Category Archives: Memoirs

Prithivi Highway: The Longest (and Most Memorable)110-Mile Bus Trip I’ve Ever Taken

Most of the time we flew between destinations on our tour of India and Nepal, but on one occasion we took a scenic bus trip  along the Prithivi Highway through the rugged terrainbetween Chitwan and Pokhara in Nepal.  It was “only” 110 miles, and according to the literature,  we were supposed to enjoy the ride during the morning,  then arrive at our hotel in time for lunch and spend the afternoon touring. NOT!  It took us 8.5 hours to travel the 110 miles with only two brief bathroom breaks. The temperature was approximately a million degrees out,  and between the heavy traffic,  aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2015  and intensive road construction,  the air was so full of dust that trying to make out what was happening outside the windows  took considerable concentration and creative imagination… which was particularly taxing considering the state of our bladders on such a rocky road!   (My friend Deb said the bus ride was so bumpy that her Fitbit recorded her as walking 10,000 steps although she didn’t think she’d really walked even 500!) In fact, Alan had to sit in the front seat and also concentrate on not throwing up, since the 600 hairpin turns we’d traveled on Hawaii’s Heavenly Hana Highway had been but scant practice  for surviving this rollicking ride balancing on the edge of the steep gorge overlooking the Narayani River Basin through the foothills of the Himalayan and Annapurna Mountain Ranges,  which are home to eight of the world’s fourteen highest peaks!  However, this trip was not only memorable for the twists and turns as we progressed at a blistering twelve miles an hour  through unbelievable clouds of dust and dirt,  it was also remarkable for a never-ending stream of gorgeous views  that would have taken our breath away  had we had any (which we didn’t, due to elevation and air pollution).  Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the most dangerous road trip I’ve ever taken  —although it possibly was! (Well, maybe my all-time scariest bus ride was in China back in 1995
when our bus’s transmission gave out in high gear)! 😦  And, it might not have been the dustiest ride I’ve ever been on  …although I really can’t think of anything to compete!   On the bright side, we had great air-conditioning, and we were definitely in the mountains much of the time (like, most of the time), which was cooler.  Our driver was amazing, and although he drove as furiously as Jehu, he allowed emergency roadside stops once or twice (but what’s that between friends?). We were also granted two real stops during the 8.5 hours (but what’s that between friends with post-60-year-old bladders full of breakfast coffee?).  Well, we all survived, and as far as I know, nobody threw up or wet their pants. It was also a ride I’ll bet nobody ever, ever forgets  (unless they develop Alzheimer’s).  Would I do it again?  Yes, although with my eyes open and an entirely empty bladder.  Would I recommend it for others? Absolutely!
(Possibly not for those who get motion sick
or have breathing, heart, G.I. or bladder issues.)
Did I learn anything? Yes!  And, if you’re willing, let me share a few of the meditations of my heart  while we bounced along:  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8, it’s hard to see when the windows of our hearts are dirty.)   “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,
and our bodies washed with pure water
” (Hebrews 10:22). I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom  concerning all things that are done under heaven:  this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.” (Ecclesiastes 1:13)Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness
unto them which are exercised thereby
” (Hebrews 12:11).  (The Prithivi Highway is going to be one of the world’s most beautiful
when it’s finished!)   “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,
proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb
” (Revelation 22:1). Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water
springing up into everlasting life
” (John 4:14).  What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” “I have seen the travail,
which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:  “also he hath set the world in their heart,  “so that no man can find out the work that God maketh “from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-11).

