Flag/Lake Day

Yes, we did fly our flag today. Didn’t you?

Today was my last free day for the month of June. Every weekday from now till the end of the month I will be teaching, and the weekends are also booked. So I thought it would be a good day to spend a few hours at the lake.

I admit I did have a few misgivings. Normally when we go to the lake, we take a grill and make some special food. Today, I knew we would not do this, since I am still fasting and my willpower does have limits! So Jasper made a sandwich to take and I got him a fast food breakfast on our way out of town.

Since the water is now plenty warm to swim in, we dressed in our swim things. This was a bit of a challenge for me. Normally if I swim at the lake, I wear shorts or capris and an old T-shirt.  I found a couple of pairs of my old swim shorts, only to discover that the elastic had died and they were therefore unwearable. How dare they fail me after only fifteen years or so! Fortunately I did finally find a pair of shorts that would work.

Jasper brought his inflatable tube and a pump to blow it up, so that’s the first thing he did when we arrived. Then we went on out into the water. By this time it was about 11:00, so I knew I was in danger (sun exposure issues). Still, it’s no fun to swim alone so I wore my hat and we took turns on the tube. We weren’t really out there very long but I knew I’d be burned anyway–and I am. It still remains to be seen if I’ll also be sick tomorrow.

Jasper had his lunch and then we went for a walk to get a closer look at the beautiful cypress trees that live on the edge of the lake.

6-14-17 cypress trees

I have been going to this same lakeside park for 38 years now. There have been many changes in the landscape during that time, but this line of trees has endured for decades now. If anything ever happens to them I’ll be devastated.

Jasper went for another brief swim before we packed up and headed home. It was not a long visit, but it was so relaxing. On the way home we stopped at a sporting goods store in an effort to find Jasper some sandals. Like his big brother Flynn, he wears size 15 now and Walmart didn’t have anything to fit him. Unfortunately, neither did the sporting goods store. I have ordered him some sandals from Amazon so let’s hope they are a good fit!

Parting Shot:

6-14-17 wildflowers

There were many wildflowers at the lake today.


Bumps in the Road

I haven’t done a health update for a while, so I thought I’d let you know how I am doing. I was very discouraged and dismayed to find at the end of May that I had only lost four more pounds. As you know, I am not doing this for weight loss, but weight loss is an expected and desirable side effect of my efforts to fight my diabetes. In May I fasted more, ate less, and started doing some exercise. I expected that all these things would contribute to accelerated weight loss instead of hindering it. So that was very hard to accept.

I tried going off one of my medications but then ended up going back on, which was also discouraging. I traveled for almost two weeks and spent much of the time fasting. It still feels wonderful to be able to go somewhere and not have to take a cooler with my insulin.

Later this month I will be having my birthday, so I have decided to give myself a birthday gift consisting of more deprivation. I know, it doesn’t sound very appealing, but at this point I’m convinced that prolonged fasting may be the only way to reduce my medication further while giving my pancreas a long enough vacation to be really useful.

So, I haven’t had a meal since breakfast yesterday and am planning to continue my fast until my birthday—almost two weeks. I know there are probably going to be a couple of “breaks,” events where it might be awkward if I abstain from eating. I now know that I don’t need Glyburide when I am fasting, so my hope is that I might be able to stay off it when I start eating again.

Despite what others report, I don’t find fasting invigorating and I don’t find the hunger disappears after the first day. I miss food a lot, even though I can no longer eat many things that I truly enjoy. I hate being antisocial and having to leave the room when others are eating, but that is often still my best strategy. And of course, I continue to give myself little pep talks all the time. Here are some things I tell myself:

  • I am saving my life.
  • I am extending my life.
  • I am being kind to my body.
  • I am undoing some of the harm I’ve done to my body over the years.
  • I am saving so much money! (On medications and food.)
  • I am greatly reducing the likelihood that I will suffer from diabetes complications.

And of course, as my clothes get looser and looser, maybe I’ll be able to get some new things and not hate the way I look in them! While on my trip, I saw a dress I liked that was on sale, but it was a size smaller than I normally wear. I bought it anyway, thinking it might inspire me to keep fighting the fight. Today, I couldn’t resist trying it on. I not only got into it, but it was not alarmingly tight and actually fit quite well. So I think I will stop with that one piece of encouraging news!

