it to work. At this point it has ground 50-some pounds of meat for jerky, made dozens of cookies of various shapes, whipped egg whites for our fluffy tapioca puddings and mixed the batter and frostings for several layer cakes. I know it could do so much more if I just took the time to learn about it.
Just like me the old machine gets a little over-heated when she doesn't get enough breaks, but other than that she's a trooper!

October 7, 2011

Baby Aubri

Baby Aubri is several months old now, and I often visit the memories of her mother as a child when I look at her. Aubri's daddy was my son's buddy for many years, and they play together to this day in Two of Twelve, a band they formed. I know every woman in her 50s has thought and/or said before, "I remember when..." I broke open an old box of art supplies and created this baby shower card for Aubri as I mused over the blessings of my past investment in her family. Thank you for long-term friendships and for those that become family, Lord!

October 2, 2011

Thou Shalt Play

It just occurred to me that today has been a demonstration of teenaged girls "playing." Like it or not, this entire afternoon our little midlife bungalow functioned as a beauty salon and girl retreat. It wasn't just Kayli and a friend. There were 2 more girls here we didn't even know! Jerry and I sat bemused and often bewildered in the living room to give them space for primping, straightening, painting, singing along with the stereo and occupying our only bathroom. I don't know how to explain my discomfort with the whole idea of tonight's dance, but I'll just say it didn't set well.

Now they're gone and I've been thinking about the vow I made many years ago to allow God teach me through my children. I often got on the floor with them and took part in their shenanigans. I relished asking them mind-bending questions just to see their responses and learn how they processed their thoughts. It was also a great way to direct and teach them as they grew. But I didn't realize until just an hour ago these almost grownup girls in my house were still teaching me in their "play."

Perhaps I should have joined in.

September 27, 2011

The Hardest Time to Worship

I’ve been following the life of David the king in the book of 2 Samuel this week. My, there’s so much to learn from this man! We read that he was a man of integrity and honor, a worshiper and lover of God in the most extravagant way, a man aware of his weaknesses and God’s strength.

But look at him on possibly his WORST day.

After conspiring to commit murder and then taking the dead man’s wife for himself, the prophet Nathan confronted him with strong words from the Lord. Through him God said David and his family would suffer calamity and disgrace, and the child born to him would die.

What was David’s response? “I have sinned against the Lord.” He repented and begged God for the life of his son. He fasted, wept, laid on the ground at night and refused to get up or eat. Later he explained he had thought God might “be gracious …and let the child live.”

But on the seventh day the child died. What was David’s response to this?

“Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house and at his request they served him food, and he ate.” (2 Samuel 12:18 & 20)

His response was worship. He accepted God’s judgment and worshiped. Wow! Easy times or hard, I want to follow David there.

September 21, 2011

A Visit with Miss McClellan

Haven’t we all had a favorite teacher that taught more than just academics? My 6th grade teacher (1967-68) was a single lady that I presumed poured so much effort into us because she didn’t have someone at home to take care of. Always the encourager, she motivated us to sing with gusto the folk songs in our well-worn songbooks. She was able to convince even some of the boys to join in after-school knitting lessons. And she was ready with a quip for every occasion.

One of her sayings I didn’t particularly like was “life isn’t always fair.” It provoked me at that age when I knew that the good guys always won in the end. Didn’t they? The potential answer made me entirely uncomfortable with the thought of growing up in a world where justice didn’t rule. And when I protested, it was “life isn’t a bowl full of cherries.” I remember thinking that one sure didn’t make sense. Cherries are small and red. Life isn’t small and red, and it is definitely not in a bowl!

Of course, I learned the wisdom of her words with time, and as an adult I searched for her. I thought I’d like to thank her and show her what I had become, but I couldn’t find her. I approached an address of a McClellan that I found in the phone book one summer, but I “chickened out” as I drew close. After all, what would I say? So I went home to raise my children.

Then in my 50s I sadly discovered her obituary on the internet and discovered she had lived just 15 miles away from me. That was when I learned she was survived by some sisters, one who was still in the area. Well, I reasoned, I can still honor my teacher somehow.

