Wednesday, December 15, 2010

o holy night

It is dark, the interior lit only by the lamp hanging in the corner. Joseph leans over Mary’s exhausted body to tie off the cord connecting mother and son. Then, carefully wiping his much-used knife on the edge of his cloak, he severs it. Tenderly, he kisses her forehead, in awe at the strength and utter gentleness of her body. What a picture she makes. Cheeks flushed, brow glistening with drops of sweat, eyes wet with tears. The hay has become tangled in her hair, and with his rough, carpenters fingers he does his best to pick it out.

Head bent over this small task, he is suddenly captivated by the smell of the infant crying in her arms. Earthy and strong, but somehow sweet. Using the same cloak that wiped the knife, he ever so softly wipes the skin of the newborn, until the tiny, wrinkled face is clean. And as he runs the coarse fabric over the rise of a small, round nose, and across lashes and cheeks, it occurs to him that he will never be the same. Suddenly, he would fight to the death for this infant. He would sell off every meager possession he had just to provide for him. He would give up everything for this baby boy. In this moment, overwhelmed and awed, he can’t begin to understand the paradox that this boy will grow up to be the man who will give up everything for him.

Mary lies with eyes closed, half resting, half praying. An experience so completely human, and yet for her, so completely divine. She traces the lines of his face, counts his fingers curled around hers. Reaches down to count his toes. She looks up at her husband, who so faithfully walked beside her in this journey, and realizes how much she loves him. With only instinct to guide her, she lifts her newborn son to her breast, and feels the tug of his greedy lips. How does one suckle the Son of God? Shifting on the hay, she is oblivious to the crude surroundings, totally engrossed in the tiny Life she has borne. Was it really true? Was this little wrinkled, fragile life really the promise of the angel? As he nurses, and she rubs her cheek against the soft, downy hair on his head, fear begins to tickle her spine. Every insecurity, every flaw of circumstance and character, every doubt of ability… they all lay siege to her heart. But then the most amazing thing happens. From his place at her breast, the baby’s eyes find her face. And he uncurls his delicate fingers from her dress to move them shakily to her cheek. And the promise of the angel bursts into her mind, removing the doubt and fear. “Mary, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God.”

Who can presume to know the thoughts of God watching this birth? Who could count the myriad of angels, brandishing flaming swords, surrounding that stable in the middle of the night – ready to do battle against any things natural or unnatural that would threaten the life of mother and child? Who can imagine the shudder that ran through the core of creation to feel it’s Makers’ flesh after so long? Not since the Garden have the feet of God graced the earth. And now here they are, tiny and unused. “Did the grass sing? Did the earth rejoice to feel you again?”

A mother’s sweat. A father’s awe. The painful, tearing of body from body. A baby’s cry. O, Holy night. Universal among women, unique to Mary. The gift of God for one woman, exhausted and amazed, leaning back onto the rocky wall of a hillside cave. The gift of God for every person who would ever draw breath. O, Holy Night, indeed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

reason 357 to love the rain


i just looked out the front window to the street, where the first rain in over a month is falling fairly steadily. and in the puddle that collects in front of our driveway are 2 girls, soaked to the skin, with brown hair plastered across foreheads, who are bare footedly stomping old newspapers to mush in the gathering water. they've been out there for an hour almost...not fighting or bugging each other, not playing on the computer... just being kids. just playing. and it's a beautiful sight to behold.

Friday, September 10, 2010

whether rejected or accepted...


from harper's bazaar, of all places: "the point about reading c.s. lewis is that he makes you sure, whatever you believe, that religion accepted or rejected means something extremely serious, demanding the entire energy of mind."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the world could use more bob


in a conversation last week, vincent & i began extolling the virtues of bob ross to kyra. how we would come home from school and eagerly plop ourselves down to watch him paint a happy little cloud, or giggle while he "beat the devil" out of his brush, or whisper when his instructions were to be gentle....not to mention our open mouth astonishment at the end of 24 min when he had a glorious canvass filled with the beauty of nature!

all this led to bob being added to our netflix queue. we have devoured the dvd, but what i really wish i could capture sufficiently in words is what i see when i look around the room during the episode.

last night, we watched a couple seascape episodes with the girls & josh and mamie - happy birthday, josh! :) and as i looked around the room, i couldn't help but laugh to myself, particularly at us "grown ups"... absolutely frozen still, eyes glued to the screen, with various looks of concentration, awe & wonder. no one moved a muscle! we were all so drawn into his happy world, and his soothing voice... forget anti-anxiety pills. start prescribing an hour of bob ross every time you feel stressed and the world will make itself right again!

so...we decided that we want to have a 'bob ross painting party'! $20 a head to cover art supplies, and we can paint our own happy worlds, with prizes for the most bob ross like, and wine and laughter and tiny pigs-in-blanket appetizers! how fun would that be? who wants to come? :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

the time, it does fly....





oh my gosh. can you believe The Girls are TWO today?!

