Monday, December 17, 2012


Sometime during my busy Friday at work, a friend sent a message that asked, "Did you hear about Connecticut?" I said "No", but I was too busy to inquire further when I got no response back. At a school program that night, someone mentioned a shooting that had happened. I looked at my husband who said, "At a school. A kindergarten class." A knot formed in my stomach that has grown with each new detail I've read. In a few short hours my family will wake and 4 of the 5 of us will go off to school. I believe that God is in control of my life. I believe that if it is my time to leave this earth it will happen, and if it's not it won't, and that God knows when that day will be and no one can change that - not me or my family or someone with a gun. But today I want to stay home. I really don't want to sit in my office inside the school's front doors. I don't want two of my kids in different parts of the building and my other kid in a building across town. I want to be home cleaning the house and wrapping presents and preparing for Christmas as a family. But life is not about hiding away, so today I will hug my kids a bit tighter and pray a bit harder, and we will go.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"What if there is no happy in school?"

We're working on looking for the positive in school this year, but so far B's response is: "What if I can't find the happy in school? What if there is no happy in school?" I'm not sure if that's better or worse than his response to the first day of school last year: "Mom, what can you do to get me out of this?" :(

This breaks my mom-heart and makes me question if I am doing the right thing. I've considered home schooling. I've thought and prayed about it for two years. I've visited with friends about it. I have not felt right about doing it. I took a job at my son's school where I'm close to him (that's not why I took it, but I felt like it would be a good perk). I'm confident he has a good teacher and he is in a good school, but as his mom I wonder if that's good enough for him.

Right now we'll keep loving and encouraging him at home and in school. We'll give him opportunities to be exactly who God made him to be, and we'll encourage him to be his best everywhere. And we'll keep praying and parenting as best as we can. Even when the answers don't come easy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

40-40-40 Challenge

Forty days from today is the first day of my 40th birthday trip. The last day of that trip is my 40th birthday (which just happens to be on the 40th day of the year). Last fall I got back into running and really enjoyed it. I even ran a PR in a 5K race (shattered a PR actually, by almost 3 minutes)! However, the excitement of that accomplishment has abandoned me...along with the warm temps and sunny evenings. I need some motivation and a reason to get excited again, so I came up with a personal 40-40-40 Challenge. 40 miles in the 40 days before my 40th birthday (trip). I'm going to reward myself with a great week away with my family. And no running at all that week. (Although statistics show that an average guest walks up to 7 miles a day while at Disneyland, so add that to the distance we'll walk to and from the hotel, and we just might hit 40 miles of walking in those 5 days!) Running friends (or non-running friends who want to become running friends), feel free to join me for any of my 40 miles. Ready, set, go!
Now THAT'S some motivation!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Observations from Uganda

in no particular order...some I may go into in more detail at a later time, others I will not. If you are wondering about something, ask me.

Bicycles and "boda bodas" (motor cycle taxis) act as pick ups. (I witnessed one loaded up with 6 long benches and another with a wooden box strapped on the back carrying at least 4 live, unhappy goats.)

Women almost always ride boda bodas side saddle...and often without holding on to anything but the bag or package on their lap.

Only the most major roads are paved.

Speed bumps are almost the only form of traffic control...they are probably as prevalent as cattle...and there are a lot of cattle in Uganda.

People don't wear deodorant.

All furniture is locally crafted, sturdy, and beautiful.

The dirt is red.

Kampala - the capitol city of 5 million - is largely without plumbing or electricity.

A bus licensed for 9 people can hold many, many more. (And remember, none of them are wearing deodorant.)

Huge, heavy loads are carried on women's heads.

Brooms, hoes, machetes, etc are used with very short handles necessitating that everyone bend over at the waist to sweep, cut grass, etc.

Everyone has neck and back pain.

People walk everywhere.

They drive on the left. If one car is passing another and a third approaches, they often fit all three across on the road.

Laundry is hung out on clothes lines...or bushes, fences, front yards, etc.

Groups of men on motorcycles are not gangs. They are boda boda drivers waiting for fares.

It's more expensive to ride a boda boda than a bus.

Toilets are rare, toilet seats rarer.

Cows (and goats and chickens) wander everywhere. Through front yards...busy streets...everywhere.

The current exchange rate is 2300 Ugandan shillings to one US dollar.

Almost everyone has cell phones. Airtime costs one Ugandan shilling per second.

Plants we have as house plants grow wild in Uganda.

Public transportation mini buses all have spiritual messages like "Jesus Saves" "Praise Allah" "God's Will" etc on front and back windows.

All major Kampala roads end up at one roundabout.

Most mannequins in dress shops are cheap plastic, fair skinned, and have hoops added around the middle to make the hips wider.

There are cell phone shops and paint stores in every little town or village.

Laundry and cooking, even at the retreat center where we stayed in Fort Portal, is done over a fire.

