Saturday, March 31, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 3-31


Pictures of Poverty - Colombia, Pensive

Pictures of Poverty - A morning walk and a hop in Bolivia

BBC News - Russian Empire in colour photos

Good articles to read

Jon Acuff's Blog - Does the world need your dream Maybe. Maybe not. But that doesn’t matter yet. Why?
Because you need it.
Compassion - Saving my Generation -Passion needs patience. Jochebed built a good structure to keep the baby floating. Although she was in a hurry, she took the time to coat the basket with tar and pitch.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Laura Parker: Life Overseas - An Apology to all non- "missionaries"  - Okay, friends.  Put yourself in the non-missionary’s shoes. What does this kind of language communicate? Reading our overseas blogs from North Carolina or Colorado or California, what are we saying to all of those who aren’t choosing to live in a foreign country?

A Deeper Story - Using the Eucharist as a Weapon - For awhile after I first started at St. Paul’s, I carried the word Eucharist around like it was a weapon. Anytime I was with anyone, I saw fit to forgo other words like Communion or Lord’s Supper in favor of the “right” word for the act of worship. Even if the other person had used Communion the entire time they spoke, even if their theology of Communion was beautiful, I insisted on calling it the Eucharist, in a kind of pointed, knowing way.

True Beggars - Cultivating Relationships - "I once heard a man walk up to a woman and say, 'How are your kidneys today?' That's the truth! I actually heard the man ask that question. Her response? Did she hit him with her purse?

I'd Laugh, but This All Happened to Me - Peculiar People - Have you ever noticed that Christians are strange? We fight like cats and dogs about things Jesus never even talked about.  We spend way too much time trying to impress each other.  We worship a carpenter. Christians are a pretty peculiar bunch.  In fact, the Bible even says so.

Good articles from blogs of which I am a new follower

No Super Heros - The Monkey "Serves" the Fish - It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and in need of assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

No Super Heros - 8 Benefits of Blogging from a Rookie - Well, here you have it! The benefits of blogging from a newbie, a veteran of a whopping 59 posts. I started in late October 2011, with a goal of posting twice a week. I have a collection of ideas lined up, as well as receiving inspiration as I go through daily life. Here are few of the things I have learned after just a short period of blogging: 

No Super Heros- Grace for the Single Parent - This led me to consider single parents who do this each and every day. I am worn out after nearly two weeks, they do this for a lifetime.

The Story Movement - I am a priest - In the days of old there were stories of demons, witches, and monsters.
The people were scared, so they looked up to the Church. The Church was there to protect them against the darkness. Now a days people have forgotten and science and technology have taken over the hearts of those who once believed. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Many hats today

Today I wore a teacher's hat.
Today I wore a fiction editor's hat.
Today I wore a translator's hat.

Today I did not wear a blogger's hat.  Sorry.

So today I am wearing an entertainer's hat.  Enjoy!

1. Inspirational!

2.  The Spanish Soap Opera for people who had 3 weeks of Spanish in the 3rd Grade.  Part 1

2.  Part 2!  Is that Cedric the Entertainer?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Our song: M.T.A.

For probably years, my mother and I visited my great-grandparents who lived about 45 minutes away.  Every Saturday and some Sundays we would take the 45 minute drive over there to visit with them, do a few chores, and Mom would be their accounting.  Sometimes my brother or other relatives would go with us.  There were always people in and out and around on those Saturdays.  Grandaddy would give us some money to go out and get lunch.  He knew the family tradition, women don't cook.  My grandmother didn't cook.  My aunt doesn't cook.  My mom doesn't cook.  My cousin doesn't cook.  Her daughter doesn't cook.  I don't cook.  So Grandaddy just went with the flow.  We had a lot of Hardee's because he was friends with the owners.  I always enjoyed that because we that was probably the closest Hardee's to us and their food is pretty good.  At some point in time, the owners let the Hardee's franchise go, but maintained the restaurant.  Then somewhere in there the restaurant went as well.  When we didn't have that, we went to Burger King.  Also not in our hometown and something I enjoyed.  I'm not sure if I liked the food or the company more.  I remember watching a lot of CNN.  I don't remember any particular conversations, but it was special.

