Saturday, October 3, 2015

Can I Really call myself a Runner?!

Hello All,
As many of you know, we got back from Kenya last summer after being there for 3 1/2 years.  Not a long time for some, but a really long time for others.  I have to say, I felt a bit lost while trying to transition back into life in the states.  It is almost too easy to live here.  That brings a lot of emotions, including guilt.  But, during that time, I knew I needed some way to work out as in every cross country move we do, I gain 10 lbs automatically!  So, I started running.  Not far, only 3 miles, but I did it every day.  The dog came with me and I was really starting to enjoy it.  Three miles turned into 3.5.  And every day, I would go down and back (although Doodle the dog would cheat and wait for me at the known turn around spots)!  I did this through the winter and my family thought I was crazy.  I did cut if off though at -10 degrees F!  Running in the dark and the snow was really a neat experience (when it was finished).
When March came, 2 things happened: 1.  I got a newsletter from Oasis for Orphans ( that asked for runners for their annual Chicago Marathon fundraiser, and 2.  We acquired another dog that would go the distance.  Seeing that call for runners, I got an inkling in my head that I should do this.  I told Jim that I had a thought in the back of my head and he got a bit worried.  By the end of the week I had committed to it.  I had never run more than 4 miles in my life.  A marathon is 26.2.  How was this going to happen?  I had no idea, I just knew I could not bear the thought of the Oasis team leaving the start gate without me.
It is amazing to me how slowly, slowly (pole, pole) God has enabled me to do this.  He worked on my heart and then helped me work on my body.  I know it is not by my strength but by Him who strengthens me that I am able to do this.  It seemed like an impossible task just 6 short months ago, but now it doesn't scare me (too much).  There have been quite a few "impossibilities" that Jim and I have encountered over the years.  But, we have gotten through them all and not just gotten through but found the joy!  That is the amazing part to me.  God not only leads you there but lets you have joy in the midst of it all.  It is not all that way, but usually, when you look back at something, you see the joyful parts and not the hard times (there were many of those too).  This journey has not been easy all the time but it has been joyful most of the time (that first 13 mile run was NOT filled with joy between miles 12 and 13)!  John 16:24 says:
"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."
He says right there that He wants you to have the joy.  Love that part! 
The race (I use that term loosely as I go slow) is next Sunday the 11th.  If you have a minute, would you pray for me that I would complete it in under the 6hr 30 minute max time and that I would find the joy in it and also that I would not break - I am 51 after all!
I was telling a friend this week about this journey and the fact that I am not a runner.  She said I think you can now safely say that you are a runner (I did a 20 mile run 2 weeks ago).  That was an 'ah ha' moment for me!  I can say that I am a runner?  Wow!  Never thought that would be a category that I would fall into.
I am so grateful to have been able to run for the last year.  I am also grateful to the people that have supported me.  And, I am also grateful to a God who gives me the strength and the joy in it all!
Remember that when you face something that seems utterly impossible, He is there to help you through it all and give you joy.
In His Hands,

Jullie T

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Run 18 Miles! Who does that?

Hello All,
  I have hit a mile stone (no pun intended) with the marathon training.  I did 18 miles this morning.  I say that and still can't believe it.  It was tough towards the end but not unbearable.  I only survive this and actually am finding the joy in it through the grace of God!  Only one more long training run to do (20 miles in 2 weeks time) and then the big day (Oct 11). A friend asked me about it a few weeks ago and I said it was the craziest thing I have ever done!  He commented that if that is the craziest thing, then he would be sure never to attempt it!  I don't know, I think my other adventures in life have been a bit more sane:  

  • Moving to Italy when we had a one year old and 2 houses, 2 dogs and 2 horses,
  • Jumping off a bridge in New Zealand with a rope around my ankles,
  • Riding a horse over huge jumps through the countryside,
  • Heading off for 3 weeks into the Colorado wilderness with a bunch of strangers
  • Sailing a boat from Bermuda to the Jersey shore with some crazy sailors,
  • Moving to Germany with 2 kids and 2 houses to sell and 2 horses to find homes for,
  • Moving to Kenya with the family to work the hardest we ever have!
These things don't sound as hard as running 26.2 miles! If you would like to donate towards my running and Oasis for Orphans, you can link to my donate page here.  Just search by my name.  Please keep praying that no injuries will come and that I continue to find the joy!

