I’ve had so many requests for an on-line newsletter I thought I’d give it a try on a semi-occasional basis.

As you know, through the years I’ve answered personally every piece of correspondence you’ve sent and it always touches me that you remember me so kindly. You’ve understood that the work must come first and patiently waited your turn for my personal notes. You’ve heeded my requests and not sent forwards so that I can take care of business for you. I made a decision back when I first started that I would be select in the places I go to speak and not use an agent, choosing to be available where needed. And you have helped in that, for you have been my agents.

It’s because of your recommendations I have the privilege of speaking across the United States and Canada and meeting so many wonderful people. Each place I go I am fortunate to be shown love and friendship so that I bring a piece of you home whether I’ve worked with you once or numerous times. Afraid people would mistake my friendliness as a “pull” for money, I’ve never made my work tax exempt and never asked for donations. Yet my home is filled with your beautiful gifts and I’m sometimes surprised to open an envelope and find a personal gift. Not only are those gifts appreciated because I’ve kept my fees lower than most, again to be available where needed, but also because in all those ways you’re still remembering our times together.

A lot of you have requested I put my speech on “Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me” into booklet form. I’m still working on that. (Tells about things I’ve learned through my own experiences and those of others — things I wish I’d known sooner – physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, socially, recreationally, etc. Ways to take care of ourselves in these ways and more such as helpful hints on shopping, cleaning, time management, etc.)

Many of you continue to ask about Jacklyn Welch Shockley who in the early years was my co-speaker but always my co-writer, manager of sorts and special “mom.” I still depend upon her for expert advice as do many others who call and write for her counsel. We’re like the tortoise and the hare — I’m rushing about in a bunch of directions and she’s ever plodding diligently on, carefully deliberating each step — and she always gets to the finish line first! She’s to speak to a Methodist group this week and we’ll be doing one of the beautiful songs she’s written. (Too bad I can’t sing but she’s either gracious or desperate to ask me!) We’re soon to get her songs on CD and are also working to complete her Christian romance novel. She’s continued to do some speaking out of state as she still has that strong rich voice and sharp intellect, plus she has to be one of the most respected and beloved people I know. She was surprised and honored with a special “Jacklyn Welch Shockley Day” near Memphis where people came from a number of states to hear her speak and be with her. You may remember that vision problems run in her familiy so she has switched to Library of Congress Talking Books to do her tremendous amount of reading.

Some of you know that through the years I’d put my life into this ministry as a lay speaker and a caregiver and cautioned me about taking time for myself. Well, one day I realized I’d not had a real vacation in over 22 years! Oh, yes, plenty of travel, but always to work. Not sightseeing, just seeing the signs “to” some beautiful place or another. So … I started taking a week each year to vacation. It will make you happy to know that I began in West Texas Panhandle visiting ranching and farming museums, the outdoor drama, “Texas,” and hiking in Palo Duro Canyon. Next year was a heat wave and I went hiking in the wonderful Mall of America in MN where I bought a new dictionary! Next trip was in to Colorado Springs, Royal Gorge, Focus on the Family, Air Force Academy, etc. Following year was in conjunction with speaking but two of Disney parks for a great escape. Last year friends gave me a week at their timeshare in South Lake Tahoe right on the lake so got to go to the Ponderosa Ranch, hiking in Yosemite and even paddled my first kayak! This summer I went to Southwest Utah and hiked in Zion and Bryce National Parks as well as some at the North Rim of Grand Canyon. I’d hoped this fall to stop over a day in Seattle area in route to Alaska speaking to meet dear Free Methodist friends at my motel. That didn’t work so tried to divide the trip and stop a few days at Oak Glen Conference Center at least one weekend so I could visit with the precious folks with whom I’ve worked so many times there in Southern California. Dreamed of just sitting at the tables in the dining hall visiting to my heart’s content with the ladies as they came to retreat. That didn’t work either. But know all of you are in my thoughts as I fly to Alaska to work with new folks.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Still working on my house, doing a lot myself. JWS’s son-in-law in NC offered to give us a week’s work when he got home from Bahrain and Afghanistan. He and his wife had gone to France on a work and witness team the year before and couldn’t do one of those this year so decided to give us a week! I carefully tore out door and window facings, etc., to have everything ready and told him we wouldn’t hold him to it. Figured it was one thing to e-mail back and forth making drawings and plans with us and when he got home he’d want to stay put. But sure enough he came and we worked putting in a cabinets and a new sink he bought for us. Also he brought us their two-year old Kenmore electric range as they’re remodeling! This summer we had a lot done to the house. In this subtropical country with its rich, soft black dirt, our houses tend to sink and have to be jacked up and leveled every now and then. Had to get someone else to do that.Kathryn Martin in Yosemite

This will help answer your question I hear so often, “What do you do when you’re off work?” Well, I’m never “off work.” I am in the office working on travel plans looking for bargains for my hosts, answering mail and phone calls, often 8-12 hours most days. There is much correspondence and I especially feel the need to reach out to older folks who are shut in across the US and Canada. Sometimes I get up at 3 a.m. and start to work in here, stopping only for meals and doing laundry. Grass grows fast here so I mow once and twice a week on my breaks. We’ve started eating at the community center and that’s helped in lots of ways – well-balanced meal with no effort, savings ($1 a lunch), nice people, and I walk and run around the gym some. I come back in the office and work throughout the afternoon. Stop to eat supper while watching Jeopardy! Then back in here until 11 pm or so. If I do go in to watch TV I have my wonderful lap top (gift from friends) in my recliner and working right on. Maybe for a change, I’ll do clothes mending. As I said the work part never ends….

My neighbor is 90 and I do lots for her. Fig season just ended and I’d pick her figs for her as well as ours from Figgy and Figgy Two. Then when her big tree yields enough, she makes preserves and shares them with us as she can’t get out to tend her tree. Things like that. Fix what breaks. Run errands. She sends over whole platters she cooks extra for us – crawfish fettuccine, shrimp and crab gumbo, jambalaya.

For my town I am one of a handful of Elves – volunteers who make and maintain the thousands of lights strung along our main street at Christmas time.

So this will answer your many questions about what I do during my “off” time. I’ve made this so long that I won’t have anything to tell in the future but at least it’ll be a break to those of you who visit my web site so faithfully and find I’ve not changed it! And future newsletters will be brief. This is just to update first.

My thanks and a big hug to all of you for your friendship and to the new folks stopping by, Glad to meet you!