Adventures, Courage, Dreams, Freedom, Inspiration

A Strange and Wonderful Concept


What a strange and wonderful concept . . . Running toward something instead of running away from something. Ten athletes without a country will compete in the Rio Olympic Games. They are refugees. They have persevered after losing home and country, some after losing parents.

These ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for 21.3 million refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

One of the refugee athletes, Yusra Mardini, is a swimmer. About two years ago, Mardini was swimming to save her life and others. She was one of 20 refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a boat when the motor stopped running.

Mardini fled the Syrian war in 2014 with her sister, who was with her on the boat. They dived into the water with one other passenger and pushed the boat to the shore. Everyone on board was saved.

She will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) – the first of its kind. They marched proudly into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony immediately before the host nation, Brazil, waving the Olympic flag.

How important a lesson we can learn from these athletes! How to survive in crisis. How to find strength and hope in the midst of loss. How to thrive after losing home. How to keep trying when others might have given up.

I am moved by their bravery, their tenacity and their resilience. I pray for good things to come to them. I pray that the world will be inspired by their example, to lift our eyes up to hope, to move forward into brighter days, to always strive to be the best we can be.

Adventures, Inspiration, Life storms

Fly with Your Wind


While a friend of mine was driving through the plains of Oklahoma, he marveled at miles and miles of vast rolling plains of grasses and the strong winds that were making them sway. Then he noticed something else every few miles: trees in perfect rows. And he wondered why the trees grew in almost perfect rows. As he contemplated the phenomenon, he realized that when the trees seed, the seeds are blown in the direction of the wind and thus the trees are growing in the direction of the wind. The wind shapes the vegetation and literally shapes the landscape.

Our lives are guided by winds, too. Winds of change. Winds from storms. Gentle, refreshing winds. Winds of bitter cold. Winds that blow in the heat of summer. The breezes change us, challenge us, and sometimes restore us.

We become who we are as the winds blow across our lives, leaving us different than we were before. I enjoy the writing of C. JoyBell C.

I don’t believe in fighting the wind. You go and you fly with your wind. Let everyone else catch their own gusts of wind and let them fly with their own gusts of wind, and you go and you fly with yours.

Fly with your wind. Sounds to me like wise advice.

Adventures, Inspiration



Life is an astounding journey. No straight paths, just circuitous ones. Few smooth roads, mostly rough ones. But what an adventure it is! I love new places, new experiences, new people, new ideas, new endeavors, new dreams.

This quote describes life so well:

“The path isn’t a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.”

That’s what makes life worth living, the deeper truths we learn as we travel the journey. It is the spiral path that is so filled with that deeper truth. It is this journey that inspires us to dream new and fresh dreams. It is the spiral-like journey that allows us to grow and learn and stretch. Life is truly an adventure!

Adventures, Beauty of Nature



Color blankets the world with joy. The green leaves rustle in light breezes. The tall amber colored grasses sway in the wind. The sky glistens with blues, pinks and purples and dancing white clouds. The flowers wear all shades and hues of every color imaginable.

I don’t want to miss it. I want to see every shade of color and be grateful that God gave me eyes to see. I want to always and forever give thanks to God for painting the world. I want to rejoice for the beauty of nature that surrounds me.

Most of all, I want to honor a Divine Creator who looked upon all that was made and said “It’s good!”

It is good indeed! Thanks be to God.

Adventures, Africa, Faith, Freedom, God's Faithfulness, grief, healing

Remembering Uganda


It was so many years ago, but I remember it as if it happened yesterday. The two of us, my husband Fred and I, stepped off of a plane in the Nairobi airport to begin a new life. As very young missionaries headed to Uganda, we had no idea what we would face in the days to come.

Getting to Uganda from Kenya was a long, dusty ride through the most beautiful places we had ever seen. Through bush country and savannah, through banana groves and rain forests, through tea plantations on mountainsides and the rushing waters of Bujigali Falls, we were getting acquainted with this continent. The terrain was ever-changing, and the way was marked by the majestic beauty of elephants, giraffe, cape buffalo, gazelles, flamingos and Ugandan crested cranes.

We were filled with awe and excitement. But the most moving sight of all was the people, barefoot and downtrodden, wearing rags and carrying heavy water containers. Their country had all but been destroyed by the evil dictator Idi Amin, who orchestrated the genocide of 100,000 to 500,00 Ugandans.

Churches were burned to the ground, schools pillaged and all but destroyed, roads were in shambles. Children were left orphaned in a country of widows. Their faces showed the wear of grief, their bodies the mask of mourning.

