Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008

can we open gifts yet??

Kelsey, Carissa, Chris and Cairo

I love daddy's new hat!

Christmas shelves

It was a good Christmas!
(Not pictured - my new HUGE CD case and my new Ingrid Michaelson CD.)

Monkey Feet

Being Foodal..... ;)


the fam

I love my new bone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"My my, how can I resist you?"

We had a snowstorm last night. Once I was home I refused to go out again. I swear people just don't know how to drive in snow and ice. I don't get it!!!

So, snuggled up on the couch with my blankie I watched Mama Mia with my daughter. What fun! When you watch this movie you can't help but smile. No, it's not the best movie. But it's fun! The music is contagious - you find yourself singing (dancing?) along even if you aren't usually so inclined! Of course, my daughter laughed at me. So?

At the same time the movie was kind of poignant and made me sad - just the premise of a daughter growing up, becoming her own person, getting married and having her own life; one that you are no longer part of. It happens. And I'm sure a lot of great stuff comes along with that too. It's just difficult to nurture a child for so long and then they don't need you anymore....

And it also made me sad for the friendships that no longer exist; those girlfriends that are no longer part of your life for whatever reason. I can relate to the mom and her friends acting like crazy schoolgirls - they still see themselves as young and vibrant and silly. Only to others are they old and grownup and dull. I miss the girls I could be forever young with. The ones I could totally act 15 with and we'd all be laughing and understanding each other. Taking turns out stupid-ing each other.

So, it was a weird mix of emotions, but on the whole lighthearted and feel good. It had me laughing and tearing up, and singing at the top of my lungs.

I think I scared the dog.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Andrew and Carissa

Christina and Carissa

Christina and Carissa

Dellynne Carissa and Heather

Melissa, Carissa Stevie

Dellynne, Andrew and Carissa

Melissa, Carissa Stevie

Theater Girls

Carissa and Andrew

Carissa went with the girls went to the Masquerade Ball (Gordon's winter formal) at Danver's Yacht Club. Andrew showed up and surprised her. Looks like they all had a great time!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world."
~ Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Things I've Done....

Julie posted this on her blog today. Looks fun so I think I'll play. It's a boring day at work, and this will give me something to do!! The things in bold are the things I have done. If you want to play, copy the list to your blog and bold the things you have done. Leave a comment if you do it so I can read it. :)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (flute)
4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower (the best I could here in IL)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (and DisneyWorld)
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (including at a wedding.....)

11. Bungee jumped (are you crazy!!)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (it's the only reasonable way to eat tomatoes...)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run (I have NO sports abilities....)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa (I’ve always wanted to…)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (from Disneyworld!)
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (a pretend one in Small Business Management class.....)
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (they never want my anemic blood.....)

65. Gone sky diving (see bunge jumping above....)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter (No, but Kelsey did - does that count??)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury (almost - my number was too high so I didn't have to report....)

91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (when I was 12 or so and the lake was awesome...)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a mobile phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

shaking the snow globe

It's dark in my house as I curl up in a chair by the window. Outside I can see the neighbor's Christmas lights winking merrily. Joyfully. It's Christmas!

It's the best time of year! People tend to be more giving, more accepting. Friendlier. Forgiving. Excitement, joy and good cheer abound.

Good will toward men.
Most of the time.

Blink, Blink. The angel's wings glitter, the train's wheels appear to turn. The twinkling star on the neighbor's roof shines across the snowy yard.

Fear not, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy. Which shall be to all people. ALL People. Not just those who look like me, sound like me or think like me. ALL people.

Blue lights chase one another across the edge of the neighbor's roof. Peace on earth. Silent night. All is calm.

The house is cold. No candles glow. No cookies are made. The tree is bare.
I'm tired.

Christmas music from the other room floats at the edge of my consciousness. Harmonic, joyful, pleasant, inane.

The clock ticks. The sky is clear. The stars twinkle.

God's in his heaven, all's right with the world.

It came upon the midnight clear.....

The furnace hums, the dog stretches. The snow family next door are all wearing sparkling red scarves.

All I want for Christmas.....

Peace, forgiveness, love, restoration.

The clock chimes. The wind whispers.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I remember one night my senior year in college when I was kept awake by a burning question. Just what was the name of those plastic toys that once held bubble bath? My mom had a collection of them on the shelf in our family room.....
After many hours of unsuccessfully digging through virtually every corner of my brain I dozed off. Only to sit upright in bed yelling the word "Soaky!" I think my roomie wanted to kill me right about then.

