Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Re-Cap

The Bird.

The Visiting.

The Sweet Girls.

The Friends.

The Force to be Reckoned With.

The Love.

I hope your holiday weekend was splendid!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Listers

It is the time of year for lists...Christmas card lists, wish lists, party attendees lists...

I love lists. I really do.

And I’m not alone. Others of you out there also feel the supreme joy of Making The List.

Currently, I have these lists written down and in process:

1. Thanksgiving prep for today's lunch
2. Groceries to buy in town
3. Paperwork to complete for the government
4. Computer To-Do’s
5. Christmas prep
6. Next Trip to Kampala groceries and supplies

I love them all.

But it’s funny. I am also good at keeping other lists.
You know. The List of how many ways someone has ever ticked me off. The List of all the injustices forced upon me in all of time. The list of all my losses...


These are not the lists I write down. Nor are they lists I am proud of. But, it is remarkable how quickly I can recall them in detail when I am hurt.
Why is it that when one situation brings pain…it revives the wounds of other situations that are similar? I stub my toe on some issue and out comes the “list”.

Recently, I read Tracey's thoughts concerning loss and grief. Tracey's thoughts and Sandi's comment about the "loss closet" have had me pondering.

I was affirmed when reading these things, that it is normal to revisit other losses when facing a new one.

I just need to be sure the visit doesn’t turn into a permanent situation.

Another blogging sister, whose writing touches me deeply, has been making a list over the last year called One Thousand Gifts. I have been convicted to start my own thankful list, in an effort to turn my focus...And give thanks.

I’ll be posting parts of the list over the next year. I’m working towards 1000….making note of the things that God is giving me everyday.

And I feel this is the perfect day to start ☺

1. New puppies.
2. My children laughing.
3. My husband reading the Bible to the children.
4. Cornbread Dressing.
5. My Mam-ma’s pie recipes.
6. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
7. Memories of wonderful family holidays.
8. Missionary community to share holidays with here.
9. Campfires with the kids.
10. Turkey,bacon sandwiches
11. Smores
12. My Blogland Sisters--your authentic sharing so often spurs me on to love and good deeds!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! May your list of blessings come quickly to mind during this holiday season...


(Feel free to grab this graphic and start your own list! Let me know if you do...)

Monday, November 19, 2007


It all started with a mutt named Chipper. Chipper (aka Chips) lived with my parents before I was ever born. They were concerned about how he would react when they brought me home from the hospital. They needn't have worried. Chips scooted under my playpen and growled protectively when any stranger approached to gaze at me.

Chips lived with us for a long time. He ran away once, was picked up by someone and then found his way back to us. Pretty remarkable. My early memories were divided into two parts..."it happened before Chips ran away..." "it happened after Chips got back."
He was significant in our lives.

Eventually, Chips had to go to doggy heaven and we were pet less for a time.

Then came Ginger. Our neighbors down the street were selling (giving away?) puppies and after one brief glimpse, my sister and I were in love. We begged and pleaded and promised all the amazing care in the world. Which we were very diligent to follow through with...for about three days. Maybe not that long. Mom did the feeding and the house breaking and Ginger was really hers.

Ginger was with us a long time. Until 1995, when Jeff and I moved to Uganda. Ginger was not doing well and was going to have to be put down. I asked them to wait until I was gone. I couldn't face that goodbye along with all the other ones. I cried when I got the email saying that Ginger was gone.

"Home" for me in my growing up years included a smallish dog...barking at the door when you returned. Playing chase around the couches. Doing funny and intriguing things that would be talked about for years. A buddy when you were sick on the couch. A loyal friend no matter who was against you.

I moved away from that home. We came to Africa, and we quickly purchased guard dogs. But it wasn't the same. I wanted an inside dog, but could never figure out all the logistics of caring for a dog with our frequent travel and long times away from home.

Fast forward to last week...
For our last two trips to the capital city, my husband has been pointing out the dog advertisements on post boards. I have trained my eyes away from the adorable pictures knowing that it wasn't going to why look.

Jeff persisted. The poster of the Maltese Terrier puppies gave me much pause. Yes, they were adorable. Yes, I would LOVE one. Yes...they WERE adorable.

And at each of my logical reasons why it wouldn't dear husband replied, "But this is something you really want."

Now, if I didn't know better, it almost seemed that my "dogs are meant to live outside" husband was trying to convince me to buy an inside dog.

The next day, as I picked up our meat order at the butchery, Jeff paraded off with all four of the offspring bouncing after him. They returned with huge grins and twinkles in their eyes.

