Saturday, July 31, 2010
The weekly trips to the food pantry are inspired by Jesus's caring for other people's needs. And food is a pretty basic need for people. To cite a well known instance, there was that whole loaves and fishes thing. That, "You feed them," inspires me. I want to shout, "Yessir!" and feed everyone who might possibly be hungry. This is such a simple way to serve others--- to do exactly what Jesus would desire. So. Our family adds a few items to our grocery list that fit the calorie-dense meal plan that dictates the groceries given out by the dedicated team of volunteers who serve the clients at our community food pantry. Yes, Lord. We will feed them.
Our church is preparing snippets of video testimony. Under the heading of "Serving," is an opportunity to share this thought that the food pantry is a place facilitating Jesus's, "You feed them," and to highlight that our homes, neighborhoods, and community are our first mission field. In August, the church is also accepting artists' interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount. The food pantry was to be the subject of a photo essay for this purpose which is why the camera was tucked in among the donations today. Except that the photos do not tell the story. And I suspect the video will not, either. Because it is not my story.
The use of text and photo take me out of the equation. My soul and heart are given voice through these mediums, but I am not the subject. It is Jesus, and the service of the One who I love that is hopefully featured in the pictures and paragraphs offered. How do I disappear from a video? How do I remove myself from the equation? This quandary is reminiscent of the yearning of a dear friend (who serves as an astounding worship leader) as she expressed that the greatest compliment she could receive was to hear that those following her into worship ceased to see her. My sentiments exactly.
Friday, July 30, 2010
There is a difference between leaving one's church and leaving one's faith. As my mister put it, "Martin Luther left the Church, but he did not leave behind Jesus." The man has a point. The media gets to that point eventually when stating that Anne Rice is holdinng to her actual beliefs while defecting from the entity which was previously offerinng earthly governance of such things.
Since I do not particularly follow Anne Rice's faith-based leanings as a general rule of thumb, this tidbit only came to my attention thanks to a post from a high school friend who finds Christians hateful because she feels they are hate-full. (I'm not too sure why she "friended" me. Maybe I do not show up on her feed? Or it is some nostalgia-induced brand of tolerance?) This feeling so often expressed by my acquaintance is exactly the issue that comes up in the articles on Mrs. Rice's departure. It churns my stomach because the anti-everything message is so patently not what Jesus taught, but it seems to be the message so often portrayed as an underpinning of Christian faith.
Jesus walked and ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He healed the blind, sick, and lame rather than speculating on what sort of sin had led to their afflictions. He did say to sin no more, and yet He did not spew condemnation for the sinner or protest at known sinner hangouts (except the temple). Jesus is Light in the darkness, but it says in John that even at Creation the darkness could not comprehend it. That profound verse reminds me that those who do not know Christ have not yet received and cannot fully understand the grace and justice interwoven throughout scripture. How I wish that the reflective beacons that are supposed to be shining the light of Jesus out into a dark world were not so often warped that the Light is judged by the quality of the reflector.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The response to those messages was the sending out of an e-mail to a larger group of previous supporters detailing our excitement about returning to Honduras over Thanksgiving. There was a clear memory of keen disappointment over having been denied past opportunities to be part of others' missionary efforts that was present while consideration was given to whom we might send out support letters. Um... that thing about having little faith? Yeah. Uh-oh. Still, I didn't want to bombard anyone. Plus, it had become clear that our daughters were not really understanding the value of the gifts of support. The gifts for which we were asking so that others might choose to join us in our next trip to Puerto Lempira needed to be recognized as sacrifices by those on the receiving end. The upcoming trip called for a varied approach to raising support appropriate to each of us.
