Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beware Hard Truths Ahead!

I am going to Honduras this summer on a mission trip. I am going with 4 other women and we are doing a VBS with some children in an orphanage. This doesn't sound like the earth shattering stuff of impressive mission trips that build churches and what not, but it is significant. This will be the 3rd time these kids have seen our team leader, Katie Hawkins. This is the 2nd time they have seen another group member. Each time Katie has come back with other people. These are tangible people that create real memories for these children. These experiences and memories speak love to these children.

For most of these kids, they are in the orphanage not from parent death, but because they were taken away. Their parents chose drugs over a relationship with these wonderful children. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it is to know Mom and Dad are out there and just don't want you or aren't strong enough to say, "You are more important." On top of the devastation that is their family life, they live in a 3rd world country. They don't even get to go to school regularly because of weather, politics, and numerous other causes. We take for granted that we can go to work or school regularly. We take for granted that we can go to the store or restaurant and get anything we want. We take for granted that we can go to the doctor when we are sick. These are things that children in poverty do not get to experience. They fall prey to the worst lies this world has to offer, particularly the ones of hopelessness and worthlessness.

With all this against them, how can a little VBS make a difference? Well first of all, it's God and he always makes a difference. Second of all, there are real tangible people from a whole other place in the world that traveled all this way to see these kids. We are bringing clothes, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, and other things with us. These are objects that will remind these kids that people in that far away place are thinking about them. The kids of our church are making a gift for us to take with us to these kids and maybe photos of our kids making it for them. There is another tangible example of someone out there loving these children. Love does make a difference. God does make a difference. You can make a difference too. As little as $5 can make a difference for them. Are you willing to give it?

Will you tell this boy that you care?











Will you tell these girls that you love them?










Will you give hope to these children?

Click this link to donate to our team. If we raise $500, all the money will go directly to the orphanage. We are currently at $200 (or $400 depending on where other team members are at personally.) It isn't that far for us to get to our goal for them!!! Please help!


And a BIG thank you to all of those who have already helped. What you have given will make a difference!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bedtime Routine #553: Failure

Sleeping issues are probably the most discussed thing among parents. When I subscribed to a couple parenting magazines, I think there was a story about sleeping in every issue. So the fact that this is my second blog about this topic should not be surprising. My previous thoughts centered around how to get him to go to sleep. Now here we are almost a year later and I am revisiting the topic. I reread the previous post and I have to say that I vaguely remember that one. We have had a few changes between then and now. 2 of the biggest: 1. Ben moved into a toddler bed. 2. Then a couple weeks ago, Ben moved into a regular bed.

I think part of my current issues are that he is in the regular bed, which happens to be a full size bed. I didn't realize that until I got it put together and I'm not sure that I like that. Another part of the problem is that we only got the top mattress. He's little so we figured he didn't need it. However, that leaves the mattress a bit unbalanced. We haven't had time to go get more boards cut for the underside of the bed. Currently there are only 3. I think we need 2 or 3 more. The last few weeks Ben has NOT been going to bed well. He wants me with him until he falls asleep. Every parenting thing I have ever read tells me this is not healthy. He was doing so well at falling asleep on his own and now he isn't.

I wonder how he will fall asleep when I am in Honduras because he only wants me and not Drew. It is the opposite at naptime. I wonder how long this will continue and will it do severe damage to him. Will he become dependent on me? I feel like I am failing him and he is somehow failing me. Isn't that more unhealthy than him needing me to fall asleep? And the answer to that one I know, YES. So I'm telling myself to just get over it. Go with the flow and let him work it out in his own time.

Bad Service = God's plan

Last night was a night to remember. Why was it so memorable you ask. It was memorable for the bad service we had a chain restaurant. I found out they had a kids eat free night last night, so Drew and I decided to eat there for dinner. After school there was a weightlifting competition that Ben and I attended. We got home about 6:30 and before I got out of the car Drew asked if I was ready to go for dinner. I said yes and thought that was a good plan so Ben wouldn't have to get in and out of the car. So we head to the restaurant and it isn't too busy, good sign. We walk in and wait for almost 5 minutes for the host to ask us about seating. We weren't pleased, but it wasn't a deal breaker. We had to wait a few more minutes for a table. Not a problem for us, Ben was getting a little antsy. We are seated and wait over 5 minutes for the waitress to ask us about drinks. And she only came over after the host went to get her. Not a good thing.

