... Even the worst heartaches can become heartstrings to God's hope, comfort, encouragement, joy, peace and love...

Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I
read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie


Monday, October 30, 2006



Recent I received a devotional on line by Mark Barres. It's good food for thought:
We are the most vulnerable when Hungry, Angry, Lonely, & Tired. Originally this was stated in context of addictions. When any of the four happen, one should halt, assess, and avoid weaknesses. Danger
It is true for all of us, though; and Mark Barres wrote that when we are hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired, we should Halt, Kneel, & Pray. Great advice!


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Sister

Butterfly 4
My baby sister came because I wished upon a star for her. (Well, that's what I thought when I was 10 years old.) She now is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and in May finished being a student graduating with a Masters of Divinity degree.

Today, she is Reverend Judy and celebrated her calling through ordination.

I'd like to think that my childhood wish, made upon the first star that night so long ago, was granted as an answer to prayer because God knew this day would come. There have been many struggles along her path, in preparation for this new part of her journey, and the symbol of a butterfly has fittingly been her coat of arms. Pray with me that the stretching of her new wings will touch many hearts and souls.

The following is a verse of a hymn that began the Service of Ordination; it is a beautiful reminder for all of us:

Here we gather, God to worship,
thankful for our unity,
sisters, brothers now affirming
one called out for ministry.
She will be a servant leader,
set apart yet not above.
We are called with her as servants
and with her, to spread God's love.

Little sister, I am proud of you. I ask the Lord for special blessings as you spread your wings of love and fly!

Butterfly Glitter


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Conference & Retreat

I just spent 2 days at a Parish Nurse Conference and Retreat for Parish Nurses from Oregon and Washington. The theme was Spirituality and Health.
Not only was I a participant, I also was a presenter for 2 sessions on Friday. Plus I was the gift "giver."
Many generous folks provided gifts, which were given away by drawing ticket numbers. Asking people to give things is not my favorite thing to do, but Parish Nurses, who are mostly volunteers, certainly need to be recognized and pampered a bit. Tote bags, books, an original painting, 2 silk flower arrangements, a huge original photo, a beauty basket, a handmade vase, a heart & hands figurine were just some of the gifts ranging from $10-100+. I was honored to pass them out to some very happy people.
I hope that my presentation was also a gift of encouragement.
Giving is fun!

Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and acting anyway.
- Robert Anthony

Failure is not falling, it is not getting up.

Perfection is how God created us to fulfill His will for our lives; it includes both positives and negatives in the correct balance.


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Penny

I just found a shiny new penny in the driveway. When I see a coin on the ground, I remember a short story I read years ago.

A woman wrote about a time of problems and was admittedly arguing with God about Him not supplies her needs. "If I am suppose to leave things in Your hands, you better give me some sign that You are even hearing me;" she demanded; and she went about doing her errands for the day. Later that day, she was walking to her car in the mall parking lot and saw a penny on the pavement. Mumbling to herself, she walked passed it. After all, what's a penny worth these days? It's not even worth leaning down to pick it up.

Putting her packages in the back, she headed for the driver's door. A strong sense of urgency overwhelmed her and she paused. "This is dumb," she thought, but she had to go back and pick up that penny. The sunlight caught that shiny penny in her hand, and her eyes fell upon the words: In God We Trust...

Her sign that God was in control?

Yes, she went on to tell that her needs and more were met in the months that followed. Since that day she never misses an opportunity to pick up a penny- she has a large glass jar nearly full- each with the promise In God We Trust!

Maybe a sign for me? For you?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, October 23, 2006


Is it easy for you to trust? Or is it a daily struggle?

I have some needs that are not being met & I am trying to trust God to provide.
My brain, my knowledge, tells me God will and He does provide as He promises. I even know that He said we must ask- even though He knows prior to our asking.

My fickle emotions cause me to worry, doubt, and distrust. It's not God's ability that I don't trust- He can do anything and everything. It is my unworthiness that is my roadblock or, maybe, it's a pothole in my life.

People have failed me. As a nurse, I am a fixer. As a young widow, I had to become very independent in order to survive & provide for my son. Now I need help, and it is so hard to ask and to trust.

This lack of trust is affecting my writing, which God has called me to do. I need to practice my beliefs regardless of my feelings. I gotta let go and let God, as they used to say. You know what? It's like getting into the car with God & saying, "I'll drive" when you don't even know where you going. And when we make the wrong decisions, God let's what will be will be. That's how we learn the consequences of our poor choices.

I want to stay out of the potholes so I am going to let Him drive...
until I can't stand it & takeover. But, just maybe, tomorrow I'll last a bit longer, And the next day even longer, and so on until it becomes engrained in me to trust my Creator and Heavenly Father.


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Aching Hearts

My friend stopped by to share the burdens on her heart regarding her family.

