Thursday, April 28, 2011


The simple art of responding properly to an invitation has been lost. Fortunately, Little Bit's teacher is British. (Well, she's a U.S. citizen as of last month, but she got to keep her awesome British accent.) She has invited the whole fourth grade glass to dress smartly and attend a tea party in honor of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding tomorrow. The class's homework assignment was to write an appropriate R.S.V.P. for the party tomorrow. Love it.
Now to get back to watching Charles and Di get married over and over again on TLC. I cannot work the DVR, but the girls can so we will now be able to endlessly watch Di's bridesmaids attempt to get her 26 foot train into the church and speculate on Kate's dress. My mister finds it funny that there's an awful lot of sighing and, er, squealing coming from the living room. Anywho... I must get back to the countdown on t.v. that I'm watching with my youngest child who is wearing ice skates (blade guards on in the house, of course) to practice her arabesques while we watch our fill of fairy tale wedding while mostly ignoring the unfortunate end to the nightmare marriage in anticipation of tomorrow morning's festivities.


Deborah's Sponsors with their gift
It sounded backward. Laura messaged that the Alastero kids had gifts for their sponsors. After all, the sponsors give to the kids--- not the other way around. Still, the generosity of the kids really should come as no surprise. I have seen repeatedly how a child receiving candy, stickers, school supplies, or hair accessories in gift packs from a sponsor immediately begins to share out their treasures and treats with the other children on every trip. There is a generosity in the children's giving from their "poverty" that highlights the reality of my own poverty. I see how little I give in comparison to what I have, and it makes the reality of their giving to one another precious. Yet, it is not only to one another that the children give.
When the Waits family arrived in Texas to visit, they brought letters for each sponsor family and handmade bowls crafted from recycled chip bags from each sponsored child. These bowls are characteristic of not only generosity, but also of ingenuity. The Alastero kids gather discarded chip bags to recycle into baskets and similar vessels to sell for income. They can also use the same technique to create pine needle baskets. I prefer the rustic look of the pine needles, but both types of baskets are works of art. There is hope that the kids will be willing to teach Artist and I how to make the baskets during our trip to Honduras in a few weeks. It may be a challenge to communicate that we do not wish to infringe on their livelihood, but that we simply to wish to learn from them and to join in the continued development of ever more creative basket weaving. It is also my hope that the task will be a means by which to build more of a relationship with these remarkable young people.
A small pine needle basket