So we ordered our food and drinks. Ben was very quickly tired of the crayons and didn't really want the milk we ordered. He did want the chips we got as an appetizer with their 2 for $20 dinner meal. He had to dip his chip in the salsa. He made a face which was cute. Then he wanted to crush them up and throw them. Not cool. He wasn't happy that we stopped that. So we are impatiently waiting for the food. We got it and the food was great! Ben is starting to use a fork and he ate his pizza and rice with a fork. It was cute.

So now your thinking, "You're writing a blog post about waiting too long?" Or maybe, "What does this have to do with Jesus?" I'm getting there. Ben had a massively wet diaper, so after we ate I went to change him. (Yes Jesus shows up in this story!) While I was doing that, Drew paid. They didn't let us use the free child's meal. I guess the 2 for $20 is a competing offer. Grr. And I forgot to give Drew our gift card. So the meal that we shouldn't have paid for, we had to pay full price for it. Grrr again.

But when I saw the check paid for, I knew it was shouting at me. Yes he was shouting. How? There is one more character in this story that I left out. When we were waiting for a table, there was a family right behind us that was waiting. Or two families 4 adults, 5 kids. There were two little girls, maybe cousins, that were giggling about the lip gloss they put on. One of the dad's was giving them a hard time. It was cute. One mother was telling a story about the field day one boy just had and how he won because the teacher forgot to say don't use your hands. Again, cute. One dad told a story about his mother falling and injuring her shoulder. She prayed and quoted Scripture to calm herself down and the shoulder popped back into place. A healing story too, awesome! We were seated and the family was seated a few tables in front of us. I didn't see this because they were at my back, however Ben insisted that I switch sides because he wanted to sit by me. So then I could see them, interesting no?

While I was eating I thought about our gift card that we have had since December and how we haven't used it in almost 6 months and how we weren't pleased with the service. It was a $50 gift card and we wouldn't use it all on this trip. I didn't really want to come back and use it again. Then God poked me and said, "How about that family?" I thought it was crazy, but the thought wouldn't go away. So I said, "I'll do it if you make it obvious that I should." Now enter the check fiasco. I asked Drew about paying. After he told me about the no free child dinner, he said he really didn't want to come back. I was cool with that because I didn't really want to either. So God is shouting some more.

Now is the moment of truth, what do I do? I made a complete fool out of myself, but I gave them the unused $50 gift card. Let me remind you that I am HORRIBLE at small talk! I don't like talking to strangers without planning my words. So God was shoving me outside my comfortable box. The family was appreciative, so its all good. Not quite.

This morning on the way to work, I'm going over what I said and how stupid I sounded. "We're good Christians." Because there are bad ones, right? "You don't know me from Adam." That seems stupid to say. Why couldn't I have just said, "God told me to." I didn't. And then there were the during dinner doubts. "They might be one of those 'other' Christian denominations." "The women were wearing long denim skirts. I think their hair was kinda long." "They spoke like some of them do." Are you hearing how stupid these thoughts were. Its a good thing I read the post from A Deeper Story. That was my weapon against the doubts. So my memorable night of bad service was actually God shoving me out of my comfortable box and into his will. Not quite how I expected the night to go, but it really isn't about me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Future Authors?

Do all bloggers want to become published authors? It seems many of those that I read have been published or want to become published. I suppose this could be a very good medium to learn how to place the perfect words in the perfect place for maximum impact. This can be a great way to learn to edit and to connect with an audience. I like to write a little fiction myself every so often. However I am not at all interested in becoming published. That whole process is more than I care to wade through. Mostly, I don't really have a great story to tell. There are some that do have a story to tell, like my friends Bonnie and Leanne. And I really, really admire them for the effort they put into the publishing of their work.