Dedicating Babies

Yesterday we had the privilege of participating in the dedication of our youngest grand daughter. I know many Christian traditions baptize infants, but we practice “believer’s” baptism instead, which means a person is baptized only after they make a personal commitment to Christ as their Lord and Savior. (The closest thing I can think of—although it’s actually different—is “confirmation” in churches that do practice infant baptism.) In many countries (not only through the centuries but still today), people are not considered true believers (or persecuted as such in hostile countries) until they are baptized, but that is not why we defer baptism. We believe that baptism (and communion) do not have saving value in themselves (“sacraments” which confer saving grace on a person). We believe people are saved by faith alone—their own faith, not their parents—and that baptism is an outward witness to an inner conversion experience that happened instantaneously when the person believed in Christ and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.However, we do strongly believe in committing ourselves to bringing up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (teaching them about God and his ways), and to this much-prayed-and-hoped-for end—that our children will believe in God and choose Christ for themselves—we dedicate our children to the Lord, committing ourselves as a spiritual community to praying for and participating in the love and training of our children. So, yesterday several babies were dedicated, and among them, not only our grand daughter, but our daughter-in-law’s sister’s baby too! What a very special day of solemnities and joy! Brianna comes from such a big family that we ended up celebrating in two homes afterward, so Elanor got her own cake. Being just six months old, she’d never had cake before but was bound and determined she wanted to try it…and…why not? It met with complete approval, and I hope and pray that as she learns more about the ineffable mysteries and goodness of God, she will be even more delighted and pleased!

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him
(Psalm 34:8).

In Honor of Veterans Day: Out of the Depths

Do you, like me, hate war? Are you looking for something to give you a little hope in the midst of the insanities we’re experiencing around the world? Today I want to join with everyone in our country in honoring those brave men and women who serve in our military, and because it’s Veterans Day, I also want to commend Out of the Depths as one book about war that will leave you with a sense of peace and hope instead of despair. As the author observes at one point, “A man can endure just about anything as long as he has hope. But take away his hope, and all that is left is despair and the relief of suicide.”

Author Edgar Harrell was one of the marines aboard the U.S.S. Indianapolis when she was sunk in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by two Japanese torpedoes during World War 2. The ship was sailing through shark-infested waters above the Mariana Trench, and her loss is today considered the greatest single disaster in American naval history.

Harrell’s harrowing account of the lives and deaths of hundreds of men taught me many things. Heroes aren’t just brave, they are “people who overcome evil by doing good at great personal risk.” It taught me more about “Semper Fidelis” (the Marine motto: always faithful). Harrell points out from his own experiences as a young man that the best way to be prepared for war is to be prepared for eternity. He learned that there are not only “no atheists in foxholes” (which we’ve heard since World War 1), but there are also no atheists fighting for their life in the midst of the sea, either.

Out of the Depths is an amazing story of agony, loss, miracles, mercy, grace, peace, hope, and learning to forgive. Does Harrell still have PTSD? Yes. But, he’s learned the secret of how to overcome evil with good…even down to embracing the great granddaughter of the the Japanese captain who sank his ship.

As a girl, I could never read or watch stories about war. They were too terrible. It was like reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (which I could never do either). Instead, it seemed reasonable to simply trust that—like Corrie Ten Boom’s father explained to her—God will give you the “ticket” (strength and grace to endure suffering) when you need it, but not before.

However, once one of my sons joined the military as an army dentist, all that changed, and now I have a deep need to find some hope in the midst of this darkest aspect of history. Out of the Depths helped me, and maybe you’d find it helpful too.One last Veterans Day thought, and then I’ll quit. Like the majority of Americans, I have enough to eat every day and get to sleep in a warm, snug bed every night with a reasonable hope of not being attacked, and that’s a huge blessing… probably more security and freedom than 75% of the world enjoys. As Captain Eddie Rickenbacker said when reflecting on the 21 days he spent floating on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean during World War II:  “The biggest lesson I learned from that experience was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat, you ought never to complain over anything.” I’ve had nothing to complain about my entire life. Thank you, brave military personnel. I pray for your safety, and for the safety of every godly person in this world, no matter where you live. May goodness and peace triumph over evil and greed.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:9-10).