Friday, August 13, 2010

meg


my little nutmeg is finally coming home tomorrow! she's been gone since july 27th... a long time for a 10 year old! first a week to mimi's in KY, then a long journey to prince edward island (the east coast of canada, home of 'anne of green gables') to visit mark, tina, aly & zoe, and the rest of mark's family. she's the only mulder who got to see the twins this year... lucky duck!

anyway, my point is that i have missed her! yes, truthfully, the house is quieter without her, and there is less sibling squabbling, but there is also less laughing, less snuggling and less , well, meg! i am driving to pick her up tomorrow, and am even looking forward to her talking my ear off in the car. :)

i love my daughter.

Friday, August 06, 2010

life can be strange.


i was sitting outside starbucks, purse slung across my lap waiting for tenea, and beside me at the next table were two 30-something, hip, vaguely lebenese looking guys with laptops. they got up to leave and one of them said, "you have a nice purse." i only half heard him and kept my eyes scanning the parking lot. but he was insistent. "you have a nice purse." mildly confused, i nodded my agreement.

then he said, rather emphatically, "brown!"

"um... yep."

smiling - satisfied? - he repeated himself, "brown," and they walked off into the sunset.

my weirdest interaction all day. by a mile.

and on a completely different topic, today is our 16th anniversary! sixteenth. man alive. when you're just a kid getting married, your 16th anniversary feels like a millenia away... but it turns out it's not. not really.

i think that curtis and i are lucky. we really actually like each other after all these years. there are no elephants in the room, no land mines to creep around, no unforgiven hurts. plenty of hurts, to be sure, but none left festering unforgiven. i think in most ways we have an ordinary marriage; but because it's our marriage i can't helping thinking that in some ways it's a little bit extraordinary. :)

so here's to the next 16! as we head out on our new adventure of ekklesia & life, there's no one i would rather adventure with than you, curtis. ... at least 9 days out of 10... :) xoxo

Friday, July 30, 2010

God is good to me


got home from work at 2:30.

cleaned my room.
worked out.
made a cake (to reward myself for working out).
cleaned the kitchen.
cleaned the livingroom.
dusted.
folded the laundry.
kissed curtis good-bye when he left.

now it's just me - ALL ALONE, THANK YOU MERCIFUL HEAVENS - with nothing to do and no one to bug me. for hours and hours and hours.

this is how i know God is good.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ignore the caption



this picture puts a whole new image in my head when i meditate on my favorite verse of the Bible these days... "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;" (ps. 91:4)

:)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

time keeps on slippin...


this summer has been crazy.

crazy busy, crazy strange, crazy changes... but also crazy kid free! my in-laws (grandparents & aunts) did all the major parenting for 2 weeks while we were in canada, the lovely tamar took the girls for a week of festivities, and now tomorrow morning they are off to a week at mimi & papa's, followed by meg's solo 10th bd trip with mimi & papa to prince edward island - yes, the home of 'anne of green gables' - to spend time with mark & his family for 10 days! then she gets home and it's back to school scurrying and off we go!

this whole "it takes a village" thing is really working out in my favor this summer... although truth be told, i already miss The Girls in advance of their departure. i don't want them to go. of course, the truth is that i have so much going on in the next week that it will be nice to do it all without feeling guilty about rushing in and out on them... but still. the times they are a changin'... they have changed, without my permission. it's the eternal parental lament, i suppose, but tonight is the first time i really feel it.

so i will kiss their brown noses in the morning and pray them out the door... missing them wildly in the moments that i miss them, and loving them wildly all the moments in between.

My Girls. i love you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

look! look!




here is a link to the super fun photos of our church's trip to the rescue mission in raleigh. i hope you enjoy them! :) (and thanks to nick for taking them!)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

dinner with friends

tonight our new church, ekklesia, made and served dinner at the rescue mission downtown. we had a very wise volunteer, sabrina, who suggested that instead of making the easiest large crowd dinner, we ought to cook as though we were having friends over to our home. this lead to our menu of shoulder round roast, stuffed potatoes, green beans with carmelized onion and bacon, and a variety of homemade desserts & cakes. it was cooked with love, and served with love. (hollaaa to marissa, melissa & sabrina for getting it all together!)

as we were driving home, curtis remarked that if he were going to write a script about how a church should start, it would start with a night like tonight. and just so happens that we did. it was messy and chaotic and fun... and beautiful.

i wish you could have come for dinner.

