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A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

A Mother’s Day Wish List-Revised Edition

As Mother’s Day approaches, I have been making a gift guide for my sweet children to utilize, in the event they want to borrow money from their father and purchase me a little sumthin’-sumthin’.   The following is the first edition of my Mother’s Day Wish List:

  1. Fitbit Fitness Band (in black)finch
  2. Converse Monochrome shoes-Size 8.5night vision googles
  3. Atticus Finch T-Shirt and the Preorder purchase of Harper Lee’s Novel Go Set a Watchman, to be released in July (the T-shirt will keep me happy until the book release).
  4. Yukon Night Vision Tracking Binoculars
  5. Conceal and Carry Compression Tank (in black)
  6. A very tiny monkey.

After reflecting on the likelihood of my Mother’s Day wish list ever coming to fruition, I decided to make some revisions. As I attempted to whittle the list down and refine the focus to practical customary wishes, it was apparent the list, while authentic, was not representative of the true spirit of Mother’s Day. I dug a little deeper and explored what my true wishes were for Mother’s Day. The following is the compilation of my revisions:

  1. For my oldest daughter, Riley, I hold these wishes for you. I wish you could embrace the amazing young woman you are and hold tight to the beauty of your soul. Each morning, when you wake and you look at your reflection in your mirror, I wish you no longer sought out your perceived imperfections, but instead focus on the gifts God has given you. My hope is that with each passing day, you will learn to love yourself. The many ways you guard you heart serves you well, when done so for the right reasons. Hearts are made to be broken and human beings rarely escape a life without some degree of heartbreak. A heart that has been broken beats on, but a life without love is just a beating heart. May you always know how much of love being your mom.                            Addendum: I wish you would someday in the future reconsider your decision to opt out of motherhood. I cannot be a Nana to a batch of rescued cats.
  2. For my son, Evan, these wishes are for you. Looking back on the long journey that has brought you to this moment, I wish you to know how very proud I am of you. I know that the things that are so easy for others were not so easy for you. I want you to know that the mistakes I made along the way were my attempts at helping you the only way I knew how. There were many people who might have given up on you, but that was never an option for me. It is my hope for you that you will remember to give more than you take, lift others up, treasure the little things, and don’t be afraid of failing. There is something great inside of you, Evan and I pray each day you have the courage to discover what it is, the resilience to carry on when you fail, and the graciousness to appreciate those who help you along the way. Don’t let a day go by without fully knowing how blessed I am that God chose you for my son. Addendum: I wish you would please stop teasing my sweet old Cooper. He is over 70 years old in people years!! Please be kind to my crabby geriatric furry friend.
  3. To my baby girl, Sophi, I wish these things for you. There will never be more minutes in an hour, more hours in day, more days in a week or more weeks in a year. I know of no other who crams more living in a space of time than you. It is my wish that you are able to make the most of each moment and give yourself some space to breathe. The only thing that ever gets in your way, Sophi, is you. It makes me proud that you are motivated to set the bar high, but don’t forget that you don’t have to be perfect. All that you have to do doesn’t have to be done today. It is my wish for you to find balance and understand that if you always stay true to God, yourself, and the people who love you, the life you make will be successful. You are forever and always my bonus baby.                                     Addendum: I wish you would PLEASE put the lids back on your makeup and quit leaving it all scattered on the bathroom counter!! And for the love of all that is holy, you only need ONE towel for a shower

kidsThe truth is the greatest gift is one I have already been given. It cannot be purchased at the store or ordered online. I have been blessed with the privilege of being a mother, and this is simply all I could ever want (except for a very tiny monkey, that would be freaking AWESOME)…and maybe the night vision goggles. Seriously, this nest is going to be empty someday. I really should start planning ahead.

Revelations of a Mzungu’s Heart-Do You Hear What I Hear?

Revelations of a Mzungu’s Heart-Do You Hear What I Hear?