"The last Maltese Terrier puppy is yours, if you agree."

How in the world can you say no to a bunch of jumping, squealing, exuberant children of your womb.


We made the deal and met the owner the following day to get the dog.

This is Baxter.

And he has stolen our hearts.

Silas ran laps around the couch today with Baxter. Alex works diligently to teach him tricks. Isaac has become the Baxter-radar informing me what room Bax is in at all times...and what he is doing. Kinley is content to hold him while she reads.

But, I'm doing the feeding and housebreaking (oh goody! more poop to clean up!), everytime he yips when I leave the room...or leaps up into my lap...or cuddles close while I read blogs...I am reminded...

He is mine. Smile.

Our carved out haven in this far off land...feels a little bit more secure...a little bit more "right".

Welcome Baxter. We are so glad you are here!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where is the Panic Button?!?!?

I am enjoying the new peaceful colors of this blog.

The peace that follows panic is often replenishing...

You see, I have been longing for a blog makeover for awhile now. The professional I enlisted was unable to help me...I don't know why...she went dark...

So after waiting for about 4 months, I had to do something about the pink.

I had received some wise advice on template changing from friends. The email from Ike with the steps to follow has been sitting in my inbox since...January.

I fully trusted his was the phrase "hit the delete button..." that gave me pause. Nine months of pause.

I am quite the risk taker.

I do not fare well with computer-ese. What should work correctly everytime...will suddenly find exception with me. It's like a law of the universe, or something.

Now, despite, my cautious, hesitant tendencies...there are certain circumstances that will drive me to take a risk...

Apparently, pink is one of those "circumstances." I needed to change the color. Badly.

So, one night last week....I took the plunge. I read and re-read Ike's email for the billionth time. I cut and pasted and saved and backed stuff up---

Then, with a huge deep breath and many, many prayers... I. Hit. Delete.

Faster than a you can say "I'm a techno wizard!" I pasted my new template into the proper box and hit "view blog".

Nothing. Blank page. Emptiness.

I took a deep breath and hit Refresh.


Yes, dearest blogland blog was gone. Or at least it appeared that way.

I began to hyperventilate. My heart rate and blood pressure were rising at an alarming speed. My blog had disappeared.

Except...I had followed the rules. The rules of Ike. My original template was neatly tucked away in Word...just waiting to save the day.

I cut and pasted some more and in one blissful moment...the Pink Splendor reappeared with all the thoughts and words completely intact.

I desperately needed to give someone a high five at this point...but my family was sleeping like was 2 AM.

After all that excitement, I would normally have left well enough alone.

But I REALLY wanted to get rid of the pink. So... I branched out. Off the Rules of Ike. Without a genius help line.

My blog remodel required a template upgrade...which is why the first plan didn't work. I think.

After all, I am no computer genius. I can't reconfigure, or triangulate or "hack"...

But I do know that the subtle Green of the background goes well with the Burgundy, Plum and Sage Fonts...

We know what we know, folks.

And I know I am elated to have a color change for now.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We've Come a Long Way

Cell phones in Africa still amaze me.

When we first moved to Ft Portal acquiring a land line phone was of top priority. Jeff had been going on about this new thing called “e-mail” and I for one, thought it would never go anywhere. Especially anywhere in East Africa. But Jeff had high hopes for it and knew the first thing we needed was a land line.

Phone wires and electric wires were delicately draped through trees, tied in knots around poles and, in many other ways, creatively strung all around our town.

But, there were a limited number of phone wires available. We applied for one of the wires and after several months of waiting were given one.

Jeff was with the phone technicians as they ran the wire directly from the phone office to our house. We celebrated victoriously when the dial tone could be heard.

We passed around our phone number and rejoiced in our new accessibility.

Expressed joy…that was only short lived.

Dialing was a test of patience. We had one other friend with a phone line and to call them might require an hour long dial-fest. Driving to their house took less time.

Calling internationally was impossible. First, each call cost a mere $8 per minute (ouch!). Second, dialing and redialing yielded little fruit. Many times, the call just would not go through.

When our families would call us we expected to be cut off numerous times. I would make a list of important points to share and then rattle them off quickly before we would get cut off.

Then came the phone line “issues”. Many times there was a fault in the line. We would call the phone company and they would send the trusty technician carrying…hedge trimmers. We watched in shock as the technician began to cut our line in pieces. His plan…cut and test the line to see where the fault existed.

We lost three phone receivers due to lightning. One of the strikes came through the phone and lit up the hallway. Thankfully we were not on the phone or in the hallway at the time.

