Thursday, April 30, 2009

will starve for food

14,000 children die every day from hunger & malnutrition across our world. the cost of feeding one of these beautiful lives for a month is only $30. so kyra & i, and our student ministries group, is participating in the world vision 30 hour famine this weekend. we will go without food for 30 hours to get a sense of the hunger that faces these children, and kyra is also raising sponsorship. if you'd like to contribute, you can email me at, and i will give our address so you can send a check (made out to world vision)!

ghandi once said, "there are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread." i want to be that expression of God to them. how about you?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

it makes my heart happy!

these are the glory days. 85 in the heat of the afternoon, but 55 at night... windows open at dusk so we can wake up to the smell of fresh green things - my house smells alive. chilly toes on the linoleum, hot coffee and radiant sunshine. then later in the morning the windows all close, keeping in the cool and out the heat, but if you step out onto the porch your whole body relaxes into the heat & light of the sun. glory days.

and our new roof is currently sitting on the driveway, about to be put onto the top of our house!! woot woot! WOOT!

Monday, April 27, 2009

there's a new man in town....

and he's dreamy.... big & broad shouldered, long eyelashes, funny & sweet... ah, arnold!

i met him this weekend, while i was at the radiant retreat with a fantastic group of girls. the camp keeps a small "petting zoo" kind of farm, and arnold is an 800lb part of it. he's been raised since he was a wee little pig to be a pet, and he is very friendly and comes when you call him... so funny! but the best part of this story is that he likes to eat eggs, and the chickens in the barn just happen to lay them by the fistful! the camp director, dennis, told me that if i found any eggs i could collect them up and feed them to arnold... and so i did! not only me, but almost every girl in our cabin got to gently drop the egg into his (albeit disgusting) mouth and watch him merrily crunch them down and start sniffing the air for more! it may or may not have been the highlight of my weekend!

the first time i held my egg over the fence, he was 50ft away from me. persistent "aaarnooold! here pig pig pig!" got his attention, and with great effort he turned his body and wedged himself between two trees, stopping for a satisfying scratch on one of them, then slowly but determinedly hauled his bulk over to me, sniffing the air with his pink nose - the only part of him not covered in mud on a very hot day. as i placed the egg on the cusp of his lips, he almost seemed to smile... i could have sat all day.

thanks for the memories, arnold...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

hell hath no fury...

i wish you could see her when she's indignant. feet planted wide, hands on hips, eyes wide & flashing, tilting her entire being toward you in the passion of her argument. it's all i can do not to laugh out loud - she gets really pissed off when i laugh.

most recently this happened after i finally broke down to parental cliches and said, "you are going to have to learn that the world does not revolve around you."

this stopped her for only a moment before she "assumed the position" and spat out the words, "are you trying to tell me the world revolves around grown ups?!"

you can see why i have a hard time not laughing.

"well, yes. as a matter of fact it does revolve around grown ups."

"that's not right, either, because God made everyone equal!" oh, if only you could see the righteous fury in her eyes!

biting my cheeks not to grin, "true - he did. it's not that you aren't equal, meg. it's that you are still learning. you don't yet know everything you need to know to be counted as a grown up."

if she tilts any farther forward i swear she will fall over. " i know everything i need to know!"

"really? are you going to pay the bills? get the groceries? make dinner? make decisions about our immigration?"

"i can do all those things!" but her tilt is a little less vigorous.

finally, i couldn't hold it in. i laughed. and, oh, was she angry! someday her passion and willingness to argue her case will change the world for the better - when she's sitting on the supreme court, or petitioning for aid for developing nations. but right now, she's only 9, and i don't care what she says. the world does not revolve around her. it revolves around me. ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

good morning, world!

as we ate our lunch yesterday, curtis complained, "the birds are starting to drive me crazy in the morning." for a moment, i thought he meant our stupid birds, but no, he meant the actual, outside birds.

i wanted to cry, "blasphemy!", and stone him - but there is a serious lack of stones in neo japan.

summer is edging into my yard... the birds in the morning singing their psalter to the dawn, the frogs at night, honking and barking in the dark, the giant bugs that occasionally find their way into the house much to everyone's dismay... there is perhaps nothing more truly beautiful than north carolina in the early summer. the back so lush with the new, bright green leaves it seems tropical, the azaleas heavy with blooms - add to that the promise of what is pushing up through the dirt: my lilies, budlea, gardenia... my garden is going to be a riot of color and fragrance!

