Where in the world are we?

With this blog I hope to communicate where we are and the opportunities we have had in traveling across America and around the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Day of School

In our area of the United States public schools started today. From kindergarten to 12th grade, students are sitting at their desks, meeting their teachers and classmates, and hearing of the exciting year ahead.

It has been a long time since I had a 'first day of school', can't remember actually. But I remember our sons and their first day, preschool mostly. The day our oldest got into the vehicle that would take him to preschool...wow I can still see his little face pressed to the window wondering why he had to leave. Our youngest bravely walked with me to preschool and enjoyed every minute, never looking back!

Do you remember the book, circa 1986, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"? Author and Minister Robert Fulghum wrote about "lessons normally learned in kindergarten classrooms and explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children."* Mr. Fulghum taught us to learn and live simply, wisely, and with care for others. Here is a sampling:

Share everything
Play fair
Don't hit people
Put things back where you found them
Clean up your own mess
Don't take things that aren't yours
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody
Live a balanced life-l
earn some, paint some, sing, dance, play and work everyday some
Take a nap every afternoon
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together+

This scripture has the same feel as the above poem. Everything I need for my spiritual life is found in 'wisdom' from above. All I have to do is ask, listen, then obey. Life will be ever so much simpler!!!

"Dear friend, guard clear thinking and common sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound." [Proverbs 3:24-26++]

* Edited. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Need_to_Know_I_Learned_in_Kindergarten
+Edited. http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2399046-all-i-really-need-to-know-i-learned-in-kindergarten
++ https://www.biblegateway.com

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What if...? What then...?

During a recent walk I encountered an older man sitting on a bench, just watching the cars going by. That short moment of walking by, making eye contact, and smiling at him it made me think about a few things...and imagine these scenarios...

What if...that man is alone, just lost his mate, and his children live across the country. Oh they love him but feel bad they can't visit. Could I help him some how? Or what if that man is alone because 50 years ago he molested his neighbor's son and has just been released from prison, still in a half-way house; trying to overcome his past, on a limited income, with terrible memories of prison and a bitter spirit. What then? Would I still be willing to help him?

What if...when I went to my local gym, I met one of the new instructors, Claire, in the parking lot. As we chatted I noticed a cross necklace she was wearing, thinking I should invite her to our ladies Bible study. Since she was carrying a few items I helped her with the door. Later, as I was leaving I waived goodbye to Claire. She was talking with Alice at the reception counter. As I walked by I overheard their conversation, as they were so excited in planning their upcoming trip. As Alice was leaving they hugged and kissed goodbye. What then? Would I still want to invite Claire to the Bible study?

What if...I noticed an obese man at the local fast-food restaurant eating a hamburger, fries, soda; then went to get an ice cream cone. Would I smugly think he has no business eating like that. And then in a twist of circumstances two weeks later that same man is using the store's electric cart to do his shopping. Smugly I visualize him getting all kinds of junk food. Later I see him at the nearby checkout, chatting with the clerk. She is so excited to see him, asking him how he is doing. He explains how excited he is to get back to work as the doctor has cleared him to return. The rare disease he has made him very overweight, plus he had to consume many calories every day to keep healthy, but now he can start his weight loss, getting back to his former self. His cart is filled with fresh vegetables and fruit, low-fat milk, and other healthy items. What then? I'm not feeling so smug now, but rather humbled.

What if...the single mom screaming at her kids is really scared because her husband is deployed. Or is she coming off a night at the local strip club because that's the only way she can make a living? What then?

What if...the old lady going so slow out the door is worried about her sick husband at home. Or is she just a crabby old women who is just plain rude? What then?

What if... well you get the idea. Maybe what we observe of others is not the reality. But if the reality is what we observe are we going to treat people different? What then? Will we be rude and obnoxious? ignore them? talk about them instead of trying to help?

It all goes back to what we know is truth; love those around us and find ways to help others. Buy that old man a cup of coffee, invite the gym instructor to the Bible study, be kind to the old, crabby woman. Stop judging others, and make sure we are doing what our Savior taught us, to be the example he was to us. Let's pray that Jesus' light will shine through us so that others will be drawn to Him.