Monday, July 19, 2010

monday

i am one of the empty ones,
one of the incomplete ones,
the needy,
the dissastified.
i hide from You
in the clutter of my heart
papering over my neediness with words.
let me accept my emptiness
for what it is:
the joyful root
and measure of my longing.

(from 'God Hunger' by John Kirvan)

Friday, July 16, 2010

idealism

there is a (usually) charming website that posts funny pictures & art drawn by little kids - it almost always makes me giggle. today, though, when i looked at it, i saw this.

it reminded me that last week, while looking for a thank you card, i noticed not one, but several different "divorce" cards... both celebrating it and empathizing with it.

i am not naive enough to think that divorce isn't going to happen, or that sometimes it may even be the only road left. but looking at this made me sad. and it made me wish that we would all try a little harder to learn to love each other before we walk away.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

signs that my daughter's not as innocent as i wish she was

kyra was going on and on about how much she loves her cat, satchmo. curtis finally said to her, "if you love him so much, why don't you marry him?"

immediately, she replied, "because he's a cat. and he's only 3 years old."

then there was a pause.

"plus, he's neutered."

Friday, July 09, 2010

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

the fall of literature

i went to the bookstore today to get kyra a book for the plane. i cannot believe the books they are selling to girls kyra's age. one of the quotes on the front of one was, "sexy and completely seductive... it will make your every sense tingle!"

are you kidding me?

Friday, July 02, 2010

last request

hiho, hiho, it's off to canada i go... if you see vinny, remind him to turn the air warmer upstairs...

:)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

are YOU a jerk online?

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/29/my-take-why-christians-are-jerks-online/

i know i have been ... and i know that others of you, well, not YOU, have been to me... maybe it's time we starting living more fully what we say we believe?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the opening of my book

i have heard it said that every good story resists being written. if that's true, then mine must be a doozy.

chaos swirls around me in the semi-dark; my daughter is collapsed, dead, amid a hundred others now jerking and twisting, rising to become, in fact, undead. the strains of michael jackson's 'thriller' resonate through the theater, and the bright eyed zombies raise their soprano voices to echo the king of pop. from my vantage point, there seems to be little hope that the choreography will come together by saturday, but thankfully, it's not my job to make sure it does. so instead, i let my mind roam through my own chaos, trying to find the beginning of all of this...or at least a place that will make sense once it gets rolling. i suppose the only way into the mess of any story is headlong... making course corrections on the fly. somehow that seems appropriate.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

well, that was unexpected

i was on facebook today when i saw photos posted of old friends, who i haven't really been in touch with for years and years, camping (in the cold, no less). i don't love camping. i hate the cold. and with few exceptions, i've been very, very out of touch with all of them. but i suddenly felt so left out. so lonely. adrift.

transition? decompression? the odd grief of leaving one community to begin another? i don't know, but i know the feeling is very real. and unexpected. and sad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

the blues brothers


from right to left:

rick, josh, curtis, justin & dennis.

i love these boys... for each of their talents, their creativity, the joy that glows out of them when they play, their humor & for how they have supported curtis with their time, energy & gifts. i have heard curtis come home after serving with them, on innumerable occasions, "man... i love playing with (insert name here)! they are so fantastic!"

you boys have given him great, great joy! and i know he is counting on you being a part of his life for a long time!

thank you

words are in sufficient. but they are all that i have. so please hear me.

thank you.

love rae, curtis, kyra & meg

Friday, June 18, 2010

lonely epidemic

"The danger isn't Rentafriend per se, but rather what it symbolizes," he said. "We purchase fleeting replacements because, as a society, we lack those close, meaningful bonds that are so essential. "

it left me shaking my head... you can read the article here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

starting off on the right foot


i am so excited! we are one week away from our first "just us" family vacation... and even better, at the beach! *aaaahhhhh* it's been a looong spring and a disease-riddled june, but there is a light at the end of my tunnel! a beachfront condo, (with a pool just in case!), a beach, and our family.

and when we get home, it's going to be a whole new world...

reading:
"sacred companions" - david benner
"61 hours" - lee child

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

physician, heal thyself

today i read a little pamphlet that was given to me by sister joanna entitled 'what to expect in christian spiritual direction'. she told me that it would be helpful to me in describing what i might expect from the program i have applied for... (and should be hearing about in a month or so!)

one of the things that stuck out to me was that a key question in spiritual direction is 'what is God's gift to you in this?' or put another way, 'how is God active & present in this?' - even in the hardest, darkest times.

i began to reflect on this in light of our family's recent bout of disease and stress. not a long term hardship, sure, but definitely an exhausting one. specifically in terms of kyra, it occurred to me that not too long ago i was commenting to curtis that she had been living a lot of her life outside the family. babysitting, friends, swimming, school... always something going on. not a problem by any stretch, but i sensed an isolation in her that was making her unhappy.