She didn't know that I was having a funky day & that her surpirse visit cheered me up. She brought me a Mary Engelbreit bookmark, "The Blessings of Friendship." I am sure that she doesn't know that I am an admirer of Mary Engelbreit.

Mary was told not to follow her dream... she'd never make a living as a children's book illustrator. "Get a degree in English so you can teach." But Mary disregarded her counselor's advice and has successfully followed her dream. It isn't the success that I admire, although that is great. It was her mother, who I truly take my hat off to. When Mary was 9 she announced that she needed a studio. Her mother "promptly emptied a linen closet for her." Without formal training, but with the encouragement of her parents, her art is everywhere: greeting cards, books, cups, and more... and, oh yes, bookmarks.

That's what Galations 6:2 is talking about when it says "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (NIV) That law being to love one another. To encourage one another. The Greek word for encourage means to stand along side of. Isn't that what we all want when we're going through tough times? Not to go it alone, to have support. Sometimes the greatest thing we can say is (silence) while being present.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 21, 2006

In Need

Remember this chorus:

"It'sa me, it'sa me, it'sa me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer...
Not my brother, not my sister,
But it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer."

This coming week is the NorthWest Parish Nurse Ministries annual conference and retreat.
It is being held here in Bend, OR- a first! Approximately 100 Parish Nurses and Health Ministers will be coming from lower Washington state as well as the entire state of Oregon.
Thursday evening a nurse will arrive to stay at my apartment- I need some extra energy to clean and be ready for her.
Friday afternoon I will participate in a panel discussion on new approaches in Parish Nursing. Following that I will lead a session on Spiritual Growth.
Because we (Central Oregon Parish Nurses) are the hosting group we've needed a lot of volunteers. Praise the Lord we have many and that has freed me up to concentrate on teaching.

Keep me in your prayers as I prepare my presentations and clean. I want to be relaxed and ready to greet my guest; and to touch the hearts of women, from a variety of denominations,
about Spiritual Growth and Discipline: the ability to do what needs to be done in order to receive God's power to do what we cannot do.

Deeply ingrained habits in our spiritual lives help us to tap into God's resources so we might grow and glorify Him.

Tomorrow, I'll share about my tree...

Shalom with thanks, Connie

Friday, October 20, 2006

Favorite Authors and Books

Here are just a few of my favorite authors:

Oregon authors-
Jane Kirkpatrick, esp. the Tender Ties Series
Kim Meeder, 2 books about hurt horses & hurting kids
Mark Stanleigh Morris, Billy Goat Hill (sequel due 2/07)

Dee Henderson's O'Malley Series
Al Lacy's Angel of Mercy Series
Brian Jacques' Redwall Series

Kay Arthur
Michael Card
Ken Gire
Liz Curtis Higgs
Max Lucado
Philip Yancey

Children -
Liz Curtis Higgs' Parable Series
Max Lucado
C. S. Lewis' Narnia Series

Richard Paul Evans' The Christmas Box
The Christmas Box Miracle
Ken Gire's Intimate Moments With the Savior*
Alice Gray's Christmas Stories For the Heart
Coleen Sell's A Cup of Comfort for Christmas
Henry Van Dyke's The Story of the Other Wiseman
Donna Vanliere's The Christmas Shoes

My favorite study for woman is When the Glass Slipper Doesn't Fit by Claire Cloninger & Karla Worley

* Every year I read the meditation: "An Intimate Moment With Mary and Joseph."

I wish you good reading!

Shalom, Connie

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Everyday I try to read 3 things: something to lift me up spiritually, something to help my writing improve, and something for pleasure. It may be an article or a portion of a book.

As an avid reader, I am able to read several books at a time- but only one at any given moment. I have one book in the bedroom, another in the livingroom by my recliner, another one in the library (a.k.a. bathroom), and one in the car.

The book in my car is usually one of short stories; it prevents lots of frustration when stuck in traffic or waiting for a long train, standing in a long line at the grocery store, or waiting at the doctor's office.

Right now I have returned to the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. They are fantasies based around an abbey built of reddish rock, where all good hearts are welcome. All the characters are animals- mice, moles, otters, hedgehogs, hares, birds, and more. Each book is a tale told of good versus evil. It is not a good series if you are dieting- the food is described in great detail and I find myself wanting to find the abbey just to join their feasts.

Well written with characters you love and hate. The searats are despicable, the fox and ferret leaders have no scruples, yet the nasty arguing shrews will give their lives for you. The warrior mousemaid is both sweet and furious. I love it when I like a book and there is more in the series.