There is so, so much more. I've only scratched the surface. I'm forgetting so much of it already.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The music continues

Every morning before leaving for our various jobs, the group ate breakfast together followed by a few words from our group leader and a couple songs sung together as a group. The songs were simple choruses, most I had heard before, and probably not paid much attention. There is nothing like context to make something ordinary stand out in a way that it never has before. I know I listened and really heard the words more on those mornings, accompanied by one soft acoustic guitar than I had before, even at large conferences with professional light and sound and 3000+ other voices. It was truly meaningful. But when I got home it became even more meaningful. The Sunday after I arrived home, a college music group was visiting and leading songs that morning. I'm not usually a big fan of those kind of groups. They seem a little cheesy and way too in-your-face happy, especially early in the morning. They began leading music and I looked over at my husband and said, "We sang this in Africa." That happened with at least 3 songs in the first minutes of the service. I had left Africa, but it had not left me. By the time the group began Chris Tomlin's Our God is Greater, I had tears rolling down my cheeks and I had lifted my hands up in awe. Every week (with maybe one exception) for 6 weeks after I returned, that song was sung on Sunday morning. It has become my Africa song...the song that takes my heart back there.
"And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what can stand against."
In many ways, the people of Africa have a lot that is against them, but God is for them and God is with them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"World Traveller"

One of the items I've saved to stash away in a box or book of trip mementos is a boarding stub from one of my British Air flights. Under my name, where the frequent flier number would have been (if I had been a frequently flier), was instead printed "World Traveller."

Jennifer Reisig
World Traveller

By then I was. 3 continents in 3 days. 20 hours in the air. We skimmed above Lake Victoria while I nervously glanced out the window searching for land. "No worries. I just saw shrubs," my seat-mate reassured, and moments later we were on the ground in Entebbe. Two images will forever be locked in my mind as Africa's first impression: 1) Two women with large bundles on their heads, walking along a hill-top road just beyond the airport runway fence. They seemed not to notice or care about the jumbo jet taxiing nearby. 2) An awning-covered staircase rolled up to the door of that jumbo jet, whose purpose was to lead us straight onto the tarmac, bridging the gap from one world to another.

I had arrived with few preconceived notions of what the next 13 days in Africa would bring. I was ready.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Everything a girl needs

I opened a piece of mail just now that had been laying on the counter. It was really just junk mail, so I'm not sure why I even opened it. It was from a tween magazine my daughter has received in the past through gift subscriptions. It's not a bad company, and she has enjoyed the magazine. This correspondence was an attempt to get me to renew her subscription (sorry, that's the grandparent's job if they choose to do so). One line in the letter jumped out at me as was intended. It was in bold, set apart from the other text, indented, and even used my daughter's name.
It's everything Faith needs to enjoy being a girl...
as you help prepare her for her teen years and beyond.
 Wow. I thought it took love and dedication and hard work. I thought it took teachers and friends and other caring adults. I thought it took guidance and prayer. I thought it took time and more time and even more time invested in her. But I guess all it takes is the right magazine. Thanks, American Girl, you just freed up a lot of my time...

Africa music

I called one of my friends a few days after I'd been asked to join the trip to Uganda. I told her about my opportunity and that I had no idea if I should go or not. She had no advice, no words of caution, she simply said, "I already know the first two songs I'm putting on your playlist."

Monday, 5/23/11, 5:51am local time, 35,000 feet above Africa
Music seems to have played a huge role in this trip already. I downloaded 40+ songs in preparation for the trip, Scott added more, and friends gave me Africa playlists. I received one playlist a week prior to departure, so I'd listened to it many times before leaving. In the middle of the 9 hour Dallas to London flight, I listened to the mix again and heard a line I hadn't noticed before. Straight No Chaser, covering Toto's Africa, sang, "she's coming in 12:30 flight." A quick glance at my boarding pass confirmed that we were indeed scheduled to arrive at 12:30. Then, listening to another friend's mix, I heard these amazing lyrics,
"When I arrived in my old set of clothes,
I was half a world away from home...
Darlin' do not fear what you don't really know
'cause it won't last...worries will pass,
Your troubles won't stand a chance."
I believe these are timely reminders of God's hand in every aspect of this trip, even the little things.
Another reminder happened right at the beginning of the trip early yesterday (or was it the day before? Hard to keep track of the day/time when jumping multiple time zones). Our group of 22 arrived at DIA much earlier than necessary. We learned our original flight was delayed, which would have caused a missed connection in Dallas, but instead all 22 of us were bumped together to an earlier flight to Dallas, making that a comfortable connection.
This current flight has had my nerves on edge with turbulence all night. The music of Rich Mullins and Chris Tomlin has helped, particularly the songs about following God no matter the cost. (I have been skipping any song with reference to being ready to die though...wheels not on the ground yet!)
One final thing I've noticed. My iPod doesn't usually keep a charge long, 24 hours at the most, even when off. After almost 48 hours and probably 10 hours of listening time, my battery still has half a charge.
Thank you, God, for reminders of your presence even in the little details.
After only an hour of sleep here and there, I am praying for wakefulness for today as we drive across Uganda followed by a restful night.