 

 

Rise Up, My Love (259): Robes of White

Song of Solomon 8:2 What about our thoughts of Christ? I have been mulling over my impressions of Christ for the past several weeks, and right now I will pause and try to share a little with you. Today is December 27, 2001 (obviously, this post was originally written many years ago!), and I’m looking out at 28” of fresh snow. After a record-breakingly warm December with green grass and violets popping out, the Lord sent us every child’s Christmas wish…over two feet of wonderful, fluffy snow…starting on the eve of December 23 and continuing ever since.  That is what Christ has done for the world around me, but it so perfectly pictures what he has done within me also. The world of my soul, withered and brown from the failure of selfish sin, was strangely warmed and made alive again by the power of his resurrection love and salvation. But, my child-heart’s wish is now coming true…I’m being robed in the dazzling beauty of his snow-white righteousness.  I remember as a young woman feeling like such a miserable failure. I was saved at twelve and loved the Lord intensely, eventually going off to a Bible college with the dream of becoming a pastor’s wife. However, I only found one “preacher boy” who interested me, and I was much too unconventional for him. After college I dreamed of serving Christ by becoming a Christian psychologist, so I married Alan, who’d been a friend since junior high days and seemed to be heading in the same direction. We happily began graduate school together, but then Alan promptly decided that he should go into medicine instead. When my dear husband started medical school and I began rearing our brood of children a couple of years later, I found myself feeling not only like an unclean and unworthy vessel, but like one that had become broken and cast aside. It was about that time that Psalm 68 became precious to me…almost a “life chapter” or something, and verse 13 just jumped out: “Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.”   It was as if the Lord was promising that, even though I felt like a useless, broken pot, he would transform me into a messenger of peace who could fly on wings of gold and silver. How could that ever happen? How will the Lord ever use me? I thought maybe Alan would become a medical missionary, or a Christian psychiatrist, and that I could help him with his work, but Alan never felt called to the mission field, and he went into internal medicine and began a normal practice here in America.   As the kids grew up and I saw what gems they were, I begin to think that perhaps the Lord intended for all of us to work together in some type of family ministry. Maybe. Our children are just beginning to blossom and choose careers, so it’s too early to know what the future may hold there. Still…little by little…year by year…one day at a time…with no more conscious thought than the earth gives to the changes going on within her…the Lord was working out his blessed will in me…carrying on that good work which he began so long ago.   It is God—not the earth— who ordains the weather. Oh, of course weather is inextricably intertwined with the earth, but if we get twenty-eight inches of lake effect snow, it’s because God made Lake Michigan, and God sovereignly decided that a cold front would pass over beginning two days before Christmas. “Mother Nature” is really created and controlled by Father God, and all that we are or do is because God has so ordained it for us.  And, it is also God who works out his sovereign will in us. Our job is simply to trust and obey the light he gives us, walking in the truth of God’s Word as illuminated by his Holy Spirit. It is God who changes us from a broken pot into a messenger of his love. It is God that makes us bright with the beauty of his snow-white robes of righteousness. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thank you, Lord, for your work in me. It was not by paths I would have chosen or through ways I planned, but you are slowly sanctifying and spiritually beautifying me…which is more than all I ever knew to want! As the songwriter expresses our hearts for God: “You’re all I want; You’re all I’ve ever needed… Make me know You are near.”

Favorite Food Surprise in India and Nepal

Alan and I are at last home after an unforgettable trip to India and Nepal.  We tried all sorts of interesting and unusual dishes that we’d never tasted before, including water buffalo (which tastes like tough beef)!Goat was a common delicacy, and I do like goat meat, but my favorite surprise was Indian bananas.

They’re served green and spotted, and so Alan and I were slow to try them, but they’re actually perfectly ripe when they look like this, and they’re even sweeter than the South American bananas we’re used to here in America. So, once we discovered them, they became a staple part of our meals! (They were also very digestible, which was an issue for everyone on our trip.)  Although I never really had fried bananas on this particular trip, I do love them, so I thought this Saturday, in honor of our trip to the tropics, I’d write about how to make this easy and delicious dish! (Besides, it’s a perfect way to use up bananas that are getting super ripe.)

