It’s a BROKEN World…

This post was written as part of “Five Minute Friday” where bloggers write for 5 minutes on a given topic, without editing or revising their work. You can see the link-up hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker HERE.

A few years ago we were working with at-risk young people in a remote area of Navajoland. Far too many children were raising themselves, or were taking responsibility for younger siblings, while the adults around them were constantly drunk, on drugs, or were out gambling and fighting. Some folks have accused me of being racist, or of being judgmental. I think the truth lies closer to being, at times, completely and totally overwhelmed by the broken world we found around us.

One day the world came crashing down around the teachers and administration at the local all-Navajo-student K-8 school. One of the younger boys, “S,” winced when his teacher put a hand on his shoulder to redirect his attention to his workbook. After proper procedures were followed to investigate what had happened, the student was taken into custody by the State Highway Patrol and a Social Worker, kicking and screaming the entire time; wailing that he loved his mother and his mother loved him.

When my husband and I got to the school a little later that afternoon for our tutoring/teaching responsibilities, we found the adults still in a state of shock. This precious fellow had wounds and deep bruising from his head to his lower legs and down his arms as far as his elbows. “S” had been beaten with a wire by his mother the night before. It must have taken hours for her to do that much damage to him…

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

Don’t talk to me of racism. Don’t talk to me of judgmentalism. Let me tell you about a broken, broken world. Especially when I tell you the end of the story: he was back with his mother within days and was moved to another school so none of us could be so “abusive” as to call authorities again.

I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of “S.” And I was reminded of him just the other day during a women’s bible study I am attending. The focus was on Christ’s redeeming us from slavery. In Gal 3:13, it says that Christ became a curse for us. The teacher went on to describe the traditional beating by Jewish tradition: 39 lashes which left wounds and bruising from head to toe and half way down the arms. She made it clear that Christ took that beating for us; He took the curse intended for us; He paid the price in his own body for our wrong-doing.

All of a sudden it came crashing in on me. Young “S” was beaten. He was cursed with a twisted “love” from his mother. His life was, at least at times, a living hell. And yet…and yet…in the middle of that broken world, Jesus has already come to redeem that in “S’s” young life. I began weeping when I realized that someday “S” might learn that Jesus wants to replace those wounds and that curse with His own payment. Jesus wants to redeem and heal those wounds and make “S’s” life whole again.

Hurry, Lord Jesus. Rescue “S” (and other innocent young Navajo children) from this broken, broken world…


Recipes from Life

I just finished reading “Recipes from the Dump” by Abigail Stone. Written in stream-of-consciousness form, it parodies cooking novels. I’m really not sure why I kept reading about the every day ponderings of a fictional single mom. Her fixation on catching a man got old after a while. The book did, however, challenge me to write a few “recipes” of my own.

For a taste of my life recently, try a few of the following dishes:

This first recipe comes from the first few months of living in a new location, with husband busy at a new job and teenage son far away as a volunteer camp counselor for the summer. Two extremely extroverted people (mother and daughter) who can’t figure out where and how to find new friends resulted in this stew.


(best made on a gray, rainy day, a week of rain is even better)

2 large onions, chopped

3 cups root vegetables, chopped

3 cups sorrel leaves

6 cups chicken broth

3 Tbsp hot sauce

2 cups, coarsely ripped chunks of stale bread

Lightly sauté vegetables in a large kettle: onions to make you cry and root vegetables to remind you of your life having been pulled up by the roots. Stir in sorrel leaves to add bitterness and sorrow to the soup. Pour chicken broth into the kettle and bring to a simmer, letting your fears and doubts seep into all crevices of the soup. Add a burning taste with the hot sauce, enough to bring more tears to your eyes.

Serve in a shallow bowl over chunks of stale bread, memories left over from better days.

Chop Salad

Overgrown Chop Salad

This next recipe is a necessary dish to prepare when you buy a house that has not been well maintained due to degenerative health problems of the previous owner.