Another oddity about my great-grandparents was their buying habits.  I guess it isn't too odd that they bought from catalogs.  It was pre-Internet and they were in their 80's.  For some reason the catalogs from which they ordered sent them a lot of free items.  They put them in the mostly unused guest bedroom.  Every so often we would go back there and see what we could find.  One day Mom and I found a mix tape of songs from the 60's and 70's.  We had nothing else to listen to on the way home, so we picked it up.  There were some classics, like Rhinestone Cowboy and I Love (Little Baby Ducks).  By far the best song on the tape was the oddest one upon first listen.  Both Mom and I thought this was an odd little song, but it was catchy and funny.  At least to Mom and I it was funny.  We have always had a similar sense of humor, so the song struck us as funny.  We giggled like school girls and probably laughed out loud.  Despite all this, we couldn't get song out of our heads.  We walked around the house singing it for the next few weeks.  It became our song.  In fact, I recently sent a YouTube video of the song to my mom.  She texted me later in the day to say she had tried to find the song as my personal ringtone for her phone.

What song is it?  M.T.A. by The Kingston Trio  Take a second and listen to it in case you haven't heard it.  Then listen to it again a few minutes later because you will like it better a second time.

Fun fact that I found out: It is a protest song!  The stuff they are talking about isn't just goofy stuff for the song.  It was a real issue!

Not to be left out, my dad and I have a song too.  Swingin' by John Andreson.  He used to sing it to me as a toddler.  That song is one of my earliest memories.  For years I thought Dad wrote that song because I heard him sing it so much and John Anderson sing it so little.

Do you have some songs that bring back memories?  What is the song?  What are the memories?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How I became a better...stranger

I am starting a new series of Guest Posts by some people in my life.  Some have blogs and some don't, but they all have a story of how they became better.  I hope you enjoy a few other voices here on my blog.

Today we hear from one of my very best friends in the world!  I don't want to say anything to ruin her story, but I think it is the best one that has been published on here

Hospital Photo Credit: Frenkieb

It was 3 am on December 23.  It was my parents 56th Wedding Anniversary and it was 3 days after my husband's hip replacement surgery.  I had been at the hospital with him for 3 days 24/7 and was going on little sleep.  As I roamed the halls of the empty hospital, I was feeling extremely sorry for myself.  Here we were in a hospital 5 hours away from my family. We weren't celebrating my parents anniversary with them and we wouldn't be home for Christmas. My first Christmas in 30 years that I didn't make it home.  My brave husband was in an intense amount of pain and I was worried about caring for him when we got home. There were so many rules to follow when we got home to ensure he recovered properly. What if I forgot something? What if he fell?  I sat down in an empty hallway and began to cry. I cried out of exhaustion, fear, frustration and pure stress.

When I finally gathered myself and stood up, I decided to walk outside the front door to get some fresh air.  It was then that I saw the family.  There were 4 of them gathered outside and they were crying.  A couple of them were on cell phones making the dreaded call.  They had lost a member of their family.  It was right then that I realized how extremely lucky we were. My husband was not dying-he did not have a terminal illness-this would pass and he would feel better again! I was ashamed of myself. 

The next morning when I went to the cafeteria for breakfast, I did so with a new attitude. I smiled and greeted everyone I saw-nurses, patients, receptionists-everyone. I had realized that we have no idea what others are going through.  I was relating to everyone differently now. I had no idea why all those people were at the hospital. Were they there for a simple procedure? Were they there to visit a friend? Perhaps, saddest of all-they were there to visit someone for the last time.  It completely changed my outlook.

My husband and my life can be hard.  He has a disability and has had 18 surgeries.  We are constantly recovering from a major surgery or prepping for the next.  He is the most courages and amazing person that I know.  He always has a positive attitude and never lets it get him down.  That night in the hospital changed me and it changed how I relate to others-after all, we never know what the person sitting next to us is facing. We should all be kind to one another.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Some Recent Photos

Recently we celebrated my son's 3rd birthday.  I was worried if it would turn out okay and if all my ideas would come together.  It came together beautifully, except for the cupcakes.  They were okay, but not perfect  We also celebrated the 2nd birthday of a friend's son.  (Well 2 friends, but you know what I mean.)  There was also Book Character Day at school where I dressed up like Frankenstein.  And since the weather has been getting nice, Ben and I have taken some walks.  We also had a date a local Mexican restaurant the other night. Today, I'm sharing that all with you in photos!  I have a few more, but they are still on my phone.  So you might be getting a few more photos in an upcoming post.  Enjoy! And Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 3-24

Pictures and Poetry

Mama's Coffee Shop - 15 Grammar Mistakes that make you look silly   How many times during a conversation have you cringed when the other person used the incorrect word? You haven’t slightly pulled your shoulders up and hoped that the couple in the next booth missed the grammatical error? Well, I have and I just found a great infographic by copyblogger that shows their pick of the Top 15.

