Lions and Tigers and Bears….OH MY!

I have had many people assume my trip to Africa is a mission based trip. I almost feel a twinge of guilt when I respond with, “nope, purely pleasure!” A place I have always dreamed of going, nope, not really….this is how it came about.

I was participating in the Christian Education Auction at Muskegon Christian School where my wonderful brother-in-law is the administrator. He had mentioned this trip was the big-ticket item with a 4500 dollar value. And so when the item came up for bidding, it was silent. I started to bid on the trip, just to get the momentum going. It was between two of us and at $1800, I pulled out and the other bidder won (bought) the trip for $1850. Whoosh, that was a close call was my first thought. And then they announced they had a trip for the back up bidder…It was my lucky day and I to could go to Africa for $1,850 dollars. What, really, were my first thoughts, not out of sheer excitement. I looked over to my traveling Aunt and said, “Aunt Dot, do you want to go to Africa.” She said “sure” and I said, “sold”!

The next day I went to Sunday morning coffee and said, “look what I won (bought)!” My dad takes a look at the brochure and knows Trevor, the man who facilitates the ranch in South Africa. I am often awed by the contacts my Dad has made world-wide through his participation in developing The Church around the world. Well, the conversation began and soon my parents, Aunt Dot and I, and our good friends The Sweetmans were all committed to travel.

The planning began and for a long time it seemed like a trip way in the future. Today, the future is Tuesday. I am eager to experience this and am grateful that my Dad is a world-wide traveler and will lead the way. I look forward to disconnecting from the technology that surrounds me at home, (although I do hope to stay in touch a bit via the Ipad) and experience nature in a way I never really have. I will be going out twice a day in a green jeep and hard hat to mingle with the elephants, lions, tigers and bears…oh my! I hope to read, converse, nap, laugh, refresh, renew and return home in a few weeks.

I am grateful for many who make this possible and marvel that after 8 years in business, my staff (and friends) can hold every detail of the day-to-day without a worry in my mind. I am thankful for family and friends who will stay at my house, watch my dog and take in my mail. I am privileged to travel and I am eager to go and I am eager to come home….

And so, now you know a bit of how my trip to South Africa came about. I ask for your prayers for safety of travel and good health. If you have any tips to share on enjoying a 17 hour plane trip, jet lag, food to try or adventures to experience, let me know…before Monday night!

Living fully,


I thought i was packed…

I am working hard to be ready to leave on my trip to South Africa. I want to enjoy the process of getting ready. To often I am rushing through the preparation and then have the recurring thought, if only I had had a little more time….

I am quite proud of myself because last night I went to bed being fully packed. I enjoyed today knowing much of my work was done and I only had a few small details to tend to. I was ready and at rest…a first time accomplishment for me before a big trip.

About 3 pm I came home from running errands and walked into my family room to see an empty suitcase. My wonderful chocolate lab Dutch had pulled every thing out of the suitcase (front pockets and all) and was lying comfortably on my pile of clothes. She did not run to greet me, like she often does, but she looked at me with her big brown puppy dog eyes…

I am grateful I have a few days to repack and prepare again to leave. I did mention to Dutch, that if this was a power struggle, I am going to win. I am not sure what she senses. I have not left her much in our 18 month relationship but she seems to know something is up. I am thankful I have a sister who is willing to take on managing her own young family and take on my crazy dog as well.

And so tomorrow I will attempt again to be ready and at rest. I look forward to hosting 28 of my family for Labor Day dinner and marvel at what a wonderful summer it has been. Enjoy the holiday weekend and I hope you also are marveling at what a wonderful summer it has been!

Tomorrow when I finish packing, I think i will close the zipper!

Where the Sidewalk ends…

One of my favorites….

The Little Boy and the Old Man by Shel Silverstein

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.

So thankful for the opportunity I had to be the Director of Children’s Ministry at Sunshine Community Church and today work with the aging at Visiting Angels of West Michigan. I continue to learn life lessons as I offer myself in relationships which are marked by love, time, understanding and compassion for one another….I am grateful!

The heart of Christianity….

I am reading Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion….

I know I am enjoying a book when I have more underlined than white space and thoughts that I keep returning to throughout the day. Today I kept wondering about the following quote: “But this is my belief: at the heart of Christianity is a power that continues to speak to and transform us.”

I would call that a powerful quote. It is not the words themselves, but a combination of the words and their implication in my thoughts and actions. It is a quote that gets me wondering…

What does it look like for me to grapple with the heart of Christianity? The following words come to mind when I think of  the heart of Christianity: Grace, Truth, Grace, Love, Grace, Community, Grace, Forgiveness, Grace, Celebration and Life….to me, the Heart of Christianity is a place that is truth-speaking, fully embracing, fellowship sharing, life-giving and so much more!

What does the heart of Christianity say to me or to those around me?