Erin and Katie are working like mad to earn support. The varied pet-sitting and baby-sitting jobs have continued to come along. We have begun our ongoing bake sale featuring our chocolate and banana breads in several sizes. Yesterday, the girls spent two hours scrubbing away soot from a friend's hearth and fire screen as well as scrubbing away evidence of a leaky rook from tile grout on a covered patio. (They really, really liked these cool grown-up chores. Who knew?!) The girls are getting an excellent education in the actual value of those financial gifts that arrive in the mail box in response to the support letters that required me to put aside my personal concerns. After all, words like, "me," and "my," have little enough to do with this endeavor. This is an opportunity to simply trust that God provides what is just exactly right for each of us.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The first letter I recall was from a former mentor sharing her excitement about heading to Africa. In fact, her letter was the inspiration for my own letter months later, but she was far from the first person we knew who was making a short-term or extended mission trip. The feeling of having missed out on the opportunities to be part of sending others out to places where we were not likely to go was akin to an emptiness in the pit of one's stomach. The realization that our known lack of ready cash had possibly been reason for others to withhold the opportunity to be part of their sending teams left a decidedly unpleasant hollowness. It also led to an added excitement in 2008 as support letters for Operation Prayer Surge in Poland were written and sent out. God provided every penny of the expenses related to that trip, and many people prayed from home as the in-country team moved throughout several cities and landmarks praying for Poles and those ministering to them.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Um, wait. The information imparted at last week's Cross Country meeting clicked into place as I plied my too-bright morning cheer during the early morning cruise in the mom-mobile to get The Boy to practice. The regular school day practices will begin at 6:15. The boys are supposed to be on campus by 6:00. That means driving him to school before 6:00. Every single day. Oh, my. I wonder if it is possible to un-know this tidbit to spare my thoughts from the anticipation of the return to being Morning People that, all too soon, heralds the dawn of the new school year?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
The results of all this industry are already encouraging. The first meals have been ordered. The first babies have been snuggled. The checker at Target ringing up the school supplies to be added to the collection for Mama Tara's asked for contact information because she would like to contribute items as well! We have more critters than we have hands to pet them around the house. The first "Thank You" notes have gone out expressing our pleasure in the partnerships with those who are willing and able to send us back to Puerto Lempira with gifts of prayer and financial support. We are on our way.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
"Who is Ty?" Gentle Reader might ask. Ty is the reason that the group leaders on the Tecate Trip reiterated the No Coupling Off Policy in place for Middle Child last week. This week the kids are no longer on a mission trip to Mexico. Katie texted (cringe. cringe. cringe.) the Imaginary Boyfriend (He was a figment of texting which sort of mitigates the breaking up over text thing. I like the sort of boyfriend who is only present via digital chatter. Middle Child... not so much.) The Imaginary Boyfriend agreed that they were better off as friends, and on Wednesday evening Ty asked KT if she would like to go out. Now, we all get to go bowling and have a little meet-and-greet.
She got to know him on a trip to build a house for a family living in a camper shell. This is a big point in Ty's favor. He understands that KT has to have a parent along to go somewhere (like the bowling alley) with him. And she "likes" him. I? Like bowling and Middle Child.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Eh? Why, yes. This friend who I met in 2007 through our church once lived across the street from Jean and Charles in another Texas town. She had heard of my hilarious, capable, colorful Mammy as "Wallene" over the years and was familiar with some of the arts and crafts that are so tied to memories of the grandmother who passed away in 2000. (J. had not heard of Mammy's propensity for writing
Monday, July 19, 2010
Our church already streams live feeds of the weekly service over the internet, and I have on occasion sent messages asking friends to take a peep after something particularly relevant to them came across as part of a message. Examples of ways in which the streaming services have been used include one woman visiting out of state family who shared the service with her hosts on a computer at the kitchen table, a college-aged daughter who had yet to find a church logging on weekly, and by those otherwise unable to make it to the bricks-and-mortar building for a variety of reasons from illness to inclement weather. This is not what is meant by, "Internet Campus".
Radio, television, and even video streaming live services are all a passive experience. These types of media have been derided as the ultimate consumer, pew-sitting opportunity because there is no interaction. The proposed internet campus will be active, and teams are being developed now who will serve to provide that very interaction. Some of the needed volunteers are very similar to those found serving within the physical walls of our church campus from greeters and small group facilitators to more internet-specific roles such as live technical assistance. Yet, these volunteers can be located anywhere and will be able to serve those who are located anywhere. A church without walls in the truest sense.
This venue offers the opportunity for those who might not set foot in a church, to visit. It is not necessarily something that would draw me, but I am intrigued nonetheless upon consideration of how such an idea fits with the changing world. (Besides, I am not the person this church seeks to reach since I show up regularly at the physical location.) One of the inspirations for this endeavor was simply that people are searching for answers in this world. And the word, "search," has morphed into a verb that rolls off the tongue so easily in an all-too-familiar phrase: "Just google it." Whatever one needs can be found with that neat little answer. If one needs Jesus, then why shouldn't He be found at the end of a google search?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The first mentions of I Write Like piqued little more than a dismissive notice. Increasing mentions of the novelty program, including this article that made my home page's list of "Most Popular" tidbits, garnered more interest. Intriguing to see how a computer program could compare vocabulary, syntax, and punctuation to attempt to classify writing samples by a sample of published authors. Just for grins, I decided to enter in the most recent ohbutno post. Highlight. Click Copy. Switch tabs. Click Paste. Submit, and "Voila!" A wail of, "Nooooo!" follows the revelation that the (admittedly incomplete) list of authors found a best match in Dan Brown.
