Thursday, February 17, 2011


I had intended to do this earlier in the week ... but I'm buried in refugee busyness, but for good, good reasons. For the first [and maybe only time] I'm in charge of putting a home together for a family of 7 that will arrive on the 24th from Nepal. Whether you like it or not, I'm sure I'll post about that in the next week or so when the project is in place.

So, here is my last "Mom" post [I think].
When m
y daughter, Renae, arrived from Tacoma a few days after the service, she came to my house on her way home from the airport at 10:30 at night. The reason? She wanted to give me flowers she had carried all the way home on the airplane for most of the day. The rose had nearly died before arriving home, but the carnations made it. Beautifully.

Since then, I have taken all the petals and put them in a special bowl which will last forever and ever, amen.

I also had a huge blessing last Monday. My sister, Niki, had sent a card to me and enclosed was the poem she wrote and shared at Mom's service. Even though I was listening on my phone at home, I couldn't hear all of this poem. So, when I received it and read it, I was overwhelmed with joy and the manner in which the Holy Spirit used Nik to speak His true Words about my Mom.

I just couldn't not share it with you. I hope it touches your hearts, too. At the service, after reading the poem, she and her daughters sang the song Mom
wanted, which was also a song that both Niki and I loved ... Kris Kristofferson's song of the mid-'70s, "Why Me, Lord?" The poem and song fit together in an amazing way.

@@@@@@@@@THE FIGHT IS ON

The Fight is on ---
@@@This girl was born for adversity
@@@@@@@In a time of complacency;
Her beginnings were shrouded in mystery,
In a world NOT of her own making.

The battle goes on------
Intelligence, stubbornness, pride----
Three enemies that would become her friends;
But, tell me, how else can a gal survive
In a world so dark with sin?

@@@@@She became a friend to many;
@@@@@Being loved and loved a lot.
@@@@@Never getting what she wanted,
@@@@@But truly loving what she got.

The fight is over-----

@@@For the Prince of Peace now holds her,
@@@Caressing away her furrowed brow.
@@@She now knows Perfect Love unending,
@@@For she "rests" in the Eternal Now.

And what do I say? AMEN!! HALLELUJAH!!!

Here's the last photo of the flowers, the gift from my church with the carnations Renae brought home to me added to the vase.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Last month I told a story about Phurba.

Last week he was at Creighton University Hospital from Monday through Friday having seizure tests. It was assumed that after the tests, the brain surgery to remove his tumor would occur. I dropped by the hospital a couple of times to see him, even though talking with him or his mom is nearly impossible, except for the occasional "Hi", "Bye", or "Thanks." All I could figure out, looking at the computer attachments, and asking little bits of info from nursing members, was that the seizures were pretty frequent, although not long-lasting and he'd recover quickly. Once when I walked in the door, he reached out to grab my hand, and I found out later from a nurse, that he had had a seizure just a couple minutes earlier and they were surprised to see this response.

Today I was visiting his cousin, also named Phurba, and asked about the surgery. He said the drs have decided that the seizures are not controlled by the tumor, and with medications it is possible that he will not only be without surgery, but may have a growth of normalcy and learn more easily. What wonderful news after he and his family have struggled with this for nearly twenty years.

I nearly jumped for joy, believe me. Can hardly keep my grins from flowing, flowing and .... overflowing.

Friday, February 11, 2011


The Lord dropped another young woman into my life a few weeks ago. She is from the Karen tribal group connected to the Burmese, historically speaking -- even though she doesn't consider that accurate. Elvina Soe is 35 years old and was in a refugee camp in Thailand from the age of 12 until 5 months ago when she arrived in Omaha. I met her at the ESL class where I am an associate teacher/helper. We ended up grinning at each other a number of times and then it went forward.

Today was her first time to come to my house. I have been to her apartment once. And we went shopping together one afternoon and she just held my hand and was excited to be out and about with me, even though it was a rainy, snowy, icy day. The main issue is that she really doesn't speak English very well, yet, which makes conversation challenging, althou
gh she's very intense about learning as quickly as possible.

