“They” say it’s HOME

You already know that I haven’t done much writing here on the blog for the past few months. I could give you lots of reasons excuses, but you don’t need to waste your time reading that. So I’m just jumping in and writing about HOME for another 5 Minute Friday. (For more information about this blog-link-up or to read other posts on the same topic, please click HERE.)

Ready, set, GO!

When I read this topic, my mind wandered to the many sayings about “home.” These sayings kept coming back to me over and over and over. I realized that, at least for now, most of those sayings just do NOT apply to our current situation. Let me give you a few examples:

The world is a great book; he who never stirs from home reads only a page.(St. Augustine) I’ve loved this quote from the first time I heard it years ago. As I’ve mentioned before, I would happily have become a “gypsy,” wandering the world, meeting new people, learning about new cultures. And I am a voracious reader (and book acquirer) so comparing travel to reading a book resonates with me. Hmmm…come to think of it, having just returned from 10 weeks of wandering in Europe probably means that this quote IS true for me! (Quick, let’s move on to the next one…)

Training the next generation of wanderers...

Training the next generation of wanderers…

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. (John Howard Payne) It is true that whenever we go on vacation, there is something special about finally pulling in the driveway and walking in the door. (Well, except for that time when a pipe had sprung a leak and our living room ceiling was on the floor with a waterfall cascading through the rubble…but I guess that’s another story for another day!) Somehow home always seems so much bigger than what we left. (And it is almost always cleaner than usual, since I’ve succumbed over the years to my husband’s mania to clean thoroughly before we leave!) However, this time I had no “home” to return to after my roaming. We are still living with my parents until we can figure out “what’s next,” find paying work, and set up our next home. This place is familiar, and things are going quite well…but it is still not HOME!

Or else we took our "home" with us while we roamed...

Or else we took our “home” with us while we roamed…

You can never go home again. On the one hand, this is certainly true for us right now. Job/ministry ended and we’ve had to leave friends and a place we learned to love. On the other hand, this quote is certainly NOT true…since we moved back “home” with my long-suffering parents. (And we have done this dance once or twice before!)

It is unlikely we will EVER live in this home again...

It is unlikely we will EVER live in this home again…

Home is where the heart is. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with this saying. After all, little pieces of my heart are scattered across the country…and the world! (As of a few weeks ago I have children in 2 different states, plus central Asia, plus China. I have a sister in London, and another sister whose husband is in Afghanistan and whose daughter was in Central America.) The combination of our own roaming and the wandering of my kids and siblings means I either have lots and lots of homes…or that this quote is not true for a family like ours.

It isn't very often anymore that all of us are in one place at one time...

It isn’t very often anymore that all of us are in one place at one time…

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need. (Sarah Ban Breathnach) Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Some of these quotes about “home” are not true for me right now. But THIS one certainly is! I need to quit being impatient and relax into the process of trying to determine where and what God has next for our family. I need to remember that we indeed have all that we need right now.

I AM grateful for the “home” that we have right now… Thanks, Mom and Dad, for this oasis in a stressful stormy time of life!


Where is the “Real Me”?

I am usually the one behind the camera; the one taking photos of everyone and everything; the one capturing the memories of this moment and of that event. Oh, I try to hand my camera to someone else occasionally so that I’m in a few of the photos in the family scrapbooks. And my older daughters sometimes catch me in unguarded moments and snap a picture or two.

Candid photo taken by daughter Celia Emmelhainz

Candid photo taken by daughter Celia Emmelhainz

I’ve become friends with a woman who started writing a blog as she approached her 50th birthday. Today she is putting the finishing touches on a photography project she started during that year. And she has become a professional photographer. I absolutely LOVE her work. Somehow she makes magic with her camera and shows the beauty of each person she “shoots.” (I’ve suggested before that you visit her photography website HERE.)

Jo captures beauty with her camera...

Jo captures beauty with her camera…

Last summer I celebrated my own 50th birthday by taking a trip to London to visit my sister. Among other things, I emailed my friend and asked about a photography session. As the date drew closer, I realized I was worrying…stressing…not sure I was ready for this. After all, my place is BEHIND the camera, right?

Worrying...about being the "model"

Worrying…about being the “model”

I spent time pondering why I was so uncomfortable having my photo taken. I realized that part of the issue was being disappointed when I look in a mirror…or look at a photo of myself. After all, I have wrinkles. I have thin hair. I have lots of extra padding (lots and lots of extra). That’s not the “real me,” the one I think of when I think of who I am. What happened to the beautiful, slender, young girl I used to be? Where did she go?

