Saturday, October 30, 2010


There's an old song with a line that says, "I am a passenger, and I ride and I ride." At the moment, there's a familiarity to the rider in the song who is observing the world as it speeds along outside the windows. Not that I realized that I was observing anything specific. Last Spring, Walker and I completed a 10K to benefit the homeless shelter in our city. It was a first experience with any such event, and the planner's mind was fascinated by how it differed and was similar to the sorts of events that have fallen within a planning experience that previously ranged from meetings to parties to conferences. That's organizer's eye is usually watching, even if it is subconscious. That eye took in the details around the big kids' Cross Country season and the annual elementary school fun run fundraiser this year, too.

It was the idea behind the 5K Evan and Katie ran to benefit the school in Uganda a couple of weeks ago that brought the images that had been collecting into increasingly sharper focus. The similarities between Reach Out Honduras and the group to benefit from the event were enough to gain my full attention. The day the kids ran, I was fully present cheering them on, but each aspect of the race was being cataloged in my mind (and with the more objective camera) for later consideration. Research and online requests followed as the idea of such an event to benefit Reach Out Honduras ministry and increase familiarity with the name and needs of tiny Puerto Lempira. Last week, a meeting with one of the organizers of the established event that Walker and I participated in earlier this year yielded the incredible opportunity to observe in meetings as the team prepares for their 2011 event. Tomorrow, there will be a meeting with the organizer of the smaller Fun Run for the Ugandan school. There will be a more balanced perspective between the two similar yet disparate groups and events as well as growing knowledge of contacts, important details, and the dreaded what-not-to-do that usually is only revealed through those twins Trial and Error.

The ROH Board has not yet voted on the idea of a fun run. The full proposal is coming together, and one member is seeking leads within our community for potential corporate sponsors to help determine feasibility. It's challenging to know that for less than $100 a family in Puerto Lempira could receive a chicken coop with two chickens and their own garden to provide ongoing sources of nutrition. The funds that could pay for those items pale in comparison to the overall costs of race-related items. That was a difficult thought, but after praying about it, I believe sponsors who would want their business logo on a t-shirt or banner to help put on a running event in our local community are looking at a marketing expense for their company. That may represent a different group than those who would choose to give directly to the humanitarian programs that Reach Out Honduras hopes to administer as a testimony to Christ's love.

It's not yet certain if I'm just riding along checking out the scenery in passing. Or if I'm headed for a transfer that could require recognizing the route along which others have already traveled. Despite feeling insufficient to the task at hand, I know that God's infinite power and grace are more than enough to take those on board far beyond the limitations of the horizon in view. The trepidation is not a lack of faith, or worry over the unknown. It is simply the waiting that comes as one moves toward a destination wondering "Are we there yet?"

Friday, October 29, 2010


For months Reach Out Honduras has been awaiting the I.R.S. approval of 501c3 status that would give donors a tax deduction for their contributions. The designation has sometimes felt like asking for a worldly stamp of approval for this organization that serves God, but it is also a set standard that indicates a certain legitimacy. It's been challenging to be patient with the dreams and ideas waiting for word of the approval. Yesterday, the ROH Board of Directors was scheduled to meet, but the 501c3 application that was still pending was casting a long shadow over the meeting agenda.
At Laura's request, I placed a call to the representative yesterday. The ringing was met with his voicemail and I left a message hoping against hope that he would call back. Or that the letter with our approval would appear in the Waits's post office box. That somehow the news would come in answer to so many prayers for this status to be granted.
At around 1:00, my cell phone rang downstairs. I tore down the stairs as the idea that it could be the representative with an answer. Heart-hammering, but too late, I saw the area code that was either the I.R.S. or a sales call that was going to get answered. The phone dumped the call to voicemail while fumbling fingers tried to unlock the touch screen. I had to wait while the caller left a message before calling back, but did so without listening to the message.
The representative answered the call back, and he looked up Reach Out Honduras's information. Stomach in knots, heart hammering, and forgetting to breathe, I heard him say, "Oh, that was approved on on October 1st... Haven't you received our letter yet?" EEEEEEEE! (Fortunately, the shrieking was kept internal.) I thanked him, and was given the address where the letter was sent and a phone number to again change the mailing address listed. He assured me that the letter was a formality, and our group was welcome to proceed with any plans. Even as we have been praying for the approval over the past weeks, God had already provided exactly what was needed. We just did not know it yet.
Hanging up the phone, I, um, ran, laughing out loud at desperately praying for what was already given, through the house as animals scattered seeking cover from which to peer out at my apparent loss of sanity. The sheer relief and celebration of the moment was utterly overwhelming. After the initial reaction, I found the phone numbers for our friends in Honduras, and phoned one number only to fail in reaching a person. The second call yielded Alex who heard the news, and passed it along to Laura with the phone. They totally got the "EEEEEEEE!" from which I'd felt the need to protect the I.R.S. representative's ear.
There are so many possibilities open to Reach Out Honduras. Even with the U.S. economy still shuddering from the contractions of the last couple of years, there are people choosing to give to fund the ministry in Puerto Lempira. With the 501c3 designation, those givers will receive a small worldly return in the form of a tax break. Last night's meeting brought new opportunities that will no doubt be detailed here in the future in hopes that Gentle Reader will pray for and potentially partner with us in some way to benefit the children of Puerto Lempira who are still vulnerable in so many ways, but who have a team of people who are praying for them and now have increased potential to help fill the bellies and minds of those children who have already heard that Jesus wants to fill their hearts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


