Posted in Daily Prompts

Daily Prompt – Yellow

Yellow is my favorite color!

I think of all colors in terms of the Crayola Box:

Yellow-Orange, Banana Mania, Maize, Orange-Yellow, Goldenrod, Dandelion, Yellow, Green-Yellow, Middle-Yellow, Maximum-Yellow, Canary, Lemon-Yellow.

I have a lot of yellow childhood memories.

Yellow-orange:  Traveling to Florida and Disney World with my parents, sister and grandparents (18 hour drive in station wagon); we got these little plastic devices that you pushed into a ripe orange and could slurp the orange juice out of it!

Green-Yellow:  My grandparents bought hats for Becky and I one Easter.  They were little bucket hats designed to look like a cat head.  In the brim there were yellow plastic “eyes” that you could look through – it made the whole world tinted yellow.  I loved to look through those lenses on a rainy, ugly day and make it pretty!

Image result for yellow tinted glasses

Middle-yellow:  Yellow gingham curtains and bedspreads.  My sister and I shared a bedroom when we were little.  My mother, the amazing seamstress and tailor that she was, made the bedspreads and curtains out of yellow gingham.  I spent a LOT of time in the presences of yellow as a kid!  I wonder if that’s why I can’t help being an optimist even when my world crashes?

Image result for yellow gingham





Posted in Daily Prompts

Daily Prompt – Uneven

This brings to mind a social and theological debate I’ve been having in my brain for several months.  At it’s heart, the debate is the fundamental basis of a fair society – Equality vs. Equity.  I’m the kind of person who can see both sides of every argument (except Sharia, child pornography, racism, Nazis, and a few others).

EQUALITY – the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.

EQUITY – the quality of being fair and impartial.

There are so many things in this picture that make me stop and think.  It seems so simple.  Yes – I would want all the kids to be able to see over the fence to watch the game.  Yes – being able to see without any fence would be nice.  No – the picture where the little kid can’t see over isn’t fair.  And the meme is great if all the kids at the ball field just came there to see the game and watching the game was the sole purpose of the interaction of these 3 people.

But…there is a fine line between trying to do good and slipping over the cliff of totalitarianism.

Some alternative scenarios I can think of:

  1.  Tall kid sees that the shortest one can’t see and offers him his box
  2. Tall kid asks shortest kid if he wants to get on his shoulders to see
  3. Shortest kid realizes he can’t see over the fence with his one box and he goes on the hunt to find a way to raise up his box
  4. Two shortest kids decide to combine their boxes and both stand on the top together
  5. Tall kid really isn’t interested in baseball and walks away leaving the box so the other two could use it
  6. Short kid and shortest kid get bored because they can’t see the game too well and start talking about pokemon and decide to hunt pokemons around the field and end up forging a new friendship
  7. All 3 kids use the boxes to build a fort and play soldier.  The tall kid pops up and looks over the fence every now and then to tell the others what the score is.
  8. Tall kid is not allowed to get a box but he didn’t actually want to watch the game and just wanted to play with the box
  9. Shortest kid automatically gets what he needs and never has to create his own solution to the challenge
  10. Tall kid’s box is taken from him at gunpoint and given to the shortest kid
  11. Tall kid is required to walk on his knees to be the same height as the shortest kid but he does get a box
  12. Ball field owner makes his fence shorter in certain places to accommodate the short kids
  13. The ball field owner sees that the fence is too high so installs a big screen so everyone can see
  14. Ball field owner makes his fence shorter all around and cars in the parking lot are repeatedly damaged by fly balls
  15. Government forces the ball field owner to take down the fence to ensure fairness to the shortest kid; this leads to damaged cars in the parking lot and a few head injuries of the kids watching (but not protected by the fence any more)

So what is the right answer?  Do we give everyone an even start and let each person use those resources according to their talents, creativity and passions?  Do we distribute and manipulate resources to ensure everyone gets an even end result?  Do we let the choice to share personal resources up to individual or do we force redistribution of those resources?  Do we let the choice of using talents, creativity and passion up to the individual?  Does the government see what is needed in society and determine how the talents, creativity and passion should be used?

I’m a Bible believer so here is a relevant story from God:

The parable of the talents. I am completely paraphrasing Matthew 25:14 – 30.  God gives one servant 5 talents, another 3 talents and another 1 talent.  The guy with 5 talents goes and invests his and doubles his talents and brings 10 back to the Lord.  The second takes his 3 talents, works hard, makes 2 more talents and brings 5 talents back to the Lord.  The third guy is ticked off that he only got 1 talent and so he buries it.  When God asks him what he has done with his talent he digs it up and gives it back to God without even 1% interest from putting it in a lame CD.  God blesses the first two equally even though they came back with different amounts of cash.  Each one used his talents and produced dividends for the Lord.  The last guy is cursed and sent away.  God didn’t expect him to make 10 talents with the 1 talent he was given but He did have a purpose for that 1 talent to be used in His kingdom and the guy squandered it resentfully.