Me in Mackinaw City in a moment of peace

     We have been here in our home for over a year now.  It is really nice living here.  We love this house and the ease of living!  When I step into the shower everyday, there is hot and cold water that runs clear!  We now have a refrigerator that has ice (it was broken for about 6 months and it never dawned on us to get it fixed).  I have a kitchen that I absolutely love to cook in and it has a dishwasher.  We have cars that we don't have to spend a gazillion dollars on in repairs due to being shaken apart.  But, all the luxury aside, it is nice to be here and near family.  We spent a great day yesterday with Jim's parents just visiting.  Love that we can do that.

   Trevor had a great summer working at Spring Hill camps near here.  He worked the hardest he ever had.  We didn't see him much as they kept him to "be on call," but it was good to see him on and off.  He is back up at Mich Tech now continuing in Computer Systems and Network Admin.  He is really enjoying it and is living in an apartment where he can test his skills at living on about $10/day for food!  He will do great!

Trevor playing one of his favorite games with a cousin

    Timothy started in 9th grade at the local school (yep, that's right, no more homeschooling at least for now with him and Sallie).  He is in the band playing a Mellow (short for Mellow phone).  He is enjoying it and is thinking about getting into the political arena (student counsel).  

   Sallie started in the 6th grade at the local school too.  She got to ride a bus for the first time in her life!   She has always been fascinated by the bus - especially the doors.  Now that she has done it for 3 days, I think the excitement has worn off!  Only 177 to go!  She and I have been horse shopping this summer to find something that she can ride.  It has been an extreme challenge and we have just about given up.  Now we have changed our focus and are looking for just a safe trail mount.  Hopefully, something will come along so that Meeko is not alone all winter.

Sallie discovering "popcorn!"

  Jim and I celebrated our 29th anniversary last Friday (actually, he wasn't here so we are heading out to dinner tonight).  That is another crazy thing to think about that many years.  We really can't be that old!  But, he is the best thing that has happened to me outside of finding how much God loves me!  Hopefully, we will have many more.

     I went to Arizona this summer to visit my mom and help her with some remodeling.  We had a great time and worked hard.  I had to travel through the Chicago airport and really felt like an ant there.  So many people were scurrying to get to where they needed to be!  It was definitely a mass of humanity.  It really made me think of how we can all become so distracted with the "busy."  There are so many things to get done that we loose the why - "To honor Him."

Mark 12:30-32


It is so hard to keep the focus.  When you come across someone who has the joy of the Lord in your day, don't you really know it and can tell?  And the opposite is true, when you come across someone who is bitter and angry with the world, don't you know it?  I ran by someone today on the trail that just seemed angry with the world, what a shame not to enjoy the world he has given us and show that joy to others!

     I am working now too.  With the kids in school I have more time and feel like it was the right fit.  I am working for a friend with his construction company.  I will be doing estimating and other paperwork so that he can hopefully be in the field more.  It should be fun and keep me out of trouble!    

     Jim is still enjoying his job and is glad to have it.  He is in Louisville now for another 2 weeks.  After that, 2 weeks off and back to Louisville (we think).  With this job we are working on the mortgage for the house and after we pay it off, then what??  God has the plan, He just isn't letting us in on it as of yet!

Thanks so much for listening to my rants today.  I haven't written much but is sure is fun to catch up!  Here are a few more fun photos:

2 submariners that met in Kenya standing in Michigan!

The burning of the mobile home across the street (intentional)

Great of the firemen to come and play with us!

Picture I painted for my sister

Up at Lake Huron

Beautiful double rainbow after a big storm in August

Trying to trim Doodle the dog - Can't separate her and all of the hair!

I His Hands,
Jullie T

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fear Free Day

Hello All,
We are well and finally thawing out here in Michigan.  It actually reached 49 degrees here the other day!  You can see grass is some spots on the ground.  The bad part is that now I have to send the boy out to pick up a winter's load of dog poop that has accumulated!   It's good to have kids sometimes!

So, I have made the plunge and am going to run a marathon in October!  I never really wanted to do this and have always thought those people were a bit crazy (and maybe they are), but this one I have a connection with.  I am going to run with the Oasis for Orphans team (see their web site here).  I have to raise $1000 for the team that will all go towards running the orphanages.  It is such a great cause.  Jim and I realized while being in Kenya, that education for kids is so important and so hard to achieve.  Oasis for Orphans is an organization that puts kids with sponsors that provide not only finances but a relationship.  We have seen it in action and really believe in what they are doing.  It will be an honor to be in pain for them!  More on the bumps and bruises that are to come later.