Convinced that the program has a glitch, I enter the preceding post. And get a little puffed up over the William Shakespeare response. Perplexed by the inability to reconcile two such disparate authors, the idea to enter a month's worth of posts takes root. And I take action in a flurry of point and click punctuated by hisses, groans, moans, gleeful crowing, and a, "Say what?!" or two. Out of thirteen posts for the month of July, the program produced the following results:
David Foster Wallace: 23%
Dan Brown: 15%
William Shakespeare, Jonathon Swift, Arthur C. Clarke, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ursula LeGuin, Bram Stoker, Kurt Vonnegut: 7.75% ea.
And this particular post? Put Dan Brown in a tie with Wallace at just over 21%. I really should have quit while I was ahead.
Maybe I'm just tired. Last night's Girls' Night Out dinner ended up with a secondary stop for shared rich chocolate cake topped with ice cream in a moment of "Diet Lost". We saw the wee hours of Saturday watching the Eclipse movie that leaves behind a silly grin and a desire to giggle. (Um, yes, again. If Gentle Reader is counting that would be three times. I have yet to wear the t-shirt, at least. Well, so far.) Arriving home at around 1:00 a.m., I knew this morning would be an early start to a busy day moving one of the Honduras Girls to her new digs and attending the tiara-studded 5th birthday party for two favorite princesses. It was worth it. Especially if my slightly foggy brain can be reactivated sufficiently with coffee to allow the eventual completion of that Facebook page later today.
30 minutes later:
Not only is FB glitchy. My Mom-mobile is, too. The behemoth will not start. (Wow. SO glad I did not drive it to GIrls' Night. Midnight-thirty in a parking lot with a dead battery seems like a bad idea.) Having jump-started myself and the offspring for the day's activities, I am now waiting for my mister to return home to give the car some go-go. I suspect the battery is gone. This is going to complicate matters.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Until today. Two days after Big Mouth struck again, someone asked me about the very specific thing that I had decreed I would not do. No hesitation was involved in the, "Yes." The asker was a bit put off by the revelation that there had been personal opposition to her as yet unmade proposition. Except that I was wrong. My heart and soul are inextricably tied to the endeavor in question.
So. I made an about face. With the change of heart, came a sense of peace. The acceptance of going with the pull that draws one along rather than the struggle of swimming against the current out of nothing more than sheer stubbornness. I didn't even know a toe had been dipped into the water, but it turns out that I was already immersed. And the water is fine.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The first suggestion from Heidi was, "Use your cooking skills! Offer meals from your kitchen, and I am sure you will have plenty of takers." I considered this, but wasn't so sure. This morning, the question was put to Jan, who immediately suggested... cooking. Hmmm. Sensing a theme, and, in all honestly, thrilled at the idea of spending hours in the kitchen preparing meals for others, I have a couple of sample menus that are relatively simple to prepare and deliver. I'm just not sure how appealing those will be to others, or if dinner delivery if going to be a hit in the current economic climate--- even for a good cause.
Sample Menus might be:
Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes, Salad, and Rolls
Barbecue Chicken, Corn Casserole, Seasonal Fruit
Pasta w/ Spaghetti Sauce, Cream Sauce, or Olive Oil/Sausage/Peppers, Salad, Rolls
and a choice of Chocolate Bread or Banana Bread for Dessert
Or maybe I offer it all a la carte?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Having been surgically, permanently cut off from our child-bearing years, there was no reason to consider the possibility of more offspring. Friends with small children and infants have been willing to entrust their children to us while they work, are ill, or enjoy a date. This seemed sufficient, and on occasion even had the hallmark feeling of being overwhelmed that is, as it turns out, not solely the mark of being 21, broke, and in charge of someone who cries to communicate. Those challenges are offset by the moments of sweetness like being presented with a painstakingly drawn stick figure in thick waxy crayon for the refrigerator door, an infant's head resting peacefully on one's shoulder, the endless entertainment of translating the gobbledy gook that passes for speech at 2, and little arms wrapped tightly around one's leg in a hug that can only reach so high.
My mister is far less intrigued by such things. His memories of infants involve rather a lot of crying--- sometimes by the babies. He is content with a world that revolves around us as a couple, and the goal is to raise our children and get back to the honeymoon as soon as the kids are reasonably self-sufficient. (That is rather an enticing idea.) I read of the ways to dip a toe into the pool of children who need safety and love without disregarding the differing goals that the mister and I see before us. The opportunities to care for others' children, the crisis shelter for kids facing removal from their homes in the face of abuse where volunteers are needed, and in months a return to La Moskitia where the youngest children can face uncertainty and benefit from one more pair of open arms reaching out.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Having seen a mention of passport fees increasing some time soon, I pulled up the travel.gov web site to see what cost would be incurred in obtaining Little Bit's passport. The fees will go up by $25. The date for this increase to take effect? July 13, 2010. Tomorrow.