I visited the younger Miss McClellan today. I sat on her chair and admired her family pictures and her paintings and heard stories of her sister and reminisced with her about her travels and her own teaching career, just as though she were my own great aunt or my mother’s friend. And I am soooo glad I didn’t wait another day to contact her!

September 18, 2011

There's Nothing Like It

This is one way I slow down and quiet my mind: I find a bit of paper and a pen, make myself comfortable in an empty room with my feet up. I notice after a while I actually breathe more deeply, but it takes time to get there.

Then I open the book. I poke around until something starts speaking to my heart. And because of the value I place on that voice I start writing it, slowly and word-for-word. I don't want to miss a bit of it, and writing helps me listen and listening helps me learn and learning feeds my soul and a satisfied soul restores peace. I'd call that a great return for my investment!

September 14, 2011

How to Be a Foster Parent

I started a list last month. This is how far I got.

How to be a foster parent

1. Carefully outline your hopes and expectations.
2. Be ready to take all your hopes and expectations and throw them out the window.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

She came to us the first time 8 years ago. She left twice. Long ago we offered to adopt her, to do anything to give her the stable family life she needed. Now she's back. And again our goal is to love and prepare her for the next time she leaves. How crazy is that? And what kind of goal is that, anyway?

Well, it's exactly the best thing to do, that's all. Sometimes you just know what your job description is, and this is one of those times for me. It's not my job to fulfill my hopes and dreams for her, or even to help her fulfill hers. It IS my job, however, to love her, pray for her, teach her, hold her, release her, walk with her, and then let her walk away.

Like I said in my marriage vows 33 years ago, "I can do this with God's help."


August 24, 2011

When You Are 55

When you are 55 and have been working at a computer for 3 years you should reconsider climbing Spencer’s Butte, especially if you’re in a hurry.

We knew it would be “stretching it” to get it done and meet the rest of the family near the gazebo boat landing at 6. I knew I would be the weak link, but I didn’t know it would confront me full in the face as it did. After all, I work out hard 30 minutes 3 times a week at Emerald Pool! But I’m 55 and I sit a lot for my work. Rats.

Halfway up I wondered who put this old body on me, anyway. Spencer’s Butte is just a butte. It’s not Mt. Kilimanjaro! Pant, pant, pant with my heart going thump, thump, thump. Sweat pouring off my hair under my hat. My husband and son and daughter-in-law kept smiling sweetly at me. And coolly. I stopped to rest again.

On the descent the wobbly legs on this body wouldn’t behave and today, a full 3 days later, my calves are still complaining. But I’m not. It was a great day and a blessed week and we separated all too soon.

They flew off to the other coast this morning, leaving my house too quiet and empty. I tore open a special chocolate she brought me “in remembrance of her” and wondered what had just happened. Was it all just a dream? Wading in the river at Harrisburg, jumping into the surf at Yachats, 2 sons throwing 2 boys around the living room, great-grandparents smiling broadly with their admiration of the 3-year-old’s Spiderman pose, sisters-in-law meeting for the first time and exchanging photos and quips. Did that all really happen or was it just a sweet dream?

I saw more than one eye with a tear, and that was so precious to me. An amazing thing love is.

“Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share but our toil he does richly repay. Not a grief or loss, not a frown or a cross but is blessed if we trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”

“Then in fellowship sweet we shall sit at his feet, or we'll walk by his side in the way. What he says we will do. Where he sends we will go. Never fear, only trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey!”

