Category Archives: gratitude

healing faith

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The initial surgery, performed by a Kenyan orthopedic surgeon, revealed Mark not only had a compound fracture of his ulna bone, but a comminuted fracture to his wrist as well. His wrist was shattered – like corn flakes. They cleaned the wound but because of the amount of swelling they only installed two pins to align the ulna bone. Once the swelling lessened two days later, Dr. Mara, a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon from the USA performed a second surgery to install an external fixator which stabilized his arm and shattered wrist. In the meantime Mark developed a fever and was put on IV antibiotics. His blood oxygen level was very low and caused concern. It was finally determined that he had torn a chest muscle in the fall. His broken arm being placed on his chest was preventing him from breathing properly.

Life in an African hospital, even one as good as Kijabe Hospital is quite different from what we are used to here in the USA. His first night there, he shared a room with a Kenyan man and it seemed his whole family as well. They treated Mark like one of the family, sitting on his bed and talking late into the night. Mark was later moved to a quiet private room. Everything must be paid for in advance in Kenya, even in the hospital. Each time something was needed – x-rays, medication, surgery – Mark’s father would walk to the finance office, stand in line, and pay the bill in shillings, returning with a paid receipt.

Daily meals consisted of porridge, fruit and tea for breakfast, stewed goat and boiled kale for lunch and dinner. Water to drink needed to be brought in by family. Mark’s IVs and physical condition prevented him from using the much-needed mosquito net so the mosquitos buzzed in his ears all night. He wondered why the sun was up so early that first morning only to learn that it was the lights. They were kept on all night to keep the mosquitos away, which of course did not work. A storm came through that week and knocked out the electricity and water in the hospital for a couple of days, which would make hospital life difficult anywhere in the world.

Sylvia, Mark’s step-mom, stayed with him through the nights and most of the days, walking up the road to their room at a small hotel for short rests. She shared with me that her years of working as a night nurse had taught her how to sleep upright in a chair. She called me regularly to keep me informed. God bless her! Mark’s Dad rested and recovered from the grueling task he had of driving Mark to the hospital. When he was not taking care of hospital paperwork, he met with many Kenyan pastors and friends. Mark’s brothers, upon returning from their safari came and spent a day with him at the hospital. One morning while waiting in the hall for an x-ray, Mark noticed a patient lying on a cot that had on a J316 bracelet. J316 Ministries is a ministry that we have partnered with. How amazing was that!?

oceans

oceans

One night that was particularly difficult for Mark. His Dad and Sylvia had returned to Kisumu to retrieve their things, since they had left in such a hurry when the accident happened. Mark was alone and recounts how he felt such darkness and oppression. Across the hall an expat couple was having a baby. They played music and it began to fill Mark’s room and soul; beautiful soothing familiar music that God used to calm him and let him know He was with him. When asked, Mark would say the thing he remembers the most about his stay at Kijabe Hospital was the kind gracious care of the Kenyan people. He is most grateful. A friend from my childhood days in Suriname lives in Nairobi and another friend from high school lives in Kijabe. Having them there willing to help Mark as needed was such a huge comfort and blessing.

Finally seven days after being admitted, Mark was discharged from the hospital free of infection and with a long road of recovery ahead of him. He recovered for two nights with his parents at the AIM Mayfield Guest House, a wonderful bed and breakfast in Nairobi where he enjoyed hot showers, a comfortable room and flavorful foods as well as listening to stories of adventures in Africa from the other guests; expats and missionaries.

And then the day finally arrived for him and his brothers to travel home to America. There just aren’t words for the relief and joy when he was finally home.

{DISCLAIMER: For some reason this was not easy to write. It’s taken me months to even begin. It just did not flow, nor is it good writing. Maybe because it’s just the facts and it is Mark’s story not mine. Maybe now is not the time to share what is underneath the facts. I hope that will come sooner than later. Regardless, I wanted to write it down… to record the goodness of the Lord, whether my writing is good or not.}

Read other posts about Mark’s African Adventure:

#1 faith not fear {Mark’s Africa trip} (the reason)

#2 faith in the middle of fear (the accident)

#3 traveling with fear (the trip to the hospital)

Heartfelt thanks to Mark’s brother, Paul De Jong, who generously shared his amazing professional photographs from this trip to Africa with us. Be sure to check out his photography website. He is also writing a series of historical novels of adventure and romance set in South Africa in the 1960’s.

kings family farm

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Sunday was a glorious day… a day of rest… breathing in the cool Florida autumn weather and the gifts God has created for us. Kings Family Farm hosted the National Food Day on their beautiful property. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch under the oak trees, took an informative hayride tour around the farm with Ben King, listened to live music, got educated a bit on beekeeping, chicken raising, gardening and all things sustainable. And what fun it was to watch Prince Charming toddle around discovering hay, dirt, sticks, and farm animals.