I am finding out more and more that I am not that person. When I was younger, I thought that would be the most awesome thing ever. Writing a great story and getting it published had to be the best career that someone could have. I wrote stories and entered them in little local competitions. I even won a couple of them. Throughout high school a friend and I wrote stories and critiqued them for each other. I took a creative writing class in college. That might have been the hardest class I took. I realized how non talented I was, but I did get better and enjoyed the class in the end. I still didn't give up on the writing dream. I kept writing a little here and a little there. I would write a paragraph or two of which I was really proud. This past November I even entered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I started writing a novel. I even got to 20% of the goal, which was 50,000 words. That was all within about 10 days. I was proud of myself. I thought maybe I could really write a novel. Then I read a little about the process of submitting a manuscript and I didn't like it. I got dissatisfied with the story I was writing. It was then I realized that writing a publishing a novel or book was not for me. I do love stories and I even love thinking up some stories. Writing them down and presenting them to others not so much.

The post from a couple weeks ago was part of the story I was writing for NaNoWriMO. I was really proud of that part over all. There were a few places that I thought could be improved. There always are. That might be the last thing I write with gusto. And I'm not really too sad about that. So in answer to my original question, no. I just enjoy an opportunity to write a little something each week.

Eternity

There seems to be a lot of talk of eternity lately on the blogs I read and in my personal daily conversations. Today at lunch we ended up having a discussion on Heaven. It was about the fate of our animals. One commented that Heaven will have whatever makes you happy. I heard someone ask once if there will be hunting and fishing. Later in the day I was thinking, "I want a house with a view." Then I thought right after that, "Is this what I should want in heaven? Isn't heaven about more than this?" We are talking about HEAVEN! God and Jesus 24/7. Yeah I know, but what about my dog, my house, my...? Did I really ask that question. Aren't I missing the point? These musing might sound vaguely familiar. I said something like this recently. I also had a short conversation with some students about Heaven as well recently. In that conversation, they were stuck on the streets of gold and I thought, "Okay, but you also get God." I think God might be trying to expand my view of Heaven.

The other end of that spectrum has also been discussed a bit recently. I have read a little talk about Rob Bell and watched a little video by Francis Chan. Lots of the discussion seems to be centered around the question of is there one or not. In the video, Francis Chan says several times that we have to be careful how we present this and that we can't misrepresent it. I agree with that idea. However it seems to be that there is a whole lot of words and talking used for a rather simple concept. Pick Jesus or don't. If you pick Jesus you get to be with him forever. If you don't pick him, then you won't be with him forever. He won't make you pick him. The decision is yours. If you have chosen him then you would know how awesome he is and you will want to share that. Maybe I am over simplifying it, but isn't that the most important ideas in the gospel?

Praying

My following here at this little blog is growing and that is a great thing. I have been reading a LOT of wonderful blogs pretty regularly as well. That would seem to be the right formula for a growing blog. However, I think it has intimidated me a little. I feel like I should be saying wonderful things and have amazing insights. I don't. I'm out.

Testing season began last week and I have been a bit drained from the act of giving several 4 hour tests, keeping students from going crazy, worrying about my students passing, having a mild concern for my job, and raising money to get to Honduras this summer. I would like to say that I have been praying and believing my God is big enough. What I have actually done is redesigned my twitter and caught up on my DVR. So maybe my out feeling has less to do with what is going on in my life and more to do with what is not going on, praying!

Why have I not been praying? Not sure. Top 3 possible reasons

1. My prayer list is kinda long and I don't get around to me. Lame excuse! These are really different things. Talking to God about my life is not the same thing as asking him to bless others.
2. I'm afraid of what my answers might be. Closer. I don't really know what answers I might be afraid of, but I am.
3. I'm trying to deal with it myself. This seems to be the one. I can do it. I don't need God for anything. I've got it handled. I don't need his answers.

