Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Interview with...a probation officer

Since this is a blog about relationships, I thought it would be good to interview some people we may meet regularly in our lives.  I wanted to know the good and the bad of what they do and how we can make it better. After all that's what this blog is all about, making relationships better.  So over the next few weeks we will be hearing from a chiropractic physician, a probation officer, a real estate agent, a server at a restaurant, a custodian, and hopefully a couple more.  I hope you enjoy this and learn a little something too.

Today we are hearing from an old friend of mine who is a probation officer, a husband, a dad, a geek, a runner, and a blogger.  He blogs at The Rantings of a Dad and Fat Guy Running.  He's the reason I started blogging, so you should definitely check those out.  Before this interview, I really didn't know what he did.  After the interview, I have a ton of respect for this job that doesn't seem to get much.  If you encounter a probation officer, remember this interview and treat him like a professional who wants to help kids that desperately need it.

What is your job title?
Community Adjustment Juvenile Probation Officer

What is the best thing about your job?
The belief that what I do makes an impact in the lives of juveniles who have made bad decisions.

What is the worst thing about your job?
It is a very thankless job, many people don’t truly appreciate it, even within probation.  Hard schedule, difficult situations, and not much appreciation amongst my coworkers.

What is the most considerate thing someone has done for you?
Every Christmas our supervisor tries to say thanks for a great year by getting us each gift cards.  But one year he got us warm stocking caps.  I really appreciated that.

What is the least considerate thing people do to you?
When casework Probation Officers completely ignore things we’ve observed in the field.  When we say a kid’s house smells like marijuana and he’s rarely at home during our checks, and the PO sends a memo to the judge asking for a relax in the release conditions simply because they don’t want the kid on their caseload anymore.  Yes, that actually happens.

What could people do to be more considerate to you?
All I ask for is a follow up to my work.  A violation if it is needed, a call, an address verification. Just about anything that says that my opinion/work matters.

What unspoken rule to people break most often?  
In Probation the unspoken rule is to “Cover your own [butt]” and in so doing, many people break some of the unspoken rules of just a decent working environment.  Throwing coworkers under the bus, ignoring emails, etc.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Use me

As I enter hour 5 of the 30 hour famine, I look around me at the cars and restaurants.  I see how blessed we are and how selfish I am.  Earlier I tweeted about it and mentioned my prayer that this could touch the hearts of our youth and make them think.  This is my prayer, but in my pharasitical heart I know part of me is bragging about this.  I am showing my commitment to the hungry by standing with them for a few hours.  When I consciously realize this, I am convicted and guilt stricken.  I know I will see the faces of hunger and need tomorrow when we serve at the soup kitchen.  I see my life is so far from theirs.  I want to help.  I want to change things for them.  I feel so helpless when meeting the size of this issue.  I feel so selfish and worthless.  Then from deep inside, I hear a voice that sounds very much like my husband's, "We sponsor 2 children and 1 missionary.  You speak about this on your blog and Twitter.  You use your voice and your talents.  You use your time and your money.  You do what God calls you to do and that does not include giving away everything you have and living on the streets of in another country.  He has put you here and now.  Don't feel guilty about it."

As the hours progress, I alleviate my hunger by drinking copious amounts of water.  Even as I drink the good clean clear water from my faucet, I think of the hundreds of thousands who don't have clean water.  The ones who can't alleviate their hunger with good water.  Once more I am awash in conviction and guilt for my blindness caused by my selfishness.  My hunger is real and also temporary.  I can't know what they know.

I face this demon on a regular basis and many times he wins the fight.  I walk away from the battle feeling defeated, hopeless, worthless, and simply less.  On rare occasions, I win the battle.  I see how my few dollars and my few words make a difference and change the world.  There is a fine line between pride and hope.  It is a fuzzy line with sections missing.  I walk both sides of the line.  Sometimes my walk slows to a crawl.  Sometimes that crawl leaves me prostrate on my face crying out to God, crying out for guidance, crying out for wisdom.  And mostly crying out for forgiveness.  Forgive me my selfish ways.  Forgive me my broken humanity.  Forgive me.  Just forgive me please!

As I write, I realize the flaw in my prayer.  Sometimes forgiveness is needed.  However, a more effective prayer and a more effective attitude is crying out for God to use me.  Lord use me!  Use my words.  Use my voice.  Use my time.  Use my talents.  Use my money.  Use me!!!  Lord change me and use me!


As a side note:  I had an awesome time playing around with the kids that participated on Saturday night.  The conversations, the laughter, and the lessons that we shared might be a part of the using me.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 2-24

It seems I have a lots of repetition this week.  Lots of good stuff came from the same sources this week.  Enjoy!