Today I was looking at something on the internet when lo and behold this Top Cat Soaky jumped out at me!

I remember Top Cat, Felix, Woody Woodpecker, Rocky and Bullwinkle - we had them all.
Apparently they are now quite collectible. Who knew? I wonder what ever happened to them? Probably mom finally threw them out - they were just silly plastic toys collecting dust.

Silly plastic toys that haunted me that night in college, and again today brought back fun memories.....

Here are a couple vintage TV adds featuring soakies, including the soaky song. Enjoy!

(Does anybody else out there even remember these????)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nice Girls Don't Change the World

As I was cleaning off my coffee table on Saturday I unearthed a book that I had purchased last summer, intending to read it right away. Somehow it got away from me and became buried in the busy-ness of life.

And there it was on Saturday looking me in the face. And so I cracked it open and started reading. And didn't put it down until I finished. Granted, it wasn't a long or difficult book. But it grabbed my attention and held me in it's grip.

It was my story. Really. And here I thought I was alone in the way I felt..... or I did until recently when I realized others had undergone the same experience I had. And here, Lynne Hybels, wife of Willow Creek Senior pastor, Bill Hybels, was writing the very things I had gone through.

I don't want to give away the entire book - since it is so short, but in essence she speaks to the women we have been raised to be, the God we think we know, and the faith we have been raised to follow.....

If you get a chance, pick up this little gem and give it a read. Let me know if you relate, and what you think.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Isn't she cute???

Carissa as Sally Brown from You're A Good Man Charlie Brown. She performed "My New Philosophy" at the Musical Review last weekend at Gordon College. I wish I could have been there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jesus Messiah

This song is a wonderful prayer. It pretty much stops me in my tracks whenever I hear it (which can be pretty darn dangerous if I'm driving....)
It stills my heart. It quiets my mind. It humbles me.
Awe, reverence, worship, thanks, joy, peace.
I lift my hands.

Jesus, Messiah.

Jesus Messiah

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

His body the bread
His blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled
And the veil was torn

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

All I hope is in You
All I hope is in You
All the glory to You, God
The light of the world

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

Monday, November 17, 2008


Vanessa shared a link for yet another personality test, and out of curiosity - just to see if I've moved or changed I took the test. Apparently there is NOTHING new under the sun. I am still INFP and here is a description of the HEALER.

Healers are found in only 1 percent of the general population, although, at times, their idealism leaves them feeling even more isolated from the rest of humanity.

Idealist Portrait of the Healer (INFP)

Healers present a calm and serene face to the world, and can seem shy, even distant around others. But inside they're anything but serene, having a capacity for personal caring rarely found in the other types. Healers care deeply about the inner life of a few special persons, or about a favorite cause in the world at large. And their great passion is to heal the conflicts that trouble individuals, or that divide groups, and thus to bring wholeness, or health, to themselves, their loved ones, and their community.

Healers have a profound sense of idealism that comes from a strong personal sense of right and wrong. They conceive of the world as an ethical, honorable place, full of wondrous possibilities and potential goods. In fact, to understand Healers, we must understand that their deep commitment to the positive and the good is almost boundless and selfless, inspiring them to make extraordinary sacrifices for someone or something they believe in. Set off from the rest of humanity by their privacy and scarcity (around one percent of the population), Healers can feel even more isolated in the purity of their idealism.

Also, Healers might well feel a sense of separation because of their often misunderstood childhood. Healers live a fantasy-filled childhood-they are the prince or princess of fairy tales-an attitude which, sadly, is frowned upon, or even punished, by many parents. With parents who want them to get their head out of the clouds, Healers begin to believe they are bad to be so fanciful, so dreamy, and can come to see themselves as ugly ducklings. In truth, they are quite OK just as they are, only different from most others-swans reared in a family of ducks.

At work, Healers are adaptable, welcome new ideas and new information, are patient with complicated situations, but impatient with routine details. Healers are keenly aware of people and their feelings, and relate well with most others. Because of their deep-seated reserve, however, they can work quite happily alone. When making decisions, Healers follow their heart not their head, which means they can make errors of fact, but seldom of feeling. They have a natural interest in scholarly activities and demonstrate, like the other Idealists, a remarkable facility with language. They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion. Frequently they hear a call to go forth into the world and help others, a call they seem ready to answer, even if they must sacrifice their own comfort.

