Guiding Principles

When I started planning the trip to France, I had no idea what I was doing.

I take that back. I knew two things. One, that my father had talked for a long time about going to the beaches of Normandy, and, two, that I was going to make that happen.

So I started planning the only way I knew, with economy and frugality at the forefront. It’s how my mother always did things. It’s how, of necessity, we did things with our children.

My neighbor set me straight. I had asked her about how to find a private guide, things to do in Paris, stuff like that because she traveled extensively.

“We got a real bargain on our airfare,” I told her. It had cost only about $500 per person to fly economy from Newark to Paris. I was pretty proud of myself for finding such a deal.

“You need to book a bed for your father,” she said. I had no idea such things existed on commercial airplanes. “This trip is all about him. Remember that.”

And I did. Book a “Biz Bed” — and remember her advice.

It became a guiding principle. When in doubt, think about what was best and most comfortable for him.

Hence staying at the Villa Lara because it had an elevator.

Hence doing only half day tours of the beaches. (It would have been more economical to hire Colin for full days, plus we could have covered more ground, but a half day of touring was plenty for my father.)

Hence forgoing the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and choosing the Eiffel Tower. (Eiffel Tower is  much more wheelchair-friendly.)

Hence hiring the Paris Black Car to pick us up at the airport, drive us right to Bayeux, then pick us up again at Bayeux and get us back to Paris. (If we were all able-bodied, I probably would have looked into the train to save a few dollars.)

When I think about that advice and how we used it to guide us for everything — how we got around, where we stayed, where we dined, what activities we chose — I am so thankful for it.

Looking ahead to my trip to Croatia and Bosnia, I thought, I need another guiding principle. It added so much clarity to France.

The first part of my next trip is spending time with my friend, Leah, while exploring Dubrovnik and Mostar, and the second part is a work project in Bosnia with a team from our church.

We had a team meeting last week, and we had to say why we were going on the trip. I hadn’t clearly formulated my thoughts on that, but I have now.

For me, that trip is about investing in friendship.

Friendships, like every other relationship, take work and time. I’m looking forward to my time with Leah as an investment in my friendship with her. When we reach our work project, I’m looking forward to investing in time with the other members of our team, especially Amy. And, I’m looking forward to meeting new friends from a new place and investing in them.

The more I thought about it, the more excited about it I became — not the trip, but the purpose.

So much so, that I’m dedicating June to “Ulagati u prijateljstvo” which, Croatian means, “Invest in friendship.” Kind of like a jumpstart on Bosnia.

Today I’m sending a little package to a dear friend who’s going through a difficult situation. I made her a little card showing one rabbit helping another. She’ll understand what I mean.

Tomorrow, I have another little package almost ready to go.

They are investments.

I’m so excited for the next few months.

Collage Card Caption Contest

Last night I showed Sam my latest collage card —

He laughed at it.  “Donna and I were talking,” he said though, “and we love your cards, but they’re usually pretty dark.”

Mary agreed. “We tend to have a dark sense of humor.”

“Oh dear,” I said.

I’m working on memorizing verse about light. I’m attempting to memorize Isaiah 60 (Arise, shine, for your light has come…), but it isn’t coming easily. I think my head is crammed so full of new Croatian words that the Bible verses are struggling for a foothold.

“Get your elbows up! Push your way through!” I tell Isaiah, but God tends not to force Himself. I need to make the room.

But I digress.

Dark sense of humor. Dark cards. Yes, Sam, Donna, and Mary are right. Looking back over my collages, some do seem a little foreboding.

Maybe it’s my way of dealing with the darkness. Poke fun at it. Laugh at it. It’s better than becoming fearful or bitter.

Mary looked at the new card and said, “Between a rock and a hard place — that cat has a tough choice.”

“Between soap suds and a snake,” I said, agreeing.

So… in the spirit of snail mail and sharing and pushing back the darkness, I thought I’d have a little contest.

Do you have a caption for this picture?  If you do, submit it in the comments.

If you’re the only submission — you win!!

If I get multiple submissions, I’ll choose my favorite.

If I get no submissions, Sam wins!

The winner gets ….. drumroll, please …..  the card in the mail.

I’ll announce the winner on Friday, get an address, and pop it in the mail on Saturday morning.

Just comment below and I’ll figure out a way to get in touch with you. 🙂


Snake from The Mapmaker’s Daughter by M. C. Helldorfer, illustrated by Jonathan Hunt.

Cat from Owls from Mother Goose Treasury, 2009 Publications International — it has a long list of illustrators and I don’t know who drew The Kilkenny Cat.

Window — I don’t know.

Origami wallpaper.

If you win and are expecting perfection, trust me, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

If you win and simply love the thrill of receiving snail mail, you’ll be happy.

Mail a Smile

This morning I stared at the screen. I had zero inspiration.

Inspiration is such a funny thing — feast or famine.

But I haven’t missed a day this year. At least, I don’t think I have.

Then, I saw Eva’s post on Hawwa’s Mail Adventures — a collage that was her submission to “Mail a Smile,” a project  whose aim is to send artistically decorated envelopes and letters to cheer people up around the world.

The 2017 theme is endangered animals. I scoured my children’s books for something on the endangered list.

Unfortunately, rabbits don’t make the cut. I have an abundance of bunnies.

Neither do farm animals, dogs, cats, fish, or frogs.

Finally I found some endangered animals — a tiger and a gorilla — that I could stick on a collage card.

There are multiple tigers on the WWF list: the Sumatran Tiger, South China Tiger, Amur Tiger, Bengal Tiger, Indochinese Tiger, and the average garden-variety tiger. I’m not sure what kind mine is.

There are also several gorillas: Cross River Gorilla, Eastern Lowland Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorilla, and the Mountain Gorilla. The children’s book I used didn’t specify.

If you want to send a postcard or card (and a smile) with an endangered animal featured, send it to:

Mail a smile
Budapest
Pf.:20
1554 – Hungary

Here’s my pic — it’s going out in tomorrow’s mail!

The gorilla profile (on the left hand side) is from The Gorilla Did It by Barbara Shook Hazen, illustrated by Ray Cruz.

The tiger is from Little Polar Bear, Take Me Home! written and illustrated by Hans de Beer.

The background is from The Mapmaker’s Daughter by M. C. Helldorfer, illustrated by Jonathan Hunt.

The decidedly unendangered bunny is from Richard Scarry’s Bunny Book.