Saturday, February 26, 2011


Do you ever think about falling flat on your face? Or perhaps I should ask if you have ever fallen flat on your face? Just thinking about it is stressful enough...aargh.

Robert C. Gallagher said, "Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have and should have."

Some personal notes here:

Making a career of the military wasn't so much a difficult decision for Michael and me; the difficult part was the naysayers trying to dissuade us. 'Michael, Vasca and the kids will be 'camp followers'...really? Not exactly a vote of confidence.

Our first assignment was in Virginia; Michael was given command of a stevedore unit of several hundred men...imagine coming out of the National Guard into that. Even more shocking was the fact the unit was in 'a secret place'. M could've fallen flat on his face...but...he didn't. He did his best and that was good.

What about me and my little men? We arrived in Virginia on a Saturday, were in worship Sunday and didn't know a soul. A couple of newlyweds invited us out to look at their quarters on post and we accepted. She said, "I never dreamed you would"...they remain some of our closest friends.

We were assigned the last set of quarters on post because of M's assignment; he flew out three days later to an undisclosed destination for an unknown period of time. Ouch, the boys and I were left w/nothing but 5 army cots and matching linens. Our household goods were delayed somewhere in the U.S. The boys and I could've fallen flat on our faces...but...we didn't. We did our best and that was good.

Next up was Greece...we'd never flown and there we were; four little guys w/two rather inexperienced parents. Our first Sunday there? We hired a taxi, rode from the mountains past Athens to the seaside for worship, bummed a ride home. We did our best and that was good.

Many more places to test our grit...and it wasn't over by a long shot.

China was something that ordinarily one doesn't think about ~ that's the way we were. Until? God called and we answered...we could've fallen flat on our faces...but...we didn't. We did our best and that was good.

Wherever we've lived things/people have been many differences and it was most important that we adapt, adjust...flex out minds/attitudes. And, this is important, not get out of joint because they do things differently...surprisingly, we don't have a corner on the 'this is the way we do things' department.

Believe me, I've fallen on my face lots of times...but I got up and kept going...'cause I had to.
But here's a thought...even if I fall flat on my face, I'm still moving forward, right?

Thank you, Father for always being there, for always holding my hand.
Balanced and Unafraid...

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Well, here we are at the end of yet another month...and...what in the world is going on? A biggie is that the entire world seems to be in a state of upheaval. Our country is by no means immune...all you need to do is watch/read the news. Are you having anxiety pangs yet...stressed to your max?

I like Dr. Seuss; he's practical and makes good points, such as..."Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.". I'm thinking it's up to me to do what I can, do my best to help things get better. What I do may seem insignificant...still, I try. Little things like writing letters to the White House...okay, they're probably never read/looked at...after all, that's a busy place. Still? I do it.

I care an 'awful lot' about what's going on in my corner of the world, don't you? Life doesn't always go the way I think it's supposed to...but...ah, that's life.

All of us have different ideas, different ways. Friedrich Nietzche summed it this way..."As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." In the physical world that may be true.

It's commonplace to hear 'it's either my way or the highway'; that phrase is used in many ways...politics, religions, marriages, offices, meetings, name it and that phrase pops up. Rather like spoiled children, don't you think? In unions...walkout...strike. politics? Elected officials walking out...even churches divide over what is the right way, the only way.

Changing one small word, here it is in my nutshell..."Unless someone like me cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Dr. Seuss wrote for children...and the greatest of all, Jesus, taught we should be like children...right?

Someone like you...Someone like me...we need to care a whole awful lot.
Balanced and Unafraid...

Monday, February 21, 2011


Have you ever been bullied? Or, have you ever been a bully? You read/watch/hear some of the 'bullying' stories about school kids and these days we watch as people who have been 'bullied' by their governments/leaders have risen up and demanded change. No one should be bullied happens.