Of course that is a ridiculous idea. I can't control anything. I didn't create the Universe. I don't understand the past, present, and future. That's what God does. So I should probably let him do it. It might be time for me to go do that.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wuthering Heights

I just finished that book again last night. I read it in 8th grade the first time and I loved it! The moors, the British dialect, the names, and on and on and on. In 8th grade, Cathy was the villian, Heathcliff was to be pitied, and Edgar got in the way. I began reading it again a month or so ago. I felt the same way again. By the time I finished it, I changed my mind. Cathy was stuck in a hard position. She loved a guy who constantly chose the harsh and violent responses to life. She met another family that had a nice life and wanted others to have that nice life. They didn't choose violence. They chose family. So she chose him Edgar. He helped to settle her down and she found a peaceful easy life until Heathcliff returned. And he returned with a vengeance, continuing to choose violence and harshness. He could have chosen to move on and find happiness elsewhere. He could have believed in a plan outside of his own and changed. He went so far as to try to manipulate the next generation and bend it to his will. It was not enough for them to make their own decisions. They should make the decisions that he would have them make. Cathy wanted peace and happiness, so she chose the one who could provide that. And all these years I thought she was wrong.

I guess I had to learn that people will make their own decisions and no one is responsible for someone else's decision. We can advise and counsel, but we can not make the decision for him or her. It is theirs to make and I should not feel guilty if they choose poorly. Do everything in my power and then leave it to them. I seem to be learning that lesson from a few different places recently. I guess I'm not a quick learner with this one. What have you been learning recently?

Mothers day

Mother's day was Sunday, so people asked me this week how my Mother's Day was. I say it was nice and what I mean is I enjoyed hanging out with Drew's extended family and talking to my mother. Now if they would have asked,"How did you enjoy Mother's Day since you are a mother?", that would have been a different answer. I probably would have said, "Oh I am, aren't I?" I know I'm a mother, but I don't feel like I'm a 'Mother's Day' mother. This is my 3rd Mother's Day and I still don't feel any different on that day than before I was a mother. It seems like just another little family get together. So our little family doesn't really celebrate. Nothing too special. AND I don't mind. There are some supermom's out there who always have the house clean and keep track of the family doings and work and 10 million other things. I don't really do that, so I don't feel like I need a special 'me' day.

Not that Mother's Day isn't important. It is. I"m just saying that for me personally, I feel weird celebrating it. And because I feel weird celebrating it and being on the receiving end, I always forget to wish other people a 'Happy Mother's Day' back. I say thanks and walk away. Then I feel stupid for not telling that wonderful mother that she needs to have a happy day. Another person comes up and says 'Happy Mother's Day' and I think about saying it back. Then I wonder what if they aren't a mom? Will that offend them? So again I say nothing and feel stupid.

All this is why I am bad at small talk especially on Mothers Day. It's also why I'm not a good Mother's Day mom. What about you? Who do you know that is a great Mother's Day mom?

2 Chronicles 7:14 Revolution?

I follow a lot of blogs. I have 53 on my Google Reader. They don’t all post regularly, but I would guess at least 30 of them post regularly and several of those are daily. Following that many blogs, sometimes I see trends. I have been seeing a trend and I wonder if we are on the cusp of a revolution. I’m seeing trends like loving people, talking to them, and judging them less. The book Radical and Quitter seem to be telling us something. The words authentic and transparent are becoming regular parts of a Christian conversation. I hear Christians talk about going for a big dream. Maybe this is the community I have surrounded myself with, so maybe this is just me. However even if it is just me, is it possible that God has put these people in my life for a reason? Is he telling me something? Is he telling us something? Can we really make the big difference that we all seem to be dreaming about? Is this the beginning of a revolution? I hope so. I hope this is a revolution against the hopelessness and lies pushed on us by our culture.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paradise?

You may have noticed I didn't post last week. It wasn't really on purpose. I couldn't really think of anything to say. So many people posted about the death of Osama bin laden and I didn't want to. I have my opinions, but I didn't feel like airing them here. We went on vacation last weekend, so I tried to catch up from that and tried to get Ben back in a routine. Even one night away from home seems to be enough to throw him off. I had to have a difficult conversation this week. (It went well by the way.) I have also been focusing on my prayer time as well. It seems like with all that going on I would have something to say. However I didn't, so I didn't post.