all that to say this: one of God's gifts to us in this is bringing kyra back into the bosom of her family. :) we've had hours (and hours and hours!) of watching movies together, ibuprofen administrating & back rubbing; followed by, as she has lost her fever, game playing, book reading & quiet fun. i need to remember that when i feel overwhelmed with the demands of sick kids.

so... maybe look at the thing that's hard for you lately, and ask God to show you what small - or maybe big - gift he's trying to give you in the midst of it.

it's a matter of perspective

never thought i'd see the day where, "oh look! you're covered in scabs!", was a joyous exclamation!

Friday, June 04, 2010

once more with feeling...

chicken pox, round 2.

poor kyra.

i shake my fist at the sky! i KNOW kyra was vaccinated against this! %$$@!

i have a working theory that job suffered from the first recorded case of chicken pox...

Job 2:7-8

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

you want to do what when!?

i was describing the pace of my life to a friend at work today, and he said, "there's no way i believe that's true."

sadly, it is true. i keep thinking it will slow down any minute now, but it is relentless! trying to plan dinner with friends is laughable, a date is practically unthinkable, and anything involving overnight is flat out unreasonable.

is it just me, or is something out of whack here?

Friday, May 28, 2010

the realization


last night as i tucked meg in, she began to cry. she pulled me down close to her, and into my ear she whispered, "i just looked in the mirror, and i felt like i saw myself again. i feel pretty." she has been wholeheartedly disfigured by these chicken pox, it was a huge relief to her to recognize herself under the clearing scabs.

...i felt like i saw myself again...

meg has been horrified at the thought of going out into public. "i'm so ugly!" i asked her if she thought all her friends loved her just because she was cute, and there was a slow and despondent head shake. but even though she may be able to acknowledge that, clearly there is a strong belief in her mind that she is what she looks like.

...i felt like i saw myself again...

i would love to blame this on our culture. the glossy ads in magazines, the stars on the red carpet, the tv ads for shinier hair, better skin & thinner thighs... and they are definitely a huge part of it. but i would be wrong to say i didn't play a roll. i am the one who brings those glossy magazines home. i have been known to trudge through the house announcing i was too ugly to go out into the world. against all my best efforts, i have had a significant hand in teaching my daughter that she is what she looks like.

...i felt like i saw myself again...

before i can teach my girls how to see themselves - and their beauty - in their laughter, their compassion, their gifts & talents, their joy of life & their kindness, i am going to have to learn to see my own beauty in those things. because they will learn what i do and live faster than what what i say. i want them to be able to look at the lives of love and compassion and friendship and generosity they will live and then say, "i feel like i saw myself again."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

the question is more important than the answer

well, folks, we are fever free! hooray! of course, meg still looks like the victim of a horrible acid accident, but we are on the road to recovery! woot!

in other news, i read this in my book this morning. SO good.

"for most of my life i have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. i have failed many times... now i wonder whether i have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. the question is not "How am I to find God?" but "How am I to let myself be found by God?" The question is not "How am I to know God?" but "How am I to let myself be known by God?" The question is not "How am I to love God?" but "How am I to let myself be loved by God?" And finally, the question is not "Who is God for me?" but "Who am I to God?" (henri nouwen - 'spiritual direction')

i think it would be valuable for us to seriously reflect on those questions. i think they have the potential to turn a lot of what we think we know about God on it's head...


Sunday, May 23, 2010

i am a terrible mother


ah, sweet meg.

she has horrible, horrible chicken pox. disfiguring chicken pox. sore, itchy, miserable, fever-ridden, burst-into-tears chicken pox.

curtis said he just wants to pick her up in a ball and comfort her. he has been home a total of 6 of her waking hours of the last 2 days.

the rest of them have been me. and while i am filled with honest compassion for her chicken pockery, i just want it to stop. the only one more miserable than me right now is meg. i know that she is much more miserable than me, i really do. i love her more than words can express, & i care a LOT. however, there is only so much back rubbing and calamine lotion-ing and sympathy expressing i have in me for chicken pox. not for meg, just for chicken pox. this much hands-on, pox-tending, "mo-om!" caring takes a lot out of you.

*sigh* i am a terrible mother.

Friday, May 21, 2010

truth hurts

i work p/t as the freight coordinator for buckle - a denim specialty retail store.

this came into work this week. it hurt my heart.



for those of you who can't make out what it says:

"in lesser gods we trust
cash for chaos
this is your god"


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

part II


i want to be a spiritual director.