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Picture Post: Steps

Six months ago... Intro to Skating

Three months ago... working one on one with Alyssa

Learning her final Beginner Skills...Three-turns


More three-turns

Practicing her Waltz and Half Flip Jumps


Her first skating dress

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tidbits: Mom

 Tidbits are all there's been time for lately. Between the normal schedule, friends and family from out of town, Easter, and Middle Child's Birthday, sitting down at the computer to type or edit photos has been far down the To Do List.
  • Little Bit's twinkie skating dress came in last week. She tried it on, and. I. squealed. like. a. little. girl. It was sparkly and floaty, and she obviously felt pretty in the thing. She endured a couple of quick snapshots before heading upstairs to roll her eyes at Mom's delight in seeing either of my typically jeans-and-t-shirt clad daughters dressed in something foo-foo. Middle Child informed her younger sister, "You know you just made Mom's whole life, right?" Which is precisely the reason why the kid tolerated the squee moment and the camera.
  • Both sets of grandparents were here and gone over the weekend. I think there are some pictures of the grands that are worth a little extra time spent editing. They have interesting faces. Or maybe I find them interesting because of those hints of genetics that trickled down to form the Offspring?
  • Middle Child turned fourteen on Easter Sunday. Wow. That was fast. How can it be that the weight of her at a year old perched on my hip can feel so familiar when she is growing ever further from being the Mama's Girl who cried any time I put her down in that long first twelve months? She was completely spoiled. And if I had it to do again--- I might not put her down at all.
  • Tomorrow will mark six months since Little Bit stepped on the ice for an introductory figure skating class. Sounds like a picture post waiting to happen.
  • Apparently our property values and the professional credibility of our teachers are directly linked to the test scores earned by herds of public school students. The e-mail bombing by far perkier mothers regarding the necessity of grapes, cheese cubes, goldfish/pretzels, and bottled water to ensure the success of the 4th graders on their TAKS tests have been clear that we have an opportunity to help. In order to not cause a new bottom in suburban real estate, I'd best get off the computer and get back in the kitchen to bag up the snacks that will surely prevent the dreaded Brain Drain from sucking our students' future success (not to mention our property values...*rolls eyes*) into an educational Vortex of Doom.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The pocket book and the calendar remain key clues to the state of one's heart, mind, and perhaps soul. Asked to "wrestle with God," over opportunities to give to various projects, forward surged the urge to justify where both time and money are spent. From "mapping" potential income in relation to planned giving, the mister and I also looked at where we spend our time. If considering our family's projected giving over the coming year, it is not only the cost in U.S. Dollars, Polish Zloty, or Honduran Lempira that needs counting, but also the hours, days, and weeks to take into consideration. Our time is finite while the finances are fluid- dependant on everything from price fluctuation to job status.
Despite hearts for ministry in Poland and Honduras, there is no calling to go live in either country, but instead to stay in our Pleasant Suburb. ShelleyinPoland keeps prayer requests coming across the internet and updates on the fledgling church plant in Gdansk while the countdown ticks away toward the next visit to the La Moskitia region of Honduras. Not only that trip, but also a flurry of activity surrounding the Waits Family during their current furlough between personal time and ministry-related events reveal dedication to God's provision for the often marginalized people in remote Puerto Lempira. Gathering for Worship services at our family's church, an evening spent in the front yard for an ice cream social with our neighbors, meeting in small groups or one on one, sitting alongside Little Bit as we share the task of helping kids with homework at an after school program, a fledgling prison support ministry, loving on preschoolers who have been placed in protective custody at the local shelter, playing bass and directing the church band... The list of places where, individually and as a family, we are called and enabled to serve God and our neighbors next door or across town goes on and on even while there are seeds sown in far away places. Pleasant Suburb is the place where this family been planted, and our roots are deep here.
In addition to time, we are privileged to be part of funding ministry and charity in those places thousands of miles away where seeds can be planted out of sight, but not out of mind. We give regularly to share in the day-to-day operations of our local church. These aspects of financial giving and our times to worship and serve are all budgeted and scheduled just like the mortgage is paid and appointments are kept. Our calendar is often full. Our pocket book is not typically empty. More importantly, our lives and hearts are often overflowing. The time crunch of the often over-committed is keenly felt some days, and it is necessary to skip or delay some purchases to stretch our available funds. Those conservation activities feel worthwhile because what we have to give is not running down the drain but accumulating like so many drops in the proverbial bucket.
The places where we must scrimp on spending time or money are so often to allow for word of God's saving grace or demonstrations of His provision to be shared with someone or allocated in some place beyond our means and availability. This is possible because of the multiplication of many giving from personal resources to provide enough for all. Without gifts from the many people choosing to put concrete valuations on faith and charity by volunteering, donating, and simply putting the needs of others in a place of worth documented in calendars and financial records, the whole world would surely be a poorer place.

I wonder, Gentle Reader, what calls to you? Where do you find joy and satisfaction in sacrifice? Because giving seems a choice between self and others... and it is fascinating to see how personal needs and wants can be put aside in the interest and love of others. What does your calendar and pocket book reveal?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tidbits: Excuses