The Handwritten - Oxygen - Genesis 2:7  Then the LORD God formed a man[a] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Pictures of Poverty - Jumping into World Water Day : Ecuador

Compassion - World Water Day 2012 - For the Love of Water - But more importantly, especially today — World Water Day — it’s necessary to remember that water is life.
Courtesy of Compassion International:
The Handwritten - No Aplologies - Colossians 1:24 - Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

Great articles
The Esau Project - Of Calloused Hands and Calloused Hearts -With our hearts too.  We want to be vulnerable so people can relate.  We want our hearts to break for injustice.  And it’s easy  if we’re too much of one way or another to get burned out and just let our callouses grow thick to where we can’t feel anything.  And when you can’t feel anything, you can’t feel your heart breaking.

Compassion- A Man of Suffering, Familiar with Pain - As much as I take comfort in knowing that Christ secured my eternity through His ultimate sacrifice, I also am very comforted knowing that as a human, Jesus experienced all of the sorrow, pain, suffering and grief that we all go through.
So as you struggle through the dark valleys and desperate disappointments of life, know that you are not alone. Your Lord and Savior experienced everything you, and all of humanity, grieve.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Goins, Writer- Struggle is a sure sign you are creating artWe all have our struggles — our obstacles and hardships. If we’re not careful, they can hold us back from moving forward, from doing what really matters.
I’m learning an important lesson about struggle and art: Creation always comes from chaos.

This is my blog - What I learned before 5 am - Sometimes, when we are walking our path, when we are following God's call, we are surrounded by others, following their own calling.  We are still doing what we are supposed to be doing, but there are others beside us.  Individually, we aren't making as much noise, God has called us to work as part of a bigger plan.

DRGT: Just Wondering - A Lenten Journey: Climbing to the Cross: Day 24  -  I have a confession to make.

At this point in Lent, I am tired of Lent.

There. I've said it. I've put it in black and white (or black on blue on this particular blog).

Laura Parker: A Life Overseas - When a guy proposes on the first date (A Guest Post and a Book Giveaway.)  - Our Americans and Europeans come with the assumption that dating happens after a long spell of friendship and getting to know one another. This worldview was challenged when some of our Africans from various countries would propose marriage near the beginning of the friendship.

AND it seems to be Shawn Smucker week
Shawn Smucker - When a Woman isn't allowed to run the race - It turns out Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston marathon in 1967. But it wasn’t until the race had already begun that race organizer Jock Semple realized a woman was running. (That’s him in the suit trying to rip her numbers off.) Reportedly, he chased her down, shouting:
“Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers.”
Shawn Smucker - When a Woman isn't allowed to run the race (The Picture of the Tackle) - A few of you were wondering what happened to the race organizer in the suit trying to chase down Kathrine Switzer at the Boston Marathon and rip off her race numbers because she was a woman and he didn’t want any women running in his race. Turns out, a huge dude body checked him. 

Shawn Smucker - Palm Trees can be very convincing (Or the problem with comfort)  - This is the most comfortable spot we’ve been in during our entire trip. No need to drive anywhere. No diesel required. Palm trees on the other side of the street wave their fronds up and down, up and down, moving in a rhythm not unlike the sweeping movement of a hypnotist’s locket and chain. The leaning trees whisper to us:

Shawn Smucker - Mama for a Moment - The social worker had a thin frame and kind eyes. He hefted the bloated baby as gently as he could through my front door and set him on the family room floor. He gave me the blue folder, thick with legal jargon and cobbled details of a life not yet a year long but already so laden. The sweet boy, immobilized by his own weight, looked up at me with such innocence to his whole situation, eyes like dark chocolate under curled lashes, and all his weight immobilized me too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Confessions of a Teacher: A fictional story about a real fear

Podium Photo Credit: karindalziel

She sat in the same non-descript folding chair as the previous weeks.  She stared forward at the podium in the center of the non-descript conference room.  The meeting began and she gathered her courage to come forward and speak for the first time.  She stood behind the podium terrified of what she had to say.  She had been speaking in front of people for most of her career.  Today was different and she knew it.  It was more personal and more important than every other thing she had said in the classroom.  Today she wasn't just teaching about addition, nouns, and cells.  This was a confession of her part of the largest failure in human history.  Well maybe it isn't worse than Adam and Eve.