They are why we have come, sent by God to comfort a grieving people in small ways. The days ahead would find us digging water wells, distributing agricultural tools and vegetable seeds, giving out books, bibles and sewing supplies, bringing in simple medicines and vaccines.

I can never think of the Ugandan people without recalling Lamentations 5, a scripture passage that was read in a church service to describe the plight of the Ugandan people. As the reader read through her tears, the entire congregation wept, mourning so many losses. I offer the text here in its entirety:

Lamentations 5 New International Version (NIV)

Remember, Lord, what has happened to us;
look, and see our disgrace.
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
We have become fatherless,
our mothers are widows.
We must buy the water we drink;
our wood can be had only at a price.
Those who pursue us are at our heels;
we are weary and find no rest.
We submitted to Egypt and Assyria
to get enough bread.
Our ancestors sinned and are no more,
and we bear their punishment.
Slaves rule over us,
and there is no one to free us from their hands.
We get our bread at the risk of our lives
because of the sword in the desert.
Our skin is hot as an oven,
feverish from hunger.
Women have been violated in Zion,
and virgins in the towns of Judah.
Princes have been hung up by their hands;
elders are shown no respect.
Young men toil at the millstones;
boys stagger under loads of wood.
The elders are gone from the city gate;
the young men have stopped their music.
Joy is gone from our hearts;
our dancing has turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head.
Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our hearts are faint,
because of these things our eyes grow dim
for Mount Zion, which lies desolate,
with jackals prowling over it.
You, Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation.
Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long?
Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old
unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure.

Idi Amin was deposed. God did restore Uganda , and those who had lost so much found life again. Their mourning turned to dancing, dancing filled with joyful gratitude to a compassionate and faithful God. Amen.

Adventures, Africa, Home, Inspiration

Out of Africa

Sunset over the Nile River in Uganda

One never comes out of Africa. It is said that once you have been to Africa, you will never come all the way back. I can identify with that statement. Coming back from living in Africa was one of the most difficult times of life for us. It was a magical place to live, filled with wonderfully friendly people, acres of lush banana groves, rolling hills spotted with growing things, verdant tropical rain forests and mountains capped with snow.

On the plains of Africa we saw elegant giraffes, gazelles, zebras, elephants and cape buffalo meandering through swaying grasses that move with the breeze. The hippos splashed in the water only an arms reach from our boat. The Ugandan kob ran gracefully across the vast expanse. The great Rift Valley invited a sense of awe with cliffs several thousand feet high.

It was an experience to remember always. But even more significant than the natural beauty of Africa was the experience that we shared with the people of Uganda. Stripped from all of life’s comforts by the brutal reign of Idi Amin, the people were so eager to move into a better life. We joined them right after Idi Amin was deposed. It was a time of digging water wells, taking seeds, fertilizer and gardening tools into villages, offering blankets, medicines, protein supplements, sewing supplies, books and other educational materials, sports equipment and Bibles. It was a time for grieving their losses, healing, and rebuilding their lives. Sharing that time with them made it seem unfathomable to leave.

But we did, and we returned to America with a huge piece of Africa in our hearts, where it remains after more than thirty-five years. It is really true: once you’ve lived in Africa, you’ll never come all the way back.

Adventures, Dreams, Risk

The Sky That Calls Me


Getting older brings various limits. What used to be an adventure now feels risky, even dangerous. Digging a flower garden is more of a challenge. Making up a bed is harder than it used to be. Lifting heavy things can leave one with days of back pain.

A long road trip sometimes feels prohibitive. A long plane trip seems out of reach. The worse thing is that taking risks can be frightening, and chasing dreams and adventures sometimes feels impossible.

And yet the sky still calls out to me, opening up before me with new dreams and fresh adventures. Only I can decide not to lean on the age-old excuse, “I’m too old!” As I do many times, I bask in the inspiration of Bishop Charleston.

Fly before the wind that lifts you, soaring on wings outstretched to the sun. Do not feel constrained to stand below, afraid to take the risk, but trust in your own imagination, in the wild ideas that others cannot yet see. Let them pull you from the common ground and up to a different horizon, a far vision of what might be if only you can reach it. Already you feel a stirring to do something different. Go with that first breeze and see how far it can take you. You were not born to plod the earth, but to test the limits of the sky that calls you.

The sky still calls me. I still want to soar. What if I still can? What if dreams and adventures are still possible for me?

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?

― Erin Hanson