Compassion - How can sponsorship help prevent child slavery  An innocent child is sold into slavery by his or her family in a desperate attempt to be able to afford the resources that Sam now receives through the Compassion program:
Clean water. Food. Education. Medical care.
The provision of hope itself.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Fat Guy Running - Pitfalls and Struggles Part 2   The fact is you know, if you’re being honest with yourself and I hope you are, what your weaknesses are and what you have to do to overcome them.  Are you already thinking of them and coming up with excuses as to how you can’t get around them?  See? Another pitfall.  Stop falling and start fighting.
Become the freaking warrior you want to be, not the coward who has let himself go.c

Jaime, the very worst missionary - The tourist gospel  So, all of this has got me thinking about what happens when, as Christians, we let ourselves be so far “set apart” from the world that we end up looking like a bunch of tourists, instead of the ones with the answers. 

The View from here - Confession of a missionary narcissist   There are several things that I learned during my trip, but the one thing that I will take away from the week is that.... 

Nicaragua doesn't need me.

You see, I suffer from this disorder that I'll call Missionary Narcissism.  It's when I go to a place, such as Nicaragua, I see so many needs and I begin to think that if only I lived here, if only I were present then: 
Grit and Glory - Space for Selah  It takes intentionality to build space into my life. But when I do, my heart is better for it. And so is everything that stems from my heart. My writing, my relationships, my perspective…
A little bit of space goes a long way. Especially when it’s a built-in consistent part of my life.
A healthy life rhythm has space built in.

Compassion - Renew your mind from the inside out  Watching it, I was struck at how we find it acceptable, behind the safety of a car’s frame and windows, to behave in a less-than-civil manner. Similarly, in our humanness we are quite happy to entertain thoughts and cultivate attitudes that are less than godly, as long as they’re kept hidden safely in the confines of our minds.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

WorldVision - Frogs, the other white meat  Nitnoy and Phoun felt powerless to provide for their children’s most basic physical needs, much less give them opportunities for a brighter future.
Life was so difficult that their eldest daughter, Leng, went to work in Thailand five years ago. She was only 10.

Compassion - Fight Poverty: How does child sponsorship rate as a strategy to help the poor  There are many wonderful things that we can do to help the poor. Providing clean drinking water prevents millions of deaths per year. Mosquito nets are inexpensive and have reduced malaria related deaths by 20%.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Jaime, the very worst missionary - The final freaking rose   But, dear sweet baby Jesus, have we grown so apathetic to the human condition that we've turned Love into a gameshow?

Pictures of Poverty - Mmmmwah! #Love #Kiss #Philippines 

Friday, February 24, 2012

A third world morning

After weeks of worrying and stressing about creativity, I have finally turned off the computer and turned off my doubts and written something.  Yesterday, I shared my rough draft with you about my morning.  Today I'm sharing the other half of the story.  This is a work of fiction.  I have looked up no information.  This is just from other true accounts I have read from various blogs.  This is also a rough draft and by no means anything final.


Somewhere else in the world, in fact many somewheres, another mother awakes in the dark.  There is no digital clock to wake her.  It is her biological clock, the clock that tells her that her children need her.  She doesn't worry about waking a husband for there is no husband.  Maybe he abandoned her or maybe he is off  somewhere far working to earn money that is so desperately needed.  She pulls herself up, but not from a bed and there is no comforter from which she needs to disengage.  She may have a light blanket on a mate on a dirt floor.  Maybe that light blanket lays on a hard cot in their one room block house.  Wherever she has slept, she pulls herself out of bed and wakes her children.  The sun rises bringing light to the little home.  She sends one child to the river or maybe the community water source for a bucket or two of water.  Maybe the river is frozen or maybe the river is dirty.  Maybe the community water source is dry.  Maybe the community water source is dirty or clean or full or empty.  Whatever it may look like, it is hard work to get water.  That child dutifully carries the water back home.

While one child is gone, another begins to sweep away the debris that has gathered in their small home.  They take turns going to a barren field several yards away to use the restroom.  The family uses the small bucket to wash their face and teeth.  There are no clothes to change because it isn't time to change into the other outfit.  They use the water they just washed in to dip out a cup to mix with other grains creating a simple breakfast.  They pray and thank God for the food they have knowing so many countrymen don't have it.  This mother doesn't check her hair or make-up.  She owns no mirror.  She doesn't have make up or hair products.  Maybe she worries about her appearance.  Maybe she doesn't.  Maybe she worries about her bent and calloused hands.  Maybe she worries about gray hairs or wrinkles.  After a simple small breakfast, she moves on with her day.  The kids begin their long walk to school.  They walk thankful to be going and excited to be learning.  Maybe they walk through the dust and mud.  Maybe they walk through the snow and the slush.   Maybe they are barefoot.  Maybe they have sandals.  Maybe they have boots and coats.  Maybe they only have one of those.  Maybe they have uniforms to wear proudly.  This mother worries as every mother does about what her children may face today and how they will react.

