Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I have just finished drinking some delicious umbu juice (the green fruit). On his latest trip, Pat stopped off in Salvador, Bahia, where friends took him to a market. He stuffed two new kinds of fruit in his suitcase: ciriguela and umbu (Sorry! I have no idea how that translates!) Ciriguela (orange fruit) is sweet and smells faintly of grapes. Umbu is tart--more of a lemony taste and reminded me of peaches and lemons. If you'd like to see a professional picture of ciriguela click here.
And here are my non-professional pictures. For yesterday's lunch I made some refreshing ciriguela juice . I'm a little reluctant, though, about biting into a sour fruit like the umbu. We were told to first cook the fruit just a little. I did that with both fruits, actually, then sieved them because of the rather large seed in the middle.
Oh, I feel so healthy now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today Patricia and I and a visiting friend had a picnic in a new park in town, then decided to walk the trail. It was an adventure (of sorts). We encountered hundreds of wild beasts (some people call them mosquitoes), colorful, skittering butterflies and two scary-looking spiders! Our friend jumped out of a tree for a picture (and may have strained or sprained "something" (technical word) in his foot, but all in all, we feel we have grown through this back-to-nature experience.

Friday, February 22, 2008


As a child I always thought it cool that my dear Grandpa Olaf shared a February 22nd birthday with the first president of the United States, George Washington (It certainly made it easier to remember Grandpa's birthday!). If he had lived during the age of the ancient biblical patriarchs, he would still be a young man today at 122 years of age.
I was very fond of my Grandfather. He wasn't much for conversation, yet his natural reserve made me feel secure--like everything was under control. My siblings and I loved to run into his arms whenever we went to visit him, and he swept us off our feet with a warm smile and hearty embrace. I knew he loved us.

One fine day just we kids were having lunch with my grandparents. I was eating pan-fried potatoes when all of a sudden, a small piece of potato lodged in my windpipe. I panicked, jumped up from my chair straining to breathe. I'll never forget how my grandfather immediately dropped his fork and knife as his head jerked in my direction. He stood up and started whacking me on the back with his hand. As you can see, I didn't choke to death, because I am still here to tell this story. The potato was dislodged, thanks to God's mercy and my grandfather's heavy hand, and after the ordeal we all settled back at the table again. All Grandpa said was, "I was about to pick you up by your feet and shake you like I did to your aunt Vi when she was a little girl." We all laughed, but it was hard for me to swallow the rest of my food. Yet Grandpa didn't go on about it, didn't make over me or hug me as if he had almost lost me. It had just been another chapter in our lives.
Grandpa, Happy 122nd Birthday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


"Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16: 24

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I'm reveling in the Narnia series, reading all the books again, and loving them--again!

Some of my favorite lines from the books:

"He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."

"And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it. And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind."

"A mad chase began. Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs."

"I saw you all right. They wouldn't believe me. They're all so--" From somewhere deep inside Aslan's body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl.
"I'm sorry," said Lucy, ..."I didn't mean to start slanging the others..." The Lion looked straight into her eyes."

Oh, there's so much, much more...

Saturday, February 16, 2008


How can the infinite in finite find
contentment living in a human box?
The speaking Word a universe defined
now bound to earth, a welcome paradox!
Can he who wraps up water in the clouds,
names every star then listens to them sing
become a lamb before the rabid crowd
forgive them for not crowning him the King?

The answer rests in love's audacity--
to wash feet calloused and with Martha weep,
feed bread and fish to thousands modestly,
kiss babies, touch the leper, make lame leap.
To him who gives God-man the right to reign
will find that he has everything to gain.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


The very first valentine I received from a boyfriend was from Mr. Pat himself. We had been dating only 86 days and we both felt a bit awkward and shy about giving valentines. My card to him said, "I've sent/ This friendly Valentine/In hopes that it will show/ How really grand (I underlined grand)/ I think you are/ How nice (I also underlined nice) you are to know."
In red ink I wrote, "Happy Valentines Day!" and simply signed it "Nedra"
HIS valentine to me said, "A Valentine wish straight from the heart...(turn page) 'Cause that's where all (here the card company underlined all) good wishes start! Happiness Always" (Always is underlined by the CARD COMPANY). It is signed, "Pat"
It was only signed, "Pat" but those three letters produced a series of bubbly, fizzy, happy feelings that bounced and swirled inside of me, and I couldn't explain them, but the realization that "he" was interested in me was truly awesome!!!!
My family always underlines appropriate words in greeting cards. Pat doesn't. When I first knew him I wanted him to underline, too, because underlining was a way our family communicated our feelings. It was somehow easier than saying the words. Pat says the words. And his words are so much more meaningful than any store-bought underlining (which has become kind of a joke between us now even though I still like to do it!)