"a whaaa??" :)

the few people i've talked to have had that reaction, too. it's not widely practiced in my particular branch of the "God tree"... it's roots are ancient & find more expression in the catholic & liturgical circles. basically, spiritual direction involves a process where one believer helps another, or sometimes a seeker, to understand what God is doing and saying. it's helping people see where God is active in their lives... how to be aware of the realities of their faith in the "moment to moment" of life, and to engage in those moments. it's like mentorship, sort of. according to wikipedia, it's "...the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with God, or to learn and grow in their own spiritual journey. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of faith, or how he or she is experiencing spiritual issues. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction develops a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human. "

after a great deal of research, and long efforts to find a program of spiritual direction that i could (A) afford, and (B) attend, i actually came across one in durham (!), run by the faithful companions of Jesus sisters. you guys, i am SO EXCITED! it's a 2 year certification program, easily within my time & money constraints. and there was a miracle!

i called sr. joanne to ask her about the program, and she immediately replied, "i can't believe this!"

"what?" i asked, nervously.

"i was praying just this morning that God would give me one person today who would apply for this very program!"

hooray! God is mischievous & whimsical. :) and he is giving me the desire of my heart. my application was received today by sr. joanne, and the next step is an interview...the program begins in august. this is where my heart is. i want to help people realize to the fullest extent possible the love of Jesus, and his constant action in their lives.

Monday, May 17, 2010

a whaaat?

last week i finally named out loud what i want to do with the rest of my life - what i want to be when i grow up.

today i applied for the program i want. and i will tell you if you promise not to laugh.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

...a slice...


i am sitting in the dim living room, listening to the sound of my childhood.

it's game 7 of the series between pittsburg & montreal (i'm talking hockey, people), and there is random coaching advice, commentary and expletives being muttered by the men i love (curtis & vincent). toss in the occasional blaring of the horn to announce a goal, and you've got a perfect storm of nostalgia.

i grew up watching my dad watch hockey. there was nothing more fiercely observed in my home than the sacredness of Hockey Night in Canada. even the sound of the theme music warms the cockles of my heart. Don Cherry narrated saturday nights in the den downstairs. although we weren't allowed to speak (until commercial breaks), we were welcome to watch. i learned to follow the puck and love the game.

second intermission, and it's 4 - 2 montreal...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

join the revolution

i love it when i'm reading a novel & suddenly something resonates with me as so true. it reminds me that "all truth is God's truth". when i read this i thought to myself, this begins to describe those of us who love Jesus. it's from 'the likeness' by tana french. the characters are discussing why one of their fathers is pushing so hard to get his son to "live in the real world!"

"You know what it is?" Abby said out of nowhere, a few hands later. "It's the contentment."

"Who said which to the what now?" inquired Rafe, narrowing his eyes to examine Daniel's stack. He had switched his phone off.

"The real-world thing." She leaned sideways across me to pull the ashtray closer. Justin had put on Debussy, blending with the faint rush of rain on the grass outside. "Our entire society's based on discontent: people wanting more and more and more, being constantly dissatisfied with their homes, their bodies, their decor, their clothes, everything. Taking it for granted that that's the whole point of life, never to be satisfied. If you're perfectly happy with what you've got - especially if what you've got isn't even all that spectacular - then you're dangerous. You're breaking all the rules, you're undermining the sacred economy, you're challenging every assumption that society's built on. That's why Rafe's dad throws a mickey fit whenever Rafe says he's happy where he is. The way he sees it, we're all subversives. We're traitors."

"I think you've got something there," said Daniel. "Not jealousy after all; fear. It's a fascinating state of affairs. Throughout history - even 100 years ago, even 50 - it was discontent that was considered the threat to society, the defiance of natural law, the danger that had to be exterminated at all costs. Now it's contentment. What a strange reversal."

"We're revolutionaries," Justin said happily, poking a Dorito around in the salsa jar, and looking phenomenally unrevolutionary. "I never realized it was this easy."

the point of this, to me, is that it's the attitude of our hearts that makes us truly revolutionary. the attitude of contentment and, by Grace, the attitudes of surrender & love that mark us so differently. we are, indeed, revolutionaries.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

pardon my french

the saga of parenthood continues... i guess this is my payback for all the years of saying "it's really not hard..." serves me right.

on a lighter note, i have "support" group tonight, smaller group tomorrow night & ethiopian food friday night with 3 of my favorite people! and then a merciful satuday, kid free morning included! things have been so busy lately, you can't imagine how much i am looking forward to that... and it's supposed to be glorious and sunny - can you say, "lay out, rachel! lay out!" (with the appropriate spf, of course.)

i have not been very interested in developing my heart lately. reading is dry, prayer is scattered & my attention is fractured at best. flipping through my journal just now i came across this, from rob bell. " 'Christian' is a great noun and a poor adjective." i have to find a way to get my ass off the adjective side of that sentence....




