Category Archives: Health

Hallucinating in Spanish


Last week a flu bug passed through our family.  Normally we get sick at the most inconvenient times.  But this time we were in between teams, so it was an OK time to be sick.  Is that weird?  It was a total body aching, pounding head ache, thing.  I am thankful that it wasn’t a stomach flu though, because there is nothing in the world that I hate more than throwing up.  Seriously.

But the weird thing about having a fever is that sometimes I hallucinate in Spanish.  I can’t even describe how strange that is.  I do crazy things like trying to conjugate proper names.  It’s just wacky.  This time around I didn’t actually hallucinate in Spanish, but I did translate my own thoughts into Spanish all night long.  It was like my brain got stuck in Spanish mode and I couldn’t shut it off.  I woke up feeling like I had worked all night long instead of slept.  it was awful!  I can now say that I have been sick in Spanish.  (OK that little play on words is lame-o).

Photo credit: ckaiserca / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: ckaiserca / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Here in Costa Rica you can get a lot of medicines over the counter at the pharmacy that would require a prescription in the States.  The Pharmacist can actually do some doctory type things too like giving vaccinations and checking for ear infections.  They aren’t supposed to dispense antibiotics without a prescription, but sometimes they do.  However, they NEVER give you any instructions sheet or cross medications warning or ANYTHING informative with the meds.  If you are lucky, they might write the recommended dose on the box, but nothing more.  I now have a collection of dosing cups and droppers that I brought from America because they don’t usually come with the medications here!

In Mexico it was worse.  You could get anything without a prescription.  (The government once considered giving free Viagra to men over 60 to improve their quality of life!)  I remember once when Lucy was a baby I thought she probably had an ear infection.  So I called her pediatrician to make an appointment and was told, “Just go to the pharmacy and get some antibiotics!”  Oh, silly me.  So I went to talk to the pharmacist.  He asked how old she was and how much she weighed.  Then he handed me a bottle 1/4 full of a white powder with absolutely no instructions.  I was lucky there was a label with the name of the antibiotic on it.

I took my bottle of powder home and called Walgreen’s in my home city in Minnesota.  I explained that I was in Mexico and they had given me this with no dosing instructions.  What would they recommend I give a 6 month old baby.  I read all the numbers off the label to the American Pharmacist.  She told me, “Wow, we don’t even sell that strength here in America!  I would dilute it up to the top of the bottle and give her no more than a teaspoon twice a day.”  She also said to discontinue use if she started acting differently.  Oh great.  Now I feel better.

I know it sounds scary and complicated, but when I’m in the States sometimes I miss the ease of just walking into a pharmacy and buying some high-powered drugs without the hassle and expense of seeing a doctor first.  I just have to remember to NOT go to the drug store when I’m hallucinating in Spanish or else I might come home with a dose of Viagra instead of cough syrup.

Love to the End


I often speak of the friends that the Lord has put into our lives who love us unreasonably.  You know, those friends who have no reason to open their hearts to you, but they do.  They take a chance and reach out.  Those are the friends through whom I most feel the love of the Lord radiating towards me.  When that dear friend hugs me, I feel like God is taking me in His arms and smiling down into my upturned, little girl face.  Those are the friends that “stick closer than a brother”. 

Recently one of my Facebook friends posted this beautiful photo of her step mother and her aunt reconnecting at a funeral.  The story she posted with the picture brought tears to my eyes.  I wanted to share it here to show you how far love can take you.

Two hearts still connected after so long.

Two hearts still connected after so long.

This is a picture of my mom & my sweet Auntie Bernice yesterday at the funeral of my dear Aunt Hazel. They may look like two ordinary, older women but there is so much more to the story. I will cherish this picture because it reminds me of the long time & unlikely love these two women have shared.

Aunt Bernice is my first mother’s (Bernadine) sister.   My mother Bernadine died at the age of 29 leaving my father Dale a widower with 4 young children under the age of 7.  Aunt Bernice was so close to Bernadine.  They were born 20 years apart…to the day!  She being the oldest  and my mother being the youngest of 9 children.  What a sorrow she felt at the loss of her dear young sister!