INFPs generally have the following traits:

* Strong value systems
* Warmly interested in people
* Service-oriented, usually putting the needs of others above their own
* Loyal and devoted to people and causes
* Future-oriented
* Growth-oriented; always want to be growing in a positive direction
* Creative and inspirational
* Flexible and laid-back, unless a ruling principle is violated
* Sensitive and complex
* Dislike dealing with details and routine work
* Original and individualistic - “out of the mainstream”
* Excellent written communication skills
* Prefer to work alone, and may have problems working on teams
* Value deep and authentic relationships
* Want to be seen and appreciated for who they are

INFPs are withdrawn and are sometimes hard to get to know. Some may view them as shy. But those that take the time to get to know them will find them warm and gentle, with a surprising sense of humor. They care deeply for those they consider special friends. Putting forth-unusual sacrifices to help such individuals. They often have a subtle, tragic motif running through their lives — inner pain and unease which others seldom detect.

INFPs have a gift with language and usually will express this by means of writing. Their intuitive preference supplies the imagination and their feeling preference giving them the need to communicate. They are gifted at interpreting symbols - being drawn to metaphors and similes. Because of these gifts they often write in lyric fashion

They strive for harmony and dislike conflict.

INFPs treasure their privacy and may keep a lot to themselves. They need time and space for reflection.

What do you think? Me?

I am in good company.....
William Shakespeare, bard of Avon
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Evangeline)
A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie)
Helen Keller, deaf and blind author
Carl Rogers, reflective psychologist, counselor
Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis
Neil Diamond, vocalist
Tom Brokaw, news anchor
James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small)
Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)
James Taylor, vocalist
Julia Roberts, actor (Conspiracy Theory, Pretty Woman)
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Princess Diana
Audrey Hepburn
George Orwell

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Sunday!

So, last week was a bad week. Truly. It was grey and rainy (and cold) all week. I accidentally washed my cell phone with the laundry. The van chose this week to need a new water pump. One of the kid's bank accounts got all messed up resulting in fees, fees and more fees. A friend was in a bit of a crisis, and too far away to help. Some kind of animal is dancing either on the roof or in the attic all night, every night. And that's just the big things. Add insomnia, inability to concentrate, and stress and it was a pretty crappy week.

I feel better today.... the van is fixed, my cell has a new battery and is apparently operational, the bank account problem is straightened out, I talked to my friend, I was able to sleep last night and the SUN IS OUT!

I think I'll go get a cup of something hot and curl up on the couch with a book....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can We Talk?

I was reading Jon's blog today and in the reading it jogged a memory of something that happened a couple years ago. I was going through a particularly rough time and during that time had quite a few "fights" with God. Basically temper tantrums if I am honest.

About what?

Glad you asked, sorta! I can't believe I'm gonna even say this, but if it can help just one person - it's ok. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. Hmmm... but just what is it you remember about this story? You remember that the father forgave the son who blew it, came back, repented, he even threw a big party! Right? End of story. At least that's usually as far as the sermon or Sunday School lesson went. But did you ever consider how the brother of the prodigal son felt, the one that just got a mention in the passage?

A couple years ago I was feeling incredibly sorry for myself. Pouting. Sulking. Whatever. Life just didn't seem fair. I had friends who always talked about all the cool things they did growing up. And all the not so cool, but in all honesty, fun learning experiences. The partying, the drinking, all the things you try, and revel in and move on from as you mature. But you still had the experience, enjoyed it, learned from it. And had great stories to tell.

Unless you were raised in a Christian home - and were not the rebellious sort. Overtly rebellious anyway. No, no, I followed the rules, stayed on the correct side of the line, went to youth group, did all the expected Christian things, went to Bible college, and was proud of it. I was God's good girl. I got acceptance and praise. I was doing something right, unlike those sinful friends....

And expecting to be rewarded for my sacrifice! I'm better than you and God loves me more..... well, at least that's the attitude I had.