Monday, April 26, 2010

parenting

i take it back. i don't want to be the mom anymore.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

seriously.

seriously. no one wants my damn birds? *sigh*

i am attempting to practice the delicate spiritual discipline of remembering, along with gratitude.

here dies another day
during which i have had eyes, ears, hands
and the great world round me;
and with tomorrow begins another.
why am i allowed two?

-g.k. chesterton

Friday, April 23, 2010

free! free!


two beautiful, happy male zebra finches, with cage & sundries! for free! let me know if you would like to adopt these non-reproducing birds! :)

happy friday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

parental shame

this is the handwritten note kyra will take to school tomorrow morning. verbatim.

"to whom it may concern:

i received, and signed, kyra's report card/ib assessment. then i promptly misplaced it. perhaps even threw it away in a flurry of housework. sorry about that. please don't penalize kyra for my hastiness.

thank you."

*sigh*

what kind of mother needs to write that note?!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

day 2 - morning break

i am sitting the lobby of the WORLD HEADQUARTERS of the wesleyan church - the first time i've been to the world headquarters of anything! :) to be honest, i'm a little disappointed. not as world "headquarters-ish" as i expected. huh.

so the wives have been uninvited from the "role playing exercise" ... honestly, i'm relieved. today has been a lot harder already. we were given real church plant scenarios to make decisions about, and the scenarios weren't pretty. shot my idealism in the foot, if you know what i mean. :) it's probably a good thing, tho...

it's an interesting question, assessing the call of God. just because you "feel" a call, are you actually called? i've had many conversations with people trying to figure out what God is telling them about their life, and it's always an interesting conversation. and 4 days of it is even more so!

i just had someone tell me we'll probably be going past 11 tonight. ack. for those of you who know me well, you know that i am NOT a night owl. so this should be interesting... oh dear...

day 1

day 1:

basically us (read "me") talking about us (read "me")....

dang! i am secretly having fun! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

while i'm gone...

you will probably love to read this from my brother ben, in indonesia. the sacrament of obedience...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

3rd truth in a row!

"There is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with reality."

- Thomas Merton

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

i got peed on by a rat today

(seriously. i did. right on my leg.)

so - big news! curtis and i are going to the luxury vacation destination of ... wait for it... indianapolis! that's right - curtail your jealousy! we are going for 4 fabulous days and nights, filled with all the fun that "church planter assessment" can contain!

er... right. "fun".

well, the fun part is, for those of you who hadn't yet heard, curtis and i are planting a church! equal parts "whoohoo!" and "oh no!" :) in preparation for this week of "joy", we've already taken:

leadership style inventories
personality inventories
strength assessments
conflict resolution assessments
self-assessment questionnaires

we are going to be so full of knowledge by the end of next week!

i did hear that at least one wife has stormed out of the proceedings, hailed a cab and literally flew home without her luggage or her husband, she was so riled. so i've got that to look forward to, too.

at least the rat likes me?

(if you'd like to hear about our plans, or how you can support us, just leave me a note in the comment section! thanks!)


Thursday, April 08, 2010

to do to do!

took a walk after work today... got pollen stuck in between my teeth.

cleaned my room! created the "family housework draft" form. i'm not the only one who lives here & makes a mess... so i'm not going to be the only one who cleans the mess!

sent The Girls to the lake with rissa & her kids... got a text to expect soaking, tired & happy kids any time now! :)

pet the rat. he didn't want to play, but got a good little noggin rub in.

finished a great novel.

made plans for smaller group. ahhhh....

hope your thursday is good, inter-tubes.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

the truth hammer

while lenting the intertubes, i found i had a lot more time for reading... go figure! :) i have more books currently "on the go" than usual, and for whatever reason - the quality of the books, or the quality of my brain offline - they have really been connecting with me. so many pages are already dogeared and scrawled on that they look like old favorites!

the one that is currently captivating me is a little 107 page book with possibly the worst title ever: "the gift of being yourself". in fact, i almost didn't even read it because the title was so ... cheesy! but, boy - i would have missed out on one of the most completely "on-the-nose" things i've ever read. take these snippets:

"We all live searching for that one possible way of being that carries with it the gift of authenticity... Simple being is tremendously difficult to achieve, and fully authentic being is extremely rare."

"To truly know love, we must receive it in an undefended state..."

"The problem with the false self is that it works."