I’ll finish with a personal story.  I sponsored a young girl in Ethiopia through Compassion International.  Both of her parents died of AIDS and she was living in poverty with her grandmother.  The small amount that I gave every month was used by Compassion to provide Elizabeth with schooling, uniforms, supplemental food, and many other needs.  The letters I sent her every month and that she sent me every month encouraged us both and inspired us to trust the God who linked our lives.  Elizabeth faithfully used her meager material resources with her incredible God-given intellect to graduate high school with honors (very, very rare for girls in Ethiopia).  She was accepted into college (also very rare) and dreamed of being a doctor (like me!).  Since Ethiopia pays for college education they have the right to determine what students will study.  It was determined that Elizabeth would study engineering.  It was not her first choice (or even second) and we were both disappointed. But gratitude is a way of life for her.  I admire her so much.  She eagerly and joyfully went to college to study engineering, promising to use her education, gifts and talents to help as many others as God will bring into her life.

I think of life as a tapestry being woven by God.  On this side of heaven we can only see the underside of that tapestry – the knots, the skipped threads, the hazy image of something.  Elizabeth and I trust that God works through his people and the end result will be a masterpiece more beautiful than we could ever have imagined!


Posted in Daily Prompts


Vacation on Captiva Island in Florida circa 2003.  My sister had rented a beautiful house for all of us – Mom, Frank, Me, my 3 girls (ages 4,6,8), her (pregnant with Quinn), Doug and her son Riley (also age 6).  It was a fantastic place – an open kitchen where Doug could work his culinary magic, a pool, a large screened in dining area and a rooftop deck.  Even with 4 kids there, we were relaxed (which was quite a feat for a pregnant lawyer mom and solo-practice physician mom).

We had been there a couple days and Mom and I enjoyed walking on the beach in the mornings before the heat and sandcastles.  As always, since I was a little girl, we walked the beach together in silence searching for shells.  We had quite a collection from years gone by – conchs, welks, olives, murex and scallops were my favorites.  This morning the beach was uncharacteristically devoid of the sea jewels.  After 40 minutes or so of our unfruitful quest I prayed silently – “God, I really want to find a beautiful shell this morning!”  I had not walked another 20 yards when my big toe bumped into a partially buried something.  I stopped, wriggled my toe around the bump and dug up a large, fully in tact conch shell!  I couldn’t believe it!  I remember thinking at the time that that was the first time I ever remembered a prayer answered so concretely so immediately!  I showed  Mom and shared my little story.  Satisfied with our amazing find (and our amazing God) we started back to the house chatting and planning how we would accomplish nothing the rest of the day.

As we walked up the sandy path to our house we saw Doug approaching in the golf cart with kids loaded in the back.  As he got closer I stopped and said to Mom, “I wonder where Noni is?” since the other 3 kids- Riley, Bridget and Natalie were all in the golf cart.  Doug pulled up next to us at the back door of our house and stopped.  I asked, “Where’s Noni?”  He answered, “I don’t know.  She ran off and we couldn’t find her.”

My heart squeezed and my mind rushed loudly blank with the panic all parents know when they can’t find a kid.  It was quickly ascertained that Doug had taken all the kids on a hike on some trails inland.  Noni had been quite adventurous and annoyed that the little kids were moving too slow.  Several times Doug had told her to stay with the group.  The last time she had run down a path out of Doug’s sight and ignored his order to come back.  As he and the other kids rounded a corner they came to a fork in the path.  He called to her but no answer and he didn’t know which path she had taken.  He had spent 15 minutes going down both paths with the 3 other kids calling for her but she was gone.  He rushed back to the house to drop the others off (so as not to lose more kids) and to gather adults to help search for my oldest daughter, Winona Jayne.

Winona is a Sioux Indian name that means “first-born daughter.”  We call her Noni and she is a treasure to everyone who meets her.  I was adopted as a baby and grew up in a loving home with my parents, Linda and Tom and my sister, Becky.  I had a very good childhood with only the usual family problems and challenges and bumps in the road.  But when Winona was born she was the first person in the world I had ever met to whom I was genetically related.  I cannot describe the secret depth of longing I never knew I possessed until the moment I held Winona Jayne in my arms.

