Thursday, January 31, 2008


I was in the shoe store rummaging through dress shoes on a discount table when I spied the perfect pair: pearly off-white that cast rainbow reflections if held in the right light, delicate straps and a three-inch heel. Would they have my size? I was feeling giddy, thinking how well the shoes would look with my new dress—the whole reason for this shopping trip.
I bent over to slip the heels on, Cinderella-like, then straightened to a standing position to admire my “delicate” foot in the mirror. I was unprepared for what I saw. You see, I don’t often look that far down my body or very closely either, and was shocked at what met my eye: a web of bluish-purplish skin crisscrossing varicose (very-close) veins starting at my ankles and meandering up my calves like a world map. Disappointed was putting it mildly. Those legs didn’t match those shoes, but I bought them anyway. Vanity does that to a person. I told my hubby, then, about my reaction and said, “I prefer to think of those marks as ‘love marks’,” because they’d made their ugly appearance during my pregnancies.
The shoes turned out to be a bad buy. The three-inch heel was a wee too high for this gal and after a few hours of wear, the toe straps left my foot feeling strangled and red. But vanity requires sacrifice, I figure.
Three days ago my hubby came back from a week-long trip. As he unpacked he animatedly told me all about what he’d done and who he’d seen, but every so often he’d stop, look at me and say, “Umm, your legs look good!” (blush, blush) Suddenly, he caught me in his arms, murmuring tenderly in my ear, “I remember seeing those legs when you first walked on campus,” (referring back to our Bible school days.) I giggled like a teenager and decided right then I had a jewel in my arms and I better believe every word he said.
Yes, sixty can be sexy after all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not Even Solomon all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? not worry...your heavenly Father knows what you need.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


That's how many free condoms the Brazilian government is distributing during Carnaval weekend. It's an attempt to control VD and aids. Everyone knows there will be lots of "hanky-panky" (have I dated myself??) going on, so the rationale is to try prevent disease that will weigh on government coffers in the future. Two cities in the northeastern part of the country took a more radical step and prepared kits containing, among other things, two "the day after" pills. At this the Catholic Church reacted with a strong statement on TV that if the city government does not reconsider, they will take the matter to court. I hope the church wins.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Porto Alegre (pop. 1,314,032) has all the tics of a burgeoning metropolis: street vendors barking their sales pitch, shoppers hustling down crowded sidewalks, city buses spewing diesel smoke into the air, businessmen in smart suits and ties, beautiful parks, two professional rival soccer teams, an art museum, St. Peter's theatre complete with balconies and crushed red velvet chairs, two large universities among others, dozens of hospitals, McDonald's restaurants, Pizza Hut, fancy shopping centers and much, much more. Spiritism, for example. I don't have recent statistics, but just to give you an idea, the following was taken from the city newspaper in 1995 on a series done about the city that "no one sees."
*There are 8,000 mediums in the city.
* An average of 93 roosters and chickens are sacrificed per hour--or more than 1 per minute, 2,233 per day or 67,000 per month.
*There are 1,500 stores or stands that sell religious articles.
*960,000 candles are lit every year--two candles per minute--at the 8,000 spiritist centers throughout the city.
Does this impress you? I was profoundly impressed and saddened by these stats until I found something that impressed me even more:

*God knows the number of hairs on my head! (Mt. 10.30) The average is from 100,000-150,000 with blondes having the most--140,000 strands. Multiply that by 6,645,490,513 inhabitants and you have a daily astronomical math problem.
*Not even ONE sparrow falls to the ground without God's approval. (Mt. 10:29) Alaska alone has 51 species of birds in the sparrow and warbler family; multiply that by all the states and regions in the world if you want to get dizzy trying to calculate this teeny part of the day-to-day happenings in the universe.
*God's steadfast love toward those who fear him is as great as the heavens are high above the earth. (Ps. 103:11) How high is the sky? If one counts the distance from the ground to the boundary of earth's atmosphere it is 100 quilometers, but if one goes into outer space to the farthest star, we are talking millions of light years away!
*God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. For starters, the distance from the east coast to the west coast in the USA is aproximately 3,000 miles.
*God has cast our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19) The deepest point of the ocean is in the Mariana Trench, seven miles down, down down--deeper than I care to go.
*God's love is from everlasting to everlasting! (Ps. 103:17) I can't wrap my brain around everlasting.
*The following cannot separate us from God's love: death, life, angels, principalities, things present, things to come, powers, height, depth, anything else in all creation! (Ro. 8:38,39)

I think God has all the bases covered. Hallelujah!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


My Grandma Lena was born 124 years ago today. I remember her as a gentle and quiet soul. Some of my favorite memories of her are: humongous, round sugar cookies, getting a birthday card in the mail with a dollar bill tucked inside, trying to beat her at Chinese checkers, crocheted doilies on the backs and arms of all her stuffed chairs and couches, thinking it cute of her to say Jugene instead of Eugene, sugar cubes at coffee time, her navy blue polka dot silk dress, her green bottle of mentholatum, spending lots of time admiring her salt & pepper collection, putting puzzles together, her slipping a nickle or dime in my hand for an ice cream cone, getting a letter from her with the admonition to "be a good girl," her devotion to God. Grandma, if you were alive today, I would give you a big bear hug for your birthday. I LOVE YOU.


I've heard two popular names for this tree: gold rain and gypsy earring. These delicate flowers
delight my soul and I'm drinking in their beauty. As Joyce Kilmer says, ..."only God can make a tree."

Friday, January 18, 2008

How Much Does a Soul Weigh?