She cleared her throat.  She moved the microphone to her height.  "My name is Mary and I am grieving.  I have lost dozens of children yet I am not a mother.  I am a teacher.  I am a part of a floundering education system.  I am a part of a system that has routinely failed.  I am a part of a system that does more talking than working.  I am a part of a system that claims to have accountability, but never pays the price for its failures.  This system and I medicate these kids because their energy and excitablity is a bad thing.  Their need to do things and experience learning with their hands is a bad thing.  We have taught them that they can find success in a multiple choice test.  We have taught them that sitting for a worksheet is good, but sitting at a computer is better.  We have showed them that there is only one acceptable way to learn and the government are the only people for whom proof is necessary.  I have lost dozens of students believing in the system and dozens more believing I could do nothing to change it.  Today I grieve for a lost generation and fear for their future."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is he big enough?

Today is World Water Day.  There are tons of things you can read about it, but I would like it if you read the little thing I wrote last week.  Live 58: Living Water

Are you brave enough to enter???  Photo Credit:  JD Photography

Today I'm having trouble believing God is big enough to fix the problems I see.  Is he big enough to heal that sickness?  Is he big enough to orchestrate a way out of that tough spot?  Is he big enough to heal those deep wounds to a person's soul?

As I was asking God this on the way to school this morning, this song came on the radio.

So now my question is am I brave enough to share this and walk in this belief every day?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An interview with... a custodian

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.

Cubos  Photo Credit: Daquella manera

Today we have an interview with a co-worker of mine.  Bus drivers have a hard job.  They get up at the crack of dawn to go pick up kids who may or may not be there.  Then they have to make sure that said kids aren't hitting each other or throwing things or who knows what WHILE they drive.  In North Carolina, bus drivers have it extra hard.  They all have a second job at school.  Some are Teacher's Assistants and some are Custodians. Today you will meet one of our Bus Driver/ Custodians. Custodians have it hard. When a kid pukes, they clean it up. When a kid bleeds, they clean it up. When boys pee on the wall to see who can pee higher, they clean it up. When teachers have classroom parties and a kid drops food, they clean it up. When there is a ballgame or dance, they stay late to clean it up. During the summer or other time off, the custodians wax the floors and do other major clean up work in order to work around our schedule and keep the building clean. Let's all make an effort to be kinder to the bus drivers and custodians we encounter. There is some GREAT information here that should help you become a better driver and a better co-worker. With a little help, you can make a big difference.

What is your job title? 
Custodian/ Bus Driver

What is the best thing about your job?
Working with the staff and students

What is the worst thing about your job?
When students vandalize the bathrooms or staff not preparing their room for me to clean.

What is the most considerate thing someone has done for you?
Writing to [the superintendent] or notifying him of what a good job I have done.

What is the least considerate thing people do to you?
Spilling coffee in my hall

What could people do to be more considerate to you?
Make sure their area is ready for me to clean.

What unspoken rule do people break most often?
If you make a mess, clean it up.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finding My Story: The In-Laws

Family Group  Photo Credit:  anyjazz65

I have already written about my parentsmy grandparentsmy great-grandparentssome other family members,  the younger ones, and the girls.  Today I am going to talk about my in-laws.  Now you are thinking about multiple jokes and episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond.  I have to say that I am very blessed to have pretty good in-laws.  They are not perfect, but I have a wonderful husband who never takes offense when they act not perfect and I comment about it.  Those however are rare occasions.  On most occasions, they are pretty great people that I will tell you about below.

I have heard multiple stories about my paternal grand parents in law.  My paternal grandmother in law who would fix a meal at like midnight if someone came in that late because she always wanted to make sure you were comfortable.  My paternal grandfather in law who played major league baseball and made more money working in a steel mill was a very strong personality who had no trouble standing up for his beliefs.  On that side of the family, there are aunts and cousins that have made me feel welcome by sharing stories and photos with me at family gatherings.  They know I love a good story!  My maternal grandparents in law always took Drew and his cousins on trips around the country.  Grandma always worried about us when we were away and loved to just watch us playing in her pool.  I'm pretty sure she got a kick out of me throwing Drew in fully clothed.  I hope that I can love and accept new family members like they have loved and accepted me.

My father in law has always been very conscious that I am away from family.  As a newlywed, it was was very comforting for him to ask after my family.  It was comforting for him to worry about me being away from home and missing my family.  I love seeing him play with Ben on the floor or outside.  My father in law is also a hot rod fanatic.  In the last few years, I have learned quite a bit about cars in the last few years and I've found that car shows can be pretty fun.  I have also been comforted by his knowledge of cars because I don't have to worry about what is going on with mine.  Drew can tell me because his dad taught him and when Drew has a question he is always there to answer.  He's around to fix something when we need it or he has a contact that will get it fixed for us.  Since I know absolutely nothing about cars, I appreciate that.  His actions for family speak volumes about his love for those people.  I hope my actions speak that much.