I believe that the heart of Christianity speaks conviction, passion, love, commitment and sacrifice. These are words that mark the journey to the Cross and I pray will be words I continue to grow in my understanding of living them out EVERY day.

What does transformation look like and how am I being transformed?

On the journey to my heart, I am daring to have a vision for the person I want to become. I will never fully become that person unless I embrace transformation and all that comes with the transformational process. I used to believe that for my transformation to be real, someone else better be a participant or witness to the transformational event. I am learning that often transformation takes place in the quiet of my heart and in the spaces where I meet God. Most often it is not chaotic whirlwind transformation but a quiet event within my own heart, mind and/or soul. May I never lose sight of where I have come from and what I long to be.  I hope I will always be willing to sing, “He is the potter and I am the clay!”

May I continue to live and invite others to fully experience The Heart of Christianity….

What I have learned from Dutchess….

I am not one who has always wanted a dog. I really never considered it much. But on the  journey to my heart, I started to realize that I needed to set some goals for myself. Being single, carefree and on my own, it was getting too easy to live without a routine on the weekends. I figured a dog was a perfect answer to aid my desire for structure and routine.  I had three primary goals…to pick up after myself more, to get out of bed at a decent hour on weekends and to go for walks regularly. So with that in mind, I stopped to see these puppies, named one Dutchess, wrote a check and brought her home when she was six weeks old. That was in April of 2009….

I have learned that my dog has far expanded my vision of what she could do for me. I recently said how I long for the days when it was clear in my mind that beds were for people and kennels for dogs. Dutchess has moved into my world with a gentle persistence  and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Dutchess makes coming home more fun. She is ALWAYS” happy to see me.

Dutchess calls out the playful side of me when she ALWAYS brings her ball to my feet and gives me a true crazy grin when we come in from playing fetch!

Dutchess makes cleaning up a food spill so much easier. she is ALWAYS happy to assist.

Dutchess makes walking a mile so much quicker, she pulls me most of the way.

Dutchess knows how to read my moods and adjusts hers accordingly.

Dutchess has shown me that Pavlov really knew what he was talking about.

Dutchess demonstrates she only exposes herself when she is in her safest space!

So, as far as my original goals. Dutchess loves to sleep and will stay in bed until I get up. If I leave her home alone, I come home to any piece of clothing recently worn, gathered on the couch to provide her my scent while she snoozes. (meaning she contributes to my need to pick up more) But, Dutchess has been used to tenderize my heart.She comes to work with me every day and is in training to be a therapy dog.  All I can think as this dog lays at the base of my bed, snoring away, is that my heart is tenderized in way more creative ways than I ever dreamed possible!

I didn’t know you weighed 550 pounds…

is what I heard from the scale area at the gym locker room today. I glanced over to two young girls, maybe eight years old, one standing on the scale and the other announcing her friends weight. And then the other stood on the scale. “Oh” she declared, “I am only 540 pounds.” And in that moment I realized the value of knowing about decimal points.

I wonder what age the scale numbers begin to take up more space in our thoughts and shape the beliefs we hold about ourselves or others. It was really fun to hear the kids talk about the numbers they saw on the scale, without any sense that the number defined them.

I have been working on growing my own understanding of wellness, not just weight. I find it requires me to focus on kindness towards myself, not just critique and requires me to live proactively with a plan and not reactively with regret. It takes energy, a lot of energy, but I am confident, at the core of my being, it is definitely a part of the journey to my heart!

See you at the window….

What a beautiful Summer Saturday and tomorrow sounds like it will be much of the same. The days until I leave for South Africa are now in single digits and life feels full of opportunity. I experienced something tonight that was fun….

I am a person who really likes WORDS. My house has words spattered all over the place. I read and reread the blogs before I post to see if my word selection is the best it can be. Ask anyone who works with me, I love to critique word choice on any printed document and I have learned, at times, I have to leave well enough alone and say it doesn’t really matter….

I also like to listen to words…so tonight when I was picking up KFC for dinner on my parent’s patio, I smiled big when after I ordered at the first speaker, the man’s voice said…”see you at the window!” It was fun to hear something different, to hear words that held anticipation and words that were about seeing me…somehow it was not just and “your total is….”

I am not sure why the words were significant to me in the moment. I did not tell the guy how fun his words sounded when I was on the other side of the speaker. I think he may have thought I was a bit off if I would have launched into how his “see you at the window” impacted me. But I do wonder, did I say anything today that someone else remembers. Did I choose my words in such a fashion that if someone was listening, they might be able to share a story of an exchange they had with me?

I hope you have some words from a conversation today that you are tucking away because they brought you a smile, inspired your heart in some fashion or challenged you to think or act in a new and exciting way. I hope you spoke some words today that someone else has tucked away because they brought a smile, held sparks of inspiration or challenged them to think or act in a new and exciting way. There is power in words, especially when words overflow from a heart that loves deeply and lives passionately…

“Words are the voice of the heart.”