My daddy was a roughneck, driller then drilling superintendent; we moved around...lived in some good places...lived in some not so nice places. My junior year in high school, we lived in a not so nice burg; rode the school bus a long way to school and I'm here to tell you, it was anything but a joy ride!

We had a couple of bullies on board every trip and these were none other than two girls...aha...named Poogie and Jo Anne (she had bright red hair). They were built like a couple of wrestlers and had all the trimmings. The entire bus was held captive for a round trip each school day...that was really awful...I prayed for the wings of an eagle...or vanishing creme!

Shame I didn't know what Christopher Robin told Pooh, "There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." That would have helped me in those days...I guess I was like Chicken Little.

Jesus teaches us to love everyone, even our enemies...I wonder about bullies...

Robert Fulghum said, "Play fair. Don't hit people. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody." (Reminds me of what I used to say to our four little boys)

Do you find it difficult to 'hit' people? Hmm...actually there are subtle ways you know; words, looks, actions...some of us are experts.

It isn't difficult to play fair, or is it? Sneak attack when no one's watching; or perhaps it's more effective if there is an audience...more intimidating. All depends on how we play the game.

Is it easy to say, "I'm sorry" when I've hurt someone? I'm thinkin' it probably depends on my attitude.

I'm told that practice makes, here I go...playing fair, not hitting people and saying 'I'm sorry' when I hurt someone. Practice, practice, practice while trying to be more like Him.
Balanced and Unafraid...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


What in the world is going on? Trouble...trouble...trouble!

Like most, I watched much of what took place in Egypt. Cairo and Alexandria seemed to be the focal points. You ever been there? I 1970 I had an unexpected stopover at their International airport. Even then it was frightening.

Michael was Port Commander of a U.S. base in Eritrea (Ethiopia) and he flew me over for a rehab stay of six weeks. Shortly before I was to leave, one of Michael's sergeant's was stopped on the road and murdered for no apparent reason...they didn't even take the government dispatches or any of his personal was a dangerous place but thankfully I was allowed to fly in...and what an experience I had.

We were honored to be in the presence of the Emperor, Haile Selassie; this was before the crown was overthrown. His grandson was a friend of Michael's and we'd been with him on several occasions...a very nice gentleman.

Unfortunately, he & I were on the same plane when I flew home...the Egyptians were angry w/the an insult to him they ordered us to leave the plane so they could 'disinfect' it. Soldiers w/machine guns lined the runway and everywhere else...we were told to take our possessions and go to the terminal for several minutes.

Inside, I headed for the restrooms and on a long stairway I ran headlong into the Emperor's grandson and all his guards...not a good situation for me. I didn't mean to be rude but I did cut his conversation short; not wise to hang around with all that ammunition...aargh.

When the coup took place, the grandson was the first to lose his head...followed by all the families...sad, sad. Troubles? Oh yeah...very serious troubles.

I think it was Robert Fulghum who said, "If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience."

I can watch the worrisome news...and...I am very concerned about it; but I've no control over it. I can't allow it to make me ill...I cannot allow it to take over my life.

It's of paramount importance that I always, always recognize that God is in charge one's God.

Dr. Seuss said,
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

No need to 'buy protection'...and I sure don't need a bat...why should I when I already have the best protection ever. God sent His Spirit to guide me...God is my steering wheel and my driver. Trusting Him enables me to keep my head...where it belongs...with HIM.

Troubles? I don't got no troubles, how 'bout you? Balanced and Unafraid....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


At best, sleep is difficult for me but there must be some things that simply know when to strike up the band, so to speak. Such as??? Our close ties to China; we try not to make that our 24/7 topic of each day...but...BUT.

Since China has been celebrating their New Year, I've heard from 'my favorite' ~ my special girl...Pearl. Orlando Bloom said, "People come into your life and people leave just have to trust that life has a road mapped out for you."

Ta-Dah...enter Pearl... Pearl was enlisted as 'my helper'...and our Girl Friday in Qingdao. She had good English skills and we became wonderful friends.