Until years later when I started hearing (and really listening to) the stories. The fun. The experiences. The rites of passage. From the kids who did whatever they wanted and had a blast. And then repented and God loved them just as much as he did me. And forgave them, and welcomed them to His family. Unconditionally. What? What the heck was I doing denying myself all this stuff for then anyway? It's not fair. There must be some kind of special reward for purity and following the rules! How dare these people even think they are accepted and loved just like me? And so a few fights with God ensued. IT'S NOT FAIR! I was basically stomping my feet and acting like a child with a sense of entitlement. And stunted growth.....

In the middle of this a good friend gave me a book. It was Christmas time, and it was a gift. He had no reason for picking that certain book, it was just a good book, and one that he thought I would enjoy. (Trust me, I asked him later) The book was Return of the Prodigal Son by Henry Nouwen. I settled in to read, and suddenly I stopped. Shocked. This book was about me! Was my friend inside my head? WHY did he give me this book? I never in my life really saw the words in Luke 15: 25-31 about the brother. This wasn't his story, right? And now the brother's story was hitting me over the head. I was the selfish, ungrateful, entitled brother who was angry that the father had thrown the lavish party and accepted the prodigal back with open arms! He had had his cake and eaten it too! He had sinned, sown wild oats, spent tons of money - and then when it all came crashing down came crawling back to daddy. Who threw a party for him! Instead of telling him he had gotten what he deserved. And he hoped he had learned a lesson. And yes, he could live there again, but he'd better shape up and get his act together - he'd better take lessons from his brother!! No! He threw a party!

No judgment. No punishment. No recrimination. No conditions. And the brother sat on the side lines and sulked. Why did I deny myself this life of fun if it made no difference to our father?

See where I'm going here? God is God. He can choose to forgive anyone and restore them and reconcile them to himself for no other reason than that he wants to. It's who He is! And it IS fair. It's His call! I can sit and whine all I want - like Jonah did with regards to Ninevah. Who threw such a temper tantrum that God had to use a fish and a fast growing and equally fast dying shady plant to teach him the important lesson that EVERYONE is important to God. And loved. And forgiven. And no less accepted than anyone else no matter what they have done! And that God can do whatever HE wants. Ninevah didn't deserve God's salvation? The prodigal son didn't deserve unconditional love and welcome?

Oooooh - how convicting. How stupid and selfish I was being......

Tho it hurt, I was so grateful for the gift of the book. And the lessons I learned. Some days it isn't any easier and I have to remind myself I'm acting like a pharisee. Or a spoiled child.

God is God. And can do whatever he pleases. Really.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I love The New Christians and Sylar too!

I have two competing thoughts to blog about this morning. Apparently I will do justice to neither.

I've just finished reading the book The New Christians by Tony Jones. If you haven't read it, it is an excellent, well written book explaining the emergent church. And since Tony has been there since the beginning his insider's view is invaluable. I appreciated the humility and grace with which he presented his position, as well as how responded to his critics. He approached them and their criticisms with a kind spirit and took the opportunity to educate and correct mis-assumptions without ridicule or anger. The book shored up my beliefs and helped me remember why I am where I am. If you have questions about the emergent church, and want to read something to help you understand the whys and the hows and the reasons behind it, I highly recommend this book. And at the same time it makes me sad for what we have lost - we in the larger sense of Christianity and the church, as well as we meaning our family having just lost our small community gathering.

How that transitions to Heroes, I don't know. But last night I found myself becoming a Sylar fan. I find Sylar fascinating. I used to hate Sylar. Now I feel like he's a lost, confused little boy in the shell of man. So confused that anger and violence is the result. All his attempts to make things better, to fuse all the disconnect within him have made him a monster. At the beginning of the season, in a conversation with his mother she helps him realize the error of his ways and put him on the path of redemption. Last nights episode showed a younger, very confused Sylar who was obviously frightened by his power, by his desires, his inability to control impulse - and willing to kill himself to prevent more incidents. I think he was shocked when he killed his "father".... and horrified. It reminds me of the look (granted, on a much smaller and quite different scale) that an ADD child gives when they do something unacceptable because they just can't control that impulse. You know better, and you watch yourself doing something you know is not appropriate, but you can't stop from doing it. And the look of horror and embarrassment that crosses that child's face is quite telling.

So, now does the blame for Sylar's actions in the future shift, or get shared with HRG or the company? After all, they kept him alive. To their benefit of course, but at what cost? And what happened to Elle that she had a conscience when she first met Sylar, and a year from this point is the person she is?