In Him,


Matthew 5:13-16
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So let's talk about words!

I apologize for not posting more often! And I can't use the excuse I'm too busy...there is always time to write a nice letter to my friends, right?

Actually we have been pretty busy since my last post from January!!! We had a great three months ministering in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and on our way home, North Carolina. We worked on our Florida cottage, took time to visit with friends, meet new friends; truly enjoyed our time south.

We have been back home (Wisconsin) since April! Since then we've been to many churches in WI, IL, IA, and MN! Busy!!! Had family gatherings, visits with my mom, and our oldest grandson graduated from High School. We had two weeks away from home. One was for vacation and one was to attend Bible Camp. We are both in good health and we are enjoying the warm 'up north' weather.

Awhile ago I was challenged on a social site by a friend to find one word for the day that would sync with their word so the two words coming together would make some sense! As you know there are 365 days in a year; using one word for each day! That's a lot of words to come up with! And the challenge is to come up with a new word every day! No repeats!

I have two little sheets of paper that I'm using to jot down the words for each day. I look at it because at my age I can't even remember the word I picked for yesterday. Two little pieces of paper that have, oh about...after using the calculator...190 words. Not a lot at all! We probably use that many words when we first get up in the morning. My personal challenge is to find the word from my daily Bible reading, wherever I am in the Bible that day! Try to find a word; sometimes not knowing what my friend's word is!

Believe me it's not easy! Especially since I can't reuse a word! It is amazing how the two words do come together though! My list contains the usual words we might think of like: love, praise, grateful, thankful, wait, endure; words like that. Some were different: riddle, cost, me, lips, snares, buy. Depends, like I said, on what my friend uses. One day they chose that long word from Mary Poppins: supercalafrag...etc. (I'm not going to spell it out); that's when I chose the word riddle!

My word-for-the-day challenge is to have it make sense but for it to also have meaning. Not just a random word from my reading, but for the word to challenge me throughout the day, or encourage me. Words like wait, stand, and know.

During Pentecost the words flowed together for three days! 'With one accord' from Acts 2:1. On June 7 (Saturday) I chose 'with' and they chose 'commence'. Together the two words are: commence with. On Sunday the word I chose was 'one' and they chose 'consecrate'. Together it's: consecrate(d) one. On Monday I chose 'accord' and they chose 'validate'. Together it read like this: validate (with one) accord! Interesting.

It may seem like a silly challenge, but I'm committed to it. Maybe at the end of the year I'll write a story using the word-for-the-day list and see how it looks.

Hope you enjoyed the story of my little challenge. Maybe you will be challenged in your heart to find a word for the day that will help you and encourage you to be stronger and better for Him.

Psalm 119:11: Your word I have hidden in my heart...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We Made It!

Actually we've been in Florida for about 3 weeks; I should have posted earlier! Our trip down was delayed by three days due to weather conditions. When traveling to our southeast ministry we usually try to schedule a service about one-third of the way down so we don't have two 10-12 hr. driving days. Because of two snow storms in the mid-west our services were cancelled. [We enjoyed attending our home-church service on Sunday though.] Then, or should I say--still, the weather was a brutally cold -20 as a real temperature, then add a wind chill and the temps dropped to between 40 & 50 below. That delayed us another day. Besides that our usual travel route through Illinois was covered in snow, with major highways closed.

We changed our route by traveling west to near St. Louis, MO then back east again into southern IL (past the 10" of snow). We did encounter snow covered roads and a few patches of ice, but Bill was driving so it was all good!

All that to say we are in Florida and enjoying our version of the polar vortex. I know, "don't whine", but it's cold here, too (for Florida). Freezing temps at night, wind chills; crazy. Having to wear cold weather attire in the Sunshine State is not by choice! Bring on the flip-flops, shorts, and sleeve-less tops... Okay, I'll stop now! Believe me when I say, though, that I feel for all of our family and friends up north who are dealing with this winter. Be smart, stay safe, and travel only if you have to!

