Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Charm

On the tree lot, we have cuttings from the bottoms of sold trees.   We make some of the branches into wreaths.  The rest we pile up and away from the sale’s tent.  Some people come by and ask for our debris to make their own wreaths, garland, and crafts; some of them never purchased a tree from us.
A couple days ago, an elderly man pulled up near our pile.  He barely tumbled out of his car using a cane.  All hunched over, he wobbled to the pine branches.  I observed his actions noticing he wanted some of our limbs.  Being busy with a customer, pointing towards our junk pile, I motioned and summoned my spouse to that area.  The physically slow man had one limb in hand and his cane in the other by time my hubby arrived.  Realizing the goal, my husband asked how much the man wanted and helped him load his trunk faster as well as with our fresher cuts.  The ‘depression era’ guy reached in his pocket handing his helper three quarters.
That same day, my son-in-law tried to sell a very old woman a $15 table top tree.  The lady bargained with him for twenty or so minutes budging $1 per offer.  Stalemated at $13 versus $10, she left promising to be back if other lots in the area rejected her bidding style.  Exhausted from being kind, the young man told us his tale. 
“You should have just given her the tree for her amount,” His wife declared.
“Out of goodwill!” I added.
“No one leaves without a tree!”  My hubby added.
Hours later, as promised, the elderly soul returned.  “What will it take to make you happy and get a tree in your house?”  The young man asked that soul.
“I have $10 to spend!”
“Sold!” He ended the banter faster.
The lady stood asking the teenager, who worked sawing fresh trunk cuts and pruning her tree’s bottom, question after question.  She stood for a good time making her $10 change and conversation with her cashier, my daughter.  Returning to my son-in-law, she asked about next year and her tree possibilities for that occasion. 
My husband and I took our dinner break while the old woman was there the second time.  Our relative filled us in on the outcome, “She wanted to know the name of the lot.  That old lady reminded me that she came back as promised.  She seemed happy with her tree selection, FINALLY!”  He felt a bit exasperated by that ordeal or sale.
As the three souls involved with that elderly soul retold their adventures with her during that same conversation, my explanation and exclamation occurred, “Awe!  She’s lonesome.  That old lady came for conversation and interaction- not just a tree!”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” My daughter declared.  “She’s just a lonely soul looking for someone to talk to…”
A couple days later, in the pouring rain during a windy spell, a group of four people drove from two towns away to visit our lot.  They wanted a small tree due to their budget.  We had a sale going on with trees from our showroom drastically reduced to make way for more of them from our back piles.  The group went from a six foot to a nine foot with a big enough reduction in price that they could, also, afford a new tree stand.  As these customers checked out, one of the girls asked about the trimmings from her tree and who owned them.
“You can have as much as you like.  In fact, if I give you a big garbage bag, will you fill it taking a bunch of our fresh, tree trash away?”
They were excited!  As they filled the bag to the brim, they talked about crafting and making money off our clippings.  “I hope you earn the cost of that tree back with your crafts.  Merry Christmas!”  My voice chimed in with a smile as they left.
I know the tree lot down the street is nearly sold out.  We aren’t.  However, at least, we haven’t sold out to commercialism and greed- either.  My husband has three quarters in his pocket, a lady has a table top tree in her home, and I have this story to prove it!  Remember this holiday is about giving more than it is about receiving.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013


As a teenager, my mother trusted me to decorate with her at the holidays.  In fact, as she sprayed fake snow on our Florida, picture windows- she invited me to take tempera paint to finish the scenes.  Some of the stories were painted on plywood boards.  The pictures were things such as: a Nativity, reindeer, Santa, Frosty, or whatever came to mind with a seasonal backdrop. One year, before leaving out of state to find snow, I painted a candle stick with a mouse sleeping in its Victorian holder.  Near the handle, I wrote the phrase, “Not even a mouse!”
We lived in the Sunshine State of Florida on what I thought was the edge of the Everglades. It was swampy behind us.  One time, a huge poodle ambled out of the sparse but piney forest into our yard.  Before he got in range, my eyes swore they saw a black bear.  Many times, we met up with black runners and other snakes.  Lizards were plentiful as well as field mice.  We, also, had domestic animals in our lives including bunnies and a dog.
While we were out of town hunting snow, which we found- our pets had a person coming in to feed and water them.  Upon arriving home, we entered our foyer to something scurrying past.  Turning on more lights, the confusion made the rodent race in circles long enough to be identified.
Jumping on a kitchen chair, I wailed, “Mouse!”
I’m guessing that he was stirring because it was New Year’s Eve, or we were gone too long so he needed to come out of hiding to eat.  Either way, my mother recommended I choose my window illustrations more carefully in the future, “I wouldn’t mind coming home to Santa but this mouse has got to go!”
Dad obliged. I’d like to tell you he did it nicely but mouse traps were involved!
The moral of my story is:  “Be careful how you depict or imagine your holidays or any days because you might find yourself up on a chair screaming for help!”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An education for Ireen in Malawi

Julie’s last blog, here, tells the education tale of COTN and their efforts in Africa:

Due to my economic support, Ireen   has her personal needs met including that she receives a formal education.  She learns many subjects including how to read; I gave her a copy of the book my niece Thai and mom co-wrote.  