My mother in law and brother in law are wonderfully creative people.  They constantly encourage me to explore my creativity and lend me their expertise often.  Some of my headbands, coasters, and most of my pictures of Ben are from their expertise.  Ben has rocking chair and a red wagon that have come from my mother in law's hard work.  My brother in law often engages me in intellectual conversations about books or social issues.  That really goes a long way to not making me feel like a freak for thinking about that stuff so often.  They both love Ben to pieces and go out of their way to engage him.  Recently my brother in law taught Ben how to paint with dandelions.  My mother in law works hard to teach him numbers and letters.  She is so intentional about teaching him things.  When he was a baby, there was more than once that we had to call her after midnight because Ben was screaming and we were out of ideas.  Sometimes he was hungry and we didn't realize it until it was too late.  Sometimes he was sick.  Sometimes we had no clue what the problem was, but we were exhausted.  They share everything they have with anyone who needs it.  I pray that I share that well.

And last, but certainly not least is Drew.  I don't know how to summarize all that he is in just a paragraph.  He constantly challenges himself.  He loves jock things and geeky things.  He is athletic and artistic.  He is a car guy and a chef.  He makes me laugh all the time.  He trusts me enough to cry in front of me.  He loves cars, comics, art, professional wrestling, movies, God, me, Ben, laughing, good food, and so much more.  He is the most amazing man I have ever met.  He does things for people and shares himself with them.  He talks to them and laughs with them.  I really can't write a sentence to summarize him or his impact on me.  He makes me a better person every day that I have known him.  I am so blessed to be his wife.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 3-17

Missionaries and Pastors:
Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - On track with God   You know you are on track with God when you are as excited as you are scared.  

The Jacksons' Journey - Prayer Requests for our time in Africa  I've had several people tell us they'd be praying for us while we're in Africa, and some ask how they could specifically pray while we're gone. Here are a few of our requests, if you would like to lift them up for us while we are overseas!

True Beggars - Deeds from Creeds  We must do and teach the kind of behavior that goes with sound doctrine. 

True Beggars- Fighting Boredom  This Sunday, when the temptation comes to let the mind wander into thoughts of lunch, doodles on the church bulletin, or your neighbor's taste in clothes, bring back into focus the greatness of God. 

I'd Laugh....But This All Happened to Me - Where Everybody Knows your Name One of the recurring gags on the show was when the overweight, down-on-his-luck accountant Norm would walk into the bar, everyone present would yell "Norm!"  It was in recognition of his importance to them, and of the theme of the show- everyone likes to go to a place where everybody knows their name.  

Really awesome 'regular' people blogs:
The Esau Project - My Jagged Edges There are a few pieces missing.  Some of the parts don’t really look right together.  And some of the edges are jagged.  But it still stands.

Grit and Glory - Disappointed in Jesus  I think we all, at some point in our faith journey, grow disappointed in Jesus.
Of course we don’t call it that.
But if we were being most honest, we would.

What Kind of Mother Are You? - "Except ye repent": A Poem   Christ forgive us!

We paste the label of Your Name

On deeds and attitudesWhose like You bitterly condemned,Paying for Your fearlessness
Upon a cross of wood.

The Rantings of a Dad - Limitations Lately, I find myself wondering what the future holds for me. Not "me" as in "me and my family," but myself. The solo act, not the group. Plenty of opportunities are now spread out before me. 

The Arizona Russums - Flowers Fade Friday: Lessons Learned on a Tandem Bicycle  But let me tell you, this ended up being my favorite bike ride ever, because I learned a few things along the way. As I got used to riding behind Micah and following his lead on the pedals, I realized that riding a tandem bicycle is the perfect analogy of how a marriage works.

Great Companies:

World Vision - Dealing with First World Problems  I suppose it’s important to remember that “humanitarians” are indeed “humans,” too. We get preoccupied by what’s in front of us.  
So, here’s what I do: Sitting in plain sight at my desk is a picture of my sponsored child, Joventus.

Compassion - Living in Guatemala: A day in the life of Melissa   Melissa is part of a little-known people who live atop the Cuchamatanes Mountains in western Guatemala and remain largely isolated from the rest of the world.
Her town of San Juan Cotzal has 24,000 residents. Summers are cool and winters are freezing.
Melissa and her family belong to the Mayan group Ixils. Ixils live in three villages that make up the poverty-stricken Ixil Triangle.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Other Christian blogs to make you think:
New Ways Theology - Religion for atheists and the myth of secularism  - From the well practiced liturgy of the mall, to the national and military imagery with which we baptize our holidays and sporting events, or the communal worship experience of a rock concert, the secular world may not openly identify allegiance with a particular god but it is incredibly religious.