© 1887 John H. Sammis

August 8, 2011

News from Uganda - Saturday School Rules

Greetings, Everyone!
It's actually a very cool day today. This morning at 5am, it was only 71 degrees in my room. BRRRRR. Almost wished for 2 blankets on my bed. Almost...
At Saturday School, we had to come up with some new rules that will be implemented next month: no more babies or young children (like under 3) can come anymore. We must have cleaned up 4 pee puddles (sorry for all you faint-hearted... actually here we say "someone urinated" or "someone defecated"), had many young children crying, had all the young ones sitting on the stage because they aren't old enough to play the games, etc. So, no more young children or babies. There was even a baby who couldn't have been more than 6 weeks old with an older sister!
The other new rule is if anyone comes after 11am, they will have to wait till the next month to stay. What is happening is, children realize we give biscuits and juice at the end, so they come only for that part. We'll have to see how it goes next month!
We had 197 kids this time...perhaps only 150 if they can't bring younger siblings next month. I have sent you a picture of 4 of our kids helping carry all the things down for Saturday School. From left they are: David, carrying 50 cups in the bag and a jerry can for the juice (it's empty at this point); John with a box of biscuits on his head (120 pkgs) and 50 cups; Dovico with a jerry can and cups and Natasha with the packets of powdered juice - they don't look heavy, but she actually had the heaviest load of the 4! They all came up to our house where we store all the Saturday School stuff, and took things down for us.
For the team - you 10 know who you are! - coming in less than 2 weeks, the 2nd picture is of the man who we paid to dig the drainage for your bathing room. This is just outside the western side of our house. There will be a drain in the bathing room and the pipe will go to this hole, which will be filled now with rocks and an iron sheet on top, then some wooden planks and dirt on top of that. And voila! a drainage pit for your bathing water! Pretty cool, huh? It took him about 6 hours to dig the pit. (He was paid Shs40,000, or less than $20 - a good wage for this work!) He was so tickled that I took his picture and when he saw it on the computer, he laughed at seeing himself.
Mutwahiru is doing well - his leg is healing nicely and he may even get the metal contraption off his leg in about 6 weeks. The only thing is, he needs to stop kicking the soccer ball when the boys are playing. He SO wants to be one of the kids! But, he could wreck the work on his leg so far, so we're keeping him from kicking these days.
We have decided to wait on the Jinja trip with the kids until December - too much going on at the end of this term with the camps, Americans being here, etc.
We will be getting some new chickens in about 3 weeks - please pray that we succeed in this business venture! Our maize should be ready next week... we're planting cotton this week... so many things... our eggplants and tomatoes are being used daily now... sure am learning a lot about agriculture and small businesses!!!
Okay, I'm going to FB now - going to try to download some videos from Saturday School.
Love you all, and am so glad to be partnering with you. There is a possibility I will be home for a couple of weeks in September. If so, I hope to see as many of you as possible and say thank you in person!
God bless you!

June 6, 2011

Pastor Laurie in Uganda

My dear friend from childhood is living and working with her daughter and a local pastor in Uganda with Cornerstone Ministries. They are helping raise and teach a select group of orphans. She has given me permission to share her news and pictures here, which I am proud to do!

Here is her weekly update: "We have begun an allowance system for the kids to help teach them responsibility and how to save… If they "spoil" (American English - "wreck") their shoes or sandals, rip a button off their shirt, throw their sandals or shoes on the roof, "lose" their toothbrush or hanky, etc., they have to pay from their spending money to have it fixed or replaced.

"We have been doing this now for 4 weeks. The kids who bought the balloons beginning the 2nd week (money burning a hole in their pockets) found that balloons pop easily and their purchase was not that great. Most of the boys are saving to buy a matchbox car (thanks to one of you for sending them with us!). Some of the girls are saving for a jump rope of their own.
The first picture is of Abby and Amos as she gives him his 1,000 shillings for the week. You can see his bag around his neck.

"Thank you to all of you who continually support this ministry with your financial gifts - you make it possible for us to do this kind of thing...training these kids for how to save and spend wisely when they grow up. I think about all of you as we pull out the allowance stuff and go down and check on whether their shoes have been spoiled, whether they still have their hanky, etc. You are teaching these children such a valuable and not-very-Ugandan lesson. (Pastor) Rogers comment as he watched this was: 'I sure wish someone had taught me to save money and spend well when I was young!'"

Abby giving Amos his allowance
)( )( )( )( )( )( )( )(

June 1, 2011

This Morning I Finally Buckled Down

This morning I finally buckled down and went through three photo albums and scanned them all into my computer. Do you know how long I have been putting that off? My very righteous excuse was that I was just living "life in the now" and not overly concerned with the past, though I knew this needed to be done. It's one of those things that I find energizing and exciting, but I chose to put it off because of an over-active sense of duty. So, to overcome that I kicked off my shoes and dove in!