Needless to say, Erin's official birth certificate was pulled from it's file and the required form was filled out on online. We took her to the drugstore for a quick photo session resulting in the necessary pair of twin 2X2 photos to be presented with her application. (She spent ten minutes showing Mom different expressions before settling on one in between a smile and an impressive glare. It was pointed out that we do not want to amuse or scare the customs officials, and that she would have to make any of several super silly faces every time the document was examined.) Today we will apply for her passport, and have done so just in time to dodge the added expense of the new fees.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Laura's post had me smiling, and thinking of how it is possible to continually pour out even though I do not shoulder the responsibility for others' response to care. My chronically half-empty glass is in no real danger of being emptied. I can pour it out for others without worry knowing there is that well of Living Water Jesus offered in John 4. The only time my glass is likely to be sucked dry is when there is a self-induced drought brought on by failure to return to that well for a refill.
This week, the thought that John 4 was the place to be coincided with Middle Child's pre-departure lunch mas she heads to Mexico for a week of service building a home and sharing Jesus through Children's Bible School with her middle school youth group.
In preparation for the trip, we talked of how she might take time to study those verses in John 4 herself with an eye toward the future she hopes to see unfold. A future with training in engineering with an eye toward the incredible need for clean drinking water in many places around the world. Or perhaps for knowledge of crop techniques to yield sufficient food for areas suffering from hunger. Ideas that have sprouted as a result of seeds planted in Laura's Honduran home. And at the foot of that cross.
Imagine my smile when our pastor announced today in service that he would be departing from Joseph to honor what God had done through the faithfulness of a team sent out from our church to assist in planting four churches in Uganda over the last two weeks. Two weeks that resulted in hundreds of people discovering that wellspring of grace, mercy, and possibility that fills one to overflowing. His departure from Genesis? A detour to the Good News found in John 4.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
So. I did what I would do with a girlfriend. I asked her to lunch. We did a little shopping and sat giggling over chips and salsa as we worked on her prayer calendar with crayons begged from the hostess after the only pen between us ran out of ink. We talked about the bits of Scripture that speak to each of us, and how those relate to these trips. We talked about the challenges of remembering that her school, our neighborhood, and the countless places we go in our daily lives are our mission field even though these mission trips have the feel of climbing to the mountain top with their intensive focus that takes us away from the everyday. Eventually, we come back down; yet, we are no less called to reflect the ministry of Jesus in the mundane days of our lives.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The mister took Little Bit out on a Daddy & Me Date to see a movie, and she chose to invite the rest of us to meet them at La Madeleine for dessert afterward. Middle Child, The Boy, and I will go catch a morning showing of "Eclipse" since we have devoured the young adult book series (again... The Boy did not see the movies with the teeming halls of females on the night of the movie release, but he did enjoy both the story and the first two progressively less low-budget movies.) All five of us caught the M. Night Shyamalan snore-fest "The Last Airbender". It's been a quiet week laced with these frequent escapes into fantasy.
Not that we have been in danger of becoming vacant-minded lumps staring blankly at screens teeming with make-believe lives in darkened rooms. There have been peaceful hours tallied sitting on the covered patio over coffee, breakfasts, grilling, and just chatting. We've wandered the exhibit halls of the Museum of Nature and Science again where each of us has favorite displays. There have been many, many miles logged by the assorted runners and walkers thanks to cloud cover providing cooler mornings. The mister and I slipped out yesterday, leaving the children to assorted other activities, for a date involving a trip to peruse the book store, wander through a lovely urban outdoor shopping and dining mecca built around a faux creek and waterfall. (There was a stop for gelato. The scale will no doubt say something unpleasant to me after this week's indulgences. Not that I care enough to feel guilty over the treats. What goes up, can certainly come down.) We have done the loveliest list of near nothing I could ask for over these days.
The doctor gave an all-clear mid-week saying that there were no signs of malignancy in my scans or blood work. He had no idea why the struggle with fatigue and shortness of breath go on, and he suggested that I go back to the immunologist. Again. I think I will simply ignore the symptoms in the relative conviction that I have done enough to chase down a cause. Besides, our family has better things to do than worry.