The sights, sounds, and smells of my debut trip to Uganda have been permanently woven into the filaments of my soul. While I am so glad to be back within the confines of my familiar life and to shower in warm water and drink Diet Pepsi at its optimum drinking temperature, there still remains a large chunk of my heart firmly tethered to the people I left behind in Africa. A month has now passed since my return and nearly every day I am startled out of my mundane life by an emotional longing to reach across 8000 miles and pick up a hungry child, hold the strong hand of a Ugandan woman, or pray with those whose enduring faith makes mine a wet paper towel in comparison. I often find myself resisting the urge to slip into the comfort of my complacent attitude and rejoin the rat race of chasing down the so-called American Dream. In those moments, of retreat into the stillness of reflection and I simply ask myself, “Do you hear what I hear?”
While I jumped at the chance to go to Africa, my mom was resistant-VERY RESISTANT. Let’s just say Mom really likes her creature comforts and when she was told about some of the amenities awaiting her in a far-away land (geckos, cold showers, mosquitoes carrying malaria, etc.) she balked. Being a woman of immense spiritual fortitude, she felt she was supposed to go to Africa and so she put on her big girl panties, applied her lipstick, packed her hairdryer and we started our adventure together. To help establish a baseline of how completely removed Mom was from the idea of going to Africa, the following are actual quotes my mother made during the informational meetings leading up to our departure and shortly after our arrival in Africa:

Group Introductions-
Me: Hello. My name is Karri Thurman. I am a registered nurse and I am from Missouri and this will be my first mission trip.
Mom: My name is Judy. I am from Paragould, Arkansas. I attend the Rock church in Jonesboro. I don’t want to go to Africa, but God is making me.”

Mom: “I understand you said that we do not need to bring makeup and the heat will just melt it off?”
Group Leader: “Yes. That is correct.”
Mom (to me under her breath): “I don’t know what kind of makeup they use, but I think mine will withstand the heat. If it melts, I will reapply.”

Group Leader: “While working in the churches, orphanages, and slums we will wear skirts.”
Mom: “What kind of shoes do we wear?”
Group Leader: “Because we will be walking a lot and in unsanitary conditions, tennis shoes or Crocs.”
Mom (in her appalled voice): “You want me to wear tennis shoes with a skirt?!?” To me under her breath: “I will not be wearing tennis shoes with a skirt and Crocs are hideous.”

Group Leader: “Upon our arrival in Africa and during our stay there will be police and military armed with machine guns. It is against the law to take a picture of any law enforcement official or military personnel.”
Mom: “Will I be able to use my hairdryer there?”

Group Leader: We will stop on the way to the orphanage and pick up the goat we are taking them as a gift.
Mom (later): “I was going to ask if I could hold the goat on the way to the orphanage to prove that I am not prissy, but I was afraid she would say yes.”

Our first night in Uganda crawling under our mosquito net after nearly two days of travel and little sleep, seeking much needed rest:
Mom: Good Lord, what have I done? Why am I here???
Note: Refrain from asking God direct questions beginning with the word ‘why’ unless you are completely prepared to have your world rocked.

Each day our 16-member team served in orphanages, medical/dental clinics, churches and villages and each moment our hearts were permanently altered by the people we encountered. The days were long, exhausting and emotionally taxing. Many of us were experiencing for the first time a degree of poverty and deprivation that surpasses the confines of our imaginations. Had it not been for the gracious, welcoming, sincere gratitude from the people we were serving, I believe the enormity of need would have completely crushed my soul. Another missionary, Katie Davis, describes it like “emptying the ocean with an eye dropper” (Davis 2011). My grandpa would probably describe it less eloquently as “pissing on a forest fire”, but both analogies are completely accurate. Each night we would return weary and exhausted to our compound and as we shared with each other our individual experiences, it was a little like riding an emotional rollercoaster for days on end. Astonishingly, that which should have left me emotionally and physically depleted, actually rejuvenated my spirit. The song in my heart was changing, but I had no way of knowing the spiritual symphony that was building inside of me orchestrated entirely by a band of outcast orphans that have never heard a spoken word, laughter, or a single note of a melody.

deafschoolgirlArriving at the Deaf Elite Education Center was a game changer and for Mom, it was if God himself had parted the clouds and said, “This is why you are here”. Traveling to the school our team was briefed on how the deaf are perceived in Uganda and our hearts were already stirring when we arrived. The deaf are referred to as ‘Kasiru’, which translates into ‘fool’ or ‘stupid’. A deaf child born into a family is seen as a curse and they are often rejected by their families and communities. After spending the first part our day teaching and playing games with hearing children in another school, I was very apprehensive about what we had to offer these children who could not hear us. I was correct. Compared to what we received from these children, our humble offerings were but a pittance.

The children live and go to school at the center, as most have been thrown away by their families. One young boy had been kept tied to a tree like a dog. Another was thrown into a fire pit and sustained burns to a large percentage of his body. A young lady, whose limbs were bent and twisted from years of early neglect and malnutrition, had arrived at the center unable to walk, talk or feed herself. One might think that we would encounter a sad, fumbling, uneducated group of children. Instead, we were received by polite, bright, funny, and talented young people. They danced for us, sang for us, anointed us all with our very own sign language name! They were simply incredible.