One day she said she wanted to ask me a hard question; I said I'd try to answer...'H ow do you feel about couples living together when they aren't married'?

Mmm...I told her to remember that she asked me ~ I didn't stick my nose in. Okay...I said I didn't personally think it was wise and I didn't think the one I call Father would approve. She said, "I knew that's what you'd say." She had a boyfriend, Yizhu...a Korean businessman about her age.

Fast December 2004, Michael and I returned to the U.S....Pearl and Yizhu were on again, off again. On a return trip to Qingdao, Pearl was immersed in our bathtub. Piece of cake!

Time passed and Pearl wrote that she was expecting Yizhu's child and they were to be married...these things are prevalent there as well as everywhere else. The big hang-up in this scenario was that Yizhu was/is an alcoholic and also a serious diabetic which he doesn't manage...sad.

They had two weddings...both traditional. Korean and Chinese. Her family farms in a small village out of Qingdao. Yizhu's family lives in South Korea.
I'm including two e-mails I've received from Pearl this month.

"Hi: it is snowing heavely here. we are all very exicted about that. I am so agree with little things could occupy the biggest
part of those hearts. (I sent her my post about Little Things)...

the letters you wrote to me, the cross you gave to me, :behavor yourself' michael told me so before he left China...those little things leads me to God which occupy the biggest part of my heart now...i am trying to do these little things to people around me, share what i have,,although I am so poor now. have a good day. have no idea how much i missed u. pearl."

I answered quickly and also attached some of our new family pictures: quick reply from her:

"hi: dear vasca and michael, i have to say you too both look great in your new year clothes...especial, vasca, you look fabulous in must be on a diet or something, your face is shining.

I read your letter a couples of times, feel you are talking to me again and again, which makes my day. i am getting ready to go outside and challenge myself again. if things are not going well here, maybe I will go to korea to see how much I can do there, due we don't have much money left in our bank and yizhu's business is not doing well.

i know what i need and who could satisfy me,
that is god and i should listen to you at the very bigining.
i don't have internet at home...
but i could check it somewhere else...
so teach me...vasca, how to be happie
and how to raise my smart Olivia well. love pearl"

So here we have my heart...and Pearl's heart...we came into each other's lives, we remain there because it's meant to be...because? It's part of a plan...The plan.

Andre Gide wrote...
"Man cannot discover new oceans
unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."

Wonderful I thank you for giving me
the opportunity and the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Balanced and unafraid? Progressing...

Friday, February 11, 2011


Life goes along very smoothly, at times; then again it's full of bumps, causing great distress. Time passes so quickly...unless I'm waiting for something. My life, my time...and what in the world have I done with it...what in the world am I doing with it...what in the world am I going to do with it? Good you ever think about your life...your time?

I waste an inordinate amount of time, mainly on the computer; but at the same time, I'm learning so much. I think I was rather stagnant for too long and now I'm thirsty to listen, read and sort things out.

Today is Michael's birthday; he and I are reflecting on our lives together...what we've done with our time and the opportunities that have come our way. I've reflected on the impact he's had on my life, on my time. He has a wonderful mind...a spiritual thinker...a man of God. Hey, Michael was an Archangel of God, right? M's mother chose a good name for her firstborn.

This morning I told him that until several years ago, I was light years behind him in spiritual maturity...but I feel that I've caught up and walking beside him. He laughed and said he thinks I may be ahead of him...that's complimentary but I doubt it's true.

"Keep your mind open to change at all times. Welcome it. Court it. It is only by examining and re-examining your opinions and ideas that you can progress."...Dale Carnegie

Our minds are open...we read from more than one translation of the Bible...we read books from many different authors (even some not on the 'approved' list). We examine their writings...we re-examine everything we we can progress.