Another thing I am putting off is baking my husband some cookies, so I'm getting busy right now. Here I go. There, I took the butter out of the frig! The transcriptions can wait for now. We need the smell of cookies baking in this house!

My husband worked odd shifts for most of our early marriage. I celebrated our anniversary by getting the boys ready for bed, getting my wedding dress on and making him a nice meal.


May 23, 2011

My Dad's Old News

Just a brief note on this cloudy, sunny, showering, hailing, beautiful valley May day!

I created a photo album for my father last October with notes from family and friends. I had them printed out at Wal Mart, then arranged them carefully in a small album for him to keep nearby. I published them all here on my blog (see below) so the contributors could see how I put it all together. But I found that I didn't want to remove them, even 6 months later! They weren't written for me personally, but I still find them uplifting.

Why do people miss their scrapbooks and photo albums most of all when they are lost to fire or storm? Old news is valuable stuff. Looking in the past helps us keep our balance in the present and gives us hope for the future. (Wow, that's insightful! Did I make that up?)

Old news = present balance = future hope. Yes, I like that!


April 26, 2011

No Simple Garage Band

I have to talk about Carlton Mills. I think it has to be ok because he posts frequently on Facebook. And he stands in front of our small congregation and plays his guitar and sings. Therefore, I presume he wouldn’t mind me writing about him here. (Is this ok, Carlton?)

I have watched Carlton’s family from a not-so-distant perspective for many years as one of the moms in our home school circle of friends. He was one of the rambunctious children. There are so many of these kids to be proud of. It’s just that Carlton is on my mind today.

At Junction City High School Carlton played and sang with his buds for a worship event on campus. Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOArckcNKvk&NR=1 Of course I'm a bit partial, but how many high school 'garage bands' sound this good and have this heart?

Here's a clip of Carlton's song at our Easter worship service. "I am yours, I am yours. Through all my days, Jesus I am yours. I am yours, I'm yours forever, Lord. Love came down and rescued me. Love came down and set me free..."http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40zwSJNeufA&feature=share

If I am to become one of the old 'church ladies,' in our community, then I want to do it right! A little recognition of a wonderful young man can't hurt, after all. It was so good to worship God with you, Carlton! Thank you!

March 15, 2011

Chilly Sunday

Our first winter storm without a wood stove since 1979! Actually, our new home has a small wood stove – we just don’t have firewood for it yet. As the temperature in the house started to drop Sunday, I stood in front of the sad cold little stove and began formulating a plan for how my husband and I would stay warm during the night. He was napping on the couch all wrapped up in a blanket while I quietly pondered our chances of survival.

I could walk down the street and ask Herb for an armload of wood, but we have not tried the stove and there are branches that need clearing away from the roof and the stove is so tiny it likely would not accommodate the length of Herb’s firewood and I am not sure Jerry would feel good about asking for it and I AM sure he would rather I not wake him to discuss his plan for what we will do if the electricity doesn’t come back on before bedtime.

We could sleep in all our clothes, coats and blankets piled up. We’re campers, we can figure out how to stay warm.

The second problem was our evening meal. I pulled out a chilled baked potato with the thought that though I could not cook I could at least warm pre-cooked food in the microwave. When I rubbed my forehead to facilitate clearer thinking I realized that would require electricity as well, ahem. I found the slab of left-over venison steak and cut it up into tiny pieces because it was difficult to chew.

I had kept one oil lamp from our move and a box full of candles. I found the flashlight and matches and laid these things out on the counter.

All during our “no electricity” hours I felt I was walking in a shadow of the earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan and found myself thinking and praying about them almost hourly. Many of them would have loved to share my cold potato and tough steak, and I would have loved to offer it—along with my friendship and warm blankets.


March 2, 2011

A Warm Tour of Junction City

I headed out the door determined to be prepared for more icy blastiness but could not make myself put on a coat. I settled for my fleece and a pair of gloves, and even decided to leave my hat at home. Just a matter of days and the western Oregon tug-of-war between winter and spring was pulling us the other direction!

Within minutes I was downtown walking by Pillar to Post and waving at Jamie inside. I passed my husband’s truck parked outside the barber shop and stepped into the city building to pay my bill. Just across the street I checked out the library (I actually did not check anything out there, though) and signed up for a library card. I didn’t spend much time perusing the racks because I didn’t want to find anything I’d have to carry around town.