The "Real Me" was just waiting to be recognized!

The “Real Me” was just waiting to be recognized!

So, with a bit of fear and trembling, I met my friend. We enjoyed getting to know each other better in person. I met her husband. We had dinner together. I spent the night in her lovely extra bedroom. And in the morning, we headed out to the surrounding countryside.

Beautiful countryside...

Beautiful countryside…

...and a peaceful old church.

…and a peaceful old church.

It was actually far less painful than my dreadings. We laughed. We talked. We got a little silly together. And she took photos…LOTS of photos. I stopped thinking about how I might look and just enjoyed the time with my friend.

Having fun...

Having fun…

Getting serious...

Getting serious…

...with a smirk or two thrown in for good measure!

…with a smirk or two thrown in for good measure!

And somehow, when I got the photos back from her, she had done it again. She made magic with her camera. I look at the pictures and see a beautiful, mature woman. And in the process of being brave enough to trust this friend to capture the “real me” in photos, I received a marvelous gift. I now have reminders to smile at the woman I see in the mirror.

The Magic: Beauty Revealed!

The Magic: Beauty Revealed!

Thanks, Jo. You helped me reach for the magic and be able to truly celebrate who I am at this stage of life! You released my inner beauty and made it visible each time I look in the mirror.

PS—check out this blog post by my friend, Jo Blackwell. In it, she challenges each of us to see the beauty within us. And she includes a variety of photos she has taken of beautiful women (including ME!!)

Photo Credits: 1st photo taken by daughter Celia Emmelhainz, all other photos taken by Jo Blackwell.

Changing Time

I have been reading a fascinating book: Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life by Marney Makridakis. I read it from cover to cover when I first got the book. It is filled with little sticky notes, marking passages that have challenged me, projects to try, and statements that I either strongly agree with or question. Because I’m planning to send this book on to a friend when I finish with it, I have restrained myself and not mangled and marred the book by bending over page corners and scribbling in the margins!

I bought the book initially because I assumed it was about making/taking time to do creative things. I thought it would help me “prioritize” me-time, and artsy-time. What I discovered, however, is that those ideas are background in the book. The primary focus is on changing our perception of time from “not enough” to being something of “abundance.” The author lays out her ideas in readable format. She includes tidbits from others who have played with these ideas. And she finishes each chapter with hands-on activities to remind the reader of the principles in the book.

Eventually, I plan to do some of those creative projects. (When I do, I will post photos on my art blog…) For now, I continue to dip back into the book, reading a quote here and a passage there. I’m still finding new ideas that challenge my beliefs about the world, about time, and about my own life.

I am trying to put some of these ideas into practical form. Last Monday looked like it was going to be a hectic, horrible day. I had a zillion things on my to-do list, most of which were NOT optional. It seemed impossible to finish everything on the list all in one day. On Sunday night, I was stressing about the coming day, dreading the morning alarm which would start the rat-race.

Then, as I was driving to town that morning, I remembered one of the ideas from this book. It sounded corny to me, like one of those shmarmy positive-thinking-will-change-your-life ideas. It felt too simple to make any difference. But…facing that overwhelming to-do list, I decided it was worth a try.

I told myself that I had all the time in the world, certainly enough time to complete everything that needed to be done. Each time I felt my heart start racing and my muscles tense up throughout the day, I repeated those same thoughts.

Amazingly enough, by the end of the day, I had indeed completed everything on that dreaded list. And, in general, I enjoyed the day. I wasn’t overwhelmed, after all.

Hmmm…maybe it’s time to get out that book and read it some more. Time to find a few more tidbits to put to the practical test. Time to stop stressing and “create more time.” I’m going to give it a try—how about you?!

What I Learned at CHE

I had the privilege of attending a CHE (Community Health Evangelism) Training conference in Phoenix last week. This was highly recommended to me by a missionary doctor friend who knows my passion for health care and for teaching others. It was every bit as good as he said it would be!

The focus of this program is to empower a community to address its own health-care concerns by training local individuals to share what they are learning with 10-20 neighboring households. By addressing practical needs, communities can be transformed physically and spiritually.

This was not your typical “sit in a seat and listening to boring but informative lectures” conference. It was interactive and helped participants learn by discovery and discussion.