Then my father starting “courting” my 2nd mother, Barbara the same year.  Many family members were not happy (that had to be so hard).  But dear Auntie Bernice, with so much love in her heart, just opened her arms to Barbara.  She insisted that she stay with her when Barbara came to visit us that first time.  When Barb and Dale married that following July, 1965, sweet Auntie Bernice LOVED my NEW mother just like she was one of her sisters.

Over the years Aunt Bernice has made sure to pass on all the memories of our first mother, her sister, on to Barbara.  So now our second mother had those to share with us (dad forgot so much!). Aunt Bernice loved on us so deeply over the years, even moving to be within a block from us so she could help.  What a wonderful link she has been to our first mother’s family.

Now they are nearing the next part of their journey.  Mom is 82 and Aunt Bernice is 98.  So yesterday at the funeral of Bernice’s other sister Hazel, I wheeled my sweet mother close to my dear 98 year old aunt and they spoke, quietly heads bowed.  We all stood in such awe.  Later when I asked my mom what Aunt Bernice said, she told me, “She said that she loved me from the first moment she saw me.” I am in awe of that kind of love.  It only comes from the Father.

Thank you Mari for sharing the story of your step mother and your aunt who loved her like a sister.  It isn’t just because I too knew Barb and Dale and loved them both that the tears swelled in my eyes.  This is such a beautiful story of the love of God shining through us and it’s power to heal and hold.  Because Bernice accepted Barbara who replaced her own lost sister, the children were blesses as well.  Her love brought wholeness where there was brokenness.  That’s what Jesus does.

Date Night


After having 3 straight weeks of hosting teams and not seeing my husband night after night, we have a date night this week.  We are going to the movies, and I don’t even care which one we are seeing.  I just want to talk.  I might “need” a coffee afterwards if I haven’t spent all my words yet.

I’m a pretty typical woman.  I’m wired for words.  I write in my blog AND a private journal AND a prayer journal AND I keep a notebook of quotes I like.  On top of all that, I fill up with words by reading a lot.  I don’t talk as much as most women, but I definitely talk more than my husband.  When he’s not around much, I’m overrun by children in my life (both my own and my school kids) who all talk my ear off while my own words just bottle up inside.  The pressure builds.

A few of the kids in my class are super random.  They will raise their hands in the middle of a math lesson and tell me that they once lost a tooth at their grandparent’s house or that they really like swimming.  “OK, back to planet earth,”  I think.  I can tell when I’ve had too many kid conversations when I no longer have patience for these random chatty moments.  I know when my eyes glaze over and I can’t even humor the child that I am in desperate need of “adult conversation.”  Date night is just the thing I need.

My poor husband, he feels like he has it so hard in life.  I don’t ask for much, just a well placed grunt every few sentences to show me that he’s listening.  But often times even that is too much to ask.  I accuse him of not listening to me, and he repeats the last sentence I said just to prove that he was listening.  I say that’s not listening, that’s repeating.

I no longer ask for him to tell me what he’s thinking.  I consider that an amateur question that young, inexperienced wives ask their baffled husbands.  I have found that I can continue a stream of thought without his verbal prompting or participating.  I only want the grunt to feel like I’m talking to a human.  My standards are low, I know.

So tonight I will unload the congestion of my thought life, empty 3 weeks worth of thoughts onto my husband.  Pray for him.

Good Girls and Bad Girls


I have two girls.  With the exception of the toddler nudey phase, my girls are very modest.  I have never had to tell either of them to go back in the house and change their clothes to something that covers more skin.  Neither of them even wear shorts- but that’s a result of living in Latin American cities where NO ONE wears shorts except tourists and prostitutes.

This last week we hosted a team of Christian university students to work with our Costa Rican students.  While hanging out on the big campus close to our house, a couple of boys took pictures of themselves with a couple of cheerleaders who were practicing on the soccer field.  Of course there was good humor from both the boys and girls involved, nothing scandalous or truly inappropriate, just flirting.  The pictures went on Facebook.