She watches them walk off and finishes readying herself for her day.  Maybe she puts on a special bracelet or ring before leaving.  Maybe she puts on nothing.  Maybe she puts on a donated coat to protect herself from the cold.  Maybe she has shoes.  Maybe she doesn't.  Maybe she leaves for her job.  Maybe she stays home and tends the fields.  Maybe people visit her as she earns her living.  She carries no food with her on her travels today for she has nothing to bring.  She knows she will not eat again today because she wants her children to have food tonight.  As she goes on her travels today, she sings a song she learned from the travelling preacher.  She quotes a few sentences of Scripture she learned from the same man years ago on his first visit.  He shows them the Bible, but she doesn't know how to read. So she memorizes what she can.  She prays for that man to return soon so he can teach her children and herself more.  She prays to God for the people she knows and people she doesn't.  She prays for people far away that send money used for school and food and doctors for her children.  She prays for those at the community center who feed her kids.  She prays for her family far away who are fighting for their lives against the soldiers and tribes that she ran from.  She prays for her neighbors whose children don't get sponsored.  She prays for all those less fortunate than herself.  As she prays and walks, she covers the miles between home and work.  She strengthens herself and she lightens her burdens, and she shares her hope with the world.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A first world morning

Based on the challenge for the week that I received from the World Vision Activism Network website for Lent, I decided to turn off the computer and start writing something because God has been telling me to do that.  The computer is an easy escape and Lent is about sacrificing things to get closer to God.  So the computer was a logical choice.  Obviously I am on the computer now, so I haven't given it up entirely.  I'm giving it up some of the time to write something every day this week.  We'll see what challenges come at me in upcoming weeks.  Yesterday I started writing and was very pleased with the result.  Today I am sharing that with you.  I hope to have the second part of this story for Friday.

A first world morning

I wake up to the radio playing softly.  I look at the red numbers shining out in the darkness.  I pull the comforter over me knowing I have a few more minutes.  Ten, fifteen minutes later I wake again and pull myself out of bed.  My feet hit the old blue mottled carpet that I don't like.  I trudge to the bathroom.  I turn on the light and use the toilet.  I flush the toilet and wash my hands with the good smelling soap from the specialty store.  I turn the lights off and go to the other bathroom.  One of our toilets isn't flushing right and we haven't found the time to call the plumber.  I turn that light on and find my daily medication.  I shake out one small pill that will balance out my body chemistry.  I put it in my mouth and pull down the kids plastic cup with a chain restaurant logo on it.  I fill it with water and swallow.  I put the cup and medicine back on the shelf and head quietly to my dresser.  My husband is still sleeping.  I open the 3rd drawer that is full of pants.  I pull out a pair and change out of my pajama pants.  I quietly go to the large closet I share with my husband and run my hand over more tops than I can count.  I decide to wear a sweater, so I go to the closet in the playroom and get a sweater from the closet there.  I put on the sweater and return to the master half bath.  I turn on the water and wet my hair.  I get the gel from the shelf and fix my hair.  I wash my hands and choose one of my six good smelling lotions from the same specialty store as the hand soap.  I put on the lotion.  I realize I have too much and put it on my arms as well.  I pull down my make up bag and dig through multiple containers of various colors and purposes.  I find the wedge shaped white sponge that is now turned beige.  I put on a small dollop of foundation and cover the imperfections on my face.  I smile at my reflection.  I turn off the light and head to the dresser.  I pick up my watch and new cause bracelet.  I smile inside proud of the decisions I made to help others that garnered me these items.

I walk barefoot down the hardwood hallway in my warm home.  I search the wall for the light switch.  I turn on the dining room light which shines just the right amount of light into the kitchen and living room.  I enter the kitchen and open the refrigerator and then the freezer.  I look through multiple shelves and around the spoiled food that I am waiting on trash day to throw out.  I am trying to find lunch.  I decide to grab a frozen processed sandwich.  I will warm it up in the microwave later today.  I put it in my catalog ordered thermal lunch bag.  I go to my comfortable stuffed chair that I bought from a silent auction for a fraction of the retail price.  I pull my feet up under me and turn on the expensive beautiful lamp we received as a gift.  I pull my bible out of the catalog ordered make up bag that I use as a Bible cover.  I open one of the five Bibles we have in the house to read the five pages a day I have required of myself.  I hit a button on my smart phone to check the time even though I am wearing a watch.  I see I have several email notifications from stores I have shopped at recently and a social media notification.  I will check those later.  I turn back to the Bible and retrieve the bookmark I received as a gift form a church member who visited Israel recently.  I move the picture of my prayer partner from the orphanage in Honduras.  As I move the photo I think, "Crap.  I forgot to pray for her last night."

Once I have my ending place marked, I begin my Bible reading.  As I read the Old Testament, I picture the ancient cities and peoples in my mind.  I think of the hardships they must have faces back then.  The dangers of war, the difficulties of getting food and water, the complexities of making clothing, the list goes on and on. I think how glad I am that we don't face those things today.  As I read sometimes I get a little bored and my eyes slide over the words.  My brain registers the words and releases them from my memory almost immediately.  I get impatient as the clock ticks past seven.  I know it is time to go soon.  I finish my reading proud to have completed my Bible reading for the day.  I turn off the lamp and go to the dining room table covered with papers and books and things that have no other place on the various shelves and in the various drawers around the house.  Somewhere under all of them is a tablecloth from one of my trips to Mexico and place mats from a discount store.  I gather my lunch bag, my purse, and my fair trade tote bag that I carry with pride.  I dig through multiple pairs of my shoes that have migrated under the table over the last several days.  I turn off the light and go out to the carport.