2 lines of overgrown hedgerows along the lot lines

1 semi-circle of bushes overwhelming a brick wall

5 trees, out of control

3 predatory woody vines, woven throughout other bushes

House Gutters full of tree seedlings

Spend hours and hours over a number of weeks, chopping out overgrown branches, hedges, brush, and trees. Make a huge pile in the driveway, larger than your vehicles and higher than the eaves on the garage. Scoop handfuls of tree seedlings out of the gutters and toss onto the pile for extra spice. Let rest for a few more days for all the flavors to blend.

Rent a wood chipper and run all the woody branches through the grinder. Don’t forget to wear gloves to protect your hands!

Carefully shovel chopped bits onto exposed dirt areas under the hedgerows to prevent weed growth. Come back inside and enjoy a tall, cold one after all your labors.

Color Crunch (main dish)

Color Crunch (main dish)

Color Crunch (main dish)

As a main course, consider fixing the following recipe. It can be altered as needed, based on ingredients you have on hand.


1 brick wall (can substitute a sidewalk or driveway)

1 package of new sidewalk chalk in a wide variety of colors

                (my daughter informed me the 4 pack would never do)

2-5 noisy preteen neighbor girls

2-3 bicycles

Wait for sunny weather. This dish doesn’t work well on gray, rainy days.

Mix noisy girls with colorful chalk. Allow them to smear the chalk all over the bricks, making interesting patterns and color mixes. Step back from time to time to enjoy the mess. Add in dancing and MP3 music if desired.

If the mixing process is too noisy for you, consider wearing earplugs or hiding inside. (Pre-teen laughter CAN be loud and rambunctious!)

Add a side of bicycles thrown in the yard where they came to a screeching stop as the gathering started.


Principle Ingredient of Nostalgia Pie

Principle Ingredient of Nostalgia Pie

As you start to make friends and feel more “at home” in your new neighborhood, you might still find some of the following dessert in the back of your frig.


1 crust made of photos, cards, and scrapbook pages

Several text conversations between old friends

2-3 invitations to parties being held in your old stomping grounds on the other side of the country

1-2 phone conversations with old friends

Tears, to bring out the flavors

Dig through packed boxes to uncover mementoes from previous location. Mix together photos, cards and scrapbook pages into a thick crust to hold the pie filling.

Use your phone for text and voice conversations with old friends. Listen to activities you are missing and reminisce about past fun had together.

Receive invitations for events you can not possibly attend, some with expressed regrets for your absence.

Mix filling. Layer on top of crust. Sprinkle with tears. Set aside for flavors to blend. (Warning: gray, rainy days deepen the bitterness and strong flavors of this pie, especially when previous home was in a bright, sunny desert location!)

When you think all traces of this pie are finished, you might well find more pieces buried in the back of your frig…

Finally, as you begin to adjust to your new life in your new home in your new location, consider finishing this meal with a cup of coffee, best shared with a new friend.


Take time to check out the various gathering places in your new town. Share a cup of coffee with the people you find there. Suggested places to visit: local church, home group for said church, women’s group, local swimming pool, variety of neighborhood coffee shops, home-town library branch, and more. In addition to a cup of coffee, share pastries or other treats for extra sweetness.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading these recipes I have been cooking for the past few months. What’s cooking in your life right now?

A Mile of Thanks a Day

As explained on the button above, for the 50 days before I turn 50, I am walking a mile each day, thinking about and praying for someone who has influenced my life so far. I don’t know if each of these people would want their names listed on the internet…so in this post I’m just listing the things I have learned from them. I am THANKFUL for what each one has added to my life!

A Mile of Thanks Each Day...

