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Posts from the ‘life’ Category

Sand, Water and Light – Early Morning at the Beach

There is a desire in me to be like the clear waters before me, calm and illumined by the gentle morning sun. That my heart would be as pure as the water, clean and clear enough to reflect the loving rays of my God. That like the ever-changing ripples of sand, tenderly sculpted by the rolling waves above, I would trustingly allow the hands of my God to mold me.

The Divine Artist sculpts a beautiful and continually transforming pattern in the golden softness underfoot. Rays of light bend with the water, stretching out into a spectacular light show, alive in each movement. The waves gently ripple across the surface, molding the sand and bending the rays beneath. Neither the water nor sand hold tightly to their formation. They don’t rebel or fight against the waves as they come, one after the other. The water and sand give of themselves readily. They willingly submit to the force of each wave, gentle or strong, as if knowing full well they are being made a masterpiece.

If only I could do so as easily and give myself fully to God, who meticulously crafts a unique work of art in each of his children, desiring them to radiate his light for all to see.

Photo – Lake Michigan, South Haven, MI

A Sunny Stroll Through Bovine Heaven

It’s not everyday that something out of the ordinary happens, but when it does I try to take notice and give it my full attention. I find myself asking, “Is there some meaning behind this or maybe a lesson to learn? A few days ago I tweeted about going for a walk with my daughter, down the long gravel road leading to our house. It was a perfect day for a walk with sunshine, blue skies, green popping up all over and lots of singing. “What could be better?” I threw out to the twitterverse, not expecting an answer.

Our walk began with Sofia asking for her animal of choice. “Cow?” she asked with her big blue eyes pleading. “No, no cows, Sofia,” I replied. “Why don’t we sing a song? How about Old McDonald?” I ask, happy with my motherly ingenuity at fitting her current favorite animal into our walk.

“And on his farm he had a ….?” Pause. Silence, followed by more silence. “What, Sofia?” I ask. “What did Old McDonald have?” She came back with a resounding, “COW!” Every time. It occurred to me, she might have thought we were going to visit the nearby farm center. Every since our recent visit, she’s been quite taken with cows. All the baby lambs, fuzzy ducklings, goats and piglets at the farm center were met with a nonplussed nod of acknowledgement, followed immediately by a request for that special animal. “Cow. Cow, mama,” she’d say directing me to push her stroller onward in her quest.

Thankfully the farm had in residence at least one cow, a really big mama cow with its’ tiny baby calf snuggling up next to it. They didn’t seem to mind being gawked at by an inquisitive little girl and her mom. So it really came as no surprise that while singing Old McDonald on our walk, I’d be subjected to multiple rounds of “Moo. Moo.”

Singing and strolling along, I began reflecting on what a dichotomy life can be at times. Most of my friends’ children are school age now and way beyond toddler songs and potty training. Many of these women have returned to the work force, after having taken leave to be with their young kids. Yet here I was still singing Old McDonald.

The truth is I’m happy to be doing this. I love being with my daughter. I wouldn’t want to miss out on all the little things like singing about cows for the millionth time, while taking a slow walk on a beautiful day. These are the things I get to do with Sofia. And like any parent, I’d hate to miss the wonder in her eyes when she sees things for the first time.

Still walking, we reach the end of the road and turn around to head home. I begin another chorus, while contemplating the complexities of my life. “Moo…Moo,” Sofia sings, and I catch something out of the corner of my eye. I turn to look to the side of the road, to see what’s caught my attention.

Up the hill overlooking the road, scattered between the trees, staring us down was a multitude of bovine. Not just one cow; a herd of cow. White cows, brown cows, black cows and multi-colored cows stood statue still while watching us intently. Shifting their frozen gaze to the new, soft grass carpeting the ground beneath them, they began to graze. Bovine heaven on a long dirt road.

“Sofia! Oh my gosh! Sofia, look!” I say. “Cows…look! Look at the cows!” She looks and grins wide, not nearly as surprised as her mom. “Where in the world did they come from?” I ask out loud to no one in particular, knowing no one else is around. I pull out my phone and begin taking pictures of these cows that seem to have materialized out of nowhere. Seven years I’ve walked this road, not once ever spotting a cow, much less a multitude of cows.

We continue our walk home, me laughing at the unbelievable. What do I make of this? I ask myself in true form. I’m stumped. All I can come up with is that God must have a really good sense of humor. He had to be laughing if he was watching us that day.

Photo courtesy of

A Necessary Sacrifice – From Vietnam to America

“The first time I spoke with my brother after he’d left, we couldn’t understand each other. He didn’t speak Vietnamese, and I couldn’t speak English.” I’d just met Marie, and she was telling me about her youngest brother, who’d left their home country at an early age. “He knew he wanted to be a priest, even when he was very young. My father knew it wouldn’t be safe for him in our country. So when my uncle decided to move to the US, my brother left our family and went with him.”

Concern for his safety and knowing that opportunities would be better for him, Marie’s parents agreed to allow him, their young son, to move away. Far away. Far away from the family he knew and loved, he moved to the US and was raised by his uncle.

“Freedom? There is no freedom.” Marie shakes her head and continues to tell me about the state of affairs in her home country. She and her family are part of the small minority of Roman Catholics. “Things are not safe. It’s better here,” she sighs before telling me about the persecution facing Christians in Vietnam. Pressure from the government to follow a state supported religion affects schooling, employment, their safety and their very existence. Bullying tactics make life, in some instances, agonizingly difficult. I shake my head in a mixture of sadness and disgust.

Marie goes on to tell me that she’s been married for three and a half years. Right after her wedding she and her husband decided it would be better for her to come to the US. He plans to follow her after finishing up graduate school at a Vietnamese university. The last time she spoke with her husband in person was right after their wedding. They’ve only spoken by phone since she arrived here. “I’m about ready to take my test for citizenship,” she tells me proudly.

I am greatly moved by Marie’s story. For a moment, I turn to hide the tears I feel welling up. Sacrifice – painful sacrifice for a better life, for safety. For freedom. My own mother left her country, pioneering out on her own to make her way to this land of opportunity and freedom as a young woman in her early twenties. She didn’t leave under such harsh circumstances as Marie, but the leaving was still painful. The courage it took to leave everything she knew, to leave her home, for a new, strange culture is something I stand in awe of each day. My heart is grieved by Marie’s story, and I know that she is only one voice out of many that have bravely sacrificed for a better life.

I can’t imagine the loss her parents must have felt in saying goodbye to their son, not knowing if they’d ever see him again. Saying goodbye to my own son seems unimaginable. Only hearing my husband’s voice over a cold phone line, not to hear him whisper good morning or feel his embrace after walking in the door at night from work seems unthinkable. Being one with someone, yet being so far apart. Sacrifice, I know, is sometimes necessary. I’m ashamed at the things I so easily take for granted, things that should be savored each day.

Now here in America, Marie’s had the opportunity to visit with her brother. After she took classes to learn English, they were finally able to talk for the first time. To talk about their family, their home, and about the brief moments of a shared childhood. Her joy is obvious. So is her big sister pride. “He’s all grown up now, and he made it,” she tells me grinning wide. “He’s a priest” she says nodding. “He’s a priest.”

Photo courtesy of