Sweet Fried Bananas
(serves 2)

Heat 2 teaspoons butter and 2 rounded teaspoons of brown sugar
in a frying  pan.  Heat and stir until the sugar melts and starts to caramelize.  Peel two ripe bananasSlice them in half and add to the syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Fry for one minute on medium heat, then flip them over and fry for one minute. The goal is to heat them through and glaze them, but if you actually cook them through, they’ll become too mushy, so be careful.  They’re delicious right out of the frying pan, but they’re scrumpdelicious if you add a scoop of ice cream, spoon out the rest of the syrup on top, and crown them with whipping cream. The only difference between this and the famous “Bananas Foster” would be rum, but my theory is that no one needs rum!  🙂

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2).

 

 

Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree

I think everybody needs to keep a book handy in their purse or pocket…or at the very least, on their cell phone.  🙂  On our recent trip to India and Nepal, I kept Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree: Small Town Faith and Words of Wisdom tucked away for quiet moments while waiting at the airport for flights or at the hotels for folks to gather for meals or meetings. The book contains a dozen dozen (as in 144, but not a dirty dozen, a clean and uplifting dozen dozen) pithy devotionals—quick and easy to read, but with a punch that refreshed me like a glass of…well…punch! The stories where lovingly edited by Timothy Campbell from the portfolio of his father, Roger Campbell. Roger left a lifetime legacy of stories and thoughts as a pastor, author, radio broadcaster, and newspaper columnist who was published in over a hundred papers.  The book starts with “Five to Help You Thrive” (which I found right on) and “Leaving That Old Baggage Behind” (pretty apropos for someone on a trip, huh?).

If you’re looking for a devotional book not quite so old-fashioned and classic as  L.B. Cowman’s beloved Streams in the Desert, but something that still carries the aroma of small town America and the quiet joys of life from yesteryears, you might really enjoy the honeyed heartbeat of Roger Campbell as he explores life, faith, and love through the past 30+ years with an ageless wisdom that still rings true in 2017.

In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me (Psalm 56:10-11).

When Faith Brings Unexpected Joy to the Cancer Journey

If you’ve had any experience with cancer, you can’t read Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy: What My Mother Taught Me About How to Live and How to Die without feeling the profound weight of grief Becky Baudouin experienced as she walked through the great shadowlands with her mom.

My husband appears to be healthy today, but he’s a survivor of prostate cancer, and once “The Big C” enters your life, it never quite leaves, hanging like a gloomy cloud perceived somewhere at the edges of your peripheral emotional vision. The husband of my dearest friend from childhood is going through chemo treatments right now, so the fear is fresh again in me…the hope for healing…the longing for health…the insecurities about the future…

Becky’s book is like a basic 101 course in dealing with life and death issues!   However, it’s also like taking medicine, so I was very ambivalent about starting. It’s painful to reflect on past losses; it’s even painful to process present challenges! And, it’s downright terrifying to consider possible future worsts while hoping for bests. Therefore, reading Becky’s book was an exercise in faith and hope…hope that faith could bring unexpected joy even in such tragic circumstances as the loss of an irreplaceable loved one.

Cancer, Faith, and Unexpected Joy was truly therapeutic! Becky opens the doors of her heart and takes you on a journey with her through her own childhood, her mom’s illness, grieving the loss of her mother, and coming through the depths of grief back to life. Interwoven throughout the book are some of the treasures she learned from her mother about faith, life and death. The author’s motivation is obvious—she wants you to know that you are not alone in your suffering, that all the crazy stages (such as grief brain) are pretty much universal, and that (as her mom taught her) you don’t have to be afraid of death.

Shining through the weight of grief is the weight of glory. One of my favorite thoughts was this: When we were little, sometimes our mothers would call us home, but we wouldn’t want to stop playing. However, at other times, we would realize how hungry and tired we were and would be glad for the dinner bell! Reflecting on this, Becky writes, “…surrendering in death is accepting God’s timing when he says, ‘It’s time for you to come home now.’ When we live a surrendered life, when we’ve learned to listen to his voice and follow where he leads, we trust him because we believe he loves us and knows what’s best. And hopefully when he calls us, we will realize how hungry we are for heaven, how ready we are to go home.” Amen? Amen. I think that will be the greatest unexpected joy for each of us as we anticipate death! We will see Jesus coming for us, and suddenly, we’ll be overjoyed to go!

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour” (Isaiah 43:1-3).