  1. We laugh together, we solve the world’s problems (and our families’ problems) together, and we enjoy traveling together.
  2. God has knit our hearts together as we have shared the joys and sorrows of life.
  3. I wanna be like you when I grow up!
  4. We have formed a mutual admiration society as we spend time being “real” together.
  5. You are an example of vibrant living.
  6. You support me through tough times and share a zillion resources.
  7. Our relationship moved from struggling because of stark differences to becoming good friends.
  8. You encouraged my passion for EMS…and in the process became a friend.
  9. We shared our kids, supported our husbands through scary times, laugh about the “other wives,” and enjoy time together…let’s not talk politics, okay?!
  10. You are a wise woman—with words, questions and silences.
  11. You encouraged me to fight for my marriage.
  12. You have walked before us…down the grieving road and down the helping others through EMS road.
  13. You always have a smile…and get excited by even the little things.
  14. We are raising “chiefs not Indians” and now that your kids are grown you are pursuing your passions.
  15. We have walked the broken road together.
  16. Some may see you as lowly mechanics…I see a heart for God and a passion for letting God work through you.
  17. You have an attitude of joy—even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
  18. You have faced so many challenges in life—and still trust and love your Heavenly Father.
  19. You continue to live your priorities.
  20. You pursue your “loves.”
  21. Love watching you add new languages to your resume and new stamps to your passport. WHEN can we do that travel book together?!
  22. You stretch me to THINK and introduce me to fascinating new ideas and topics.
  23. Watching you reach for the next opportunity and the next and the next…I realize how much alike we are…
  24. Love watching you move into adulthood with thought and care…showing me changes I could make in my own life!
  25. Steady and Reliable…Glad I can lean on you…and that I get to watch you spread your wings and fly!
  26. You are like me: with strong emotions and seeing everyone as a friend, even those you haven’t yet met!
  27. For as long as we have known you, you LIVE life with God.
  28. Wear what makes you feel good…and SMILE!
  29. You made it clear you believed in me…even when I was a rebellious teen!
  30. You make beautiful even simple things and simple times with others.
  31. Live with GUSTO! (and take a nap when you have to)
  32. My photography improved immeasurably with your advice to “take a step forward” and “take a few more shots.”
  33. You got me off the couch…and doing the impossible (training for a “tri”)!!
  34. Keep on dancing!
  35. In my “dream book” I want to someday see each of my children happily married—you are the first to join our family.
  36. Many years ago you affirmed the value of stay-at-home-moms…and I pulled to the side of the road and cried…
  37. Every time I open my Bible to the epistles, I remember your advice (about book order…and indirectly about marriage!): “Peter comes first.”
  38. You love my kids so dearly…and you have worked hard to pursue your passion.
  39. Thank you for being “real” as you have walked the grieving road.
  40. Your life choices were an example to follow…and you gave good advice as we wandered the RV lifestyle.
  41. Years ago in a small group setting you were a clear model of a servant shepherd and an example of how to minister out of hearing God’s voice.
  42. Your life has given an example and encouragement over the years—sometimes in ministry it seems like nothing is happening…but God may eventually bring clear results!
  43. You have supported me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
  44. You didn’t let me quit when James died…and look where I am now!
  45. You are “steadfast and immovable.”
  46. You were in my life for a moment…and our hearts somehow are intertwined forever!
  47. Because of you we became shepherds…searching for a lost lamb and learning so many other biblical lessons first hand!
  48. You helped tease loose the knots in my heart and emotions so I am more open and free.
  49. You repeatedly asked a question: “Does it lead to LIFE?” which still echoes in my heart today.
  50. You changed your life and your lifestyle to keep in line with your passions.

Story Collector — Part 1

As most of you know, a few years ago my husband and I bought a large RV, packed up our lives, and went on the road for 8 months with our two youngest kids. (If you are interested in more details, you can read blogs from our wanderings at )

One of my great delights as we travelled the West, was to meet new people and hear their stories. I guess I have always “collected” stories; but when you are wandering from place to place there are so many more people to meet and stories to hear than when you are staying-put in one home in one town.

I can't find the photos I took at Newspaper Rock. This was posted on

One day early in our wanderings, we drove off the main road and followed a small back road to get to Newspaper Rock State Park in southeastern Utah. It was definitely worth the drive…in fact, it is still the absolutely best collection of petroglyphs that we have seen so far!

I, of course, had to take photo after photo after photo of the rock face: big pictures, close-ups, photos of our kids leaning over the railing to get better looks, photos of the shadowy pictures behind the main pictures, and more. And while I was snapping photos, there was another fellow there who was doing the same.

I, of course, struck up a conversation with him. Somehow as we talked (and shot photos) we discovered a mutual love of caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, mutual challenges of facing and fighting cancer, and a mutual enjoyment of making up stories to go with the petroglyphs we were studying.

