Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
I hope that your holiday was as blissful as ours. Thanksgiving Day- most of it- we spent with my wonderful family. It was so great to spend some uninterrupted time with them- without an agenda, or plan. We spent the last few days out at a Disney hotel- thanks to Jeff's parents. We got to enjoy Connor, our nephew who is 13mo old and his parents too. Connor I believe loves Jeff, he's still deciding about me. =)We went to MGM to see the Osbourne lights and spent the day at the Magic Kingdom yesterday. It was nice to get away for a while. On Thanksgiving night, Jeff and I took turns for about 45 minutes remembering what we were thankful for. You would think that wouldn't take 45 minutes, but we could have continued. It was fun! =)
Well, I haven't been home for a while and the house needs a good cleaning.
Much love to you all and hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Snippits

I'm at my parents house at the moment and have some uninterrupted blog time on my hands as I wait for Jeff to pick me up. We are"one-car-ing it" these days. A few months ago we turned in our leased car, and we decided to embark on an experiment to see if two cars was necessary- at least for now. Well, the verdict is that it's not necessary. Our work schedules are very similar, and when they are not, like today, I can hitch a ride to my parents house.
I'm still sick, but not as bad as this weekend. But, the weekend had some lovely moments regardless of my health. I am so thankful for the bits of sunshine God allows to brighten an otherwise cloudy day.
One of those moments was on Saturday when I made pumpkin pie play-doh for the kids at Ivey Lane. I can't remember if I've mentioned them before... They live in a governmental housing project in Orlando- a rough part of town otherwise known as "the Ghetto". One time when we were there a teenager came down the street waving a gun. (Don't' worry- Jeff spotted him a long ways off and moved everyone inside a building before he got too close.) There are tons of kiddos in this neighborhood that like to come out and play with us. They don't have many toys, and their only playground is riddled with broken glass from beer bottles, and last week we found a knife. It's not exactly the kind of place any 10mo- 7yr old should be playing in. Usually when we go down there, our group splits in half and one group picks up the glass, and the other rounds up the kids. Most times we use money from the Joy Box* to buy craft materials like paper, markers and finger paint to entertain them. Other times we just give them piggy back rides, help them learn to work the monkey bars, or just play hide and seek. This week we wanted to do something special for Thanksgiving, and we thought of play-doh. Making it is much cheaper than buying it, and I haven't seen a pumpkin pie scent out yet! =) After I made it, I placed them in baggies and prayed over each one. I know that sounds silly, but I just felt like I should. I hope it will bring them some hours of fun.
The other came when a parent of one of our kids in youth group offered us an armoire for our TV. The cabinet that it was setting on was bowing in the middle and the "wood" was swollen and in places the finish had been taken off (because of a moving error). What a tremendous blessing! As I look at my home, the only thing we've bought was a bookcase. That's some kind of love!
Also, this weekend I picked 7 beans from my little vines. I ate them for lunch today. They were delicious!!! The tomato plants are doing beautifully and have just begun to flower. Even the spinach is looking like it might survive after all!
So, all in all, I have much to be thankful for this weekend!
*The Joy Box is a box we keep at the back of the youth room. All spare change and money that they could have spent on something they wanted- but chose not to buy, goes in there. It's full every week. This box was created by a student after the Holy Spirit moved during one of Jeff's talks about living simply.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Randomness

Today I feel like being random. Partly because I am coming down with a cold and I am incapable of forming any logical thought. I think the cold weather did it...that, or the kiddos I'm around every day. Well, maybe not the cold weather, (being it's in the 60's) but it doesn't help me feel any better.
So, yesterday, my baby brother turned 18 years old! Of course, he's been 6'3 since he was 12, so maybe the "baby" part has been gone for a while, but still. I find it hard to believe that he's 18. I find it hard to believe that I'm not. I remember 18 very well. I graduated from high school, entered college..thought I was so old... Yikes. I wonder if that's how he feels? Smile. I'm very proud of that brother of mine. He's turned out to be a very honorable, very responsible (most of the time) very nice man-child. (that's what people call him, you see) And now he's growing up...sniff! =)
Yesterday at school we celebrated Thanksgiving. The kids dressed up in construction paper that was colored and fashioned to look like Pilgrim and Indian (um, now the correct term is Native American) garb. Then they ate turkey, mashed potatos, pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc. They were way too cute. All day we worked on making our own butter. I had never done that before and I think I was just as amazed as they were. They also made bread in a bread machine (there wasn't an oven available, you see). We didn't get much else accomplished though..the kids were so excited they didn't know what to do with themselves. =) It was such a joy to share in it with them. Fun stuff!
Tonight we're having a social get-together for the sixth graders who we have fondly dubbed "the Junior Mints"- it's complicated- don't ask. Well, you can if you want. I've been looking forward to it all week, but now I'm not really feeling so hot- so it's up to the Holy Spirit to give me the energy I need.
That's all for now...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Withwards