I pass my husband's 15 year old car to get to my 11 year old car.  I look at the overgrown flower beds and bushes in the front yard.  I look at the flowers blooming too early.  I see the work my yard will take and get a little depressed.  I unlock the care and start it to warm it up.  I get the heavy duty scraper out and begin scraping the windows.  I hear the quiet strains from the satellite radio coming from inside the car.  I pull my new coat a little tighter around me.  I put my gloves on and tighten my scarf.  I finish scraping the car and get in.  It's later than I would like and the windows are a little cloudy inside the car.  I sigh and wipe off the haziness in front of me.  I back out of my drive way and head off to work.

Creative Commons License
A first world morning by Andrea Ward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Interview with... a real estate agent

Since this is a blog about relationships, I thought it would be good to interview some people we may meet regularly in our lives.  I wanted to know the good and the bad of what they do and how we can make it better. After all that's what this blog is all about, making relationships better.  So over the next few weeks we will be hearing from a chiropractic physician, a probation officer, a real estate agent, a server at a restaurant, a custodian, and hopefully a couple more.  I hope you enjoy this and learn a little something too.


Today we are hearing from a friend of mine who is a real estate agent, a runner, and a blogger.  She blogs over at The Esau Project and Run with the Big Girls.  You can also find a house to buy from her over here.  If you are in Southern Illinois and looking for a good real estate agent, this is your girl.  If you already have a real estate agent, read on and see what you can do to make things better for him/her.

What is your job title?Julie - Office manager and sales agent with Pollard Realty

What is the best thing about your job?Julie - I love meeting new people and making new friends.  But my favorite part is handing the keys to new homeowners.  They’re so excited.  I love finding them the right house.

What is the worst thing about your job?
Julie - I’m subject to everyone else’s schedule.  I work 8-4 at the office, but most of the time I’m showing houses after 5 because that’s when people can view them.  Sometimes I just have to turn off my phone and unplug for a while.

What is the most considerate thing someone has done for you?
Julie - At work? I’ve had clients get me flowers or a candle or something thanking me for selling their homes.  Most recently a client paid for a month of my membership at my gym.  I thought that was pretty awesome.

What is the least considerate thing people do to you?Julie -- Most of the time people are great, but my biggest pet peeve is when they don’t call when they’re running late...especially when we’ve got a lot of appointments set up.  I try to work on a schedule to be considerate to the homeowners letting us in their homes but when people are late without notice, I have no way to tell the homeowners they can stay in their homes for a little bit longer.  

What could people do to be more considerate to you?Julie -Just consider that I have a schedule and a life outside of work.  I’m more than willing to get up early and/or stay late to accommodate others’ schedules because it’s my job and it’s what I love to do.  But just remember that sometimes I also have other plans or places to be.

What unspoken rule to people break most often?  
Julie - It’s not really a rule, but sometimes people are working with two different agents.  It’s completely understandable, though, because they just call the agency that has the house that they’d like to view and go with them, and then they call us because we have a house they’d like to see and they go with us.  It’s usually not a problem unless you have another agent that gets angry.  Fortunately in Fairfield, we all realize that it’s going to happen and that people just aren’t really aware of how it’s done in the sales world.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finding my story: The younger ones

Family GroupPhoto Credit: anyjazz65

I have already written about my parentsmy grandparentsmy great-grandparents and some other family members.  I had thought of moving on to some close friends and in-laws when I realized that I had forgotten some of my younger relations, especially my brother.  I know I'm a horrible person!  So I am writing this post to rectify that.

Something unique about my younger cousins is that I remember them as babies and I have had the privilege of seeing them grow up.  I was 10 when D was born.  He was born on Easter Sunday, so I remember being in the hospital in my Easter dress.  I wasn't happy about that because I really wanted out of that uncomfortable dress.  I also remember he was born with a full head of black hair.  I had never seen that before.  Today you can count on him to have a witty remark and to know exactly what is going on with the Cardinals.  I have always been a little amazed at his sister's blonde hair.  She was the first one in my memory to have blonde hair in the family.  That isn't the only reason she amazes me.  She is very bright and I don't just mean her intelligence.  She is a happy person who brings laughter and kindness into any situation.  I often wish I was more like her.  These two remind me that laughter goes a long way toward happiness in life.

There are 3 boys who are cousins to the two mentioned above and cousins to me as well.  B is the oldest.  His twin brothers are D and R.  These three are rather quiet.  Well D and R are becoming quieter as they get older.  I remember lots of family events where they were running from one part of the house to another playing some game they invented.  They were always willing to share in the fun as well.  As for their older brother, I remember his love for balloons when he was a toddler.  He just couldn't get enough of them.  Today he is a scholar and an athlete.  He was valedictorian of his middle school class. (In my part of Illinois, we graduate from middle school and have valedictorians and the whole bit.  I like it and kinda miss that NC doesn't do that.)  From day 1, he always been willing to share with his brothers.  The amazing thing that totally bowls me over about these 3 is the way they share.  They all have their special days with Dad to go to a Cardinals game or other event.  They don't fuss about not getting to go when he gets to go or not getting the same this or that as the other one.  They are the most generous siblings I think I have ever met.  I hope to  be as generous as they are with my loved ones.