So, now I hate the people that did this to SYlar. I just wanna take him and fix it......I feel empathy for the Sylar he becomes, with a child himself, trying to erase his past by doing good - loving and raising a child the correct way. But the company can't leave him alone no matter how hard he tries to put it behind him. And it makes me hurt for him when they come after him and force him to be the Sylar he wants to forget. It's so sad that no one can even begin to see the good in him...

And where did Arthur Petrelli get his power? How does he control minds the way he does, and so efficiently. He obviously wasn't part of the group of children that the company experimented on. Apparently his hold over other people lessens when he is not present or Linderman could not have gotten through to Angela the way he did, changing her "blind obedience" into seeing the truth. Wow. I loved what Linderman asked Angela last night - "do you want to live in blind obedience? Or do you want to know the truth?" Seems like a path I have been on quite recently.....

I want to see more back-story with Flint and Claire's mom. Don't know why - I guess I just wanna know what makes them tick. Her protectiveness towards her brother despite compromising her own safety intrigued me too. There seem to be as many redeeming qualities in these people as there is darkness. What prods them to do what they do?

I really, really want to see how this all started. What the experiment was, how they procured their test subjects, what the original intent was - was it always evil, or good gone evil?

But still, the thing that intrigued me most was Sylar. Hmmmmm.

Dancin' with my Father God in fields of grace.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Day Off

Hot tea.
Good book.
Bright sunshine.
Good music.
Scented candles.
Snuggly dog.
Dancing while nobody's watching.
Thinking time.
Lunch with a friend.
Taking a nap.
Just sitting.
Homemade soup.

I could get used to this! :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Did I mention I love fall?

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day! And because our local elementary schools are used as polling places we teachers/staff/students have the day off! How perfect.

So I grabbed the iPod and Cairo and headed out the door for a walk. Cai was in heaven. It's been awhile since I've taken him out - I'm usually just too tired when I get home from work.

We headed out of the subdivision, cut through the local church parking lot - where there is a polling place, crossed a busy road, and ended up on the Prairie Path. It was beautiful! It's about 70 degrees and the sky is a brilliant blue and clear. There is a light breeze blowing - just kind of caressing the leaves. A faint smell of wood smoke is drifting on the breeze. All around me I was surrounded by beauty. The leaves were every color you can imagine from bright goldenrod yellow, to a spicy orange to a deep crimson. And of course many are still green.

Birds were chirping, bugs buzzing and leaves crunching under our feet - but we were alone in that busy silence. No one shared the path with us. So Cairo could run a bit and not freak out when he felt threatened by others. (Which he always does, silly dog!)

How peaceful and relaxing - a true multi-sensory experience. Now Cairo is stretched out on the kitchen floor fast asleep. I think I might join him. On the couch, not the kitchen floor......

International Annointed First Starbucks of the Northern Valley

I found this at MPT's blog and it made me laugh. So, I thought I'd share....

disclaimer: It may step on some toes, or be a bit disturbing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday can't come soon enough!

I'm tired of this election. I'm ready for it to be over so we can move on. I'm tired of Christians yelling at each other, judging each other, labeling each other. I'm tired of fear mongering, and finger pointing and selfish prayers. I'm tired of being told you can't be a Christian if you're a democrat, or if you vote for Obama. For the record, I'm an independent - and I vote for whom I perceive is the best option I have. I've been yelled at, ridiculed and de-friended - if that's even a word. Evangelicals are calling for non-stop prayer - but just for their agenda instead of God's will. Hmmmm. I say whoever gets elected IS God's choice. One side will be a winner, one side will be a loser. And we need to get over it. And pull together and support whoever wins - for the good of the country. Yes - bad things might happen if Obama gets elected, but seriously, bad things might happen if McCain gets elected too! We could/will see some of the same results or things happening that the infamous Focus on The Family letter warns about no matter which candidate is elected. I guess I'm wondering where the grace has gone, and the respect. This election just makes me cringe. And I will be glad when it is over. No matter who wins.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moving is never easy!

I was thinking about my friends in Haiti today. They are finally ready to move from Jeremie to the new house, Kay Bo Rivye, or house by the river, in Marfranc. When I think of moving, I think of the way we move here. And that's pretty up to date since we just helped our friends get a house ready to sell, as well as pack a moving truck when it was time to go. But our challenges are nothing like the challenges in Haiti.