As our Matthew study moves forward, the questions have been posed for discussion via Facebook: "Have you been judged? Have you judged others?" Ah. There was a lengthy silence from those tagged (who typically speak up and willingly weigh in on any topic). Finally, someone bravely spoke up. The thread progressed as ladies weighed in on how they would define judgment before one piped up to talk about how her thoughts were something she was glad others couldn't hear. I could almost see her cringing.
My response to her willingness to admit to what is also an issue for me was one typed and deleted several times as I gave consideration to what judgment is. Someone suggested that it is forming an opinion of someone else without knowing their circumstances, but that's not quite what I think. I'm not certain what it is, but I think judgment is assigning guilt or innocence. I think it assigns or assumes motive. That's treacherous ground to walk as it is defined by personal perception and experience. Those sorts of thoughts damage my relationships with other people and ultimately with God, but the underlying attitudes must change for my thoughts to become honoring to God. Worse, when I open my mouth giving form to those words, I become a contagion of pride and sin.
Simply seeing that I need to avoid  the assignment of motivation to others helps shed light on why it is crushing to be wrongly assigned motives. Just as those who judged me harshly could not see my heart, I cannot know what's going on in someone else's head. I can choose to seek an attitude of compassion when I suspect sinful motives. Compassion does not hold it's head high in the face of anyone's sin. That is a place from which I can look out on the world with eyes reflective of God's mercy in sending Christ for all the wrong-headed, sinful people like me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tidbits: Lenses

  • Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on life because I observe so much of it through the camera's lens.
  • Adults may cringe away from the camera, but it draws chidren.
  • Images are not subject to language barriers.
  • The camera can show you that for which I have no words.
Meet my friend Froggy. We do homework together once a week. It's something we're both pretty excited about. Ironically, he was working on word problems this week. Perhaps there are words to fit being greeted at the door of the afterschool program by Froggy who says, "You came back." Or maybe not.
Working through word problems
Erin went to her first skating lesson. (Her skates have shipped, but they have yet to arrive. She wore the rentals.) She was moving very well. A beginner ice skating class is potentially comical in real life. That does not translate well to the digital still image.
First Skating Lesson
Tomorrow, the Boy will run in the District Cross Country Meet. His mama will be there, watching and trying to capture the moment. And we will later look at the images together.
Preparing for the race
Finally, in three more weeks, we'll leave for a return visit to another world. A place populated by people who have imprinted themselves on my heart.
Laura and Cinco

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Out of nowhere, last Friday afternoon I looked at the mister and said, "Ice skating lessons!" I then had to frame my reference as a response to his question a week earlier about a birthday gift for our youngest child's 10th birthday. I phoned one of three (Seriously, people, three--- in Texas!) ice rinks within a 12-mile radius to ask about lessons. One was not yet in session, and the call was just in time to register for the next weekly beginner lesson that happens to fall on our only open night of the week. It starts tonight. Her birthday is in November.
So. Yes, the kiddie will receive another early birthday gift since the lessons start before the Big Day. (The stale cupcakes we'll drop off at the school to share at lunchtime the day of her actual birthday may be a little anticlimactic...) In keeping with this year's Early Bird theme, Grandma and Granddad gifted our girl with cash--- probably because she said she wanted a bike. She did not deign to purchase a bike, but instead opted tp sit on her nest egg for a time. This weekend we took her out to shop for ice skates instead of a bike. The outing served as a reminder that our kid has Cadillac taste on a bicycle budget.