so let the birds sing! let them wake us up entirely too early! let the frogs croak their drunken songs and keep us up late! spring is here, and summer is coming - God is in his heaven and all is right with the world! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

maybe, just maybe...

we traditionally read it as "the reinstatement of peter". a liturgy of sorts between the risen Jesus and peter, who denied him... three "do you love me?"s for three denials. but maybe...

peter gets off the boat. there is Jesus, on the beach waiting. "peter, do you love me?"
"yes, Lord"

curtis comes home from work, i am on the porch waiting. "curtis, do you love me?"
"yes, rachel."

a moment later, Jesus stirs the coals on the fire, turning the fish, lost in thought. then, "peter, do you love me?"
"yes, Lord, you know i love you!"

i am making dinner, and my heart is flimsy. i leave the stove to touch curtis' arm. "curtis, really? do you love me?"
"rachel, you know i love you!"

once more, with the dawn rising over the water and the smell of the sea in the air, Jesus catches his eye. "peter, do you love me more than these?"
"Lord! you know i love you more than anything!"

i lean my forehead against his chest, my words muffled, "curtis, do you love me really? forever?"
he wraps me up, leaning his head on my head, "rachel, i love you. i love you forever."

about this passage, ellen davis writes, "were it any other speaker, we would not hesitate to recognize the poignancy in the question, and the anxious doubt, especially following a betrayal."

even the second half of Jesus's words to peter - "then feed my sheep" - almost read as a plea from the one who must leave to the one who will be left to carry on. it kept me up last night, as i was reminded of the agonizing choice parents must make when they choose guardians for their children. if i die, who loves me enough to love my children enough? who knows me enough to tell my children about me, tell them how much i loved them, to share my stories & keep me alive in their minds? who loves me enough to raise them up the way i would want them to be raised? who could possibly be that trustworthy?

Jesus chooses peter - but first, "peter, do you love me?" then, "please, peter, feed my sheep... tell them my story... tell them i love them... remind them... take care of them..." there is more going on here than a stoic liturgy on the sand. maybe, just maybe, we see a bit of the vulnerability of God, the nakedness of Jesus' heart... "do you love me?"

Saturday, April 18, 2009


it's meg's "life long dream" - she is 9 - to grow watermelons. so, for the last 4 weeks, we've had 29 watermelon vines sprouting in the dining room in front of the big window, each nestled into their little peat pots, straining toward the sunshine. today was the big day that we had set aside for planting! how exciting!

so we dug up the "grass" (read: chickweed), amended the soil, and one by one, planted 3 -4 inch watermelon vines along little hills... and prayed that the bunnies won't come eat them in the middle of the night!

if we get 29 vines worth of watermelon, you better believe we'll be sharing!

Friday, April 17, 2009

if we all did what little we could do...

i just picked my girls & mayia up from youth, where tonight they scrubbed, disinfected and in many other ways spiffed up old shoes. runners, crocs, flip flops, dress shoes - all collected from folks with too many shoes for those with none at all. 'kicks for community' was started by two college atheletes from unc who are now gathering shoes from anywhere they can get their hands on them to drive down to mexico, to give out to those who lack what we consider the most minimal necessities.

i was there a little early to pick them up, and it was truly beautiful to see a group of kids scrubbing their knuckes raw, beautifying these old shoes and making them into something more than just a pair of sneakers... making them, instead, a gift of love.

bri & emmalie, you are doing something beautiful here. thank you for letting my girls be a part of it.

i was totally ready to pee in a cup...

i can't believe i didn't tell you this already!!

during lent we got the appointment notification for our "biometrics" to be taken by the u.s. govn't as part of our permanent resident ("green card") process. on the one hand, YAY!, because things are moving forward! on the other, YIKES!, because what the heck are "biometrics"?! it's not a friendly sounding word, that's for sure. so, one chilly tuesday morning, carefully dressed ("does this look like we're trying too hard?" "do we look responsible?" "do we look like terrorists trying to look responsible?"), we headed over to the USCIS center in durham to have our biometrics taken. i was totally ready to pee in a cup, have my blood drawn or even have some sort of government issued retinal scan!
after entering through fiercer than airport security, we settled into a room with a group of other nervous & carefully dressed people, all awaiting their name to be called. we filled out a form that asked for our height, weight, eye & hair color (hair color : blonde black brown red grey white unknown - who has unknown hair color?!). and finally, when they called our name, the biometrics portion of the appointment. honestly, i was disappointed. digital fingerprints & photo. that was it. i had psyched myself up for what was basically a slightly more involved dmv process - and you know what? it was considerably shorter than waiting at the dmv! and at the end of it all, the u.s. government asked me to fill out a comment card. how sweet! i told them that the process was surprisingly friendly & fast.... you get farther on a kind word, right? :)

so, off we go! biometrics - check! next step, permanent residence.... please, God!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

gamblin' man!