Before Steve and Joline could move to Kay Bo Rivye they had to make sure the grillage is finished. These are wrought iron panels that fill all the open spaces like windows and porch to keep the house safe from looters. This has been an immense ongoing project. It was one of the things we worked on when we were there in July.

installing the grillage

Now the grillage is finally up so it is safe to move their things from Jeremie to the new house. Which is a true adventure because of the rutted, dusty, difficult road they need to travel. At the same time they are again having trouble with their workhorse truck, and without it the move will be impossible.

And they are still finishing the house as I write this - finishing the ceiling, tiling (at least partially) the floor, and making sure there is "running" water. Ah, yes. Water. There is no well yet. It is way too costly to have it dug. So, while they are looking at alternatives for digging this well, they still need water. There is a large water tank on the top of the house. But how do you fill it? Someone has loaned them a 250 gallon plastic container that they need to put in the back of the truck (the one that is having issues) and take it to the spring and fill it up. Then transport it back to the house and pump the water up to the holding tank on the roof. Think about that. 250 gallons. Which sounds like a lot until you realize this is their only source of water for cooking. laundry, bathing and flushing the toilets. Do you know how fast 250 gallons gets used up? They are trying to locate 5 or 6 55 gallon drums so they can return the 250 gallon container. But just imagine - weekly (or more often) trips to the spring to fill up their water supply. Now every time my taps are running, or the shower, or the washer, I think of Steve and Joline.

pumping water to the roof

When we move we just call and have the utilities turned on. No electricity in Marfranc. So they need to get the generator and the inverters installed so they can have power to run the fans (to keep cool and keep the mosquitoes at bay) as well as lights and internet. (In Jeremie a total of 900KW of electricity is provided by Electricite D'etat d'Haiti - EDH. Jeremie receives only about 26 hours of electricity a week from EDH. - and that's Jeremie, not Marfranc...)

Internet. All internet comes in via satellite. Steve and Joline need the satellite company from Port Au Prince to come and hook it up. But they need to pay upfront. No big deal, right? No, you can't just hand them cash, or a check. They want it deposited into the Unibank and then transferred to the satellite company. Simple again, right? Nope. Joline went into Jeremie to cash the check and then stand in line at the bank to deposit it, but the man who changes checks into US cash wasn't there and they had no idea when he would be there. So, no internet. Yet. I think she was going to try again today (Monday, Oct. 27)

Marfranc is pretty isolated in the hill country. Steve and Joline will still have to go into Jeremie for stuff they need. But they are trying to get as much stuff done as possible to cut down on travel. This includes vet visits, shopping, buying gasoline etc. Gasoline is a huge need - they have to have it to run the generator. And gas in Haiti is expensive. They are hoping they can find someone who knows about and is willing to give them a deal on installation of solar panels so they can cut back on gasoline consumption. This would be a great relief to them. So in addition to finding a way to drill a well, they are looking for a way to power their house.

And on top of it all, Steve is sick. And trying to adjust to new medication in the middle of all this frustration and stress. And it's not easy to be sick in Haiti either. Their main Dr. is in Port Au Prince. (Jeremie is a 50 minute regional plane ride from Port-Au-Prince. Altho it is only about 140 miles from Port, if you choose to drive it is a 10 -12 hour trip.)

Anyway - moving. Never fun. Always stressful. But moving in Haiti gives a whole new meaning to stress and frustration. They also need to find and train new house staff. They have a lead on a couple of ladies - people who really need the work from the Marfranc church. Still, helping them understand what needs to be done, and how you want it done can be a challenge. Please, if you think about it, pray for our friends this week. They are excited about the move, but there is a lot to do. They are feeling very overwhelmed. And lots of small irritating things have been going wrong as they prepare to finish their moving this week. Satan is alive and well in Haiti. They would appreciate being blanketed with prayer as they follow the path God has chosen for them.

On behalf of my friends, Steve and Joline Moore, with New Life for Haiti, thank you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

who moved my ebenezer?

What do you do if your ebenezer is a person? Yes, I know that you aren't supposed to trust in men. (tho I guess you really don't trust in an ebenezer anyway, rather use it as a visual symbol.) But this was different. This was a baby. A baby who symbolized many things: hope, the power of prayer, that God was still alive and working - not just in general, but in my world. It was my sign. GOD IS REAL. And every time I looked at her I remembered. Until she was no longer in front of me. Along with the struggle of losing community and losing friends I lost my ebenezer.