The idea that one in four women falls prey to sexual abuse of some sort in her lifetime makes me ill. I feel the color leave my face even as a red haze tinges the out most edges of my vision with each new tale of pain and shame related by women who are each beloved of Christ. These are the children of God. How dare anyone take what God put in place as a mechanism of love, life, and the spark of creation in us only to twist it into a hideous image of depravity? Every single day it happens somewhere. And in the sense of being a drop in the bucket, I will walk alongside another sweet soul who searches for the living water that can wash her clean. How I wish there was no such need.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
- The Honduras girls went to see all the Twilight movies.
- The next-to-last chapter in Holy Discontent pretty much described my soon-to-depart friend Laura and her heart for Honduras.
- Laura and I shared a farewell brunch and talked of the needs her family is going to meet and those they will need met. She opened my small mind a bit further to big, new ideas.
- Jan asked for pictures from our Spring Break trip to use in a slide show. Pictures like these:
As I sifted through photo files, listening to the Casting Crowns track Jan sent along with her photo request, there was a certainty that there was a little girl like Alba Rosa (held by Katie in the above photos) who was waiting for there to be extra arms to hold her. (This may have been somewhat influenced by a conversation with Laura earlier in the week about the amount of red tape involved in ministering to kids in the U.S.) I wonder about the kids we met, and those who minister to them daily. Next thing I know, I'm in tears.
My mister is one to greet the tears of the assorted females in our home as a call to action of some sort. He asked what was wrong. I told him. In minutes, the decision was made that Katie and I will go back to Honduras at Thanksgiving.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Running down the hall in my pajamas yelling for others to hurry and, "Look out the back windows!" drew both daughters (if none of the household males). Yanking open Katie's blinds, I pointed outside. The girls and I clustered together at the window watching as pinpoints of light streamed one at a time heavenward to explode into glowing spheres set against the night sky. We raced back to the master bedroom where the view was better. The single lights came rapidly on the heels of one another. The speed increased until not one, but a series of lights tore skyward to herald series of explosions. The brightness shifted as not one, but many colors were represented in the expanding, and too quickly disappearing, light over the rooftop behind our home. Finally, the sky went dark. We headed back to our beds, but with the delicious surprise of our unexpected night lights still fresh in our minds' eyes.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Because there is a call coming. Yesterday, due to PSAT testing, the students were restricted during their break from their usual haunt (the cafeteria). So, our kid went "exploring" with "the guys" upstairs. The exploration led to the teachers' lounge (a place students should not be) where a soda was removed from the fridge (that ought to be free from the predations of students) and used for some sort of idiotic game before supposedly being returned to the fridge. The Remover was my kid. Uh-oh. He says he returned the drink, but it was missing later, and the whole world saw him out playing with it. Oh.but.no. So. He was kept after school yesterday in the determination of his guilt, and the consequences will come today.
The consequences at home will likely be mitigated if we don't hear about the consequences at school during Date Day. In the meantime, I am periodically calling the kid, "Dora" and have him explore a list of additional chores available to keep him busy and out of trouble.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Steroids are bad. The first two doses are fine, but the third one brings out the mean. For example, I was extremely cross with the daughters who thoughtfully made themselves a pizza for lunch so I could sleep off the drugs uninterrupted. It's that kind of rationale that was in effect as I sat in the imaging center trying to learn if any of the radiologists available to read the CT were on our insurance despite three previous conversations with assorted administrative people. (Nope. Time to address that unmet out-of-network deductible. Awesome. That set well in the stormy sea of barium-coated belly and steroidal crabbiness.) Fortunately, this is not Mama's first rodeo on steroids, so the recognition of my likely irritability having nothing to do with my perceived antagonists was at least tempering my desire to try out for an episode of the evening news or a mention in a true crime show.
The center could not access the type of port I have, so the nurse tried to find a vein that would play nicely. Except that mine generally prefer to play Hide and Seek. I especially appreciated the different colors of wrapping used for the different holes poked. The bright blue and fuchsia mummy look could come in at any time. I would've been trendy if that had been today. Ah, well.
The whole test took a whopping half hour. I avoided the temptation to walk with my arms stretched out before me making a low moaning/groaning noise in honor of my bandaged arms and hands. That sort of thing never seems to be nearly as amusing to other people as it is in my head. Which is reason enough to keep such thoughts from becoming action.
I drove home, unwrapped my mummy costume, dashed off an e-mail update, and crawled into bed to sleep off the after effects. Preliminary results can be picked up this afternoon, or I can wait until my follow-up with Dr. J on July 7th. I haven't decided whether or not to seize the opportunity to spend the weekend trying to piece together a crazy quilt understanding of the CT report from my own medical knowledge base and the scary stories available on the internet, or if I will just opt for patience and accuracy.