I practically knocked Doug out of the golf cart, threw my shell bucket on the ground and took off down the road with my mother barely in the passenger seat.  We sped (as fast as a stupid golf cart can go) down all the roads (no cars are allowed on Captiva, just golf carts and bikes).  We stopped at the resort gift shop where you could buy sodas and candy – no one had seen her.  We asked every single person we passed if they had seen a little girl with brown hair and big brown eyes in a sparkly tank top and shorts.  No one had seen her but almost everyone joined the search – walking or riding bikes down the paths and calling her name.  We came to the path where Doug had taken the kids hiking and got off the golf cart.  My mom went one way and I went the other.  Still no Noni.  We came back to the point in the road and by that time there were multiple people gathered trying to help find my daughter.  The police man who was there said we would give it another 15 mintues of searching and then they would call a helicopter to join the search.  We split up again.

Moms know this terror – a roaring hurricane of fear, deafening and crushing, squeezing out tears that can’t flow freely because every single molecule of energy is being used to search.  I stopped walking and started running.  I called Noni’s name without ceasing.  I ran through sand, pushed back branches of scrubby short bushes, zigzagged across rocky outcroppings to peak into any crag I couldn’t fully see.  My legs were rubber, my lungs fire and my brain rocketing from hope to despair to unspeakable horror every second.

I finally had to stop as my body would not keep up with my panic any longer.  I crumpled down on the beach alone, still unable to cry but my emotions lurching awkwardly out of my body in sobs.  I realized I had been praying the entire time, “God please let me find her, please let me find her, please let me find her!”  At this moment of my physical collapse I dug my hands into the sand and prayed it out loud, “God please don’t let anything happen to Noni – please let me find her!!!”

He spoke to me – the quiet still voice in the storm could be no other voice than His.  “Susan – do you remember your walk this morning and the prayer I answered?”  In that moment I knew.  My breathing relaxed, my brain slowed down and the tears flowed.  I walked back to the road and the golf cart.  When I got there one of the guys on a bike who had helped us search was telling my mom that someone had found Noni and taken her to the resort gift shop.  We zipped as fast as the stupid golf cart would go to the gift shop and there she was – in her sparkly tank top and shorts, ponytails askance, smiling with a popcicle next to the garbage man who had found her.


Posted in Daily Prompts, Medical Missions


Hope of Life International – a place of refuge and safety

Village of Transformation – Family-style orphan care

Oasis de Eden – Elderly care home

Kelly’s House – Home for children with severe disabilities

Baby Rescue Hospital – Hospital to save severely malnourished children

“My inheritance will not be money; it will be a legacy which is a treasure in God’s eyes.”

– Carlos Vargas

Galatians 5:6 (NIV)  “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”


Posted in Brazilian JuiJitsu (BJJ), Daily Prompts




Jhoon Rhee

So many recurrent nightmares across my lifespan.  The first recurring one I remember was around age 9 or 10.  I was in a haunted house with my family,  but we would get separated and I’d be alone trying to find my way out.  At the end I would find the exit but then have to go to the morgue and identify all my family members – the drawers were pulled out, each of them a corpse.  The next one that occurred frequently was being chased by wolves in the upstairs of my house.  They would catch up to me,  bite my heels and I would leap like superman down my stairs.  I woke up in terror before hitting the bottom which was never visible.  Later were the parenting nightmares.  I left the car seat on the roof of my car, in the 7-11, in a cave, in a tunnel or behind a SUV that was backing up.  Many a night my poor husband would be jolted to consciousness by me jumping up and screeching “be sure you know where the kids are before you back up!”

The nightmare that has stayed with me persistently, from my teenage years to today is the one I call the “feather punch.”  I am confronted with a thing that wants to overtake and kill me.  Sometimes the thing is a person, sometimes a wild animal, a faceless dark power. I punch and punch and punch it furiously but nothing happens.  My hardest, most powerful punches have no effect and the thing continues to press in on me until I am smothered, terrified, dying and I wake up.

I started Taekwondo when I was 16 and received a black belt from Grand Master Jhoon Rhee in 1986.  And still my punches were feather light in my dream and I was overtaken.  I went to medical school and received a “black belt” of academia with my MD in 1996.  But my dream-self was still weak and ineffective and never prevailed.  I started drinking when I was 15 and managed to obtain the “black belt” (of sorts) of alcohol consumption by age 42.  But even inebriation and blackouts didn’t erase the dim knowledge that my punches could not beat my enemy.  I quit Taekwondo.  I quit medicine.  I quit drinking.  I admitted defeat.

That’s when God killed my enemy, not with punches or knowledge or substances but with a word – Jesus.  I am a doctor again and I have a blue belt in Brazilian Juijitsu and a purple belt in MMA.  I don’t drink alcohol because I don’t need it any more.  I still have the dream now and again and my punches are still as ineffective.  I fight with all my might and grow weary and sometimes even scared and a little banged up.  But my nightmare ends differently.  I am never smothered or overtaken or defeated.  Rather, I emerge whole and alive and victorious, saved by the Word alone.