At one point, this fellow stopped, looked at me, and stated that I was clearly a “shaman” since he had never told most of this stuff to anyone else (other than his wife). WHOA! No, not me, I’m a Christian, I am certainly NOT a shaman…

But then he further explained that the role of a shaman is to collect the stories of his/her people, keep those stories alive in his/her heart, and share them with others as encouragement or challenge. Hmmm…after thinking about it, I realized this IS part of why I so much enjoy hearing the stories of people I meet. And it helps explain why I feel so privileged when others choose to share with me.

I’m still not willing to be named a “shaman” … but I happily accept the name of “listener” or “story collector.” In my world view, this interest is a gift that God has given me, a way to connect to others, and a way to encourage them. And collecting stories is an encouragement to ME!

On Patrol…

Seven years ago at this time of year, I was getting ready to start classes to become a National Ski Patroller in northeast Ohio. The first night was simply a registration session, time to pay for the course and pick up the syllabus, the big thick textbook and the almost-as-thick workbook.

As I drove to that first session, I had a panic attack. I started shaking and had an overwhelming urge to turn around and slink back home. This was a strange reaction for something I was looking forward to! I stopped in a parking lot and called a friend, explaining what was happening and asking her to pray for me.

nsp jacketAs she prayed, things suddenly became clear. I was hearing echoes from middle school—not athletic enough, not good-looking enough, not special enough, to join the “popular crowd.” In my mind, ski patrollers were the golden people, the good looking ones at the ski resort, the hot-shot skiers, the “in-crowd.” After all, EVERYONE wanted to wear one of those nifty jackets with the big cross on the back and be the hero to save people’s lives!

Once I recognized what was causing me to panic, I thanked my friend, hung up the phone, gulped a few times, and finished driving to that sign-up session. Yes, the training stretched my brain at times. Yes, I wasn’t sure I could master everything required to become a ski patroller. Yes, I was nervous about passing the skills test later that fall. But…I stuck with it.

I became one of the “golden-people.” I got to wear that special jacket. Even being overweight, older, and not-so-coordinated couldn’t stop me. I, yes I, was part of the National Ski Patrol.

Over the past seven years, I have enjoyed patrolling in a number of settings. I gained an instructor certification for the emergency care part of the certification process. With the encouragement of patroller friends, I persevered and gain my “senior” certification.

on patrolIt was often said that fellow ski patrollers become “family.” I wasn’t so sure about that. I enjoyed spending time with new friends, with mentors, and with fellow instructors. I delighted in helping students find the “aha moments” as they put together knowledge and skills in the classes. It was fun to see my kids get involved in the Jr. Patrol. But “family”? I already had plenty of that.

Then one of our sons died unexpectedly. Beyond close friends, church friends, and family, we were also joined by ski patrol “family” while we waited and mourned on that long, long day at the hospital. In the days and weeks following our son’s death, my ski patrol “family” surrounded us, bringing food and stories and cards and love. Yes, I realized, they truly were more than friends. They proved themselves to be “family.”

Our family moved to a remote area of New Mexico almost two years ago. We are working with at-risk Navajo young people. I love what we are doing. In addition, I am jumping through the hoops to transfer my EMT-B certification (earned before we moved out here) from Ohio to New Mexico, am taking an on-line instructor certification class, and am considering doing the work to get EMT-Intermediate certification.

I only wish there were ski resorts within a reasonable drive. Too bad the sheer-sided mesas out here don’t hold enough snow for skiing! I’m confident I made the right decision to not renew my ski patrol certifications…

…but I sure miss being one of the “golden-people.” I miss wearing the special jacket with the big white cross on the back. I miss being a hero to save people’s lives. Most of all, I miss my ski patrol “family.”

I was reminded of all I miss about being a ski patroller when I saw THIS VIDEO posted on facebook. It gives an excellent picture of what it is like to be a member of National Ski Patrol. I only wish it showed an older, overweight, not-so-coordinated patroller on the smaller hills of Ohio. Then it would truly be a picture of my experience as one of the elite—of me “on patrol.”