Birds were chirping and two cats were leaning on the glass in the sunshine to warm their fluffy selves as I passed by. Yellow daffodils were exposing their faces and short purple crocuses, some with snow still on them, reminded me of my failures to grow bulbs of my own. Good thing the previous owner of our home planted plenty!

I stepped into Goodwill to see if anything interesting had hit the shelves since last week. Later on I passed the new storefront they are moving to with a grin on my face. Months ago I commented that Goodwill would need to open another store because of the truckloads we donated when we moved. I could imagine taking a little credit for their expansion, I guess. They plan to open the new store March 17.

Jerry met me at Safeway where we loaded a few groceries into his truck. How fun that he gave me a little toot on his horn as he passed me. We parted ways because he needed to get back to his studies and I wanted more walking time. (I’m determined to strengthen my knees and get to know my new city better.)

I crossed the railroad tracks and spoke with the workers holding signs. Nearing home I turned around to look up into the sky and the cloud formation took my breath away. I’ve always been easily impressed by clouds, but this was remarkable. Lumpy and fluffy grays and silver, all at the same time, with sunlight coming through like a glowing eye.

Thanks for some moments of springtime, God!


February 26, 2011

A Cold Tour of Junction City

I had to get out! I bundled up, packed up, wrapped up and tied my shoes, then pulled on my gloves and headed out the door. I am a chronic homebody, but I had to get OUT! I live here, work here, sleep here, eat here, Facebook here, even exercise here; but there’s only so much “in the cave” alone time an old girl can take. I don’t intend to sound like I’m whining. It was just time for a break, and Friday seems like the perfect day for escapes!

It was good to just get to the end of the driveway. The seriously cold wind threatened to make me change my mind but I only considered that briefly. I imagined myself in my younger days exploring the streets of Eugene to exercise and pray. I decided that wandering is still in me, so I prepared for a frozen face as I pressed on.

My path was mostly dry, but there were spots with mounds of melting snow and sheets of ice that made me step carefully. I chose my route staying “on the sunny side of life” and ended up in downtown Junction City in about 10 minutes.

The Goodwill store was my first stop. I poked around and warmed up in the kitchen utensil area. I picked up an aebleskiver pan and called my daughter to confer with her about its worthiness. We decided against buying it.

I pulled on my gloves again and prepared for the icy blast as I opened the door to head towards the bank. The most difficult entry of my day was navigating the snow in front of the Citizen’s Bank. Inside, the sign said I should take my hat off for my own safety. I complied though I'm sure I don’t look like a person who intends to do mischief, not the kind that would worry them anyway!

Downtown I stopped in at Remnants of the Day, a shop I had been curious about. They specialize in using materials left over from outfitting coaches. I had a nice chat with the owner and came out with a quote for recovering my grandmother’s old chair. I think my sister Lisa would LOVE to work in a place like this with its beautiful remnants stacked to the ceiling and massive tables to cut and work on.

I headed over the railroad tracks to Bi-Mart to find my favorite Altoid Mints. I stuffed them tightly into my small pack and turned for home.

My escape worked! I arrived home refreshed and ready for a nice warm evening with my husband.


February 16, 2011

The Sparkle

I walked into my husband's home office during the news the other night and respectfully waited for a commercial break. He must have thought I had something important to say because he turned his eyes to mine with a sparkle of interest. Now I have been developing a theory that some of us must have layers of skin over our eyes, kind of like multiple opaque eyelids. At least it seems my husband does.

“Jerry, do you know that disburse and disperse are two different words with two different meanings? And let me tell you how I tell the two apart.” I paused at this point because I was sure I detected a dimming of the sparkle.

“Well,” I continued, “the ‘sp’ in disperse is like the ‘sp’ in spitting. It means you’re spreading something around.”

The change that came over his eyes startled me at that point, but I pressed on.

“…but in the words disburse the ‘b’ reminds me of the ‘b’ in bank. To disburse something means to spend or pay with money.”