When my 6-year-old daughter saw the cheerleaders, she said, “Oh Mom, those are NOT good girls.”  I blinked and pondered how to answer her.  We don’t usually point out other people’s clothing or make judgements based on their appearance, so I wondered where my Kindergartener picked up the idea that those girls were bad girls.

I gently corrected her.  I said, “We don’t know what they are really like, but they are not dressed modestly.”

“What does Modestly mean?”  She asked.

I told her that a modest girl will cover her private parts- the ones covered by your swimsuit- and not show too much skin in other places too.  (In our Youth ministry we had a “Say NO to Crack” policy- no butt cracks and no cleavage.)  I thought it was pretty vague, and I was content with that.  However, she piped up with another question, “Are those girls showing their BOOBS?”  Well, almost but not quite.  I’m pretty sure I have a headband that is bigger than parts of their uniform.  I just chuckled at how black and white her little world is.

Those girls were finding their value in being sexual symbols– objects to satisfy the lusts of young men.  That is sad.  They don’t know their value.  They don’t know what they are worth to God.  My Kindergartener understands that…  Now I just have to work on her judgemental streak!

Is Your Body a Temple or an Idol?


Last year a girl with an eating disorder crossed our path here in Costa Rica.  After she went home, we lost contact with her for a few months, until one day just recently one of our students asked if I had seen this girl’s Facebook page recently.  I had not.  I navigated to her page and gasped at the change in this girl.  Eight months had aged her 20 years!  When I knew her, she looked like a Barbie.  But her obsessive food rules, over tanning, and excessive exercising were already a problem for her. Now, she looked like a leather covered skeleton.

One of our students who was looking over my shoulder at the time looked into my eyes with a horrified gaze.  “Do you think that is a sin?”  he asked me.  “Isn’t our body the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

mary-kate-olsen-cover-of-w-magazine_lI pondered for a second.  “Yes.  Our body is the temple of the Lord.  But some people make it an Idol instead,” I said.  She became focused on having a perfect body and that’s what she did to her temple.  She placed her own body image in a higher priority than relationships with others or her relationship with God.  She found her self-worth in the gym instead of in Jesus.  She was hard on herself and critical of others.  She gloated over heavier women.  She became her own idol.

The world has a twisted version of perfection, especially where women’s body image is concerned.  It is not coincidence.  Satan has a special hatred for women which started in the Garden of Eden.  If he can get us to destroy our bodies, then we are just doing his job for him.  Think about it, Women.  Who controls the Fashion Industry?  Gay men.  This is why the body shape of a 10 year old boy is promoted as the perfect form and womanly curves are to be hated.  We continue to listen to women-haters telling us that we aren’t perfect enough.  In the process our Holy Temple becomes an Idol.

When my son was born, I held a scrawny, muscular baby in my hands and marveled.  When my first daughter was born, I felt the difference in her body shape the second she came into this world.  I felt her squishy bottom.  I noticed the pleasing pads of fat along the back of her hips already.  She was never plump, but she was definitely a girl.  Boys and girls come out of the womb with differences that should be celebrated.

God gave us our bodies to be reverently cared for as Holy Temples, useful for his purposes.  But when we elevate our ideals or our personal projection of beauty above our useful service to God, then we are sinning.  Our bodies are to be Temples, not Idols.

Photo credit: <a href=””>tollieschmidt</a&gt; / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Glass Beach


MaryMy friend Mary and I have a shared hobby.  We both love to collect sea glass.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with sea glass, it is pieces of broken bottles and glass that have been rubbed smooth by the surf and sand.  Blue sea glass is especially rare.  By walking up and down a stretch of beach and paying close attention to the bits of shells and flotsam, sometimes a beach comber is rewarded with a pretty piece of glass.