I read the Redwall books for pleasure, but they are also spiritual in the lessons of good over evil. The animals have all the traits of humans, which can be used for good or evil, and they have to make choices just like we do. But there is one thing that I wish was more true- for the animals, family is everything. The little ones are cherished and raised by the community as well as the parents. Yes, I wish we humans were doing better on that score.
Brian Jacques also teaches me about writing- the pace of his books is great and he switches between the bad guys and the good guys so you can have both perspectives. Every time good triumphs I get excited, but I get equally sad when lives of those little creatures are lost in battle.
The word pictures are awesome. On a spring day you can almost smell the blossoms in the orchard behind the abbey; you can almost hear the dubbins (baby animals) splashing happily in the pond.

By the way, the Redwall series is written for older children; you won't find them in the adult section. I'm looking forward to my grandson being old enough that we can read them together.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about some more good books.


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


As I proofread articles and devotionals, I have the privilege to look into the hearts of other Christian writers. Just as each person is uniquely created by God, each writer reflects that uniqueness and specific burdens or passions upon their hearts.

I am reminded that whatever we choose to do in life, it requires action. We must begin by taking that first step.

In her article "The Eye of the Storm" Candace Simar wrote, "...look beneath your feet... work on the task beneath your feet." Thanks, Candace!

As writers, we just have to write that first sentence today... not the whole novel.
As a mother, we have to do just one thing at a time- put one load of wash in, take meat of the freezer for dinner, dress one toddler, change one diaper.
As wife, we have to begin our day with one thing pleasing to our husband- coffee made like he likes it, putting the cap on the toothpaste, if that drives him bonkers ...
the list goes on. You decide whether to be overwhelmed or not; and remember no one can multi-task. You can only do one thing at a time.

What first step do you need to take today?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, October 16, 2006

Write His Answer

Write His Answer is a Bible Study book for writers. Tonight 6 Christian writers met to begin this study. What a blessing this was plus an answer to prayer.

I had learned about this book months ago; I ordered it and, immediately upon its arrival, I began the study. The more I read and searched scripture, the more I knew this needed to be shared in order to 1) reflect different points of view, 2) to work through it at a deeper level, and 3) to join together in prayer and fellowship as an encouragement to Christian writers.

Bend Christian Writers has sponsored the study; a Christian writer has given us permission to meet in her store; and the author gave us a nice discount.

We all confirmed our call from God to write; and acknowledged our need to be in the Word more and the need for encouraging support.

I am looking forward to walking closer to God, to getting to know these ladies better, and to becoming a better writer as a result.

When a writer put pen to paper, it is a solitary time; but when a Christian writer takes up that pen, it is a time with the Lord.

You may not be a writer, but what are you doing to have Christian fellowship and encouragement? To grow closer to God? To have a deeper understanding of the Bible?

Small group studies is one way. My daughter-in-law leads a study for young mothers like her; and they chose a mother's time management study to help them become better mothers and wives. In January, I will begin another study for people with chronic illness and/or chronic pain.

There are many needs- take one of yours and find a few others with like needs; search for the right Bible/Small Group study; and begin!

It is amazing what can happen while having a cup of tea together.


Shalom, Connie

Falling Down & Not Getting Up

Her daughter was so faithful; she stopped every few days to visit with Mom; bought her groceries and medicine, took her to the doctor when needed, etc. But her daughter had not had a vacation in years & needed to get away. So she called a group of her Mom's friends to check on her while she was gone for 2 weeks.

Freda was close to her daughter and encouraged her to take time for herself. But 2 weeks later when her daughter returned, Freda was found on the floor semi-conscious. Can you imagine the guilt her daughter was feeling?

Slowly the pieces of the puzzle began to come together. Freda had not been honest with her daughter about several things and was failing healthwise, but putting on a good show when her daughter was present. Secondly, Freda's friends did check on her every 2-3 days, but it was by phone. No one stopped by. The doctors determined that Freda had fallen and was on the floor for 2-3 days. As they treated her dehydration with IV fluids and restarted her medication, her mind cleared. Yes, she'd fallen over some things she'd left by her favorite chair, could not get up, and could not reach the phone. The last person to phone her wasn't concerned that she didn't answer because her daughter was due back any day.

Of course, her friends felt horrible when they heard what had happened. But Freda had to admit that she'd become absent minded and wasn't sure whether she had eaten or taken her medications. Her daughter had never had a reason to count her pills as they always ran out when they were due to be refilled. On hind sight, no one knew, if the medication had been taken as directed.

I met Freda when she came to live- temporarily- at the nursing home where I was the Director of Nursing. She was angry at the doctors for suggesting a nursing home, even more angry with her daughter, who agreed with the doctors. And she was very angry with me as I represented the nursing home. During those first days, I counseled her daughter as she worked through her guilty feelings; and I counseled Freda in an attempt to help her adjust to the changes in her life.