For the past two years we have cherished the 15 minute drive to the “country” to purchase Kings farm produce. Loved that they practiced organic farming and partnered with others in the community to provide well rounded food fare for us… grass fed beef from Windgate Farms, jams made by Station 400 from Kings’ peaches and blueberries, milk from Daikin Dairy, etc.

But more than the produce and flowers,  I love the place… the animals… the property… the people… the Light. I have often told Shelby King that it is a place where my soul could breathe, a place of Light in the community… something special. My camera and I have captured some wonderful memories and I am thankful for the times spent on the farm… a gift.

Each visit to Kings brought a smile to our face because of this guy…

Unfortunately Kings Farm Produce Market will not be open this year. They can’t compete with Walmart’s produce which is grown overseas with little regulation and cheap labor. I am willing to pay more, but I am just one person. Food in America is an important issue… for our economy, for our health… but I won’t get started on that right now.

I am excited about what’s ahead for Kings as they open up their farm as a venue for weddings, field trips, parties, reunions and get togethers. May God bless you King family as you continue to share what God has given you with others.

If interested in reading more about Food Day at Kings Farm check out this article in the Bradenton Herald. You might recognize a few people! Channel 7 interviewed Mike as well, but not sure if it aired.

the country life

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After I spent 24 hours at the Image of the Maker retreat, enjoying woods filled with tall trees, southern hospitality, new friends and so much grace, I was sad to see it end and say good-bye to some amazing women, but God was not finished giving me His gifts.

I drove north past medians filled with orange day lilies, then down winding country roads, past vegetable gardens and horse farms, abandoned barns and fresh mown fields, to the lovely country home of a longtime friend, Sharon and her husband Charles. I so enjoyed their little piece of heaven… seventeen acres with chickens, gardens, flowers, LOTS of hummingbirds (like dozens), strawberry cobbler and rocking chairs on the porch. We picked blueberries, took a drive around the mountain, but mostly we sat and talked and listened and caught up on the last 20 years. Such a gift!

The perfect solution to keeping squirrels from robbing the bird feeders… hub caps. Ingenious!

Even if I didn’t like blueberries, I think the bush is beautiful. Mom, we need to plant some!

I LOVE this arbor Charles and Sharon made from two old doors!

Do you see the tiny hummingbird sitting on top of this vine on the right? It’s a male and he had a little red around his neck. They were so fast I had a difficult time getting any good photos, but I love this one.

Thank you Charles and Sharon for your love and warm hospitality!

Counting my gifts!

Image of the Maker

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I have returned from a weekend I pray I never forget.

But sitting here staring at the screen, I wonder how to express, how to put into words so that you can see a glimpse of what God gave us… the 75 women who gathered in the woods of North Carolina.

It was just twenty-four hours, but oh how sweet to spend those 1,440 minutes with Nicole Witt, Crista Wells and Ann Voskamp!

Maybe because it has been many years since I have participated in a retreat. Or maybe it was because it was so needed that God orchestrated and gave me such a gift. He met us there, there in that room,

there by the lake,

around dining tables,

in rocking chairs on porches, in voices offered up in worship. He talked to us through the words of a woman after His own heart.

He broke down our walls, using the music of two gifted singer songwriters.

He ministered healing through the acceptance and safety of others. He took our brokeness and made us whole and showed us the strength he gives as we unite our brokeness.

He showed up through hugs, tears and laughter.

He gave us the gift of new friends, who will become lifelong ones.

So I will ponder, process, reflect on the things I have been given, the lessons taught, the wisdom shared, the grace. And I will come back and share with you.

As a beautiful and gifted new friend so perfectly said…

In the meantime I am longing to live the giftedness for the glory of the Giver.