So I guess I should have explained what "withwards" means. It's a word Jeff made up to describe the kind of community God was calling us into as a youth group this summer. It's not looking backwards at our past, or reducing life to only the distant hope of heaven, but tasting "His kingdom come" on earth in the context of community. It's walking together arm in arm and living life abundantly, being obedient, together. I hope that helps.
Jeff and I have recently begun attending a Bible study (that we're not leading, and that doesn't contain ANY teenagers...no, really!) with a few sets of parents of kids in our y.g. It has been extremely refreshing and very much a blessing- even though we've just gone our second time. It's almost like the first and only place where I feel I can show up, and not have to be responsible for being THE spiritual leader/mentor, but at the same time can have real accountability, and fellowship. As much as we talk about the importance of community in living out our faith, it's almost impossible for people in ministry to find that for themselves. Go figure! So, anyway, it's been great, and we're very thankful for it. Thankful...now that brings up an entirely different subject- Thanksgiving. Jeff and I are very eager to celebrate it this year. We need some time to set up a "monument" so to speak, to show the work that God has been doing in our lives. The interesting thing, is that no one decorates for this holiday any more. There are Chrstmas decorations and Christmas music filling every store... it's kinda sad, if you ask me. But, it's time to call it a night.
Thanks to all who are reading!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sundays and the world

So I'm having deep thoughts as I sit here waiting for Jeff to finish music practice. I'm not normally so pessimistic, but I'm seeing a dichotomy here. Every Sunday, without fail, unless some illness overtakes me, I come to church. We do the same things, say the same things, smile, shake hands, give the peace. And all of that is good, in and of themselves. But sometimes I just feel a little fake. Like I wonder what would happen if I told someone I was having a hard morning because I was burdened with the little girls in India who are being sold into prostitution against their will, or I was concerned with all the babies in Africa dying of hunger. It seems that only the light, shallow, pretty things can be addressed in the presence of the almighty institution of the church. But it seems absolutely contrary to how Jesus was. He was down in the trenches. He delt with the real issues. He wasn't concerned with how we said the Nicene Creed or how many mistakes the kids made when they were reading the Old Testament reading, or who was wearing jeans to church. I'm so glad that Jesus was so REAL. Someone we can relate to and feel comfortable with. Even though His holiness causes us to shield our eyes, something in his presence makes us feel loves, valued, understood. Somehow He pulled off the whole holiness thing without being a condemning, negative, jugemental meanie. He just was. And it was good.....

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Welcome!

Well, I finally did it! I have set up my second blog- mainly for Phyllis, so she can keep up with me in Russia! =) Sorry it's taken me so long!

I just want to say that someone out there is brilliant. This has got to be the easiest way to keep in touch with friends/family in long-distance situations. And I have a lot of them- I would say most of my friends are in places like Sierra Leone, Russia, Canada, India, Iraq, and various states that are not at all close to me. I'm not quite sure how that happened- I know that's a good thing for the world, but I'm quite sure it's not been a fun thing for me. =)

Well, today is Saturday- sigh... it's the only day in a few weeks that's been totally empty. Which is why my house looks like it does..and why I'm doing this instead of cleaning it. =)

But, I wanted to "journal" what happened last Wednesday before I forgot. Anna B. - the senior in our y.g. who lost her dad, came to youth group last week. She joined us in the office for prayer time before we started. Let me explain- prayer time, is when we try and stuff as many teenagers and adults into Jeff's office as we can, turn out the lights, light some candles, get on our faces and pray for the night, for Jeff, for the band, and for ourselves as we prepare to enter into worship. It's gotten larger and larger and I think this night we had about 25 people in his little 7' by 11' room. Anway, God showed me a picture for Anna, and the interpretation but I didn't feel like I should share it with her during this time. So when we ended I pulled her aside and shared with her the picture. It was of a butterfly struggling to escape it's coccoon. If you know anything about butterflies, you know how important it is for it to go through this struggle- if it doesn't, then the butterfly will be "crippled" or maybe even die. God showed me that he was inviting Anna to struggle, to wrestle with Him- if you will. That He wanted her to be open and raw and vulnerable with Him in her pain. He longed for that kind of intimacy with her. And that it was important that she go through this struggle. As soon as I finished, Anna collapsed on her knees and put her head on my lap and started to weep. And then sob. Joy, a very wise older woman in our church gave her a pillow and told her that He wanted it all. And so she grabbed it and screamed into it, and hit it, and stomped and cried. It was so hard to be there, but at the same time, it was so necessary for her to walk through this with Jesus knowing that someone else was there with her. I was praying and crying with her and Joy was interceding like I've never seen before. Here is this 70 something woman on her knees, rocking back and forth, crying and praying for her in powerful intercession. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I know I will learn a lot from this woman! But, while we were there I realized that we were participating in what the Jewish people call "sitting shivah". Jeff talked about it a few weeks ago. It's when friends and random people come sit with the grieving family - it's called the ministry of presence. They just sit, and cry with them as needed, hold them- and don't even say a word. Jesus did it when Lazerus died. Jeff said, "If Jesus can have a good cry, so can I." =)
Anway, when it was all said and done, Anna felt better, and you could tangibly feel the presence of God. What a huge blessing to be a part of that!
That's all for now...