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Today is my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary, so in their honor I am posting a hymn which (if I remember correctly) was sung at their wedding back in 1954.

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Dorothy A. Thrupp

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast bought us, Thine we are.

We are Thine, Thou dost befriend us, be the guardian of our way;
Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear us when we pray.

Thou hast promised to receive us, poor and sinful though we be;
Thou hast mercy to relieve us, grace to cleanse and power to free.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! We will early turn to Thee.

Early let us seek Thy favor, early let us do Thy will;
Blessèd Lord and only Savior, with Thy love our bosoms fill.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Thou hast loved us, love us still.


Backyard Tragedy

Today has been kind of a rough day. Right before I left on my trip, Jasper discovered that his bees were being robbed (by rival bees) so he restricted the entrance to give them a fighting chance. This morning, though, he found the hive empty. Our bees are gone. Again.

Honestly, I think it hit me harder than it hit him. I was in tears for much of the morning. He has invested so much time, effort, and money into beekeeping over the last three years. He has lost two hives and we have yet to see even a single drop of honey after all his hard work. He has tried so hard to take good care of his bees. He built this hive up during the fall and winter by regular feeding and the hive was thriving into the spring. We don’t know what happened. It wasn’t hive beetles this time. It is so discouraging.

While still in mourning for the bees, I had to run some errands to get the rest of the ingredients I needed for making chai mix, and when I returned home Mercy was here! She is helping out with a camp on campus this week, so we won’t really see her at all until next weekend, and then she’ll leave.

I spent much of the day making chai mix. I have been taking orders for a couple of weeks and whatever profit we make will go toward Mercy’s outgoing expenses. I had a fantastic response but that means it will take a while to make and bag it all. Then quite a bit of it will need to be shipped. The house sure smells good, though.

I also spent some time practicing my autoharp for tomorrow. I have missed playing it but playing was hard today as my fingers have hurt a lot with arthritis. I also got some writing and editing chores done. So much catching up left to do!

A New Appliance

Last night, after working two jobs, my admirable husband spent the evening doing a frustrating task. He was attempting to install our new dishwasher. We have not had a functional electric dishwasher for quite a few years now. Our human dishwashers have been functional only intermittently, so this is a big blessing for us.

It took some doing, and some frayed nerves, but we now have a dishwasher again. I am so thankful.

This morning I got my grocery shopping out of the way before going to meet my friend Darlene for lunch. Then I had to hurry home to prepare for a “catch-up” lesson with two students who missed the first two classes.

I decided to treat Walter and Jasper to pizza for supper, so I went to the drive-through to get it. They didn’t have one ready for me, so they asked me to pull around into the parking lot to wait. As I sat there waiting, I had a ringside seat to an interesting little drama.

A police car pulled in to the drive-through, but it turned out he didn’t want pizza. He was blocking someone’s escape. Another police car drove up and parked on the ramp. The policemen got out and had an intense discussion with a young man who was hanging around in front of the pizza place. Just as a third and fourth police car drove up, the man was cuffed and led to one of the cars. Now there was a whole congregation of policemen talking to a couple of other people in front of the pizza place. I have to admit I was curious.

Then my pizza arrived and I had to carefully maneuver around all the police cars to get back out onto the road! That’s life in my neighborhood . . .

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Last Friday, I did one of the most courageous things I’ve ever done. I got in my car and drove from Tennessee to Kentucky to see people I hadn’t seen in forty years. I was absolutely terrified. My hands were shaking on the steering wheel. Every moment during that drive, I considered chickening out. I wanted to chicken out.

I had known this would happen, had known I would look for any excuse to back away. So I cleverly made it harder on myself by promising to contribute cookies and breakfast casserole and chai to the reunion. (I genuinely wanted to help out, but I’m being very honest when I tell you that it was also a sort of insurance policy. It’s one thing to let myself down, but I am very unlikely to let anyone else down if I can avoid it.)

When I reached the ranch where the reunion was held, I drove right past the entrance. I thought maybe I would just drive all the way into town and buy the groceries I needed, and then go back and face my classmates.

I got a few miles down the road before getting a grip. I turned around and went back to the ranch gate, and this time I went in. I drove all the way to the lodge and parked my car. I got out and walked into the building, believing in my heart of hearts that I was walking into extreme emotional danger.