"While other people's excessive attachments & personal falsity often seem glaringly apparent, it is never easy to know the lies of our own life."

and this cobbled together paragraph - on acknowledgement of our worst selves:

"(Parts) of self that are not given a place at the 'family table' become stronger, not weaker. Operating out of sight & beyond awareness, they have increasing influence over our behavior. ... Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance...Until we are willing to accept the unpleasant truths of our existence, we rationalize or deny responsibility for our behavior. ... You can never be other than who you are until you are willing to embrace the reality of who you are."

i am digging this book. seriously. i think you should probably get a copy.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

welcome home

hello, blogosphere... i'm back! if i had a nickel for every time during lent that i wanted to blog something, i'd at least have enough for a soda from the vending machine! i really ought to have kept a list of all the interesting things that happened, but i didn't... so let's start off with the most recent events, and if anything from the past couple months occurs to me, i'll throw it in. :)

sadly, colonel reverend doctor captain chips - our 6 year old "just won't frickin' die" goldfish - finally gave up the ghost, and went to the big goldfish bowl in the sky. honestly, i can't say that i'll miss him. after the mourning period had passed (roughly 2 minutes), a passionate argument for our need to replace him with some african dwarf frogs was put forth by meg, who had experienced their glories in her classroom this year. so, gamely, vincent loaded The Girls into his car and headed off to the pet store to get a couple of frogs.

an hour later, i got a call from vinny telling me to meet them in the driveway. i'm sure you can tell where this is going. cautiously, i stepped out on the porch, and as they pulled up, his head poked out the window and he said, "we got a replacement for chips... but i don't think it'll fit in the bowl!" 3 joyous faces beamed out of the car at me as i opened the cardboard box proffered me from the backseat. and inside said box? a rat. not a small one, either.

truth be told, though, i have a soft spot for living things of all kinds. and the rat is surprisingly cute! his name is 'pippin le bref', after a 17th century king of france, because he sort of has a fleur de lis shaped marking on his back. i have already developed a shocking fondness for pip, as we call him. at least you can pick him and pet him... that's a lot more than you can say about a goldfish!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

dads & daughters

you all know i think curtis is the best dad ever... he is wonderful with the girls! he's got some competition here, though... a single dad who read to his daughter every night for 3218 consecutive nights! through travelling, teenage years, her dating (and his!)...this is worth the 5 minutes it will take you to read it!

one more week of lent! whoohoo! next sunday i'll be back for good... until next year, probably, when i'll do it again. :) i have lots to talk about, so i'll see you next week!

Monday, March 01, 2010

from kristina

This letter was received today by mom's friend and student at asbury, Gary. It speaks for itself.

Dear Gary,

It is I Kristina. I pray Jesus is still holding your close in his mighty hands and I look forward to the time you will return to Sudan and I will see you again. Your prayers and letters are a source of the love of God to me. I feel now I want to tell you my story. When the Arabs attacked my village in 1998, they raped and killed my mother. My 2 sisters they also raped and then they, along with my brother were tied to the back of their horses and taken away as slaves. I have not seen them again. I was only about four years old, but I remember very well what they did to my mother and family.
My father was a doctor, and he tried to help our soldiers. But when the Arabs killed my mother, he took me and ran far away to Ethiopia. He was a good man and tried to keep me safe. But we traveled for many months by footing, and so many people died along the side of the road. I remember when my father would get tired and have to put me down, I was always tripping over the dead people because my legs were too small to lift them high over the piles of bodies.
We stayed in Ethiopia until the war reached there, too. So then my father ran with me trying to get back to our village. He hoped maybe it would be safe there by then. It took us many more months of footing, and I almost drowned as we crossed many of the rivers. They were so rough and my father was starting to go a little mad so he couldn’t hold onto me very well anymore. Finally, we made it back to Nyamlel, but shortly after that he died.
Some grown men helped me to bury him, but then they left me alone. I heard them say, “There are simply too many orphans to worry about this one.”
But, “this one” was me, and I was worried.
I laid alone on top of my father’s grave for many days just waiting for the hyenas to eat me, or to starve to death so that I would not be alone anymore, but with my mother and father. After some days, I grew tired of crying and began to go out into the bush looking for leaves to eat. I ate them, but they made me so sick that I just crawled back on top of my father’s grave.
Then one day a man came walking by. He found me sitting on my father’s grave. He told me his name was James Lual Atak; he asked me my name and where my parents were. I told him they were dead and I was alone. He said, “Come follow me. I will take you to New Life Ministry (NLM), and if you will follow the way I teach you, you will grow strong and you will not be alone anymore.”
I did not know what was NLM, but I wanted to grow strong and not be alone anymore, so I went with him.
At first, we didn’t have any proper food, but James Lual Atak taught us the right way. He taught us to pray. He taught us to read and to write, and then one day Mama Kimberly came to visit us.
All I remember about her the first time I met her is that she kept crying. I thought, “This woman will never be able to help us because she is always crying.”
But then she left and she returned after many months later and you were with her. You also cried and I wondered about your people. I did not understand why you had come. Lual Atak told us when you left, you left us money for food. Since that day, the food has never stopped. Even now that we are so many---500 orphans---the food never stops. I read in the Bible about Manna; I think it is like that. Only now we get “pigeons,” too, because we have a weekly bull slaughter for meat.
I read your letter to us how you told me about how many people in America pray for me and all my friends here at NLM. It also told me that you are the ones who send the money so that we can eat every day, learn about God and His only Son Jesus, and have a safe home to live in.
Sometimes, I still go visit my father’s grave where I used to sleep, and I feel sad. I am glad I don’t live there anymore. I know that he doesn’t live there either, but He lives with Jesus, where I will one day, too.
Thank you for loving all of us orphans, and for raising us up properly!
--Kristina

