Category Archives: hands & feet

burdens worth bearing

The cats are curled up like lazy commas all around the house and  I’m tempted to join them except  it would totally ruin my “recovery from jet lag” plan!

Instead, I find myself sitting here scanning through the nearly three weeks of pictures and the very real memory of it all hits me right between my breastbone and eyeballs: the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, the lives that were touched along the way.

The way my life was touched by theirs.

The faces.
The smiles.
The eyes.

Funny School Kids

The naked joy of uniformed school children in all degrees of dress, running, laughing and waving along roadsides strewn with trash.

The constant underlying tension of poverty and despair pulling hard against the unmistakeable beauty of life being lived more simply.

And how that strange medley of sight, sound and smell still gathers around the edges of each photo  taken in that land seemingly fueled by diesel,  dust and dung.

It gets on you. It gets in you.

It changes you.

It really has to and you sorta want it to even though you know… it won’t be temporary.

bearing burdens

I’ve done enough trips like this so that by now I expect and welcome the changes that must come in me as a result.

I’ve also learned not to exploit the situation by getting ridiculously sappy and over emotional (you can thank me later) while expressing what I know God did there– as if He doesn’t do amazing things right here or anywhere else if we only have the eyes to see that it’s not about the location.

I’m not here to say I’m moving to Africa (unless God calls us to) but I confess that I am being moved and I hope to never stop moving.

Let me tell you more…

blooming in Africa

Despite a long period of drought, flowers are everywhere in this part of Africa right now. It’s the season for the winter rains and things once scorched and left thirsting beneath the punishing sun of summer are now relaxing and unfolding under the gentle encouragement of the slightest bits of water.

It doesn’t take much. Just a little bit can bring out the green in anything and the flowers can not resist the urge to seize the moment and burst into bloom while they have the chance.

Not every plant has a flower. Not every tree bears fruit, but those that do seem to know how to respond with the least amounts of nourishment. People can be much the same you know. At least this is what I have learned. Hope is a wonderful, nourishing thing;

the hope of Christ is life changing.

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blooming in Africa

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There’s Rose.

Born with a congenital defect, unmarried and living at home with her child, Rose’s lot in life was bleak at best. Life is hard enough for the able-bodied in this part of the world and for the disabled, the challenges are multiplied exponentially.

 Perhaps it was the stark cruelty around her, or maybe it was the cruelty and rejection of others, the fact is; she was becoming hardened as well.

Closed up tight, reserved and withdrawn, Rose lived with very little hope.

Let me tell you more…

‘Merica, blessed to be a blessing

It’s our week in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The week when we dust off our patriotism, unfurl our star-spangled banners, and hitch our pride a little higher celebrating the land and country we love.

‘Merica  A people united by an air of fierce independence and the ideal of unrestrained opportunity…  a strange mix even on the best of days.

Somewhere at sometime, someone once said, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Experience has taught me truth in this and that very often, Hunger is her muse.

It’s a lesson my husband and I learned well through  years of trying to keep a few pennies ahead in the positive column as self(un)employed artists raising and homeschooling a family.

There have been some really “creative” periods over the years and I sorta pride myself in my ability to “make do”…DO.  I tend to think I can manage on very little and find alternative ways to make up the lack. Second-hand is fine; homemade is better. By the grace of God, we’ve always had everything we’ve needed and most of what we’ve wanted as well.

So if you asked about my current state of affairs, I  gladly admit to being humbly content…sweetly satisfied. Blessed….without a hint of materialism or an air of entitlement in my soul.

Not much anyway.
Well…maybe just a titch.
Ok… a titch and a half!

I don’t like to think so. I don’t like to think I’m all that materialistic  or have much of an entitlement attitude  but a recent event has caused me to stop and “check my privilege”.

Allergies. It began with allergies.

Nasally stuff, you know… dust, dander and the what-not that plagues us here in the South. Nothing major but we’ve kept it at bay with a little red pseudophed in the mornings.

It works.

Sadly, we live in a world where evil seems to have a free reign, so this formerly over the counter medicine has moved up under tighter regulation. Now you have to show ID, sign for it,  only so much can be bought, yada, yada, yada.

So we do it. No biggie…right?
Until it seems we get “profiled”.

On our way to an outdoor church event, dressed down and a little raggety for outdoor play, we decide to stop and get this and a few things before the pharmacy closes. No dice. The pharmacist on duty cites a “new regional policy” and nothing we say can sway her decision.

Ya’ll…. she’s serious.   I’m LIV-id— the “trying-not-to-cry-I’m-so-stinkin-mad” kind of livid.

Polite, but point blank I ask why, after months of shopping and following the rules at this store is it suddenly not OK.

Looking at me she replies, “It’s the new policy because there are a lot of dirt-bag meth heads around here.”

Whoa….excuse me?!

We left empty-handed. A follow-up with the National company left us wanting for “justice” because they leave it to the discretion of their pharmacists to make these types of policy calls.  An apologetic call from the store’s manager confirms the same.

I stew and fume for days.
I mean.. seriously?!??!   Do I look like a “dirt-bag meth head” to YOU?!?!
Wait….don’t answer that.

Wait…. because it really doesn’t matter.

Calming down, I realized that my problem was not so much that I didn’t get what I thought I needed, or that there was the distinct probability we’d been labeled. The problem went deeper.

I was angry because I didn’t get what I wanted AND the respect I felt I deserved along with it.

I was angry because I don’t like being told no.
I don’t like being told I can’t have something.

I have “rights” you know!
This is ‘MERICA dang it!

Well, apparently some “rights” weigh in more heavily than others and the abuses of some can mar the rights of us all. Evil is like that.

I was shocked to see  the ugly rear up in my heart so immediately and self-righteously. Suddenly, my eyes are opened to how, even in America, others are dealing with this every day as they are denied a good or service based on their appearance or other such determinant.

Hidden slightly below that realization is my neglect to see,  no less acknowledge,  how blessed…. fortunate— dare I say…. LUCKY  I am to live in a country and a location where right down the street I have access to *everything* I need and most of what I want. Medicine. Milk.   At least 100 varieties of ice-cream.

I forget that WAY too often.
I seldom stop to think about it.
And I need to think about it.

Not feel guilty, but to acknowledge the bounty of my blessings and all I have to share.

Holy Fear

It’s been pounding in my heart for weeks now— this story and revelation have been further compounded by the numbers of people I’ve encountered who really do not realize the nature of this story in Africa.

I don’t blame them….part of the reason we will go is to tell the story and show what’s being done to help.  It’s a tall order.    Complicated.

Confusion marked with ignorance or fueled by propaganda and corruption is allowing HIV/AIDS to decimate communities, families and almost an entire generation.

Even when medicines are available, caregivers, transportation, logistics,
clean water, food and …honesty…are not.

Health care and humanitarian aid organizations  are doing what they can to keep up with the crisis, to care for and educate those in need but the numbers are staggering. Don’t misunderstand; the situation is not under control.

And yet….this is their DAILY life.. ..what they know and surprisingly, in many cases, we have been told that the people are joyful, thankful… living in gratefulness for what they have.

And those who are sick, in need and near the end, when someone arrives with a hospice bucket,  they are so stinkin’ blessed by a few tubes of Carmex and some socks. Shoot, they’re blessed by the bucket itself!

So yeah… what was I… sitting in my 2400-sq foot, air-conditioned home with indoor plumbing, 2 pillows and a comfortable bed, 5 cats, 2 dogs, a garden and plenty of food to spare,               …what was I complaining about?

I really don’t remember.

Blessed to be a blessing,Lorretta signature