Since becoming a pastor's wife, I've discovered that "souls" are quite heavy--and frankly, I'm feeling the weight and not knowing how to deal with it. Right now I want to be free from this responsibility. So much has happened these last days...
*a man called on the phone, crying, because he had returned to doing drugs, but this time had induced his wife to join him, and after doing cocaine all night together with "friends", he was full of remorse and wanted help.
*another man who had been off drugs, was helping in the church and building his business, had three bad relapses in short order. On his last fling he disappeared for three days, returned home to a distraught wife who sent him off to a rehab center.
*a young 14 year-old girl turns up with a boyfriend and a guilty face. She's avoiding me, but I need to talk to her.
*a drunk 19 year-old totters through his parent's front gate early in the morning, to be greeted by a very sad father.
*the man who rented to us when we first moved to this town died of cancer only 15 days after he was diagnosed, but he died a believer, PTL!
*a young mother's C-section in May still has not healed. The cut is gaping open and the doctor said she has to live with it because her body has rejected the stitches.
*9 year-old André's kidney condition is worsening. At his last hospital stay, the doctor's wanted to stop his kidneys from functioning and put him on dialysis, but his parents refused.

The list could go on, plus I didn't mention the little misunderstandings that occur between members, leaders who don't lead, followers who won't follow. And this is called church. I'm very glad that Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18) Sometimes I forget that he's in charge, not me. You know what? This blog has helped me. I feel better already.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beat the Heat!

We took two vacation days to spend with our kids and grandkids earlier this week. One day we went swimming at Lagoa dos Patos, the second largest lagoon in Latin America. You can see a satellite picture of it at this link:
While Patricia dreamed about how to decorate baby "Julia's" room (Yes! They chose Julia Joy Dugan Batista for their baby's name), Pat and Reesha munched on corn on the cob--a must at the beach. Emily concentrates on hers while Eric enjoys the good life.

Why Vacuum a Christmas Tree??

My sister-in-law Linda asked why one would vacuum a Christmas tree. I hasten to explain.
December in the tropics brings together a completely different set of circumstances. First of all, it is HOT. Hot means opening all the windows to catch a breeze, even if warm. Multiply one hot day by 30 or 40 (depending on when one puts up and takes down said tree) and one has fine dust blowing across room and settling on tree unbeknown to owner unless he or she accidentally bumps into branch and sees a cloud of dust rise! Tinsel (I still love it and save it from year to year!!) gets blown and tangled and strewn across floor. Christmas decorations get dusty, and because of high humidity, metalic decorations can possibly begin to rust.

Traditional Christmas foods are often made in the oven, but when it is 90º one doesn't get excited about roasting anything. Having said that, I must add that my American traditions have always won out inspite of being "counter-cultural." I bake cookies and pies and roast turkey, heating up an already very warm kitchen, sweat pouring off my body--all in the name of tradition...and I love it anyway! Try replicating Christmas on the hottest day in July or August to get the "feeling!"

Brazilians don't do a lot of baking for Christmas. They will serve roasted turkey for the Christmas Eve celebration at midnight, but Christmas Day is usually a barbecue and they serve lots of fruit. It certainly makes more sense, but then, it wouldn't be Christmas!

Candidate for Guinness Book of Records

The Guinness Book of World Records "chronicles all kinds of strange and extreme talents, feats, and accomplishments" (per the web search I just made). I would like to recommend myself for the extreme talent it took to vacuum our Christmas tree in 92º F. heat while eating a leftover Gingerbread man. Any votes?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Redeeming Christmas Church Windows

The picture I showed of the Christmas Church Windows did not do justice to its true beauty. Here is a better picture of this delicious Christmas treat!

Sunday, January 06, 2008


It was close to 1 a.m., but I had just read Michelle's New Year's Resolutions and wanted to share them with Pat. He was still awake due to our getting home late from an all-day planning meeting with the church board held at a member's beach house two-hours from home. (To keep you from getting jealous, I walked down to the beach to only wet my feet at 7:30 p.m.-- after the meeting).

We laughed and laughed as I read through Michelle's list of resolutions--Oh! how I missed her. I turned off the light but sleep wouldn't come. Then I had an "existential moment"-- possibly brought on by many different factors. Who am I, afterall? I used to be the primary care giver for four precious children who now live independent lives far from me. So who am I now? The question hung in the air. I didn't know. My identity used to be so closely intertwined with theirs, but this independence thing is supposedly life. Moving from center stage to the periphery is tricky business. The timing has to be right--the lines well thought out. It would not do to throw a wrench in the works to prevent the cycle from progressing. (I just heard of a mother who called her married son twice on his cell phone during Christmas dinner). Hot tears started rolling down my cheeks and I looked up at the ceiling and asked God, "Is there a balm in Gilead? Is there?" I kind've expected God to mystically reach out to my soul when I realized instead that human arms were hugging me. My husband was tenderly smoothing down my hair, and in the silence touched my face, held my hand. And in that moment I knew we were not alone, that a third person was present--God himself, my Father, and his embrace was the balm I had been asking for.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mercy Drops Round us are Falling...

...but for the showers we plead--no rain, please!

It was Sunday night and upon arriving early at church discovered that there was no one there to open the door for us. Others were waiting, too. After several phone calls we discovered that the doorkeeper had been given wrong information, had been there earlier waiting to open the doors, and then left thinking there was to be no service. (That very Sunday was the first night we were to meet an hour later than normal). Someone took off to get the key while we waited. Then we noticed the sky getting darker and yes, "mercy drops"started falling and we all ran for shelter under the trees, but alas! the drops got thicker and larger and fell faster and in spite of the tree leaves, we all started getting wetter and wetter! Fortunately, before we were completely soaked, our salvation arrived and we all found shelter inside.