The kids and I do a Co-op on Thursdays.  They are both taking an art class.  I joined in on it too since it looked like fun and has an excellent teacher.  Here is a picture of my first real pastel painting:

It was so much fun to do and I think it turned out OK.

Our new pastor at Crossroads is a great speaker.  A few weeks ago, he spoke about the "Demolition of Fear" using John 14:27-31.  Jesus gives His peace to overcome our fear.  John 14: 27  "peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does.  Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage."  The special peace that he give to us will help us overcome our fears.  Col 3:15 "Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart..... and be thankful."  Jesus' peace comes from being in the presence of the Father.  Fears that we face include:  the unknown, loss, painful memories, challenges, situations that we are unprepared for, physical harm, death.  Being a Christian does not mean that I (or others) don't fear.  We all do.  It is the hope and peace that we have by being in a relationship with the Father that can help us through it!  Here is a great song by Chris Tomlin:  Whom Shall I Fear?

Last week was a big one for Timothy.  He had a Math Counts competition.  They have been preparing since September.  His team came in 2nd and he came in 6th!  They did a great job and he overcame some fears of preforming in front of people!  So proud of him.  He also had a Band Festival competition.  I got to go and chaperone some 60 7th and 8th graders.  We had a great day and their band did great.

Sallie is off this whole weekend to a pony club quiz rally.  She is in Indiana with a group of young ladies and some moms.  She is familiar with these kids but doesn't really know them well, so I am praying that she will have a great time and make some new friends.  So proud of her to step out there and go!

Jim started on a new project with his job this week.  He will be in Detroit at the John D Dingell VA Hospital installing an angiography lab.  If you want to know what that is, here is a link to the wiki page.  He is still enjoying it for the most part.  It is satisfying to him to work with professionals.  This includes his home office.  They seem to know what they have in him and acknowledge him.  That is nice.

Jim got something off of his list first thing this morning (imagine that)!  We have this beautiful stained glass window that my father's wonderful wife Carol made for us many years ago.  It was designed to go into another house that we lived in but when we built this one, we made sure it would fit. We just never got around to installing it.  It turned out great!  

Hope you have a fear free day!  Trust in Him and it will help.  And, you can pray for me as I start training for this run - why am I doing this?  Oh yea, it's for the kids!

In His Hands,
Jullie T

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dog Sleds and Winter fun!

Hello All,
It has been a long time since I have posted a blog - but here I am today.  Life is so normal now that there just doesn't seem to be anything to post about most of the time.  But, God is good and we are "in the routine" of it all loving every bit of it!'

Jim's job is a blessing.  He is working as a project manager for a company that is doing refits of radiological facilities in hospitals.  He is just finishing his 2nd job and will move onto another next week in Detroit.  Most of the time he really enjoys it.  He is working with people that really know what they are doing and when he says that something needs to get done, it gets done!   Amazing!  But the big point is that it is providing for us in a way that we haven't had in almost a decade.  Once we get this house paid off - watch out!   Because at that point there is not much that will hinder us!  Please pray that it continues and that he continues to enjoy it.

The big news here in Michigan has been the cold lately.  It was -22 Fahrenheit yesterday morning (that's -30 for you Celsius people)!  Now that is cold!  I run every morning but I cut it off at about 0.  Here is a picture of me last week when it was about -10 and that was just a bit too cold!

The ponies are surviving, but I am having to break up their water to keep it liquid.  I have a heater in the tub, but it just can't keep up in the frigid cold.  

Sallie has joined a Pony Club.  She actually has ridden about 4 times this winter and gets to ride again tomorrow!  I am jealous!  It is a small group (about 14 girls), but they are very nice and all horse crazy.  There is an adult group of riders called Horse Masters (just a nice term for old lady riders) that I am thinking about joining.  It will let me in on all the cool things that the Pony Club girls are doing!

Sallie on Rio

Another thing she and I have started is trying to get our dog to pull a sled!  We bought a harness and have hooked her up to an old sled that we have.  She will pull going downhill but the flat and uphill are a bit too much.  The next step is to get a real sled so that one of us can stand on it and push to help her out.  Below is a picture of the neighbor's dog (we have hooked him up too)!

Judge learning to pull

Doodle (our dog) behind and Judge (the neighbor's) in front

I have finished my big project of trim and painting in the main part of the house!  It was so good to have that done.  In the pictures below, look at the wood trim where the floor meets the wall - pretty nice huh?

Rounded corners are tough!

