Friday, January 30, 2009

Star Gazing

I'm in western Paraná right now in a small interior town. I've found three wonderful things here: 1) our Bible Institute run by a staff of exceptional people, 2) homemade ice cream called Wailiki--a treat we always look forward to, and 3) stars!

The heavens come close to earth here in Altônia and I was star gazing just minutes ago. Away from city lights, the sky reveals its true self. There are myriads of stars up there and they twinkle so brightly with hardly a space between them. And God thought up a name for each one! How stunning is that?

Who is this God who made the heavens? Who is this God who chose to come to earth cramped inside a clay body? Who is this God who is humble enough to to sit down and chat with me, listen to me and love me? I don't understand the mystery, but I love Him.

The soft night air is perfumed by a flowering bush nearby and a bird sings its two-note song in a rhythmic pattern without missing a beat. How long it will keep this up I don't know because it is nearly one in the morning and I thought birds slept after dark. I am not tired because I drank lots of coke at our picnic tonight. Ah, what a beautiful night. I think I will star gaze a little longer before heading for bed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This was written by a guy named Brett who writes columns for The Plain Dealer, a newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio.

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 70 in August, so here goes:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don 't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Monday, January 19, 2009


This gorgeous flowering bush is definitely on my "Favorite Flowering Bushes" list, but it's funny that in the USA its name is "Bleeding Hearts" and here in Brazil it's called "Christ's Tears" . Does this flower look more like a heart or a tear? What's your vote?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I had a "red-letter"day this past week. I found four, mind you, 04 Christmas cards in my mailbox, and to keep things fair, two were from my side of the family and two from Pat's. How fortunate was that? It saved us from arguing about which family was better, more caring and more religious. I'm glad it was a tie. Now if my sister-in-law would get hers in the mail, I could put this chapter of my life to rest until next December.

Friday, January 16, 2009


It was not the best of times. On my first attempt at making bagels, guests arrived just as the bagel water started to boil. It was supposed to be 2 minutes on one side and 1 1/2 minutes on the second. I carefully plopped the first two in the water and looked at the second hand on my watch. "Oh, blah, blah, blah," went my guest as I tried to accompany her conversation while watching my watch. "Oh, blah, blah, blah," went the children, asking a question here, me trying to respond. It soon became apparent that this was not going to work, so I gave up clock watching and went by my eyeometer. I flipped bagels in and out of that water like a pro! Next they went through the poppy seed bath and then right into the oven! Even though they looked a bit mishappen they did look like bagels. Then the real test: did they taste like bagels? Silence hung over us as mouths worked their way into the steaming dough. Mr. Pat was strangely silent. Then it was my turn to take the test: ummmmm! They tasted an awful lot like normal bread beaten into the shape of a bagel. Ummm! Ummm! Ummm! Something went wrong. But I haven't given up. Watch out, Brueggeman's!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Sky's the Limit???

This was the view from my bedroom window last evening. I had to photograph it!

"Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." Dt. 4: 39

"The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man." Psalm 114:16

"The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake." Psalm 99:1

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him." Psalm 103: 11


"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders." Ps. 9:1

One of Brazil's most graceful flowering trees, this one easily ranks on my "Top Five" of the most beautiful flowering trees in Brazil. Don't you agree they resemble a dangling earring? This display of originality and beauty is one more reason why I believe in a Creator God!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


The "Before" Picture

I flung the words carelessly into the air as I said goodby to Patricia: "No meat, no chicken, no fish, no dairy, no sugar." I felt like a holy monkess (the feminine form of monk) about to embark on a monkish mission. Yes, 2009 would be healthier than any other! I settled my newly-accumulated holiday fat neatly in the car as we drove away toward home on Jan. 2nd.
Radical is me; moderate is my husband, Pat. "Radical doesn't work," he said, and his words bounced off the walls like bats in a cavern.