Today I have a quick thought. I have more thoughts for later this week in a longer post. (See I'm making up for it with 2 posts this week.) While our PowerPoint presentation was being readied for church this morning, I saw a desktop picture of a beach resort type area. I thought that looks like paradise. Then I thought, that's a rather narrow view of paradise. Yes everyone's ideal place is different. I'm sure our dreaming places and our real places are even different. Whatever our different ideas are, our Paradise is quite different from whatever we might experience here. So maybe I need to start rethinking my definition of paradise.


The photo was like this:
Is this really paradise?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Um....

With so much on my mind and so little to talk about, I have decided to post a scrap of a story that I have written for you all to enjoy.  You guys can tell me how it ends.

To Fly Again by Andrea Ward

He passed her in the hallway during morning duty. He passed her in courtyard during class changes. He was always polite. He asked about her fiancĂ©e, she asked about his dogs. Simple pleasantries between co-workers that’s all it was. So why did it feel like so much more now? They passed in Wal-Mart and said hello. They passed each other on the square during Reunion Weekend and exchanged smiles. Barely acquaintances are what they were. So when did that all change? How did they get here?

As odd as it may seem, it all started with the accident. She thought her life would be over when Trey was taken from her. She was going to walk down the aisle in her beautiful white dress and pledge to be with Trey forever. That was her plan and then it all went so wrong. Trey shouldn’t have even been there if it wasn’t for her. She was the one that sent him for ice cream that day. Ice cream? Who would have expected ice cream to bring such pain? But there Trey was on the road when the driver took a wrong a turn. Trey was a hero. He was always so brave, so of course he did his best to save the children. Children… he would have been such a great father. When the car was a crumpled mass of steel, Trey was there. He saved their lives and sacrificed his own. How could she be angry with such a selfless act? But she was. She was angry with him for leaving her. How could she go on about her life without him in it? How could she go to work when she was now so far from whole? She was told to take time off and she did, but it didn’t change anything. She still came home to an empty house. Her friends still looked at her with pity as they canceled reservations. Her students still tiptoed around her and didn’t act like themselves. Her fellow staff members were always trying to help with planning or copies or something. It should make her feel better to see all these people trying to comfort her. But still she felt empty. She finished the semester in a haze. She stumbled through the holidays and began teaching again.

Her heart still very heavy in her chest was still beating. She had forgotten about it for awhile, but there it was beating away and betraying everything she knew to be true. She knew Trey was her future. She knew Elly and Finn were going to have a beautiful ranch house with a white picket fence provided by their dad. She knew her whole life was wrapped up in Trey. She knew without him she would have no life, no future. She knew her life would unravel and fray. And here she was teaching and going to meetings. Here she was breathing and feeling her heart still beat.

Maybe if her heart was still beating, she should be beating too. She should be beating this pain. She should be naming it. She called it grief. She shared it with others. She opened the closet of her pain and let some of it go. She decided to go on, to keep living. She put her wedding dress in storage. She returned their wedding bands. She didn’t take off her engagement ring. She didn’t put his pictures away. She opened the closet of her pain again and let some more go when she gave away Trey’s clothes. She began to visit his parents instead of his grave. She began to attend a grief support group at church. She found life again. It wasn’t quite as sweet or pleasant as she remembered, but it was life none the less.

Now when he passed her in the hallway during morning duty, he asked about her students. When he passed her during class changes, he told her funny stories about his dogs. He passed her in the park with his dogs. He stopped and introduced them to her. He didn’t treat as a broken mirror with distance and fear. He treated her as a wounded bird with caution and the hope she could fly again. Was that what brought them here? His ability to treat her like a normal person was refreshing. She spoke to him and she felt like she was waking up from a bad dream. She felt like life could go on and be worthwhile. She felt normal.
She began to look forward to Tuesday and Thursday mornings when she would see him and she could ask about Roxy and Rufus. She looked forward to lunch when she would see him in the cafeteria and she could ask about his classes. Contentedly she served her gate duty because she could watch him coach. She could see him in his environment and watch him coach his players to a win as he coached her back to life. She felt a stirring in her stomach. She wondered about it. She wondered about him. Not knowing what to do, she went to another game. The team won. She hung around and congratulated the boys as they left.

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To Fly Again by Andrea Ward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.