Today when she came and I began to fix our lunch, chopping a variety of vegetables -- cabbage, carrots, zucchini to stir fry them as an ea
sy meal -- she immediately jumped in to chop the cabbage, wash dishes, and do any kitchen-related task that needed to be accomplished. During the chores, she practiced pronouncing the various kitchen-related terms. Sometimes we just stood there and laughed, because of the way we would say and repeat and say and repeat one word over and over and over again.

As we were walking through the living room, she practiced as many words as possible ... plant, flower, green, purple [a hard one to pronounce for her], glass, drum, rocks, and on and on. Afte
r lunch, when we sat down on the sofa she told me to ask her questions so she could practice understanding them and answering.


Her history: her parents sent her away when she was 12 to be with an aunt and uncle at a refugee camp in Thailand. The warfare was going on around her family and they wanted her to be in a safer place. She has never heard what happened to her parents. Before she was sent away, military forces invaded the village where her grandmother lived, and killed her. Elvina said they killed children or older people and nothing would stop them from doing it. She knows that that's why she was sent away. While she was describing the murder of her grandmother, she "held" a rifle in her arms and mimicked shooting, swinging her arms around from side to side. Her face, even though usually filled with smiles and full of joy, had a sudden hard and angry moment. Then the smiles came back.

We talked about a few other in
cidents in life. Not all serious -- but mostly interesting, to say the least. Her wedding, her Christian heart, the Christian history of her family. -- She so desires to have children, but she has had a few miscarriages and is very sad that she's not a Mom.

I know that most of this is probably too detailed and maybe plain old boring ... but I wanted to share it, because it so flooded my heart. To me, it's another door opening to somehow bless and help someone who has suffered through much of her life -- and yet can radiate love and warmth and love.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mary Magdalene, Renewed

She gazed upward into the warm sunshine. Jesus was gone. A smile, a loving look, and suddenly, He began moving upward, gradually overtaken by the clouds. She remembered His words, that He must leave so the Comforter could come. She certainly didn't understand what He meant. But, while being with Him, in spite of her tangled life, she had grown to simply trust, to obey--not question and harangue and argue--so, today, she was at peace -- no loneliness, no dismay, her heart full of love towards the Father and towards His Son, her Friend, with no room for grief or sorrow.

Standing amidst the crush of His followers on the hillside, she felt alone...lost in her own thoughts, searching her heart for the next step.

Andrew, one of the disciples, looked around at the others and said, "He told us to go to Jerusalem...." and he immediately turned and strode down the hill.

As the rest ran to catch up with him, joy burst through Mary's heart and she began to sing, "The Lord is my strength and my song and he has become my salvation." A psalm sung during the celebrations, she overflowed with happiness as the words soared through her mouth from her heart. Laughing, she skipped down the dirt path.

She was amazed. What was she doing? Who was she? A free-flowing, joy-filled woman? She never believed she would be so light, so overwhelmed with pleasure. Even the others, accustomed to the serious, intense, contemplative Mary, were shaking their heads as she skipped and sang, rejoicing.

That was it. She was rejoicing. The years of hardship and sorrow and desolation had dropped from her as discarding a cloak. She had truly become a child for the first time in life... A happy, free-spirited, glowing, buoyant child. What freedom, what peace, what zest for life.

And what of Jerusalem? What lay ahead? Trial and hardship? So be it. She had already known in life -- and, amazingly, survived -- trial and hardship. But without the strength of Jesus. With Jesus she could face anything to come her way. Would there be years of labor as the Word of Jesus was shared with others outside of Jerusalem, of Israel? -Hadn't He said His Word would be taken to the ends of the earth?

She suddenly stopped and turned and stared firmly at the spot where she had last seen Jesus. "I'll do it", she promised. "Anything you ask, anything you want, anywhere you want me to go, I'll do it."

And taking a tight grip of her shawl, joyfully ran down the road toward Jerusalem.
Enjoy the Word Carnival... Renewal

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Sometimes God just amazes me with His kindness -- and His quickness.

On Friday, around 1:00 PM, I stopped by Nar's apar
tment just to find out how she and her family are doing. With all the snow and ice this week, I haven't been able to risk walking around the streets; fell last Sunday by their apartment complex and whacked my right knee pretty hard. I had lunch planned with my friend, Sharon, at 1:30 and just wanted to grab a few minutes with Nar before heading for Applebee's.