The pair she fell for were gleaming white leather boots straight out of Disney's "Ice Princess". They were also priced well above the crumpled bills crammed in our would-be princess's jeans pocket. We left the store with a very sad, disappointed would-be skater and no ice skates. At home, the internet offered up an alternative pair of pearly white leather skates by the same maker at about half the price. Our not-so-little skater will be wearing rental skates for her first lesson tomorrow while we wait for her pair to ship, but she will wear those rentals with the knowledge that her own are on the way. More importantly, by waiting, she's not broke in the acquisition of the skates. That may be the real gift we give her this year.

Monday, October 25, 2010


This weekend our pastor stood before a very suburban congregation and talked about building treasures in Heaven. Mmmph. Our group discussion questions kicked off asking about what treasures we are building on earth vs those in heaven. The topic just highlights how much stuff we have in our lives. The area where we live is a place where materialism is more blatant than insidious even with the recession not yet behind us, and it is easy enough to accept that excess is normal. What is not so easy is deciding where to draw the line between what's okay and what is excessive. With the week's study topic, I find myself evaluating much in our home and my own desires for that home.
Loading the 40 ft. container to ship goods to Honduras

Ten days ago, Amy (Nov. Honduras Trip Leader) and I watched as four pallets of the Waits Family's belongings were loaded onto a container to be shipped to Honduras. We were so glad to know that the family's goods were on the way since they would be moving into their home in late November. Laura? She was appreciative, but could not imagine what on earth was in the stacks of boxes that she might possibly need besides some cooking pots. Hmmm. Having visited their new home, I have seen how the place will strip away those desires outside of life's necessity. There is a strong lure in that simplicity.

And I find that in thinking of the vast difference between our friends' lives stripped bare of excess possessions, I see the danger of my own vanity squatting amongst the possessions meant to make our house a home. There is the ever-present risk of a heart that shifts from what is acceptable to the place of pride that is not honoring to God. Our home is a shelter for our family, it was the place of our reconciliation and restoration. Still, I must be wary that I not shift from the wish to offer a place of welcome and hospitality to family and guests to pride in this place. This place is, after all, just a place.

What we do, what we learn, who we welcome, and how we live in this place... those are things that matter. Those are very likely the real treasures which we are storing up. I think perhaps there are possessions which I can choose to pack up and give away. The next Garage Giveaway is only a few weeks away, and there is a personal challenge to go through this house and cull those items of good quality which will better serve another before that event. These are not items which will be replaced, but simply those goods which could do more good elsewhere.

Friday, October 22, 2010


In 2008, I flummoxed my mister with a crying jag over not having lice. Not because I wanted lice per se, but because ShelleyinPoland had ended up with a case while serving children suffering from the critters. Not having lice on that day meant that I had not been amongst the team loving on those children. It was a very real grief.
Salon Services
An answer to my prayer to be able to minister (as ShelleyinPoland and the team she served with had) came almost two years later. The opportunity to share in shampooing thirty-odd heads of hair to relieve the children at House of Hope of their itchy scalps was presented last March. It was delightful to finally get the chance to act on what can best be described as a case of Holy Discontent. The experience brought relief to the kids while highlighting the issue of a severe water shortage affecting those in Puerto Lempira for Katie and I (who are both very accustomed to turning on the tap without having to consider from whence that needful resource springs). The whole experience was overwhelming, but one that is a treasured memory of that week in Honduras.
When the Reach Out Honduras Thanksgiving Team was given the opportunity to collect 20 RID lice treatments and repeat our "Beauty Salon", there was no hesitation in agreement. It was delightful to contemplate the repeat opportunity to be part of again meeting the kids' need for relief from that too common pest. Out of the blue this week, Mama Tara asked Laura about lice treatments for the children who shelter with her. Last night, Laura e-mailed asking if it would be possible to purchase an additional 13 treatments. Trip Leader Amy immediately responded that her mother was in possession of $100 given that day toward the purchase of the $9-$10 lice treatments. It was with a happy heart that I followed up Amy's response with the news that I had received another $25 yesterday for the treatments as well. While not sure if we have the full compliment of the original 20 treatments pledged yet, I know of at least ten plus two promised by former Operation Prayer Surge (Poland, 2008) teammates ShelleyinPoland and Lisa.

I'm consistently amazed at the blessings that come in sometimes odd packages. Yet, I find an overflow of thanksgiving that this perhaps yucky ministration is the ministry which God offers again because the act of meeting this need for those we serve ministers to my own heart. Again, I find tears coming in response to children who have lice. It is with absolute gratitude that I contemplate the incredible gift of being one of those who will be serving in a way I so keenly missed years ago. Here's to taking our shampoo and comb out salon even further and reaching out to ever more people with a ministry that might not be for everyone, but means the world to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Saturday Last week was craziness culminating in a hurried Saturday morning. Evan and Katie were each signed up to support Day Spring Christian Academy in Uganda through their entry fees to compete in a 5K Fun Run set to begin at 8:15. There was a 40 foot container waiting to be loaded full of supplies for the House of Hope and personal belongings for the Waits family in Puerto Lempira beginning at 9:00. No problemo.