The youngest of my young cousins, B and B, are a whirlwind.  They have been stubborn and determined since day 1.  They have also always been playful and loving and fiercely loyal to family.  They have not had an easy road to get where they are today, but you would never know it if you met them.  They are so positive about what is going on in life.  They find the silver lining every time.  They have plenty of times they are stubborn and determined to get their own way, like most kids.  However, there are many more times that they are stubborn and determined to find joy in any situation and love those around them.  These two stick up for each other and all their family members.  No one better say anything disparaging about their family around them because they will let you know how wrong you are.  I hope to be as determined as they are to love well and show loyalty.

This post would not be complete with discussing my brother.  I have tried to write this part of the post in my head several times and I just can't seem to get it right.  There are so many memories of my brother that I could share.  There are the times I stuck up for him in school.  There are the times he cooked breakfast or lunch for us both when Mom and Dad were working.  I remember him as a toddler hiding in the kitchen cabinets or under the side tables in the living room and peeking out at the rest of us to see if we were giggling yet.  Most of the time we were.  I remember being taught how to field a baseball and shoot a free throw along side of him.  I remember him going along with all the goofy games I made up.  I remember some epic fights, like the time I broke a window in the back door because he locked me out and was making faces at me.  No major injuries for either of us, praise God.  I remember picking on him a lot.  I'm surprised he still talks to me.  I remember one snow storm when we lived in Missouri where we went outside to play he was buried in the snow.  I remember going to see him play in the state championship for middle school baseball and high school tennis.  I remember him wearing some crazy secondhand store outfit to my college graduation.  I was slightly embarrassed and I'm pretty sure that's what he was going for.  (I was a bit uptight back then.)  I remember getting mad at him a lot because he always sounded so sure of everything he said.  I remember sharing a bedroom on Christmas Eve night, so we would both get up at the same time on Christmas morning.  I remember going on so many vacations with him and enjoying the time we spent together.  We never got bored playing together.  He is outgoing, confident, gregarious.  He makes friends easily and isn't afraid to try something new.  When he tries something new, he doesn't fail because he is that hard-working and talented.  Ever since high school, I have always felt a little less than when I am next to him.  I am not any of the things that he is.  I am not outgoing.  I am not always confident.  I am not gregarious.  I do not make friends easily.  I am terrified of trying new things.  My parents never compared us because we are each different people, but I have found myself comparing us quite a bit.  I have never felt like I measured up to him.  I have always admired him for the reasons I listed above and hope to be a little more like him.

Do you have siblings or younger relatives that have made an impact on you?  Tell me about it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 2-18

So much good stuff this week!  You may need to take a few extra minutes to read through all of this.  It is worth every second!

The Handwritten - Take  5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; 
   let your glory be over all the earth.
 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, 
   that those you love may be delivered.

And The Importance of Roots  16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

New Ways Theology - The sermon as lecture  So my question is, should the church move away from the model of sermon-as-lecture?

Church and the Single Girl - Praying to St. Valentine A Catholic practice I’ve never understood is praying to saints. (Actually, I’ve never understood saints in general, but that is a post for another time.)

And The Nicene Creed  The Nicene Creed isn’t just another set of words to say on Sunday. It is a serious affirmation of faith. Saying these words out loud in some countries is illegal, yet many flippantly mumble them each week. These words are controversial, life changing, and unequivocal.

What Kind of Mother are you? - A More Excellent Way Love is patient . . . with the guy that cuts in line.
Love is kind . . .to the neighbors that seem so different.
Love is not envious. . . of things that do not last,

And Passing through the flames  I know it’s exhausting. The pay is poor (non-existent), but we are working for a reward which we hardly even realize yet. Hold fast. Be strong. Dance when you want to cry. Sing when you want to complain. Take a big, deep, breath when you want to yell. And, smile. For goodness sake, smile! That alone can transform the moment you are in.

Compassion - Mean words hurt  Calling someone negro chocoano is offensive; it shows discrimination because of skin color. Juan is deeply hurt by these words so he fights with his schoolmates and gets poor grades at school. He has been in the second grade twice, which concerns his mom and his tutors.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

World Vision - One small cry: Hassanes fight agains malnutrition  The aid workers, the other mothers, and Hassane’s family fall silent as the little one is given the package with the vitamin-rich paste. He begins to chew slowly at first, becoming a bit more forceful with the food at each bite. Then, when the health worker tries to change the angle of the packet, we hear his impatient cry.
Hassane has gotten his food — and he’s not giving it up.

And The Malaria Scare   She sent me some figures, which showed that last year World Vision distributed more than 2.2 million nets in Africa alone. It plans distribution of millions more over the next three years.
“If anything,” she said, commenting on the new report, “it just shows us that we need to continue moving in this direction.