Entering the Teen Zone

My baby had another birthday on Thursday. Last year she got a cute new haircut and red eyeglasses. This year she still sports the haircut and she is waiting on new green eyeglasses. But she has added the sass and spunk of a teenager. The crossed arms are standard, the eye-roll needs a little more work. And much as I would prefer to consider her a child for a few more years, she is adamant that she is now a TEEN…a “zero-teen,” that is. (A different way of looking at 10, from a Beverly Cleary/Ramona book she read this year.)

Anna with a little SASS!

Anna is our Groundhog Girl—being born on 20202. She still allows me to take a photo of her outside on her birthday morning—looking for a shadow to predict how much longer we will have winter—a tradition I started on her first birthday. She thinks it’s funny that she has often been correct when Punxatawny Phil has been wrong. This year she fudged the weather prediction—running from the shady side of the house with no shadows to standing in the thin sunray peeking through the clouds which cast shadows on the other side of the house. Hmmm…grabbing for things with both hands…that’s my Anna!

groundhog anna

"Groundhog Anna" both saw her shadow and did not see her shadow this year.

And “Princess Anna” is still around. She plays with fairy toys and writes fairy stories but she herself has been a self-declared princess for many years. Costumes and crowns are favorite dress-up toys, even now. Anna prefers stretch pants and t-shirts for every-day-wear, but loves the new styles which include a short lacy skirt over those leggings. She still does her chores (reluctantly, I must confess) and she play-pretends to be other things such as store-keeper or song-writer, so I guess we will let Princess Anna stay a while longer…

princess anna

Princess Anna is still with us...

Anna is quite creative—some times it’s hard to keep up with her mind as she shares idea after idea after idea. She is getting better at putting those ideas on paper—in writing or in art. It’s much easier to keep up with her jumping thoughts when I can input it into my brain at my own (slow) speed! Anna and I are taking an on-line art class together this year. What fun to see the differences in how we interpret the assignments! And what fun to be working on projects side by side!

life book page

1st "assignment" for LifeBook 2012

Anna is growing up…moving from child to teen, and I’m proud of the young lady she is becoming. But whether she is called a “tween” or a “zero-TEEN” by others, she will always be “my baby.” Hope she’s okay with that!

Happy Birthday, Anna!

The Adventures of…James??

The kids and I went to a movie this weekend. We rarely spend the money for theater showings, but I just couldn’t wait for the DVD to come out. I’ve read Tintin books since I was a kid and passed down that interest to my own kids. I was a little bit worried that The Adventures of Tintin would be too intense for Anna, at least on the big screen. But anytime it got scary I reminded her that there are LOTS of Tintin books, so obviously neither he nor his dog could die! (That apparently worked—she can’t wait for the sequel…)tintin movie image

We had a wonderful time. We laughed and laughed at the bumbling twin detectives. We cheered on Snowy. We delighted in the lit-put out-lit-put out-lit-put out gunpowder chase scene. We gasped and laughed and cringed at the duel to the “death” with giant cranes. We sighed when the treasure was found. It was a good movie for anyone who likes adventure, and excellent entertainment for Tintin readers.

By the time the movie finished I was exhausted. I was on-edge emotionally. Thinking about it, I realized it was more than just reaction to a high-adventure movie, especially an animated one. I realized that emotionally I had just spent almost two hours with my son James…the one who died almost four years ago.Tintin headshot

Tintin didn’t sound like James. And his nose was certainly more pointy than James’. But there were similarities: standing up RED hair, freckles, certain facial expressions, a sense of adventure. It was like watching my son get chased, knocked out, and kidnapped; seeing him solve mysteries, rescue friends, fly a plane, grab the clues, and find a treasure. Whew! Wouldn’t YOU be tired if your kid did all that?!james headshot

I wasn’t really tear-y. I didn’t spend the movie thinking about James. But after the fact, I realized my heart had grabbed for a little bit more time with my son. No wonder I was exhausted!

So…when this movie comes out on DVD I will be one of the first to buy it. I can’t wait to watch Tintin beat the bad guys again. And I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of the adventures of James just one more time…

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