In the end, Freda chose to stay at the nursing home so her "daughter could have a life." She became an advocate for all new patients. Through her the Sunshine Committee was formed; the ladies and men involved helped all new patients get acquainted and adjust to their new home.
Freda & her daughter had quality time together- they pllayed cards and games, put together puzzles, went to movies, and out to eat. All the fun things they never got around to doing before.
Freda loved playing Bingo, doing crafts, planning various events with the activity staff, and gossiping. (If I wanted to know what was really going on, I'd just check in with Freda!)

2 years later Freda had a stroke, but we were there to care for her. She improved greatly and started a stroke support group. A year later she had a fatal stroke, but you can see that she lived her life to its fullest.

Her daughter, my staff, other patients and I have always felt blessed having known her.

The real proof of knowing Christ is in our actions; one way is to be a friend to the lonely. Freda did that even as a nursing home patient herself. Who can you be a friend to? That friendship can change eternity!


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Parish Nurse

Today I took Rose out to eat after church. Other than going to church and occasionally to the doctor, Rose is home bound. At nearly 90 years old, she needs help in order to stay in her own apartment. Meals on Wheels comes 5 days per week and a caregiver/housekeeper comes twice per week. Weekend are lonely times; and she rarely misses church no matter how she's feeling.

Within the last week she found that 2 distant relatives and their dog died. The husband & wife died a few days apart from a fall causing a brain injury and an illness; a few days later, the dog was found dead underneath their bed. Rose said she couldn't handle going to the funeral, but phoned me, her Parish Nurse, for support. We talk every week and I visit 2-3 times per month to be sure that she her needs are being met. She wears an alert necklace in case she falls; I am called by security, if she pushes the button as live closer than her family.

Sadly her family don't spend time visiting with her. They purchase what she needs and drops it off, but never stays. Of Italian descent, she has many stories to share; but like many older folks she repeats them over and over. Maybe her family is tired of hearing them, but I don't mind as I know it brings her comfort and joy.

You don't have to be a Parish Nurse to visit a shut-in. If you have children and no grandparent nearby, adopt a grandma or grandpa at a senior citizen home or an older neighbor. Having someone drop in periodically can keep them safe and more alert- tomorrow I'll tell of one lady that could have used a visiting friend.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 6

We told the kids to catch micro toads for breakfast. Next morning I made scrabbled eggs with cheese and sausage crumbles a.k.a. micro toads- one girl wouldn't eat it when she found the empty bucket that had held the micro toads; even after I showed her the sausage wrapper she refused to eat the eggs and filled up on toast instead.

Hognose snakes are the clowns of all snakes. When threatened they shake their tails like a rattler, but have no rattles. Then the coil up and mimic a cobra, but they have no teeth or fangs. When all else fails they play dead. Every session a hognose gets in face via the campers; and every session I remark on how very funny the hognose snakes are as I take the little snake in my hands. Sorry, guys... no screams.

Lastly there was Mr. Raccoon, who raided our garbage each night and left a mess to be cleaned up in the morning. (Because the camp is run by a Nature Preserve all garbage is bagged and returned to the city for disposal thus the kids had to pick up every bit each morning & were not happy campers.) I stayed up one night; sitting in the dark I waited to hear our visitor. When I heard the rustling of the nearby bushes, I tiptoed out of the cabin. With enough moonlight to guide me, I rounded the cabin. Not only was it our raccoon, it was huge! No wonder our live trap never caught him! He could reach in for the food, but there was no way he would ever fit inside.

I turned on my flashlight and he was one surprised raccoon caught in the spotlight. Like most critters that live in and near the camp, he wasn't afraid. He was in his territory, which as you remember was human free over 90% of the time. As I began talking to him- yep, talking to him, he stood on his hind paws and slowly backed into the bushes. He was about a yardstick tall and he just stared at me. I told him we'd leave food for him, but he was not to dump the garbage pail over any more.

He hadn't had time to make a mess so I took some leftover food and threw it towards him. He ran as I reminded him, "No dumping the garbage!" Some of the campers heard me talking during the night, but there was a lot of laughter when they found I was conversing with the raccoon.

The next morning the food that I'd tossed was gone, but the garbage was untouched to the campers delight. For the remainder of camp and during the next session, we put all leftovers in an old pan for Mr. Raccoon. The garbage container was never turned over again.

Told you the camp nurse is also the cook, the mother, the firebuilder, and a Dr. Doolittle. And she never tells what frightens her!

Hope you had fun with me this week. Shalom, Connie

Friday, October 13, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 5

The mice had squatter rights to the cabin. I do not even want to know how many there were. The first evening at the cabin, Len & I were having devotions while the campers got ready for bed.
"Len, there's eyes looking at us... there in the grill around the fireplace."
He got up to look & , of course, they ran away.
We settled back to our reading. This time the number of eyes increased.
"Len," I whispered, "slowly look at the fireplace; don't move."
His eyes slowly left his Bible and he stared at the fireplace then grinned. They're just babies; they won't come out."
Great comfort that was. But camp nurses never tell what frightens them!