Then there was the stealing. Jeff went to investigate the line for himself after a rather long period of phone deprivation…only to discover the entire line was missing. When he reported this to the phone company they only replied that people sometimes steal the wire and that we should just wait until they could secure more wire.

Sigh. Those were the days.

All of a sudden…and I don’t mean that as an exaggeration…

Cell phones. Jeff bought one quickly when they became available and we were shocked at its reliability and function. Eventually, our cell phones connected us to more reliable email services, better communication with our parents and friends overseas and to each other.

For years, when Jeff would head off to the village, I would watch him go, knowing there would be no way to contact me if he was delayed or held up for any reason. As more and more cell phone towers went up around the country, Jeff was able to make contact with me even from remote areas.

We still live in the third world... Which means that unpredictability and dysfunction creep in...always. The cell phone lines are now very over used and the connections can sometimes be the pits.

But the fact that a little piece of machinery with NO WIRES attached to it can somehow link us to people all the way around the world…astounds me.

Over the last few months, as we struggled through rough times, that precious cell phone was a life line.

Jeff and I would squeeze close with our ears pressed against the phone as dear friends and fellow warriors prayed over us and spoke His words of comfort, exhortation and peace over our heads.

One such call was from our Glenwood support team. It was a conference call full of debriefing and sharing…then a prayer.

Our entire family stood in a huddle in our kitchen. Jeff’s cell phone opened in the middle of our circle. One precious voice after another spoke to our Father on our behalf. With each voice we heard, Jeff and I would mouth to the children the name of the person speaking.

“Bill, Dewayne, Cynthia, Charles, Joan, Lori, Kyle, Jana, Jack, Tootsie, Scott…”

Big smiles would follow and nods…

The prayers spoke over many miles overwhelmed our spirits with strength, mercy and hope.

The gentle, peaceful tears flowed from my eyes for awhile after we had ended the call.

We needed what those prayers provided. Available to us, through the miracle of a cell phone.

We have come a long way, in these twelve years…

And I’m not just talking about the phones….

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Box People

On our last furlough, we had safely arrived in Tyler, TX and were worshipping with our supporting church for the first time on our visit. During the worship time, we were welcomed and asked to stand.
Isaac, then four years old, asked, “Mom, how do all these people know us?”
Alex, the more informed 6 year old replied, “Isaac, these are the Box People!"
Isaac, then smiled knowingly, "These people love us!”

About 5 years ago, God brought us to a Church and made it our home. Glenwood. We love them so. They pray for us faithfully. They welcome us warmly when we return for a visit. They generously loan us cars, open their homes, and fill our tummies with Tex Mex like there is no tomorrow! They eagerly listen to our reports and surround us with verbal blessing and exhortation. They support us financially. And they send us
huge boxes full of yummy treats, easy meals, worship music, good books, toys and many other treasures when we are back on the field. They have stolen our hearts.

We get boxes often. Each Bible Class will take a month, collect money and purchase goodies. The treasures are boxed and mailed. And eagerly awaited on our end…

Every time I go to town and return home, Isaac asks, “Did you get a box today?!?!”

The celebration when I say “Yes!” is explosive!!!

The dining table is cleared, scissors are found and the family gathers around with much fanfare.

The box is opened with shouts of “Can you see anything yet?”
“I wonder what they sent this time?!?!”
And of course, “WE LOVE GLENWOOD!”

We lift out each item one by one and exclaim. It is now our tradition and we can’t do it any other way.

Jeff: “Macaroni and Cheese”
Children: “YAY!!!!!!” (hear claps and whistles)
Jeff: “Brownie Mix”
Children:gasping “oooooooooo!!!”
Jeff: “Velveeta Cheese”
Children: “awwwwww!”
Jeff: “M&M’s”
Children: “Give them to Mommy!” (what darling cherubs!)

Out come cars for Isaac: (thanks R.R. !!)

Out come the bag of Tootsie Rolls: (thanks Ms. Tootsie!!)

Pickle relish: (we got them Trisha!)

Arts and crafts for Kinley...

The joy overwhelms us.

You see, we can’t pick those things up at our market. And while we have learned how to make and prepare treats that keep us fed and blessed in this place…

Those packets of treasure remind us of home and a fellowship of Christians whose embrace holds us and sustains us… over and over again.

The items you see pictured arrived recently during a season of trudging. With handfuls of M&M’s and the smell of fresh brownies baking…reprieve found us… What a quickening in our step…

Thank you Glenwood! God multiplies your treats and fills our hearts to overflowing!

We love you!