My main reason for this blog, though, is to say with utmost humility and sincerity that Bill and I have been on the Daniel Fast from January 1-21. Which means we did not eat any meat, bread, or sweets. Actually it's the Ultimate Daniel Fast (feel free to search under that name for more information). We fasted from many of our favorite foods such as coffee, dairy products, soda, processed foods; normal food for most of Americans! We did eat though! A lot of beans, rice, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Lot's of new recipes that I will incorporate into our normal daily diet.

How people fast is altogether up to the individual of course and there are a myriad of different ways to fast. Because of health issues, people who need to eat to take medications may fast from caffeine, soda, social media, TV, etc. It's not necessarily just food! Like I said, how people fast are as varied as people.

The purpose of fasting is to get closer to God by voluntarily depriving ourselves and showing Him we are sincere and committed to getting closer. The focus of fasting is not the deprivation, but the time of prayer that replaces the eating (or the 'giving-up'). The praying is how we get closer to God. And it's not to be confused with, "well I gave this up for you, now what are you going to do for me?"--NO! With a humble attitude we are thankful for the opportunity to show God we are sincere and willing to 'give-up' for His sake. Look at what He gave up for us!!!

What have I learned? That it's not easy, but it is easy!!! Make sense? The not easy part was knowing my dependency on certain foods had to be replaced by being dependent on Him. Not easy was taking the extra time to humble myself and pray during the day, instead of eating or snacking. Not easy was trying to fast but also trying not to be obvious about it when we were invited out to a meal. [As a side note: when driving down here we had a little difficulty finding places to eat that met the requirements of no bread, no meat, no sweets! On the two occasions when eating out we had to veer a little to accommodate the menu!!! Ask me about that when you see me next!!!]

The easy part was shopping and making the recipes for the foods we could eat. All these years of eating rather plain, everyday meals; it's not that hard eating healthier! Easy was doing it together as a couple, I didn't have to make two meals. Easy was meeting with God in prayer, being in His presence; realizing His love for me. Any denial or effort on my part is not to be applauded, it's just something you do. It's not to be compared to anything earth shattering or for accolades. It's to bring me closer to Him who loves me, regardless. That's just the way He is! His promises are true!

Here is a scripture from Matthew that may help. Jesus had just given the Sermon on the Mount and was talking about fasting.
  • Matthew 6:16-18, "...when you fast...your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

We are grateful for the opportunity and experience of this adventure and we look ahead to all that will be accomplished because of it. Not of what we did, but because He is faithful.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's a New Year and it's time to go South!

Happy New Year 2014!
We often say, 'how time flies', but it really does as we get older. 2013 was exciting, yes; but probably not too much different than yours. It was a normal year!!! Actually we are grateful it was normal. With all the miles we drive and places we go, we are truly thankful that no harm has come to us.

It's been an exciting and rewarding 2013 with all the thrills and chills we had, but maybe didn't expect. From January to December we have experienced so much that we are grateful for, that it out-weighs anything 'bad' that happened.

In comparison to others, though, our 'bad' experiences are nothing. We have so many friends that are dealing with cancer, illnesses that won't go away, deaths, and relationship difficulties. In all these situations we know that the heavenly Father is right there with them, helping them to deal with their pain.

Anyway, this time of year we are preparing, cleaning, packing, and getting ready to head out to the South for our winter ministry in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, & North Carolina. We'll be busy with ministry, yes; but will have some free time to work on our cottage, visit with friends, attend services at our home church (Pleasant Grove Assembly), and maybe do some sight-seeing.

We'll miss our family here, of course, but with today's technology we can keep in contact easily. A bonus again this year is my sister and her husband will be in Florida for a couple of months, too! That's always fun!

So begins 2014! A clean, new calendar. Every date that's important like birthdays and anniversaries are already marked. Sunday's are filled with services. Some special events are already scheduled.

As the year progresses, though, there might be some erasures of dates or plans cancelled or white-out when a service has been rescheduled to another date. Or that special event has been changed. Things happen, we know. Things change and we go with the flow.