Jan. 3rd & Test # 1: What about the M & M's I'd brought back from the States? Give them away? Not on your life. I made concession # 1 and ate some M & M's.
Jan. 4th & Test # 2: Someone brought a special cake to church and served it to all of us. I made concession # 2 and ate a piece to make "them" feel good.

Jan. 5th & Test # 3: A neighbor said he'd never tasted salmon so Pat invited him and his family over to eat : it. Concession # 3: I devoured two pieces.

My husband is right. Radical is wrong; moderate is right. I need the endorphines from chocolate to be a nice wife, so I will continue to eat chocolate for my dessert after lunch--with black coffee--to keep my husband happy.

Fish is good for us so I will continue to eat fish.

Chicken has many hormones in it so I will eat it only occasionally.

Dairy will be indulged in only when I want an ice cream cone and at any other time I deem necessary.

Sugar will be shunned unless I get a craving for it. (Confession #1: I tasted a small brownie while cutting the batch into squares--to share with my new neighbor, of course!!!)

Anybody want to go on this diet with me?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I suffer from a rare syndrome called Christmas Card Angst, or if you prefer the scientific term--cardlessxmasphobia. It starts in December and as Christmas approaches, daily trips to the mailbox become anxiety journeys. The person with this syndrome is afraid to open the mailbox for fear of not finding any Christmas cards. Dare I open the mailbox today? is a common question. Has no one remembered we exist? is another heartbreaker. The anxiety can become so overwhelming that days may go by without even a peek in the mailbox, thinking that by waiting more days there is a greater chance of finding a card. This syndrome mainly affects people living overseas where mail takes longer to arrive and people are more likely to forget we exist.

I celebated my first Christmas card of the season this year with a snappy "OH!" and as each subsequent card arrived it was greeted with similar squeals of delight ("Uhh" "Nn" Mmm")

Christmas is over now, but the angst syndrome continues into January until all the late mail arrives. I got a card today, for instance, from my niece and her husband who live in Pennsylvania and I talked to my Mother on skype just a few minutes ago, and she assured me her card was "in the mail". Now that's a picker-upper! "YOUR CARD'S IN THE MAIL."

If this is a good year, my angst may be over by the end of the month. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I don't recall what was sooooo funny!

Patricia made these beautiful gold plates just for our Christmas dinner.

The tea lights are in decorated baby food jars.

Emily was a good little mommy and so much fun to watch. She named her new doll Mary Elizabeth.

Pat's project for the girls was more modest this year due to a time crunch.

A joke gift for the sons-in-law...

Baby Julia's first Christmas!

See my pretty dress!!!

Pat continued his tradition of piling on all the clothes he got for Christmas.


Eric tried to stay awake, but finally succumbed...

Starting out the new year in good spirits!!!

Baby Julia slept in the new year close to Mommy Patricia.

The Pappis family hosted our New Year's Eve party!
A Happy 2009 to all of you!!!!!


I've played this hundreds of times. It's called the "Comparison Game" and I usually lose. It happened again a couple of days ago after reading an e-mail about ministry results. I started playing the game and burst into tears. I wallowed in the guilt and remorse gutter...and felt like I'd been given a swift kick in the pants--a hopeless kick.

Later that day the phone rang. It was a Brazilian I'd never met before calling from California to say how he'd been blessed by our first record, "The Carpenter". "I was twelve years old at the time," he said, "when a friend appeared at my house with the record." He was living in Sao Paulo then where his dad is a pastor. Although he wasn't familiar with any of our other records, he wanted to buy the whole lot. He was talkative and said he'd been born the same month and year that we'd stepped on Brazilian soil for the first time--34 years ago. "Do you come regularly to the United States," he asked next. When I told him we had just returned he sighed and said it would have been nice to have us visit his church and several other Brazilian churches in his area. I agreed. We ended our conversation with the hope that on our next visit to the USA we would be able to sing in California.

Hours later I put two and two together. Just maybe God had prompted that man to call to let me know that comparison is not a fair game and he, God--not me--is keeping score.