As I stood palpitating inside the door, looking into a room filled with my former classmates, my friend Sally came forward to greet me. She was soon followed by others, and my fear began to drain away. It was replaced by incredulous joy at getting to be with this particular group of people for the first time in forty years. I had a wonderful time for the rest of the weekend.

This, of course, does not answer the question I know many of you have, which is: Why on earth was I so terrified? What was I afraid of?

I would really love to not answer those questions. I hate exposing the real me to the entire internet, and I rarely do it—but it has occurred to me that somewhere, sometime, someone might benefit from knowing what went on inside me on this specific occasion.

First, though, I have to explain a thing or two about being an MK (missionary kid) and going to boarding school. It’s not like “normal” life here in the US. Your classmates are your only social group. They’re the people you draw your friends from, go to church with, play games with, study with, and socialize with (and if you’re like me, they’re also the people you get in trouble with and get punished with). They live in your dorm with you, eat all your meals with you, and of course also go to classes with you. In short, they quite quickly become your adopted family.

Because of this, friendships tend to be deep and long-lasting. Remember, I also went to boarding school for elementary school, and am still close to many of my friends from those years.

This reunion, however, was a reunion of my high school class. I went to Rift Valley Academy (RVA) for my junior year and half of my senior year. It was a very intense time for me, coming on the heels of eighteen months when I had studied at home in almost total isolation. I wanted to be friends with everybody in the world. (I know. I’m an introvert. But even for me, there is such a thing as too much solitude.)

I do not wish to discuss my experience at that school. It was deeply colored by pain, anguish, and betrayal. There are good reasons I have not written a second memoir detailing my experiences there. However, at the same time I was experiencing so much misery, my life was also filled with joy and delight at being around people again and having the opportunity to make new friends. I threw myself into relationships with an enthusiasm that I have not matched since. I made some mistakes. I was, after all, a teenager whose head was full of immaturity and stupidity. Still, I loved my friends with an intensity born from my months of extreme loneliness.

So why did I then avoid them for the next forty years? My excuses were legion, and some of them were lies I told myself. For the first decade or two, I honestly thought I could not emotionally survive the experience of seeing my high school friends again, and it was very helpful that I also could not afford to attend any of those early reunions. It’s not that I didn’t want to see my friends. I desperately wanted to see them and connect with them again—but I was afraid all the wrong memories would come back and I’d be a quivering basket case after the first few hours. I feared that I’d be asked questions I didn’t want to answer, or that people would judge me unfairly, not knowing the reasons behind some of the things I did. In short, I was a coward.

I wish I could say that was the worst of it, but it wasn’t. There was a much bigger sin that came into play as the years went by, compounding my cowardice—and that was the sin of pride. I did not want my classmates to know how fat I was, how very mediocre in my achievements. I thought the day would come when I’d look svelte and glamorous and be a bestselling author, and then I’d turn up at a reunion and not be ashamed of myself. It never occurred to me that I was judging myself much more harshly than my friends do.

For four decades—forty freaking years!—I let fear, stupidity, and pride keep me from staying connected with people I cared deeply about. I had opportunities from time to time to meet up with one or more of them, and I wriggled out. If I had not been such a spineless coward, I daresay I could have figured out a way to attend at least one reunion before now.

So what happened when I gathered up every last molecule of courage I still possess and walked into that group of people? Instead of finding myself in danger, I found myself in a place of safety; a sensation that is very rare for me. My classmates shared details of their lives with the rest of us, knowing that they’d be met with acceptance and encouragement. I did not see a single instance of someone being judged, as I had always feared I would be. Believe it or not, not one person came up to me and said, “Boy, are you a big fat disappointment.” Everyone just seemed glad that I was there. There are parts of my life that I do not share here or with any of my local friends, but I felt quite sure I could have shared them with that group had I wanted to. We all shared some experiences that tend to make us empathetic and compassionate toward each other.

I had feared that going to the reunion, seeing all those people again, would be like knowingly drinking a glass of deadly poison. Maybe it would have been—35 years ago, but I doubt it. After forty long years, I found that the misery and bitterness of the past had evaporated away, leaving only the sweet clear wine of joy.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is what so many others have said in different ways and about different things: don’t wait. Don’t wait till you look skinny and fabulous before you let someone take your picture. Don’t wait till you have achieved some cherished goal before you reunite with old friends who just want to enjoy your company. And most of all, when you do meet up with old friends, be a safe place for them. All they really need from you is your love and acceptance—and your presence.