It is difficult to put into words the actual environment that these children were thriving in and capture the scant conditions. The floors are dirt, aside from a few with concrete. The rooms where the children sleep are about as big as a walk-in closet with bunks stacked three high with two to a bunk. There is no water, no electricity, no bathroom, and many days, not enough food. The staff work for room and board and receive no wages for the care and education they provide.
In the gospels we are taught that “whatever you do for the least of these brothers, you do for me.” In this country we had seen the sick, poor, and hungry; but it was here, in this tiny corner of the slums, we held the ‘least of these’ in our arms. Where there should have been despair, they showed us hope. Where there should have been bitterness, they radiated joy. Where there should have been death, they showed us the very essence of life. In addition, we saw in living color, what kind of miracles happen when there are those precious souls willing to ultimately ‘do for the least of these’ all day every day. It was a testament of faith anchored in love like I have never before witnessed and it was powerful.

When we left the deaf children that evening, my mom cried the entire trip back to our compound and long after we pulled our mosquito net around us for the night. I could hear her sobbing and praying and I knew that God was answering her “why am I here” question. I also know that neither of us would ever be the same. On the days I feel myself starting to sweat the small stuff again (car trouble, bills, work stresses, etc.), I ask myself that simple question; “Do you hear what I hear?” I am remembering the sounds of the laughter, the clapping, and the singing and also of my mom crying in the night. It is then I am reminded of how important it is to live life out loud, even if not everyone can hear it. Sometimes the greatest words are spoken in silence.

High Water, No Water, Cow Titties and New Kitties


         It has been a quite a while since I have sat down to organize my thoughts into anything bloggable.   To say that my life has been overwhelmingly hectic would be an understatement and I will spare you the mundane details of my version of living the American dream, as it is standard operating procedure for most busy families.  It would be selfish of me, however, to keep the events of the last week to myself.  As my life often does, this last week has veered completely off the road most traveled, took an unexpected detour and forged into the off-road adventures that one couldn’t even work into a really bad country song. 

                We are neck-deep into phase two of a monumental project at work, which has had me completely submerged in the process.  Projects of this magnitude force me to ratchet up my toddler-size attention span and dial into the deed at hand.   Subsequently, I tend to quickly fall behind in those things that routinely require my attention, i.e. laundry, cleaning, going to the grocery store.   The Missouri spring monsoon was in full force and served as a suitable work environment for my restless diligence (seriously, nothing hijacks my focus like a warm day and sunshine…oh and daydreams and chocolate and wishing I could fly…no wait…wishing I was invisible…).  The rains came down in buckets keeping steady pace with the laundry overflowing the dirty clothes hampers.  With my sights set on being able to attend a concert with my sisters in Memphis, I forged on.  Friday evening came and I shut my laptop, threw a few (mostly clean) clothes in a bag, ignored the piles of laundry and headed south with my siblings. 

                The Monday morning following my quick trip, I found myself staring down the barrel of a 16-hour work day (heavy sigh).  I was tired, but I seemed to have gotten my second wind and quickly got to work, relieved that an end to the catawampus-ness was in sight.   Little did I know that the recent bountiful rains had breached the confines of the basement walls and were flowing freely over the floors and furnishings of the lower level.   Exit catawampus—enter chaos.  I remained tethered to my computer, buoyed by my looming deadline, while my family waged war on the invading water.  A better description would be they launched operation SOS (save our stuff).  Load after load of soaking carpet, keepsakes and clothes were hoisted up the stairs, through the house and out to the garage.  Furniture was placed on blocks and fans brought in to aid in the drying process.  I passed the musty wet mountain of wet blankets, boxes, and drenched miscellaneous stuff as I left for work the following morning.  I consciously pushed the magnitude of my laundry situation to the back of my mind and actually thought, “It could be worse.” 

                Tuesday was the dawning of a new day and no amount of water in the basement was going to get the better of me.  Stepping into the shower I made a conscious effort to adjust my attitude and focus on my many blessings.  Ironically, the shift in my attitude directly coincided with a sudden shift in the water pressure.  With my shampoo in full lather and my legs still unshaven, I watched in desperation as the faithful shower stream dwindled to a slow trickle, then to a drip and then to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Soapy, sudsy, and shivering I frantically pleaded with the shower, “Please come back, please, no-no-no—please…”  I calmly summoned Kevin, “HELLO???  HELP!!!  KEVIN THE WATER IS BROKEN!!!”  After a quick assessment of the situation he informed me that something must be wrong with the pump, explaining that it could be electrical or it could be the entire pump or a handful of other ‘could be’s”.   The only thing he knew for sure was that I was not going to be able to rinse the shampoo out of my hair. 