It helps when we can go with the flow and be flexible. Less stressful that way. It's helpful not to be too controlled by our schedules and look for the opportunities to help one another in some way.

For me, that is a good start to the new year: look for the opportunities to be of help to someone.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My how time flies...

It's been awhile, again! What is hard, sometimes, is trying to think of what to blog about. I suppose it's the same as when we were in school and had to give a book report or write a paper, the first line is the hardest!

All is well in the Juoni household and in our ministry as well. Much of our time is spent like yours probably, just living day-by-day and seeing what comes of it. Sure there are times we have things scheduled; traveling, family events, or the grandkids school events, but most days it's the ordinary.

As of now I have an on-call part-time temporary job (actually after reading that line you might wonder if I really do work!!!) at a local hotel as the 'desk person'. (This hotel isn't very busy right now so I'm home more.) It's a fun job, though it can be boring at times. The hardest part, for me, is not wanting to make any mistakes at the 'desk' because this is my bosses lively-hood. Anyway the bosses are great and very understanding. So far I've probably worked a total of 3 weeks. Maybe they'll call next week as the holiday get closer!

It has been awhile since I've had a work schedule and I must admit I am tired after working from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm every day. I'm wimpy I know, but it has been even longer since I've worked a 40 hour week!!! Not complaining, for sure, just thankful I have that income and the opportunity to be where God wants me. The tiring part is that at any given moment the phone will ring and I have to run to the computer from the laundry room, or I have to sort laundry, or put the breakfast away and wash dishes, or check on the rooms people have reserved to make sure the heat is on and the room is cleaned, or have to reload the washer and start the dryer, or check to make sure the pool area is stocked with towels, or find the housekeepers the ask questions, or empty the dryer and start another load. [Remember, I'm not complaining, just stating facts.] I do love interacting with the other employees and the customers though.

For right now, like I said, I'm home...the motel business is slow!

When at home doing all things a homemaker would do. Normal, everyday things that all of you do. Cleaning, cooking, baking, relaxing, scheduling, office work, and being grateful for this life.

Though Thanksgiving is over for this year as a holiday, the spirit should never cease. Being grateful for everything, thanking God for each day's breath and the ability to enjoy whatever He has scheduled.

Also at this time of year we talk about Jesus' advent, the first time He came. Wonder what heaven was like as they were all preparing for that event? Did every being in heaven know what the Father and the Son had prepared? Did the angels know that the beloved Son would die? Were their thoughts only of Him and His return to heaven when it was all over? Maybe the years he was here on earth went very quickly in heaven and it was only a moment. Our celebrations have no comparison to His return to heaven, I'm sure.

Let's all remember to be grateful and rejoice, as we celebrate HIM!

I guess I thought of what to write!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We are still here!

It has been a while since I've blogged; and we have traveled many miles. From Florida to Kentucky to Wisconsin to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, back to Kentucky, Florida (we attended our national convention in Orlando and stayed at our cottage), Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The days have gone by so fast since leaving Florida in August let alone April!!! We have been busy, but it has all be good. Our car has kept us going with a few repairs, and we did take vacation in June & July to go camping and fishing plus attend Bible camp.

We have had many opportunities to be with our sons and their families and with our extended family. There have been breakfast dates with friends and lots of conversation over coffee.

We have ministered in many churches: seeing friends from previous times and meeting new ones. It's always great to be at a church a second or third time; catching up with the pastor & family and seeing church folk again. But when we preach at a church for the first time it amazes me (but it shouldn't really) that we can "fall in love" with them so quickly. As if we knew them and were making up for lost time.

For instance: on our way to Florida at the end of July we preached at a church in Kentucky. We had never met the pastor or his wife or preached at their church. Immediately upon meeting them we felt welcome. We stayed with them in their home and enjoyed the fellowship. It was great; even though we had just met. Their home was warm and welcoming. The church folk were no different, everyone made us feel so welcome.

To say the least, we are truly blessed in the life we are living right now. As someone told me not too long ago, "the best place to be is in the Will of God". And I agree...it's not an easy place sometimes, but it is the best and safest place to be.