we spent wednesday afternoon in KY at the keeneland racetrack, betting $2 on horses... and it was so, so fun! except that *every* horse i bet on lost! even the one that was 6-5 odds! how is that even possible? curtis only bet on one race, leaving our meager wagering budget (thanks for the $20, dad!) for the girls and i to throw away. in the race he bet on, he put $2 on the long shot pony - odds set at 17 - 1 when he placed the bet, and they dropped to 24 - 1 by the time the horses posted. (that was the race my shoe-in horse lost miserably) and wouldn't you know it?! curtis' longshot won!! and won big! he got a $51.20 pay off on a $2 bet! WOOT! :) so after returning the original $20 to my dad, he was up $31.20... how fun is that?

i can see how gambling is addictive and dangerous - but i tell you, an afternoon at the ponies is a glorious thing! if only i had been able to wear a hat....

Monday, April 13, 2009

mastercard moment

we pulled into mom and dad's neighborhood at 1:30am this morning.... and collapsed into the guest bed around 2.

about a week ago, curtis asked if i wanted to go to kentucky for a couple days over spring break - he is tired and needed a vaycay, and you know how hard it is to 'break' when you're still at home. so here we are, cell phones off, sleeping, leaving The Girls to papa's care, and loving every moment.... albeit we've been here for less than 12 hours! :) but you know what, this is exactly what the doctor ordered: the love of a family, the warmth of coffee on the couch with your shoulder touching the other's, telling new stories, retelling old ones, remarking on the nature of life, all before going back to bed for a nap under a pile of quilts. the gift of a family that loves you, where no one makes fun of your bedhead or morning breath, who know your flaws and your greatness, is not to be underestimated.

coffee - $3.75
couch - $450
coffee on the couch with people who love you - priceless.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

fashion conscious worship

this is my first "catch up" blog post - letting you know what's been going on around here since lent began!

so, have you heard of 'apple bottom jeans'?

these are jeans designed for "celebrating and liberating the natural curves of a woman's body..." basically, if they have a lot of room for the junk in your trunk, if you know what i mean! :)

now, have you heard of curtis? my husband? the tall, fashion oblivious canadian boy? the one who thinks shopping for clothes in bulk at sam's club is a good idea? well, he was leading the first worship rehearsal in the building, and in an effort to get all the sound people on the same page he said, with his arms flung out, "we are going for apple bottom worship here, people! we want to have a big bottom end!"


Thursday, April 09, 2009

good friday?

Jesus was scared.

My daughter’s friend asked me, “Why is it
Good Friday if Jesus died? That seems bad to me.”

Jesus in the garden, weeping. Night dew on the grass chilling his feet. Alone. Pouring out his heart to heaven, “Is there any other way?” He is willing, yes. Resolute, even. But he is not placid in the face of his death. He is scared, his humanity on full display in the garden. It is
our good, not his. Good Friday carries the name because the darkness of Jesus’ death is our ultimate light…and our liberation comes at a heavy price. The God-Man, broken for us.

See God, watching his Son. God the
Father. A father will do anything in his power to rescue his child – it is the nature of Love to intervene, not to abandon. But Jesus is abandoned by his Father. Where is the Love in that? Could there be a broader design, a deeper Love, than that of a father for a son? Could it be that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son up to death, that whoever would believe in Him would be saved? The Father turns his back, breaking his own heart … for us. Good Friday. This is part of the sacred significance of our communion, our Eucharist. Not only the Body broken and the Blood shed, but the Heart broken; the very heart of God, split in two, torn for our redemption.

And now the Church sits in the darkness of Good Friday. Gathered at the macabre table of Body and Blood, and the broken Heart. Do we dare to come and feast? Are any of us worthy of this beautiful sacrifice? In humility we sit in dim sanctuaries and acknowledge that we are not. That there is no reason the blood of God should be spilt for us. But there it is, in the cup, in the bread…irrational Good. Unreasonable Love. So we take the cup, and the bread, our celebration muted by the knowledge that there is a mystery there too wonderful for us… yet it is
for us. And we wait.

Because Sunday is coming.