J Bryant writes - How beautiful do I have to be  I’ve accepted how I look, but I still can’t stop wondering why I don’t feel beautiful. I have moments when I do. Often those moments happen when I’m alone. I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I’m perched in front of my computer, hair all a mess and glasses sliding down my nose, and I’ll smile, pleasantly pleased with my appearance.

A Deeper Story - Choose your own adventure But that way of thinking paints a picture of God having one ultimate plan for my life, which includes specific choices in even the smallest of decisions. And while that may sound holy, it leaves me feeling a bit like a puppet. As though if I get one thing wrong in my attempts to navigate His will, the rest of my life is basically a wash.

And Relationships- showing up and leaning in  after years of not investing for fear of rejection, my abandonment-weary heart is beginning to trust again. 
and even though relationships are hard and awkward and require work…i would be lost without those in my life who fight for me and remind me of my strength when all courage is gone.
Shawn Smucker - How a 148 year old speech spoke to me  He gave a speech about the great civil war that raged on and how it tested our nation’s resolve.
And I wonder about our nation now.

Top of the Page - Don't make me count to 3: Part 2 Notice NONE of those reasons had to do with my daughter. She did not do anything defiant or naughty.She did something childish. Because she is a child. And incidentally, we've all left our purses somewhere before, even as adults. Common mistake, right? Yet look at how my emotion and my circumstances totally interfered with my parenting. So far in the story, I've done ZERO parenting. I've just pouted for being inconvenienced. Not my best work, people.

My heart belongs to Jesus...Citizen of the world: Kingdom 365: 47: Live to Die, Die to Live   God brought you to Cambodia to kill you. To kill your dreams, kill your "doing", to kill your plans, to kill your ministry. To kill off everything that you think you thought you knew...about relationships, about leadership, about partnering, about service, about ministry.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thoughts from a sick woman

We have been sick all week, so I honestly don't have that much on my heart.  I have a short list of random thoughts.  So I'll let you in on those.

1.  I hope Ben and I feel better for his party tomorrow.
2.  I don't want to bake cupcakes with plastic gloves on, but I will to make sure the cupcakes are good for tomorrow.
3.  I'm not as stressed as I thought I would be about the party.  It seems to be coming together nicely.
4.  I started reading a new book and I'm excited about it.  And then we danced by Mike and Fiana Lusby and Shawn Smucker
5.  I have no voice today because of being sick, so my students are watching videos about Spain.  I hope they really pay attention and learn something.
6.  Due to them watching movies, I'm getting a lot of grading done.
7.  I agreed to translate for the Speech Therapist at school today.  Not my best work, but I tried.
8.  I've got some people weighing heavy on my heart this week and I wouldn't mind a prayer or two.

Sorry this is so short and late and jumbled.  Being sick has thrown me off my game.  I'll be back Monday with some fabulous family stories.

Partnering with Casey today.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

One Word check-in

You may remember that my One Word for this year is Faithful.  I was thinking about it a bit yesterday and I thought today would be a good time to put those words on paper.

Yesterday, I scrubbed the bathtub clean.  I cleaned out the freezer.  I did a load of dishes.  I folded a couple loads of clothes.  I cleaned out the microwave.  I have been consciously cleaning my house to be faithful in using what God had given me.  I am not at all interested in working outside pulling weeds and clipping hedges and what not.  Yes it is February, but the weather has been nice.  So I could have worked on it a little.  Also if I start thinking about how I don't want to do that now, how am I going to get myself psyched up to do this in April and so forth.

I have turned off my social networking more and spent more time with family and books.  I have probably spent too much time with books, so I need to work harder at being faithful with the time God gives me.

I have been drinking more water and eating less.  I wanted to start running on my treadmill again, but being sick this week has prevented that.  I still really want to do that, so I can see myself beginning to run next week.  I want to be more faithful with the body God has given me.

I have started writing little clips of fiction that pass through my head.  You may also notice that I have done some worrying about that here and here.  Sunday God convicted me about all the worrying and no action.  So I started putting action to it and letting the worries fall away.  I have also started a couple story compilation projects.  I need to work harder on those and write out my portion of them.  I need to encourage contributors as well.  This is how I'm being faithful to God's calling on my life, even though I have no clue what he is calling me toward.

Along the lines of being faithful to God's calling, I have also been pre-writing some posts and I have planned a couple series for Wednesdays.  I'm being faithful to you guys and to what God is wanting me to do with this space.

One of the projects I am working on is a series of stories from members in my church about testimonies they have.  Maybe it is their salvation or maybe it is another time in their life.  This will create intimacy among our church members and draw us closer than we have been before.  This will also help me understand these people better and love them more thereby being a more faithful member of God's Church.  I have not been praying about this word enough and there might be more that God wants to do with it, but I don't know because I haven't been praying about it.  So I need to be more faithful to my One Word.

Overall pretty good.  I have consciously thought about my word and what I need to do with it.  However, there is more that I know I need to do.