I also was able to get some pictures finished that I bought a while ago at the Maasai Market in Nairobi.  If you are on FB you might have seen these, but I just love the way they turned out: 

A few weeks ago, our pastor gave a sermon about how much God loves us.  In John 14:18 it says, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you."  We are all orphans in this life.  We all long to know our creator even if we don't recognize him.  People who don't know the God of the bible, create all sorts of "truths" in order that they have a standard and can "fill the hole" that haunts them.  But really I think it is about letting go of our pride.  To know that we must live by our Father's rules really is an affront to some people.  John 14:21 says, ".... The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him."  It is hard for us to let go and be lead by God, but in doing so, we join him in a relationship that is like no other.  He resides in us (through the holy spirit) and then we can understand what he is talking about.  We are his special people but we don't become special because we keep his commandments.  We keep his commandments because we are special.  Knowing that our family is in a place where God wants us to be is comforting.  John 13:35 says, "Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples - if you have love for one another."  We attempt to follow this rule, but like I said above, we don't follow it to win favor, we follow it because he first loved us!

Timothy turned 14 last month.  It is hard to imagine that that much time has passed!  What a great kid!

We are looking forward to March coming in just a week.  I have always thought about March as spring (that is until I moved to Michigan)!  I have had to change that a bit and now think of it as the last month of winter.  So, about one more month of cold and snow and then we can start to think about riding the trails, and doing outside chores (including planting)! 

I have just recently joined the board of our local AYSO (Soccer) and will be their RC (Regional Commissioner).  I am looking forward to working with this great group of people to make soccer happen here in Osceola County for about 350 kids!  That will eat up a bit of my time I am sure!

Thanks for checking in with us.  We are well and in a place where God is leading.  Hope the same for you!

In His Hands,
Jullie T

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Real Night Before Christmas

Hello All and Merry Christmas!
It is a white (less than 1", but white) Christmas here!  What a wonderful day!  God is good and today is a great day that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We went to the Christmas service at church last night and they played a video called "The Real Night Before Christmas."  The poem in it was outstanding.  You can read it below.  I don't know the author to give him credit, but here is a link to the video itself.  

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock,
The tricky clock tick tocking
Each painfully long minute unlocking
The tumbly, jumbly "can't close your eyes" feeling
What will it be! When will it be!
Oh, the anticipation, the watching the wishing and waiting
To let the wiggles and giggles and Goosebumps go
To find, to see, to finally know
"What will it be?"
"When will it be?"
Oh, the expectation the "what if"s?" the "oh mys!" fairly shaking
Longing for this night's joy all year, that moment of hope so very near
Oh, what would they, could they imagine a gift so great a gift that compelled the whole world to wait!
When a heavenly father gave all mankind his son, the one, - love defined
The magic of Christmas is more brilliant you see than a bag or a box tucked under a tree
The true love of Christmas really began when Holy God became Holy Man.

Love the message of this poem as it says it all.  Have a great Christmas!

In His Hands,
Jullie T

Our little gathering

Trevor with his antique hat!

Doodles doesn't mind being in the middle of things!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Many things to be Thankful for

Hello All,
We have had a great week and have had reasons to be thankful.  Jim is home for 5 nights!  He feels like he is actually getting a break.  We had 27 plates set for Thanksgiving dinner and all traveled here and back safely (with only one adventure on a 2 track road that wasn't even on the map)!  It was good to cook a large turkey (23 lbs) and not have to think about how it was going to fit into the oven. 

We have had snow on the ground for about 90% of this month.  I think we are in for a hard winter, but we are slowly getting prepared.  I say slowly because it has been hard getting the kids to understand that when it is 17 F outside, you must wear hats and coats!  They will go out with only a sweatshirt and complain that they are cold!  I have no sympathy at that point (and do not give up my hat and coat).

We are so thankful for the beauty around us and the provisions from God.  It is almost too easy living here (I shouldn't say that too loud).  The biggest trial I think so far is when the water trough for the horses froze over.  But, I even had a water heater buried in the barn.  So, I stuck that in there and within a day, the ice was gone.

We are thankful that Trevor is home for the break.  He had this whole week off and it is great to see him.  It is even better to see how excited he is (if you know Trevor, this is not jumping up and down excited, but brings a grin to his face) about his major which is Computer Networking and Systems Administration.  He says that school is so far not a big challenge, but we are hoping that next term will bring at least a little stress (what is your first year at school without stress)?  He heads back tomorrow for 3 more weeks.  The temperatures and the snow fall up there are extreme even now.  He says that when Lake Superior freezes over the snow should just about stop, but the temperatures will plummet.  I am sending him with a hat and scarf!