The mice came out at night, but as far as I know never came on my bed. Once in a while I'd see a baby getting brave and heading out of the fireplace; I'd holler at it and off it would go.

Then there were the micro toads, flat turtles, hognose snakes and raccoons...

Shalom, Connie

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Camp Rules, Part 4

Remember rule #2? The camp nurse never divulges her fears or she'll find critters- not to her liking- in her bed.

We returned from taking the campers to The State Park to swim. Counselor, Len, drove into town for milk as I sent the kids to get dressed. I headed for the kitchen to start supper while the kids had free time for crafts, whittling, fishing, or just resting.
Just as I stepped into the kitchen, I heard a scream from the front of the cabin. Arriving at the screened front porch, I saw all the kids scatter.
"Watch out!" they hollered.
I stopped. A snake was coiled up sleeping in the sun on our front porch.
"Who left the porch door open?" I asked not expecting an answer.
"Stay away from the door. I'll get the broom and sweep it out."
Right, like it was going to be that easy.
The snake was bigger than I thought so my swish of the broom only woke it up. Faster than I can type this, that snake slithered up my broom with big eyes and a mouth wi--d--e open.
Now, I had a major problem. 12 pairs of eyes were watching. I had to win or the remaining days would be... well, you know kids.
So I firmly spoke to the snake telling her that the porch was off limits. She was free to roam any where outside and we'd leave her alone. She looked like she was hissing, but no sound came out. Her tail waved, but had no rattles. I had no idea what kind of snake it was.
Not prepared for a snake bite, I shook the broom knocking her off. She coiled up again and came up the broom even faster and higher than the first time. My hands were at the top of the broom handle with no further place to go. I couldn't get any balance to swing the broom hard enough to dislodge her.
The kids gleefully yelled and banged the side of the cabin. "Where was Len when you needed him," I thought. The snake fell back to the floor.
This time I hit her with all my might... she slide to the side of the porch instead of out the door.
"No, you don't!" and I charged. Just as she was uncoiling herself to strike the broom again, I whacked her head. (So much for be kind to animals.) As she tried to regain her balance, my adrenalin gave me enough energy for one more try...
Swoosh out door she went. She missed the steps and landed in the brush. We could hear her moving rapidly toward the lake. Then the kids heard the van returning and ran to tell of our adventure.
" A B-I-G snake huh?" Len asked with a grin. I don't think he ever believed me that it was 5-6 feet long. It was! Really!
But then there were the mice... (to be continued)

Selah, Connie

Thursday prayer focus is those who are troubled & hurting.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Camp Rules - Part 3

Len, the counselor, was watching from the top and began to run towards me as I hit that tree going full tilt ahead. He was sure I'd be unconscious. How would he and the campers ever get me up the steep hillside?
The tree didn't even flinch; after all, it had been there through all kinds of storms and always stood it's ground. As for me, I was conscious, but my whole body was vibrating from my head on down. I tried to hug the tree to stay upright, but its circumference was way beyond my reach.
The campers came running when they saw I was out of control and tripping over tree roots. Once assured that I was okay, they were determined to get me to the bottom of Devil's Soup Bowl.
They handed me off from one to another. I arrived safely to find that they were absolutely correct. It was beautiful looking up at those giant trees. Walking around the bowl I found a lovely little creek bubbling among some rocks. Wildflowers nodded their heads in the slight breeze. And it felt as if the world was far, far away; as if I had gone back in time. The campers stood around silently watching me.
"It's magnificent!"
They shouted with glee and resumed their racing up the steep banks of the glacier made bowl.
"Wait! How do I get up that hill?"
"Carefully!" they shouted.
It took me four times longer, but I made it to the top. It was worth it, but I never risked it again.
Thankfully, we never had an injury in all the years we took the campers to Devil's Soup Bowl.

The evening of my rapid descent, Len and I talked about God's protection. He had prayed all the way down, knowing that he could not get to me fast enough. If I was injured, the camp would have to close. ( A nurse must be in camp at all times.) I believe, as we did then, that God protected me because those children needed to be there. As hard as I hit that tree, my glasses never broke and I never had a bruise or a headache. Yes, I was protected by the Lord and the campers heard Len and I praying with thanksgiving for my safety.

Tomorrow, I'll share the front porch battle with you!