Group Shot 1


Day Two

Today was quite similar to yesterday, except that we loaded the car and checked out of the hotel before driving over to the A&M campus. Jasper and his friends performed their second skit, and alas this one also did not place.

We met at Panda Express for lunch and the kids had a great time together. After that came the awards ceremony and then Jasper and I headed for home. It is about a three-and-a-half hour drive, mostly on back roads. We are still early enough in the summer that everything is still green and beautiful.

It sure was good to get home. Now I only have two weeks’ worth of stuff to catch up on in the next two days, but at least I’ll be doing it at home!

Round Up

Last night’s entry, which I wasn’t able to post due to crappy hotel internet:

Jasper and I are in College Station, Texas, attending our first 4-H State Round Up. This was made necessary by the fact that Jasper and his friends performed two skits at the District Round Up which placed highly enough to advance to the state level. I am trying very hard not to think of all the amazing autoharp players who are gathering in Arkansas for the Autoharp Workshop at this very same time.

So anyway, we drove down here yesterday afternoon and arrived barely in time for Jasper to register before they closed registration down for the day. We checked into our hotel and hung out a little bit with the other mom and her daughter who go to our church.

This morning, we were up early eating scrambled eggs and very greasy sausages before heading to the A&M campus for the day. We had to be there at 8:30 even though Jasper’s group did not end up performing until close to 11:30. The seats in the theater had armrests placed in the perfect position to make knitting awkward and tiring, so I couldn’t even resort to that!

Our whole group had lunch together after the competition, and had a brief respite before returning to the campus for the awards ceremony. Sadly, our team did not place.

Afterward, my friend Joan offered to bring me back to the hotel since I was not needed for the meetings being held later in the afternoon. I know it was cowardly of me, but I jumped at the opportunity. I was in dire need of some down time.

What a difference a couple of hours made in my morale! I had a nap, did some knitting, wrote some necessary emails, and did some reading. It was glorious.

Joan, meanwhile, looked after Jasper and took him to supper with the rest of the group.

Tomorrow, we do it all again with the other skit, except that I have to be all packed up and checked out of the hotel before we leave for A&M. And when it’s over, I still have to drive all the way home.

Back Home

I am working on a post about the reunion, but that will come later when I am feeling more lucid. Today I drove home from Nashville, where I had spent the night with Mary and Jordan.

Two things I learned about myself on this trip: I had been wondering for some time if I really need to put my feet up as much as I do at home. The answer is yes. Also, it turns out there is a definite limit to how much caffeine I can ingest on an empty stomach before my body rebels. I reached that limit today.

Three things I brought back from my trip: memories, leftover cookies, and a kangaroo skin.

Tomorrow, I leave on another trip.


A Girls’ Lunch & Cookies

How can it be June already? Today was my last day with my parents, so I slept in because I think it’s quite possible that I won’t get much sleep this weekend. After a leisurely cup of tea, my dad took me with him to visit my aunt (his little sister) who is recovering from a stroke. I had not seen her in thirteen years.

My aunt was happy to see me, and I was happy to see that despite her challenges, she remains very cheerful and positive. I wasn’t able to visit with her for long, but I am so glad I got to see her.

As soon as my dad and I returned home, I collected my mother and took her out for a birthday lunch at an Italian restaurant she suggested. We both had a nice salad and then stopped at Walmart for a couple of items on the way home. And just as we arrived, my husband texted me that their power was back on at home! So glad to know they have power again.

My primary mission for the afternoon was to get started on my baking and to make yet another of my mom’s favorite meals. I made a double batch of cookies and then put my famous chicken enchiladas in the oven and mixed up another double batch of cookies while the enchiladas were baking.

My dad was out running errands for most of the day, so it was just my mom and me for supper, and of course I cannot even eat enchiladas! I did save out some of the filling for myself though.

After the second double batch of cookies was done, I still had gluten-free and no-bake cookies to make. More than once, I asked myself why I am making all this stuff I can’t even taste! (Answer: I am hoping it will add to others’ enjoyment of our upcoming reunion.)

Tomorrow, I have the drive up into Kentucky and the anxiety-inducing reunion with people I haven’t seen for forty years.