Did you pick a word?  How is it going?  What are your goals for this year?  How are they going?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Interview with... a chiropractic physician

Since this is a blog about relationships, I thought it would be good to interview some people we may meet regularly in our lives.  I wanted to know the good and the bad of what they do and how we can make it better. After all that's what this blog is all about, making relationships better.  So over the next few weeks we will be hearing from a chiropractic physician, a probation officer, a real estate agent, a server at a restaurant, a custodian, and hopefully a couple more.  I hope you enjoy this and learn a little something too.

Today we are hearing from a friend of mine who recently graduated and is beginning her practice.  She blogs over at Confessions of a Chiropractor.  But more importantly, here is a link to her new practice If you are in Southern Illinois and looking for a good chiropractic physician, this is your girl.  If you already have a chiropractic physician, read on and see what you can do to make things better for him/her.

What is your job title?

- Chiropractic physician

What is the best thing about your job?

- I get to help people feel better everyday.

What is the worst thing about your job?

- Dealing with insurance companies that don’t want to pay for care my patients need.

What is the most considerate thing someone has done for you?

- The most considerate thing anyone has ever done for me was for another doctor to entrust the care of their patients with me.  The doctor I did my final internship with.  Allowed me to treat her patients without question, in turn showing me how much she trusted my knowledge and skill.  It was a huge confidence boost that made me understand that I was ready to be a doctor.

What is the least considerate thing people do to you?

- As a new doctor and business owner, I find it very inconsiderate for people to assume that because they are my friend or family member that I’m going to give them free or discounted care.  Immediate family is of course free, but if I gave free care to every friend that came in my door.  I would never make enough money to keep my doors open or pay my loans off.

What could people do to be more considerate to you?

- I wish people would remember that while I am a doctor, I am not rich.  If people valued my care for what it is worth rather than value it for deal they could get from their friend I find that much more considerate and I think they would get better results for themselves as well.

What unspoken rule to people break most often?  

- Asking me to adjust them whenever we’re hanging out.  I don’t mind doing it once in a while, and I understand there are times when you can’t wait.  But I do this all day, everyday; my work is at the office. I don’t want to bring it home or to your Superbowl party or your nephew’s bar mitzvah.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Out Sick

It is 5:30 am and I am waiting until closer to 6 to start calling to find a sub for today.  Ben has an awful cold.  He's snotty and coughing.  His voice is weak and his eyes are snotty and watering.  So I'm staying home with him today.  Since I won't call for a sub this early, I have the time to write today's blog post.  I had planned to write about New Year's Eve, but somehow I don't have the energy to do that.  Of course, New Year's Eve was a lot like this.  Me sitting in the living room on the computer waiting for the right time to go to bed.  Then it was Drew that was sick and I had Pinterest to keep me company.  Today Ben is sick and I have you all to keep me company.

Right now, I'm a little cold because I wore shorts to bed and I'm too lazy to go put pants on now.  Of course the laptop is keeping me from being too cold.  My other concern is hoping my students behave.  My classes have been exceptionally good this quarter, but that is with me.  Will they behave for the sub?  Who is going to be available?  It is so hard to give up control, especially in my classroom where I have so much control.  To be very honest, I don't trust God enough about this.  I trust him when I am there to lead me and guide me, but when I'm not there, I have a hard time believing he is there.  Isn't that silly?  As if he doesn't care about my students and my sub more than I do?  So I'm going to say some prayers about it and start calling.

Note to self:  God is bigger than you and he can handle this.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 2-11

The Handwritten - Art Faith  It's about this verse.  You need to go read it.  28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

New Ways Theology - For and Against: On Identity and Conflict  But it’s more than that; I’m tired in a different way, tired of defining myself by what I’m against.

101 books - Hear the one about the turkey in the library?  The turkey somehow broke a window to get into the library.

Pictures of Poverty - Kenya  Such a great smile!

Compassion - The spirit of words  The first time I realized Sam was truly receiving his words from the Holy Spirit was when he wrote to me on September 14th, 2010 and shared that his prayer for me was that God would give me a double portion of health.
He had no way of knowing how dangerously sick I had been. I didn’t tell him because I hadn’t wanted to frighten him.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Goins Writer - Creative Space  If God created the universe from chaos — if he spoke earth into existence amidst nothingness — then we have good reason to believe that having a little space to create is a good thing.

The Esau Project- What are you working towards  I didn’t know how to accept the fact that the thing that I’d worked my whole life for wasn’t going to be the thing I’d be doing my whole life.  Everyone told me I had to be working towards goals in my life.
No one told me that those goals would change or evolve.

Pictures of Poverty - Don't think about touching my food.  I'm watching  Colombia.  Kids are so cute!

Faith, Family, and The Farm - The Shopping Cart Corral  You know it would have been so much easier to just leave the cart right there with the other one and it would've saved me 30 seconds, but my little man was watching.  In my mind, I knew that I had to make the effort, take the extra time to put that cart where it belonged.  

Jon Acuff - Big lessons from a small rug  If I was going to create a rug for the front door of life, it would read:
“Those who do. Can.”
Can I write a book? I didn’t think I could until I did.
Can I speak to a group of strangers at a conference? I didn’t I could until I did.