Stuff Christians Like - Do we really love people who aren't Christian?  “I think my dream is to get Christians to love non-Christians.”
My first thought was, “That’s kind of silly. I’m great at that. That’s not a dream. We already do love non-Christians!” But then my dad continued to share his idea.
Stuff Christians Like - Crossroads - Being the CCM superfan that I am, I’ve developed a version of Crossroads that would pair a Christian artist with a secular artist. I think it’d be irresponsible to call it something other than CROSSroads. I’ve penned up a list of potential episodes for the first season of CROSSroads and here they are…

Jon Acuff - How to take a Compliment  All these years I thought I was being humble, when actually I’ve just been throwing a gift back into your face.
You gave me a compliment. I refused to receive it.

AND this video.  If you check out nothing else, you HAVE to watch this video!

Propaganda Solo: Sacrifice What Describes You from World Vision ACT:S on Vimeo.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Giving them Jesus

 Photo credit: midiman

I see boys walking the halls of this school.  I see them walking and chatting with friends about girls or sports or homework.  Then there are some other boys that I see.  The ones that stalk the hallways.  The ones that walk angry to cover the hurt of which they can not rid themselves.  These boys are the ones I want in my class.  Spanish won't fix their problems, but I can make sure for 45 minutes they are successful.  I can make sure that for 45 minutes they know they are loved because someone talks to them and jokes with them and helps them understand something new.  I can pray that 45 minutes makes up for the other untold hours of hurt and pain they carry with them.  When they leave my class, I can ask them how their day is and listen without judgement. I can remind them that they are better than their behavior says sometimes.  I can do my best to be Jesus when no one else in their lives knows who that is.  I can care for them and pray that makes a difference.

I weep for these boys who have no one to show them how to be a man because men are scarce these days.  You see a few decades ago we told their grandparents that men are bad, so they stopped being men and stopped raising men.  Now they have emotionally or physically absent fathers because fathers are men and we stopped raising those.  I weep for these boys that struggle against an education system built for girls because girls are good.  I weep for these mothers that are trying to be fathers as well.  I weep for the mothers who gave up a long time ago.  These boys that stalk the hall have my heart because that's where Jesus is and they need to know him.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Live 58: Living Water

Today I am participating in the 58: Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty! Blog Squad.  The organization is a global initiative to end extreme poverty by living out Isaiah 58.  As a part of that they have asked for some people to blog about what they are doing.  I may not always be able to donate money of do big fancy events, but I have a voice and I can lend that to help them.  Every month they call for a global fast for a cause.  (I haven't done this yet because 1. I suck and 2. Fasting and I are still are in a bit of a feud at the moment.)  This month's fast, fundraiser, prayer issue, etc. is clean water for Haiti

When thinking about clean water a few things come to mind.  So I'm going to share those.

1.  Guilt- How do I teach Ben about this?  I feel so guilty when he turns on the bathroom sink to play or "wash his hands".  I want to drink more water to be healthy and then I feel guilty.  I take a shower and relax for a minute and then feel guilty.
2.  Doing- There is so much I can do that others can't do because of water.  I can wash my hands after I use the restroom.  I can flush the toilet in said restroom.  I can get a glass of water.  I can make a pot of coffee.  I can water the plants in my garden.  I can have a water fight with my family.  I can fill up the kiddie pool and let Ben play.  I can take a bath or a shower.  Everyone else in my house can take a bath or a shower every day or even twice a day.  The list goes on and on.
3.  Cleaning- It cleans my body.  It cleans my hair.  It cleans my hands.  It cleans my food.  It cleans me inside by keeping me healthy and flushing out waste.  It cleans my clothes.  All of this cleaning keeps me healthy.
4.  Time- It only takes me seconds to get water.  I can even control the flow of water from my sink or my shower or my bathtub.  I can change the temperature with just the slightest hand movements.

All of that stuff is not something that so many other people in the world have.  Most of those things they can't do.  They can't be clean because the water isn't clean.  It takes them hours sometimes to get dirty, polluted water.  Guilt?  Maybe they struggle with that because they got an extra bucket of water today that their neighbors didn't get.  And maybe they are still too worried about getting enough water of their own for cleaning, cooking, bathing, etc.  I have no clue.  So what do we do about all of this information?  Jesus had a few ideas.

Matthew 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Mark 9:41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

James had something to say too.