This openness has assisted us in working in foreign countries; in 'foreign' states in our own country. We spent seven years in 'the Holy Land' of Wisconsin...a German farming community of Roman Catholics...we were foreigners. Two years in Germany? Two years in China? Living water and shining His light kept up on an even keel...and He was well received.

Albert Schweitzer said, "Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them."

Being open...Imparting...Accepting! Good plan, what do you think?

Balanced and Unafraid...

Saturday, February 5, 2011


The biggest holiday in China is the Chinese New Year; beginning 3 Feb and ending 27 Feb. 230 million people are expected to travel during this time. For many this will be their only visit home during the year. This is a very BIG time for the Chinese...very big.

Yesterday I made a Smilebox Chinese greeting card ~ loaded it w/pics of our family (each one w/a different wish for their year). First inclination was to just send it to those we've kept in touch with but something nudged me to try touching those that we'd lost touch with.

I sent one to a former student and this morning I received the nicest response from Skeen...odd name? In 2002/2003 she was one of my students in Changsha...a sophomore university student. She was a very good writer w/absolutely no sense of self worth. She and I sort of 'took' to each other and she blossomed; a joy to watch.

She graduated and moved to another 'big city' to make her fortune. most of the millions of grads found, there was and still is a vast army of the unemployed. In a later post I plan to write about this new society, termed..."the ant people" or the "ant colony"; meaning the graduates...the Chinese jobless.

Skeen washed dishes, you name it...she tried it & she was depressed. I hadn't heard from her in several years...until I sent the Chinese greeting.

Read her reply: "happy chinese new year to you big family. i am glad to receive your letter, and very happy to know the news of you and your family. although we have a long time no see each other, but i very miss you.

leaving school is more than six years, and at a long period, i found a job and quit, and found again, now i got a job for four year in a privte company in my home town.

that job is not connect with the english any, but i love english very much, because i know you, you are the best teacher i have met, as a friend, a kindly relation, still now i can remember of your smile. really, i miss you.

in the end, attachment i with a snowman take a photo in a cold day which i wear the work clothes in work place, hope you like it. best wish skeen

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it."

My 92 yr old mother asked why I had to go so China? I reminded her I'd always dreamed of making a difference. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead...but it was most important that I do matter how insignificant...but I did a little, that's what's important...I did something.

Oh Father, thank You for making such a significant difference in my life.

Balanced and unafraid...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Ready or not, it's Super Bowl time. Would you like to see some football? Who will take home the trophy...braggin' rights...and a very large sum of money? The most respected prognosticator says it will be 'the Steelers'...bad news for the Cheeseheads aka Green Bay Packers.

Enough to make their fans sit up and take notice, don't you imagine?

Some unknown person said "It's no good to sit up and take notice if we just keep on sitting." Okay, the weather has been fierce...deep snow...lots of ice...delayed flights...aggravated people; just wonderin' what would happen if no fans showed up? Well, no doubt the teams would have to go ahead and play...someone has to claim the trophy and take home all that cash.

That's not gonna' happen...the stadium will be full, come more snow or the postman, you know? Doesn't matter. Nothing will stand in the way; especially w/Jerry 'Texas Big Entertainment Mogul' Jones in charge.

Honestly, there is so much entertainment out there...and, after all, we've just 24 hours in each day...have lots of stuff to pack in. 'Here comes Johnny (Carson)' once said, "People will pay more to be entertained than educated." May be an exaggeration but I admit we've no shortage of name it, we have it. If we don't have it, we'll get it. Please don't misunderstand, I love being entertained...too much.

But still...what if the performers had no spectators...what if no one showed. Would the show go on? Hmm.

Writing about the Super Bowl caused me to think a lot about my Father. I know, I know...God is not in the entertainment business; however...He is in the highest business imaginable (matter of fact, one might even need oxygen)...ergo, I'm making many major changes!

As in, "I'm outta' my seat and ready to perform" 'bout you?

Balanced and Unafraid...