Each session started with a short introductory skit. Then the facilitators asked a question for the group to brainstorm answers to. A “scribe” wrote down what was being said. Then these papers were put up on the walls around the room—so we could both refer back to earlier lessons and see all that we had covered during the week.

In the large group setting, we shared devotions and worship time, learned main points, and had discussions about what we were learning. This was also the setting for demonstrations and “sorting” activities (where we took turns placing various pictures into appropriate groupings to better understand what was happening in the “communities” we were working with).

Small groups were the place for more in-depth discussions and ways to apply what we were learning. A few of us got the “handwriting prize” and tended to do most of the “scribing” for the group we were in. Each time we split into groups, we were divided in different ways. This gave us different perspectives and allowed us to get to know fellow participants better.

Besides the specific information about how CHE works, I learned a number of other things about myself:

  • I like to be the scribe, since writing things down helps me remember what is being said.
  • I have to consciously keep quiet and let others have their say. Yes, I have lots of ideas and, no, most of them don’t need to be shared publicly!
  • I greatly dislike having others question whether my examples (from our work in Navajoland) are exaggerated. Sorry, folks, life really IS that messed up for many children out here…
  • I wish there had been more time for one-on-one conversations to interact more deeply with some of the other participants. We could have learned that much more from each other!
  • I love networking…and I love learning new things…and I love the opportunity to share my experience with other people! (Can I go to more conferences…please?!)
  • I was frustrated to learn about a really cool way of empowering community to help themselves…and not being able to see how it could possibly be implemented in the broken community in which we live…
  • I would join CHE in a minute and greatly enjoy helping to “train the trainers” (which would eventually impact the entire world!)…if only it didn’t take raising donations/pledged support…sigh…
  • And, finally, good food, good conversations, good learning, and good challenges to the status-quo ENERGIZE me!

GRACEFUL Girlfriend(s)

It is time for another 5 Minute Friday. Earlier this week, I decided to choose my own topics for blogging and not get “caught” completing an “assignment.” But then I saw the word for this week—“graceful.” I had already decided to write about some of my friends and include scans of scrapbook pages I recently completed about my girlfriends. And, voila!, the two topics mesh so well that I am once again going to participate in 5 Minute Friday.

Just in case you have missed earlier posts about it, on 5 Minute Friday blogger Lisa-Jo gives a word for everyone to reflect on. We each write for 5 minutes, with no editing, then post our links. It can be fascinating to see how many different interpretations there are of that week’s word! (If you like this week’s word, go check out posts by other bloggers HERE.)

So…here it goes…Ready…Set…Write!


I didn’t use to have girls as friends. During my teen years, most girls seemed to want to talk about clothes and make-up, talk about boys (rather than hanging out with them), or talk about ME (at least, that’s what it felt like). My heart was ripped over and over by barbed words from fellow females.

But then I grew up. I had kids. I stepped into leadership roles at church and in the homeschooling community. I found some women who were filled-with-grace. And these women became my good friends.

Let me tell you about one of my favorite grace-filled girlfriends. Sharon is day to my night; classy to my colorful; soft-spoken to my brashness; introvert to my extroversion. We may look like opposites…but our hearts have been knit together through tragedy and through triumph.

my GRACE-FULL friend

As we rub the rough edges off of each other, as we encourage each other, as we cheer each other on, one of the things I appreciate most about Sharon is her GRACE. She is a lovely lady, outside and in.

I’ve put scans on my ART BLOG of some of the scrapbook pages I made recently to celebrate my girlfriends. As I look through the pages, I realize that many of my friends (including those celebrated on these pages and others who have come and gone in different seasons of my life) are often GRACE-FULL. And perhaps that is why I am so drawn to them…

Hated Goodbyes…

I greatly enjoyed a few days with both of my older daughters recently. It has been a year since we were all three together. Some days that makes me sad. Some days I HATE the goodbyes.

But the time we do get to spend together tends to be sweet. Oldest daughter Celia lives and works in Kazakhstan in Central Asia. Middle daughter Nettie is finishing up a seasonal job with the Peregrine Fund in southern New Mexico. Celia was home for just a few days so we arranged a get together for the three of us. (Thanks, Hubby, for letting us spend the money and the time to meet together!)