                With water still holding the basement hostage, the faucets barren, the laundry mountainous, my attitude back at sour, and my hair frothy I sought refuge in my crisis go-to spot—my sister’s house.   The rest of the week I soaked in her garden tub, dried off with her freshly laundered towels, and made a dent in my laundry using her washer and dryer.  In the true-spirit of a freeloader, I also ate some of her food, used her tanning bed and worked out on her exercise equipment (I have a really great sister).  Friday came and the water at our house was restored so I said goodbye to the land of milk and honey and headed back to the farm.

                Uncle Bob and Aunt Donna were hosting a fish-fry on Friday evening and so I stopped in to say hello.  The big shop was filled with people, food and live country music-a modern day ho-down.  Cousin Caden, who is almost four, grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the office area of the shop.  It was obvious he was excited to show me something.  We entered the office area, which is a completely finished part of the building.  In addition to the office area, there is also a nice living room, bathroom, kitchen, and dining area.  On this particular evening there was also a very live baby calf sprawled out near the entry way.  I am new to the farm life, but I had yet to see an indoor cow and I was smitten.

                  I wanted to know how the calf had come to be invited to the fish fry and as it turns out, he was not an invited guest, but a guest by default.  Listening to the farmers’ talk of teats, bags, colostrum and other such cow-jargon, I came to learn the following:

  • The calf was born to an old cow and she didn’t want to let him nurse.
  • Her cow-titty-bag filled up and she got mastitis and then couldn’t nurse (which I secretly thought served her right because she was being a crappy mom).
  • Uncle Bob bought some special cow colostrum at the gettin’ place and had a giant bottle with a giant nipple.
  • The calf was brought inside to try and get it to take the bottle so he wouldn’t die.
  • He had not taken the bottle.
Making Progress

Making Progress

I watched as the men tried to get the calf to latch onto the huge cow-titty bottle.  I thought perhaps someone with boobs should try and so, with the help of my friend, Ben, (he doesn’t have boobs) we worked and worked trying to get the calf to latch onto the bottle.  It was during our efforts that I discovered that baby calves have an impressive set of teeth and I softened slightly toward his mama.  I couldn’t really blame her for being reluctant to trust her teats in a mouth with a full set of choppers.  With Ben holding the head and me maneuvering the giant cow-boob-bottle we continued with the frustrating attempts.  Just when I thought it was hopeless the little guy started taking the bottle!!!!  It was the first time I had ever seen an indoor cow and the first time I had ever given an indoor cow a bottle!  The flooded basement, the broken water pump, the craziness at work all fell away as I watched this magnificent indoor cow take from me what his mother refused him.  It was then I knew that being in that moment was something I had needed nearly as badly as this orphaned calf; my own cow-titty version of Chicken Soup for the Soul.


                Typically, this would be an appropriate place to wrap up this blog session, but ending here would be leaving out a VERY important part of the weeks’ events.  Saturday, Evan and Sophi had games out of town and I needed someone to let the dogs out.  Also, Riley’s cat, Lulubelle, was very pregnant and I knew she was due anytime.  Did I mention earlier in this post that I have a great sister?  That isn’t exactly true.  I have an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, SMART, LOVING, DEVOTED, and LONG-SUFFERING sister.  Here is the text that I sent to Kim asking her to check on my animals:

                kim text

  Lulu has a birth defect that makes it very difficult for her to breathe (the vet thinks she was born with a hole in her diaphragm).  There was concern that she would have a difficult time with labor and delivery.  Kim called me and told me Lulubelle was indeed in labor.  My first reaction was, “Don’t leave her.”  And she didn’t.  For four hours she sat in my cold garage watching over Lulubelle’s labor and delivery.  She updated me with pictures, videos, and texts.  Her nurse practitioner skills came in handy, as she had to resituate calico kitty #3!! This selfless act of love and devotion is stand-alone awesome, however, I need to clarify a crucial detail:  My sister is EXTREMELY allergic to Lulubelle!!  I am obliged to include a picture she sent me, in order to illustrate the magnitude of her gesture (and allergy).  I know she will be as grateful I shared this as I am to have her as a sister!!! 

Taking one for the team!!!

Taking one for the team!!!

Sweet Lulubelle and her new litter.

Sweet Lulubelle and her new litter.