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

snap!

for a snapshot of my life, click here. enjoy. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

liberathe


hooray! the day has finally come!

last year i made a small business loan through Kiva to a woman in senegal who wanted to purchase pigs to expand her small business that supporter her family of 8 children. i just received notice this morning that the loan has been repaid, and my money was available for me to withdraw, or loan again... obviously i went with loan again!

kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. lending partners - just people like me - each lend a small amount to an entrepreneur who is building a way out of poverty for them & their families. once the business is thriving and making a profit, the entrepreneur repays the loan, and you can loan again. one small loan can help dozens (or more!) small business owners create a new life... not of handouts, but of self-sufficiency, dignity, and success.

meg helped me choose a new business woman to support... liberathe - a woman who sells local food & drink to tourists in northern rwanda. she is raising 8 children, and wants to expand her business to help pay their school fees.

if you have a minute, go check out kiva. your $25 could change a life... and then another... and then another...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

when i am so hurt & so furious...

Be Still, My Soul"
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

i hope kyra gets rich.... REALLY rich....


my daughter is rolling in expendable income these days. between christmas money, birthday money and babysitting, she's got maybe $75 burning a hole in her pocket! :)

yesterday i received in the mail the most recent initiative from world vision: medicines and micronutrients for refugee/war ravaged children. with corporate sponsorship, any donation multiplies 15x... so a gift of $1 multiplies to $15, etc. i told kyra that i was going to give something to world vision, and that she could too, if she wanted... her heart is always directed toward those in need. she eagerly skipped upstairs to find her wallet, and came down with a couple of folded bills... which i unfolded to reveal $25. a third of her money.

i was reminded that the year the tsunami hit in sri lanka, she had just gotten $40 for her birthday, and asked if it would be ok if she gave the whole amount to the tsunami relief effort. which she did. without anyone asking her to. and with so much joy.

so i hope kyra gets rich. really, really rich. the world will be made more beautiful by her regardless...but if there were more kyra's in the world, imagine the relief of poverty & pain there could be.

maybe Jesus was on to something when he said we must become like little children...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

out of body experiences

i realized last night that i don't know what i look like anymore.

i was looking through pictures from thanksgiving, and there i was... smiling, holding babies, making faces, caught unawares... and none of them looked like me. at least not the me i think i see when i look in the mirror. how can that be?

how can that girl be me? i barely recognized her...though i couldn't put my finger on the reasons why.

it was very disconcerting.

Friday, January 01, 2010

too good to be true?

wow - a whole new decade. maybe i am getting old, because this decade passed in a blink. someone on facebook yesterday wished to me that my new decade would be a better one, and my immediate thought was that i didn't think it could be... for all it's ups & downs, the first decade of the millennium was pretty darn good for me... thank you, God!

  • i had my beautiful, if mercurial, meg... the best thing to happen, and kicking the decade off with a bang! :)
  • we bought our first home
  • we were able to live in alberta close to curtis' wonderful family for 4 years
  • we were called to NC - warm here i come! :)
  • we have met some of the best people and made some of the most enduring friendships of our adult lives
  • i found the brother i never knew i had, and he made my life infinitely fuller... literally & figuratively! :)
  • we have seen God provide & care for us in the most remarkable, miraculous ways. if i wrote them all down here, i would be embarrassed at the grace we have been drenched in.
so i choose to face this new decade without fear - if God is for us, who can be against us? no matter what lies ahead, the years behind me (if i remember to pay attention to them!) will be signposts of the faithfulness of God, and the good paths in which he leads us, even when i'm not so sure of my footing.

so, happy new year to you all! i hope that the extravagant love & care of God fall on all of us this year... and that it would cause us to live with extravagant love & care for everyone we come into contact with. what a beautiful year it could be...