I did not grow up near a beach, so I never knew how much I loved the ocean until I moved within a 90 minute drive of a coastline.  However, Mary grew up in California.  Recently she discovered a beach that is famous for it’s sea glass.  For both of us, the beach is our happy place, our place to walk with Jesus.  The beach has the power to renew a weary soul, and it is special to find a souvenir of sea glass.

As much as I like sea glass, I think God must look down on my foolish collecting of trash and shake his head in Fatherly bewilderment that I would find bits of broken glass to be treasures.  When my sister was little she collected bits of moss and leaves in a dresser drawer.  My parents weren’t thrilled with this, but they didn’t stop her.  Her childish treasures were of great value to her though they just looked like dirt to the rest of us.

It’s probably the same with my sea glass.  From his Heavenly city made of precious stones and pearls where people walk along on streets of gold, God looks down on Mary and me walking up and down a strip of sand searching for broken beer bottles and he just shakes his head and smiles.  “Just wait until you see what I have for you up here in Heaven,” he’s probably thinking.  Our little treasures really are trash.

sea glassThis makes me think about our spiritual treasures.  The things that we value and treasure- the way we conduct our lives here on Earth- may end up being nothing but a pile of hay and stubble once we get to Heaven and see what things have true eternal value.  The endeavours and pursuits to which we have given our lives will all come under scrutiny.  Everything will be tested by fire.  What looked sparkly and pretty here on Earth might end up being worth nothing.  It might just serve to feed the fire.

Only things done for God will last.  Only pure motives will survive the scorching heat of the Refiner’s Fire.  The Apostle Paul essentially said, “When I think about all the great things I have accomplished, I consider them nothing but trash compared with the immeasurable honor of knowing and serving God.”  All our great accomplishments are nothing but a handful of sea glass compared to serving the Lord.

Celebrate The End


This week we finished our almost-3-year process to get our permanent residency visas here in CR… which must be renewed in a year and a half.  Yes, that’s right.  You thought you knew the meaning of the word “permanent” but you didn’t.  It really means permanently standing in lines to pay more money.  However, we did it!  I can’t believe that it’s finally over.  I think that has been a prayer request on nearly every newsletter that we have sent out in the last few years.  Now we can celebrate.

steakWe did a combination Mothers’ Day (in America) and Visa celebration last Sunday.  After church we went to the next city over and enjoyed a very rare treat:  Outback Steakhouse.  We have a few American restaurants here, but they are so freaking expensive that they are for “Birthdays only” in our household.  It had been over a year since we had gone to Outback, so we were giddy with anticipation.

I particularly like the Blooming Onion (don’t tell me that it has a million calories.  I already know and I don’t care.).  When we lived in Mexico we went to visit friends in the center of the country.  They had an Outback there too.  I was looking forward to the Blooming Onion for weeks before our visit.  My mouth watered as I ordered it.  Twenty minutes later the server came back out and said, “Sorry, we don’t have any onions right now.”  I just about beat him up.

My point is, it is good and right to stop and celebrate when you accomplish something huge like this.  Celebrating is practically ordered by God in the Old Testament.  Have you read how many feasts and holidays the Jews had in the Law?  I don’t know how they got any work done.  God wants us to celebrate our victories and to remember them with anniversaries and festivals year after year.  Celebration is good for the soul.  It reminds us that God is good and life is not always bad.  It keeps us from feeling like a victim all the time.  And it helps pull us away from our future goals and plans long enough to focus on the past successes and present joys.  God orders us to celebrate!

We have so much to celebrate in our lives.  This weekend, take some time and make a list of all the things that you can celebrate.  Think of successes.  Think of victories.  Think of hard things that you survived.  Think of benchmarks and landmarks and goal posts and mile stones that you have achieved.  Take time to celebrate your Wins with Thankfulness to God.  It’s good for your soul.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Another Pint Please…</a> / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Hold You?


Every morning when my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I breathe these words before my feet roll out of bed, “Lord give me strength for today.”  I wake up in pain and there’s nothing I can do about it.  So it’s best to forget about it and get on with my day.  But I ask for help from my Father God.  He slowly infuses me with the energy and strength I need to make it through today.  He has taught me to be thankful for my weaknesses because they force me to rely on Him more.  