James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
   But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Both James and Jesus say the same thing.  DO SOMETHING!  What do we do?  SOMETHING!  Give some money to an organization like Living Water or 58: Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty or the numerous other organizations that help get clean water to places.  Use your voice!  Use your social media connections or your blog or your email contacts to tell people about these companies.  Volunteer your time and talents to help these organizations and others further their work.  Ask God to show you how to get involved because he will show you.  Do something because clean water shouldn't be a luxury item.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

An interview with...a loan 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 have an interview with a friend of mine from church.   As you read today, think about the bank tellers and loan officers, you have encountered and will encounter. Think of this when you are having a great day and a horrible day. Think of this when you are stressing about a loan or when the bank misfigures something and causes you issues. Let's all make an effort to be kinder to the bank tellers and loan officers we encounter. There is some GREAT information here that should help you become a better customer. They do not have an easy job and you can make it easier!

What is your job title? 
Customer Service Representative (I do everything, teller, loan officer, account specialist all in one!)

What is the best thing about your job?
It is that I get to help people in all stages of life. I get to help the children start saving, the teens & young adults figure out how to control their checking, the credit report "newbies" to understand how credit works, and best of all, I get to help people with not so great credit get a loan or build their credit in order to meet their future goals! 

What is the worst thing about your job?
I have goals to meet in our main office call center that keeps me from being as available to my local customers as I think I need to be in order to serve them most effectively.

What is the most considerate thing someone has done for you?
I’ve had a couple of customers email my manager and the CEO to let them know how much they liked the service they received from me.  It is nice to get the positive feedback because too often people only think to give negative feedback.

What is the least considerate thing people do to you?
They walk up to my teller station or desk even though I’m clearly on the phone or working intently on something.  It suggests I need to “rush” my work with another (very real) person in order to help them now.

What could people do to be more considerate to you?
Keep in mind that I do have other customers that may have needs that are more time sensitive and that I wish to provide excellent service to everyone.  I cannot necessarily be a “personal banker” all hours of the day.

What unspoken rule do people break most often?
People come running into the office the minute before closing time at the end of the day and wish to do a loan application or open an account which takes quite a lot of extra time and detailed attention.  We are not necessarily allowed to work longer hours because of overtime rules.  Many banks and financial institutions have a “close time” on their alarm system that puts us under pressure to leave the office in time for the alarm company to receive the correct “close” signal.   Knowing this about my own job has made me more considerate of other companies’ office hours and I try to make arrangements or appointments to allow adequate time to do business without infringing on other people’s personal time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What do I believe?

I put these thoughts together several months ago, like 10, but I never found a time to publish it.  So now seems like the time.

"He has taken all that have been laid at his feet from those who have suffered much more than us.
More than the pastors, the pallbearers, the family or the speakers, He is the One who is in the room having been both here AND there.

Help me to pray fervently after You. Give me the faith to move mountains. I'm tired of You having to work around me to have Your glory shine."

I think I go the words from somewhere on this blog:

Wow! Do I want this? Really? Because I haven't done it. I didn't translate at the library today. That could have been someone to really help her with her son's needs. I didn't hug Axel when I knew I needed to. I hear God speak and I doubt it. I chalk it up my desires. I doubt that what I could do would make a difference. I find a way to excuse it away, but there isn't an excuse. God is asking me to work and I don't. I'm too shy. I don't want to impose. I don't want to be rude. I don't want to break the rules. The problem with that is I. It isn't about me. It's about him. He is enough and He knows what he's doing and the difference it could make.

Am I too worried about comparing myself to others? I see other bloggers with their beautiful family pictures and amazing posts and I think, "I wish we looked like that." Maybe it would be easier if they were just pretty on the outside. But these women are gorgeous inside and out. They have beautiful hearts and amazing words to share them with on top of being pretty. So I sit here thinking about that and comparing myself to them instead of talking to God and asking him to make me more like him.

"Running home to you."   "Never a moment w/o your presence.  Never a doubt in my mind."  Do I doubt his presence?  Do I believe I will be running home to him?  What do I really believe about him?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 3-10

The Handwritten -Mediocre isn't a calling  Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

AND My Story  Revelation 12:11  11 They triumphed over him 

   by the blood of the Lamb 
   and by the word of their testimony; 
they did not love their lives so much 
   as to shrink from death.

New Ways Theology - Eugene Peterson on place  God’s great love and purposes for us are all worked out in messes in our kitchens and backyards, in storms and sins, blue skies, the daily work and dreams of our common lives. God works with us and as we are and not as we should be or think we should be. God deals with us where we are and not where we would like to be.

What Kind of Mother are you? - Reflections  This makes me wonder who my children really see? Are they watching someone who is loving, understanding, hopeful, and graceful, or are they copying someone who isn’t any of those things? The evidence is quite damning, though, honestly, I know what it really is.