Selah, Connie

Wednesday prayer focus is workers and neighbors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 2

For 8 summers I was camp nurse at the Nature Center Resident Camp. All 10-12 campers were 10-12 years old & had spent at least one session at daycamp. It was a work & learn camp with 1 counselor, a junior counseler (13-15 years-old & past camper) & nurse. Translated that means I was cook, disciplinarian/mother, nurse & whatever else was needed. Camp ran from Sunday afternoon through Thursday.
It was located on an unmarked back road- without a map, no one could find it. The property included a fishing lake and ended at a state forest. Besides being very private, it was an area untouched by man 90% of the time. No pesticides, no hunting, no human intervention- just a bit of wild, lovely forest.
I had the cabin. A log cabin with kitchen, bath, 2 bedrooms, livingroom with fireplace, and a screened in porch overlooking the lake. The basement held supplies and an old washer & dryer, which we only used once in 8 years. Obviously, there was electricity, but no phone, no TV, no cell phones or any other gadgets allowed.
Kids and counselors were in tents on wooden platforms. We had a campfire every night for singing and stories. Cooked some of the meals over the fire too.
Each day was planned; the campers helped with chores: setting the table, helping cook & serve, doing the dishes, cleaning the grounds, etc. They hiked each day; hiking a little farther each time; ending in a 12 mile hike on Wednesday with a stop at Devils' Soup Bowl.
Devils' Soup Bowl was formed by glaciers & is 105 feet deep. The way down is full of trees and tree roots. It is a nurse's nightmare and the highlight of the week for the kids. They not only race down, they compete seeing how many times they can go down & up. Every year trying to beat the record. It's amazing watching these tired out boys and girls gain new energy once the Soup Bowl is in sight.
The first session, I went on all the hikes including the 12 miler.
The kids, including my son, were daring me to go down the Soup Bowl. Finally, they won telling me I just had to see it from the bottom up!
I tired to go slow and carefully, but gravity takes over about 1/4 of the way down. Not normally a screamer, I was yelling, "I changed my mind!" Then "No! No, no, no, no-oooo!" (to be continued)

Selah, Connie

Tuesday prayer focus is teachers and those who are troubled/hurting.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Camp Rules

There are only 2 camp rules: #1- The nurse NEVER tells what frightens her.
#2- Campers can't hurt themselves unless a bandaide will fix it.
Oops, there's one more for young campers: You don't have to be hurt or sick to see the nurse.

I did camp nursing for 10 summers so my son could go to camp. I've been in big camps- over 300 campers with 100 staff to little groups of 10-12. I'll tell you about the 2 big ones as they were great contrasts.

First, was a YWCA camp on Lake Michigan for inner city Chicago girls. A greyhound bus dropped them off for 2 weeks & the girls ranged in age from 7 to 16. The 7 & 8 year-olds came to see me in their jamies each night for a moment on my lap and a hug. The 15 & 16 year-olds were tough inner city girls, who tried very hard to intimidate me. Actually they did, but I never let them know it.

The highlights were teaching a 7 year-old how to manage her asthma. She went from several attacks per day to 0-1. We survived an outbreak of strep throat with fevers during the hottest days of that summer. My son learned how to share his mother with lots of girls, learned how to draw a walking stick (the insect), and tried out lots of new crafts at the lodge. Best of all were our walks in God's forest in the afternoon's. My son told me that I was his "bestest friend." I replied, Thank you; and will you tell me that when you are 16, please!" (He did!)
The interaction between my nearly 4 year-old sonand I was extremely important that summer as many of these girls were wise about drugs, sex, guns, gangs, dysfunctional/broken families, and poverty. They knew very little about love. I pray we made a difference.

A couple years later, I did 17 weeks at a Jewish boys and girls camp. Ages 8-16 except the last week, which was for disabled adults.
What a contrast between the Y Camp & the Jewish Camp. These kids came in limo's; some were brought by servants or lawyers. Most of their parents were in Europe or on safari or where ever rich people vacation. The camp had everything you can imagine: tennis, golf, rifle range, swimming, sailing, row boats and assorted water "toys," horseback riding, a variety of animals, camping, crafts, archery, rollerskating. Although the camp was on a beautiful, large lake they took turns going by bus to Lake Michigan to swim, climb the dunes, spend money, and get sunburned.

The downside was: spoiled children; counselors who took turns after lights out going to town to drink and smoke marijuana; a owner who catered to the kids, but wouldn't call a vet when needed; a second nurse who came for a vacation & never was without a hangover and a sunburn.
The upside, was that my son had the opportunity to try things that I could never afford. He meet a lonely, chubby boy, who was always being teased, as was my son because everyone thought he was 8. He was 6 1/2. They became such good buddies that the boy pleaded with his parents to stay another 8 weeks & did. On Olympics Day my son won at the rifle range. (I just didn't look.) And he sprinted to the finish line first- winning for his team The Trophy.
Best of all was handicap week. Unlike the rich kids these folks were so thankful to spend 5 days camping that they just beamed and applauded for everything. They came with their own staff, who were wonderful young people with huge hearts. My son cried when they left.