I have been an absentee blogger. The reason include, but are not limited to:
  • Little Bit bumped up three full levels in her ice skating. That's the result of a whole, whole lot of time on the ice for her, in the bleachers for Mama, and in the car for us both. The twinkie skating dress has been ordered, and it is seriously girly. There will definitely be a picture post when she hits the ice in that sparkly, floaty, blue dress.
  • Middle Child's knee injury turned out to be a hip problem. We now attempt to fit multiple physical therapy appointments into days with no wiggle room.
  • I spend more time arguing with Middle Child than it will take to write this post. This morning there were 5 separate arguments before 7:30 a.m. The next 7 came in the half hour it took to drop her sister off for school, get her to physical therapy, and then on to school. I have threatened to charge her a quarter for every argument. Maybe a triple charge should apply prior to my first cup of coffee, too.
  • Artist and I have been reading and discussing The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns in preparation for our upcoming trip to Puerto Lempira. Stearns refers to the need to understand that over 26,000 children die every single day from the realities of not having sufficient food, clean water, or basic medical care. I think of every single child living with less than enough whose name is known to me and pray that not one of those will become part of that hideous statistic. I cannot wait to wrap those kids in hugs. Hurry up, May 31st...
  • The Boy's room is being transformed into a guest room with a beachy, homey feel. Soothing neutrals, chambray blue, and palest green fabric make up the quilt on the queen bed that was given to us to begin the process. When Evan called this morning, I described the changes, and he said it sounded like a room worth coming home to one day. How I hope...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Last night I sat waiting in a coffee shop to be joined by a pair of ladies who were coming from a women's Bible study. I was reading my unrelated study guide when the waiter, who had already been told I was waiting for friends, asked about my booklet. He was politely curious about whether or not we were meeting at the restaurant for our Bible study. Explaining that we went to different churches, the conversation took an interesting turn as Maurice expressed his faith in God and in Christ but expressed that church was not really for him and said without saying that he'd been burned at some point along the way.
Excited, I flipped to the pages in the guide featuring the following Scripture that felt right for Maurice:

 "36 Then one of the Pharisees invited Him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37 And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house. She brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil 38 and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil.

    39 When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she's a sinner!"

    40 Jesus replied to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you."

    "Teacher," he said, "say it."

    41 "A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. 42 Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?"

    43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one he forgave more."

    "You have judged correctly," He told him. 44 Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn't stopped kissing My feet since I came in. 46 You didn't anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that's why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little." 48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." " Luke 7:36-48 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
As he finished that final line, Maurice smiled and gave an enthusiastic, "Yeah! I know that's right!". I commented that I also identify with the woman of poor reputation and debtor who owed a greater amount than many other better people, and I am thankful to be welcomed into church so God can keep changing me. Maurice was noncommittal regarding visiting our church building, but he was interested in hearing about the internet campus. He said that sounded more appealing to him.
After he walked away promising to take extra good care of our table (which he did), I tried to hop online via my phone to put in a prayer request for Maurice but could not access the Online Campus prayer page. So I shot a text message relating the details and asking Walker, who is shepherding the online church, if she could post the request for the online congregation to be praying for Maurice. Imagine my surprise when Walker messaged back that she and another friend were actually headed to the same coffee shop at that very moment!
Both pairs of ladies arrived at the same time. I got up from the table and went over to greet them as Maurice was seating Walker and her companion. I laughed as I told him that I had sent a prayer request for him to Walker not knowing that she was headed to the restaurant. I also told him that God must really have something in store for him to be putting so many people in place to let him know that there was somewhere for him to be joining in Worship. He looked pretty pleased with that take on the situation, and I hope that he will soon find whatever place God is preparing for him.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Uh-oh. I flunked my most recent skin biopsy. I flunked the one before that, too. As a result of my repeat offenses, the practitioner took three small, deep samples to send off for pathology this morning. Two weeks ago, I was really tickled to have only had one biopsy when I fully expected her to choose two sites. Now, I am praying to go in again for these results in two weeks and hear that all the margins are clear. That the tissue samples are either normal, or that all abnormal cells are contained within the samples and the edges all the way around (the margins) are clear of anything but nice, normal skin cells. If that's the case, then I'll get my stitches out and go on my merry way for 3-6 months before having to be rechecked. If not, then there will be more surgery to remove more tissue until the pathology comes back clear.