 ‘Thai Food for Thought’ is, also, teaching children halfway around the world how to survive in Florida.  WINK!

We visited the COTN orphans while on our faith-based soccer mission. There are two housing projects for the orphans.

 The young children entertained us at their facility.

The older kids enjoyed giving their presentation as much as we enjoyed watching it.

COTN provides an education system. Ireen goes to their school. Arriving at a good time of year, we got to see the very first graduation from COTN’s school system.

The kids danced their way out of the system excited to face their futures.

Before we left, we shopped at their open air markets and through their widow’s store.  The crafts were gorgeous. 

You can buy their products through this COTN affiliate.

The Widows Craft Sale

I had many underprivileged children for escorts while in Malawi.

I sponsor Ireene. You too can sponsor a child’s personal needs and education, too.

Go through Children of the Nations @

COTN official site LINK

I went to help run a COTN sponsored soccer camp.

I left with many memories sweeter than the raw sugar cane the village in Malawi raised- and shared with us.

Goodbye to the land and its people of Malawi, Africa until I land there, again!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Julie connects with Ireen in 2013

It had been five years since I last saw my sponsored child, Ireen, and her remote, African village.
Upon seeing her two things came to mind.  
 She was beautiful.  
 She grew up including much much taller. 
In fact, she was large enough to be a formidable goalie for her village’s team.

On the first soccer day, I tried to make sure some of the donated sports apparel went to my child.  To my amazement, Ireen only wore one sock and no shoes. 
She played like a champion in spite of her lack of gear.

Like this girl, Ireen's regular day consisted of an early morning call to go fetch water and carry it home and then off to school that young lady went.

She’d moved to her aunt’s home; my translator didn’t elaborate on this family decision. 
 I was just glad to see she was thriving.

Due to her five years in the education system, Ireen appeared to understand me.  She’d answer in short phrases but mostly yes or no.  She amazed me.  In the same five years, I  learned only key words such as greetings in her language.

I did some chores with the women of her family.   
We made a goat stew one day.  
 They still had the desire to share their meager staples with me and my interpreter.

The villagers still had the spirit to dance and sing.  
 In fact, we played a song and dance game.   
The theme of that reverie was about forgiving.

Near the end of our stay, we had quiet time with our sponsored children.  I gave Ireen a special gift that day.  My 5 year old niece, Thai, wrote a picture book with my mom’s help; my young relative wanted the other girl to have a copy. 
Come on BUY to get your copy of Thai's book

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Out of Africa

Julie is home with stories of running a charity soccer camp and her other interactions while on a mission to Africa.

While dribbling the ball and during the game,

some kids wore shoes without socks...

There were not enough soccer clothes and shoes donated;

some of the players wore only socks or no footwear.

Talk about sportsmanship,

even without proper gear, they came ready to play.

The girl that I sponsor, Ireen, played goalie

with one sock only on her feet.

The local animals came on the field

chasing after the players and soccer ball.

The final game of soccer camp

went into overtime and then penalty kicks.

Whether your village wins or loses,

you gotta dance.

I would like to invite you to be a part of my support team through prayerfully and financially supporting this effort. I need to raise $3,000 to cover my trip expenses. There are two ways you can help me reach this financial goal. The first is by donating either online at: Julie's fund or by check made payable to Children of the Nations, with my personal fundraising code on the check memo line (234471). Checks should be sent to: COTN-Venture Program, PO Box 3970, Silverdale, WA 98383. All investments in this ministry are tax-deductible.

By the way, someone will win a T-Shirt that has a picture of the continent on it as well as the following text.

“The Warm Heart of Africa”

Come on buy to learn more at MAIN AUTHOR SITE & CONTEST DATA 

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Find out more about books I am a part of including - but not limited to- The Evans Terrace Girls and the S.H.E. Anthology. From that anthology, most of the proceeds help children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre through mental health agencies (New Hope for Kids) that deal with PTSD.

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