Pat, you are my valentine and you are mine (underline, underline, underline!!)


peanut butter?? There's nothing like making jelly to give me the feeling that I'm a true old-fashioned homemaker, (but those inspirations come less frequently as the years go by). It's just so much easier to pick up a jar of jelly off the shelf, and so what if it doesn't taste as good? But yesterday at the BIG supermarket (a k a Walmart) I was overwhelmed by the boxes and boxes of luscious Niagara grapes staring me in the face and I suddenly felt twinges of "old-fashioned homemaker" and voilĂ ! it produced five jars of jelly--just like that! (Now I must get my hubby to make the peanut butter--he's a good old-fashioned peanut butter maker!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I was surprised yesterday when I opened a package from my Mom to find (among other things) a picture of myself at three months. It was taken almost exactly 60 years ago!! Ever try to identify with yourself at three months of age? It' s impossible! It was more like looking at a stranger's face. Yet as I looked, that baby represented to me a book of mostly empty pages--MY PAGES. Then I looked at myself with 60 years-full of pages filled in and it was scary!! I couldn't help but wonder if what I am today is what God had in mind for me when I was starting out in life. I do believe each of us has a calling of God on our lives, like the framework of a house. God determines the foundations, the structural beams--our giftings and abilities--but the filling-in of that frame he leaves up to us. I'm an open-ended person (the downside being I tend to leave things unresolved) so I like the idea of freedom of choice, of options, of having more than one "right way" to do things. I don't believe I am a marionette with God pulling the strings. I used to believe that God's perfect will was a terribly narrow line that was difficult to find and difficult to stay on. Today I believe it is more like broad band internet. There is space to move about within God's perfect will. I know I can't change the choices I've made, that's past, but I can decide how I will live today. I pray earnestly and humbly with the psalmist, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12

Monday, February 11, 2008


The Catholic Church in northeastern Brazil did try to stop the free distribution of kits containing the "day-after pill" for Carnaval-goers, but to no avail. The judge overruled, stating the pills were to be distributed only to women who were raped or in the case of a faulty condom, and only after a doctor's consultation. Only 31 pills were distributed.

Friday, February 08, 2008


"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28-31

Thursday, February 07, 2008


( For some reason this photo came out upside down!)

My mind is like a suitcase packed full of memories of 34 years in Brazil. February 7th, 1974 is still fresh in my mind, especially those first years when everything was strange and different and we lived on a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Here are a few memories:

*bare cement floors

*students singing while they worked

*the dark blue walls of my bedroom that I came to hate

*two fat, long cockroaches wiggling their antennae, clinging to the door of my wardrobe when I opened it to have a look--then slammed it shut very quickly!

*eating rice and beans almost every day

*smilely, friendly brown faces

*people in church shaking my hand and saying, "The peace of the Lord"

*seeing urine trickle down the slanted floor in the church during the service

*our low bed with little bedstands attached to the headboard

*trying corn meal mush

*the thrill of getting a letter from family

*lying in bed for two long months looking at those dark blue walls while recuperating from hepatitus

*beautiful children

That was just a peek in my memory suitcase...I am thankful to a loving heavenly Father who has been and continues to be faithful to us. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


went up the waterspout, so says the nursery rhyme, but what I saw in my bathroom was NOT eensy nor weensy! I was merrily sudsing myself in the shower when I happened to look up, which I don't normally do while showering, and shuddered at the size of the enormous spider that was getting restless by the steamy water that clouded his vision! Yikes! I hurried to finish, then ran for my camera. After the picture taking session, in which he cooperated nicely, I sprayed him with a letal poison, then waited for him to die--which he didn't immediately do. He fell to the floor, so I zapped him with more poison, then left the room. When I came back, he had advanced to the porcelain toilet bowl. That was too, too much, so I smacked him with my sandal and that was the end of that! Now, before you get hysterical and decide to never come visit me, let me just say this: I have found many, many big spiders in my house through the years, I have met up with many cockroaches in my life, I even lived for a short time where there were scorpions, but I have never, ever been bit or stung by any of these things. Just for the record. Just so you know. God takes care of us.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


that the word "crisscross" literally means "Christ's cross"? It is the cross at the head of an alphabet, for the symbol "X" , abbreviation of Christ. So says the New World Dictionary of American English.