I'd laugh all happened to me - Let us pray - Prayer changes things, and not just the people and situations being prayed for. Prayer also changes the prayer. 

AND Have Mercy - I was reminded again this week what a rare commodity mercy is in this world we live in.  I encountered a couple of situations in which it at least felt like that some followers of Jesus were pulling for their brothers and sisters in Christ to FAIL.  

The Rantings of a Dad - Human Hurricane - A week ago, her room looked like the neatest, cleanest place in our home. After one day of her new bed and being allowed to roam freely within it, it looked like a small pack of wolves had run through.

World Vision - International Women's Day: Having it all in Cambodia - When I was 12, my mother bought me Helen Gurley Brown’s book, “Having It All.” The book offered advice on how a woman could succeed at everything — love, work, and family. My mother knew even then that her overachieving daughter would have difficulty choosing between having a family and having a career.
And she was right. I couldn’t. I wanted to have it all.

AND A child's open letter: "I was lost, but now am found - However, in 2005, our lives changed. My father left the country to find work, like so many other men at the time. He took my older brother with him, leaving us four younger children and Mom at home. A few years later, we heard that my father was living with another woman who was expecting a child. He told us he would not send us money anymore.

My heart belongs to Jesus...citizen of the world - Biking my way into the Kingdom - And not only that, but Matthew says, that God WANTS to give us good gifts. If we should ask for a fish would our Fathers give us a snake? If we asked for bread would they give us a stone?! NO and if we, being sinful man, can give good gifts to our children how much more does our Heavenly Father desire to give us good things?!?!  

So this is the story of how God gave me a bike! . . . enjoy. 

Compassion - Do not be afraid - My eyes fell on a little girl not more than 7 years of age. Bent over a dirty book, she was writing, letter by letter. As she wrote, she said the letters out loud. Her only aid was the dim street lamp across the road. It was her only source of light. I stopped.
How do we reach out to little ones like her? I asked myself. “Do not fear, for I am with you,” rang the words written in Isaiah. There were raised voices and drunken men around her. They shouted in a language that was foreign to me. But she continued studying.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

AND Lara Landon: I see God in you - I first saw the smile that I will never forget while playing ball with a group of kids behind Haitian Christian Mission in Fonds Parisien. One little boy was not playing with the others, but he was smiling as he watched their game.
Occasionally the ball would bounce his way and he would enthusiastically try to kick it back. As I walked closer to him to invite him to join us, I noticed his completely broken sandals and his mangled, bloody toes.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

The Esau Project - When bad thing happen - The outpouring of help from local towns, at least in our area for Harrisburg, has been tremendous.  There are donation boxes up at several businesses for money at the cash registers, churches are taking teams down and collecting necessities for those that lost their homes, people are pulling together to help with a need.
It’s what the church should be doing.
Shawn Smucker - When your ignition falls into your dash - It’s become interesting to me on this trip, though, how just when we think we have all the potential pitfalls in life identified, something completely random happens. Something we never could have imagined. Something immeasurably random.
Something like the entire ignition falling into the dashboard.
J Bryant Writes - Just Stop - We judge the young mother pushing the shopping cart with a screaming child. 
We judge the homeless man holding a cardboard sign at the intersection.
We judge the friend that cusses like a sailor.
We judge the tattooed couple buying cigarettes and beer. 
We judge the overweight man eating a Big Mac and large fries.
We judge the thin celebrity flaunting her perfect leg in an elegant gown. 

Clay Baboons - The internet thinks I'm a robot - Why, a CAPTCHA is (and I know that it's true because I copied and pasted it from Wikipedia):an acronym based on the word "capture" and standing for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart".

Jon Acuff Blog - Why it's so hard to figure out your calling - But, more often than not, figuring out your calling is an act of recovery, of rescuing something from your past that you loved and you lost. Something that life got too busy for and you stopped doing, or something that someone who mattered to you told you didn’t matter.

A Deeper Story - Lent: I don't understand it - It happened again to me this year. Lent snuck up on me. As always it revealed itself to me through a random picture of someone in my social media channels who had ashes smudged on their forehead, and this made me think of my own smudge-free forehead which I had the sudden urge to smack with the butt of my palm. How could I forget, again? And then the voices.

Goins, Writer - My biggest writing struggle  -My biggest writing struggle is waiting.
TV has stolen my attention span. I no long appreciate activities that require patience.
If I’m honest, though, my best work still comes from taking my time — from the endless rewrites and editing that seem so mundane and pointless.