He has promised to help me when I call on Him.  And He’s glad to do it!   He is drawn to weakness because it is the white canvas on which He paints His beautiful pictures of mercy, grace and bounty.  With Jesus, I have enough.  With Jesus, I can do today.  Tomorrow I will ask for more, but today He will give me enough of what I need right now.

A friend of a friend posted this on FB the other day.  I liked it because it is how I view my walk with the Lord.  I grow weary as my little legs pump twice as hard as His long strides.  I ask him to hold me.

Hold You?
The other day I was watching a friend’s little 2 year old daughter. We went for a walk down to a nearby swing set so we could play. As we walked down the street, this little gal’s chubby fingers clasped my hand as she took two steps for every one step I took. She trotted along like this for sometime, chattering on about “swing” and “mommy” and “mammie and papa” and “birdies”.

Then she inquisitively said these two sweet words, “Hold you?”cute

She was tired. She was weary. The sun was shining, she had exerted all the energy her little legs could muster.

Her question was simple.

“Hold you?”

“Do you want me to pick you up?” I asked her.


I picked her up and began to carry her on to our destination.

Today Jesus will do that for me. I am tired, I am weary. The sun is shining, I have exerted all the energy my little heart can muster.

My need is simple.

“Hold You?”

And He picks me up and carries me to our destination.

big hand

“. . . in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” Deut 1:31

Photo credit: <a href=””>hanaan</a&gt; / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY</a>

Photo credit: <a href=””>ArloMagicMan</a&gt; / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC</a>


A Letter to Friends who are Gay


I have posted before how I am proud of several of my Christian Facebook friends who are breaking the stereotypes that the world holds concerning Christians.  Recently I read this post by a friend of mine and fellow missionary.  Normally this woman cracks me up with her wit and humor, but today she made me wish I KNEW some friend from high school who came out of the closet just so I could say these kind words to them.  (I actually keep in contact with so few people from then that it’s just pathetic and sad.)  Catherine, you make me proud to be a Christian… the kind of Christian who can extend loving friendship to someone who is gay even though we don’t agree about everything.

Having grown up in the Twin Cities where there is a large gay community I have worked with and gone to school with many people who professed to be gay.  I generally have found them to be delightful, creative and witty people (pardon my stereotyping).  They always know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am indeed a Christian, but I have always tried to show that a relationship with Jesus was not a political position nor a social weapon for shunning someone.  But my relationship with Jesus gave me the FREEDOM to love someone outside of my “tribe”.  

Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes and other shunned people from his time, much to the dismay of the religious leaders.  A real follower of Jesus will do the same- reach out to those who need a friend regardless of their lifestyle.  This does not mean I condone their behavior, it is still sin, but I am deliberate in extending my friendship to them by following the example of Jesus.


Dear old friend from high school that I just learned is gay,

Dude! How’s it going? So, I stalked you on facebook. The snoopy part of me sees bits of your profile, and I have pieced together that you’re gay. I have wanted to “friend” you. I want you to know I remember that nebulous cloud of high school where I was half asleep to the things that really mattered, and more focused on emotionally surviving my day. I wish I had been more bold back then, but everything in it’s time… If you look at my profile, you’ll see that I’m a Christian. A missionary, in fact. You would laugh if you knew the detours I took along the way. I hope that doesn’t bother you. You’re gay, and I love you, like you even.

We’ve all changed since school, but I think we would both fondly remember moments of being with someone and you didn’t have to try so hard. You could just be. I was grateful to you for those reprieves. We laughed a lot. Sweated a lot. (it was the desert after all.) We had acne together that the beautiful people magically avoided. We weren’t goth and we weren’t quiet grunge. What were we? We were awkward together. We dabbled in the more creative electives, and perhaps nerdy pursuits. I remember not feeling like I fit in my own skin. I wish I could go back in time and tell us we were beautiful.