Church and the Single Girl - My first mass  There were two vessels of Holy Water (Google tells me these are called stoups) and everyone dipped their fingers in the water. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I sort of quickly touched the surface of the water. But I hadn’t considered what to do next. I sort of flicked the water off my fingers as discreetly as possible as I walked down the aisle looking for an empty pew. 

The Silver Lining - Missionary Quiz  Determine which letter described your missionary of choice most of the time from the quiz. Then read below to figure out where they serve. If they answered mostly:

True Beggars - Culinary Gratitude: My Top 10  I love food. It is such a blessing from God. And I'm not saying that to be flippant or silly. It really is a great gift from our Creator. Here I have compiled a list of ten favorites. Try making your own list, just for fun. My top ten foods & drinks (and even a smell):

The Rantings of a Dad - Top 10 after almost 2 years  The Top Ten Things I Never Thought I'd Say (as a parent, after two years of being a dad):

10. "We don't put things in the dog."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Still worrying about creativity

Before I start on today's post I want to let you all know that I was honored with a guest post over on YouthGuy07's blog, I'd laugh...but all this happened to me.  I'm talking about "My Best Day in Ministry".  Here's a preview:   "However there is one girl that sticks out in my mind, one prayer service that keeps running through my head when I think of my best day in the ministry.  During the prayer service, I do remember that the directive was to pray about lies Satan tells you." 
If you want to know more about this girl and the lies she overcame, go over there and read the rest.  Comment and start following this great blog. It has been such an encouragement for me since I have found it. 

This may seem a little repetitive because I talked about this a couple weeks ago.  But it has come up again this week and I have new worries.  These aren't just passing thoughts.  These are things that have been consuming my thoughts, things that I keep coming back to over and over again.  What I'm stuck on is mystery.  Not a mystery.  Not like I don't know what I'm stuck on.  I mean mystery as a genre.  When I was a young child, my maternal grandmother and I would watch Murder, She Wrote.  I totally blame Grandma A and Jessica Fletcher for my attachment to the genre.  I remember early in high school reading a short collection of famous unsolved mysteries in America.  From that book, I have become convinced that Lizzie Borden was innocent and I became attached to books like it.  Since then I have read multiple books of unsolved cases.  Some just tell the story, some put a bias into it.  I have read one memorable one that had a bias toward aliens and others have a bias toward ghosts and some are more focused on historical aspects. Whatever it is, I love them all.  I don't believe them all, but I love reading them and positing my own ideas about the mystery.  I love seeing the bias with which they are written and how the facts are presented differently.  I love learning about a new theory or thought on an event.  Sometimes they even change my mind like the Lizzie Borden example above.  The one I am currently reading has convinced me that Billy the Kid did not die in a shoot out with Pat Garrett.  I am now wondering if John Wilkes Booth actually died in that barn as well.  These things fascinate me.  I love the story aspect of them and how the telling somehow captures the era of the people involved.

The unusual and the mysterious have always captivated me.  For instance, my favorite radio station is Radio Classics on Sirius and the only thing I liked about Great Expectations from my freshman year was Ms. Havisham.  My favorite from Radio Classics are old shows like The Whistler, Suspense, Inner Sanctum Mysteries, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and other mysterious shows.  I am fascinated by these and I don't feel bad about that.  So what am I worried about and what does all this have to do with creativity?  If these are the things that fascinate and intrigue me, then shouldn't I let that fascination and intrigue spill over into my creativity?  The obvious answer seems to be yes.  If I am fascinated and intrigued and create from that place, then what I create will be better because that is what is in my heart.  My concern is this: how do I do what is in my heart and do it with God?  How do I do what I am interested in AND include God?  I don't know how to write a mystery with God.  Most mysteries involve some kind of crime.  If there is a crime, then there is a criminal.  I don't know how to write a criminal because I genuinely believe God can turn anyone around and make them better.  So I don't know how to write the criminal and the detective type character which are polar opposites and leave room for God to work in them.  And wouldn't it be weird to read a mystery that talks about God?  So I don't think I should include him as like a character or anything, but motivation and thoughts from a character maybe.  That brings me back to the beginning.  I don't know how to write a character that commits a crime and has God on his mind or a detective that investigates the crime and has God on his mind.  Don't even get me started with a supernatural/ suspense type thing.

I guess the obvious answer is to just write and don't worry about all this.  Just start and see what happens.  The worst that would happen is that I write crap and throw it away.  I've told myself this and somehow it still isn't working.  In my heart I want to write something mysterious or suspenseful, but in my head I have nothing.  Not ONE single idea!  Well actually I have one idea, but God isn't even a consideration for the characters and I'm not sure I could write it in good conscious.  So that is my one idea that I don't think I could write and I don't have any other ideas.  Maybe I should give up on that genre and go towards something more romantic that I have written before.  But my heart screams, "NO!  Don't give up!"  I'm at a stalemate, so I'm left worrying about if I should be creative or just give it all up.

Partnering with Casey today.