But all three camps had one thing in common- the need for love. The rich kids were also from the Chicago area, but they knew the hired help better than their parents. They wore designer everything and it was a challenge keeping the older boys and girls in their own camps (across the road from each other). We did have some injuries including a broken arm from falling off a horse. My son had fun, mostly; and I worked hard that summer. Again I hope that I made a difference.

Oh, I forgot, I treated a horse's eye infection, a pig's mastitis, a lamb's injured "knee", and talked to the chicken's so they'd lay eggs!

Like a writer friend says, "Ya just gotta love 'em!" (Children and critters)

Shalom, Connie

Monday prayer focus is ministries.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"Armchair Traveling"

My beautiful grandchildren shared with me... Their virus. Now they're well and I have it. So my stuffed up head has been foggy in the thinking department. I have been reading more than writing for a few days. Even watched some TV, which I do very little of except for Mystery and Great Performances on PBS.
Last night I watched a PBS show, "Globe Trekker." Four hikers lead us through God's beautiful country in New Hampshire's White Mountains, a Hawaiian island, the Sierra Mountains, and in mountainous part of Oklahoma. (I thought OK was flat plains.)

As lovely as the film was I noted that we loose so much when all of our senses are not involved.
The flowers of Hawaii had no smell. I couldn't feel the rain or the cold in the mountains. I couldn't really hear all the sounds of the forest. I would have liked to touch the colorful feathers decorating the Native Americans costumes during their PowWow and felt the rhythm of their dances.

I was thankful to be able to see places that I will never be able to travel- I could never hike 10+ miles per day... uphill. I was thankful to see the giant Sequoia trees in California, but would love to walk around one.

I was struck by the diversity of these four places- would a marvelous Creator our God is!

While I'm sitting with a cup of warm, Chai tea, I am remembering some of my adventures back when I was a camp nurse (and younger). Tomorrow I'll share a few with you.

Meanwhile, join me in taking a look around; let's take time to see the beauty right where we are, and thank God for creating it for us!


Shalom, Connie

Sunday prayer focus is church services/programs; and ourselves.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Born For a Purpose- Part 3

As a child I wanted to write; as an adult I wanted to care for the hurting; as a retiree I have been called to write.

First came the passion. Then I was educated in grammar, punctuation and all types of writing.
Nursing skills were added, which included compassionate understanding along with the fervor to demand my patients' rights. Administrative skills completed my skills list with a degree in Health Care Management. The passion was still there- I loved writing training manuals almost as much as cards and letters. As my 40+ years of nursing came to an end, I asked God, "What's next?" My answer was to write my story. I am back to my passion to write that He implanted in me before I was born.

I am excited to see what God has in store for me and maybe, once in a while, He will allow me a peek at why, who, and when my writing is for.

So my question for you, is, once again, what is your passion? Don't know what you are good at? Ask your friends. Look at your family- when you get together who does what? Does Aunt Maggie always bring a beautiful arrangement of flowers from her garden? Does you sister take the kids under wing? Does Grandma always bring her famous biscuits? What about you? Do they look to you for advice? For encouragement? To keep the peace? To take the family photos?

God made you in His image. His purpose for you cannot be done by anyone else but you because of your unique blend of skills, talents, gifts, and passions. There is someone or many who will only be touched for God by you.

It is our job to be what He created us to be; it is His job to provide the people and the right timing for our gift to be expressed.


Shalom, Connie

Thursday prayer focus is those who are troubled and hurting.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Born For a Purpose- Part 2

Have you identified your gift or gifts? Your passion?

Look back at your childhood. What did you dream about? What did you want to do most of all?

I feel in love with books as soon as I learned to read. Then I read the Little House on the Prairie series- every night I wrote a new chapter in my head for my Little House series. I wanted to write. Over the years I was encouraged by teachers to keep on writing, but told at home I wasn't good enough.
I also had a passion for the fragile, unwanted in our world. So I went to nursing school to gain the skills needed to care for them. And I did with all my energy.
Also over the years, I have sent thousands of cards and letters to friends, missionaries, shut-ins, ill and injured folks, widows ... then a strange thing happened.
I felt impressed to send a note to someone at my church. I did not know her well, but she was on my mind constantly that day. Finally I went to my big box of cards, flipped through them and found one I'd bought months ago. It seemed to be the right one for some reason. I sat down to write a brief note; then read through it. (That's my Type A personality showing through; I have to proofread what I write.) I could not believe what I had written!
It said that her husband still loved her and she should not give up on their marriage. #1 I did not know that they were having marital problems. #2. How was I to know her husband's feelings toward her. I tore it up; sent another card that briefly said "I'm thinking about you."
It happened again; several times over the next months. A person would come to mind and I would write things I didn't know. Crazy? I was beginning to wonder about myself.
After a bunch of torn, thrown away cards, I went to the Lord in prayer Slowly I realized that I had received the gift of encouragement- through writing cards and notes. God was asking me to let Him speak through me. I sent the first card off with trepidation.
After church a week later, the receiver gave me a hug of thanks, asking,"How did you know?"
"I didn't," I replied, "God did."
I know that it is a gift, because I cannot do it on my own; and because once I write God's message and seal the envelope, I cannot remember what I wrote.
(to be continued)