Evan sprinting the final yards of the Day Spring 5K
The kids took off from the starting line at 8:13. They ran like rabbits to finish well. The first two runners crossed the finish line in the 21st minute of the race. Evan came into sight third, and right behind him was the light blue, short-sleeved shirt signalling that his little sister was his nearest competitor. Cheering for Evan, I saw him keeping his steady pace that would likely bring him across the finish line at a fair time, but not his best time this season. He knew someone was behind him, but didn't know who until I began to cheer for Katie as she came into shouting distance. The Boy told us that he thought I was cheering for him until it clicked that I was saying, "Go Katie!" He decided to sprint at that point.

The Finish Line

Katie saw her brother putting on speed. She knew they were in the final stretch, and she also began to sprint. I was caught up in cheering, watching the clock, trying to photograph the kids, and being very aware of the time our next commitments looming imminently closer. I snapped a shot as The Boy went by, but missed him crossing the finish line at 24:05. Katie evaded the camera during her final push, but was captured for posterity in the final seconds as she approached the Finish line. Thinking that there would be awards for the Overall Winner and Age Group Winners, but that our runners had not qualified since they were in 3rd and 4th place, we quickly headed to the car after the kids congratulated the top two runners.
The container was loaded while Katie attended a football game and had lunch with friend, and I began to follow up on the idea of such a race as a means of raising awareness and support for the ministry of Reach Out Honduras in Puerto Lempira. It's expensive, but such an event could bring the needed attention of those enjoying a high standard of living to the plight of others who cannot even truly imagine the daily availability of things I consider "necessities" like fruit and vegetables to eat. My mister is encouraging me to keep investigating and preparing for the possibility because the up front expenses could result in great benefits for Reach Out Honduras. "Benefits," which translate to vegetable gardens to feed families currently subsisting on, at best, a daily meal of rice. It could mean needed funds to purchase a vehicle for transportation in and around Puerto Lempira. It could mean the world to a child who receives an education. Such big dreams... and all completely beyond me. This one will have to be God's because I am out of my depth. So. The possibility of a Fun Run to benefit Reach Out Honduras becomes a prayer point that will hopefully lead to taking our kids' hobby and making it one more way that we can serve others.
This morning, as I read through the proposal for races like the one the kids ran in on Saturday, I pulled up the race results. With my mind more focused on Honduras, I was a little confused by the first line of the standings which read, "OVERALL FEMALE WINNERS Place 1 Name KAITLIN MIDDLE CHILD". Eh? Scanning down the list, I was no less surprised to find, "Male 15-19 Winners Place 1 Name EVAN THE BOY".! I quickly fired off a copy of the standings to Katie's middle school coach and her youth group small group leader who have both encouraged her all season with thanks for their efforts to support her in achieving a win in her very first 5K. I just yelled upstairs to The Boy who was still at home. It was a small field of runners, but is a big reason for celebration in our family with two strong finishes and surprise winning results.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Having made my cookies (and eaten none too few, too), this morning's Moment of Truth arrived. The MoT involves stepping onto the bathroom scale that abides in the study. (It lurks behind my desk. I can feel it there now. Stalker.) The number has crept back up to where it was a couple of weeks ago. A couple of weeks during which someone ordered new one-size-smaller jeans. (Uh-oh.) The one-size-smaller jeans fit. They just need not fit quite as well as they do right now, and it's hardly a mystery as to why the scale reveals the return of those lost-and-found four pounds. Dessert + little jeans = strained seams. Today, I am going to substitute an extra couple of miles walking in hopes of relieving the pressure on those seams, and still being able to prance around feeling self-congratulatory in my skinnier-than-I-thought-possible jeans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stomped Goblins

We made Stomped Goblins yesterday. That means it's October around here because the cookies are an annual Fall family treat. (I've also heard them called Monster Cookies.) My mother used to make them at Halloween, and she would call them, "Stomped Goblins," saying, "That's what they look like!" Going with tradition, that is the name we use. The recipe follows:

Stomped Goblins
2 sticks butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup each: uncooked quick oats, corn flakes
1/2 cup each: chopped pecans, coconut, semisweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips

Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix in dry ingredients and add vanilla. Fold in quick oats, corn flakes, pecans, coconut, and chips. Refrigerate finished dough tightly covered for two hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes until edges are brown and center is done.