While there, her brother, Kharka, 26, who is one of my "kids" said, "Hey, Joanne, I need some snow boots." I said, "Well, I'll do what I can, but there ain't no guarantee I can pull it off."

At lunch, as I left, Sharon cleared out her back seat for my refugees or others who are in need ... including a pair of black snow boots. I rejoiced, BIG TIME.

I knew Kharka was at work by then, and probably overnight, so I couldn't swing by with them to see if they would fit him.

Yesterday, almost exactly 24 hours
after he had let me know what he wanted and needed ... I walked into their small apartment. PILES of friends and family were there, including several guys who were practicing guitar, which Kharka was leading.

I waved the boots at Kharka from across the room and
he could hardly wait to get to me. He put them on, and with a fairly thick pair of socks, the boots fit practically perfectly. He was so excited, so happy. He grabbed his friend, Charles, and made me go outside right away so I could take pictures of him in the boots.

I told him, "You wanted them yesterday and God met your need. That usually doesn't happen so quickly." Then I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Come to Jesus... stop putting it off." As usual, he grinned. He's not come to the Lord, yet, even though Nar and her husband are very intensely loving Christians. Kharka always has a "waiting" excuse... not wanting to offend other family members. Sticking with his Hindu background.

I am praying and hoping that every time he puts those snow boots on, he will be reminded when they reached him and Who got them to him.

How cool is that, Sharon? You were a gift "giver" for our Giver.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I was just blessed to be able to listen to the service by connecting my house phone and my daughter Renae's cell phone. Except for a couple of times when voices seemed to go back and forth and up and down, I was able to listen. I also received a number of photos of the people who were speaking. I've been told I'll receive a video in the next stretch of time. Overall, I was just plain old fashioned rejoicing. It was fun to listen to people laugh, and laugh, and laugh again. My Mother was one unusual woman, to say the very least.

One blessing: Renae read the poem I wrote for Mom about five years ago for her gift on Mothers Day. You can read it if you'd like. Now, I'm "going away" to let the adrenal glands relax. [OH, YES!! The birds made it. HALLELUJAH!!!]

Mom --
lately, thinking of you
makes me smile.

Jesus said we must be
childlike to inherit
the Kingdom of God.
[Childlikeness has not come easily
to you or to me.]

And ...
I see the "child"

A gray-haired,

a quicker-to-laugh,
grateful and grace-giving child
of a grace-giving God.

A child --
listening for train whistles
watching lions roar and eagles fly,
waiting in wonder for the sight
over the next hill, around the next bend.

And --
Not fearing
the Last Bend.

Like a child returning Home
A Father's arms
will greet you.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I think it was last Friday morning, just as I woke up... could have been Thursday, as I've lost track of time with all the family stuff pouring forth on me. Well, what happened was that I thought that since I wasn't going out to Tacoma to the service, I needed to make sure some nice flower arrangement or special plant was there.

Suddenly I thought... FLOWERS? PLANTS? The flowers would just die or the family member who kept the plant would get involved in regular life in time and the plant would gradually disappear. Didn't want to contribute something that couldn't last "forever."

Then I microsecondly remembered that Mom really liked birds. She liked to watch them on Discovery Channel or PBS Nature, she liked to read books about them, and she liked to put feeders out whenever it was allowed wherever she was living.

Saturday, I went to the Omaha Zoo [one
of the best in the country!!] gift shop. I had first thought about buying one large colorful parrot... but never saw anything like that. But I DID see several small-ish birds, and bought 6, one for each of my 5 sisters, and the extra one for another special family connection that might make it to the service.

Saturday evening I took the
birds and put them in various locations in my living room and took the photos to make them look as if they "lived" here, weren't just putting up with this place, staying in a shopping bag before they could go somewhere nice.

The service is late Thursday afternoon and I'm truly hoping and praying that the package will arrive Wednesday afternoon as projected -- with the wintery weather that's a challenge, I know. But HOPING!!

Oh, and the plan? I want Niki to put the birds in the flowers and plants that are at the service. I'm known in the family, especially among the nieces and nephew, as a "serious" person... and I want some of them to see these and cock their heads and think, "Hmm... maybe not so much as we thought...".