What is an ebenezer? Actually in Hebrew, the word ebenezer is two words - one meaning "help" and one meaning "stone". So the literal meaning of ebenezer is "Stone of Help". Samuel built an ebenezer on the occasion when the Israelites finally were victorious over the Philistines. Despite previous losses or failures in this same endeavor, they kept on and ultimately defeated the enemy.

Dr. Gregory S. Neal, Senior Pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite, Texas has this to say: " Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the Sacramental Elements, a cross, a picture, a fellow believer, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, God’s Real Presence, and God’s assistance are "Ebenezers."

During a very rough time in my life, one of great doubting and great questioning, a tiny baby became my symbol of God's faithfulness. No matter how bad things got after that I could look at her face and see God and his presence. She became my reminder that He got me through it before, he will again. But she's no longer in a place where I can go to embrace my ebenezer, to touch the stones, to feel like I'm standing in the presence of God.

I have lost my ability to see the sun through the clouds, the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel kinda hopeless, and don't know how to recover. Before, when it got rough all I had to do was hold her, even just see her and I was reminded of the faithfulness of a loving God. He is there. He is at work, He answers pray. He cares.

And right now it seems like too much work to get to the place where I have a reason to build a new ebenezer.....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All my friends live in my computer.....

I'm feeling more ADD than I've ever felt in my life.....
Seriously. I read for about ten minutes and then I'm done. Especially if it's non-fiction. Maybe it's the fact that I have no one to discuss it with.
Newspapers - uh, no. Even tho they are piling up in my driveway.
Movies are way too long - in these days of digital media movies get longer and longer and aren't edited as tightly. It annoys me. Just cuz you can put it in doesn't mean you should.
TV is annoying too. Nothing new under the sun. Especially in the dramas like Heroes, Lost (still my fave) etc. Get to the point already. At least start making us feel like you have a point. I can only keep track of so many threads for so long.
Music - Hmmmm. Just tiring after while. I'm liking to listen to the silence.
Even conversations....Is this a monologue or a conversation? Quit with the hour story telling. I can't remain engaged for that long..... And quite honestly - I'd like to contribute to the conversation too.
Church - it would probably annoy me too with the same old same old - non relevant messages - if I was going. Right now, I'm not. But that's another story.
Maybe it's the internet that contributes to this lack of concentration. Short snippets of news. Quick emails from friends. Current updates on facebook in snappy sentences. The latest pictures of friends and family. Possibly I have no patience for the rest of the media because I wanna hop back on FB or email and see what's new in your world. Instant gratification. Waiting is a lost art. Remember the days of snail mail and *gasp* letters?

I was also thinking about going out with friends. Or not going out as has been the norm lately. Not because I am socially inept, but because I am an introvert. Things always sound good until the day of the event - and then it's just too darn much trouble to go - especially when I can curl up with all the media I'm annoyed at instead. LOL. Don't count on me to make plans. I'll be happy to come - because when I do, I always have fun. But the planning - not so much. I don't like phones, I rarely see people cuz I work all day, and the internet isn't the best way to make plans for dinner or a movie. Dawn, Sandy, and Judy - I'm still up for a movie - anybody wanna figure out the details?

My lack of communication is not cuz I don't like you. I do. It's not cuz I'm stuck up. I'm not. It's just that I'm an introvert and that's the way I roll.

How did I get from ADD to introversion?
Case in point. LOL.
It's pretty bad when you distract yourself!

I need to go make dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I don't even know you, but I'm deeply affected....

So, there was a horrible accident in our area today. Apparently a helicopter taking an ill child from a far western suburb into Chicago crashed killing all on board. The pilot, the nurse, the paramedic, and the 13 month old child.
Maybe this wouldn't affect me so much had I not had a child in a very similar situation years ago. This child yesterday was apparently being moved to the city due to some kind of epileptic seizures.
Probably not life threatening if treated promptly and appropriately. The parents handed their baby over to the professionals counting on a good outcome.
As did I 22 years ago. My child was 2 weeks old and started having seizures. We got her to the local urgent care and they knew she needed more intervention than they could provide. It was during rush hour, so an ambulance was out of the question and they called the life flight helicopter.
Again, we handed our child over to the team, and then we drove like crazy people 45 minutes to the hospital she had been taken to. The whole time we were stressed, panicky, upset and totally out of control of a horribly scary situation. We arrived at the hospital where she was being treated and went on from there. We never imagined a scenario where she wouldn't make it to the hospital. It was scary enough to see her fly off, and not be with her taking an active roll in helping her. We had to trust.
Just like the parents did yesterday. I can't imagine how devastated they are today. I have an inkling due to my experience, but still - I can't even fathom it. I feel shaken, and deeply sad.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess

I've been reading Matthew Paul Turner's excellent book Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner. I finished it last night. It was a quick read, but it kept dragging me down rabbit trails of memories. I could so relate to this book. I love Matthew's humor and ability to express and expose the absurdity of things without being offensive.

However, while I found the book engaging and quite entertaining, I was quite surprised at the emotions the book invoked in me. Wow.

I felt the fear - the fear used to motivate. I felt the judgment. I felt the stress of having to look perfect. The anxiety that I might do something wrong and be rejected or reprimanded. I literally felt that. I thought I escaped it, but apparently it still has some power over me. And that is scary!

A whole range of emotions came flooding back as I read Churched! Yes, it was funny - at times laugh out loud funny. Unbelievable, and outrageously funny. This can so not be true funny! Yet I felt humiliated. Like people, (myself included) were laughing at me. I thought I had escaped all that! I had even passed on those same kind of silly stories and laughed at our hubris. Our superiority.
How absurd it all sounded. How stupid. How crazy.
Yet how familiar, how normal.......

I don't know what else to say. Or how to say it. I'm uncomfortable. Exposed. Some pages brought tears. It's amazing how deeply ingrained in me this is. Even though it's crazy, weird and not logical, it's........normal?

With my new lenses, I laugh. I understand why, as a group, we were laughed at, made fun of, stereotyped. I understand why I ran. I understand the bigger picture. I see the absurdity. I see the shallowness of the rules. The audacity of having all the answers. I feel the legalism biting at my heels.

Turned inward instead of outward. Exclusive instead of inclusive. Judgmental instead of accepting. Perfection instead of messiness. Out instead of In. Withdrawn from instead of living with.

A black and white island in a Technicolor world.

Wow! This book is so dead on! If you are tempted to dismiss it as exaggeration, don't. I'm here to tell you it's not. So laugh, if you must, I did! And then reach out with love to your brothers - even if they don't return the favor!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

You're somewhat of a loner. You prefer to challenge others on your terms. When the confrontation doesn’t work the way you want you may get depressed. The good news is that you have inner strength that few people possess.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

He was a good man

This weekend was my father-in-law's funeral. We traveled to Ohio early Sunday morning so we would be there in time for the viewing. Which was supposed to be from 4 - 7 pm. Wow. People just came, and came and came. In cars, in busses, in horse and buggies. From a couple hours away. From Cleveland, like the people from Wynn's office. People from former churches, from Owens Illinois - and pop had retired from there about 20 years ago. People they knew from camp. From childhood. From basketball and baseball. Amish. Relatives of relatives. They came and came and came. The line never stopped for four hours. And believe me, by then we all had our shoes off! People didn't come out of obligation. Or because he was special, or rich, or they felt obligated to come because of what he had done for them. They came, because as more than one person said, "Your dad was a good man."

So often we try to impress. Try to please. Try to be better than others. Try to be someone. And we forget - all that matters is if we are a good person. Better good than right. Better good than rich. Better good than influential. It causes one to stop and think what will be said of each one of us.

They got it right. He WAS as GOOD man.

All thirteen of Richard Gerber's grandchildren.

Memories of Pop's life.

Memories of Pop's life.

cousins chillin'

Kelsey talking to Grandma.

The sisters-in-law (-minus Tena)

Jenny, Jessica and Wynn

Pop's six grandsons were his pall bearers.

He was a good man.

We will miss him.

Pop at the water tower in Lake Tahoe where he served as a conscientious objector during WW II.

Pop in FOUR states at once at the Four Corners Monument.

Mom and Pop at the campground where they stayed when their children were small. This is also where the famous water tower is.....

Mom and Pop and Kelsey at Jenny Lake in the Tetons.

After eating a really yummy lunch at Bubba's in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Kim and his dad, summer of 2003.

(You can click on any picture to make them bigger.....)