Maybe it’s not in the eyes at all, but instead on the tongue. The man gave no response. He clearly was speechless at his wife’s depth of understanding and wisdom. Well, actually, when I saw that the commercials were just about over I joked, “Aren’t you glad to know that?”

The sparkle glimmered to life again as I made my exit. Some things just need to be said, like friendly reminders my man and I don’t think the same way. That’s a good thing, by the way.


January 31, 2011

The Dentist in Zambia

The gentle dentist explained to an old Zambian woman holding her cheek in obvious pain that her abscessed tooth would need to come out. The mud-walled church was built for the communities near Chashinama village, but today it served as a dental office consisting of an old dinette chair, a backpack of tools and a large “torch,” as he called it. We called it a flashlight. My husband assisted by holding the torch at different angles above the woman’s mouth during the procedure. She endured it all quietly while her young granddaughter, an orphan, sat in the dirt listlessly at her feet.

I did a bit of research when we got home. I learned that far more aid has been poured into Africa than any other continent and it is still the neediest place on earth. I struggle unendingly with trying to resolve the level of need there with my inability to do much about it. With anyone’s inability to do much about it. Is this what Jesus meant when he said the poor would always be with us?

While the dentist was done explaining through an interpreter how the grandmother should take care of her wound, my husband bent down to pick up and comfort the little girl on the ground. She laid her weary head against his shoulder. At that point, with our prayers, it was all we had to give. For her, for that moment, a daddy’s attention was all she needed.

January 12, 2011

A Strange New World

Perks to living on our hill in the country included the freedom to step out my back door and yodel to the trees when I wanted to. We had no neighbors. Now I live in town and I have neighbors. The goats didn’t mind what I did as long as they had something to chew. But now I live in town. A strange new world.

My first few nights here I needed to keep the bathroom fan running to muffle the town noise. My eyes would pop open wondering if what I’d heard was an airplane or a car rushing down the street. No, it was only the furnace. I would drift to sleep thinking about our old woodstove and the chickens and goats I gave away and my red Bartlett pear tree that I wouldn’t have pears from anymore.

I would leave the house and then return, and it was like walking into a hotel room. It’s very nice and I was happy to be here, but it wasn’t home yet.

I had only been here a few days when someone came up to my door and knocked enthusiastically. Wow, that was different! When I opened it up it was a dear friend of many years who was out taking a walk and heard I was moved in! How delightful! Her greeting was sweet and quick, and then she was off. I could get used to this, I thought.

I finished my work late tonight. My husband is sleeping sweetly in the next room. We had our first dinner guest this week, my daughter! My son dropped by in the middle of the day to borrow a tool. I attended my newest grandchild’s baby shower last night with dozens of ladies I enjoy being with. And I live close to my church and other interesting places.

Okay, I have to say that I don’t miss the chickens that much. This is home!

January 3, 2011

More Moving In

In the dark of this morning I sent Jerry off to start his second term at LCC, and since my work for the day hadn't come yet I looked around the house to see what my next "moving in" project would be.

We did a lot of cutting the last 6 months of 2010. I have Goodwill receipts that account for more than 20 pickup truck loads of donations from our country home that we didn't need (or need to store) any more.

Another thing we cut was our mortgage debt. We are living now for less than rent and will have our small loan paid off in less than 2 years! Yayeee!

Our poor dog Annie must have thought she would certainly be "cut," as well. Her new kennel area is quite a bit smaller than the pasture she used to run in, and she has escaped it almost daily. Our scolding brought serious remorse (in appearance, anyway) but she was determined that it was not her home. However, with more serious fencing and a reward of a big ol' bone I think we are finally convincing her of the truth. So far, so good!

Whoa, my work just arrived! I'll be extra busy today, so let me close by saying that I was able to do the "next thing" in getting us settled in our new home -- I hung the bulletin board frame in the entryway/dining room. We have boxes of picture frames that will end up at Goodwill in our next truckload, but the bulletin board will serve the purpose of reminding us of people we love.

You know what? Jerry's stud finder was no help at all! I certainly did not understand its language, so I poked a few unnecessary holes in the wall to find the stud the old fashioned way. The scars were soon covered up with the board on which I will stick notes, cards, and Christmas pictures from friends and family.