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday prayer focus is workers and neighbors.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Born For a Purpose

Each of us is created by God in His image and born for a purpose.
That purpose is our deepest desire, our passion, which was placed within us by God.
We also have skills and talents that are uniquely ours; for example, a baker may be an excellent bread maker, but not as good as making dainty pastries. Another baker may excel in cakes and decorating them. Yet another loves to experiment and create new recipes while her partner always sticks to the tried and reliable old recipes. The same with a flower arranger, a scrapbooker, a quilter, etc.

Having just retired, a woman joined a new group in her community. Shortly after she started, the group needed to restructure its governing body. Using the skills she had learned through her administrative career, she was able to do the restructuring and help them through the transition.
This same woman has the gift of teaching and her passion is for young mothers to realize they must also nurture themselves. She teaches a Bible Study aimed at lifting up those young mothers.
Skills can be learned. Gifts can be honed through education, but education cannot create them.
Remember that we are made in God's image- He is the Master Creator, who has given only humans the ability to create.
Do you know what your gift is? Your passion?


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday prayer focus is teachers and those in treatment.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Adoption Day

37 years ago a seven week old baby boy was placed in my arms forever and ever. I was a mother overwhelmed with joy!
The few days prior had been full of emotion. We had seen this beautiful boy. We had held him and feed him. We had laughed and we had cried. Then we had to replace him in the cradle and leave. John said he was never going to clean the blanket fuzz off his suit- even if it was pink! At home, we looked at the room we had decorated in red, yellow, blue, and green with a circus theme.
For two years there had been surgeries and tests, the decision to adopt, the papers to fill out, the interviews, the home visit, and waiting. The waiting was so hard. Once approved every phone call was increasing our heart rates. Was this the one?
The call came on a Friday afternoon. "Can you come and see your baby on Monday?" She asked me three times! Later, she told me I had said no three times. I was so excited! After calling John, I called the hospital to put me on vacation effective Sunday night.
The day before he came home, we signed the court papers and I gave the tiny clothes and blanket we'd picked out to the caseworker.
What a day it was! A sunny autumn day bright with promise. We did the rounds so the grandparents could see our son first. At home, our dog checked him out and gave us her stamp of approval. Then John went to work for the afternoon- they happily sent him home to his family.
37 years full of creativity, enthusiasm, and a positive outlook on life. There were hard times, but mostly they were wonderful.
Now he's a Christian book designer, a husband, a Daddy of two, a friend and neighbor...
and ... my son.

God blessed us with you, Chris, and I wish your Dad were here to tell you what joy you brought us. The poem is true; you were not born under my heart, but in it.
Love always, Teddy Bear For Mom

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday I was eleven years old when my baby sister was born. I was so proud! Oh, I forgot to mention that I had wished her into being.
My other sister and I shared a room and there was no room for a crib. The baby would share my brother's room. He announced that if it was a girl, he was leaving; but he never did. I think he liked being the only boy.
The year was 1955 and changes- besides an unplanned for baby- were happening. Captain Kangaroo began his life career of teaching good values to children on TV; other children's shows followed. My baby sister soaked it all in- she spoke fluent adultese by age two. At my house, we no longer had a stay at home mother; she learned to drive and went to work. The food we ate changed from homecooking to processed meals. When my father went on road trips, we ate TV dinners or soup and sandwiches. I always knew when money was tight when we had Franco-American spaghetti or frozen potpies for supper.
She was seven when I went to nursing school. I would sneak her in for a night or two some weekends. It was against the rules, but, for some reason, the housemother never checked my room when she was there; and the housekeepers always left me extra clean sheets. We never did anything special, just had popcorn and cokes, and talked.
At eleven, she was my junior bridesmaid.
Her teens were tough years. Being unwanted and regretted is not easy. I wanted her, but I left her to my mother's verbal and emotional abuse. Back then it wasn't called abuse; it was our "norm."
Now, she's a mother and a grandmother; she just graduated from seminary with a Master's degree in Divinity. This month she will be ordained as she waits upon the Lord for her next step. Her story is one of hope and it is fitting that she loves butterflies.
Baby Sister, I am proud of you and I wish you more butterfly years!
Love ya still, Connie