We have a new pastor at our church and are very thankful for that.  It was a 2 year process to find the right person and family, but they are here now.  He was talking last week about the great commission to love one another.  We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, but this is sometimes not easy.  And, who are our neighbors?  I know here in Michigan, many people think of their neighbors as the people they can see here (on their street, in their communities).  When I read the book The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, I realized that our neighbors are not just the ones around us but around the world.  If a child or baby that was sick or hungry was put on your doorstep, would you feed her and take her to the doctor?  Of course you would.  There are so many people around the world that live from day to day not knowing if they will have something to eat or drink or a decent place to sleep.  But, how do we love them?  It is not an easy question.  We are not all called to go.  Praying for them is one thing.  Getting to know organizations like Bethany Kids or World Orphans or Oasis for Orphans or Care of Creation is another way.  Once you get to know what they do and why, you can be better able to contribute.  And this is not all about money.  They all need people to spread the word and just be involved with them.  Having support here in the states is really a blessing to all of them.  But, it takes some effort to be involved with someone who is literally a world away.  We here tend to take the easy path and just not look.  That way, we can claim ignorance is bliss (which it is many times - especially when there is some kind of bug in something you just ate)!  But, it is not what God called us to do.  Sometimes life here is just too easy.  Maybe we need to do more of the hard things and challenge ourselves to reach out and get involved with something that may not be the easy path!

I finished all of the upstairs with painting and baseboard trim this past week and got our bathroom done.  I am getting pretty good at coping joints!  I will be on to the rooms downstairs this week that have white trim.  The real challenge will come when I have to do the wood trim (oak or ?) and stain it.  Right now with the white, I am able to use caulk and spackle (spackle is my new best friend)!  But, when I do the living room, the trim will be stained wood and that will bring the real challenge.  Hopefully before I get there, I will get really good at coping joints!

Here are a few more pictures.  Have a great week and think about who is your neighbor!

Timothy and Tiger (Tiger seems not very interested in lov'in)!

Jim makes a pretty good turkey!

In His Hands,

Jullie T

PS - I also heard a bird here last week while I was running in the early morning - am very thankful for that!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

On Change

Hello All,
Well, it has happened!  The ground was completely white here yesterday for a few hours.  I just see that as the beginning of a long winter!  This morning, it was 24 F (-4 C)!  That makes for a cold morning run.

Just a few weeks ago, the trees were brilliant colors and now they are all bare.  It got me to thinking about the cycle of our lives and how we are constantly changing (whether by choice or not).  God has made us to be in different seasons just like he causes the trees to be spectacular for just a few short weeks.  We are creatures of habit and we like our little routines.  But, we also are made to adapt.  We cycle through periods of our lives sometimes not even recognizing the changes. But sometimes, they are like a horn in your face!  There is a road that I drive down to take Timothy to school that has a beautiful view.  There are tress that are in-bedded in very tall pine trees so that now, since their leaves are gone, you can't even see them.  But just a few weeks ago, they were amazing!

I was here just yesterday and now you don't even notice these little trees.  The cycle of change is constant for Jim and I, and I am grateful for that.  

Jim's job is going well.  He was home the past 2 week ends and this week end he is away.  They are moving out an old MRI unit (like 20 tons!) in order to redesign the space for the new unit.  They have to get it out of a 3rd story window!  And, when it comes to new concrete, they will load it in the same window and wheel barrow it across to where it needs to go (just like in Kijabe)!   I think it is keeping him entertained.

The Kids and I are doing well.  School is back to a routine (at least until it changes on Monday).  Timothy's schedule is being flopped because of a change in the local school.  We have to adapt again!  

Got an exceptional visit from some exceptional people this week:  Mark and Carolyn Kinzer!  They were visiting with their girls at Calvin when they were able to come up for the night.  Had a wonderful time making (and eating) pasta and enjoying great coffee with these two.  Will pray for you guys as you continue your furlow (especially at an All Blacks game)!

Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks.  Hope you enjoy and also keep praying for the Ebola crisis in western Africa.  Those people really need prayers and so many other things.  If you want to read a great article about it from some doctors in the know, go to the Myres blog to their Oct 17, 2014 post:

A beautiful sunrise

Timothy eating NOT yellow snow

one last little yellow holdout!

In His Hands,
Jullie T