Crafty Time Together

We met at a scrapbook/craft retreat at a camp in Capitan NM. We had almost 24 hours together to laugh, talk, get crafty, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. I worked on a scrapbook all about Girls and Girlfriends—time spent with my daughters and other special women in my life. Celia finished an altered book she started many years ago, and painted a picture of her cousins. Nettie hand-crafted some beautiful cards. Yes, time to craft was good…but time together was even better.

Then at the end of the weekend, Celia and I drove 4+ hours to Deming to spend another 24 hours with Nettie and her work/room mate. (16+ hrs of driving in 4 days all within one state…distances out here in the West still confound this eastern girl…but that’s another story for another day!) More time together to laugh, talk, get silly, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. (Plus we got to see the hacksite where Nettie spends her mornings and evenings releasing endangered falcon chicks to the wild…another story for another day!)

Silly Time Together

Chili Mangos — Hot and Sweet

On Monday afternoon, we spent a few hours at the local fast food joint, using internet. At first I thought it might be a waste of valuable relationship time…but then we started sharing things we were reading, music we were listening to, and helping each other find resources. Turns out it was another chance to spend time together to laugh, talk, learn something, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. Plus, we got good drinks for cheaper than *bux prices!

Computer Time Together

But then that dreaded time came. The time to say Goodbyes. Did I tell you I HATE goodbyes? Yeah…

And just a few days later it was time for Celia to get in the car and head to the airport, leaving for another year in Kazakhstan. Yes, another dreaded goodbye…

I’ve been thinking about that. Perhaps we should not have encouraged our kids to follow interests and passions. Perhaps we should have kept them close to home. (Of course, we keep moving where “home” is located…but you get the idea.) If the kids never left, there wouldn’t be so many goodbyes…

But as I’ve thought about that, I realize without Goodbyes, there are no reunions. There are no happy Hellos. We would start taking each other for granted. We might not set aside time together to laugh, talk, have fun, eat, and enjoy each other’s company and that would be a bigger loss.

I guess I just have to accept all those hated Goodbyes…and look forward to the next Hellos!

Waiting for the next Happy Hellos!


How in the world does someone get back to writing regular blog posts after falling way, way behind? I thought about writing a summary of this summer. I thought about just apologizing and jumping back in. I thought about writing frantically for a few days and posting a bajillion stories all at the same time. None of these felt right…and none of these motivated me to log back in to wordpress.

But…I do like participating in Five Minute Fridays “where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em on a common site” This week’s prompt is “CHANGE.” Somehow that grabbed me, so I’m jumping back into regular blogging by joining this week’s challenge. Then I will (re)start posting on Mondays and Fridays, starting next week. See you then!

Ready, Set, GO:

Change…oh how I love change! I confess that I get bored when expected to do the same thing over and over and over. Fortunately, I have spent most of my adult life working with kids—my own and other people’s. And it is rarely possible to be bored when surrounded with kids. You just never know WHAT might happen next!

This summer has been filled with busy-ness. I’ve been to London. I’ve photographed two weddings for Navajo friends. I’ve chauffeured kids to the back of beyond and home again. I’ve worked hard to help kids transition to highschool and to college (other kids) and back home for school (daughter Anna).

I KNOW life has been too busy because when I woke up this morning with nothing I “had” to do and no place we “had” to go, I didn’t know what to do with myself!

And in the midst of busy-ness and travel and fun activities, we are beginning to realize it is time for a bigger CHANGE in our family situation. We have been (mostly) volunteers in a remote area of Navajoland for the past 2 1/2 years. While we love living here and working with at-risk Navajo youth, we are recognizing that we are lonely. We are “dry” without regular soaking worship and prayer time (even though we are at church most Sundays). We are weary of feeling the stress of tight finances. I want to pursue using EMS to help others and am frustrated at the lack of opportunity to do so out here (even while there is a desperate need for emergency medical care in this abandoned and remote area).

I guess life is feeling a little bit like the local scenery right now…

What will this CHANGE look like? Right now we have no idea… Even though my immediate, emotional reaction is to suggest we relocate to some other place immediately, my wise and less-impulsive husband reminds me that we are committed to be here (for now), we need to find paying work before we would move, and we have plenty to keep us busy until changes happen…

Sigh…guess I will keep plodding along.

Come to think of it, that relates well to the word-for-the-year I chose way back in January: “walk.” Perhaps I should take some time and ponder that word again–even when I prefer to JUMP…or at least to RUN!

So while I keep on walking, I will just comfort myself with the thought that change IS coming…

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