So I’m a Christian and you’re gay. We won’t agree on everything, and maybe we don’t have to talk about everything. But you’re still my friend and I still treasure you. I promise not to hit you over the head with a giant Bible, (until I am overcome by love and concern for your soul, that is. I can only hold it in so long, you know.) But in the meantime, I would only say you are deeply, deeply loved by your Creator. He sang a song of delight over you as you were purposefully formed. And…I still like you. (Not like-like, just like, don’t get all vain.)

Now don’t you think that sounded just like how Jesus might sound?  At least he sounds that way in MY head.  Yes, Jesus says “Dude” in my imagination.  But more importantly, wouldn’t Jesus be the first one to say, “I still like you.”?  I think he would.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Thomas Leuthard</a> / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY</a>

Playing with Fire


“Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not get burned?”

fire-manI’ve noticed a disturbing trend among my peers from my circle of  “church friends.”  For some reason, my generation feels it’s “cool” to dabble in the things that their parents taught them were sin.  Not everything that used to be considered bad is still considered evil.  For example, there was a time when card playing was a sure sign that you were flirting with the Devil.  And going to a movie was sure to condemn you to hell, in some circles.  Now times have changed, and some of those social no-no’s are not given a second thought.  I wear make-up, I cut my hair when I want to, I wear pants- all things that my great grandmother would never have done.  So I’m not talking about the petty cultural behaviors that bind us to a particular set of rules.  What I am talking about is a deliberate tearing down of the morals that we were raised with.

Sometimes those boundaries are in place for a reason.  For example, alcoholism runs in my extended family.  My father saw first hand the dangers of alcohol when his mother and siblings because addicted.  He suspected that there was some genetic disposition to liking alcohol even before the scientists began to confirm that there is indeed a genetic element to addiction.  So for that reason, we were raised to avoid alcohol.  As an adult, I can choose to do whatever I want with my life.  However, I choose to honor my father by avoiding alcohol.  I believe that it is healthier for me, but moreover, the Lord has promised me a long life if I honor my parents.  It is the only one of the 10 Commandments with a promise attached to it.

under-the-bridgeI have seen so many friends who have taken a rebellious teenage attitude in their adult life.  They choose to go out to bars or to drink alcohol at home even though they were not raised that way.  Their excuse is, “It’s not specifically in the Bible that we can’t drink.  It only says don’t get drunk.”  I don’t deny that.  But what I am talking about is the attitude behind the decision in the first place.  It is a blatant rejection of their parents that pushes them to permit things that were unpermissible in their childhood home.  This rebellion leads people down a path towards brokenness.

I have seen friends at various stages of this rebellion and eventually they all end up hurt and disillusioned by their own choices.  They may not see the connection, but with my distance and lack of emotional entanglement in the scene, I see the direct correlation between that rebellion against their parents and their present situation.

I have seen friends end their marriages with affairs and divorce.  I have seen families who are shocked and embarrassed when their son is kicked out of high school for alcohol possession, yet the family drinks at home.  I have seen families leave a church because of its heavy emphasis on the Holy Spirit, then they are stunned when their kids grow up and lead unholy lives.  I have seen so many friends remain single for years and years, cruising the bar scene each weekend looking for an escape from their loneliness- looking for their soulmate in a room full of unbelievers.  But they were brought up with an understanding that a Christian should not yoke themselves to an unbeliever.  I have seen friends decide to live with their girlfriend or boyfriend before they marry, even though they know that fornication is a sin.

But these friends who assert their “rights” do so to their own detriment.  Proverbs asks, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned?”  Can we dabble with rebellion and not expect consequences?  The proverb does not say you have no right to scoop fire into your lap, or pour it down your throat, it just says don’t expect that you will escape the results.  Devastation is the natural destination of that journey that began with the first step of rebellion- the attitude of “I will do things MY way.”  It has been this way since the Garden of Eden.  Rebellion has consequences.

Photo credit: <a href=””>Kuzeytac (will be back soon)</a> / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Photo credit: <a href=””>E Tran</a> / <a href=””></a&gt; / <a href=””>CC BY-NC</a>